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The much promised Stellarcon and Ravencon After Action Report is here!
This past weekend was Ravencon, Richmond, VA.. A month ago was Stellarcon in High Point, NC. I attended both as a science guest. Ravencon has a Science track, and attracts a number of talented scientists and scientist/authors. Stellarcon is working on building a science/academics track with "S.O.N.A.R." - the Symposium On Nerdy Academic Research.
Stellarcon was fun. An SF convention is like a big family reunion. One of my friends, Baen Books author Michael Z. Williamson, was a special guest and we spent time talking about sharp pointy things, things that go "boom", good food (and bad) and of course, writing. Two of the highlights of the con for me were the panels: "Hard Science Fiction" in which I sat next to Baen Senior Editor Jim Minz as we discussed the present and future of Hard Science Fiction, and the panel on Research for Writers in which I told the tale of MadMike (Williamson's) quest for the messiest assassin weapon for his book Rogue (he settled on a capsule of chlorine trifluoride, one of the most reactive substances known - for more info, look up John D. Clark's Ignition: An Informal History of Liquid Rocket Propellants - but you'll have to get it on interlibrary loan, it is sadly out of print). An hour of absolute hilarity ensued with MadMike and I participated in "Messiest Ways to Kill Zombies." I promise, we will try this panel again at a future Con, and record video for your enjoyment.
If anything, Ravencon was even more fun, starting with panels on designing aliens, and ending with implications of alien first contact. I tried out something new at Raven, where many established authors hold readings or "coffee klatch" style small panels, I elected to have an "Ask a Scientist" panel which filled our (small) room to bursting and seemed (to me) to be a great way to spend an hour answering fan questions and talking about many of the topics that get covered here in the blog.
I was thrilled to spend time both on panels with, and talking privately to, authors Paula S. Jordan, Gail Martin, Kate Paulk and Dr. Charles E. Gannon, plus agent Miike Kabongo. - Chuck: I still owe you that conversation about blood substitutes - I'm sure we'll see each other at Dragon*Con, but email me before then, and we'll talk! Paula Jordan and I had many panels together, and she did a wonderful job reining in the talkative authors (and scientists!). It was definitely a pleasure. Gail Martin is fairly local to yours truly, and she had some very interesting perspective on the panel "Disturbing Ramifications of Harry Potter" (and confidentially, Mike Kabongo, I am so glad that panel did not go where I was afraid it might!). By the way, Kate Paulk - you got much more material for your next SF con-based book, right? Folks, Kate does research like you wouldn't believe, we had several long conversations about background for her books. Frankly, I would love to plug each and every book here, but I can neither mention nor remember them all!
SF conventions are like family reunions, the good kind. The only problem is that eventually you have to go home. To Bunny, Brad, Kell, Glennis, Crystal, Leon, Katie, Clay, Dex, Dale, Lisa, Vonn, Leo, JPMike, Doris, Laura, Paul, Gray, Stacey, Shirt, Vanner, Heather, O'Mike, Kate, and any Baen Bar Flies I've missed (and Phil, sorry you missed it) - until next time...
And many, many thanks to Stellarcon and Ravencon staff for having me as a guest. It was fun!