First up, some bragging points: My short story “A Quartet of Clowns” got an honorable mention in the Writers of the Future Contest. No publication, but I’m moving up.
This weekend, I was at Ravencon, a science fiction convention that’s held every year, now in Williamsburg, VA. It used to be in Richmond, but the hotel hired new staff, who jacked up the price, so they moved to the new location.
I was hoping for nice weather. Instead, it was rain and gray skies all the way up.
I had two goals for the con. The first was to use the hotel’s swimming pool and get a little swimming in. For the con, it was to participate more, because when I do I’m memorable. Not sure why, but everyone remembers me.
So I had to pick better panels than I’ve had in the past. A lot of the writing ones tend to be beginner level, so I don’t want to participate (and in some cases, I think what they’re giving out is really wrong). I scoped out the panels about week before, though first contact changed that.
I got in a quick swim before the con started. About ten laps, which wasn’t much (the pool was small). I also did pool pullups. I use the handles on the ladder to do it.
Then off to the con. The first sessions included a panel on world building. I think one person suggested the world building topic, because there was a lot of world building panels, and nearly always the same writers on the panels. One of the commentaries on horses came from a horse enthusiast on panel. In fantasy novels, everyone always has a horse, but horses are really expensive (why they hung horse thieves). That made me note a comment to add to the short story I was working on (called Lady Pearl and now in submission).
After that, it was off to a Star Trek 50th anniversary panel—it’s hard to believe it has been 50 years. The panelists went through all the various incarnations of Trek. There had been two panels on Star Trek scheduled that I planned to attend, but after this one, I had my fill. Never thought I’d say that about Star Trek. When I was growing up, I had a shrine in my room—everything I had all displayed.
I chatted with the panelists before the panels—sitting in the front row is great for interaction.
Saturday started with another trip to the pool. Then off to a panel on robots, which is where my post title comes from. There was team of teenagers who had participated in an annual contest for building robots. They’re given a task—in this case, climbing a ramp—and they have to build and program a robot that can accomplish the task. Everything is Open Engineering Book, so all the teams can use what someone else comes up with to learn.
Two of the team members were girls. They built a robot which looked like the lunar rover. It had a hand on the top that gave you a high five, which was pretty cool.
And it was girls, which was awesome,
Then off to Flags on the Moon, which is exactly what it was. The panelist talked about the trials of trying to stand a flag up on the moon and how many were standing. We got to hear some clips from NASA and see some moon videos. This is from NASA on the status of the flags. No one’s been there, but NASA can tell their presence by the shadows they cast in photos.
World Building: Creating Fictional Political Systems was next. This one presented an interesting idea, which is that a lot of writers just use the U.S. system. How our system is unique and the only one like it, so others are better choices. The panelists thought if there was a world government, it would be more parliamentary.
Next was the Baen Traveling Roadshow. Reps from the company show us what’s going to be released and give away books. Honestly, it was great looking at the posters of covers they had up. Some really awesome artwork.
And back to World Building with First Contact and Politics. Hmm. Do you think the election might be influencing the panels? First contact is always depicted in films as the aliens contacting the government, but the panelists thought aliens would contact merchants. Merchants are always the ones branching out to find more markets.
My last panel was on Writing the Short Story. The panelist was Bud Sparhawk, who’s been in Analog and Asimov’s. He was joined by another writer, whose name I can’t recall. That writers was a pantser, so he was the opposite of everything that was Bud. I didn’t get as much out of the panel as I was hoping, and it was at a really bad time (10:00), so not much on the audience side. The woman sitting next to me took notes on her checkbook register and had green lipstick that Bud said was distracting (okay, well, it was a con, and at least she wasn’t wearing one polka dot).
For Sunday, it was back to the pool first thing in the morning. This time, a mother brought her daughter, probably no more than 12, to play in the pool. It was 7:00 a.m., so this was very odd. After I did the pool pull-ups, the daughter tried it. Couldn’t do it at all. But then I’m Muscle Woman. I’ve been working on my arm muscles.
I looked at the panels for Sunday, and the only one I might have attended was late in the afternoon. I booked out at 8:00 a.m., hoping to avoid the predicted rain. Needless to say, it rained the entire way back and turned into a downpour once I hit Quantico.
Oh, dear. Need to go off line. Thunderstorm is coming in.