By James Bacon: Two cons one weekend.
I have undertaken to do two conventions in one weekend. It is quite the endeavour and I am excited and petrified. Mike has kindly agreed to publish some words as we proceed. I have arrived in Chicago via Boston, travelling over from London.
CAPRICON. The Westin North Shore in Wheeling, IL, home of Capricon, offers me a warm embrace, greeting me like a friend; distant enough that I don’t see them that often, but familiar enough that when we meet, it’s just the same as ever. A comfortable and familiar space, its large lobby is full of fans while the long high-ceilinged bright glass corridor, stretching the length of the front of the hotel, is abuzz with people setting up tables and going in and out of the many function rooms.
It’s a similar feeling I get when I walk into the Camden Court Hotel in Dublin, home of Octocon, or the Westin Boston Waterfront, home of Arisia and Boskone ,or the imperial College Student Bar in London, for Picocon. Relaxed, amongst friends, some yet to be made. Excitement, anticipation, and indeed expectancy of a good science fictional weekend to come.
I feel I don’t deserve to that warmth. Why should I benefit, while so many here work so hard and have worked so hard? Con chair Terrence Miltner has been everpresent in my Facebook feed and at tables promoting the con. But then, isn’t that why he, and the con committee, and the volunteers, have worked so hard? They want to welcome people. Terrence greets me in the lobby in person.
I could never have imagined, in the late years of the 20th century, that I would be an irregular visitor Chicago for a February convention. And here I am for Capricorn 38.
I am looking forward to this con. I have packed books to be signed, booze to be imbibed and odd looking biscuits to be tasted. Books, Booze and Biscuits.
Capricon is an amazing convention. It fuses what I would consider to be a fun con with an excellently thought-out, engaging programme unafraid to discuss any subject, with an incredible guest line up and potentially the best party scene I have come across.
Today I have a lighter schedule: only four commitments, three of which are Dublin 2019 related. Meetings flood on my schedule, and I do want to get to the Blade Runner 2049 discussion and Artist Guest of Honor Sarah Wilkinson’s live art session. In true con style, I get roped into helping, first with setup and then with some party prep, and I manage to miss both of them–although my first Dublin meeting goes exceptionally well, so one has to be grateful.
I visit the dealers room. It’s packed with the variety of dealers that one would hope for at a con. I take some time at Greg and Dave R’s book tables, checking out what are in my mind great bargains for classic works. The dealers room is full: new authors, clothing, games, vintage paperbacks, amazing T-Shirts from Off World.
I meet Author Guest of Honor Timothy Zahn at his table. He has a wide selection of books for sale, and it is lovely to chat to him and his wife Anna. Both are exceptionally welcoming and pleasant.
Sarah Wilkinson, like Zahn, has already been on programme by the time I see her outstanding table with her partner Nigel Sade, and their fellow artist Sin. Sarah has done a picture of Princess Leia as part of her live art programming. It is beyond beautiful, and so cleanly done. I am stunned.
I help Tammy Coxen, the Head of Programming, set up her party, and make my way to Opening Ceremonies. It’s great fun. Terrence shares the stage with a pair of goats, who in true Star Trek fashion swing from side to side and keep the packed house laughing. Then the Guests of Honor are introduced, and we all head out to enjoy the evening.
Next: the parties.
[Extra credit to Will Frank, who stepped in as copy editor, and to Pablo MA Vazquez as “special drinks holder.”]