Con Report: Farpoint 2020

I attended my third year at Farpoint in Baltimore, Maryland, this past weekend and had an absolute blast spending time with friends and being a panelist on some of my favorite topics. I wish I’d been able to hang out more in the evening with people, but I commuted from home this year and had to sleep some time.

FRIDAY

After a long day at work, I headed to the hotel for my two evening panels. They flew by in a blur of excitement, with no awkward conversational lags from either the audience or other panelists; honestly, all of my panels this weekend were on the higher end of quality (and I’ve done a lot of panels over the past 5 years).

In the “Fanfic Confessions” panel, we discussed the differences and pros & cons to writing fanfiction versus writing officially licensed media tie-in fiction. We also brainstormed easy ways to make the switch from writing fanfic to writing original fiction in the most painless ways possible. But only if someone wanted to! No fanfic-shaming here.

Immediately afterward was my second panel of the evening, where I got to talk about one of my least SF/F passions: Downton Abbey! But fandom is fandom, and we had fun talking about the recent film and speculating topics for future movies with our favorite English crew.

I closed out the evening with dinner with Jeff Gritman and Cristin Kist of Prison Dad sci-fi comedy fame. The mind was willing to stick around for the late-night book fair, but the body demanded that I drive home and go to bed. Maybe next year!

SATURDAY

I returned to the hotel Saturday morning for a stint at the autograph table and then my first reading. I shared an unpublished short story set in the same universe as my Steel Empires series, and the audience seemed to enjoy it (or at least laughed in all the right places). Afterward, I had a few hours to kill before my evening panel, so I checked out the dealer’s hall and attended Keith R.A. deCandido’s self defense workshop, which was both informative and entertaining.

If I haven’t yet asked you, “Have you seen The Expanse yet?” it only means we haven’t spoken in the past year. I had so much fun talking about The Expanse television show on an evening panel — from our thoughts on season 4 to some discussion about creative changes made in the jump from book to screen.

(Seriously, go watch and/or read The Expanse.)

After another fun dinner with Jeff and Cristin, I headed home to watch the most recent episode of Star Trek Picard, so I’d be prepared to talk about it the next morning if necessary.

SUNDAY

Back to the convention Sunday morning, this time with personal assistant in tow. My mom enjoys tagging along at local conventions, and it’s SO NICE to have someone make sure I eat lunch and consume the proper amount of caffeine.

First up was a panel on Star Trek Discovery and Picard! We ended up not talking about the most recent episode of Picard because not everyone had seen it, but I’m glad I had the context. We speculated about where season 3 of Discovery might go, where the rest of season 1 of Picard might lead, and which was our favorite of the Short Treks. I definitely felt like I leveled up as a con guest by getting to talk about Start Trek at a legit Star Trek convention!

With Derek Tyler Attico & Keith R.A. DeCandido (who obviously needs more coffee)

Keith and I shared a reading slot right afterward, where I read the short story again to a completely different audience (who also seemed to enjoy it!). Keith shared his story from the Across the Universe: Tales of Alternative Beatles anthology, which you should definitely check out.

After another stint at the autograph table, where I saw Highlander cosplay, which was definitely one of the highlights of my weekend, I closed out the convention with a panel on the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s always fun to be that one person who’s never read any of the Marvel comics, because I definitely feel like I bring a different voice to the conversation. This can often be a difficult panel because audience members have OPINIONS about the Marvel universe (comics and films), but the other two panelists were lovely and we kept the conversation from getting too fraught.

My mom and I took another quick jaunt around the dealer’s room, then headed home. I was definitely done “peopling” for the weekend, so I spent the rest of the evening reading in bed.

This year’s Farpoint experience has definitely set the bar high for the rest of my 2020 conventions!


The final haul:

Published by J.L. Gribble

Author, Editor, Worldbuilder

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