Thursday, December 01, 2022


Over Thanksgiving weekend this year, ChessieCon held its first live convention since 2019. The hiatus probably contributed to the low attendance compared to recent years. Nevertheless, it was great to be able to experience the event in person once again. You can read about it here:


As a byproduct of the reduced number of attendees, I appeared on more panels than I ever have anywhere. Les and I participated in two together, about "bug-eyed monsters" and other alien threats and about writing series versus stand-alone books. My other session topics were cross-genre fiction, titled "The Collusion of Horror, Fantasy, SF and Speculative Fiction," which we thought might be a typo for "collision"; alien cultures versus human cultures, especially if the alien isn't humanoid; and nonhuman reproduction. The last two panels included a scientist, who gave us a broad perspective on earthly life forms with exotic and outright weird biology (weird from a human perspective, of course). Les also appeared in a session on writer's block. I attended a panel on dystopian fiction that happened to mention a Japanese novel I hadn't heard of before, NEVER LET ME GO, which sounded intriguing enough for me to order a copy when I got home.

Les and I joined in the customary group author signing, which turned out to comsist of three occupied tables in a vast, otherwise empty ballroom. Strikingly different from past years. We had some nice chats, and I bought several books. None of ours got purchased. (Sigh.) But, then, no more than three or four potential readers stopped in.

On Sunday, we watched part of the musical performance by Roberta Rogow, one of my favorite filkers. The musical guests of honor were the Blibbering Humdingers, a filk group comprising mostly members of one family. The woman mainly sang the vocals, while the men played the instruments. I didn't enjoy their Saturday night show as much as I'd hoped. It would have been more pleasurable if I could have understood all the words; I usually liked what I did catch. In most songs, though, they sang too fast for me, and the instrumental sound more often then not drowned out the lyrics. An exception was a lovely piece about Lily's sacrifice in the Harry Potter series. A patter song about changes in language over the years was entertaining, from what I could comprehend of it. I also liked a silly bit, easy to understand for the most part, about captains in popular culture -- Kirk, Picard, Janeway, Sparrow, Crunch (groan), et al.

The con moved to a new hotel this year, the same one used annually in the spring for Shore Leave and Balticon. Positive features: For us personally, the same general route and about the same driving time from home as for the old hotel. Noticeably more efficient elevators. A nice breakfast buffet. (But no grits, even though the dinner menu includes shrimp-and-grits, so the kitchen certainly cooks them.) Friendly staff. Pretty quick meal service. Negative aspects of the hotel: Food at the evening meal, served in the bar, was good in our opinion, but the menu seemed even more limited than the typical hotel restaurant menu. Our room had no guidebook to hotel facilities, so I had to query the front desk whenever in need of information. The clock-radio had all sorts of cutting-edge features we didn't use, with instructions printed on top of the device -- but no directions for setting the time, a not at all intuitive procedure. And somehow our clock had become unplugged. My husband struggled with trying to figure out how to set the time and finally gave up. Altering the thermostat temperature setting was impossible; the desk clerk apologized that they were having trouble with the climate control system and waiting for it to be repaired. Worst of all, the hotel has no food service of any kind at lunch! The coffee shop with basic "grab and go" cold breakfast items and snacks such as chips closes at noon. The bar doesn't open until 5 p.m. The one vending machine offers only drinks, chips, nuts, candy bars, and the like. With only half an hour between midday panels, leaving the premises to seek fast food wasn't feasible, and anyway once I get to a convention, I don't leave the hotel if avoidable. (For one thing, we'd have to park the car all over again.)

Still, aside from no meaningful lunch on Saturday, none of those glitches posed major problems. We had a fun weekend anyway.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt


  1. Kazuo Ishiguro (he's actually a British author) wrote Remains of the Day, an amazing story I loved so much, I got my son into it. We also like the movie version with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. The humor in that novel is so fantastic. I usually read the book without pausing from start to finish because I just can't put it down. My son went on to read Never Let Me Go and other Ishiguro novels. I hope this isn't a spoiler--I think it just shows my weirdness. Feel free to skip my next sentence if you hate anything even a tiny bit of a spoiler: But about Never Let Me Go, I will say I would have enjoyed it much more if I'd been given certain information immediately instead of at the end. So that kind of killed it for me, although I think I normally would have loved it.

    Glad you enjoyed the conference.

    1. Thanks for the information. I've seen REMAINS OF THE DAY once but never read the book. I don't mind spoilers -- I heard the main plot outline described at the panel. I'll let you know my reaction.

  2. I'd be interested to know what you think of Never Let Me Go after you finish reading it. My son doesn't agree with my opinion of it. I'd love to get someone else's take.