It has once again been a week since I returned from Philcon and I could almost just re-post last year’s review. I went back and read the post convention review I did last year before I started in on this one. This review and that will be remarkably similar.
There were differences and they were notable, but the portion that continues to worry me is the attendance. It was dead there. I mean to the point where I wondered if the convention was actually still open a couple of times. I can only believe this desperately low attendance drove some of the other factors. I know the sales numbers were crushingly low for a couple of the folks in the vendor’s area. There looked like a lot of no-shows in there. The art show was slim pickings, including a couple of no-shows. The artist guest of honor had 4 or 5 sections and beyond that there were only a handful of artists on display. I won’t disparage the quality – they were and are fine artists, it just seemed to be very small. The freebie and flyers area in front of the vendor room wasn’t full – and there’s ALWAYS somebody looking to get word of mouth out there that way. I continue to worry for this con, but they seem to survive.
My schedule was decent for the weekend. None of the panels had huge attendance. Lots of empty seats. My favorite panel was the first one on the list – the best of military science fiction. I was really looking forward to being on that panel with Barry Longyear, but alas he was unable to attend… no-shows are starting to feel like a theme here too. Anyway – if you haven’t ever checked out his work, see if you can dig up a copy of “It Came From Schenectady”. The forward of the book makes me laugh every time I read it. It’s from the early 1980s and still works. That’s just the forward. The stories are wonderful. There’s some really good stuff in there.
The programming was good. It was in fact better and more timely than the past 2 conventions I’ve been invited too. There was a dud of a panel in there that I consider a tremendous missed opportunity, but that had everything to do with the moderator and nothing to do with the topic itself. All in all I think I held my own. I have made panel suggestions for next year and I think the panels will continue to be strong.
I didn’t stay in the con hotel this year. It’s the first time I’ve stayed off site for a con. It worked and was a really good thing to save the expense of the hotel. What else it did was pretty much eliminate any shenanigans or chances for weird encounters late at night in the hotel. No pizza, no elevator roulette. Just quiet really.
I actually feel like that’s as much review as I need. There just wasn’t much. I hope to go back again next year – and I hope a lot of folks join me.