MidAmeriCon II, Day 1 (Wednesday, August 17, 2016)

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The con officially opened at noon. We got there just after 11 a.m., so we strolled the open second floor getting the lay of the land. We found the room for our 1 p.m. “How to Enjoy Your First Convention” session, and then wandered off to explore the other open areas.

By one of the maps we struck up a conversation with one of the presenters, Heather Rose Jones, and compared our notes in deciphering the Bartle Hall names for rooms and how they lined up with the convention name for rooms. Since we’d met, and she was a presenter, I asked where she would be speaking. Turned out her first slot was a book singing at 1 p.m. An early signing, she said, meant she wasn’t rated very high. The “prestigious” authors get other times. But I did get her to give us the rest of her schedule, and found something on Friday I hope to stop in and hear what she has to say.

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That still left us a little more time, so we walked back and found a bench to sit on until the dealer floor opened. We waited until the crush had abated, and then took the escalator up to the dealer floor. This early in the con there are still a lot of open spaces that people haven’t gotten their stuff up yet. We gawked at the NASA exhibit with the large astronaut, took pictures of some mannequins and the Game of Thrones, and then made our way over to the dealer tables where we found Kate Paulk at Rob Howell’s table.

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Since we had helped Kate get settled in last night, and met Rob while doing so, we had sought out his table, to see the books of his that he has written, along with his Wandering Signature Chart. He has a 20-sided die that you roll when you buy a book and he signs the saying from the chart into your book with his signature. I rolled a 6, so my purchase of A Lake Most Deep has “Abandon all hope ye who read my books” inscribed in it.

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The book begins with  “A man, a horse, and a vicious murder and kidnapping saved me”. Certainly enticing enough. At a later date I expect to tell you what I think of the rest.

1 p.m. — How to enjoy your first con

This first session on how to enjoy a first con was helpful, but not overly interesting.Each of the panelists told a moderately interesting story about their first convention experience. This was followed by advice and information.

They described the con as a multi-ring circus, and you needed to choose which to watch. They detailed the opening ceremonies, nightly parties, and guest of honor presentations. They also added the art show, concerts and masquerade.

In choosing panels, they suggested that we go to what we think is interesting. Striking up conversations at panels is one of the best ways to meet people. We were encouraged to leave if a session isn’t what we expected. No one will show offense. But while finding people and events we are interested in, we were also advised to look at things beyond our usual horizons.

We were also encouraged to attend evening and daytime events, but pace ourselves. The formula was 2 meals a day, 6 hours sleep and 1 shower a day.

There was the warning about offending: don’t take politics seriously while here, be aware whether someone wants a hug or note

We also learned about the ribbons people collect. There are the rank ribbons of people involved in the con, and the fannish ones. Groups hand those out, and some people collect them until they hang down to the floor. I managed to get three my first day.

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2 p.m. — Heinlein, KC’s native son, KC years

This panel was one we should have left. There were two panelists, but they needed a third, and a little more interaction with the audience earlier. By the end of this we decided to skip the panel we were thinking of for 3 p.m. and walked around the dealer floor.

4 p.m. — Self driving cars — are we ready to trust them?

This was our most interesting session of the day. The fact that a truck driver who was testing such systems happened to be in the audience and started the interaction early helped.

We got into o=some slightly technical discussions of sensors, mapping and computer smarts. Someone mentioned “mesh network”, that are somehow also related to gaming.

The topic of precision agriculture came up as an example of driverless vehicles – driverless tractors. Farmers love using them,but they are slower, less obstacles, and as the one panelist noted “Corn plants aren’t likely to sue you — unless you are stalking them”.

Under other social issues, there was the question of dependence — how it can give some people freedom, but others might not be allowed to drive. The subject of litigation against driverless cars came up, One panelist suggested that insurance companies would actually support the other side, once they were sure of the safety of driverless cars, to make it impossible to be insured as a driver of a car.

5 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies

The opening ceremonies were interesting, but a bit pretentious at points. An introductory Egyptian band  gave welcoming color to the beginning of the  ceremonies, although they played on and on after their first lap around the crowd, when they could have ended earlier.

An why did all of the featured guests have to be unable to successfully use a microphone or project. What I could understand of what they were saying seemed to be self-adulation and inside jokes that a newbie like myself could not hope to understand and only created an unfavorable outsider status. I obviously didn’t warm to the Toastmaster who started and helped continue this attitude. She introduced the first guest as a writer of strong female protagonists, and then declared herself one. But in the next section declared herself a cancer survivor and in need of constant affirmation. My wife asked which is she — a strong female protagonist or in need of constant affirmation.

The real fun part was the introduction of the Hugo and retro Hugo award bases. They were quite impressive designs, especially the retro Hugo, with its style elements from the KC Power and Light district.

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But the neatest part was the Star Wars connection between the 1976 MidAmeriCon and the 2016 MidAmeriCon II. I don’t remember the right title for the person who heads the Con, but this person from the 1976 Con created a lightsaber (in lieu of gavel) which he passed to the 2016 coordinator. Since the 1976 MidAmeriCon was associated with Star Wars (pre-movie release) and that is being commemorated at MidAmericon II, it is her responsibility to pass it on to the head of MidAmeriCon III (And may it be sooner than 40 years, he noted).

With that we ended our first day, except for the private party that we went to, whose news will be kept private.

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6 thoughts on “MidAmeriCon II, Day 1 (Wednesday, August 17, 2016)

  1. Heather Rose Jones is a nifty person! She’s been in California fandom for a long time. Her fields are historical linguistics (she’s done a lot of medieval Welsh, but if I recall correctly, she’s taken classes in all the Berkeley cool stuff, like Sumerian classes where you learn to write in cuneiform) and medieval history. She’s a well-known filker and has published some sword and sorcery in her time. She’s also the kind of scholarly person who will think through what she thinks about a topic in her field, and then tell you what she thinks. The one time I met her in person, we had a great discussion about whether kennings and poetic descriptions were something useful for moderns or not.

    Unfortunately, her novels are not ones I really can get myself to buy, as so far she’s only published lesbian historical fantasy/altworld fantasy with a small press. And since she’s writing them for lesbians instead of for guys with a lesbian fetish… yeah, not a super-large audience. I bet she could make a bundle if she wrote general-audience medieval Welsh fantasy CSI mysteries, for instance.

    I disagree with her on many subjects, and I certainly wish she had more traditional beliefs. But she is someone worth knowing, and a formidable scholar.

  2. I looked up her Livejournal, and it seems that she will be publishing a collection of her general audience short stories from back in the Sword and Sorcery anthologies. So there is going to be a place to throw her some money! Yay!

  3. Sorry if I wrote too much detail before. I see now that this is a family blog.

    One piece of advice – be nice to your feet at Worldcons, comic conventions, etc, especially if you end up hauling heavy things around. Convention center concrete is not very forgiving.

    • Not at all! I appreciate the detail. Apologies I didn’t get your comment approved until late today. I don’t access my Facebook when mobile, and have it set for approving first comments.

      We really enjoyed talking to her, and she was one of several people who recognized my Welsh stage name right off — something I don’t usually get when Ren Festing…

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