Last One, or Do You Get to Have an Opinion- David Pascoe

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.

123 responses to “Last One, or Do You Get to Have an Opinion- David Pascoe

  1. Not certain about getting to have an opinion, but I’ll happily inflict mine on anyone within earshot. 🙂

    Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a novel to rewrite, bread to bake, and a forest in Colorado to burn down (real forest, fictional fire.)

  2. yum! fresh bread!

  3. …a solid six hours of sleep each night in the future…

    Elder parent hat on.

    This is very highly recommended, as well as ample hydration, at least two real meals and a shower daily.

    You will find it all the more important as Wee Dave becomes more mobile and, um, challenging.

    Hat off.

  4. Happy birthday, Dan! (at least, I think it’s the seventh, or in the general temporal vicinity.)

  5. I completely agree. This year’s Libertycon was my first, and my first SF con aside from Penguicon (which I go to every year) since a terrible experience at CONvergence 2004.

    I felt completely at home. So much so that I’ve already booked the hotel room (along with a certain delivery ox) and registered for next year’s. I haven’t even done that for Penguicon yet.

    Chattanooga is a thousand-mile drive for me. That means a day and a half, each way, and a bit more than three tanks of diesel. I consider that well worth it, even though there are several cons much closer to me. The problem is that those are all in the SJW-infested Midwest…

    • Hmm, sounds like I need to get my room reserve ASAP. *adds to list, wanders back to novel*

      • Novel first! We can find a way for you to sleep (or you can pull a John Ringo and just not bother with that), but novel now!

        …besides, the novel will help, um, pay for the costs of the con. Yes, that’s it.

        • LibertyCon or WorldCon?
          I missed last years’ LibertyCon, due to wrecking myself (PT is no fun!) .I haven’t seen a Baen Roadshow in a longtime, there are downsides to living in Dallas.We met David Drake on a streetcar on our way to the con on Friday. We can see East Coast friends we haven’t seen in years.

          WorldCon Be an Attending Sad Puppy Supporting the Sad Puppy cause in person is important and heroic..I have no idea what the panels will be.

          • I figure ConCom will go to great lengths to find open Puppies in violation of the CoC and have us removed by Sunday so I’d factor that into your calculations.

            • They didn’t have the… guts… to say much to me this year.

              • After the Hugo’s show which at best had the approval of ComCon if not the active participation I can’t imagine the 2016 ComCon having been approved by the same crowd will be more restrained.

                • Oh, I agree. I headed home a couple hours before the awards ceremony. And I only made it that one day, but other than the guy when I registered, nobody said anything to me, and I was wearing a Sad Puppies shirt. Then again, I wasn’t a mild mannered, polite, lady; either.

        • Yeah, novel goes to the editor in early-mid October for a December launch. It had some, ah, Chunnel-sized holes. Something about being the second novel I’d ever written probably had a bit to do with the rough spots (_Hubris_ was the first.)

  6. I learned from the dialogue

    This is no longer allowed at most American colleges and universities, where you are now expected to learn from indoctrination. Please adjust your expectations accordingly.

  7. I still have a LC Con Report to finish….

    • Procrastinators’ anonymous. “We have things to finish, but look, I could clean the bathroom.”

      • Procrastinators’ anonymous?

        Gee, I’ve been meaning to join that organization…

      • You do know that bathroom will still be there after you’ve finished the latest chapter you’re supposed to be working on?
        And besides, it’s a rental.
        And another besides, last I knew a shiny clean bathroom, while making a young Portagee house proud, buys one neither beans nor cat treats. Think of your poor starving felines. Fat you say? Nay, they’s not fat, they’s just fluffy.

      • Why do today what you can put off tomorrow.

      • They’re not really anonymous. They just haven’t gotten around to posting the membership list.

      • Reality Observer

        Or chop down the jungle in the back yard… (You people finally sent some of that rain over my way. You can have it back, now.)

