Bridget and I flew back from Atlanta on Monday. This was (if I recall correctly) my 5th DragonCon and her first.
If you’ve not been to DragonCon, you should go at least once, just for the spectacle. I love it. It’s a 70,000+ person four day nerd party. Ask people who have been to both, it is a bigger party than Mardi Gras. At one point the costume parade takes over all of downtown Atlanta.
No matter what geeky thing you are into, there is stuff there for that. Movies, TV shows, comic books, books, video games, whatever, there’s a track for that. There are panels for everything. And unlike some cons, DC panels aren’t stuffy. They tend to be big, loud, boisterous, and fun. Some are educational, some are just goofy. Sometimes both, like on a survival panel where they ran cheap Costco tequila through a water purifier to A. show the science of how water purifiers work and B. make good tequila. I don’t even drink and I thought that was cool.
If you’re part of the Baen family, DragonCon is one of our big gatherings. It’s kind of like a family reunion for our gang of misfits and miscreants. I got to hang out with a lot of friends, too many to count off because I’d be bound to miss some of them.
DC likes to put me to work, so I was on a ton of panels on a bunch of different tracks. Between panels, signings, and various business meetings I had about 8 or 10 events per day. So for me, I go to DC to work, but it is really fun work.
Because Son of the Black Sword won the first annual Dragon Award for Best Fantasy last year, they asked me to be a presenter for this year, and I was able to give out the award for Best Military Sci-Fi or Fantasy, a very competitive category with a bunch of excellent authors in it. The winner was Richard Fox, who I spoke with afterwards, and it turns out he’s a really nice guy.
John Ringo and I won the Dragon Award for Best Fantasy for Monster Hunter Memoirs: Grunge. In this case I did the opposite of campaigning (for the record, the Dragon is awesome and WANTS authors to campaign for their stuff!) because I won last year I kept telling everybody not to nominate me again, because I wanted to share the love. But Grunge got nominated, only it was a collaboration, and in this case, it was Ringo’s baby. It was his idea, and he even wrote the rough draft before I was ever involved. So I was really happy to win, just so I could hand the award to John to see the look on his face. The guy is awesome, has entertained millions of people, and it is damned nice to see him get some award recognition for once. Congratulations, man, you earned it.
The Dragon Awards were great, and one of the things that I noticed was that every group in fandom was represented. There were nominees from big publishers to indy, living legends to new guys, and everything in between. There were winners who are total bad asses who have traditionally been snubbed by other snooty awards. This was all about the fans and their enthusiasm.
This was truly a popularity contest rather than a politics contest. DragonCon set out to create an award that represents what is beloved by all of fandom, and that’s what they’re doing. They had twice as many voters this year as last year, and I hope they double it again next time.
There were many highlights. We had one panel just for the Monster Hunter Files anthology which is coming out next month, with Jim Butcher, Jonathan Maberry, Jody Lynn Nye, Faith Hunter, and Quincy Allen. I got to hang out briefly with my friends Laurell K. Hamilton and her people. I got to meet Jerry Pournelle and Larry Niven. I got to be on a panel with a bunch of bad ass super stars and I got most of the audience to Hooon (Jim started it!). I did a late night improv comedy panel, where a member of the audience got super drunk and kept F bombing us from the front row, so I just worked him into the act as our ship’s extremely angry repairman, named Popcorn.
Though if there was one thing that I was proud of, it was on the Magnificent Men of Fantasy panel, where it was a bunch of bestsellers talking about their work, in one of the large panel rooms with a big audience. I got there early for some reason and was the first panelist to arrive, so I just stood in front and started talking to the audience. Then the moderator came in, and made an announcement about how the DragonCon charity this year was the Special Olympics (plus they sent a bunch of money to Houston too) and how they were passing a donation bucket around, (and this is the important bit) about how the Young Adult Track was neck and neck with the Lit Track (the one we were currently on) in total donations so far.
You guys have to know that I will gladly beclown myself for charity. So I then went on a giant rant declaring war against the YA track, and how THIS WILL NOT STAND! Are we going to let ourselves get pushed around by a bunch of YA authors? They’ve already stolen all our shelf space in stores. Now some wizard kid with a lightning bolt on his head thinks he is going to out charity us? HELL NO! Down with Percy Jackson! A couple minutes into this, the DC staff brought me a microphone so I could really go on a rampage.
At the very end of the panel they were asking us for a single piece of our most valuable writing advice we could possibly give, and since I was last I said the most important key to success at being a pro author is GIVE MONEY TO DEFEAT THE AWFUL YOUNG ADULT TRACT! Out came the wallets. Somebody ran up and dropped in a big bill. I shouted HER NEXT BOOK WILL BE A HUGE BESTSELLER! After the panel they called me over to see the stuffed to overflowing charity bucket. Because nothing motivates my fans like laughter and spite.
I’ll have to email the organizers once they get home and see if we actually did beat YA. 😀
This was the lovely Mrs. Correia’s first ever DragonCon, and she had a blast. Plus this was the first DC I’ve ever been to where the weather was nice. Normally it is like 100 and humid, but this was like 75 with a nice breeze. It was downright abnormal for Atlanta. People could actually wear their costumes all day and not die of heat exhaustion and dehydration.
Dragon has an absurd amount of cosplay. I’m not a good photographer so I don’t take very many pictures myself, but just plug DragonCon costumes into Google and you’ll see what I mean. It is truly a spectacle.
Thousands of volunteers worked their ass off to make this thing run. If you know any con volunteers, thank them, because they are bad asses.
I’ve seen where there are some perpetually outraged whiners whining about the Dragon Awards on the internet today, and doing their best to dismiss or insult DragonCon… Here’s the thing, when seventy thousand nerds gather together to party so hard they take over four blocks of a major US city for four days, they truly do not give a shit that some random snoot thinks they are having fun wrong.
So for all the detractors, rather than waste my time arguing about how your butt hurts, my entire response to you is summed up in this photograph:
Rock on, DragonCon. Keep on being awesome.