It’s been a week since I participated in Philcon 2015. I have held off a week in writing up my review partially because it was Thanksgiving week and that meant a busy schedule and partially because I wanted to take some time to consider how best to write up my thoughts on the whole venture. For anyone who has been with me for a while here at the Pretend Blog, I did remember my socks this year.
Last year was the first time I’d attended as an invited guest and I was a little surprised to have gotten another invitation this year ~ not through any misdeed or indiscretion, I just hadn’t really given it much thought. Thankfully I was able to secure a room and once again have the fantastic option of riding with my friend Mary. Travel and check in were smooth sailing.
There were a number of friends in attendance, but a more than significant number of friends that were not this year. The lack of attendance was palpable to me. There were empty seats in the lobby, empty seats at the hotel bar, empty seats in the gaming area and lots of empty seats in the panel rooms. I missed seeing many of my friends. I had commented last year on how the attendance felt really low to me, and this year seemed worse to me. Once again, I don’t have numbers to back me up or any kind of data for that matter. It’s just a feeling, but a feeling based on simple observation like: I could put my arms out to my sides and not hit anyone or anything in the dealers room. There wasn’t anything even vaguely resembling a crowd even in the middle of Saturday afternoon. Not encouraging.
Panels were totally up and down. I had six for the weekend and they all subjects I could speak to with some form of knowledge. I think that says good things about programming. Yes, the information about the panels arrived a little later than one might want (it was plenty of time for me as a non-moderator), but I did not ever encounter the “well I have no idea why I’m on this panel” person.
I really enjoyed the first panel called “Judging a Book By Its Cover” on Friday. Ray Ridenour was a good moderator and the panel was quite diverse. It was nice to have all the bases covered with Ray’s insight as an artist, a publisher and an author on the panel. I was really hoping to meet the editor that had been scheduled to be there, but he didn’t make it.
I also learned a great deal from the panel Military Culture In Science Fiction. It was easily the best attended panel of mine for the weekend. I did my best to have solid input to this panel but frequently found myself listening and getting caught up in what the others were saying.
I’d have to say the first was probably the best for the weekend for me. Most were decent. They did not all go well in my humble opinion. I’m not going to detail each panel, but when an audience member approaches you and another author after the panel and offers to buy you both a drink just for getting through I suspect the reviews wouldn’t be stellar.
The small panel attendance did have one big advantage. I had the chance to really chat with both the folks I was on the panel with and some of the folks in the audience. It was really good to meet others that are fans and genuinely interested in what others were working on. I might have even gotten folks to check out Watch The Skies so we can keep the connections rolling through the rest of the year.
Lastly, and I think somewhat sadly, I came to the conclusion over that convention weekend that I am no longer a Shenanigan-ator. I am not really even a good participant at this point. After really talking up and enjoying the memories of Defend The Pizza I know that Sawney Hatton was disappointed when nothing even remotely resembling a brawl happened on either Friday or Saturday night. The room parties on Saturday night were… not exactly what you would normally see as a party I think. We (and by we I mean the people I was with) decided we needed something to happen – and so the great game of Elevator Roulette was invented. I genuinely laughed the hardest at the convention goers that exited their elevator cab cane first much to Sawney’s chagrin. The details are fuzzy. I really enjoyed watching that, but was somewhat relieved it wasn’t my elevator that opened. I don’t think I would have carried things off as well as the others there. I am sure they would have been disappointed then and I know they were disappointed when they moved ahead with the “something needs to happen” concept. I will totally own the simple fact that I decided not to crash the reception that was sharing the hotel. I don’t know when I stopped being the shenanigans guy – but it was pretty clear this past weekend that I am no longer that guy. Maybe I’ll come back around to it some day.
Someday. As I typed that I had to genuinely wonder how many somedays Philcon has left. I don’t want to be the pessimist here, but this year didn’t convince me the downward slide has stopped. I do hope they pick up next year. I also hope they’re willing to invite me again and that I’ll have the chance to once again see friends and find out who the Shenanigan-ator will be.