Monday, 19 November 2012

World Fantasy Con 2012


            What follows is a somewhat belated love letter to the organizers volunteers and all other people involved with the World Fantasy Con held in Toronto in November of 2012.

            To you one and all, I offer my deepest thanks. The check in ran like a well oiled machine taking only seconds to obtain the full kit which included a con badge holder that I am using at all other cons do to it’s functionality. A pocket for the con pass that leaves space for my business cards. A pocket on the back for other peoples business cards that I take. A pen holder that actually holds a pen, you know what I’m saying about ‘pen holders’, and an inner pocket to hold a pad of sticky notes. It is a brilliant example of good design. I must not forget to mention the book bag I was instructed to retrieve from another room. I admit to being a little bemused by this latter item, but with a shrug I went to the room indicated and picked up a fine canvas bag that I am sure will serve me at cons for years to come. The best part though was the stack of books filling it to near overflowing. I have heard from others the bags weighed about fifty pounds. I’m not sure, but there were enough books there to keep my lips moving while I read for a year or more.
            This brought me to one of the great examples of the forethought people put into this con. A table had been set up which was effectively take a book leave a book, so that people could fine tune the contents of their book bags. This may seem a small thing, but I find that the small things add up. I noticed this one, I’m sure the con in general was resplendent with little bits of intelligent forethought that I didn’t notice because they blended so seamlessly into the event.
            Karen Dales, fellow Dark Dragon author and good friend, put me up for the event so we had driven in together. Leaving our book bags in my car we proceeded to the dealer’s room and began setting up the Dark Dragon table . Again no glitches. The tables were in place, our location clearly marked the room was open, clean, smoke free and no one had been allowed to block the entrance.
            After carting the merchandise in I left Karen to finish setting up the Dark Dragon table while I went to do my panel.

Psychic detectives were popular throughout much of the twentieth century, and in the 1960s the novels of Dennis Wheatley played heavily on the Black Mass and other occult practices. Do psychic detectives still have “legs” in the technological world of the twentyfirst century? The overtly occult is more common in secondary worlds. Why is this? And will psychic detectives and the dark arts make a comeback?
Stephen Pearl (M), Richard Gavin, Derek Kunsken, David Sakmyster, Mark Teppo.

Despite a bit of a slow start and being one panellist down, (his flight didn’t get in until 3PM) this went well. The audience was large considering it was 2:00PM on a Thursday and the first panel of the convention. The conclusion was rather obvious. We agreed the paranormal PI is still around he / she is just being called a wizard, Ray McAndrews, Harry Dresden, or a necromancer, Anita Blake or one of the other traditional titles given a practitioner of the paranormal arts.

The sound system in the panel rooms was the one small persistent glitch that plagued this convention. In all it was very minor.
Then it was back to the Dark Dragon table.

I’m not sure which day anymore, but I made the acquaintance of Charles de Lint while I was at the Dark Dragon table. We spoke only briefly but he seemed a friendly, gracious fellow and he accepted the gift of a copy of Nukekubi with fine form. It’s always nice when a great talent is married to a degree of class and good humour. I also, finally, managed to remember to give Tanya Huff a copy of Nukekubi, something I’ve been meaning to do for months. Tanya is as nice as everyone says she is. We’ve chatted on a couple of occasions, but I’ve always forgotten to gift her a book until this time.
The dealer’s room closed at six pm each night and the con stopped programming from six to eight pm. When I saw this on the schedule I thought they were mad, but really it created a wonderful period of time to mix and mingle. The first night I went to a restaurant with the authors of Dragon Moon Publishing . As nice and as talented a group of folk as you would ever want to meet. Karen Dales was along as well we whelps of the Dark Dragon were made welcome.
What I didn’t know at this point was that I could have been up in the con suite feasting on Chinese food. The next day I learned that the con suite was serving real food. After this discovery they became my choice for grazing throughout the con. Continental breakfast, sandwich and salad bar for lunch and on the respective nights Chinese, Greek, Jamaican. I felt like a hobbit that won the lottery. And once I found the secret, quiet, back room where they hid the pop I was laughing.
The conversations were wonderful. Everybody knew something of fantasy and or writing. On balance the attendees were nice, pleasant people. There was alcohol available, in extreme amounts when the parties got going on the Saturday, but I didn’t see one person who drank themselves past happy to stupid.
The autograph signing afforded me the opportunity to get some long awaited signatures. I came one step closer to accomplishing what is becoming a minor quest for me. I intend to get Mercedes Lackey’s autograph. I’ve tried for the last year and something always gets in the way. This convention I managed to make it into the same room with her twice. I heard her speak and came within three meters of her but alas the quest continues. It gives me something to look forward to. I sold one book during the autograph session and of course signed it. It was really more a meet and greet and it served its purpose.
The art show was impressive and the reception they had for it was something else. Howard Fox won the art competition.  Smoked salmon, and other hors-d’oeuvres were combined with free lemonade and ice tea as well as coffee and a cash bar to make a classy atmosphere. If you’d plunked the guests in tuxes and evening gowns no one would have batted an eye. Of course we were a bunch of authors, editors and publishers, so jeans and a T shirt fit in well enough. I had a lovely discussion about medieval weaponry with a gentleman, it took me back to my days in the SCA.
All in all the World Fantasy Convention was magnificent. To those who planed and executed this event thank you, you did brilliantly and have my greatest appreciation. If people don’t talk about how good a convention this was for years to come then there is something wrong with them.

Ankh em Ma’at to you one and all.

Stephen B. Pearl:
Author of:
Tinker’s Plague: A post-apocalyptic, science fiction, medical and political thriller, ISBN 978-1-933157-30-6 Available in paperback and e-book formats from Draumr Publishing:
Slaves of Love: e-book: A futuristic detective story of love and madness.
The Hollow Curse: e-book: A centuries spanning tale of love and obsession
Available from Club Lighthouse Publishing:
Nukekubi: A paranormal, detective novel, ISBN 978-0-9867633-6-6 - eISBN. 978-0-9867633-7-3 Available in paperback and e-book formats from Dark Dragon Publishing: