After having made a small splash at my first MystiCon last year, to say nothing of having had a wonderful time, I made my way back to Roanoke for MystiCon 2016.
MystiCon 2016 promised to be an eventual convention even a few months ago – the guest of honor is none other than George R.R. Martin, the author behind the A Song of Fire and Ice series, Sandkings, Fevre Dream, Wild Cards and other works, to say nothing of being perhaps the most famous living author in the English speaking world. Tickets for MystiCon sold out months ago.
Luckily during the whole Gamergate fiasco during RavenCon last year, I managed to handle myself with enough decorum to get the attention of the folks who run both RavenCon and MystiCon, so I had a press pass for the weekend. Whoever said that journalism degrees don’t pay for themselves?
Needless to say though, the crowds literally filled the hall to capacity to meet with George R.R. Martin for a brief photo or autograph. Kudos to the folks running MystiCon for managing to keep the lines flowing at the pace they did, and for the superb crowd control throughout the weekend. Martin certainly seems to draw a crowd, and kudos to the man for being able to meet and greet with a battalion’s worth of strangers over a weekend. Plus, despite seeming a bit worn thin during several Q & A sessions – more on that perhaps in a bit – he kept a sharp wit and sense of humor the whole convention.
In terms of panels and guests, maybe it was just that everything else got overshadowed by the presence of George R.R. Martin, but it seemed like there wasn’t as much programming that caught my eye this year. That may have been for the best though, as it gave me more of a chance to schmooze with the other convention goers. Catching up and checking in with some of the other regulars I’ve met over the years like the folks from Geek Radio Daily or Tangent Artists is always fun, but mingling with new faces is always part of the charm of events like this. To give one example, I had an enjoyable extended conversation with a former US Diplomat named Kimberly G. Hargan that ranged in topic from the Armenian love for jazz bands to the proper Danish pronunciation of my last name.
As usual, the Baen Traveling Road Show is as much of a treat as always, as was seeing the folks from Baen Books again. Way back at my first RavenCon a few years back, I was in awe of the very opportunity to meet the folks behind some of my favorite books face-to-face. Now, I’m greeting them by first name, talking causally with them about story ideas or our various trips to the convention. I still don’t know how I ever got to the point where I can speak on casual terms with Tony Daniel about Vinlandic alternate history and the Alvin Maker novels or have Gray Rinehart comment on my recent graduation from college, but I’m both very lucky and very proud that I can call some of the people behind some of my favorite books friends.
Of course, I wager most of you here reading this are probably more interesting in hearing about whether or not I has the chance to sit down with George R.R. Martin for an interview at Mysticon. I promise you all to have some news on that front soon, but while you’re waiting in suspense, perhaps this Q & A Panel with George R.R. Martin will tide you over until then. For now though, know that I met him, spoke with him, and spent the entire drive back to Richmond thinking about how to handle this.
All in all, a fun, and hopefully productive weekend was had at MystiCon this year. MystiCon 2017 certainly seems to be shaping up to be as promising already – David Weber is the guest of honor next year. Time will tell if fans of the Honorverse can fill the convention as readily as fans of Westeros, but I certainly hope to be back to find out.