Monday, April 11, 2011

Ad Astra 2011 Con Report

I'd have to say this was the best con I've been to yet, the first one where I was genuinely melancholy it was over for another year.

Friday:

I arrived and met up with my Stopwatch Gang colleagues, then wandered over to the opening ceremonies, which I've never done before, and was surprised to see Lieutenant Governor David Onley talking at the podium. Onley is well-known in the Toronto area as a television journalist for CITY TV broadcaster before taking the post as the Queen’s representative to the province of Ontario. And he’d written a book called Shuttle: A Shattering Novel of Disaster in Space, which I didn't know.

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After that, I killed time by going to the con suite--I would just like to thank the Ad Astra staff for their courtesy and general cheerfulness--and hanging out with friends until 10 pm and the Stopwatch Gang reading. My first reading, ever.

Despite the late hour, we had about 8 people in the audience who were not friends or family, (though we suspect many had come to see Suzanne Church who seems to have a cult following for readings). Either way, we considered the panel a success.

An hour of self-congratulatory backslapping and I went home.

Saturday:

Quick breakfast in the con suite and headed to some panels. The Chilling Tales Anthology Panel was interesting and I learned Edge Publishing is bringing out more anthologies in the future, which is good for everyone.

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Editing Anthologies Panels was also interesting just in case I get all full of myself and try to put one together do some reason.

Briefly attended the Chilling Tales book launch, then went to the Speculative Fiction and Comedy, which I was supposed to be a part of, but because of scheduling mix-ups on my part, I had to be bumped. Lucky me. It ended up being a bit high-brow for my tastes, going into in-depth analysis of humor. Interesting, but not funny.

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Next three hours I wandered the dealer's room and art room, had dinner with the Stopwatch Gang and visited Julie Czerneda's Pizza Party to thank her in person for including me in Tesseracts Fifteen: A Case of Quite Curious Tales.

I attended a panel on SF's Shelf Life, and then came the BIG EVENT. The Writer's Group Behind the Scenes Panel, a live critiquing of a story. Special thanks to Suzanne Church for painting the target on her back.

We had some 18 people there, then added friends and family. Bluntly, standing room only. A great success.

From their we adjourned to the con suite and more well-deserved backslapping. In fact, a member of the SFCon, the new convention held in the fall, asked that we recreate the panel for their convention. Or at least, that’s they way I heard it. Very cool.

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Amazingly, I went home earlier than I had intended, and woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed for Sunday.

Sunday:

Went to the Ben Bova GOH PANEL. I'm really beginning to like these panels. Guys like Bova are living history of the genre, and his antidotes were both fascinating and funny. I even got a hook for one of my stories I was having problems with.

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A little gang support for Costi Gurgu and his European Science Fiction was not necessary. He had a full house, although the moderator could have taken more control. Just saying.

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The Publishing Your First Novel, was nothing new, but only because I've attended a lot of these panels.

The Giving it Away for Free Panel was a different view of, not just the giving away content on the internet, but promotional giveaways in general, and pirating. The general consensus was, it isn’t as bad as alarmists make it out to be.

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From there it was the Best Time/Worst Time To Be a Writer. I really liked this panel, and marked a milestone as it was the very first time I had ever asked a question.

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Then, finally, after much ado, my own panel, Face to Face Critique Groups, which went well.

And that was it. The day was done, the dealers were packing, guests checking out, so I left.

Again, I thought it was a great con, great experience, and I thank the Ad Astra Con-committee for inviting me.

Mike

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