Conclave XXVI

Conclave XXVI was held over the weekend of October 12-14, 2001 at the Holiday Inn in Lansing, Michigan. The theme for this year, Good and Evil, had become oddly appropriate in this post-September-11 world, although the theme had been selected well in advance.

We got there early on Friday morning and got into our sleeping room relatively quickly, which gave us plenty of time before the dealers' room opened. We called in a pizza to have something for supper, and rested while we waited for it to arrive. Then we even had time to go down to the hot tub and soak before time to get our stuff unloaded. The hot tub was wonderfully hot, unlike the bathwater temperature hot tubs we've seen at so many con hotels.

We were supposed to be able to start moving in our stuff at 3PM. But at 2:30, the health-care convention that was in ahead of us was still using that room. We knew then that this was going to be another mess-up, quite possibly worse than the previous year's.

It ended up that it wasn't quite as bad a mess, since the hotel staff did get the room reconfigured with astonishing rapidity, and we were only a little late getting in. But it was still an aggravation, on top of the rain that made verything wet and miserable.

We finally did get all our stuff dragged in and set up. However, sales were quite disappointing. I had plenty of time to work on notes for the rewrite of one of my early novels. We also brought our pizza down and had supper. I also got my art on the art show.

After the dealers' room closed for the night, we went around to the parties. There were some fairly good ones, including the one for ConFusion. We also stopped at the con suite before turning in for the night.

Saturday morning we got up early to get breakfast in the con suite before going down to the dealers' room and opening our tables. Then I had to hurry off to my first programming event, "Beginning Drawing," which was arranged as a class instead of a panel discussion. I just took a bunch of examples of my own work and talked to the few people who showed up.

Then I returned to the dealers' room and sat table for the several hours before my next programming event. This was a "Pictionary" game, but we had only two audience members, so it wasn't much of a contest.

After that, I went straight to my first true panel discussion, "How Real Is It? Evil in SF." Somebody started right off by commenting about how hard it is for fiction to compete with what's on the news. That led to a lot of discussion about real vs. fictional evil, and using real events to write better fiction. We had a lot of work dragging the discussion back to the real topic, instead of letting it become a current-events discussion.

The next hour was my last programming event for the day, "How to Get Published." We talked about the basics of writing publishable fiction and how to avoid the scammers who are becoming steadily more and more common in the publishing field.

After that, I went back to the dealers' room to help close for the day. Once we were closed, we went over to the Chinese buffet about a block away. Last year they had been quite nice, but this year they had gone downhill. They were completely backed up, and we stood in line for nearly fifteen minutes before we were able to get a seat. We ended up having to join up with another group of fans in order to get a table, because tables for two weren't opening up but they had a bigger table than either party needed. Then, they had crab legs on the buffet, but unbeknownst to us, these were not actually included in the regular buffet price. Although the crab legs cost extra, there was no sign to that effect on the buffet, so we helped ourselves. Fortunately, when we yipped at being informed of the extra cost by the waiter, he cut us some slack and didn't charge us, as long as we didn't go back and get more. I still don't feel that their leniency with us makes up for their not having a clear sign indicating the pricing on the buffet.

After supper, we headed back to the hotel. While we'd been eating, it had started raining, which made things unpleasant. When we got back, we decided to go down to the hot tub again. However, this time it was no longer so pleasantly hot, back down in the bathwater range. So we didn't stay very long, and headed back up to our room to rest a little before making the rounds of the parties.

The parties were good again, and we enjoyed ourselves. We dropped in on the Babylon 5 suite and saw some trailers for Lord of the Rings, which were quite good. Then we went up to the con suite for a few snacks before turning in for the night.

Sunday morning we had breakfast in the con suite. Then we got our stuff cleaned out of our sleeping room and got checked out in time for me to go to my final panel. This was "Heroes and Villains in SF," in which we ended up talking a lot about how we could draw upon the inspiration of real events to create believable heroes and villains. We talked about different kinds of heroes and villains, and how the heroes and villains of earlier decades' fiction often seem flat and cartoonish to present-day readers.

After the panel was over, I headed to the dealers' room to sit table until closing. Sales continued to be insipid, and we decided that, particularly after last year's equally bad showing, we probably wouldn't be back, at least not for a year or two. We finally ended up getting everything packed before the dealers' room actually closed, simply because we had no customers buying anything.

Then we had to carry everything out. It didn't help that we were getting rain at first. But we did get everything loaded without any major water damage, and we even had time to go back up to the con suite for a few last-minute snacks before hitting the road.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.