Convention Report: CONduit XIX

This weekend I was the Artist Guest of Honor at CONduit XIX: Evil Overlords of CONduit. I want to make it clear right away that while I was quite happy to accept this honored status there were artists there much worthier of acclaim. My friends Sarah Seiter and Jessica Douglas top that list. Their art-show panels made my panels all jealous. Cylon for Evil Overlords of CONduit, by Howard TaylerBut for me these events are not about honor nor acclaim. They're about learning new stuff, teaching old stuff, making new friends, and connecting with old friends. And all this happens while celebrating the speculative genres in writing, art, music, and even dance. A previous post has my schedule in it. I won't trouble you with a travelogue, or a blow-by-blow. Sandra wrote more (and better) about the event than I can, and Fox 13 News offered television audiences a two-minute tour. Some of my favorite moments from CONduit were the impromptu gatherings of professionals, the conversation groups that would coalesce at odd hours (often late ones) in the hotel lobby, empty conference rooms, or lesser-used passageways. Utah is home to a surprising number of genre-fiction writers and CONduit is like a big family reunion for us, complete with the crazy uncle, the could-have-been-a-supermodel cousin, and the scary half-Italian second cousin with rumored mob connections. If you've ever wanted to be a fly on the wall somewhere, I know some good walls. I think the most significant single moment from CONduit XIX for me came at the Scrapyard Release Party, when I stepped outside for a moment and ran into my friend Gizmo. He said "I want to tell you something, but you need to take it the right way." I agreed to take it the right way, expecting to learn that my fly was down. "When I first met you three years ago you looked like a comic book guy trying to sell your comics. Now you look like a professional." I pondered that remark for quite some time. I'm not entirely sure what has changed in my demeanor, what outward signs Giz is seeing, but one thing's for sure: I'm glad he said something, because I do feel like something has changed. It might be that these shoes are finally starting to fit. Next year CONduit's theme is "Space Pirates of CONduit." It's happening over Memorial Day Weekend in 2010. Come meet my sometimes-dysfunctional extended family (I'm the cousin everybody expects to end up in prison.)