Another LibertyCon has come and gone is rapid flash of excitement. It seems like each year it goes by faster than ever. Obviously, the old addage of ‘Time flies when you’re having fun’ is absolutely true!
I am late with this After Action Report (apologies to my Happy Readers… all two of you?) so I have read several from others already. It seems that many of the Pro Attendees of LC32 have decided to invoke whimsy in the composing of their tales. Thus, the form is now stuck in my mind with the voice of the narrator of mythic fantastical adventures… so that’s what you’re gonna get too!
Part I: The Begin-ining
Procrastinating as long as possible, I, along with the Maternal Parental Unit (hereafter referred to as MPU) made our plans for driving up to the big Nooga. The MPU had never ventured to a Con before, so I spent many hours being distracted from preparations by sharing detailed information about minutia that she would most likely not remember. Finally, when Wednesday arrived, I compiled the clothes, books, and All The Things, and then loaded them up into Old Blue (my truck) with only the Needfuls (toothbrush, coffee pot, Captain Morgan, etc.) and Perishables (sandwich making materials, Cokes) left to be thrown aboard right before launch.
A typically restless night ensued (encroaching oldness and mis-working leg/knee/hip nerves suck, FYI) with only six hours of sleep for myself. When the alarm sounded Friday morn I stumbled to my favorite appliance to brew the Elixir of Liveliness. From there, the morning ablutions were initiated while the Sapho Brewed… for two minutes. Then… DISASTER! TRAGEDY!
The wizardry that is modern electrical power failed at the most inopportune moment BEFORE THE COFFEE WAS DONE! The worst part was that I also could not perform the Hygienic Rituals (aka take a shower) because the WELL IS ELECTRIC!
After expressing my woe to the Lightening Wizards of Georgia Power, I turned to the befuddling task of brewing the Elixir in an Ancient Cauldron upon the outdoor cooking appliance with Bottled Dragon’s Breath (I made coffee in the percolator on the grill). While the water boiled, I gathered those things that I could and put them in the Horseless Conveyance which lathered me with perspiration because Georgia in summer. I did finally get my first cup of motivation, and as I took the first sip, the power returned! Thus, there is now documented proof that Coffee Fixes Everything!
Not terribly far behind the original schedule that I had, the MPU and I began our trek to the Kingdom of Chattanooga to join with the Forces of Good and Fairly Descent for the next three days. The typical argument with the Wayfinding Familiar (Google Maps) was engaged proving once again that Talking Computers know fuck-all about anything when it comes to actual helpful driving methodologies with only the occasional warning about upcoming turns. My own familiarity with The Way (Do You Know The Way?) prevented any misdirections, and we arrived safely at the Castle Marriott.
With a bit of juggling of gear and luggage, the MPU was escorted to our temporary quarters while I stabled Old Blue. More sweating (because Tennessee in summer) from the trek across the campus, and then a bit of unpacking left us ready for some more enjoyable tasks. It was time for the Convention to begin in earnest!
Part II: Day the First
After a quick and painless stop to check in with the Master Wizards in the Hall of Registrars, we descended the Magical Staircase to the gathering area.
Soon we were among the Astromancy Conclave known as the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop (TVIW) to learn of their plans for future engagements. Lead by their chosen First Among Equals, Doug Loss, the Conclave continues to push forward with efforts to some day expand the Realms of Man beyond the star of Sol to others within the Ethaer of the Void. Apparently, the previous events have engendered such curiosity in the Astromancy sector that the Tennessee Valley Continuum inadvertently expanded to include a much larger geographical region that includes the Land of Kansas. The next gathering will be in ‘Wichita’. One can only assume this township to be the home of ground of the Tau Witches, but further investigation is needed.
Following that, we listened intently to the Ministress of Scientific Explanations, Stephanie Osborn (one of her many titles and honorariums), as she explained the Double-Dynamo model of the Sol star as put forth by the Technowizard Zharkova. It was highly detailed, and as usual for most scientific panels at the Convention of Liberty, I came away much more enlightened on the subject of solar cycles and minutia of maximized minima.
Unfortunately, the need for sustenance and lack of sufficient sleep the previous night forced us to withdraw from the activities for a time. A brief nap turned into an extended one, resulting in a failure to attend to the opening ceremonies. I felt a bit guilty for this, but quickly got over it as the nap was quite refreshing. This was a good thing, as I was scheduled for my first participatory event in which I would be reading from my own works soon after that.
As the appointed time arrived, I entered the event room and prepared my readings and placard. I had been informed that my co-reader would be going second as he was coming directly from the Hall of Vendors where he would be attempting to hawk his wares. Now, the time for said reading being one that was barely an hour after the large gathering of acquaintances for Opening Ceremonies and quite close to supper, many people were otherwise engaged. Thus it was that the audience was exactly one… the MPU.
