Live from Spocon

It is fairly obvious that if you have a blog, and you are at a SF convention in which you were actually on a panel about blogging with the very person who urged you to begin a blog, and you do not actually post anything while there, you Missed The Point.  Okay.

Friday was arrival day and no obligations but to check in (hour and a half in line…better than Radcon).  Much oohing and ahing over costumes.  I was elated that the homespun Rasputin costume I ordered from Jane Campbell arrived just on my way out of town.  The drive up was the usual Spokane trip:  two hours of freeway gliding, half an hour of Spoconstruction getting into town.  Spokane is a pretty nice place, but the city pastime is road repair and delay.

My local con-pal Sharon was present, but would not be for the entire con (had to fly somewhere), so to a large degree this would be winging it not knowing many people.  At the same time, plenty of at least familiar faces.  One great thing about Spocon this year:  half an hour between panels, so no mad rushes akin to college when you had ten minutes to get to your next class and a long distance to hike.  Patricia Briggs is author guest of honor this year (famed for the Mercy Thompson books set in the Tri-Cities, where I live).  I hit CJ Cherryh’s reading from the new Foreigner hardback, always a pleasure.  Decided to bag out of opening ceremonies, which never really attract me, and dine on a sumptuous meal of Coke plus whatever muffins and scones the coffee stand had remaining at 7 PM.  Then off to the Mad Marmot Asylum (a Spocon staple) for about six Marmot Juices and good fellowship with con-friends.  Left before becoming plastered (good move).

Rarely do I sleep well in hotel rooms, and this was the same.  With a 10 AM Saturday panel on Research for Search Engines, I got up, put on the Boer costume in which people seem to find me dashing, pounded a large coffee with about seven shots of espresso, and showed up on time.  Two panelists and only two panel-goers!  I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved or to get more nervous.  An okay brunch afterward at the hotel breakfast restaurant, then a very interesting panel on voices and accents in writing and roleplaying.  Then came the panel on blogs/podcasts/ezines, and while I had the sense not to talk a lot–it was called ‘Maggie and CJ understand this far better than I’–it went all right with a small but interested attendance.  Directly afterward, the one that had me a bit rattled, Steampunk through history…and I think none of us were vastly well prepared, but we all chimed in:  the artist, the tinkerers two, and the history guy.  For not being quite sure how to approach the topic, I thought we acquitted ourselves admirably.

Decided on a quiet dinner alone at nearby Shenanigans, a steakhouse and brewpub; very nice.  This is Spocon’s first year away from Gonzaga (Jesuits and SF weirdos not being subject to RC tenets against divorce), so the area around the convention center is getting used to the influx of strangeness for the first time.  Shenanigans isn’t cheap, but neither is it outlandishly priced, and I’d go back.  Took in some music back at the con by the Seattle Knights, went up for a Marmot Juice, then decided that a sore knee and hip entitled me to come back to my hotel room for a bit of relaxation and blogtime.

I have to give Big Chris and Spocon credit for doing a good job here; they have grown the con since it began about four years back, and the many volunteers were pleasant.  One should always be kind to the volunteers, especially when things are going wrong, and this was not really put to a trial this year.  If there were significant catastrophes, they were remedied out of my sight, which means that they didn’t impact me.  That has to stand to the credit of ConCom and volunteers alike.  Sunday will be a short day, really a half-day, as I have to be out of here by noon and things begin to wind down.

What is amazing is that despite Spokane’s size (double the Tri-Cities), the con is half the size of Radcon (Pasco, Tri-Cities).  Surely it’s a longevity matter, as Radcon has been around much longer.  If I had to characterize Spocon in one word, I would say ‘enthusiasm.’  It is still building a name, but they work very hard and their dedication shows.  I suppose I have months to decide if I’ll come up next year, and if so, do I want to do this panel stuff again.  (Radcon doesn’t want my services, which used to affect me a bit; now that I have done it, I see benefits in being able to just attend without obligations and prior study.)  The dealer room was perhaps my main disappointment, being rather lightly presented, and this is likely a matter of the economy (and the lack of stuff I happened to wish to buy).

Your (reasonably) faithful correspondent, signing off from Spokanistan.

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