Thursday, March 26, 2009

Millennicon 23

So, what was Millennicon 23 like? Well, if you didn't go this year, you were in good company. It was quiet, in the way that is not particularly good for a con. The GOH, John Scalzi, was a fun guy, the programming was good – but the economy...

I opted to sleep at home this year, for a number of reasons. Money is part of it, but the biggest thing is that I thought I would sleep much better in my own bed and get more rest driving back and forth than battling the environment of the hotel. And indeed, I enjoyed this con much more than I have enjoyed a con in years. On the minus side, I did not have a hidey-hole to run off to when the crowds and the crush got to be too much, but I had much less need of that.

Cons are hard on introverts. Yes, I know that there are people here who would not consider me much of an introvert, because I tend to be very sociable in crowds. But I wear out from having people around me. Extroverts tend to feed on all the people and increase their energy.


I was later starting off for the con than I wanted to on Friday, and traffic on I-75 was horrible. I was glad when GLaDOS, my GPS, instructed us to get off and take surface roads to the hotel. The last thing I wanted to do was attempt the I75/I275 interchange at rush hour. off the interstate, we made good time – when one accounts for the stoplights, crossroads, and 86-car train. Fortunately, I like trains. We were able to grab supper at McDonald's, get to the hotel, register, and take a couple of deep breaths before my 7:00 panel started. The only odd thing about registering was that they seemed to have a pre-registration for Elizabeth, which was odd, since I knew that I had not pre-registered her. On the off chance that this was a different person, we left the pre-reg there.

My panel was on the possibility of immortality. No one seemed to want such a thing for themselves, and we talked instead about the pros and cons of having a long life. For my part I wondered what immortality would do to our psychology. We are a race of procrastinators. If we have all the time in the world, will we wait forever to do things? Others wondered what we would have to do to our birthrate if we became immortal or long-lived. What jobs would there be the younger people? How will we support ourselves if our retirement is longer than our working lives? I suspect that while none of us is too anxious to embrace immortality, that when it comes to the wire that we'll all want just a little more time.

The panel wasn't all that well attended, as we were up against the opening ceremonies.

Afterwards, I went to a panel on “Is the Short Story Dead?” The consensus of the panel was that it is not dead, but it's not a way to get fame or money. There are a lot of internet markets and some anthologies. I picked up a couple of authors to look at in terms of short stories, and news of a site,, where one can build a POD anthology from the available short stories on the site. The authors get a royalty for every short story included in an anthology, and the customers get an anthology of just the stories they want.

Then I talked to people in the huckster room, partied in the consuite, and headed home about 9:30.


Driving down Saturday morning was an improvement over Friday afternoon. This time I had both Janette and Elizabeth with me. I found that the pre-reg was indeed for my Elizabeth – she had won a free membership last year, apparently for turning in a survey on the con. I remembered that she had complained about the programming last year, so I told her to fill out a survey form and let her opinion be known. Apparently, hers was the survey drawn. Someone was supposed to tell me that she had won... Fortunately, I was able to transfer the membership to Janette.

At ten o'clock I had a an autograph session alongside Kaza Kingsley. Unfortunately, no one knew we where there, as the autograph sessions were not advertised. She sold one book – to me. I gave one away. At least Kaza is pleasant company to talk to. the third book of her Erec Rex series will be out in June.

At twelve I collected up the troops and we hit Kentucky Fried for lunch. I had a reading session at 1:00, and paniced when I looked at my watch and saw that it was 12:55. I yanked everyone back to the hotel, and discovered that my watch was almost half and hour fast. This did allow me to collect myself before the reading, and to run into the huckster room to pick by a book by Paul Melko. Ten Sigmas and Other Unlikelihoods is an anthology of short stories. I later got it autographed, and Paul kindly pointed out which stories were his favorites. I should have asked him to mark them for me.

Thanks to Elizabeth's free membership, I could splurge on books.

My reading went well. There were three of us, with about fifteen minutes each. Fortunately, I won at rock-paper-scissors and could go first – since the other two people were Nebula nominees. I read A Flower-Eat-World, and was rewarded with the reaction of one particular person who got the point of the story at the appropriate time. It was a good warm-up for the other two authors. Alas, again, the names of the readers were not advertised, and so the crowd was smaller than it should have been.

The rest of the afternoon I spent with panels and a couple of trips to the Huckster room, with a few discussions sprinkled in. i made it, for the first time, to an entire panel on The Real Horse. I started taking notes on my toy computer – then Elizabeth took it over and collected the rest of the notes. (To be published separately.) She's good.

In the late afternoon, I caught Kaza Kingsley as she was going off for a cup of tea, and went along for a coffee. We talked about things, nothing really important, but it was a nice way to spend a hour. She's mainly a children's author, and not a big-time fan – I just kept remembering how C.J. Cherryh told us that she didn't discover fandom until after her third Sf book was published.

Right after that, I gathered my troops and we had dinner at Max and Erma's, which is the hotel restaurant. The service was a little slow, and we had to be moved once – but at least it was because the place was busy. There was a party of eleven, a party of fifteen, and a party of fifty. To make up for moving us, the manager gave us free cookies.

Janette was starting to feel poorly, so we skipped the masquerade and went home for the night.

Sunday we got down there in time for me to check out the huckster room, where I talked to Joshua Done, a self-published author who was hawking his book, The Exile Empire. I bought one. He used X-libris, and now believes that it is not one of the better deals out there. It's a nice product, but the books themselves are way overpriced, and apparently the add-on services were expensive, too. He claimed that he was not given galleys to proof, even though he bought one of the higher-priced services. I recommended iUniverse for a better deal -- and for complete control.

My last panel was at eleven, and I went into the room early, thus catching the last few minutes of a panel about the Blogoverse. In the closing comments, it was said that authors are now being requested to keep up active blogs and Twitters. Wow. I mean, if I have something to say, I'll say it, but just how exciting is a blog that starts, “Dear Diary. Today I woke up.”

My third panel was on world building, and we had the GOH, John Scalzi on it. Sadly, it was not so much on how to build a world as on the experience of writing in a shared, or pre-built world.

Then we had lunch at McDonald's, and returned in time for me to catch Kaza Kingsley's reading. After that was the closing ceremonies, where we learned that the Klingon jail took in $400 this year. The con chair's seven-year-old son accounted for over $100 of the funds.

All in all,it was a good con, and the mood was hopeful.


  1. What's a Klingon jail?

  2. It's a Jail and Bail, run by the local Klingon fan group. For a five dollar donation, they will go out and arrest a person of your choosing for five minutes. The jailed person can donate bail money to be let out early. Passerbys can donate money to extend a person's sentence.

    There are certain rules, however. Panels and other events may not be interrupted -- arrests can only take place in the hallways and between events. Physical abuse is not tolerated, nor is taunting the convicts. And compliance with one's sentence is voluntary. It's about fun, not force.