Con Review: Capclave 2011

capclave2011by Michael D. Pederson


Capclave 2011
October 14­–16, 2011
Gaithersburg, Maryland

I’ve become so accustomed to sharing con space with anime fans, cosplayers, video gamers, LARPers, and every other sub-genre that’s come along in the last twenty years that I’ve almost forgotten how refreshing it can be to attend a convention that is all about straight up science fiction. That is very much Capclave’s niche, and they do it very well.

Programming was pretty light (just over 60 events) but of the highest quality and always well attended. I was delighted at the amount of coverage the small press received on the program and particularly enjoyed the panel I did with Neil Clarke, Ed Schubert, and Anne Sheldon on the future of small press magazines.

Without a doubt, the highlight of the convention (and SRO) was a surprise visit from Terry Pratchett who stopped by on the tail end of his North American publicity tour for Snuff. He spoke for an hour before having to rush off to catch a flight home. Despite suffering from Alzheimer’s and having just finished a fast-paced touring schedule, he’s still one of the wittiest speakers out there. Getting to see him again was priceless.

Nth Degree’s Saturday night Halloween party was fantastically successful as well. I may have to make that a new tradition.


Con Review: Capclave 2004

by Michael D, Pederson


Capclave 2004
October 15-17, 2004
Vienna, Virginia

I suppose that “intimate” would be the best word to sum up this year’s Capclave. Attendance was down this year, with roughly 250 people in attendance (counting guests and dealers). The lower numbers didn’t hurt the atmosphere in any way though.

Space constraints in a new hotel kept the programming down to a single track but this gave the guests—Guests of Honor Nick Pollotta (Author), Butch Honeck (Artist) and Dennis McCunney (Fan) included—more time to mix and mingle with the attendees. The very relaxed and open-to-all Kaffeeklatches were well attended and I spent most of Saturday afternoon in a chat circle by the pool while other guests and attendees came and went, joining in the conversation. It was one of those great con moments that couldn’t have been planned by anyone.

For a literary con the programming was a bit short on literary programming but the one panel I was on, “New Writers,” drew a good crowd and could have easily gone into a second hour. I just would have liked there to have been at least one panel on Sunday devoted to something literary instead of the three self-obsessed (and redundant) panels on “How to Run the Perfect Con,” “If I Ran the Zoo [Con],” and the “Gripe Session.”

My gripes are minor though. I had a fun weekend with a lot of people that I only get to see a couple of times a year. Next year is bound to be as much fun too; Howard Waldrop is the scheduled Guest of Honor.


Con Review: Capclave 2003

by Michael D. Pederson


Capclave 2003
November 21-23, 2003
Silver Spring, Maryland

I can’t remember the last time that I enjoyed a small convention as much as I enjoyed Capclave ’03. Attendance this year peaked at about 200 fans, all determined to enjoy themselves as much as possible. This is Capclave’s third year and their first disaster free weekend—their previous cons took place during a hurricane one year and the DC sniper the next year.


Capclave chairperson, Sam Lubell, stops by the Nth Degree room party for a quick pick-me-up.

This year’s Guest of Honor was William Tenn, Golden Age author and satirist. It’s always impressive to see a small convention bag a big name for a guest and Capclave pulled no punches. In addition to Tenn they also scheduled Alexis Gilliland, Yoji Kondo, Bud Sparhawk, Steve Stiles, Scott Edelman, David Hartwell, Darrell Schweitzer, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and quite a few others.

I participated in three panels that were all well-attended and extremely fun to be a part of. The first was a discussion of comic books as short fiction that included Steve Stiles and covered nearly fifty years of comics history. After that I had an enormous amount of fun discussing SF/F television with Tee Morris (writer/actor), Mike Zipser (host of the Washington cable program Fast Forward), a couple other panelists, and a packed room. Needless to say, we were an opinionated group. The last panel that I was scheduled for was “Fanzines: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow” with Alexis Gilliland, Rich and Nicki Lynch, and Steve Stiles. Between the five of us we had about 150 years of publishing experience (with my meager ten years added in). Needless to say, I was honored to be included. The one panel that I got to attend as an audience member was a reading by Michail Velichansky (whose second appearance in Nth Degree is in this very issue). He read a fantastic story that he wrote at this summer’s Odyssey.

Kudos need to be awarded to next year’s Capclave chair, Lee Gilliland, for stepping in at the last minute (9:00 pm Thursday!) to take over the con suite when the previous two con suite organizers got sick. Capclave 2004 is scheduled for October 15-17. More info will be posted at



Con Review: Capclave 2002

by Michael D. Pederson


Capclave 2002
October 18-20, 2002
Silver Spring, Maryland

This was the second year for WSFA’s resurrected convention—if you haven’t heard the tragic tale of the late lamented Disclave just ask around; it’s repeated often, late at night around the convention campfires to scare misbehaving con-goers. Though still a fairly small convention, Capclave is doing an admirable job at putting together a solid block of programming. This year’s guests were Stanley Schmidt and Alexis Gilliland. Among the other heavyweights on the program were Catherine Asaro, Jack Chalker, Scott Edelman, Darrel Schweitzer, and Michael Swanwick. Unfortunately the convention was scheduled at the height of the DC sniper scare and at times it felt like guests and staff outnumbered the attendees but the con still went off smoothly. Stan Schmidt’s signings and readings were easily the high point of the convention, drawing respectable crowds. Next year’s Capclave is scheduled for September 19-21, 2003.