Monday, July 25, 2016

Liberty Con 29 Highlights II: A More Complete AAR

Many apologies for missing two posts. I had family in town, and that meant a lot more socializing, at least one grand adventure, and - consequently - less actual writing.

Before I move on to other topics, I first need to give you all a quick AAR of my time at Liberty Con 29.

I had such extensive plans. I was going to see as many science panels as possible; I was going to go to the Monster Hunter panel; I was going to go to the Dark Tide panel; I was going to join the Flies on their annual pre-con range trip; and more than anything else, I was going to par-tay with the Huns. But as they say, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Some goals were accomplished; others were sacrificed in the interest of preserving my health.

On Friday morning, I did go to the range with Paul and Sarah Clithero. It was a sweltering Tennessee summer day, but fortunately, I did not become a heat casualty. Knowing the danger, I think I consumed about a gallon of water whenever I wasn't trying out a variety of personal firearms. At the same time, I confirmed that semi-autos will not work for me and that a revolver is probably the best choice.

By the time we got back to the Chattanooga Choo-Choo, the first panel of the con was already underway. What's more, I was sweating bullets and really needed a sponge-down and a change of clothes. Thus, I did not get to see the report on the proceedings of the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop I'd been meaning to attend. I did, however, make the Monster Hunter panel, which - as I mentioned in this post - took a turn I did not expect and would have put the kibosh on any claims that these authors are regressive bigots if only certain people had heard what they had to say and seen how compassionately they treated Toni Weisskopf's disabled daughter.

After dinner in the con suite Friday night, I went to the First Contact Improv panel. I was very excited to see this one; I'd seen the very same panel done at Dragon Con in 2015, so I knew hilarity was likely to ensue -- especially since Larry Correia was, once again, one of the panelists. I especially liked the audience participation feature that Speaker added this time around; it gave Sue Phillips and me a chance to tag team with our audience cards - and get a big laugh - by demanding one panelist explain the ship's drive in the style of a David Weber info-dump.

By the end of the improv panel, the heat had finally sapped the last of my strength, so after attending a panel on whether or not science fiction has killed the space program (answer: no, not really), I went back to my room and essentially collapsed. A bit later, I was woken up by crazy loud thunder thanks to "the Tennessee monsoon," something that's hit every Liberty Con I've ever attended. Obviously, I wasn't outside to witness the wind and sideways rain, but I hear it was pretty epic and basically destroyed any chance of using the con's outdoor party space until the following evening.

Saturday, I woke up around 8:30, grabbed breakfast in the con suite, and headed off to an interesting panel on Pandemics and Biosecurity. Other events I attended early Saturday include Tom Kratman's lecture on the art of warfare - which was delivered in Kratman's inimitable style; a panel on the history of "handwavium" in science fiction; and, of course, the Baen Traveling Road Show and Prize Patrol. At the last, I earned a t-shirt when, after Larry Correia announced that Son of the Black Sword had been nominated for a Gemmell Fantasy Award, I teased him about not being a "real" writer and drew a laugh from Toni Weisskopf and the audience.

Another positive? Before the Baen presentation, I asked Larry for an autograph, and he readily agreed.

After the Baen panel, I had a long break to fit in shopping, dinner, etc. I also took the opportunity to take a two hour nap. There was no way I was missing the Mad Scientist panel this year!

At the print shop, I bought some new additions to my Lovecraft-inspired collection...

... as well as this, which is just cool. In the huckster's room, meanwhile, I lost mumble-mumble dollars on books...

... and at the hotel gift shop, I bought these to keep me awake. Because Chattanooga!

By the way, about that Mad Scientist panel: There has been some very careless talk around the nets claiming that Liberty Con is a redoubt for creationists and the scientifically ignorant. But if you've ever been to a science panel at Liberty Con, you know this is an utter falsehood. This con is replete with STEM professionals of all types, and nothing makes this more apparent than the late-night discussions that characterize the Mad Scientist panel. This year, those in attendance debated the new science on the cumulative effects of multiple concussions, the significance of the odd readings vis-à-vis Tabby's Star, and several other currently relevant developments. No -- we are not dumb hicks here in Southeast fandom. We are, in reality, very invested in both scientific and social progress.

We also like to have fun, though -- which I proceeded to do in the con suite after the Mad Scientist panel came to an end. I had a good conversation with my Dragon Con dad, Bill Ritch, about vintage science fiction and lesser known musicals that lasted until the con suite staff announced last call and then kicked us out to clean up.

The following morning, I slept in (obviously), then went to the Dark Tide Rising panel/mass signing. The indisputable highlight of that panel was the moment John Ringo was presented with a piece of fan art that really has to be seen to be believed.

Ringo was quite happy with his gift. As Chris Jackson remarked at the time, "I think we've found John's happy place."

After some more shopping and a panel on transhumanism, the con - sadly - wound to a close. Once again, I had a great time. It's just a shame my parents couldn't make it this year. Hopefully their health will be more stable by Liberty Con 30 -- which, I'm sure, will be quite a celebration!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a nice low stress (until you run out of money) event. Lacks the virtue signalling and moral superiority to be a "real" convention, but you can't have everything. Would love to go to one.