(This is a long post, with lots of photos from Denver Comic Con! Get ready for some scrolling. And some amazing photos.)
“Zombies, aliens, or tyrannosaurs?” That’s the question I asked people all weekend at Denver Comic Con; I was really curious what people would say. Over half said: “Give me a T-Rex.” Oh, you brave, brave souls.
Answering “T-Rex” led you to: The Hunger Games meets Jurassic Park. In space. Orbital colosseums for tyrannosaurs.
Answering “zombies, definitely zombies” led you to: The living dead thousands of years ago in the ancient world, as warriors, saints, and prophets hold the Near East together against tens of thousands of ravenous corpses.
And “aliens” led you to: 25th century Muslim explorers transfer their minds across space and time to make first contact with other species around the universe, and get marooned in alien bodies on alien worlds.
Most people joined Egret to run on the red sand with the tyrannosaurs. I suppose I can’t blame them. I love a good tyrannosaur myself. I met this one at Denver Comic Con:
That’s me: Stant Litore, on the right.
The con was beautiful this year: very full of readers and artists and life. I had a wonderful time. As I do each year, I photographed the cosplayers who bravely ventured to check out my stories. Sometimes with my cameraphone:
(This, by the way, is a lovely young reader named Kaylee, who was cosplaying Kaylee. As a fellow browncoat whose daughters are named River and Inara and whose dog is named Captain Mal, I nearly died of squee’ing.)
And sometimes, the photography happened with a ferociously professional camera, as my good friend Shawn Herbert joined me at the con. This is Lord Shawn:
His throne is forged from the melted-down Macs of videographers he has outdone.
He took these photos, often when I didn’t know I was being watched and recorded and surveillanced:
That high-res camera of his is better and sharper than my own eyes. Which is perhaps no wonder, as my eyes are not very good. I wear thick glasses.
And Lord Shawn captured some amazing cosplayers in this official gallery here:
I sat on several panels on topics ranging from the role of religion in scifi and fantasy, to the fascination we have with the living dead, to Kathryn Renta’s wonderful panel of creative writers and artists on the subject of “cultivating your creative community.” At that panel, we all referred to our absent progenitor (who connected us with each other) as The Mohawk, much to the bewilderment of our audience, until one of us leaned forward into the mike helpfully to explain that the Mohawk is local author Quincy J. Allen, currently out of town at another event and having a birthday, getting one year wiser. (His mohawk is truly epic.)
At the end of the panel, after much discussion of ways to start, join, and gather a community (or, as Kathryn Renta would say, a sanga, a Buddhist term she introduced to us) of like-minded artists walking one path together, I told everyone, in my best Dungeon Master voice: “This is your quest. You must cross many rivers and find the Mohawk and bring him back to your village. Only then will you become a bestseller.”
Levity aside, we must have shared some good advice (Lord knows where it came from), because almost a dozen people who attended the creative community panel approached my table later to tell me how much Kathryn’s panel had meant to them.
Here are photos from the panels. See if you can spot the Litore:
My personal favorite moment on the panels this weekend happened at the Role of Religion in SF/F panel. A convention-goer cosplaying Carmen Sandiego (“You found me!” she cried; that made my whole weekend, seriously) asked the question, “How do you think we should deal with the arrival of artificial intelligence?”
“As a man of faith,” I answered solemnly, “my answer to the question of how we should deal with the arrival of AI is: with great compassion and deep empathy.” I paused. “As a science fiction writer, my answer is: We are royally screwed.”
That brought laughter, and we ended the panel on that note.
I wish I had a photo of her Carmen Sandiego cosplay. Finding Carmen Sandiego was my favorite moment from the panels.
One of my favorite moments from the entire convention was when my friends Laura Jerdak and Jesse Phillips came to see me! Most of the con, they were stationed on the floor below with a large troop of talented cosplayers, but Friday evening, they trekked across the wilderness that is a full showroom floor just to come see me. I am really touched; I love these guys. They are the best human beings. Here they are, looking amazing.
