It’s time for a convention debriefing! A few weekends ago I attended OryCon 39 in Portland, Oregon. It was the smallest convention I’ve attended since 2014’s SpoCon. That isn’t necessarily bad; there are a lot of things to like about smaller conventions. Like Norwescon 40, I attended as a panelist and skipped running a table. So for the OryCon highlights, I think it’d be best to follow in Norwescon 40’s footsteps and break it down day by day.
⛅️ Friday, Day 1
I left Seattle early and arrived at the hotel around noon. I checked it and saw a fellow author and pal of mine, Elliot Kay. (Go buy his books.) I had a few panels that day. The highlight was the discussion on Checks & Balances: Magic in a Fantasy Setting. My fellow panelists—Elliot among them—were fantastic. The room was full. The conversation was lively. I thought it was great.
Afterward, Elliot and I sat in on Economics in Fantasy. It’s something I thought about a lot while working on Coal Belly, so I was pleased to see it as a topic for discussion. Due to its location near the lobby, the room was a bit noisy, but the panelists were knowledgeable, and I enjoyed the discussion and debate.
I did a reading from The Stars Were Right later that evening. It went well, but it was sparsely attended. Readings had been moved last minute and were in an offshoot room adjacent to a suite. It’s wasn’t ideal. I think it cut down on foot traffic. It was the smallest reading I’ve done. But those who sat in the room seemed to enjoy it, and I had fun.
Afterward, I sat in on another reading and then a reader of mine, and I chatted about the Bell Forging Cycle for a long while. (Thanks, Michael.) I’m always happy to talk about Lovat and the Territories. An excellent way to end the night.
🌤 Saturday, Day 2
Most of my programming was later that day. I grabbed brunch with some good friends and wrote a bit before heading to my panels. The highlight of the day was a tossup between Nanowrimo: What is It, and Why or Why Not? and Fantasy with Non-European settings.
The Nanowrimo panel was lightly attended but was moderated by another friend and fellow author, Lee French. (Go buy her books.) The audience was engaged. I enjoyed everyone’s questions and hearing other’s perspectives. One audience member decided to answer their phone while a panelist was talking and I can’t believe I have to write this: DO NOT DO THIS. It’s rude, and it disrupts others enjoyment of the convention. If you get a phone call, excuse yourself and go outside. It’s respectful to other attendees and the panelists.
Fellow author Fonda Lee expertly moderated Fantasy with Non-European settings (go buy her new book, Jade City, I’m reading it right now and quite enjoying it.) The room was full, and I loved the panel. It was the highlight of my convention. The discussion was stimulating, and my fellow panelists were whipsmart. I learned a lot. I also came away with a ton of great reading recommendations.
My pal Sky came north from Portland, and he spent most of the day with me. Together we hit up some panels, one on Audiobook Technique Presentation with Matt Haynes which was great, and another titled Why Urban Fantasy Matters. It’s always good to have someone to discuss panels with afterward, and I’m grateful Sky came out, his presence made the day better.
🌥 Sunday, Day 3
My last day was a quiet one. Not uncommon for most conventions, attendees are exhausted and hungover, and things tend to move a bit slower. I only had one panel, Overturning the Cart: Revolution in Fantasy, and it was one of the first for the day. When my fellow panelists and I arrived, we were worried few would show up. But people began to trickle in. While small, it ended up being a pretty damn fine panel. The audience was engaged. The questions towards the end were great. It was a robust way to end my three days at Orycon.
I arrived home tired but feeling pretty good about the convention and the people I met. It’s proximity to the Thanksgiving holiday delayed this post, and the last few weeks have been a whirlwind. If I’m invited back to OryCon, I’d like to get more involved. I’d also like to spend some time gaming. The Call of Cthulhu sessions always clashed with panels, and I wanted to sit in on a game, it’s been far too long.
Smaller conventions are more intimate than their larger siblings, the pace is a bit slower, it’s easier to find parking, panels don’t fill as fast, and attendees are more willing to stop and chat. You don’t feel like flotsam adrift in a sea of SFF-loving bodies. Instead, it’s more akin to a large gathering of friends hanging out and celebrating the stuff they love. You should go next year.
Thanks for a great convention OryCon. I had a blast.
Want to read about my past con experiences from this year? Check out my debriefings from Norwescon 40 and Lilac City Comicon 2017. I’m still planning out my 2018 schedule; have a convention you’d like me to attend? Let me know by leaving a comment or sending me an email. Remember, You can keep track of where I’ll be and check out my previous conventions over on my Upcoming Appearances page.
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