Jean Marie Ward

fiction, nonfiction and all points in between
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Con Report: ReConStruction 2010

It was the opposite of Dragon*Con. ReConStruction, the tenth occasional North American Science Fiction Convention held in Raleigh August 5-8, was the definition of low-key. Preliminary counts put attendance at only a little over six hundred. But that only meant a glorious lack of queues.

There were no lines for Raleigh’s famous rickshaw taxis when Jana Oliver and I strolled out of our hotel the day before the con. Or for the restaurants or the small museums which dotted downtown Raleigh. Or the panels and exhibits, which sometime seemed dwarfed by their facilities. This gave the proceedings a very relaxed feel and, as Lee Martindale pointed out in her entry “Con Trails”, encouraged folks to make things work in spite of glitches and unexpected hotel issues.

Raleigh bar

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, Raleigh, NC (photo by Jean Marie Ward)

Lots of stand-out memories remain, even after the six weeks it took me to post this. Ada Milenkovic Brown organized the con’s Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading and a pre-reading get together at the appropriately named Flying Saucer bar. The saucers, though, had more to do with beer than little green men. The saucers lining the walls were awarded for drinking a thousand beers at the bar. While we were there, a gentleman was awarded his third. Hmm, maybe little green men were involved after all…riding to the rescue on pink elephants.

My panels included a one-on-one with con toastmaster and Baen editor Toni Weiskopf (“Urban Fantasy make-over”), and Susan and Clay Griffith, the husband and wife writing team whose The Greyfriar will be released in early November (“Writing with someone close to you”). Fan guest of honor Juanita Coulson recounted the most wonderful stories about collaborating in SF’s Golden Age on the Writing in Collaboration panel with Chuck Gannon and me. But “Worst panel ever” will always hold a special place in my heart. Not only did my fellow panelists (Michael D’Ambrosio, Chris Garcia, James Daniel Ross and Lawrence M. Schoen) reduce me to tears of laughter, but a member of the audience later greeted me with the words: “Worst Panel Ever—best panel ever!” Music to this panel moderator’s ears.

The RFR boasted a large audience and eight accomplished writers. Everyone read at their best, too. Afterwards, most of us decamped to the party of the con: the launch party for Mary Robinette Kowal’s Shades of Milk and Honey. The party featured the author in picture perfect Regency dress, scented fan souvenirs and a musical performance by Mary’s father Ken Harrison on the saw. Yes, you read that right. He played the saw, the same carpentry implement most of us use to cut wood, and he made it sing. Mary called it “an analog theremin”, and that’s a very good description of the sound. The eerie vibrato tone lent a special magic to the selection of traditional tunes he played. Unfortunately, your reporter neglected to pack her notebook to record the titles, but I did get pictures.

Ken Harrison & Mary Robinette Kowal

Ken Harrison (left) and Mary Robinette Kowal at the launch party for Shades of Milk and Honey, Friday, August 6 (photo by Jean Marie Ward)

 Regular roomies (Jana and Gail, I am looking at you) know that I can’t go to a new city without cruising the restaurants. Jana and I stumbled on bu*ku, an elegant bistro specializing in “global street food” after our rickshaw ride, and we ate more than one meal at Sitti, a friendly but sophisticated Lebanese café. The city saved its most unique dining experience for last, however—with a little help from fellow “Broad” and Samhain author Marcia Colette.

Marcia brought me to Spize, a café run by a friend and colleague. Imagine divine Asian fusion sandwiches on the best baguettes you ever ate. The owner, an IT superstar who founded the café during a brief sabbatical, has the bread flown in from New York. Yet the café is both unpretentious and green. There’s something decidedly fantastical about that, too.

(Glutton for pun–er, want more? Click here for the rest of my ReConStruction photos.)

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Posted in Blog 7 years ago at 4:58 pm.

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