I was invited to be the Master of Ceremonies for LibertyCon 26 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. This was my second LibertyCon. Despite the fact that I accidentally stole Ben Bova’s seat during the opening ceremonies for 2010, they still invited me back, so it’s all good.
The best thing about LibertyCon is that it makes you feel like a local. It is just a fun, laid back, good time. The organizers and volunteers were obviously working their butts off to make it a great experience for everybody, and they were always nice. Uncle Timmy has run LibertyCon forever, but he stepped down last year and handed the torch (literally) to his daughter Brandy. I think she did a really good job.
I got to meet a ton of fans. I lost count of how many people I talked to over the last few days. I really do love my fans, as you guys are awesome, smart, good looking, and totally badass. I was on a few panels that were solo shows, and they all had a good turnout, and the Monster Hunters one was packed. It is nice for a writer’s ego to meet fans and have them talk about your work, and it is even better to meet people in person who you only know by their Facebook avatar’s or comments here on the blog.
Our Guest of Honor was Kevin J. Anderson, and he attended with his wife Rebecca Moesta. Science Guest of Honor was Catherine Asaro, who has a pile of PhDs, writes books, and also sings and dances. The Artist Guest of Honor was Vincent Di Fate, who I didn’t get to talk to until the very end because the airlines screwed him over and he didn’t arrive until the last day. The Bielaczyc brothers, Paul and Michael, were the Special Guests of Honor. First time I met them, but they seemed like really nice guys. Paul had the misfortune of ending up on Celebrity Jeopardy against me and Speaker to Lab Animals, one of the leading big brain super-scientists in the country, so it wasn’t pretty, but more on that later.
I’ve met Kevin Anderson a few times at various cons and Book Expo, and I like him. He is the definition of professional. Kevin writes and works and works and writes some more, and there’s no namby pamby talk of mystical magical writer muse mumbo jumbo, it is just getting down to business and writing like crazy and being a good story teller. I respect the hell out of that. This was the first time I’ve met Rebecca, but I got to coach her on pistol shooting (and she liked the Walther P99 more once I pointed out that it was one of James Bond’s guns).
Yes. LibertyCon has an unofficial range session. Because LIBERTY. A bunch of the fans get together, bring lots of hardware, kidnap the guests, and head to the range. Mad Mike Williamson brought a Trapdoor Springfield, and I’m ashamed to admit that I’d never shot one of those before. What a sweet rifle.
I was finally able to meet Preacherman, i.e. Bayou Renaissance Man, i.e. Peter Grant, The Most Interesting Man in the World, in person for the first time. I’ve known him online for well over a decade. (and I’m going to be Book Bombing his 2nd book here pretty soon). I’d even met his wife Dot at DragonCon before, but I’d never met Peter.
We jokingly call LibertyCon “Baen WorldCon” because a good sized chunk of the attendees are Baen Barflies and a lot of Baen authors are guests. I mentioned Mike and Catherine, but I also saw Sarah Hoyt, John Ringo, Patrick Vanner, Les Johnson, Chuck Gannon, and I’m so fried today that I’m probably forgetting some others. Our publisher/editor/boss, Toni Weisskopf, was there too, and it is always nice to see Toni (and not just because she signs the checks, Toni is really awesome). Baen authors rock.
The Lovely Mrs. Correia (a running joke because I’ve always been in the habit of not using my family member’s names on the internet because of my hate mailers, but who I shall refer to from here on out as Bridget) came with me. She had a great time too, and since she’s way funnier, nicer, smarter, and prettier than me, I think the fans were left wondering how the hell I wound up with her. Also at one point we got into a political argument with someone, and it was demonstrated to the bystanders that if you mess with the Correias, I’m not the tough one either, because Bridget will take you DOWN.
LibertyCon was in a new place this time, the actual Chattanooga Choo Choo, and we even slept in a train car. I like the new hotel a lot better, as it has a sort of industrial Victorian vibe that’s almost steampunk, and therefore perfect for a sci-fi con.
