ConGlomeration – Louisville, KY

August 15, 2006

This past weekend kayleigh and I were in Louisville for ConGlomeration.

GoH was Harry Turtledove, who was very approachable, knowledgeable, and nicely self-deprecating. Harry is best known for his alternative histories, although he also writes other things including historical fiction. With him were two of his three daughters and his wife, mystery author Laura Frankos, hampered a bit by an arm brace.

Also in attendance was Guest Artist(s) Omar and Sheila Rayyam. Omar always had a pencil and paper in hand, was always happy to talk, and during a “meet the…” panel managed to render a Quixote-like rendering of Harry Turtledove in armor and on a horse. Omar has been doing a lot of illustration for young adult books of late, and one should really check out his gallery.

Steven H. Silver, one of the current judges for SFWA’s Nebula Awards, was also there and participated in several panels . kayleigh and I met Steve a couple of years ago in Chicago at SFWA’s Nebula Awards, which he had helped organize. After a harried weekend, he looked pretty tired then, but was always helpful and very nice. He recognized us and we spoke a few times during Conglomeration. He’s an extremely busy man — working with WindyCon, SFWA, as judge for the Sidewise Awards, as reviewer, anthologist, and publisher of the fanzine Argentus and most recently, as the publisher of ISFIC Press. All this in addition to a “real” job in the outside word (!). He’s a wealth of information about science fiction, fantasy, and the fan base, as well as a good many other subjects (and he’s a survivor of a stint on TV’s “Jeopardy” too, very cool), and just seems like a good guy. He’s been nominated six times for a Hugo as fan writer.

Michael Williams, Steve Savile, Althea Kontis, and Geoffrey Girard were also in attendance, as well as the publisher of Apex, Jason Sizemore.

The ConGlomeration panels were better than this year’s Marcon in my opinion, with an especially good talk by Michael Williams on building a fantasy world, a panel on dark fantasy with Steve Savile and Geoffrey Girard, and a very interesting solo-panel by Anthony Ubelhor on Philip K. Dick, with the wonderful title, “You Don’t Know Dick.” As usual though, there were a few annoying members of the audience who kept interrupting some of the panels. This is one of the more annoying aspects of conventions, audience members who monopolize or interrupt the panel discussion. It’s one thing to participate, and I have no problem with that, but it’s another thing entirely to repeatedly interrupt the featured guests, rendering obscure or plain silly remarks and stepping onto a soapbox for a self-indulgent monologue. Not only is it disrupting, but it’s plain rude to both audience members and especially the members of the panels. I can’t tell you how many times I heard the panelist who was speaking cut off by some inane comment by one of these audience members.

But of the course, in the end the main attraction of ConGlomeration for me was kayleigh and the chance to get away from our otherwise hectic lives, and with one another.

This part is what gets us through the others.

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