This was not wholly unexpected, and somewhat of a relief as I was not exuberant about the prospects of going hoarse while reading my own words. You see, my throat had become somewhat scratchy of late, and I did not hold out full hope of it standing up to thirty minutes of constant use.
We were not alone for long, however, as the second reader, Hanz Schantz, arrived and engaged in a friendly conversation with us regarding his writings and our indirect collaboration in the wordsmithing of a mutual acquaintance. We parted company shortly thereafter, and I am still not certain if he acquired an audience of his own. Although, I did have word that someone showed up for my reading after I departed, having been rendered late by the same extended napping affliction we had suffered previously. Now two instances do not a pattern make, but I was on the lookout for Sorcerers of the Somnambulantic arts for the rest of the stay. They are sneaky and not to be trusted.
Afterward, we wandered the halls and ways for a time investigating the wares of the Room of Deals and the Alley of Art. We placed bids on some small treasures, one of which I was able to claim as my own. It now adorns the wall of my abode. I choose to call it the Eyes of the Wampuscat. A very fortuitous find!
At the mid-evening hour, the MPU and I acquired seating in the hall where several soldiers and enforcers of law told tales (mayhap they were lies, but the benefit of doubt is given) about strange happenstances during their time of active duty to their respective liege lords. Each tale had but one requirement… they must being with the phrase: “No Shit, There I Was, Just Minding My Own Business.” They were most entertaining (true or nay), and were met with much laughter, and resounding applause at the conclusion of each. After an hour, we excused ourselves because the chairs were beginning to cause posterior numbness.
After carousing in the Vault of Challengers (game room) and possibly the Suite of Edible Delights (Consuite), although my memory fails, we retired for the evening to rest up for the events of the next day.
Part III: Day the Second
The day began smoothly despite the failure of the Favored Appliance to engage at the correct time so that the Elixir of Liveliness was hot and waiting upon our awakening. I blamed the Somnambulantic Sorcerers, although I had no proof and could not take it to the proper authorities. It was a minor setback, however, and we were soon ready to depart our quarters and engage in the day’s events.
Unfortunately, as I bent to disengage the Portable Computational Device, I placed my right levator scapulea, or some adjacent musculature, into a bind with my shouldered bag of holding doing some damage (which is still mending nearly a week anon) that would cause problems later. But for now, we continued onward to the scheduled engagments.
We once more ventured into the realm of the Astromancers where Les Johnson, the non-representing representative of the Overrealm’s space program, NASA (I think that stands for Notional Association of Spacial Astromancy… need to confirm), regaled us with all the news of the accomplishments of the various Astromantical organizations throughout the realms of Earth.
Next, we attempted to sit in on the gathering of the preeminent experts on Cerebral Sciences lead by the renowned Mind Wizard, Robert E. Hampson. Despite it’s riveting and informative topics, the aforementioned muscular injury became acutely painful, forcing an early exit.
Some medicinal attention and a short stint of horizontal therapy later, I was ready to continue (although I was cautious to only take seats on the right side of any chamber as the ability to look leftward was beyond me). We joined a panel that include the Guest of Honor Sarah Hoyt, and Scientist/Author Jeff Greason where they discussed the future of humanity in space in relation to the anthology Space Pioneers. It was typical commentary by Sarah, who never takes a direct path to the point of a topic when a meandering one will do much better for entertainment purposes!
We crossed paths with the Word Weaver & Herder of Zombies, Daniel Humphreys as we wandered away. I acquired a Badge Honorarium, as did the MPU, in which we were declared Survivors of the Z-Day Apocalypse. I explained to the MPU that while this was indeed a reassuring turn of events, my avatar in the Paxton Locke universe was not so lucky. RIP Agent Beckwith, may your soul find rest after your unfortunate immolation!
Afterward, we took in some of the scenery of our host Kingdom and the Castle Marriott before seeking sustenance at the Suite of Edible Delights on the uppermost floor of the castle.
It was in this place that one of the highlights of our visit occurred. I finally made contact with my dear friend, The Mistress of Pumpkins, Julie Pascal, who joined us for our repast. Julie is a boon companion who has journeyed through vast territories with me and my Dungeoneering crew over the past two years. Although we had never met face to face, our ethereal communications while engaging in the pastime that the mortal realm calls Dungeons & Dragons had already made us fast friends. We would continue in each other’s company for some time as we paid visits to the Gaming area. We discussed various and sundry topics of small import and while there the MPU and I were presented with samples of artwork from the aforementioned Mistress of Pumpkins. The following day, we would be gifted copies of said artwork and have them signed for posterity. One of my favorites is below.
