Thanksgiving Weekend (after Turkey Day!), I went to my first Darkover Con in Baltimore, and also my last, since it’s undergoing a name change. The person who owned the licensing for the name recently died without passing it on, so they had to do a name change. Next year’s will be called Chessiecon, which refers to Chesapeake. Not sure I like the new name …
The con did start on a bit of a sour note for me. They were so eager to promote the new name that I thought Chessiecon was the con this year. I found flyers for Chessiecon but none for Darkover, and this was more than a year in advance. Chessiecon also had a different website, almost identical dates. This, by the way, is what happens when you’re not detail-oriented. I booked the con in advance and wound up not being registered for the actual con …
I’m still not sure what I think of the con itself. To be fair, the con was the last one, and it was a memorial for the person who had died. Since I was attending for the first time, I didn’t have the context that everyone else did. Since it was the last con with this name, they had a few workshops dedicated to variations of that theme. The result was that it seemed a little content-lite for a newbie like me.
However, I also look for specific things in a con. I like workshops on reading or reading-related, plus writing. Demonstrations are also really cool to watch, and I like it when someone sets up a table and I can handle things. I also have really enjoyed some of the science workshops (not all. The speaker’s presentation abilities really make a difference). Unfortunately, schedules are generally not available until right before the con starts.
But there were a few interesting workshops:
Military/SF. Mike McPhail and Kathy Harmon (sorry, name was too common, and I couldn’t find her site).
Well, yeah, you knew I had to attend this. Most of the panelists didn’t show up so the audience filled the void. One of the things that was surprising to me was about a book I’d gotten, called No Man’s Land. It’s a book about women soldiers in space. The editor Mike McPhail mentioned that he had trouble getting promotion for it. The SF side wasn’t interested, and the feminists decided that women in the military were wannabe men.
Hmm. Hey, feminists, you do know that I enlisted because I needed a job?
This one was on crossing science-fiction with mystery. I know of writers who never ever read outside their genre, and I read where ever the books take me. This panel discussed the appeal of mysteries, and of solving the unanswered puzzles.
I approached this one with caution because fiction writers can treat research like they’re being graded on a term paper. Story has to come first and sometimes the best tale isn’t accurate, and sometimes the facts get in the way of the story. I saw recently a writer saying you would only use 10% of what you researched — that’s a lot of time wasted researching and not writing. I’d much rather it be closer to 50-60% and then reusing the rest on another project.
It was an okay con, but if I hadn’t booked the next one accidentally, I’d probably take a pass on it, since it wasn’t quite what I was looking for.