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.