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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Minicon 46, April 2011

This past Easter weekend found me at what has become my traditional Easter haunt - Minicon, a long standing scifi convention in Minneapolis.   Much to my great surprise, this was Number 17 for me!  Holy Vesuvian Bat Guano, Mr. Spock!

John Scalzi was the guest of honor in place of Charles Stross, who had to bow out due to a family emergency.  I was just as excited to see Scalzi and was thrilled the convention could book him.  I've read some of his blog (Whatever) and I've read his Old Man War Series (Old Man War won a Hugo), and it's always a treat to see an author live and hear what they have to say.

But let me start at the beginning, or at least once I got down to the Cities and my partner in crime picked me up.  

Friday always begins with lunch, usually at some ethnic restaurant. This year we went to Rice Paper on 50th and France in Edina.  Outstanding - highly recommend it!  From there we checked in at the Sheraton, Bloomington (to be the Doubletree next year) and hung out for a while catching up while waiting for the panels to start. 

Friday panels I attended: 
The Future isn't what it Used to Be
Depictions of the world following a lack of cheap energy seem to be replacing the glitzy hi-tech future and post-nuclear holocaust in SF. Will the trends continue? Is this future more plausible than the earlier versions? How much do fictional futures have to say about the times in which they are written?

Panelists: John Scalzi, Laura Krentz, Neil Rest, Greg Johnson, Magenta Griffith 

Opening Ceremony
Welcome to Minicon 46! Meet Guests of Honor John Scalzi and Chas Somdahl. Revel in announcements from the Minicon Committee. See and be seen. Maybe a bit of Shockwave Radio Theater humor, you never know.
Panelists: David E Romm, John Scalzi, Chas Somdahl, Kevin Austin, Joel Phillips

Successful Writing in the Digital Age
Our author Guest of Honor John Scalzi has been writing or editing for the online world for more than fifteen years. How does one survive as a writer in the digital age? How does an internet persona mesh with the introverted lifestyle of an author? What's the best way to deal with the trolls and haters?

Panelists: Aaron Vander Giessen(M), John Scalzi, Ctein

Saturday Panels I attended:
Non Western Cultures In Fantasy

Writing in cultures beyond North America or Western Europe. Working in new geographies offers readers and writers chance to step out of their comfort zones or reclaim their heritage. What are some of the challenges and which writers do this well?
Panelists: Eric M. Heideman (M), Michael Merriam, Adam Stemple, Ricky Foos, Marissa Lingen

Don’t Read What You’re An Expert In

"How can this character be an expert on Chinese calligraphy when he doesn't even know how to pronounce 'Qing'?" Fiction on topics we know a lot about can be cringeworthy. In the extreme, glaring errors can ruin an otherwise good work. What topics set off our expertise alarms, when do we just suck it up and what (beyond infinite research) can authors do to avoid these problems?
Panelists: Rachel Kronick (M), Marissa Lingen, Magenta Griffith

John Scalzi Reading and Signing

In addition to reading from his own work, John Scalzi will also read from Charles Stross’ upcoming — and excellent – novel, Rule 34. This is a very special sneak peak at a work that will not be available until July of this year.
John Scalzi, Anton Peterson assisting

John Scalzi Interview

John Scalzi
John Scalzi, David E Romm interviewing

Creation Museum Slideshow
John Scalzi shares photos and stories from his visit to "the very best monument to an enormous load of horseshit that you could possibly ever hope to see." Hilarity ensues.
Presented by: John Scalzi, Rob Callahan moderating

Sunday Panels I attended:
The Year in SF

Our annual confab about what's good and (mostly) new in (mostly) science fiction and fantasy.
Panelists: Russel Letson, Greg Johnson

Common Misconceptions About Publishing

How is the publishing industry structured? What exactly does an author sell to a publisher, and what do publishers want to see? Why are books the length that they are? Published authors and editors talk about their experiences and share their "If I knew then what I know now..." stories.
Panelists: Michael Merriam (M), John Scalzi, Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Teresa Nielsen Hayden

Full list of panels can be found here:  Minicon 46 Programming

My least favorite panels were Don't Read What you are an Expert In and The Year in SF.  What makes or breaks a panel are the folks behind the table and over the years one develops a feel for what is going to be a good conversation as opposed to a dull drone that puts you to sleep.  These two were droner's and I knew that going in.  However, of the choices offered during that time frame, they were my best choice. 

Anything Scalzi was on was interesting, engaging and often a absolute hoot. 

Next years convention (Minicon 47):  April 6-8, GoH Ted Chaing.    Same hotel, different name: Doubletree Hotel and Convention Center, Hwy 100 and 494, Bloomington. 

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