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Aphelion Editorial 084

August 2004

by Dan L. Hollifield

The Usual Rant from the Aphelion Senior Editor

Well! If you wanted to get an introduction to Cons,this would be the best kind of one to start with. It wasn't packed wall to wall with people, everyone was gracious and friendly. I had a wonderful time.

Tennessee Fandom made me feel like family at a reunion. The Con Committee ran a great convention. There were a couple of boggles in scheduling of a few things, but I was told that that's normal. I met many interesting people and spent most of the time between the panel discussions I wanted to attend in some wonderful conversations. (Next time, I'll take several cassette recorders and tape all the panel discussions so I can hear the ones I missed attending.) Much ale was hoisted, many friends were made, wonderful things happened, good food inhaled... I even got to dance a little at one of the Saturday night parties. Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle are every bit the gentlemen that I'd heard. They are quite approachable, and politely accepted fans engaging them in conversations. In fact, the first time I spoke with them Larry gently corrected my pronunciation of a word I'd *read* but never heard anyone *say* before. (That's OK, Larry laughed at the joke anyway. Then he repeated it for Jerry. ) And Jerry gently chided me for not visiting his website when he had lots of things there to help the aspiring writer. We spoke again briefly several times during the weekend. I wanted to sit down and have an intelligent discussion with them, but I was deathly afraid of them being the only ones in the discussion possessing intelligence. LOL! (I had one sad-fan-boy moment when I spoke to Larry once and suddenly went entirely blank-minded. I blamed it on the beer, of course, and excused myself quickly. Larry grinned as if he understood, and then went on.) Larry seems a bit shy, actually. Jerry isn't shy at all, but it became obvious to me that he wasn't willing to tolerate things that wasted his time.

I went to a couple of book signings as well and am now the proud owner of three autographed paperbacks by Larry & Jerry. (Moat, Hand, and Fallen Angels) This is my 3rd copy of Fallen Angels- I'm not loaning it out any more!

On the first day of the con I met Niven List member Steve Sloan in an autograph line. He was standing in front of me and the back of his t-shirt had his name printed on it. He and his Father were getting Niven & Pournelle autographs also. We spoke again whenever our paths crossed, but I'm sorry to say that we never got the chance to sit down and chat. I also missed any other Niven Listers who attended. I thought there were three or four of us that were going. Oh well, there will be more Cons in the future. I spent Friday night in conversation with half a dozen people talking SF stories and drinking too much. Several dozen more people wandered in and out of the conversation. The upshot of all of this was that the Friday night Dance didn't happen because of me. I kept the DJ busy talking until the wee hours of Saturday morning. It turns out that Charles used to be the editor of a semi-pro zine and when it first started up he had wanted to use the name Aphelion for it. He was a bit irked when he found out that we have had it registered forever. He was the first of three people who recognized the Aphelion logo on the t-shirt I wore the first day of the Con. Saturday, I spent most of the time attending panel discussions, walking through the Art show and the Huxters rooms admiring all the things people were selling. As evening drew close, I rejoined the group from the previous night's discussion, plus some more, and we spent another night brainstorming stories and chatting about e-zines VS small-press print zines. We did break up in time for the DJ to host the dance that night. I actually got to dance a bit later on, though the conversations didn't stop. Sunday morning I wondered into writer Michael Williamson's room to admire the swords and knives he was selling. He has some beautiful swords. We spoke for about half an hour on a variety of subjects. Very nice fellow, quite fun to talk with.

I'm sad to report that on Sunday the local people who were the regular customers of the hotel's restaurant and banquet room finally triggered my fear of crowds. I had a panic attack, and left two hours before the con was scheduled to end. But on the positive side of things, my phobia left me alone when it was just the con-goers I was dealing with. Fifteen minutes after I fled the Con, I got stuck in a huge traffic jam caused by a wreck blocking the whole road. The traffic was backed up for over five miles, and several other wrecks happen as people tried to use the emergency lane and the shoulder of the road to get around the jam. There were well over 2000 people in what became a four-hour parking lot. Here I'd left the Con because of a hundred extra people, and I was trapped with twenty times that many out on the highway. I got out and mingled, leaving the CB radio in my pick-up running so that everyone near me could find out what was going on up ahead. I pushed the panic down and coped. The lesson I learned? I *can* override my fears, but I've still got to work on it.

All-in-all, I had the time of my life. If you don't normally go to cons but would like to start, I recommend going to a small to medium sized one like LibertyCon to see what they're all about, in microcosm so to speak.


I now return you to your regularly scheduled reading...


2004 Dan L. Hollifield

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