Discworld Convention Report

And now for something completely different, involving giant turtles, elephants and a world that’s a disc.

I spent last weekend at the 3rd North American Discworld Convention, and I’m still exhausted. It was wonderful, despite the last-minute news that The Man Himself couldn’t make it (no, not his health – he has a book due to be published in October and his choice was finish the book or go to the con. The book won, as it should).

Herewith your somewhat scattered report of the event.

Friday I hauled my luggage to the car (alas, the Pratchettian style with its own little legs is out of my budget) and drove to Baltimore – about 2.5 hours from here, so comfortably within my range. I arrived at the hotel around 11-30am and was checked in and unpacked in my room by 12-30. At this point I ventured downstairs to find registration and so forth – and discovered that despite officially starting on Friday there’d already been a full day’s worth of programming and I’d missed it. Someone must have been into the vul-nut wine, because seriously, a day and a half worth of scheduled stuff before the opening ceremony? Yeah. I’m just bitching because I missed it.

At the opening ceremony the usual announcements were made, and some unusual ones: namely that the Assassin’s Guild was taking commissions and all funds raised would go to the convention charities. Oh, and don’t even think about taking a contract on the concom chair (aka Lord Vetinari). You can’t afford it. PTerry himself was also off-limits, but that was because the programming guide had been printed before he realized that he really couldn’t make it no matter how much he tried to split time. I’m told they raised a substantial amount, and the inhumees proudly sported their badges and cherished their commemorative scrolls that declared someone cared enough about them to pay for their removal.

The first attempt at a live chat session with PTerry didn’t work too well: laggy connection and broken up sound.

Lord Downey of the Assassin’s Guild was trying to drum up interest in the Maskerade, while the other Guild tables seemed rather poorly presided over (I think I saw them attended maybe  20% of the time, if that. Pity – it would have been much more interesting if they’d had people there to con… er, interact with passers by. Another unfortunate bit of scheduling – from my perspective as She Who Can’t Attend Late Parties – was that all the bloody parties started at 10pm or later – by which time I was in no shape to party. I was, if still awake, in barely good enough shape to stagger to my room and fall over. Seriously folks, start them at 9pm? That way the narcoleptic adults can enjoy them for a while before they go to pass out.

Saturday and Sunday kind of blurred together. I know there was a Maskerade where various Feegles terrorized… er… entertained the audience. Panels were held, some bizarrely misjudged. Seriously, when Lord Downey (whose Roundworld profession is forensic pathologist) hosts a session titled “How to Commit the Perfect Murder”, it’s likely to be somewhat popular. It was. There wasn’t even standing room, and con ops rapidly scheduled a repeat session for those who were stuck leaning towards the door from the hallway. This fact may be somewhat disturbing to those of a sensitive nature.

At least the second session that overflowed, con ops moved us into the auditorium where everyone could sit. On chairs, even.

The Q&A session with PTerry and a mostly well-behaved videoconferencing session was wonderful – and inevitably ran well past the scheduled closing time. Which was just as well, because no-one has quite figured out that when you list a start time of 2pm, people expect the doors to be open a little before that. They don’t expect to be still waiting for the doors to open half an hour later – by which time the queue had wrapped itself into one of the nether hells, or possibly gone quantum.

It’s a good thing the Discworld cons are the friendliest conventions I’ve ever been to. The atmosphere is totally “floating party with friends you haven’t met yet”. At some point – I think while the Maskerade judges were deliberating – there was a performance by “Havelock’s Association of Reformed Mimes”. One hopes Lord Vetinari was flattered rather than insulted by the rendition of “On My Butt”. Otherwise the next performance might require the reformed mimes to be resurrected first.

We got a bit of a sneak peek at the next Discworld book (“Raising Steam” – Ankh Morkpork meets the railways), and discovered that soon… soon we too will be able to own Unreal Estate. Yes, now that Ankh Morpork has been mapped in sufficient detail, the worthies of the Discworld Emporium are plotting… er, planning to sell parcels of prime (and somewhat past it) land in that great city. Yes, Thieves Guild Insurance will be available for purchase. So will guidelines on how many dwarves you may sublet your cellar to. Other nefarious plotting… er, delightful extras will become available as they sort things out. They were a little fuzzy on precisely how one could inspect one’s purchase, but I’m sure Mr Dibbler and his Roundworld agent Mr Pearson have it all sorted out.

Monday finished with Terry Pratchett: the Highly Inaccurate Musical, which was indeed highly inaccurate. Also quite funny. I hope they recorded it, because Terry would probably love it. After that, the closing ceremony included the mass reading of “Where’s My Cow”, now a Tradition, and the traditional farewell: “Piss off”.

All told, a good time was had by all, especially the Seamstresses. I may eventually wake up some time later this month.


5 thoughts on “Discworld Convention Report

  1. That sounded like tons of fun. How to commit the perfect murder . . . Ahem. Sound like the Con has a lot of wannbe mystery writers. Right? And I trust Jim will drop by, one of these years?

    1. Who knows? The gist of the perfect murder panel was basically “you can’t”, but he gave it well.

      1. The trick is to get enough of your society to sign off on it. If a faction holds enough of the medical examiner, law enforcement and criminal justice systems, it can fit quite a lot through the cracks on a retail basis. If even more of society, one can start doing things wholesale.

        1. Except that by that stage you’ve gone beyond “perfect murder” to “major corruption” or “shadow government”.

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