Con Review: LibertyCon 18

LibertyCon18by Michael D. Pederson


LibertyCon 18
July 29-31, 2005
Chattanooga, Tennessee

This may have been one of the most confused (and confusing) cons I’ve ever attended. Personally, I suspect that there was a secret second con going on behind closed doors that nobody was telling me about. If not, then this was a seriously bi-polar convention.

For starters, we were unable to get a room in the convention hotel because it was already booked up (several weeks in advance). So I went in expecting a sizable event and instead found a small little relaxacon with maybe 200 people in attendance; they were only sold out because the hotel was so small—it didn’t even have a restaurant or bar. No problem there though… Some of my favorite cons are relaxacons and I’d heard people raving about Liberty in the past.

Second sign of trouble—$45 for a badge! Pretty steep for a small con. I quickly headed to the con suite to see what my $45 was paying for. This is where the extremes first raised their ugly head. Food pretty much consisted of a loaf of bread, a jar of peanut butter and a bowl of chips. However, there were two kegs of beer. Bonus! Sadly, it was one Coors product and one Miller product—neither of which appealed to my inner beer snob. But I can’t blame them for that (or can I?).

Weirdness abounded on the guest list too: Fred Pohl, Timothy Zahn and Robert Asprin (great guests!). In contrast though, the Artist GoH was Beth Willinger who (despite some nice work in the Art Show) I had never heard of. I had been looking forward to hearing Pohl speak but he was only scheduled for two panels—one on Sunday (which I missed because of the long drive home) and one on Saturday. The Saturday panel was on writing a story outline. Frankly, I had enough of that lecture in high school, surely they could have come up with something better for one of science fiction’s Grand Masters.

There was a poolside cookout on Saturday afternoon that stayed pretty crowded but the menu of hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages, and chili didn’t appeal to my non-beef-eating diet. I was beginning to feel like someone had planned this con simply to snub me.

I was told that the Saturday night room parties would make up for my disillusionment. No such luck. The two room parties that I found were small and poorly attended and didn’t make much of an attempt to entertain. Even the Baen Barflies were slow that night.

It’s hard to say, bottom-line, that this was a bad con. Granted, I didn’t find much to entertain myself (a first) but everyone around me was having a blast. It felt like I had stumbled into a family reunion that I hadn’t been invited to. So, what’s the bottom-line? Great con for the regulars. Otherwise, bring LOTS of friends and plan your own room party.