        But I am trying to get the Epilogue first drafted today, anyway. Then maybe I can tackle some of the middle of the book next week. Yes, I roll that way…

        • Send the rain back north, please, at least a little.

          • We could use some of that here in New England. My part of the state is now in a “Moderate Draught”, but I doubt it will take much more to become “Severe”. This is our fifth summer in this house, and I’ve never seen the entire lawn brown before.

      • Or in my case, “I went to clean the bathroom, and suddenly realized whilst in a small, enclosed space that the new cleaner I’d picked up is fundamentally incompatible with my continued breathing.”

        Given my lungs were already being disagreeable about breathing ragweed pollen, I have sucked on the requisite inhaler and am going to not do much of anything for a couple hours now.

      • I’ll stop procrastinating when I get around to it.

      • To be fair, it’s also “parents anonymous:”

        ” I have things to do but look, the spawn have come down with something virulent.”

      • Wayne Blackburn

        “… play with my new toy, er. um, lathe…”

    • LC? I can only wonder what frequency it is tuned for.

      • Somewhere in the redneck conservative band, right where it belongs.
        For non con goers, Liberty is not your typical con. It’s ever so much better. Not perfect mind you. There will be payback for certain shenanigans done against our good host, but that’s best discussed in private.
        My opinion, Uncle Timmy and Brandy, the movers and shakers behind LC, are two of the finest folk I know, and I strongly suspect are held in the same utter contempt by the SMOF and CHORF that they hold for Baen and the Sad Puppies.

        • They indeed are. They tried to blackball Uncle Timmy once before for something he passed along on “The Revenge of Hump Day.” They said he was racist. Which is a ginormous, smelly, messy load of bullfeces. Kate posted about it on MGC some time back, and that’s what got me involved and on the mailing list for TRoHD. Best decision I’d made in a long time, right before the next better, which was finally getting off me arse and going to Libertycon.

  8. C4C

  9. 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.

    Although I don’t do Dragoncon every year some friends who do have lunch at Fire of Brazil and I go down to join them.

    The elitism is spreading there about “real fans”. Dragoncon was 63k last year and will probably beat that this year. One of the people at the lunch, who is pretty much cosplay oriented, was sneered at more than once as a “mainstream fan” and a “media fan”. She admits she’s more watcher than reader.

    The one that go me, however, was a woman she was with, finding someone’s costume exceptional but not a character she knew, went up and told them there costume was awesome and asked who it was. The answer was if you don’t know who I am you don’t belong here.

    Made me want to create a Grey Lensman costume for next year and find the exact same @holes. When they didn’t recognize a foundational character I would just ask them to surrender their badges.

    Monkey status games in fandom are really starting to torque me off and I’m not even active in fandom.

    • I play Mechwarrior Online. One of the players in my tier uses the handle The Gray Lensman. Whenever I get him on my team, I make a point of saluting him, “Hot jets, Lensman!” If he’s on the other side, I ominously proclaim, “HELMUTH, SPEAKING FOR BOSKONE…” Dunno how many other players get it; don’t care.

      • I would only care when I can use it against people already killing the fun of others over their lack of knowledge.

        Really, what kind of j-ss, when told, “Hey, your costume is great” says something other than, “Thank you, I’m $character”?

        • Some kind of jackanapes? Heck, I do props for a horror show. I used to build sets for concerts, I ran setup for pro-wrestlers for a few years… I’ve been around the edges of several different kinds of fandom for quite a while.

          This hooplah in SFF is the first time I’ve seen this particular *kind* of drama played out in public. Now, there will always be interpersonal drama. I used to tell folks I don’t watch tv, I get better drama twice a month behind the curtain at the show.

          But this kind of petty crap? Snobbish, down-the-nose, holier than thou, ‘I’m better than you’ kind of thing? Folks, men who put on makeup, dress in hooker boots and leotards, and get all up close and personal with other sweaty men in the ring have more class than that. Believe you me, that says something.

          • It is the storied snobbish record store guys, coming into real life.

