Conflux 2 (Conflux Redux, to its friends) was excellent, as usual. ;)
Its big brother, Conflux 1, is still my absolute favourite con ever, & there were only 2 things that made this year’s con not quite on par with last year’s:
1. food poisoning. I got food poisoning & missed the masquerade/farewell. Missing the masq upset me more than being sick, though being sick wasn’t a whole barrel o’ laughs either.
2. smaller crowds. Since Conflux wasn’t the Natcon this year, it’s to be expected that the number of attendees would be smaller, but still, I missed hanging & laughing with the full contingent of my con-loving buddies.
In fact, turning up Friday morning to walk through the Rydges foyer & note its emptiness gave me a stab of melancholy. There were the lounges where I spent at least 24 hours over the course of one weekend yacking with friends, there was the entrance to the bar — ah! the bar, where I probably spent _another_ 24 hours — & there, up the stairs to where the registration desk would be, there was the spot where Sugarman spilled the contents of his sandwich & began the series of jokes that would end in him earning his new moniker. Could it really be a year ago?
For those of you who couldn’t make it this year, it’s important to know there is still just ONE teaspoon in the cafe during breakfast (to quote Rob Hood: ‘How third world’).
As ever, what makes a convention a worthwhile experience is the talking/laughing/swapping of ideas thing, & Conflux is supreme at that stuff. The crowd was laid-back & cheerful, & the panels I went to were excellent. Well, the panels I went to both had me on them (I really should try to make it to more panels), but despite that, they were excellent. (Well, hey! I was busy doing other stuff, like staffing the Conflux 3 desk — come to Conflux 3, coooooome to Conflux 3, you know you want to…)
The ‘Genre as Artifice’ panel gave me a lot of food for thought, both because of my learned & insightful fellow panellists (Terry Dowling, Dave Luckett, Rjurik Davidson, Michael Sisley) & from the reading & research I did beforehand. At some point I want to write something here about genre, but suffice to say for the moment that I started in certainties & ended in doubts. Which is progress, of a kind. The ‘Short Story’ panel (Rjurik Davidson, Kate Eltham, Anna Tambour, Stu Barrow), I *think* was a lot of fun, but I can’t be sure because I was chairing it, & seeing as I hadn’t realised I’d be chairing it, I’m not sure I prepped properly for it.
Prep went like this:
‘You know,’ says I, casually, to Chuck McKenzie who happens to be standing nearby, ‘I’ve just picked up this program & it says I’m chairing a panel tonight.’
Chuck nods, equally casually, & leaves me to my mild panic.
I sit down to compose a few thoughts & questions on short stories.
Exactly at that point, capnoblivious stops by to say, ‘What’s your plan for our panel tonight?’
I say, ‘I’ve only just found out I’m chairing it.’
capnoblivious nods (casually), ‘I’ll check back with you later, then.’
I continue to gather my thoughts & then Trevor Stafford stops by. He asks, with a measure of concern, why I’m hunched up in a darkened corner of the con. I explain, & he promises that he knows a quiet spot where I can work uninterrupted. I follow Trevor with great faith. He leads me to the Conflux 3 desk & sits me down, all the while talking with supreme confidence & care. Trevor, it dawns on me slowly, was actually looking for a patsy to staff the Conflux 3 table. By the time I’ve realised this, people have started to wander by & look to me for guidance. I tell them to join Conflux 3. They do or do not join, depending on their moods.
By now I have a rough page of questions & ideas for the panel that night. I put my pen away. It is enough, & anyhow, the panel is on at 8:30 on a Saturday night. Only good, wholesome, dedicated, smart people will be there at that time.
I pray for a good audience.
We get it.
All is well.
There was more to Conflux. There were launches & there was music & there were laughs to be had & conversations to be lost in & friends to be made & friends to catch up with & there was a genuine lap dance, apparently, & there was art & books & things to purchase & good times to be delighted in by all, & so much more… but you really had to be there. In fact, you really *should* have been there, what’s wrong with you?
Next time: probably some thoughts on genre or short stories. Who can say.