Gen Con Report, 2011 Edition

Well, August is drawing to a close, we’ve just ducked the worst of a hurricane, and information about school scheduling is starting to flow into my inbox.  That must mean the summer is almost over, and with it much of the convention going season.  But this one was a great one, with Gen Con and Worldcon two of the highlights.  I’ll focus more on Worldcon in a later post, but I wanted to register some quick impressions of Gen Con:

1.  As always, Jean Rabe and company did a great job with the Writers’ Symposium at Gen Con.  I got my professional start with these folks, and I’ve never left a Gen Con without feeling like I’ve learned a lot from both panelists and audience members.  This is partly because the Symposium continues to add a few great new members to the mix every year, and the regulars just keep coming up with interesting new insights, but it’s also because the topics continue to be professionally relevant ones—this is one of the few conventions which actually deals more with nuts and bolts stuff about the writing process and less about the more vague conceptual things (though those panels are always fun too).  I particularly enjoyed panels on steampunk, dialogue and dialects, and worldbuilding, and I’ve posted links to those and a couple of other panels I liked on my Media page—have a listen and let me know what you think.  (I also like the Read and Critique session, which allows me to give some advice to some promising writers…a lot of whom are really talented, and a few of whom have even made it onto the Symposium itself.)  And by the way—thanks to the audience members too.  You folks are great, and part of what makes the Symposium as fun as it is. 

Jean is stepping down as coordinator of the Symposium after this year, and while I know Marc Tassin (a good guy and talented writer himself) will be a great replacement, much of what made the Symposium what it was for so long was a direct result of the example Jean set.  She’s a fine writer, but a nicer person, and a large percentage of Symposium members owe at least a bit of their success to her.  So again, publicly, thanks, Jean.

2.  Our location this year both in the Exhibit Hall and in the convention center was much, much better than in the past—right in the middle of or near the action in both cases—and the result was significantly increased attendance in almost every case.  Gen Con itself had increased attendance too, but we more than held our own, and we’re really excited about the direction of the Symposium.  So to the powers that be: thanks, and in future years please keep us exactly where you’ve got us now!

3.  Finally, the gaming at Gen Con was awesome as always, and thanks to child care (thanks again, powers that be!),  my wife and I actually got to play a few games together, including a fun D&D session.  Combine this with getting to play with friends of mine from the writing community (Paul Genesse, Brad Beaulieu, Kelly Swails, and many others), and you have the recipe for a good time.  Leaving, as always, was a bit bittersweet…but I had so many ideas, professional irons in the fire and general good feelings that I wasn’t as let down as I usually am.  And the next Gen Con is less than a year away…

So in general, a great time was had by all.  But I barely had time to register it, as only a week later I was off to my next adventure, Worldcon in Reno, NV.  More details on that to come.  In the meantime, a quick recommendation—if you like fantasy, science fiction, gaming, or writing (or all of the above), you need to get to Gen Con at some point.  It’s well worth the trip, and it’s an event you won’t soon forget.