I go to 2 or 3 conventions each year, with one of them being WorldCon every year that I can afford it. This year, Melissa and I chose to go to BayCon as one of the other conventions. This was our first BayCon, and I went into it with some unrealistic expectations.
For starters, I thought it would be bigger. I hadn’t heard anything about BayCon 2015, and I wasn’t aware of the three other cons going on at the same time. I heard a rumor that there had been doubts about BayCon happening at all this year. If I’d known all that from the beginning, it’s possible I would have given BayCon a pass. Fortunately, I went, and I had a good time.
I did have my doubts at the beginning. Melissa and I arrived a little bit early, and we hoped that would help get us through registration more quickly. We’d preregistered, and I hoped it would be a straight forward affair. Unfortunately, they had a rough start, with technical difficulties preventing them from getting registration going on time.
Melissa and I went up, badge-less, to attend the opening ceremonies. There seemed to be some confusion about when the doors would open for that, so Melissa and I bailed on the opening ceremony. We took a walk around the hotel and went to lunch instead.
Still badge-less, we went to our first panel. It was Magic versus Religion. It went in a direction I didn’t think was as interesting as it could have gone. I took some notes. Then, one of the panelists started talking about their own stories and their own characters, devolving far and away from the topic. That went on for several minutes. The moderator never reigned the individual in. I looked at Melissa and saw that she was getting tired of the panelist’s droning too, so we quietly left.
So far, I’ve described a pretty terrible convention. Fortunately, that is (almost) the last bad thing I have to say about BayCon.
Registration finally opened, and we made it through without too much fuss. After that, we went on to a panel about Space Operas, which proved to be much more interesting and better organized.
Let’s take a moment and talk about the hotel. For the most part, I liked it. The air conditioning was a bit inconsistent, with some rooms freezing us, and others testing the strength and tenacity of our deodorant. There were plenty of seats, and most of the rooms were easy to find. There was one room, however, which didn’t seem to fit in regular three dimensional space. It was ostensibly on the third floor, but it also seemed to be on the same floor as most of the other rooms, which were one flight of stairs up from the ground.
Food options were limited. If I’d been willing to drive for food, we probably could have gone to a number of places. I didn’t want to do that, though, so the only place Melissa and I could eat was the hotel. Like the air conditioning, the service was erratic. The food was also a bit overpriced for what it was.
I sure seem to be whining a lot in this post! But really, Melissa and I had a good time, and some of the panels were really spectacular. The best panel we attended all weekend, and maybe even the best one I’ve ever attended, took place that first evening. Called “Believable Spaces,” it had only one panelist: M. Todd Gallowglas. Since I meet with Michael regularly, and since I have an ego roughly the size of a small moon, I told Melissa, “I’m probably not going to take a lot of notes.” Boy was I wrong. Michael ran that panel like he was teaching a college level course on creative writing. And it worked. I have to say… I’m really proud of him.
There were other panels throughout the weekend. We attended them. Some I enjoyed more than others, but I didn’t walk out of any of them as I had that first one. A couple were purely for fun, like the Delphic Oracle run by Todd McAffrey, or The Mystery Panel, which wound up featuring a bunch of writers at the convention writing flash fiction head-to-head.
Melissa and I attended the after parties. We did our best, but I think we’re getting old. We didn’t stay out very late, but we had fun while we were out.
The best part of these conventions for me is just meeting people. I enjoyed talking with Jim Doty and Todd McAffrey and Mark Gelineau. I got to visit with Jennifer Carson and Juliette Wade for a little bit. At the Convolution party, I talked Jason Warlock’s ear off about Convolutions of the past, and what I look forward to in a convention. I also really enjoyed getting to sit down to breakfast with Lawrence Schoen and Anastasia Hunter. There were many fantastic people at the convention, and I enjoyed getting to connect with them.
Melissa and I weren’t able to stay for the entire convention. I had a performance on Memorial Day at the VA Hospital, so Melissa and I left BayCon Sunday evening, right after a delightful panel on linguistics, with Juliette Wade and Lawrence Schoen as the panelists. They’re both fiercely intelligent people, and it was both entertaining and educational to listen to them riff off each other about how language works.
There’s more I could talk about, from the Variety Show on Saturday night, to what it was like being a “Galactic Sponsor” of BayCon. I think I’ve probably said enough, though.
There were flaws, but we had a good time, and that’s all that matters. Will we go to BayCon 2017? Maybe. All I can say for sure is that Melissa and I are going to WorldCon this year. Any other conventions this year or next year are not on the radar, yet.