Monday, September 17, 2012

Dystopia, zombies, art, food

I awoke at nine this morning after way, way too little sleep with the utter certainty that I was getting out of bed early on a rainy, dreary Sunday morning for absolutely no purpose whatsoever.  After all, how many people at the gaming-oriented Escapist Expo convention could possibly want to show up at this panel on dystopian futures?

It’s probably a safe bet to say that none of us really want to dwell in a radioactive wasteland, live under thumb of 1984-like government, or wander endless fields of ice in search of the day’s single meal. So, why are we so fascinated with those ideas? Join popular science-fiction authors David Drake, Mark Van Name, Mur Lafferty, and Richard Dansky as they attempt to explain our fascination with bleak futures.

I already knew that Mur couldn't make it, so it would be up to just Richard (who had agreed to moderate the affair), Dave, and me. 

Still, I dragged myself out of bed, showered, and headed to the con. 

When I arrived at the meeting room about 15 minutes before the panel was due to start, a waiting line had already formed and snaked around the corner from the room.  Dave was already there.  After Richard arrived a couple minutes later, the con organizers started letting in people.

To my amazement, the large room was nearly packed, as you can see from this picture I took of the audience (without their permission, for which I apologize). 

 As always, click on an image to see a larger version.

As best I could figure, over 200 people showed up to hear us talk, which was astounding. 

And talk we did.  Richard did a great job moderating the conversation and keeping it rolling smoothly.  We had so many attendees that he took questions from the audience for ten minutes before the official start time.  At that point, he turned to his agenda, and we were off to the races.  

We ranged all over the place, from zombies to Diodorus Siculus, Milla Jovovich to William Makepeace Thackeray, the strange quiet horrors of childhood to the extreme traumatizing horrors of war, and beyond.  (Trust me:  it all worked.)

The audience was great.  People asked smart questions, seemed fully engaged, and were extremely well-mannered.

I learned that I don't know shit about gaming conventions and their attendees, but if the good folks at the Escapist Expo are kind enough to ask me back next year, I'll do my best to attend.

We then wandered through more of Durham's lovely CenterFest, where the weather had greatly diminished the crowd,  ate a tasty Stoke & Smoke barbecue brisket sandwich for lunch, and met up with Sarah, who decided to swing by for a second visit to the show.  We shared a flight of the best mini-cupcakes I've ever had, courtesy of The Cupcake Bar, and walked some more.

As I was getting into the van to drive home, I noticed the following on the ground beside me in the parking garage. 

I've never understood littering, but this at least was vaguely surreal and artfully arranged litter.

My hat is off to the folks at the Escapist Expo.  I hope they run it again next year.

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