LibertyCon 2017, the 30th edition, also known as XXX, is in the books. This was my fourth LibertyCon. Larry Southard, friend and fan, talked me into going to my first one after I had attended my first DragonCon the year before. I went as an attendee, no panels, just there to look around and enjoy. And enjoy I did. The next year I was on a couple of panels on self-pub and marketing, breaking in, so to speak. Last year I asked for some bigger panels, and got one on military scifi, one on space opera, and one on epic fantasy. This year I only got two panels, and the A Fistfull of Credits release party. Since I had gotten attending professional status at DragonCon this year I was satisfied with the two at Liberty. Liberty actually has a very high ratio of authors to attendees, so much so in fact that it is not a good con to try and sell at, at least for me. But I have established enough writing cred though that other authors were happy to speak with me, and this year I had meals with several of them, including Sarah and Dan Hoyt, Kal Spriggs, Jason Cordova and Jonathan Baird.
I started off for Chattanooga on Thursday, travelling up US 27 to Columbus, then over to Atlanta on I285/85, and from there up to Chattanooga on I75/20. One thing I remembered from taking 27 up to the last DragonCon was that there was a one hour stretch with no gas stations, restaurants, cell coverage or, most important of all, bathrooms. It still almost got me, since I was drinking caffeine to stay awake on the road. Then the rains hit on 85, and traffic was bumper to bumper on I75 north of Atlanta for more than an hour. Followed one idiot on I-85 for a half hour who didn’t have his lights on, in a southern rainstorm. Got there three hours later than planned and had dinner with Jason Cordova, his girlfriend, and Larry. The next morning I had breakfast with Sue Phillips in the new restaurant at the Choo Choo, and we talked DragonCon. One disappointment was that the restaurant I had always eaten breakfast at was closed. The Choo Choo, while still planning to remain open in the future, will no longer be a hotel. The second year I attended they had sold one of the three buildings, then another one this year, leaving only one building. I stayed at the Stadium Inn, about a mile away, which was not as convenient as staying at the Choo Choo, though much cheaper. This will be the last LibertyCon at the Choo Choo. Though the convention center might remain open, there will be no accommodations, so it’s time to move on. We were assured that there would be a LibertyCon next year, but they weren’t sure which hotel in Chattanooga it would be, or if it even would be in that city.
The opening ceremonies were as usual, with Toni Weisskopf announcing all the guests. With a hundred and fifty of them she had to work fast, and not spend much time on anyone but the guests of honor. And all the NASA scientists who normally attended were missing, a real disappointment since I didn’t get to see my buddy, Les Johnson. I heard they were all attending a conference in Italy. Then it was on to panels. It rained most of the weekend, and I think they still had a range day for shooting, but I didn’t participate this year. The next day was more panels. Unlike some other Cons, such as one I won’t name in Northwest Florida, there are between five and seven panels every hour throughout the day. Always something to do, and probably the most author friendly of any of them.
That evening I had one panel, the ‘No Shit, There I Was Just Minding My Own Business’ event, with Tom Kratman, Bart Kemper, John F Holmes, Kal Spriggs and John Ringo. All veterans, all Army. and Ringo was late, so we all got a chance to tell some stories about our time in the military. Then Ringo appeared and the panel was his. He did tell some excellent stories, including one about a dumb as hell lieutenant who led his unit across the impact zone of the firing ranges because he didn’t follow directions and instead used a map. I also learned the term Spec Four Mafia, which I had never heard before, though I found out I had been a member. If you’ve never heard Ringo speaking you’re missing out. The man can tell a story with passion and intelligence, and it’s as entertaining as his books. Then it was on to the release party for A Fistful of Credits, which did very well its first day, rising up to number four in anthologies on Amazon. The room was really too small for the party, but it went off without a hitch, though Ringo’s last story resulted in my being late for the get together.
The next day was the author/attendee get together, not a big deal for me, since most people came to see the big name authors like David Weber, John Ringo and David Drake. I moderated a well attended panel right after that on Space Opera, with Julie Cochrane, Van Allen Plexico, Sarah and Dan Hoyt, and Mark Wandrey. Great panel. Some arguments about the merits of Babylon Five and Battlestar Galactica, and I threw out how I though Poul Anderson wrote the best space opera of all time. And then it was over, and I was headed home, this time by the route that didn’t take me across the wasteland of US 27.
All in all it was a great con. I got to see a lot of old friends, people I have met over the years. Some I will see at Dragon, like Chuck Gannon, Mark Wandrey, Van Allen Plexico and others. Some I probably won’t see again until next year, wherever Liberty finds a home. Others were missing this year, and I hope we’ll cross paths again in the future. I’m hoping it will have a space to grow, as the seven hundred and fifty limit is just too small. I know they don’t want to become another DragonCon, but attendance over a thousand should be desired. And after getting home I was invited to participate in another anthology by one of the authors who was also an enlisted veteran. Always willing to do those.
Next up: the release of Machine War: Book 4: Retribution.