Keycon 28 (1)

This past week­end I went to Key­con 28,  the lat­est iter­a­tion of Win­nipeg’s sci­ence fic­tion con­ven­tion.  I had been invit­ed by Craig Rus­sell, and since I’d nev­er been to a con, I fig­ured, Why not?

I arrived in the late morn­ing, and stalled my car going into the hotel’s park­ing garage (it’s a steep climb, and my car was in third gear, not first as I had thought). Once I parked, I found my way to the eleventh floor, where I signed in, paid up, and got a badge with PAT J. writ­ten on it.

I ran into Craig almost imme­di­ate­ly. He was easy to pick out: of all the gents wear­ing suits there, his was the one with­out gog­gles or gears or brass accou­trements. Glanc­ing at the con pro­gramme, I noticed that there was a pan­el dis­cus­sion under­way on the state of SF/F lit­er­a­ture. The two of us snuck in to the back row, and caught 75% of the dis­cus­sion. It was a good chat; appar­ent­ly high fan­ta­sy is out­selling SF by a con­sid­er­able mar­gin, and at least one author is appar­ent­ly being asked to pro­vide three fan­ta­sy nov­els for every SF man­u­script that he turns in. This might be part­ly because fan­ta­sy seems to lend itself far bet­ter to long, sprawl­ing epics, mul­ti-nov­el series, and the like. Con­sid­er The Wheel of Time, or George R. R. Mar­t­in’s series (A Song of Ice and Fire, IIRC), or even the Dark Tow­er saga that I love so much. Now try to name a sci­ence fic­tion series that last­ed more than four nov­els. (Oth­er than L. Ron Hub­bard’s dekalo­gy, which I’m pret­ty sure he wrote just so he could say he had writ­ten a dekalogy.)

One of the pan­elists was a gent named Chad­wick, who orders in the SF at McNal­ly-Robin­son’s Win­nipeg store.  I’d met him at Words Alive.  He told me that there were copies of Tesser­acts in the deal­ers’ room, and I should go sign them when I got a chance.  “Sure,” said I.

The next ses­sion fea­tured Craig Rus­sell read­ing from his nov­el Black Bot­tle Man. He read for a sol­id hour — basi­cal­ly he just start­ed at Chap­ter 1 and went till six­ty min­utes had passed, which took us neat­ly to the end of Chap­ter 5.  It was a good read­ing — Craig’s back­ground is in the the­atre, and he rec­om­mend­ed that, if you’re going to do read­ings, and you’re ner­vous about it, take some act­ing lessons.  Good advice.  Read­ing in church prob­a­bly helps quite a bit too.

After that I had about an hour till the next event, so I wan­dered into the deal­ers’ room. Sure enough, the McNal­ly-Robin­son table had a cou­ple copies of Tesser­acts, so I signed them.  As I was putting them back in place, I thought, Gee, that guy looks famil­iar.  So, long sto­ry short, I intro­duced myself to Robert J. Sawyer.  I even remem­bered to give him a card.  (All in all, I took 16 cards with me to Key­con, and only came home with one.  Great success.)

After that, I returned to the pan­el room for a talk on the state of Man­i­to­ba fic­tion.  It was called a pan­el dis­cus­sion, but real­ly, with three pan­elists and five atten­dees, it became more of a chat.  Craig (who was one of the pan­elists) intro­duced me to Chris Rutkows­ki, local UFO and ghost author, who said, “Yeah, I’ve seen your site.”  So I guess I bet­ter keep this site up to date, eh?

Next time:  My meet­ing with the On Spec editors.