Open Thread: Minicon 53
As noted in my previous con reports, Minicon is a yearly science fiction convention set on Easter weekend. While Minicon 50 was a few years ago, this year is the closest to the Fiftieth Anniversary of the first Minicon, so it had the subtitle of “The Pedantic One.” This year the convention moved to a new hotel, the Doubletree in Saint Louis Park. This was technically closer to where I live, but the way the buses worked required me to go all the way to downtown Minneapolis and come back out.
Luckily, I had Friday off, so was able to arrive early and learn how to navigate the hotel. It’s a bit less accessible than the Radishtree. I dropped off a pile of goodies at the freebie table and was happy to see everything was gone within an hour. (Then I picked up some new stuff from there over the weekend.)
Although Minicon mainstay Dave Romm passed away last year, his presence was felt throughout the weekend, including two tables full of Romm memorabilia available for free-will offerings.
As always, I was nice seeing the folks I only see at Minicon, even though with many of them it’s a nodding acquaintance. Attendance was upwards of 500, which is pretty standard for Minicon, but in general it felt quieter this year.
I went to the “Science Fiction in Classic Rock” panel in the A/V room, which mostly consisted of listening to classic rock cuts from the 1970s. Nostalgia blast!
After that, I went to the Film Room to see “H.P. Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom”, a low-budget animated film about a young Howard Philips being transported to another world of horror and ice. Some nice ideas (and Ron Perlman was excellent as the Shoggoth) but needed a lot more work.
Opening Ceremonies introduced the guests of honor, Rachel Swirsky, Lyda Morehouse (who I got to be on several panels with) and the late Jon Arfstrom, an artist whose child was there to discuss his little seen surreal paintings.
I visited several parties before hitting the sack relatively early. In the morning, I was glad I’d stayed at the hotel, because we had a late March snowstorm!
Though small, the art and dealers room had some nice pieces, and I was pleased to see several book vendors, something ConVergence has lost in recent years. I picked up a couple of presents.
I spent some time in the Consuite, which suffered some from the venue change; better luck next year, I’m sure. I missed the water quality presentation, which I heard from several people was excellent and informative.
Then it was time for the first of four panels I was on, “The Art of the Review” which I shared with three other reviewers. If you’re looking for good recommendations, consider following Russell Letson’s reviews in Locus as he only ever reviews books he genuinely likes. He and Greg Johnson (New York Review of Books) ran the panel I saw immediately afterwards, “The Year in SF” in which they discussed their favorite new books.
After that I loitered around a bit, having late lunch in the Dover (the hotel restaurant) and tried the “Arrakis Sandworm Treat.” This was an enormous soft pretzel with three dipping sauces.
My next panel was “Combining the Mystery/Detective Genre with SF” in which we discussed the many good SFnal mystery stories and a few bad ones. Vampire detectives would be a panel all by themselves, though they tend to be more inclined to “romance” genre conventions than SF or horror.
I then went to the “Winning through Losing” panel in which the guests of honor talked about how bad experiences gave them what they needed to succeed.
And then it was time for “The Meaning of Captain America” where I said that “when properly written, Captain America stands for all the good things about America, like punching Nazis in the face.” We discussed favorite plotlines, our preferred Steve Rogers personality traits, and what Captain America means from LGBTQ+ and Native American perspectives. This panel was a lot of fun!
After that, I spent a bunch more time at parties (I especially liked the Dr. Who room) before watching late night anime in my room (neat to see a preview of the new FLCL sequel.)
Sunday morning, I discovered upon entering the Consuite that there had been a very late night nacho party that had not cleaned up after itself very well. Not cool, guys. But I was able to get breakfast before going off to my last panel.
“This Will End Well” was all about endings. The good ones, the bad ones, the ones that should have been good but violated a premise of the story…. We did do a lot of griping. Pro tip: If you have a framing device at the beginning of the story, don’t forget to close the frame at the end.
Back to the Film Room to watch “Conlanging: The Art of Crafting Tongues”, which is a Canadian documentary about artificial languages and the people who make them and those that use them. Fascinating stuff, and I am acquainted with a couple of the interview subjects.
I came in midway through the “Angels in Literature” panel, which also covered demons (which are sometimes fallen angels), then stayed for “Breaking the Rules in Writing” (Pro Tip: You need to know the rules so you can break them deliberately for best effect.)
And then it was Closing Ceremonies time, and the traditional assassination of the MN-StF president. Who had to come back to life, as she’s got the job again next year.
Unfortunately, I had started to feel severely under the weather, and I had to get up the next morning at 4 A.M., so I skipped the Dave Romm Memorial Service and went home to sleep.
How was your Minicon?