Monday, November 24, 2008

Philcon 2008, Part I

I don’t attend many conventions, but I always try to get to Philcon (the Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention). After several years of holding Philcon at hotels in downtown Philadelphia, this year it was at the Crown Plaza in Cherry Hill, NJ. I appreciated not having to drive into center city and getting to park for free, but anyone dependent on public transportation probably had to take a cab.

Catching up with old friends and meeting new ones is one of the pleasures of conventions, but I spend most of my time at the panel discussions. I’m there in the front of the audience with a reporter’s notebook in my hand, scribbling away. I want to come away from every convention with an inspiration, a new idea, an author I wasn’t familiar with, and a good quote.

Since author and writing coach Jonathan Maberry has convinced me that I need to get out from behind my writing desk more, I also made note of which authors ran their panels well. My Best Moderator Award has to go to Catherine Asaro, for running a panel titled “The Devil Is in the Details.”

She kept the discussion lively, didn’t leave out any of the panelists, and maintained control of the room. (When you invite the audience to participate, there’s always a danger of the audience taking over. I saw that happen in some other panels.) Without using any notes, she kept throwing out topic after topic for discussion. I wonder how much she had to prepare?

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