Con Review: SheVaCon 13

Shevacon13by Brandon Blackmoor


SheVaCon 13
February 25-27, 2005
Roanoke, Virginia

SheVaCon was great, as always. Here are some high spots:

Registration was a breeze. There was no line at all at 5:00 when we arrived. We got our badges and then checked into the hotel. The Holiday Inn Roanoke Tanglewood is a terrific hotel. The room was large and included frills like a refrigerator, microwave, and Wi-Fi.

We didn’t do much Friday night but roam around and go to a few panels. I attended a sparsely-attended workshop on miniature painting by Bob Snare. I learned quite a bit, to my surprise. Turns out I have been doing washes and dry-brushing wrong all this time. Well, maybe not wrong, but his figures definitely look better than most of mine. I’m going to try his technique on the next few I paint.

Lots going on Saturday. In the morning to early afternoon, I ran a Champions game, “The Testament of Dr. Destroyer.” Five people played: only one had ever played Hero System before. To say the game was lively would be an understatement. I am sure the other people in the room would have liked us to be quieter. Fortunately, I don’t think any of them were actually gaming. SheVaCon isn’t really a gaming convention, alas. Maybe they’d attract more gamers if the game listing on the website was kept up to date. The SheVaCon website is under new management this year, so hopefully, it will be better for 2006. Another thing they could do better is post the game schedule on-site in a legible format. What was posted near the game room was like a tenth-generation Xerox copy of a Gantt chart. It also did not help that the RPGA games were in the convention area, and anything else was hidden away on the fifth floor, without any indication of its being there. All in all, the con could do much better in the gaming arena.

After the game, I visited the Con Suite, which was terrific, as always. I do wish people would let the hot dogs finish cooking before grabbing them, though.

SheVaCon seems to attract a literary crowd, at least in terms of guests. Most of the panels that I attended were concerned with the art and science of science fiction writing and publishing. Interesting stuff. I did not get into the Masquerade itself, because it was standing-room-only by the time I got there. Still, they all had to walk by me in the hallway to leave, so I got a good long gawk at the costumes. The ones which stand out in my memory were Cruella De Vil from 101 Dalmations, the evil fairy Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty, and the character Rayne from the Bloodrayne computer game. These were all good, but the one that really impressed me was Rayne. She pegged the costume exactly, and she matched it physically, right down to the hair.

There was an unusual event on Saturday: the world premiere of a movie called Apocalypse. Wow, was it bad: real Mystery Science Theater material. But the people who put on the show, which included the director and a few of the actors, were all good sports, and treated us to a terrific catered dinner.

The high point of Saturday, of course, was the Nth Degree party. SheVaCon’s schedule for Saturday night didn’t amount to much more than various people reading their own stories out loud, which has never thrilled me. I’d much rather talk to them one-on-one at the party. Various folks associated with Meisha Merlin Publishing were in attendance, and were a pleasure to chat with, as always. The Writer GoH, L.E. Modesitt, was there as well. And I had the opportunity to pick up a book for a friend: A Million Shades of Gray, by John C. Hertel. How many parties have you gone to where you can get a book signed by the author right in front of you?

Sunday is the day to browse the Dealer’s Room and spend any leftover cash that somehow hid in the bottom of your pockets all weekend. I came really close to buying some Reaper miniatures, but didn’t, since I’ve been spending way too much on stupid, ugly, plastic HeroClix to use as figures in our Champions games, and I need to take a break from spending money on gaming crap for a while. My wife picked up a book on writing, The Complete Guide To Writing Fantasy.

After that was saying good-bye and feeling bummed because the convention was over: that post-convention malaise.


Con Review: SheVaCon 12

ShevaCon12by Catherine E. Twohill


SheVaCon 12
February 27-29, 2004
Roanoke, Virginia

AKA Big Lick. Seriously. Nicknamed for the salt licks that attracted wildlife (and those who hunted them), the Capital of the Blue Ridge is a city that still thinks it’s a little town. In my opinion, it’s the perfect location for SheVaCon. The Holiday Inn Tanglewood is nestled on a hillside with quick access to dining, shopping, and a cinema. The hotel has a decent restaurant as well as a bar that serves more than just beige water on tap. However, it’s clear that SheVaCon is about to burst the seams on the joint. The registration area was abundantly buzzing with people, the gaming area hadn’t an empty seat to be found and every session I attended was practically SRO. SheVaCon organizers were proud to say that they saw a 30% increase in attendance over last year but stopped short of saying “now where do we go?”. How did they master such an increase—when every other regional Con saw a drop in their numbers? Solid guests (Charles Keegan was Artist GOH; Rikk Jacobs, Master of Ceremonies; Jim Butcher, the Writer GOH; and a massive turnout of Baen authors) and good programming; there were over forty unique events in less than sixteen hours of event schedule. The program guide, while slight on program descriptions, became an item to cherish for its thoughtful, touching series of tributes to Hal Clement, a writer, artist and gracious friend of fandom who passed away in late 2003. So, Robert Roberts and crew will have their work cut out for them in 2005 as they’re keeping the same location and, as always, looking to bring even more Fen together. We’re certain they’ll remain creative with their content. But, as in real estate, it’s all about location. SheVaCon 13 will be held the weekend of February 25-27, 2005. For more info, check out their website:


Con Review: SheVaCon 11

SheVaCon11by Catherine E. Twohill


SheVaCon 11
February 21-23, 2003
Roanoke, Virginia

The 11th occasion of the Shenandoah Valley Convention in Roanoke, Virginia was lush with programming, attendees, and games beyond measure. While SheVaCon is not promoted as a pure Gaming Con, at any time of the day or night you could find a game of Munchkin, Fluxx, or your favorite LARP running and the players clearly enjoying themselves. SheVaCon’s Writer GOH was also the Grand Master, Hal Clement. Mr. Clement was joined by Artist GOH, Daniel Trout, and Master of Ceremonies, Rikk Jacobs. In addition to this illustrious roster, over thirty other guests supported a programming schedule of nearly forty different sessions within three different tracks. It was amazingly rich; the organizers of SheVaCon have much to be proud of. Keep up with plans for SheVaCon 12 (February 27-29, 2004) by bookmarking


Con Reviews: SheVaCon 10

by Michael D. Pederson


SheVaCon 10
February 22-24, 2002
Roanoke, Virginia

Attendance for this year’s SheVaCon was approximately 500. Guests of Honor this year included David Drake and Daniel Horne. SheVaCon 11 is scheduled for February 21-23, 2003; the location is still being determined.