By Banditas Nancy and Trish along with guest Tanya Michna
At this time last week, Nancy and I, along with our good friend (and my roomie for the weekend) Tanya Michna (aka Tanya Michaels), were embracing our inner geekitude along with 40,000 other sci fi, fantasy and pop culture fans at the annual Dragon*Con conference in Atlanta. This was my second year to attend, and it lived up to the fun I had last year. Tanya and I were part of different panels on the Writer Track, and we also attended the Supernatural fan discussion and handed out business cards for the Supernatural Sisters blog (where we're two of the five contributing writers). I know Nancy had a lot of great experiences with big-name writers this year.
So, the three of us decided to share some highlights with you, complete with lots of piccies.
My favorite things: Sitting in a giant ballroom with a horde of Star Trek fans watching Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner do riffs off each other. I've been a Classic Trek fan since high school. I'd seen Nimoy but not Shatner, who never did many conventions. This is a highlight of my fannish life, ranking right up there with meeting my favorite Superman artist, the late Curt Swan, at a local con years ago and taking writing classes from A.C. Crispin.
Meeting Lois McMaster Bujold, author of the Vorkosigan Chronicles, the Sharing Knife series, and a fantasy series starting with The Curse of Chalion. She's very friendly and very thoughtful. I just wish I'd had less of an awe factor going; it tends to generate conversational clumsiness.
Hearing Laura Anne Gilman, author of Luna's Retrievers series, which Jeanne and I love, read from her forthcoming fantasy, The Vineart Wars. I also got to chat with her while we all waited in the hall for someone to unlock the door to the room where she was to read. She'll join us Oct. 16 to discuss that series, which has less romance than the Retrievers but lots of action.
Listening to Michael Biehn (the original, and still best, Kyle Reese in Terminator) discuss his career and getting to ask him a question, thanks to Cassondra and Steve. And he said "Hi" to me, as I think I may have mentioned one or two or six times already since then.
Seeing GRW friends and writer buddies I don't get to see anywhere else and going to dinner with my online sff critique group. Our teacher, A.C. Crispin, goes every year, and Lois McMaster Bujold and Julie Kenner joined us this year.
Seeing the wonderfully inventive costumes, especially for the Steampunk (Victorian era science fiction fans).
What I did not get to do: Hear Bujold read. I was like a distractable kid this year, unable to keep up with what what was going on despite having circled things (many, many things) on the program grid. She was reading from the forthcoming Miles Vorkosigan adventure, the first in several years, and I HATE that I missed it!
I also missed Catherine Asaro's reading and panel appearances, and I love her Skolian Empire series.
I did not get to the Cybersecurity panel on the Science track, something I thought might be useful for a future project. I didn't see the panel on surviving the apocalypse, which also had research potential for a future project, on the Apocalypse Rising track.
I didn't see Kate Mulgrew or Patrick Stewart. Simply couldn't stomach the lines.
I missed the parade. I was having breakfast with friends, and the time got away from me. I love the parade, which the dh calls "the extroverted half of the con performing for the introverted half." And the boy and his girlfriend marched in the anime crowd, along with the son of some friends. The dh watched, though, and he didn't see any of them in the mob of costumed anime fans marching down Peachtree Street. I wanted to cheer on the Stargate contingent (I'm a member of Stargate Atlanta), too. And to see the massive Star Wars group, complete with a big unit of the 501st Stormtrooper Legion. Oh, well--next year!
I didn't get to see Trish and Tanya except for about thirty seconds outside the Writer Track room. With 40,000+ people there, running into your friends becomes unlikely. Maybe next year for that, too.
This was my fourth DragonCon, but I don't think you can ever really "get used to" the convention! The spectacle of the crowds and costumes never fails to awe (and occasionally overwhelm.)
My favorite moments from this year: After missing all of the Battlestar Galactica panels last year ('cuz they seemed to conflict with the Firefly stuff--or at least the three hours I was spending in the Firefly lines), I was thrilled to go to a BSG panel this year, now that we all know who the final Cylons were and could discuss it. It cracked me up when the Galactica "chief" Aaron Douglas crashed the panel!
I also really enjoyed the Buffyverse panel including the fabulous Felicia Day, the gorgeous Charisma Carpenter and Julie Benz (neither of whom have aged in like a decade--what is up with that?) and Buffy "1.0" Kristie Swanson, although there were a few awkward moments because everyone else had recurring roles on Buffy and/or Angel and she, though in the original Buffy movie, admitted to never even watching the show.
