Archon Panels 2020

All the panels went well, basically. Small audiences for some of them, but of course Archon was (very) small this year compared to normal years.

It turns out that if I’m on a lot of panels myself, I have less time to go to other panels. Somehow I hadn’t thought of this obvious downside to saying sure, put me on lots of panels. I did enjoy every single panel that I was on, but I missed sitting in on a good handful I might have enjoyed, plus I barely bumped into people I’d have liked a chance to chat with.

Typical exchange all weekend: “Hi, nice to see you, I’ve got a panel starting in ten minutes!” “Me too, bye!”

Still, I had a good time. I had a nice chat with the guest of honor, Alma Katsu, a really interesting person who worked in Intelligence before retiring to write novels. That sounds exactly like the fictional backstory for the protagonist of a thriller, but there she was. She tends to write novels, such as The Hunger, that fall into a genre I guess is best called Historical Horror. That one is the Donner Party, except haunted by supernatural evil. She’s got another that’s the Titanic rewritten as psychological horror. Things like that. So … not sure I’ll ever pick up one of those. She has also written a spy novel — you’d think she might have started with that, given her background, but no — anyway, who knows, I might try that one.

Oh, by the way, Alma Katsu and her husband own a couple of Silken Windhounds! A totally delightful breed. The breed club is fairly serious about getting their breed established and recognized and they have some people who know what they’re doing. This is the single newly created breed I most want to succeed. Anyway, we obviously showed each other pictures of our dogs and exclaimed over their beauty and she told me about her previous dogs and, as I said, we had a very nice conversation. (We didn’t talk ONLY about dogs, but no, we didn’t talk at all about books or writing.)

Now, panels:

Most disappointing: Since all of you helped me out with ideas for the Space Cops panel, I’m sorry to have to tell you that one was canceled. However, I’m currently reading Great North Road by Peter Hamilton. I like it a lot and it is the perfect book to read for a panel of this kind, so if the topic comes up again, I’ll be prepared. Before you all dash off and buy it, I’ll add: I’m only 9% of the way in, so “like it a lot” is not a conclusion, just a for-now statement. About 8% of the way in, he suddenly switched pov characters, so I’m a little wary of whether I’ll wind up okay with that or not.

I’ve never read anything else by Hamilton, I think. Good writing, but I have no idea whether he tends to write tragedies, for example.

Most popular: The “How to commit the perfect murder” panel, by a lot.

This was a fun panel, and I guess everyone thought it would be, because quite a few people came. Lively discussion ensued.

Obviously — at least, it seems obvious to me — panels on SF murder mysteries and fantasy murder mysteries would both be good, BUT, probably not quite the draw of just straight up “How would you commit murder? What’s the best way to commit murder?” That was just very (alarmingly?) engaging as a topic.

Great suggestion from the audience: a SFF-themed short murder mystery dinner theater sort of thing. Not with the actual dinner, although quite possibly scheduling it during lunchtime would work. Do it sort of like a live-action role playing game and sort of like mystery dinner theater. Wouldn’t that be fun? Pretty much everyone at the panel agreed it would be fun.

As far as the rest of the convention went, I did make a chance to chat with one or two people I know, and overall the convention was a good experience despite the masks and the crowded schedules.

I also stayed up there Friday night, which gave me a chance to get up at the normal time for me (four in the morning; I know, all right?), and work on the current Black Dog story until it was time for my first Saturday panel. That was nice. Of course I didn’t get the story finished — I mean, I intended to try, and I hoped I might finish it, but no. I seem unable to write the last, say, five pages or so. I keep reworking earlier bits. Well, this week surely I will finish the draft of this story.

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