Lunacon After Action Report

No rants today: I spent the weekend at Lunacon so ’tis time for what passes for my after action report.

Lunacon, for those who aren’t familiar with it, mostly lives near NYC, at the Westchester Hilton – known to regulars as the Escher Memorial Hilton, due to the strange interdimensional portals and odd corners which sprout tentacles if you go there at the right time of night during the dark of the moon. Much of the weird has been sanitized of late, so that you no longer go from level 4 to level 7 without using any stairs. Now it’s 4 to 4000 which doesn’t have quite the same ring. Plus they’ve renovated and the old restaurant and bar has been replaced by a new open plan sterile thing that might acquire some character as it ages but right now it’s pretty meh. Still, there’s enough oddness to make Strange Things Happen.

It wouldn’t be Lunacon if Strange Things didn’t happen. This year was pretty mild. The fire alarms went off twice and there was an issue getting badges in time, which led to much use of “We don’t need no stinking badges!”, people drifting into con ops to be told “Nope, not here yet” and the guest of honor joking that he needed a special hat because nobody had any idea who he was without a badge to proclaim his GOH-ness. I am not revealing who suggested Mickey Mouse ears. I might not survive if I did that.

For me this was a busybusy con – six panels and a signing session. Not that – with almost everything I have being ebook only – I signed much.

First up was “There are no rules” at 10pm on Friday – which broke one of my normal rules, namely the one about The Kate Does Not Do Panels After 9pm Because You Have No Idea What You’re Going To Get. It turned into a fun discussion about which rules really are rules and which ones are merely guidelines (the ones about spelling and grammar are the actual rules, the rest are guidelines, but those work differently for the megabestsellers than they do for us mere mortals).

Saturday after a nice quiet signing session, I got to play with the scientists in a panel on “Science, Ignorance and Power”. Now there was a minefield that somehow never really got triggered. One panelist slipped a comment about “global warming deniers” in the middle of his commentary on how it works better to find areas of common ground with people than to tell them how ignorant, stupid, or evil they were (yes, irony alert, and no, he had no idea – until he was called on it which rather startled him and sent him backpedaling). Interestingly the focus didn’t stray to politics but stayed largely on a general line of this science stuff being pretty cool and how do we folks who think it’s cool convince a wider audience of the coolth?

Later, I had “Galactic Domination” (long-time Hoyt’s Hun Mary Catelli was on the panel, too) and it kind of morphed into more of a discussion on the economics and logistics of multiple-planet empires and what kind of tech levels would be needed to support one in the first place. I think the consensus ended up being that there wouldn’t be any real ‘domination’ as such outside the fantasy with technology trappings space operas (where the logistics basically have planets as stand ins for islands and everything feels kind of like Napoleonic era naval warfare with lasers, only not done nearly as well as Weber does it).

Sunday I started with “Genre Bending: Making Good Cross-Genre Mashups”, a panel where all of us had fun and shamelessly talked about the way SF and Fantasy can coopt practically anything and make it work because unlike most other genres it’s defined by setting (Romance is defined by plot. Ditto Mystery. Horror by plot and mood. Etc). That means it’s perfectly possible to have a noir mystery mixed with a romance in an urban fantasy (Hi, Cedar!) and the fans won’t run. At least not if you respect and admire all the genres you’re playing with. If you’re just snarking one or using it for its tropes, all best are off, though.

My last panel was “Economics in Fantasy Land” which turned into something more along the lines of weaving actual economics into one’s stories (you know, where the hero actually has to pay for stuff for real, and that massive haul of gold is too freaking heavy to carry away), with side orders of economics in history including the tulip crash and the economies of the various European states after the fall of the Roman Empire – all of which kept the audience interested, which means we didn’t do too bad a job. Interestingly enough, despite the potential for political arguments here, there weren’t any. The one person who mentioned the Communist theory of value (=labor plus skill) got contradicted from several directions pointing out that value is what someone is willing to pay for it. Whether that payment is in sheep, gold, bitcoins or some other commodity. Yes, bitcoins got a mention.

Alas, every panel that I would have like to go to as an audience member was scheduled against one of my panels, so I didn’t get to see “If  I were the Evil Overlord” (damn it) or any of several others that looked interesting. I did score a lovely dragon sculpture which I need to find a home for, and caught up with quite a few friends.

