Thursday, April 11, 2019


We spent this past weekend at RavenCon in Williamsburg, Virginia. The author guest of honor was Melinda Snodgrass. Because she worked with George R. R. Martin on his Wild Cards series, the con played with a Wild Cards theme at the opening ceremony Friday night. I haven't read any of the series, but the premise sounds intriguing. In case you haven't either, it goes like this: A plague has rewritten human DNA. Among the total population, 90% died. Most of the others survived with grotesque mutations, and a tiny percentage developed superpowers. At registration, each attendee received a tag to attach to the name badge. Black Queens were dead (I got that one). Jokers got amusing mutations. Aces got superpowers. Friday night, the Jokers and Aces were called up front to learn their mutations or powers. Fun!

I appeared on the program in the Broad Universe rapid-fire reading. This year, so many authors participated that we got a two-hour time slot. Each person was allotted a little over five minutes for intro and reading. I read from my new light paranormal romance novella, "Yokai Magic," and it seemed to go well.

The program included a STEM track of panels and presentations, held in a designated "science room." Among other topics, sessions covered life sciences and medicine in SF, what science fiction authors get right and wrong about science, effects of space flight on the human body, and "Space doesn't work like that." A significant number of people with military experience, as well as scientists, appeared on panels. A non-science session that particularly impressed me tackled morality and ethics in SF and fantasy. One panelist held a doctorate in philosophy and had worked on the alignment system for Dungeons and Dragons Third Edition. There were also writing craft sessions, genre-focused sessions, and all the usual features you'd expect at an SF con. Fandom for David Weber's Honor Harrington series has a prominent presence at RavenCon, and at least two panels focused on that universe.

The musical guests of honor were the Library Bards, a filk duo. I enjoyed their songs when I could comprehend the lyrics. In common with most of the musicians I checked out, however, the Library Bards sang to a recorded background track of very loud, hard-rock style instrumentals that tended to drown out the words. However, they performed some pieces I liked quite a bit, e.g., a tribute to one of the "Dr. Who" stars (although I'm not familiar with him, it was cute), a celebration of Stan Lee and the Marvel universe, and a song summarizing the entire plot of PRINCESS BRIDE. Two musical guests I especially liked were the Nefarious Ferrets (a duo) and Gray Rinehart; both of those acts sang and played in a calmer style, and I could understand the words. (When old age creeps up, being able to hear the words of songs and TV dialogue becomes a non-trivial concern!)

Some highlights of the Saturday evening masquerade included a mother-child pair in elaborate kitsune costumes, a fan-dancing "steampunk geisha," and a joint appearance by Spider-Man and Spider-Man Noir (all in black). Unfortunately, the event ran behind schedule, so I eventually left to attend a panel and therefore didn't find out who won.

We were pleased with the hotel this year. Unlike last year, when they didn't have a room for us until well after the designated check-in hour, this time we got settled right away. Also, the meal service in the cafe was noticeably faster than in the previous two years we've attended. This hotel offers one delightful perk upon check-in—a large chocolate chip cookie for each guest.

You can read about RavenCon here. The programming schedule and the rest of this year's information are still on the site:


Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

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