This year The Wife and I attended FenCon VII, a Dallas-based speculative fiction literary and filking* convention**. It was the first year we had attended FenCon but had heard about it at other cons we have attended. We also brought along an old friend who had never attended a con before and wanted to see what it was all about. I think we may have warped our friend’s mind a bit but I daresay that a grand time was had by all.
The biggest highlight for me were the opening ceremonies–in which it was announced that I had won third prize in the con’s short story contest (see my previous post). This was a huge ego boost for me as a fan and as a writer (and, yes, I’ll try to shut up about it already).
Another big highlight of the con for me was the attendance of one of my literary heroes, Joe R. Lansdale. Mr. Mojo was selected as this year’s toastmaster and sat in on several awesome panels. I attended one of these Q&As, plus a reading session, and then watched the midnight viewing of Bubba Ho-Tep, a fun movie based on one of his award-winning novellas. Mr. Lansdale provided a great introduction to the movie, speaking about how both the novella and the film came about and his encounters with the stars, Bruce Campbell and the late Ossie Davis. I also managed to get a few autographs from him and shook his hand in the dealer room. He’s a real raconteur and a genuinely nice guy.
My life has been forever changed by this con due to my introduction to filk*. I had seen filking on the programs for other cons I had been to but didn’t have real good sense of what it was. Part of it was an impression that I would be expected to sing…an act to which only The Wife is subjected as part of our marriage vows. Another part was a small cool-factor fear, the idea that “Hey, I may be a nerd but at least I don’t filk!” Well, my friends, I am now officially a filking-fan. We saw some great acts during the con: Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, Tom Smith, Marc Gunn, Randy Farran, and October Country. All of these acts touched that special place in my heart for Dr. Demento-style*** tomfoolery. However, what really touched me was the sheer fun and enthusiasm all of the performers brought to their art. I’ll think twice about missing a filk event at a con from now on.
We also attended several interesting panels over the weekend. We joined Ethan Nahté, Julia Mandala, Brad Sinor, and Libby Smith Singleton for a panel on favorite ghost stories. We also listened in on a discussion of sword and sorcery movies with A. Lee Martinez, Adrian Simmons, C. Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahté, and Christopher Fulbright. We had a grand time with the “Yard Dog Press Road Show”, which consisted of various author readings accompanied by interpretive dance. The highlight of that panel was a spoof Twilight monologue by Kathy Turski. Hilarious! The panel by Dusty Rainbolt on ghost hunting was pretty interesting–despite some annoying audience participation… The weirdest portion was the midnight showing of “Evil Dead: The Musical“. A very surreal musical adaptation of the classic “Evil Dead” movies. It started off a little rocky but eventually grew on me…or perhaps I simply decided to chuck it all and “join us!”.
I also attended two interesting writing-based panels on what to do with your ideas and on fantasy economics. I’ll save those for Part Two…