I got back from DragonCon at 2:00 AM Tuesday morning. My brain has now recovered enough to write an AAR.
I love DragonCon. It is Nerd Mardi Gras. It is a non-stop party. Officially there are something like 70,000 people there, spread across a couple of blocks of Atlanta. Unofficially, it is insane. I couldn’t tell you how many people show up for the parade, but it packs the streets. The line to get into the dealers room is 3 blocks long, and even then, it moves.
If you haven’t been there it is kind of hard to describe. DragonCon isn’t like any other convention. It is far more energetic than most. The average attendee age is young, probably mid-twenties. DragonCon isn’t snooty or pretentious. The people there don’t care what you are into. They’re not stuck up. They’re not going to tell you that you aren’t a Trufan. They’re there to have fun, see cool stuff, make friends, and have a big party. Well, actually it is more like 200 smaller parties that are all smooshed up next to each other.
There are thousands of costumes. I took a lot of pictures, but they were on my phone and I’m a terrible photographer. Just google DragonCon pictures and you’ll see what I mean. If you want to see why this giant nerd party attracts so many single young people just google Women of DragonCon.
In between the parties, there’s programming. I don’t know how many hundreds of events there are, but if you’re into something, there’s an event for it. I was there for 4 days and I saw a fraction of it. I barely even made it into one of the three main hotels because I didn’t have any panels in the Marriot this year. My schedule was weird, with no panels the first day, only one the second, and then five panels, a signing, and a luncheon on the third day. That was hectic.
This year I did two signings at the Missing Volume, and a bunch at Kevin J. Anderson’s Wordfire Press booth. I can’t even guess how many books I signed. It was a lot. I don’t know if it is my record (that might still be SLC ComicCon) but I signed books pretty much nonstop. Because I’m signing at the Wordfire booth at two more cons over the next three weeks, they ordered a lot more books than they thought they would need for me. It didn’t matter. The fans still about cleaned them out.
One quick note on Sad Puppy related topics, because it came up a lot in conversation over the last few days. CHORFs like to constantly bitch about how cons needs more “diversity” and “inclusion” while their snoot fests are white as mayonnaise and the average attendee is 87 years old. Meanwhile, DragonCon looks like America and is fucking awesome. Why? Because normal people just want to be entertained and have fun.
I have to admit it was pretty neat how many people came over to talk to me about the Sad Puppies campaign. Lots of them weren’t regular fans, or had never heard of me before this, but they were in the same boat, and were tired of the preachy, bossy, snooty, pretentious nonsense sucking the fun out of their hobby too. Oh, those folks loved the wooden buttholes. Strangely enough there was only one really negative douchebag experience I’m aware of, and sadly that doofus didn’t talk to my face, but instead got all bitchy at the poor unaffiliated dude running the booth I was signing in, and I missed it!
But then I was presented with the super prestigious LaMancha award during the super prestigious first annual LaMancha award ceremony, by the ever prestigious John Ringo.
The fact that the gnome is tilting at that windmill with a nazi tank is just one of the added touches that make the LaMancha so prestigious. It is crafted out of the finest southern bass wood and delicately hand carved with a poignant message. I was honored to accept this prestigious award on behalf of Brando TorgersOn, because he’s busy defending America.
I was on a bunch of panels about a bunch of different topics, and if I try to list all of the various writers I was on there with I’ll probably screw up and forget somebody. So since I have post-DragonCon brain I’ll refrain from listing them all. It is kind of fun to be on a panel with somebody you know absolutely hates your guts and talks lots of crap about you online, but when that happens I just smile and remain totally polite. I’m a professional like that. It is always amusing how I’m never called a racist/sexist/homophobic hatemonger of hatey hate-hate in person to my face.
As for highlights, the urban fantasy panel was a lot of fun, because we had me, Jonathan Maberry, James Tuck, John Hartness, Carrie Vaughn, Faith Hunter, and Laurell K. Hamilton. That is a great bunch of authors there. Those are also some of the top sellers in the entire genre, all on one panel. Sadly, no Butcher, even though he was at the con I never crossed paths with him. I’ll see him in a couple of weeks at Salt Lake ComicCon (we are playing Fiasco one night!). Speaking of Jim Butcher, total geek cred nerd moment for me, I was told about this later by people who’d been in the audience. Butcher was on a panel and they were asked the question, other than your stuff name one thing that you would really like to see made into a movie or a TV show, and Butcher said Monster Hunter International… Oh, hell yeah.
After that panel I got to hang out and eat dinner with Laurell and her crew. They’re just great people.
Then late Sunday night I was on what had to be one of the weirdest panels I’ve ever been on. It was First Contact Improv. Now, keep in mind, I’m not a comedian. I don’t know how to do improv comedy. This was run by Speaker to Lab Animals, everyone’s favorite super genius neuro scientist Ted Roberts. The panelists/test subjects were me, Keith DeCandido and Kal Spriggs. The set up was that we were on a mission to make first contact with an alien species, and Speaker would pull random cards out that complicated matters.
It got off to a rocky start. None of us really knew what we were doing. Some people in the audience left. But then about ten minutes in… Well… It started getting weird. I figured what the hell. Let’s run with this. And then it got weirder. The aliens communicated only via LOLcat memes, but it didn’t get really weird until we discovered you could get high by licking the alien LOLcats. And then it got really weird.
So by the end we were trafficking in shaved, butter greased LOLcat anus, through the empire of giant penguins who communicated through flatulence, and then it just degenerated into fart noises and me can-can dancing with the audience. Long story short, I’m told it was really funny, and I may have inadvertently touched Speaker inappropriately while I was pretending to be Jar Jar Binks, but it was okay, because he was William Shatner… No. Actually that makes it worse somehow.
One cool thing about going to cons as a minor celebrity is that fans make cool stuff for you and give you presents. I FedExed a couple of boxes home. There was really no way I could get the four foot long spiked club through the TSA.
I also got this, machined from a solid chunk of aluminum (which sadly, is in my missing carry on, but more on that later). There was a bunch of other stuff given to me too.
And Larry Elmore gave me an autographed print of the Son of the Black Sword cover. Larry is the coolest person you’ll ever meet.
There were several people doing cosplay from my books. I thought I got a pic of the husband and wife hunter team, but I didn’t. But holy crap, check this out.
That’s just freaking cool.
But you know you’ve made it when Cookie Monster and Dora the Demo Expert show up to your panel (and give you Torx wrenches!). Yes. Not even cosplay from books, but cosplay from internet threads!
CM was his usual self, but after REDACTED REDACTED we got it all worked out with the Atlanta PD.
I started writing up the awesomeness of US Airways managing to screw up my flight home and losing my luggage, but that turned out to be big enough that it is getting its own blog post. 🙂
EDIT: I forgot to talk about the Monster Hunter panel! It was me, John Ringo, and Toni Weisskopf. It was fun. They put us in one of the big movie star rooms and we still filled most of it. We talked about the upcoming MHI projects, Ringo read from Monster Hunter Grunge.
Also, very important, because this is the first time I think we’ve officially announced it (well, Toni was there, so that makes it official) after the next solo MHI novel by me (back to Owen) there is going to be a Julie Shackleford novel called Monster Hunter Guardian cowritten by me and Sarah Hoyt! There you go. That’s now official.