So this weekend I went to NADWcon: The North American Discworld convention.
I know what you’re thinking. Technically there shouldn’t be a “W” in that acronym. But without it, they’d have to call the convention NADcon, and that would attract the entirely wrong sort of attendee.
Truth is, the last thing I needed in my schedule right now was another convention. It’s not that I don’t enjoy cons, I do. I love hanging out with other geeks, being on panels, doing readings and signing books. It’s a good time.
But conventions tend to be expensive, exhausting, and time-consuming. Any two of those are hard to deal with, but all three together can be a crushing combination. Especially now that little Oot is in the picture. He’s sentient enough to miss me, and I feel guilty leaving him for days at a time.
Luckily, this con was in Madison, which is pretty much my backyard. I can drive there in less than two hours, and Sarah and Oot can come along with relatively little hassle.
But the real reason I was willing to go to this convention was the fact that Terry Pratchett was attending.
I haven’t bothered mentioning him much more than that for the simple reason that I assume you’ve already read his stuff. If you read my books, you read fantasy. And if you read fantasy, you know about Terry Pratchett. Q.E.D.
Anyway. Suffice to say that I’m a Pratchett fan. I’ve been reading him for more than 20 years, and the thought of getting to see him in person was too much to pass up.
The convention was a different experience for me. I’m used to cons where all different types of geeks get together and revel in their nerdery. You’ll see someone dressed up as Harry Dresden chatting with a hot vulcan girl. You’ll see a catgirl playing Catan with a kid wearing a Dalek outfit.
But at this con, the focus was all Pratchett, and 98% of that focus was Discworld.
That means no catgirls. Many feegles.
I did a tiny signing and a tiny reading. I wasn’t really an official part of the convention because I don’t have anything to do with Pratchett (other than liking him a bunch.) But that itself was nice in a way, as it meant I could spend time with my family.
- There was a guy there who did crazy-cool balloon animals. I’m not talking about a hat or a poodle or shit like that. I’m talking about Death Riding A Motorcycle.
Or Granny Weatherwax:
He also did a cool dragon for Oot:
This picture doesn’t do the dragon justice. You’ll have to take my word for the fact that it’s awesome, and it looks like it’s breathing fire.
- I got to hear Terry talk about writing and tell stories.
A lot of the biggest panels were ones featuring Terry himself. Including one about his work on The Long Earth with Steven Baxter.
I bought a copy of Thud! and some coins and stamps from Discworld. It’s cool to see things like stamps from a fictional world. They’re an odd combination of souvenir and artifact. I’d love to make some coins set in the Four Corners world….
- Neil Gaiman.
Neil made a surprise appearance at the con where he and Terry spent a couple of hours talking about Good Omens on a panel. It was cool watching them tell embarrassing stories about each other. They knew each other back in the day, back before they strode the earth like titans.
Oot slept through the panel, which was nice, as that meant Sarah and I both got to listen to it, as opposed to having to tag-team and take turns watching him.
He woke up at the very end, just as Gaiman was presenting Pratchett with an award. After looking around bleerily for a moment, he correctly sensed the mood of the room and burst out with a preemptive “Yay!”
It was a sentiment pretty much everyone shared.
It was a good time overall. Oot made some kid-aged friends and got to climb stairs, so he was happy. Sarah got to go to a con and bum around State Street a bit, so she had a good time, too.
But for me, the high point of the weekend was on the last day of the con, when I got Terry Pratchett’s autograph.
More about that tomorrow,