Montreal's fan-run science fiction convention, Con*Cept, has had its ups and downs over the past 22 years, but it keeps soldiering on. I've been to all of them except two and still have the programmes squirrelled away somewhere to prove it. The most recent edition of the now venerable con was this past weekend.
Time constraints usually mean I can only attend one day of the three-day convention so I normally choose Saturday which is the busiest of the three. This year's author Guest of Honour was the prolific Eric Flint, a name which is certainly familiar, but I can't say I've read much of his work.
After registering, I took in a panel about e-books upon which Flint was one of the panelists. Many of the fans in attendance were brandishing Kindles or Kobos and seemed to be converts to ebooks. The panelists agreed that electronic books had a bright future, but Flint doubted that they would supplant paper books completely. He figured they would develop in parallel and stated that history is filled with instances of one technology coming along to edge another aside, but not completely eliminating it. Perhaps, but I don't see many people listening to music on 8-track tapes or reading texts on papyrus scrolls.
Next up was the GoH speech from Flint. He spoke at length about his upcoming books that are part of his sprawling 1632 series which are alternate history stories. The bulk of Flints books are co-authored with other writers so he spoke a bit about collaborations and how they work. Flint came across as a no-nonsense type who knows how to make a buck out of writing.
I then sat in on the speech from the media GoH which was Agam Darshi, a Vancouver actress who appears in the TV show Sanctuary. I can't say I've ever seen a single episode, but thought she might have something interesting to say. She didn't. She just seemed young and not used to speaking to an audience. She admitted that it was her first convention and seemed happy that it was a small one, there were perhaps 30 people in the room for her speech.
I spent a bit of time in the dealer's room, but can't say I bought very much. I bought a few pins for one of my kids, a book and a used board game. There wasn't much there of interest to me. I normally gravitate to the book dealers, but there was only one small-press publisher selling his wares, a few obscure fantasy and vampire authors with their books and some used books in the con's "garage sale" section.
The next panel was probably the most interesting. It was about politics in science fiction which quickly evolved into a discussion about science fiction and politics. The distinction being they didn't discuss books with political content as much as they spoke about the poltical climate in which authors work or have worked.
The final panel I sat in on was called Anarchy and State and didn't have much in the way of science fiction content and, while not exactly an anarchic affair, it wasn't far off.
The last event I attended was the annual auction with half of the proceeds going to a literacy charity. The lots weren't very interesting which meant there wasn't much in the way of heavy bidding. The only thing that I really wanted was a lot of four Steve Jackson board games, but when the bidding hit $90, I dropped out, figuring I could buy the same games for about $100 so what was the point? I did pick up a lot of 5 graphic novels for $12, though, which was a pretty good score.
Since I was operating on a mere 5 hours sleep from the day before, I decided to check out early and headed home.
I can't say it was the best Con*Cept I had ever attended, but I'm glad I went. Support your local con, I always say.