Tag Archives: spocon

Radcon 2013: pre-prefunction

It’s going to be an interesting time this year. For whatever reason, people like staying with us, and we will have many, nearly all from abroad: Mattias from Sweden, Jenn and Marcel from Canada, and my bro John from Andros Island, Bahamas. The token U.S. resident is Rebekah, from Idaho.

For those of you who do not have the faintest idea what I mean by Radcon, it is the annual science fiction convention in Pasco, WA. It is small compared to some bigger-city cons, but very large for the size of our area. SF cons consist mainly of vendors (selling you stuff related to SF), entertainment (the fire dancers are always a big hit, but there are other dancers, live music, and suchlike), gaming (which I never do but a lot of people do all weekend), and panels. I’ve been a panelist at SpoCon (Spokane), but Radcon made plenty clear to me some years back that I was too small potatoes as an author for them to want any panel help from me, so I stopped asking or offering. (SpoCon keeps asking me back, and I’m considering it, because they’re so pleasant and persistent about it.) However, there are various industry guests in attendance, including guests of honor in various categories, and it is good to see familiar faces and sometimes meet famous ones. Anyway, Radcon starts at noon on Friday and closes up at 4 PM on Sunday, and in between, is host to some of the most creative and amusing costuming one can imagone.

This multi-guest situation means a lot of pre-planning and arranging, more than usual because this will probably be our last Radcon; we anticipate living in another state by the time next February rolls around, and Deb starts over there in a week and a half, so we are shuffling around all that needs to occur there while also planning for a houseload of folks. Matti is the only Radrookie in the gang. We are very excited about it all.

Matters are complicated a bit by a serious knee issue I’m experiencing, which will be made better thanks to the wondrous Sharon, who arranged for a disabled permit. I qualify on several fronts but, as with my achilles surgery, don’t plan to use it except when I definitely need it as much as the next person. Frankly, this Radcon is going to involve a whole lot of physical discomfort, but I will just bear up as best I can. No costuming for me this year; navigating around will be challenging enough as it is.

Matti should be here any time now, Jenn and Marcel sometime tomorrow (lock up your milk, Tri-Cities grocers; they come for you), John at airport in afternoon tomorrow, and Rebekah on the night shift Friday. It will be remarkable if anyone’s sober enough to answer the door Friday night when she arrives,  but someone will at least crawl to it and aim her at the refreshments.

One thing is sure: this is quite a crew. John is the homesteading type at heart, a former submariner who has no comment, and a natural genius on any stringed instrument.  Jenn is the plant whisperer, knowledgeable about all fauna. Point to a plant, she can tell you everything about it. Marcel is a Yukoner, as nice as he is big, a good soul and strong like a bull. Matti is tall and funny (sometimes in a facepalming way), speaks excellent British English and loves to play with accents. Rebekah, well, in the first place she’s strong as hell, and in the second, she’s ultimately self-reliant. I usually describe it that when most people want a bow, they go to Sportsman’s Warehouse. When Rebekah wants a bow, she starts looking for a yew tree.

Should be a fun weekend, and hopefully I will sober up enough to blog some of it.


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.

Check out the paneling

So last night I get word from the SpoCon folks about what panels I’m on.  Good to know in advance (another month would have been better, but still, three weeks is ample time to prep).  Nervous, I admit it, but looking forward.  I’m on:

Research for Search Engines on Sat, 08/13/2011 –  10:00am.  This should be pretty comfortable for me because it’s right in the wheelhouse of what I do.

Create a Zine, Blog or Podcast! on Sat,  08/13/2011 – 1:00pm.  Well, the zine I can probably talk about, having published my own long ago.  Blog, no problem.  Podcast? I’m helpless. Irony:  I’m on a panel with the author who enjoined me to start this blog.

Steampunk Throughout History on Sat, 08/13/2011 –  2:30pm.  My inclination is that it tends to begin with Jules Verne and such, but this will take a lot of reading to get up to speed on.  At least I’ll be in costume for it.

Thinking Machines in Alternate History on Sun,  08/14/2011 – 10:00am.  Hmm. Well, we can certainly start with mechanical computers…

I’d have preferred panels on the craft of writing and editing, but we get what we get.

One of the most important things will be to remember my fellow panelists’ names.  Imagine wanting to make reference to ‘what the other panelist said’ (the cards face forward) and forgetting her name.  So awkward.  Cannot let it occur.  This is a good time for a lot of listening, not too much talking, just be the quiet one who keeps his trap shut unless he has something pretty intelligent to say (and very briefly).


This is in August, in Spokane.  For the first time, I’m putting myself forward as a possible panelist.  I’m probably now going to find out why panelists go nuts when scheduled for stuff they know nothing about, or get put in rooms that swelter, etc.

While I can’t say I’m not nervous about it, a part of me is sort of looking forward to it.  I’ll try it, and if it sucks, I won’t do it again.  Maybe my biggest worry is that putting myself forward for this amounts to putting on airs, making myself seem more important than I really am from a literary standpoint. It is not as though I’m a famous editor or something. However, one very good aspect to it is that it gives strong support to writing off the entire trip as a necessary business expense.  Put another way, that means I get a 43% discount on the whole visit.  And since I’ll enjoy the con (Spocon really tries hard), and it’s not that far a trip, much good comes of this.  Jane should have my Rasputin costume by then.  Oh, I should probably dress professionally, but at a SF con, going steampunk is professional dress.