Con Report: Madicon 20

By March 13, 2011Comms

Got to attend my first con as a bona fide pro this past weekend. Madicon 20 is the nerd’s nerd of cons. It’s a down-home, local affair hosted at James Madison University in the gorgeous Shenandoah Valley of rural Virginia.

I’m used to the big pro vortexes like World Fantasy Con and Boskone, which tend to attract big shot writers and industry types in large numbers. The nerd factor (costumes, gaming, filking, just plain sitting around and arguing over which fantasy character would win in a fight) tends to be lower. The focus at these bigger events is the bar, where there’s a lot of drinking and, frankly, deal-making going on. That can be a little nerve wracking. When the person you’re drunkenly schmoozing with is an acquisitions editor at a major publisher or a celebrity writer who you’ve been admiring for years, it’s a little tough to let your hair down for fear that you’ll say something . . . ahem . . . career limiting.

Katherine Kurtz and I

Not really a problem at Madicon. Katherine Kurtz, C.S. Friedman and C.J. Henderson were all in attendance, so there were plenty of big names. But the pressure was definitely off, and we were all there to get our nerd on (Friedman was LARPing). Which allowed a real sigh of relief.

It was also a fairly young crowd, this being a college con. And, of course, that means rampant hormones, with the attendant bizarre fetishistic stuff you only find in the SF/F community. I twittered shots of magazine covers for furry porn and even Cthulu porn. And I can’t leave out the sexy storm trooper in the school girl mini skirt. Honestly, folks, I love fandom, but sometimes I’ve really got to struggle to keep up.

Umm . . . I mean, uh. *sigh* nevermind.

But my prudishness aside, an awesome time was had. I got to do a Friday night reading that was, ahem, maybe not as well attended than I would have liked. Saturday, I gave a solo panel on military speculative fiction, which to my great shock, was attended by more females than males. This was a huge relief for me. One of my big worries is that my military themed fantasies won’t appeal to a female audience. The panel attendance helped assuage some of those fears, and that was much appreciated.

I just want to fill a tub and bathe in them

But the best part? Gaming. You have never seen so much gaming in your life. In my last post I talked a bit about my quote in a article about D&D’s role in shaping my life. What that article doesn’t fully capture is how badly I miss tabletop gaming and RPGs. I’ve had to give them up for lack of time and people to play with, and it’s like a giant hole in my life. Madicon had two big conference rooms dedicated to Warhammer and related spinoffs, and every table in every hallway was jammed with gamers playing ad hoc RPGs and card games. I must admit that I spent most of my time between panels (when I should have been networking), just wandering the halls and eavesdropping on the games, feeling transported and alive and a bit like I had come home.

I will definitely be back next year. Can’t wait.



Author Myke Cole

Myke Cole is an American writer of history and fantasy who leverages a lifetime in military, law enforcement and intelligence service to take you to battlefields, real and imagined.

More posts by Myke Cole

Leave a Reply