The most interesting thing was the feel… this is the first con I’ve been to in a while that didn’t have the loudly espoused pro-left politics being shoved down people’s throats. Maybe people are tired of that… I sure hope so, because I for one just want to deal with the matter of writing a damn good story.


  1. Regarding the lack of painfully overt leftitudinousness (you heard it here first!), I’m hopeful that we’re starting to see a swing in the pendulum. Hopefully people are waking up to the non-sense inherent in that belief structure. Hell, I’d be happy with more, “I’m a liberal, but I can’t be having with that kind of behavior.” I’m not expecting much, but I am hopeful. Though I’ll still be keeping LibertyCon as my home con for the foreseeable future.

      1. Amen. They can believe what they will, but I get really damn tired of having it shoved down my throat.

    1. They were a lot of fun. And yes, there is a sense of things changing, which is nice.

  2. If things keep changing to focus on fandom and the fun and science in scifi and fantasy, sounds like Cons will be fun again! We’ll end up going to more than just Libertycon!

    1. Oh, that would be nice! (Actually, that’s one of the reasons I treat Lunacon – 3 hours drive from where I live – as my “local” con. Philcon needs to get the stick out of its collective ass before I’ll consider going back there)

  3. Speaking of the “ebooks – didn’t sign much” thing…

    I’m pushing for selling convention *autograph books*. Something nicely bound with an embossed logo. What do you think?

    1. You know, that’s a good idea – particularly with your comments downthread about it being specific to each convention. Now the trick is to figure out what to put in it, AND get it organized in sufficient time to make it doable…

      Um. Considering my chronic lack of free time, maybe not so much.

      1. I liked the idea of a signable cover-plate illustration for ebook authors too… sort of a higher class bookmark to give away. That would be classy I think, though they’d cost money and I have no idea how much. It probably would have to be limited, save them for fans.

        I’ve suggested the autograph book, and I’m on the Bubonicon staff, and I think we’re doing this for the con in August since everyone seems to think that it’s a good idea. Going to sell them at the dealer table with the convention T-shirts and stuff. So it’s not something I think of authors doing… though fans could certainly have their own. Used to be such things as autograph books, weren’t there?

        I just keep wanting an additional reality check… would authors like being approached by someone with an autograph book instead of a book they bought and read? Or would it be weird?

        1. I don’t think that’s much different – if at all different – from authors being approached to sign con program books, which I’ve done more than once. So it doesn’t strike me as weird. Others may have different ideas.

  4. It occurs to me, that wasn’t clear. It would be (for example) a *Lunacon* autograph book, specific to the particular convention with convention specific artwork, on sale to attendees who could then get autographs from the authors of favorite ebooks that would identify them with the particular convention they were at when they met the author and use several years in a row.

    1. I don’t go to many cons, but that sounds like a good idea.

      Heck, it wouldn’t hurt authors have a few POD paper copies on hand, either, even if they mainly sold ebooks. A “XYZZYcon Special Edition” signed by the author might be desirable (or might not be….it wouldn’t require a big investment to find out, though).

  5. I’ve had the thought that ‘autographed Book covers’ suitable for framing or the autograph book might be a good idea, even ‘The first 100 readers receive a print or digital copy promotion.

  6. The “labor plus skill” view of value isn’t actually too far off, because a skilled woodcarver will produce something much more valuable than an unskilled woodcarver from the same raw materials. The difference in value, though, is not inherently because of his skill, but rather because a lot more people will be willing to pay for that really NICE bear carving, as opposed to the clumsy, amateurish attempt the unskilled carver will produce.

    … And if there’s a famine and everybody is spending all their money on food, the value of both carvings will go to zero real fast.

    1. And that last little bit is why ultimately value is what someone else is willing to pay for it. Not that skill and labor don’t get valued, but that how much they’re valued varies depending on the raw materials (I don’t care HOW beautifully done it is, I’m still not buying a gilded turd), the circumstances of the buyer (yeah, I buy more when I’m better off. Weird huh?), and an assortment of other factors that can be bloody difficult to quantify but get summed up into “what someone is willing to pay”

  7. That science panel was fun. I was the one who did the calling out. I don’t think they like a rational response to the “denier” thing.

    1. Nope, they don’t – but it was kind of interesting how quickly the backpedaling happened, wasn’t it?

      1. I was very careful to keep it as nonpolitical as I could and aim right in the tolerance. I think that I scared the hell out of them. I don’t think that they knew that I know more about climate than they could even dream of. Or science for that matter.

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