Ad Astra 13: A Con Report

Last year I compared Ad Astra to the ill-fated Titanic. It was a con that ignored all the warnings and sank.

Not so with Ad Astra 2013. The ship has righted itself, the phoenix has risen from the ashes, the con is NOT bereft of life, but continues to be, and while I cannot look into the workings of this year’s con committee, it seemed to have stuck to the winning working philosophy of KISS.

Keep It Simple, Stupid.

That said, onto my own experience.

I arrived Friday afternoon, booked into my hotel room, and since I was still early, just relaxed. I had dinner in the hotel restaurant, then remembering the fiasco of last year, went to register. And it went smoothly, which I considered a very good omen.

I met up with Suzanne Church, fellow Stopwatch  Gang member.  After a chat I went to the opening ceremonies, which I have come to appreciate for some reason. Again, quick and painless and without the foreboding apology-in-advance speech of last year. But it was short, so I finished the hour with a panel on Mainstream Zombies which was fun.

From there I went not to a panel but a show. A mentalist by the name Mysterion put on a show much like the old Kreskin.  I willingly suspended my cynicism and allowed myself to be entertained, and I was.

After that I went to a Dragon Moon Press book launch then basically migrated from party to party. The next thing I knew it was 3 am.

Dragged my butt out of bed and managed to catch enough of the last half of the Swordplay panel to make me wish I’d caught the first half. Informative on styles and the origins. Important take-away, it’s not the style, but the skill of the swordsman that will win the fight.

Had lunch, and met up with Ian Keeling, another Stopwatch Gang member.  Ian’s been busy and we actually haven’t seen each other since World Fantasy and we spent an hour just catching up. Then I had a panel, You Must Finish, on the importance of getting the story done.  Next, another panel which I moderated, Hey, Come Back Here on when plots and characters seem to take on a life of their own.  Both went well and afterwards I had a quick beer with Ian before my last panel of the day, Nerds Are Mainstream, one of those panels that was surprisingly more difficult than the name suggested. Overall, I think it went well.  At least no one threw tomatoes.

Speaking of which had dinner again at Frankie Tomatto’s, (nice segue or what?) with Suzanne Church, her beau Michael Green and their extended family, along with their friend Annette who was also attending the con. Later I met up with another Stopwatch member, Richard Baldwin. After that it was room parties including a Launch of Hayden Trenholm’s new Bundoran Press.

Sunday, attended a panel on Let’s Hear Your Elevator Pitch after which I took a quick walk to the local Tim Hortons to prepare for my reading “Night Shift at the Tim Hornets.”

I followed that with a Q&A panel with Guest of Honour Jim Butcher.  Very entertaining and he read from his as yet unpublished steampunk novel, so very cool.

I ended the day by attending Suzanne Church’s panel What are Horror Authors afraid of, but they were short a panelist and graciously invited me to join.  Again, much fun.

And that was it.  Ad Astra 2013 was in the can, a satisfying conclusion to a satisfying con.

Well done Con Committee. Looking forward to next year.



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