David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Capclave 2007 Wrap-up

I’m of two minds about my experience at this year’s Capclave in Rockville, MD.

From a promotional standpoint, it might seem like the weekend was a disaster. My reading was slotted Saturday at 11:30 pm, and therefore rather sparsely attended. My book wasn’t available in the dealer’s room, as far as I could tell. And my autographing session never happened, because they scheduled me for 10 am Sunday in the dealer’s room — forgetting that the dealer’s room didn’t open until 11 am. Oops. (I find it an encouraging sign that someone went to the trouble of tracking me down to have their copy of Infoquake signed anyway.)

Add to that the fact that the Rockville Hilton was under heavy renovation, and so there really wasn’t a bar or a restaurant per se. There was an enormous central atrium with dozens and dozens of comfortable chairs and tables that would have been perfect for lounging around until all hours of the morning — but the whole thing was closed off. Without a central meeting place, everyone tended to gather in the narrow hallways outside the programming rooms. Come to Capclave, and you can rub elbows with successful authors and editors, literally.

So Capclave was a bad con, right? Nope. I had a blast, and it was tremendously useful con from a professional standpoint too.

During one 48-hour period, I arranged to appear on a New York radio show, discussed a possible appearance on a public television show, discussed a possible speaking engagement at the Library of Congress, and got to know several important SF writers I didn’t know well before. Throw in a great bargain on some Robert E. Howard books, a couple of great readings, several raucous (and well-attended) panels, and a few room parties with lots of free booze, and you’ve got the recipe for a great con experience. The cost? $14.95 for parking, maybe $35 for assorted meals and drinks, and gas/tolls for the half-hour drive back and forth to Rockville. A bargain.

Some highlights:

  • Chowing on good Chinese food with scientists Karl Schroeder and Matt Jarpe and listening to them talk about Marvin Minsky, the Cambrian Explosion, and alternate theories of cognition, while I, the ignorant layman, did my best to just crack jokes
  • Talking about book promotion with newly minted SF author Dave Williams, whose upcoming three-book trilogy from Bantam Spectra he described as “John Le Carre in outer space,” and who just seems an all-around nice guy (although considering he’s good friends with Peter Watts, there’s got to be something wrong with him)
  • Listening to Thomas Doyle read from his L. Frank Baum-obsessed short story with almost enough manic energy to power a small nuclear reactor
  • Listening to the aforementioned Matt Jarpe read from Radio Freefall, watching him drink much too much, and inspiring him to post a dispatch from the Bizarro World, where all the critics hate Radio Freefall
  • Having a couple of long conversations with con Guest of Honor Jeffrey Ford about politics, the book publishing business, and mutually admired authors
  • Sharing a few panels with “the Klingon guy” Lawrence Schoen, who in addition to knowing a heck of a lot about linguistics, also turns out to be a very likable and easy-going guy
  • Chatting with Jim Freund and finally arranging a time to appear on his New York City radio show “Hour of the Wolf” this June, just in time to promote MultiReal
  • Getting introduced by the always-lovely Mindy Klasky to Mike Zipser, producer of the public access SF TV show “Fast Forward” (and discussing a possible future interview)
  • Sharing a panel about LibraryThing with Colleen Cahill, the Recommending Officer for Science Fiction & Fantasy at the Library of Congress (and discussing a possible future speaking opportunity with her)
  • Participating in a rowdy, raucous panel on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows with Ann Crispin, Maria V. Snyder, three other panelists, and dozens of passionate Potterphiles willing to shout and argue amongst themselves
  • Chatting at various points and times with other con Guest of Honor Ellen Datlow, although I’m a little foggy about what exactly we talked about
  • Other folks I got a chance to see included Nancy Jane Moore, Ernest Lilley, Barbara Krasnoff, Bud Sparhawk, Ian Randal Strock, Davey Beauchamp, Stephan Segal, Dennis Danvers, and Kathryn Cramer

Thanks, Capclave. See ya in 2008.

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