Later, the time approached for my entry into the world of participatory paneling. Namely, the ‘Industrial vs Mecha’ panel. Engineers (aka Technomancers) would square off against the Conjurers of Fictional Fighting Machines (Mecha) to determine the ‘practicality’ of such constructs. I will go on record as being a proponent of said devices, however, my assigned task as Advocate of the Abyss in regards to feasability no doubt damped the spirit of those who likewise wish such creations were possible. Our Moderator, Mr. William Joseph Roberts guided the discussion. Technomancers James Shart and myself (Jacob Holo defected to the other side when his proclivity with wordsmithing tales of such machines became known) were pitted against the wiles of Mecha Bards Jon Osborn and self-proclaimed Dwarf, Chris Woods. Although there was later disagreement on the victors of said confrontation (the Technomancers won, hands down, but Dwarfs are known for never admitting defeat), everyone agreed that a splendid and humor-filled time was had by all. We may have even invented some new Theoretical Technomancy for use in later Bardic tales!
Eventually, I tried my hand at hawking wares in the Alley of Vendors, where I sold a few copies of my own tomes.
More excellent conversations were had with passing friends, such as the burgeoning Illusionist Robert Evans whose Filmographic works were on display during the Con. Alas and alak that I did not manage to attend them, but a failing I intend to resolve next year!
The close of the day included the gathering of the Mad Scientist of the Table Round, although they are not all mad. Well, not completely at least. I was supposed to be a participant, but failed to arrive in a timely manner, thus I relegated myself to the back of the audience chamber instead. This, I believe, was the best place for me to be as I was both mentally (I R Dumb) and physically (neck problem) incapable of engaging on the same level as the Genii who filled the fore of the room. As always, I walked away both smarter and more in awe of the brain-power present at this gathering! It is staggering!
This lasted until the wee hours of the new day, but we still had to begin the struggle of preparing our belonging to be moved out of our guest suite the following morning. Luckily, the Somnambulantic Sorcerers failed to inflict any further delays on our persons, and we were able to awake and conduct our affairs without major malfunction the following morning.
Part IV: Day the Third
After we vacated our guest suite, we enjoined the function known as the Kaffeeklatch. Apparently, this is a word derived from a language spoken outside the Overrealm that means Coffee Gossip. I fail to see the need for such obfuscation by using foreign nomenclature, but there it is. We did indeed gossip as we sat drinking our 2nd Coffees with friends Doug Loss and Anita Moore. It soon became very hard to hear as the tumult of voices in the room rose to a volume that kept understanding impossible beyond four feet or so. Still, it was a good time.
This was immediately followed by yet another stint (and not a profitable one) at the Alley of Vendors. Afterward, we packed away the last of wares in the Horseless Conveyance in the Tiered Stable and then rushed to the Suite of Edible Delights for some hurried noontime sustenance before the last participatory panel of the Con.
The Superversive Press Panel, hosted by the Mistress of Dancing Cows, A.M. Freeman, began with introductions, and a word from the Avatar of the Publisher, Sir Jason Rennie. The voice sounded oddly like that of Jon Del Arroz with a really bad accent from the Upside-Down Kingdom, but that may just be my perception. Many of the books of Superversive nature, including the newly realeased Planetary Anthology: Jupiter, were present and on display. The panel’s members included: Julie Pascal, Jon Del Arroz, A. M. Freeman, Julie Frost, Ben Wheeler, Marina Fontain, Monalisa Foster, Arlan Andrews, Hans Schantz and myself. It was a great time for me as I was able to meet some of the many Digital Realm acquaintances face-to-face for the first time.
I did manage to acquire physical copies of the Tomes of the Wanderers (Planetary Anthologies) in which I have stories. (I also got some swag! There may have also been cows dancing, but such events are better left to the imagination.)
Part V: The Winding Down
Following our brief autograph session, the MPU and I had planned to depart early, but decided to stay and attend the Closing Ceremonies. We were glad that we did, for it was very informative and the MPU came to a better understanding of just how much the people of this convention care for each other. The expressions of gratitude to the staff, despite the session’s subtitle of “Bitch at Brandy”, and the voicing of camaraderie by one an all as they declared themselves FAMILY again and again, just reinforced the feelings that I have always had after each and every time I have attended. LibertyCon is not a meeting of strangers (although we are all strange in our own unique way) with common interests. No, it is, and hopefully always will be, a Reunion of Old Family and the Adoption of New.
So, in conclusion, fond memories were made, new friends acquired, and creative intensity was renewed for this Technomantic Wordsmith at LibertyCon 32. I hope, Happy Readers, that one day you too can have such a wonderful experience.
This blog is now almost 3000 words long! This totally counts as writing! Until the next blog… Happy Reading!