            I can understand a little mutual disagreement over taste, but I would never say any person of goodwill lacked the right to come and have fun. That is contrary to the whole idea of holding a con.

            • I would never say any person of goodwill lacked the right to come and have fun.

              If they can stand the kidding and mockery they’re welcome to kid and mock me back.

              It is the ones who have “fun” by telling others to STFU whose company I am happy to eschew.

          • scott2harrison

            A friend of mine was a stagehand for WWW a few years ago. She said that the wrestlers were some of the greatest gentlemen that she had ever been around. I was unsurprised.

      • William Underhill, Barbarian 1st Class

        Please, please tell me you have a co-player whose nick is Clarissa MacDougall… 🙂

    • That is cold-hearted. I delight in creating thoroughly obscure costumes. Like a time-travelling mixed martial artist, or Kareen Koudelka’s secretary (my hall cosplay at Worldcon)

      • I’ve got one that I created a while back, but may never wear again…since it’s for a character from The Flying Sorcerers, and I’m not interested in honoring David F***ing Gerrold any further.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Fortunately, there IS considerable pushback on that, including from several well-known cosplayers.

  10. Rick Cook once related a story about encountering E.E. Smith at a con in the early 1960s, wearing a gray leather suit. Rick said only a handful of people had any idea what the suit was supposed to represent. Well, it *had* been ten years or so since he’d last written a Lensman book; maybe fandom was full of “I only read new books” people back then, too.

  11. It was nice to finally meet y’all in real space, and those ‘sea stories’ were pretty much all true…LOL Looking forward to next year! And agree that LC is a ‘safe’ place where open sharing of ideas from ALL aspects is allowed/respected… Novel concept!

  12. I’m going to LibertyCon next year (after not going to an SF convention in oh–30 years?) to connect with like-minded people (you know . . . Odds). And I’m going to MidAmeriCon II next year because I have to help make a stand; I’ve been silent too long . . . and I live in metro KC.


  13. 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.

    I’m curious: Do you think things are getting better or worse for odds/nerds/creative types? When did you have your high-school years? I wonder if it is something that is easier/saner in different places/times.

    I remember reading about a period (early 80s, late 70s?) where things like roleplaying games were actually seen as threatening and subversive, and you could get in trouble not just with your peers, but with principals/police/psychologists for it. There was some sort of moral panic going on, though, since I never experienced it firsthand, I don’t have a feel for where/when/how bad it was. (OMG! He has an imagination, and it’s loaded.)

    I myself just never had anyone to share my interests with back then (90s/2000), except my family/one close friend.

    One high-school age cousin of mine seems to be pretty dialed in to faddish popular things, and reacts in dramatic horror to the thought of being associated with anyone nerdy (unclean! unclean!). 😛 We’re the “dark/twisted/evil” branch of the family. 😛 (Probably just normal. The vast majority of people aren’t nerds/geeks/odds.)

    • I was a girl nerd in the late 80s – early 90s, and the jocks, kickers, preps, and stoners pretty much stayed out of eachother’s way. I was the target of choice for the preps and jocks, ignored by the kickers, and the goth/stoner crowd just kept to themselves. And we all steered clear of the black kids, many of whom did NOT like being bussed into our school.

      The D&D panic was just fading, along with the Satanic rock music scare. It was the “eeeevil video games like Grand Theft Auto” that were just starting to come under fire.

  14. >I figure ConCom will go to great lengths to find open Puppies in violation of the CoC and have us removed by Sunday so I’d factor that into your calculations.

    If I were you folks, I’d form a Committee of Conrespondence, check for membership pledge support, and if funding seems sufficient, find a venue in Kansas City next year for the same dates and hold a PuppyCon there.

    Here, have a link to kick things off: https://www.visitkc.com/visitors/contact-us/staff-listing .

  15. >Nonsense. It is standard to hold multiple overlapping conventions or minicons at the same hotel/s as the main one.