I was on a bunch of panels, all sorts of different topics. On the Top 10 Things That Will End the World, it was a bunch of hard core scientists, then a few sci-fi writers who’ve had to do tons of research on actual science, and then me… a fantasy author with a business degree… I was mostly there for comedy relief. (my vote was that the world would either be destroyed by Cthulu or Speaker’s research gone mad, flip a coin)
However, I was on another panel about politics in sci-fi which asked the question if sci-fi had ever hypothesized anything better than our current system of representative democracy. Personally, I think there have been some ideas floated by leftists, but they’re usually BS. I was fairly quiet for the first half, but then some… well let’s just say ideas that I took issue with were presented. Being a pretty big proponent of the Constitutional Republic and a squeeing fan boy of the founding fathers, I sort of went Conan on this panel, which shouldn’t shock any of my regular readers.
I went off about how we had the greatest, luckiest, combination of political brilliance ever gathered give us the foundation of the most fantastic system ever devised by man, and we’ve gone out of our way to screw it up. I explained my position that there are two fundamental competing mutually exclusive philosophies at work, A. people own the government vs. B. the government owns the people. If the government owns the people, then we’re just assets on a balance sheet to be managed, and if assets go bad you liquidate them, and that’s the sort of inane bullshit that has given us 100,000,000 people murdered by their own governments over the last hundred years. Then me and author Steve Simmons had a lot of fun listing all of the people we’d disenfranchise from the vote. And sorry, all of you who cheered, no, I’m not running for congress.
There is a traditional late night zombie panel as a LibertyCon tradition. I was on it back in 2010, and this time I moderated it. And holy moly, if you’re moderating a zombie panel at midnight, just remember when you start taking questions from the audience that they’re probably going to be wasted. It was a good panel, and I look forward to reading John Ringo’s new zombie series, because man… He’s got a scene that sounds even grosser than the super snowblower scene from Monster Hunter Alpha, involving a tank hydroplaning through a mob of zombies at sixty miles an hour.
I moderated another panel about horror, and I had a bunch of newer writers on it, including Jason Cordova and Larry Atchley, who I’d only previously met on the internet. Good guys. I’m trying to remember the others, but wow, I was on a lot of panels. It was like nonstop for three days.
Bridget and I hung out a lot with the Hoyts. Dan and Sarah are good people, and Sarah has declared that since we’re both Portuguese we are somehow related, so we’ve officially been cousins since LibertyCon 2010. I always enjoy seeing the Hoyts. And I feel like a doofus, because I didn’t realize that A Few Good Men was already out. (I loved the beginning of the Dark Ships series) Luckily Bridget snagged a copy.
So after staying up until 3 AM every night of the con, we flew home yesterday, then drove for 3 hours to pick up the kids and grandma’s, then drove 3 hours home. Of course, while we were gone, our refrigerator died, but that’s just how it goes. It’s a small price to pay to go to an awesome convention.
LibertyCon 26 rocked.
EDIT: I just realized over on Facebook that I forgot Celebrity Jeopardy. When I found out I was going against Speaker I figured I was toast. Luckily it turned out I was the only comic book geek up there, which gave me a narrow lead. Then Speaker closed the gap by knowing Dr. Who trivia. But I hung in there and actually maintained a narrow lead up until final Jeopardy. NASA space vehicles… A topic I know zip about. Crap… So I risked zero and hoped that he’d get it wrong. Nope. Thank you, Sky Lab. Speaker wins it. 🙂
Though we decided that if we were playing Trivial Pursuit, we’d make a pretty tough to beat team. Back in college Bridget and I would play Trivial Pursuit with other couples… Once… Between my geekery and her history and art background we would mudstomp everybody, and then blunder around for an hour trying to answer a single sports question so we could get that damned green pie piece… Sports. The bane of geeks everywhere.