Aphelion Issue 275, Volume 26
August 2022
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Conventional Wisdom

LibertyCon 21, July 2008, Chatanooga, TN

by Dan Hollifield

This year's LibertyCon was respectfully dedicated to the memory of both Sandy McDade (1948-2007) and Hank Reinhardt (1934-2007)

It was wonderful to attend the convention, and have so much fun there. All was not bliss, however. The worst thing was that shortly after we arrived we were given the news that Eric Flint's mother had passed away during the week before the Con. Naturally, this meant that Eric wasn't going to be able to attend the convention, but the whole weekend there was much toasting to her memory as well as wishing Eric strength to better enable him to deal with this traumatic time. Special Guest David B. Coe was asked to fill in as Master of Ceremony in Eric's absence. David did a wonderful job of it, too.

Another person many blessings were wished for was Michael Z. Williamson. According to what I was told, he is currently serving a tour of duty in the Middle East. Everyone joined together in hoping for his safe return. In every party I attended glasses and mugs were hoisted in thanks to him for helping to defend us all.

The Literary Guest of Honor, Harry Turtledove, turned out to be one of the nicest people I've ever met. The poor fellow couldn't open his mouth without everyone within earshot becoming quiet and listening intently to his every word. Harry revealed himself to be a shy fellow who was grateful that people enjoyed his work. He laughs easily, researches his work like a man possessed, and tells as good a story as those he writes. He was just a joy to be around. His humor is contagious. Just being there listening to his stories had everyone in the room rolling in the aisles.

The Artist Guest of Honor, David Mattingly, was another fellow whom it was a joy to see. The stories he told were as entertaining as his wonderful artwork. He made it a point to invite budding young artists and the parents of youngsters who loved to draw to meet with him at his panel on Saturday morning so that he could give encouragement to the kids who shared his love of art. I stood in the doorway and listened a bit. His manner with the kids was truly wonderful.

I got a chance to talk with writer Mike McPhail briefly. He was outside the suite on Huckster's Alley that he and his wife Danielle Ackley-McPhail were running. We spoke a little about writing - I told him about Aphelion and he told me about his and his wife's experiences when they began writing. He expressed approval of Aphelion's track record of helping new writers join the ranks of the pros. As well as amazement that we'd been online since dinosaurs roamed the Earth. He also gently nagged me to get busy and finish something that I could start submitting to the paying publishers. To tell the truth, we spoke longer about costuming and fandoms. He was wearing a Stargate SG1 uniform at the time, and I was dressed as a SteamPunk Airship Captain. Quite an effort for both of us actually, given the heat and humidity of Tennessee in the Summertime. Thankfully, our encounter was inside the air conditioned confines of the hotel.

The Atlanta Radio Theater Company gave a wonderful performance again this year. They are always a joy to listen to, as well as to watch as they perform. You owe it to yourself to look them up and check out their work. I won't ruin anything for you, but they have podcasts of some of their work over on their website as well as featuring audio CDs that one may buy.

There was so much going on that I missed well over half the panel discussions, but even I can't be in three places at the same time.

Greg Matlof, Les Johnson, and Travis Taylor were kept busy doing science panels, but occasionally they were given time to mingle with the con-goers as well. Mark Fults, Kurt Miller, and James Ward were there as guest Artists. The art show was even better than usual for LibertyCon. In the autograph line I got a chance to give John Ringo a compliment on "Road to Damascus", a novel in Keith Laumer's Bolo Universe that John co-wrote with Linda Evans. As a longtime Laumer fan, I have to say the John and Linda write very good Bolos! Other folks that were there that I didn't get a chance to speak with were Mark Berry, C. J. Cantrell, Stephen E. Cobb, Julie Cochrane, Sarah Harvey, and Toni Weisskopf.

My apologies to anyone whom I've neglected to mention, but I plead the impossibility of being everywhere at once. In fact, I missed several panel discussions I had wanted to attend because I was having too much fun socializing to keep track of the time.

Here is a small pic of Lyn and I in our finery.

We asked a couple of friends to take our camera and make some photos of us. Not a photo session, just a few snaps as we were together outside and had our camera with us. We also were snapped by a local news photographer, Ron Logan of TimesFreePress.com who had the fun assignment of covering the convention. He turned out to have taken loads of photos Saturday, which were posted in the TimesFreePress.com website. There were few other people at the con who were SteamPunking, but many costumes were to be seen. A quick visit to the TimesFreePress.com website will allow you to see the brightest shining stars on view during the Con. Other photo galleries online with LC21 pics are ARTC's Ron Butler's gallery, Dan Taylor's photo gallery on Flickr, and the official LibertyCon 21 photo gallery.

And finally, for those who care to see it, here's a photo of your demented Aphelion Senior Editor in his Airship Captain uniform:

This one is clickable, so that those interested can see the full-length pic - without forcing those who don't care to undergo that option to scroll down past the full-sized pic. This is the outfit that I was wearing longest. In fact, I wore it to the panel discussion that I gave. No one batted an eye. Unfortunately, with the uniform jacket buttoned, my watch chain and the keyring of brass keys were hidden from sight. I was also wearing the same gunbelt and sidearm that I wore with the khaki outfit. The uniform cap is actually a Harley-Davidson motorcycle cap, with the Harley eagle emblem done in gold and silver on a chrome chain.

In short, we had a wonderful time and we're looking forward to next year's LibertyCon so that we can do it all again!

© 2008 Dan Hollifield

Dan Hollifield is the Senior Editor of Aphelion.

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