    And thus the non-standard suggestion. Deliberately splitting the venue forces people to vote with their wallets. That’s what all this dancing is about, ultimately; the money, status, *and connections* the awards bring in going to the right people: publishers, writers, *and dealers* included. I’m suggesting you all wrap up the blogplay with the SJWs and just get right to the market economy substitute for angry sex already.

    However, I wouldn’t suggest it if I didn’t think the market support was there for both conventions, especially if you bring in the new computer and old school tabletop gamers through alternative PuppyCon Awards, such as Best Soundtrack and Best Entertainment Innovation, and by dividing up Best Dramatic Presentation, Long/Short Form into subcategories including Best PC/Console/Tabletop Games, Films, etc. Don’t do competing awards with the Hugos; innovate and address the modern SF&F entertainments WorldCon ignores. Serve the market they aren’t, and better serve the market they’re serving poorly.

    I think if you offered the gaming community a new set of legitimate SF&F awards still uncorrupted by the media-industrial complex exposed by GamerGate, they would beat a path to your door.

    You might also distinguish PuppyCon by banning things like this: http://www.rpgresearch.com/blog/gamers-survey-phase-2-worldcon-2015 , assuming that it’s real. I don’t have the time to check.

    Similarly, I have no idea what the market presence has been at Worldcon, but I would start with that and reach out to dealers serving interests not usually represented, which also helps you sell it to KC in this PC time. Again, don’t fight over slices of the pie; be rainmakers for everyone, even WorldCon if it works out that way. Why care if the rain falls upon them too? Your side knows better than to resent them for it.

    Of course, if the finances allowed it, I’d also consider a PuppyCon discount for WorldCon memberships, but then I’m the kind of vicious bastard who would name the PuppyCon Award. . .

    . . .”The Nose.”

    [drops sunglasses]

    • I’ll say this for Acksiomm, I haven’t been to a worldcon for about a decade, so the gradual change that has no doubt been creeping up on other people, was blatantly obvious to me.

      It’s grungy, small, and ticky-tacky. Not merely as compared to Emerald City Comic-con, for example, but as compared to worldcon in the past.

      • Running multiple conventions on the same weekend, if they are not sharing the same venue, is a poor business decision. If you are intending to have dealers, they will already be in a fix deciding if they want to go to Gencon, Dragoncon, etc., and then add Worldcon. If you want them to add a totally new con in the same city at a different venue, and get involved in a feud, you are not being fair to them.

        You do not get dealers by demanding sacrifice and a political buy-in. You get dealers by promising a secure place to make moolah with lots of willing wallets.

        Also, anything bad that happens at one con will rub off on the other one.

        Also, you would have to set up to run this different con and find a concom in a city where a lot of the experienced bodies have already committed to helping at Worldcon, for the last three years or more! So you have to find fifty or so reliable people, most of whom live in town, a hotel that is not already booked up at one of the busy times of the year in a major US city, and a bunch of other stuff, which will mostly fall on people who are already busy with writing and with the Sad Puppy movement. Sarah getting shuttled between cons would have a burden; we would hurt the Barn event attendance; etc.

        I am not saying it is impossible, but it does not seem wise or prudent. It would also remove us to a chaste fannish purdah at some hotel thirty miles away, instead of being visibly Not Going Away Anytime Soon.

        Having more Libertycon-type fun cons, in more places and at more times of the year, would be more to the point.

  16. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Offtopic: I’m looking for real estate, I think in the south pacific.

    I need some place with a good amount of area, preferably uninhabited and isolated. Ideally controlled by Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, or Australia. If need be, I can have the aliens depopulate New Zealand.

    This base would be one part of a worldwide effort to prepare the crew for a space navy vaguely sized at 300k to 3 million. Because of tech assumptions, I can’t just use existing US Navy personnel. I’d need a higher total capacity for that and other reasons.

  17. De-lurking, because I can’t stand it any more. What, (please, what?) does c4c mean?