BAD: Getting Lost. All my prior travels to places I haven't been have been done with the assistance of maps and directions which were more detailed than those I had to work with this time. I couldn't find the site I used to use, which gave me options of three different routes (simplest, fastest, shortest) and provided detailed strip maps, and as it turned out I do a lot of visualization while driving, so the sketched route maps were a critical lack. We got lost three times -- on the way to Long Island (fortunately taking a route that did not divert us much), a second time on our way back from the Con to the hotel (minor diversion), and a major oopsie on the way out (missed or was not told by tollboth person a critical turn point, ended up 50 miles out of our way).
BAD: Hotel ridiculously far from Convention. In general, I'm used to the convention being *IN* the hotel. However, with larger Cons it's understandable one needs another venue. Apparently in this case there's no sufficiently large hotel within 10 miles of the place; you have to drive something like 13 - 15 miles (20 minutes) just to get to the convention.
Okay, that's out of the way. ON TO THE GOOD!
GOOD: Meeting People. I found everyone that I got to talk to to be very nice, pleasant, often very witty. I didn't, at least this time, run into anyone who seemed grouchy, antisocial, stuck up, or otherwise unpleasant! There must have BEEN some such people, but I didn't see any of them.
Other AuthorsAll of the many authors I met (only some of whose names, alas, I can recall, though I'd recall the faces) seemed like fun people. Among those I can remember/say something specific about: Connie Willis, one of the big names at the convention, and an exceedingly pleasant woman; Patrick Thomas, who had bought and read Digital Knight and liked it (so, naturally, I purchased a copy of one of his Murphy's Lore books [I'll report on that when i finish it]; in the same vein, Marc Vun Kannon, who not only liked DK but helped flog it at the signing table, so I've also got his book Unbinding the Stone (report, ditto), and fellow panelist Nick Mamatas (who's written a book which apparently is best described as "Beathulhu" -- Kerouac meets Lovecraft -- titled "Move Under Ground").
I also met David Kyle of Red Jacket Press -- yes, the David Kyle who wrote the three additional Lensman novels. While (as I've stated on other forums) I don't consider them the equal of Doc's work, I also have stated that I don't think anyone else can equal Doc when doing Doc, either, and one thing Kyle DID do was try to keep the spirit and the exploration of the new alive, while being heavily restricted by the rules of the Lensman universe (which is pretty heavily restrictive, when you realize he wasn't writing "sequels", but "interquels", so to speak -- set in the middle of the series, the gap between Second Stage Lensmen and Children of the Lens. And I feel they were written during what was perhaps the worst possible period, when the language had become too dated for him to really try to write pure-quill "Doc", but far too early for one to use the excuse of "retro" to allow him to get away with it.
I met many others, and let it not be taken as an insult that I can't mention them all in detail; my memory is notoriously unreliable on many things, and none more so than on people's names. I'll try going through the program book later and see if I can at least match the right names to the faces in my head and add some more to this section.
Media Guests The standout meetings for me were Peter Jurasik ("Londo Mollari" from Babylon 5) and Katee Sackhoff ("Starbuck" from the new Galactica). Let's talk about Katee first:
I'm on record as strongly NOT liking the new Galactica. I'm a reactionary old bugger who thinks that if you're doing a remake, the remake should try to be damn close to the original, at least in the parts that worked originally. The characters were the strongest part of the original BG, and they really changed too much in the characters and origins.
That said, Katee pulled off one of the most impressive pieces of acting I've ever seen, in that she took a character who was an archetype of one of the most quintessentially MALE roles, the ace fighter pilot, and without so much as a stumble translated that character directly to herself. Tom Cruise managed to do something similar with his Lestat -- when I heard about both choices for their roles, I said "that's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard", and then had to eat those words when I saw the result. I still dislike the new Galactica, but Katee's "Starbuck" I have no problems with.
We met Katee herself at the banquet, where my wife was trying to get food for herself and Gabriel. Gaby, of course, decided to become the Toddler of Doom while we were there, and so this very nice young lady came over to help the frazzled Kathleen. That very nice young lady, naturally, was Katee. "Haven't *ALL* actresses been waitresses at one point or another?" she said as she put the plate down. I got to talk with her for several minutes, naturally pushing a copy of Digital Knight into her hands which she seemed happy to accept (she says one role she wants to play sometime is a vampire... I don't have an appropriate role in DK, alas, but I'd be willing to see her cast as Sylvie. She's extremely cute as well as being very pretty). I hope she does enjoy DK, or if not that she finds someone who will, and I hope she gets a lot more roles in the future.
Scheduling prevented me from being able to get to any of Peter Jurasik's signings, and so by Sunday afternoon I was resigned to the fact that I just wouldn't get to meet him... when in comes a cheerful-looking gentleman to the Green Room buffet. It happened that a moment before I'd been looking in the big program book and so when I glanced up and saw him, the photo I'd just looked at clicked. So I walked up to him and said, "Excuse me, but are you who I think you are?", to which he grinned and replied, "I don't know, who am I?". So I said "Peter Jurasik?", he nodded and asked, "And you are...?" and I responded "Oh, no one of any importance." He laughed at that -- I wouldn't be surprised if he'd understood the Princess Bride reference -- and then I introduced myself. Yes, of COURSE I offered him a copy of Digital Knight, and he was quite nice about accepting it -- said that in fact he didn't HAVE anything to read on the way back! We talked for a bit about various subjects, including my favorite B5 scene with Londo (the bombardment of Narn and the way he managed to convey the horrific realization without speaking a single word), which he said is one of the ones he would pick if he HAD to pick a favorite (apparently he has a LOT of favorite points in the series). I hope he, too, gets lots of new roles; he's an excellent actor and a very nice guy. Kathy, Chris, and Gabriel met him at the signing later, where he was also very pleasant (and signed a WONDERFUL picture of Londo "I raise a glass to you, a beautiful family! Londo Mollari").
Webcomics I met "Ghastly" (real non-ecchi name omitted) of "Ghastly Comics" and the legendary Illiad (of User Friendly) and hung out with them for some notable time, where we quickly ended up geeking and reminiscing about Ancient Hardware, uphill, both ways, *cough hack*. Somehow I failed to press copies of DK on them, fool that I am.
THE DEALER'S ROOM: When I came down the steps to the first landing and saw it spread out below me, I swear I heard a swelling fanfare like the one in Titanic where we fade from the present-day wreck to the Titanic in her original glory. This was an IMMENSE room, a full-size gymnasium filled with people hawking their wares. Many of those wares were anime, to my surprise; anime has become a true force to be reckoned with in Fandom, and in fact I-Con isn't much of a reader's con; one sad note is that apparently Larry Smith (**THE** con bookseller in the East, everyone knows Larry) will probably not be back at I-Con next year(unless they change their minds) because they simply don't sell enough. I sold about 6 or 7 copies of DK myself, which given the size of I-Con verifies how low it is on the Reader end (I sold nearly 20 at the very tiny Genericon). While none of the vendors have The One Thing I Have Been Searching For (the BGM collection from New Super Android Cutey Honey, which is apparently unavailable anywhere -- CURSE ME for not getting it when I first saw it!), we did get some Neat Stuff, including a full-size huggable plush Haro doll (which Kathleen loves), a plush Gojira for Gaby, and a couple of new Gojira figures for CP.
The staff of I-CON were invariably helpful and friendly. It was a fun con, though exhausting and somewhat stressful for Kathy because she had no one else to help with the kids while I ran around and did "Business" stuff. I will probably be back next year.
Whoo, that's enough. Time to get something done today.