This past weekend, I went to Minicon 49 at the RadiShTree Hotel in Bloomington. It’s a book-oriented science fiction convention with an older-skewing crowd, running around 500 people. So it’s not overcrowded and a good place to talk to your once a year friends.
This year’s theme was “Pirates and Airships” largely because the artist Guest of Honor was Don Maitz, who people who are not SF fans may know best from the Captain Morgan rum bottles. (Fun information: Mr. Maitz’s first draft of the Captain Morgan painting had the pirate in period-correct clothing, but he decided that the anachronistic outfit looked more “piratey.” ) Also on the Guest of Honor list were Jenny Wurtz (the Mistwraith series, and Mr. Maitz’s wife) and Catherynne M. Valente (the Fairyland series.)
Minicon 49 was listed as three and a half days, with some activities starting on Thursday, but I arrived Friday. I attended the “Fandom or Fandoms?” panel, which discussed generational differences in how speculative fiction fandom is approached. I stayed for the “Healthy Online Gaming: Just One More Turn” panel, which talked about online gaming addiction, how to prevent it, how to deal with it and how to spot if you have it.
Opening Ceremony (“ceremonies!”) were fun as always, with a rousing beginning, Jenny Wurtz marching in playing the bagpipes. I was saddened to learn that Blue Petal (a long time fannish personality who once played in a convention RPG I ran) had passed away.
After that, I went to the “Navigating the World of Small Press Publishing” panel, with several authors and publishers discussed the joys and pitfalls of working with small presses. One of the panelists didn’t make it as he was so busy selling his book that he lost track of time. (Also because last minute mixups meant that panelists weren’t named in the programs.)
Late night was party time (I especially enjoyed the Helsinki Worldcon bid party) and Moneyduck. For those of you who have not heard of the latter, Moneyduck is a game where you write a word or phrase on a piece of paper and pass it to the next person. That person draws a picture of the words. They then conceal the original phrase and pass it to the next person, who writes words based on the pictures. Repeat until the paper has gone all the way around the table.
On Saturday morning, I went to the Catherynne Valente Reading, where she gave us a snippet from her upcoming Fairyland book. Should be interesting.
That afternoon, I moderated the “Anime for Speculative Fiction Fans” panel, the recommendations from which are in an earlier post. There was a young woman in the front row who wanted to study moderation as she will be doing that for a Hetalia panel at ConVergence; that inspired me to do a good job, and I am told it showed.
Later that afternoon, I also participated on the “Page 117” panel. The idea was to pick a random page from a book, in this case the hundred and seventeenth, and read it aloud. The panelists and audience then discussed whether they’d continue reading based on that page. As it turns out, some good books have boring 117s. One particular volume had a page that was so over the top macho action that it set me to giggles, even more when it was revealed that the protagonist was a woman. All my entries were from books I was donating to the freebie table; they were all gone by the end of the day, and I hope the new owners enjoy them.
I wrapped up my panels for the day with “The Year in SF” by which was meant primarily SF books. There’s a few I am looking forward to seeing. The parties I spent the most time at were the Ethel Romm Meet & Greet, and the Livejournal Party.
Sunday morning, I went to the Film Room’s presentation of “Wolf Children,” an anime movie about a widow who has to raise her kids/cubs alone in a world that hates and fears wolves. It’s a bit melancholy. After that was done, I stopped by the end of the Janny Wurtz interview.
My main panel for the day was “Maenads, Oracles and Madwomen”, which turned out to be mostly about Baba Yaga and how she is a liminal figure. (One of the panelists mentioned how nice it was to be around a group of people who used the word “liminal” in conversation.) After that, it was time for the “Mega Moneyduck Reveal” event. A roll of paper had been set up by the Consuite, and the game had been played all weekend. What started as the phrase “silent and very fast” wound up being something about birthday cake. There were some hilarious segues.
Closing ceremonies were also fun. Catherynne Valente mentioned that she’d been nominated for a Hugo award; we’ll see how she does. The ceremony culminated in the usual assassination of the MnStf President, and then it was time to go home.
The book I was reading for most of the weekend was “The Why of Things”, about causality. it sparked several interesting conversations. I’ll have a review of it up in a few days. I also got to see pieces of three Syfy Original Movies, which all appeared to be parodies of giant monster flicks.
Next year is Minicon 50, which will be four (exhausting) days, and the planned guests of honor are Larry Niven, Jane Yolen, Brandon Sanderson and Adam Stemple. You might want to get your registration in early.