[Star Trek Into Darkness spoilers ahead, in case anyone still cares.]
So this past weekend was ApolloCon, which was my first ever convention as a Real! Writer! Sadly it’s taken me a little while to get this report together due to all my Real! Writer! duties (ie, writing and such).
I actually only attended on Friday and Saturday. ApolloCon is my local con, but “local” in Houston can be anywhere from a five to a forty-five minute drive. ApolloCon is the latter. On a toll road! However, I finally purchased an EZ Tag which lets me drive on toll roads without hassle. This information is not relevant to the con, but it is relevant to me feeling more like a grown up, and so I’m including it.
Curious to see how my panels went and/or how many times I was able to mention Hannibal, the TV show? Read on!
My first panel was on Friday night, and it was called Does the Dark Lord KNOW He’s a Dark Lord. This panel took a turn I didn’t expect—that turn being Satan—but I was able to bring my English major knowledge to the fore, having read both Paradise Lost AND Paradise Regained. John Milton’s Satan is actually a really interesting example of a Dark Lord, and John Milton’s Jesus is actually a really interesting example of a (proto) Modernist hero. So those poems are basically a Modernist hero taking down a Dark Lord. Think about THAT for a minute.
Weirdly, you know who wasn’t mentioned on this panel?
Which is a shame because I think Darth Vader’s an interesting example. If you only look at the original trilogy, he’s a Redeemed Bad Guy, but if you factor in the prequels as well, he magically becomes the main character! What does this say about Dark Lords and villains and heros? I’m not sure. Unfortunately, I don’t think George Lucas does either.
I also got in my Hannibal reference. One for one!
Saturday was my full day at the con. My first panel was the interesting and well-moderated Is There More to Space Opera than Space Fleets and Exploding Planets?. Pretty much everyone answered yes, as you would expect, and there was a lot of discussion about whether space opera requires a large epic story, or if a smaller story set against an epic space opera backdrop still counts. It’s an interesting question, I think, and one the panel couldn’t quite reach a consensus on.
The highlight of this panel for me was getting to blather on about science fiction romance, which is a genre of romance novel that takes place in space (I’m simplifying a lot). And yes, it is a point of pride for me that my literary knowledge extends from John Milton to romance novels.
Oh, and I worked in another reference to Hannibal. We’re two for two.
After that was my reading. I wound up reading from Mad Scientist’s Daughter because you know what? I just like reading from it. I find it soothing. I also gave away copies of The Assassin’s Curse and The Mad Scientist’s Daughter to a couple of likely-baffled individuals who wandered in from the con suite. The second half of the reading belonged to Marianne Dyson, a former NASA flight controller who read from her memoirs, which were very cool. All in all, the reading went well.
And then we came to The New New Star Trek.
This what being on this panel was like:
I say that with love. Because seriously, it was a room full of nerds shouting Star Trek opinions. How is that not the greatest thing ever?
The consensus on the movie from the panel (and from the audience) was largely positive, although it’s not Star Trek if Star Trek fans aren’t complaining about
something everything, and so that’s pretty much how the panel went down. I didn’t care about the bad science, but I do wish Uhura had been given more to do than just be Spock’s girlfriend. Namely, I wanted to see her kick ass with the Klingons. Star Trek 3: Uhura Speaking Klingon In Order to Fight the Khan-Blood-Infused Tribble Menace. Let’s make this happen, people.
Hannibal reference? No, but only because I tricked one of the panelists into doing it for me! (Hannibal would be proud.) I achieved this by bringing up Bryan Fuller’s hypothetical plans for a new Star Trek TV show, which would be AMAZING by the way. So that’s another thing we need to make happen.
After the Star Trek panel I had a bit of free time so I went to my very favorite thing at ApolloCon, the Trivia Contest! Note: I am terrible at trivia, so I came in, like, last place. But I was able to correctly answer the question of “What was the name of the little boy in Steven Spielberg’s AI?”
My final panel was Reading the Spec Fic Back Catalog and I was unable to talk about Hannibal OR The Divine Comedy so that was a failure all around. On the plus side, I did get to share one of my favorite memories from high school: reading Philip K. Dick novels in PE class. Did anyone else read Philip K. Dick in high school? I knew quite a few people who did so I just took it for a given that he was a High School Thing, but this proved a contentious opinion on the panel.
I also mentioned Sean Stewart. If you don’t know who Sean Stewart is, stopping reading this post and click on that link right now because Sean Stewart is AMAZING, and I’m going to keep repeating his name so that it lodges in your thoughts like the refrain from “Call Me Maybe.” SEAN STEWART.
Finally, I just want to make special mention here that the moderator of this panel, Derly Ramirez II, did a wonderful job!
I finished up the con with an autograph session that was exactly like the opening of a Western where tumbleweeds are blowing across an empty desert highway…
Yeah, like that. That’s okay, though! I expected such solitude.
I’d say my first Real Writer Con went pretty well. Being on panels wasn’t as nerve-wracking as I feared, and it was a delight to hear the thoughts and opinions of the panelists and be able to participate in the conversation as well. Besides, by the end of Saturday I had gone three out of four for Hannibal mentions on panels, so I think that qualifies as a success.