Laid Back Convention Weekend

For the first time this weekend, we went a science fiction convention as a family – Penguicon, in Dearborn, Michigan. As usual, I really enjoyed getting out of the four walls of my home and office and connecting with friends, especially other writers.

We brought along a friend for Glen, a boy named J—. J– has been attending conventions since infancy, and knew more people there than we did. We love him to pieces. He was very good company for all of us.

J–’s Dad loaned us a set of walkie talkies to help keep track of the kids. I must confess we had waaaayy too much fun with this. We came up with code names for everyone, and for all of the locations.

Brent and I, of course, went by our usual radio handles, by which we sometimes call each other. He was Maverick and I was Straight Razor. The boys were Arbiter and Master Chief. The hotel room was The Box, the consuite was the Kill Zone, the game room was the Extraction Point, the lobby was the LZ, the pool was the Splash Zone, and the bar was HQ. (Oh, and the bathroom was the Drop Zone.)

It was with glee that I pressed the call button and said, “Arbiter, come in, this is Straight Razor. Are you in the kill zone?”

As it turned out, Glen was on the elevator when this happened, and the radios were quite loud, so everyone heard me asking if he was in the “kill zone” and stared at him. He figured they must have been worried he was a terrorist, and we considered changing the con suite to something less scary, like “the sugar box.” However, we concluded that it being a science fiction convention, the other passengers in the elevator must have been jealous that he was playing a really cool live action role playing game, and were wondering how they, too, could enter the “kill zone,” so we stuck with the original code name.

Bringing the extra friend worked like a charm, as our otherwise lonely-only came to us just once bored and with nothing to do. I sat him down and gave him some fizzy sugar water and he was fine.

I also got to briefly kidnap a 4-month-old baby, and got my come-uppance, literally, when she up-comed all over my shirt, which I then had to change. Worth it, though! Totally worth it.

The convention felt a bit subdued to me. Maybe it’s just my mood, or the fact that only a portion of my local writer friends were present. I haven’t attended very many Penguicons, but to me this year it felt less like a Linux/Science Fiction Convention and more like a Linux/media convention with a very small and obscure literature track (the panels I attended were crammed into tiny conference rooms). I sincerely hope that Penguicon will amp up its lit track offerings in the future.