Sunday, July 14, 2013

Convergence 2013

Last weekend, July 4th to 7th, was CONvergence 2013, a convention held in Bloomington, MN that I've been hearing good things about for several years now. I had the privileged of being a Guest of Honor, and the double-thrill of having my good friends John Picacio, Paul Cornell, Melinda Snodgrass, and Charlie Jane Anders all there as Guests of Honor as well!

Attendance at the convention was apparently a record-breaking 6,789 persons, who somehow all fit inside the Double Tree hotel. And not only did they fit - the Double Tree has a large indoor courtyard and attendees rent rooms with patios opening on to it, strip the rooms of furnishings, and convert them into elaborately constructed party palaces. My son loved the Japanese Tea House, so every evening we stopped by for a different tea and biscuits. I probably went through half-a-hundred fruit smoothies at the Space Lounge. And while I didn't sample "Green" nor "Orange" in the Enterprise, I did get to stand on a teleporter and and pose as a communications officer on a Star Trek: TOS set.

It's hard to communicate the energy and enthusiasm at this show--even the
hotel staff are wearing CONvergence t-shirts throughout the weekend - or the friendliness and professionalism of the con. We were all of us very impressed by the opening ceremonies. When I heard I was going to be interviewed by a puppet mascot, I confess to a feeling of dread. Instead, the opening puppet show was of professional puppeteer quality - though how could it not be when Bill Corbett (Crow T. Robot) and Kevin Murphy (Tom Servo) are regular guests? It was a blast. And now my son is in love with robot mascot Connie and her virtual evil twin.
Comic book artist Christopher Jones (Young Justice, The Batman Strikes!) is one of the founders of CONvergence, and kindly drew a unique badge for each one of the attendees. Mine is taking from my 2011 Hugo Award win. I'm 40 lbs heavier in that picture than I am now, but I'm also holding a glowing rocket, so hey. Really, I was just grinning and showing off my badge for hours after they gave it to me. Being animated by such a great artist was really something else. And speaking of something else...

My wrangler Andrew McKay was extraordinaire too, giving us a tour of the Mall of America--which everyone should see once. Actually, the aquarium is quite nice and the mirror maze was fantastic. The roller coasters looked amazing but - alas! - no one in my family does roller coasters but me. Also, I've never been able to sit still for a game at a con - too much to see and do - but my son was very curious about Munchkins and we weren't sure if it was age appropriate, so Andrew rounded up a game and ran one for us. We loved it and Steven Jackson has scored another customer. 

Thursday night John Picacio, his assistant Tara Smith, and I snuck out to a dinner at Republic in downtown Minneapolis, where I had some great fish and chips, grilled vegetables with one of the spiciest habanero peppers I've had in a long while, and a fantastic (and fantastically named) beer called Dragon's Milk, which was rich, thick, and had the sort of bite you'd expect from a beer so called. The bartender was delighted that an appreciative audience had come from so far away and kept sending me free samples of his other wares all night too. Great place, great food and drink, great company. Highly recommended.

The whole weekend was marvelous, especially for being able to spend time with so many friends, the aforementioned guests, as well as Scott Lynch, Elizabeth Bear, new friend Peter Lee (of WotC), and many more. I also got to put faces on some blogger's names and see some folk I haven't seen in a long while.

Huge thanks to Guest Co-Head Tanya Brody, Director Michael Lee, artist in residence and founding member Christopher Jones, my excellent wrangler Andrew McKay, programming head Craig Finseth, Picacio's wrangler Carly Buchanan who also helped me out a time or two and everyone working in front of and behind the scenes who made this such a magnificent time!  You're a great con CONvergence. I hope to come back!

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