Immortal Confusion Report

First thing’s first: I didn’t lose my head.

Now that I’ve made the obligatory Highlander reference, I can start with the report.

This was my first ConFusion, and the con’s first year at the venue. I had no real problems with the venue, though I think the restaurant management may not have taken the ConCom at their word when said ConCom informed them that a lot of people would be eating at their restaurant.

Since ConFusion is a smaller, more fan-focused convention, it had, for me, a more relaxed feel than a con like WorldCon or World Fantasy. It was closest in feel for me to WisCon, which is awesome, since I really like WisCon.

I came in on Thursday night, expecting programming to start right away on Friday. That just meant that I got some work and reading done before things got spooled up. Part of that spooling up was a good three-hour chunk of playing Talisman (yes, that Talisman. The newest version of it, at least), before we all gave up and went on our way. As is to be expected, I was turned into a Toad before I even had my first turn. Ah, Talisman, how I missed you. The game could definitely use a stronger built-in level of momentum toward completion.

Thanks to the generosity and cleverness of Programming Chair Dave Klecha, I snuck onto three panels.

The first was “Let’s Remake Star Wars,” where the dominant sentiment from the panelists and audience was “Actually, no, let’s not. But if we have to, here are some thoughts.” I think I was probably the panelist most forgiving of the prequel trilogy, which stands to reason since I was also the youngest panelist. I still think that Episode I was a big mess, and that the prequels pale in comparison to the originals, but in-between griping about the prequels, we did come up with some cool possibilities, including discussing what Disney might do with the franchise. I remain cautiously optimistic that we might see the new era of Star Wars be as successful as the Marvel Studios films and Avengers arc have been.

My second panel for the weekend as a participant was “Fandom vs. Social Media.” That panel was a bit odd, since the title of the panel didn’t exactly match the description. I was very excited by the description, which I’ll copy again here:

“Geek culture has become somewhat ubiquitous these days, and with its ascent, some of our pastimes and obsessions have really gone mainstream. With that comes criticism – some valid, some less – and with critique an almost inevitable fandom backlash. Is it good that some of our favorite things have become too big to easily evaluate in a critical way? Does the legitimacy gained by the popularity of a Game of Thrones come at the price of being able to point out some of its flaws, and is this a worthwhile trade when considering the vitality of the genre?”

That topic, right there, is one I was super-excited to dive into and pick fights with, especially with my Subcultural Studies background. Hell, it’s practically the dissertation topic I proposed while I was applying to Media Studies and Communications doctoral programs a few years back. We didn’t end up doing that version of the panel.

We were unfortunately missing two of the panelists, so it was just the three of us: the moderator, Peter V. Brett, and myself. We managed a decent chat about distinguishing public and private lives, how to protect your fannish activities from prying and/or disapproving bosses when you need to, and the utility of social media in fandom. But I was kind of pulling for the other topic. There will be other cons, and plenty of chances to share my opinions on the matter.

The third panel was probably the most interesting (to me) of my three. This one was called “What’s Still Taboo?”, discussing societal taboos and how to use them in writing. The panel focused mostly on the first part of that topic, though we talked through several matters as they pertained to writing, and despite a very sensitive topic and a fairly full house, the conversation was very amicable. I was extra-impressed with the maturity of all participants involved in handling the topic.

In addition to a variety of other solid panels, I managed to hit several readings by various writer friends, which included such great stories as highway-side zombie-on-zombie brawls; forensic analyses of a Wendigo; a three-way fight/conversation between an alien, a mugger, and a confused everyman; the machinations of a superhero and supervillain’s sidekicks; a badass critique of Spenser’s The Faerie Queene in the form of a short story; and a snowball fight told in Sword & Sorcery tone. I know some rockin’ writers, folks.

Awesome people met and/or hung out with over the weekend included: Saladin Ahmed, Scott H. Andrews, Brad Beaulieu, Peter V. Brett, Ron Collins, Myke Cole, Michael J. DeLuca, Scott Edelman, Jim C. Hines, Justin Howe, Doug Hulick, Howard Andrew Jones, Dave Klecha, Mary Robinette Kowal, Holly McDowell, Peter Orullian, Bryon Quartermous, Lawrence Schoen (my gracious and tidy roommate), Amy Sundberg, Sam Sykes, Diana Rowland, Derek Silver, Patrick Thomlinson, Mary G. Thompson, and at least a half-dozen others who I am currently forgetting and/or whose names I forgot due to an over-abundance of awesome stimuli during the weekend.

Big props to the staff for a marvelously-run con. I always felt very welcome, and I’m very much looking forward to coming back next year.

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