Last One, or Do You Get to Have an Opinion- David Pascoe
This is … late. Like, really late. But I owe a couple of people some good PR, so you’re getting The Latest LibertyCon AAR EVAR!! Ok, it’s not *just* that: I’m also going to ramble on about conventions, fandom, and similarly madness-inducing concepts. There’ll be a connection, I promise.
Sunday morning was as a poor choice, all things considered. If you recall, I’d stumbled back to the hotel room (purely due to fatigue, as I hadn’t consumed nearly enough in the way of potent potables to ‘fect my shpeech, let alone my gait), just barely beating the sun. I was *grits teeth* pleasantly awakened – at around 0800 – by my delightful
hellspawn, Wee Dave, poking me in the nose. Mrs. Dave thought this was quite amusing, as well. I somehow threw myself together, and took Wee Dave to the Hun breakfast which had been in full swing for nearly an hour. When Mrs. Dave joined us, as the Huns were leaving, we am-scrayed, ourselves.
By the time we arrived at the Choo Choo, the Kaffee-mass-klatch was nearly over, which was the last official thing on my *cough* professional schedule. I was left to my own devices (always dangerous) and proceeded to wander aimlessly for a few minutes (basically what happens when I’m severely sleep deprived and undirected) before remembering that I had a couple of buddies reading in the American Car (it may be listed as a room – I don’t recall, and I’m rolling, here – but it’s in a train, albeit one that hasn’t rolled in decades: ergo, it’s a car) and I really, really wanted to make sure I was there. One of them – Chris Smith – is a stand-up dude and a beer geek from Texas. We’d learned at the Baen Roadshow that a story of his is included in the forthcoming Black Tides antho, and the main character is a corrections officer tuckerization of your truly. The story (at least the bits Chris read) is great fun as I *blinkblink* transport a criminal from one prison to another in the middle of a zombie apocalypse. A convict with a secret people are willing to kill for, even in the midst of Hell on Earth. It was mighty strange – surreal, even – to experience third person narration of “me” doing things in places I’d never been, during circumstances that will hopefully never come to pass. Also, I have some concern for “my” survival: the convict seems far more mentally flexible. A must when Ringo’s zombies are howling for blood.
The other author reading during the session is a lady by the name of KC Ezell. During the previously mentioned Baen Roadshow, John Ringo called her up on stage to talk a bit about her story in the antho. Her cover story in the Black Tides anthology. KC read from that story during the hour. The cover art shows cheerleaders. Armed cheerleaders during what is obviously a zombie apocalypse. KC read a couple of passages, one of which involved a van full of high school cheerleaders and their coach as the world starts to fall apart (before the cheerleaders get armed). KC is military (and I presume has more than a passing familiarity with cheerleading, an arcane and mysterious realm), and gets a lot right. Of course, she immediately seizes all of your heartstrings (ALL) and twists. I’m serious: after her second passage from that story, she had a room full of military, LEO, and generally tough guys (and me, too) tearing up. I’m very much looking forward to reading the rest of both stories. And Sarah’s. And the other ones in the antho.
Chris and KC also both read from stories they have in an upcoming Sha’Daa anthology (the specific one eludes me. I blame sleep deprivation) of dark-fantasy/horror about a 48-hour period that occurs every ten thousand years, during which all the end-of-the-world scenarios try to happen at once. Good times, good times. Chris’ story follows a couple trying to deal with a demonic tattoo. KC’s story follows a young woman whose exotic dancing career may just spring from otherworldly origins.
I vaguely recall drifting around the convention spaces after the reading, saying goodbye to friends I won’t see for another year, before ending up sitting outside John Ringo’s suite listening to people tell sea stories. Sometime later, we gathered for a Hun dining out. There was surprisingly little blood. I think we all wanted to party long into the night (those of us who didn’t leave until Monday) but we were all too tired to do more than run the hug gauntlet and stumble back to our respective rooms.
That was my LibertyCon, and I’m hoping to enjoy many more in the future. I’d like to be on more panels, having written more and acquired more readers. I’ll be aiming for a solid six hours of sleep each night in the future, regardless of how much I desperately need to not miss those sacred hours between 0200 and 0800. So that’s my AAR, in its entirety.
And now I’d like to talk a little about safety and freedom. I’ve been to three LibertyCons now, three WorldCons, a WindyCon, and a RavenCon. Not exactly the most con-experienced among us. Still, of those, the little con in Chattanooga is by far the most free, and, I’d argue, the safest because of it. There are many words floating through the writerly ether that could be nailed down as regards community, and what it takes to make and maintain one. I’m not going there. There’s community at pretty much any con, any little section of fandom that gets together to enjoy the same stuff.
For years, the only “fannish community” I had was the few buddies who read the same stuff, and the other few buddies who liked role playing games, and later video games. I grew up in rural Washington state, and there wasn’t money to go to Seattle for a weekend, even if we’d had the opportunity.
At that point, we were all pretty safe. The jocks did their thing, the stoners did their thing, and the rest of us did our things. While they may have looked down on us, we didn’t know it, and physical altercations were unheard of. There were perhaps two from ninth grade to twelfth. Nobody had time or energy to do more than disagree over what we did during our off time.
Flash forward twenty years, and the major fight in this particular large group of people who all like the same things is how we’re allowed to like those things. One side of the argument claims to want inclusion, and diversity, and then acts in such a manner that only the things of which they approve are deemed acceptable. The other side simply says, “bring your A-game.”
The proof in the proverbial pudding, for me at least, is in the attitudes I’ve encountered at the disparate cons I’ve attended. Really, only at LibertyCon did I feel, well, at liberty to express opinions that didn’t align with the Accepted Wisdom. At other cons, I’ve heard ideas with which I identify disparaged. I’ve personally been snubbed and dismissed if I wasn’t of a sufficiently high status. Not so at LC. Just this summer, I had a conversation on stage over what constituted dark fantasy. I don’t think any of us actually agreed, but we managed to do so without insulting each other, and I learned from the dialogue. That’d sure be nice, wouldn’t it, perhaps on a larger scale? I get the feeling, though, that after the bloc voting, and the asterisks, and the cheering, and the private partying, there’s not much room for free discourse.
I’m not sure what the course forward is going to be, but I know I’ll be going where I can be myself without fear of censure, where I can do what I do without being told I’m doing it wrong, that what I like sucks because reasons, and to go somewhere out in the dark and give my own awards if I want. I’m glad I’ve got a community who agree.