Monday, February 21, 2011

Report on ConDFW X

ConDFW X was held on February 18-20, 2011, at the Crown Plaza in Dallas, Texas.   Guests included Brandon Sanderson, Tim Powers, and Brad Foster.  Jack McDevitt, last year's guest who was unable to attend due to weather, was also there.

Lee Martindale interviewing Jack McDevitt
This was a good convention.  I have only one complaint, aside from the usual that time passed too quickly and I had to miss some of the programming because I couldn't be in more than one place at the same time, and that was the con suite.  It seemed to have thin offerings this year, which is unusual because ConDFW usually has an excellent con suite.  But that's minor. 

It was a great con, a lot of fun, and I was able to interview several people.  Over the next few weeks, as I transcribe the interviews, I'll post them here.

My biggest regret was that I wasn't able to attend Tim Powers Q&A session, but at least I did manage to score a signed copy of On Stranger Tides, which is the basis for the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean IV, complete with original sketch. 
Tracy Morris, Tim Powers, Lou Antonelli, and Bill Ledbetter     

There was the usual number of writer oriented panels, on breaking out of the slush pile, how to write cross genre fiction, and that type of thing.  Steampunk was prevalent, and a good deal of the art show had a steampunk theme.  Beverly Hale's line of steampunk accessories in the art show was particularly stunning.  I noticed about four or five self-published authors had tables in the dealers' room, each of them trying to promote their books.  I leafed through one of them, and the dialogue was pretty stilted.  While I wish the author well, I hope the author is able to improve their craft. 

Probably the most eye-popping thing was in the charity auction.  Someone had donated a large (I'm talking huge here) number of movie related items:  posters, signed publicity photos, Star Trek figures.  That in and of itself wouldn't be especially eye-popping except that two of the posters were signed.  One was Apocalypse Now, and the other was The Blues Brothers.  Yes, the entire cast of both movies, including Marlon Brando and John Belushi.  I have no idea what they went for, but whoever walked away with them surely got them for less than market price.
Brandon Sanderson

Brandon Sanderson used part of his GoH session to discuss how genre fans shouldn't denigrate fans of subgenres that don't like.  His point, which was much more eloquently made than I'm stating it, was that genre readers in general, and readers of fantasy and science fiction in particular, have been looked down upon and ghetto-ized by the literary establishment and the general public for years.  We shouldn't turn around and do that to each other.

(l to r) Frank Summers, Mark Finn, Brandon Sanderson, Gloria Oliver, Stina Leitch, and Lee Martindale discussing magic systems.

The panel I found most thought-provoking was the one on how much should magic systems operate on scientific principles, meaning how well developed should the rules governing an author's magic system be worked out.  When the discussion went to the audience, I suggested that many science fiction writers use more magic than many fantasy writers because they take Clarke's Law and reverse it, making magic indistinguishable from sufficiently advanced technology.  I also suggested that maybe people were reading more fantasy than science fiction these days (at least according to sales numbers) was that fantasy was delivering the sense of wonder that science fiction used to deliver.  I may develop this idea and follow it up with another post.

All in all this was a great con.  Rather than talk about it, I'll let my photos speak for me.

(l to r)  Brad Sinor, Teresa Patterson, Kevin Hosey, Scott Cupp, and Lee Martindale discussing the making of anthologies.

The hotel lobby seen from the 2nd floor.

(l to r) Frank Summers, Thomas Knowles, Bill Fawcett, Michael Finn

A good time was had by all.

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