Even though there were only fans and no stars (sigh), I loved the Supernatural panel--much fun discussing where we think the show is going in the newly kicked off season 5!
On Saturday, I got to attend the "An Hour with Draco Malfoy" panel with Tom Felton, who was hilarious and really gracious (even in the face of some slightly crazed fans with inappropriate questions. Eesh, people).
Then there was the rockin' Cruxshadows concert, worth both the line AND being up past 2 a.m. Sunday was a favorite moment of different kind, because I actually got to participate on a panel with some really impressive writers. I was honored to be up there with them!
I had wanted to go to the Twilight panel, but gave it up to go to a YA panel that included Tricia Mills (yay!) and Diana Peterfreund, author of Rampant (which I am reading now.) I also missed the parade (the line for BSG was already forming). But I've actually missed that every single year I've gone, so it's becoming like a tradition!
A first for this year: I came in costume! I was Tonks, echoing her purple-haired look from the Order of the Phoenix movie. It wasn't 100% accurate, but total strangers guessed who I was and even asked for my picture so we'll call it a success. I'm already brainstorming costume ideas for next year. After all...only 355 days 'til the next Dragon*Con! (Photo: Trish as Alice Cullen from Twilight and Tanya as Tonks from Harry Potter)
Like Tanya, I was all about the Firefly stuff last year since Nathan Fillion, Alan Tudyk, Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin were in attendance, and thus missed all the Battlestar Galactica stuff. Not so this year! The BSG panel was great, and you could just tell all these people loved working together. There were a lot of BSG cast members in attendance: Michael Hogan (Col. Tigh), Kate Vernon (Ellen Tigh), Mary McDonnell (President Laura Roslin), Michael Trucco (Sam Anders), Alessandro Juliani (Felix Gaeda), Luciana Carro (Kat), Aaron Douglas (Chief Tyrol) and Kandyse McClure (Dualla).
That same camaraderie existed among the members of my other favorite panel -- for Stargate. There were two SG1 panelists (Gary Jones and Colin Cunningham), but I was most excited to see the four Stargate Atlantis cast members: Joe Flanigan (John Sheppard), Paul McGillion (Dr. Carson Beckett), Rachel Luttrell (Teyla Emmagan) and Jason Momoa (Ronon Dex). I'm a big fan of Atlantis and hate that it was canceled. I'm hoping there will be some Atlantis movies in the future like there has been for SG1.
While I attended some other panels, did a little shopping in the dealer rooms (got two new Firefly T-shirts as well as a model of the Serenity and some little Firefly action figures), and attended the Cruxshadows concert, a lot of my time was taken up with getting my photo taken with stars. I went a little crazy with it this year, but my favorites were with the Stargate and BSG cast members. And the one with John Schneider. Yes, he was a great Jonathon Kent on Smallville, but I have liked him since the Dukes of Hazzard days. If I could go back and tell my 12-year-old self that I'd meet "Bo Duke" one day, I wouldn't have believed it.
Here I am with Joe Flanigan and Paul McGillion (pulling a Zoolander pose), who autographed the photo.
And next I'm pictured with Michael Trucco, Kandyse McClure and Mary McDonnell (who I also loved in Dances with Wolves).
And perhaps the coolest thing to happen to me at the conference was when I was in the Walk of Fame room where the stars meet fans and sign autographs. I was going to have my photo taken with Michael Hogan and Kate Vernon from BSG. While I was waiting, I got to talking to one of their assistants. He saw my guest name badge and said my name looked familiar. I was taken aback, but we got to talking about how I'm an author. Then he told Kate. Even though the fans were supposed to stay on the front side of the tables, Kate told me to come around to the back and while we waited for Michael to finish talking to someone else, we talked about my YA novel. Totally surreal moment, and they are both so incredibly nice. Here's the photo the assistant snapped.
Part of the fun of Dragon*Con is just checking out all the costumes. Some people go all out and probably spend a fortune on their costumes.
Dr. Horrible (with Tanya)
Fray (from the Buffyverse)
Some Lycans from the Underworld movies. You can't see all the people dressed in the vampire armor from Underworld Evolution.
And Captain Mal, River Tam and Jayne Cobb from Firefly/Serenity (with me stuck in the middle)
The things I didn't make it to that I regret missing: the parade, a session with Diana Gabaldon (it totally slipped my mind!), the Twilight panel with Peter Facinelli and Justin Chon (though I did have my photo taken with them), the Tom Felton presentation, and some workshops on costuming that looked interesting.