…with my deepest apologies for the poor quality of my camera phone. It is a dinosaur of a thing. If you haven’t yet, you should Like my friends’ Facebook page Jessolaurus Rex. They won Best of Show at the con — for their incredible Saturday cosplay; you’re seeing the Friday cosplay in these photos; everything they do is talented and beautiful. At AnomalyCon, they were the Moonshine Fairy and the Rum Fairy, and the moonshine Jesse had in a canister strapped to his back was real and it was very good. At some previous event (I don’t remember which), I met them as Daenerys and Khal Drogo, and they were so good at it that I gave them a free book on the spot: I Will Hold My Death Close. I explained it as a story of a young woman fleeing through the hills from the unburied dead of her people three thousand years ago, on what is now the Lebanon-Israeli border, and Laura’s eyes lit up: “I’m from Lebanon!” she said. And then we all hugged.
Yes, I’m a hugger. Meet me at a con, and if you say you don’t mind, you may get bear-hugged.
Laura and Jesse are wonderful people: uplifting to be around. Jesse is gigantic, generous, and gentlemanly, and Laura is fierce, brave, creative, and real.
My other favorite moment at the convention, my most favorite moment, was when my wife Jessica brought our girls up on the train to the Denver Comic Con for the first time ever.
I left my table for a while to explore the con with them, found River a beautiful pendant she wanted, some dragon art for Jessica, and I forget what for Inara, but Inara had a beautiful time at the con, wheeling along and reaching out to pet everything and everyone, exploring the unseen universe outside her fragmentary field of sight. She grinned the whole time, though her older sister was overwhelmed by the crowds. (We had about 120,000 people this year … it was rather a lot of people.) When my wife and daughters came back Sunday, I let River sit behind the table with me. “Let’s sell some books!” she cried.
I think River loved seeing what Daddy does at the cons.
My wife conquers and survives chronic pain and extraordinary obstacles to do amazing things, including 24/7 care for Inara (who is herself a dragon-hearted conqueror). Though I didn’t know it until I checked my texts during tear-down on Sunday, Jessica’s car burst into smoke and nearly fire on the freeway, on the way home:
My wife — who is far more heroic than I will ever be — got the kids safe home, and nothing exploded. The car is now back to the mechanic, who had sworn, two days before the fire and smoke, “She’s working great now!”
Misadventures aside, this was a glorious con. I met many familiar faces and met many new ones. Mixed up people’s names, a lot. Signed books. Had someone rush to tell me on Sunday that they had stayed up late reading the book they bought Saturday and had loved it so much. That meant a great deal to me.
The fans — you are all wonderful. One of you brought me something to drink when I was near passing out. One of you brought me a Pride pin, a very lovely one. Several of you dragged other people over to the table and thrust a book into their hands and said, “Oh my God you have to read this!” One of you brought over some slime you’d made in the Kids Lab for my oldest to play with. Thank you. I love you all.
I met some wonderful fellow writers, too — like the intrepid and marvelously-hatted Dave Butler, the author of The Extraordinary Journeys of Clockwork Charlie, who greeted me with “Hey, you wrote Strangers in the Land!” (it turns out that Dave was an advance reader for the book; he gave me a five-star Vine review for the novel four years ago, when it first came out; meeting him this weekend made my day), and like E.R. Ross, the talented, Thailand-born author of the YA fantasy The Fire Test:
Sorry, Ellie, for the blurry phone! Here’s a better one:
The author in the middle is the marvelous Kristi Helvig. And the facial expression you see me wearing here is pretty much permanently on my face during cons. Truly.
Carol and Tim Hightshoe of Wolfsinger Publications, who manned the table beside mine and with whom I’ve shared space before — they are deep-hearted people — asked me, “Where do you get your energy? No one should have that kind of energy on Day 3 of a con.”
“What energy?” I asked, puzzled, as I leaped over the table to say hello to some approaching fans.
(A few months ago, my wife: “River has so much energy.”
Me, with a puzzled look: “Where does she get that from?”)
Here are a few more (cameraphone) photos before we go:
(That’s my good friend Jim Porter as Dumbledore; he made a lot of children, and a few grownups, happy this weekend.)
Break those stories open, Harley Quinn!
And a final squee for Kahlan Amnell:
It was a high-adrenaline but warm-in-the-heart event. There is so much to share from DCC this year, so many stories and small moments, and more photos. There may be a video later.
But first, I need sleep. A lot of it. That was an intense few days!
So, while you wait to hear more from me, go get a book to read. The critical question is: zombies, aliens, or tyrannosaurs? Choose wisely.