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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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Ad Astra

Ad Astra was last weekend, and I had a lot of fun this year (I usually do, but this year just rocked for me). Got caught up with a bunch of people I haven't seen in a while, enjoyed the dance, enjoyed the room parties. There weren't as many room parties this year as usual, but I got smoked meat in the Montreal Worldcon party, and chocolate cake in the Kansas City party. Spent more in the dealers room this year than in the previous three Ad Astras. Lots of good stuff at Apogee Books, some guy was selling off his vast graphics novel collection (and they were in amazingly good condition), and I got the new Karl Schroeder (Sun of Suns) from Bakka. Thanks to Aaron for lending me some cash when I couldn't get the ATM on the lobby working.

I do think attendance was a little off, likely due to all the snow we got on Thursday. All the guests got in on time, but I think a few of them were short on luggage for most of the weekend.

Was talking some more with Cory Doctorow about how to get anime fans to start reading SF and fantasy. He thinks SF fandom should start sending missionaries to anime cons. It's a problem that a lot of other fandoms out there have sprung from the SF cons, but people aren't going back and SF cons are slowly dying out. I specifically patterned Anime North after the SF con model when I started it up (and I think this has been to the con's benefit) and I'd love to see anime fans start attending SF cons. But I myself don't have the free time to devote to making this happen. If anyone out there does, let me know.

And the end-of-con nitpicking session reminded me why we don't do that at Anime North. Not that feedback isn't good and necessary, but most of what people were complaining about in that room was really juvenile stuff. "It took an hour to get here on public transit! Why isn't the con somewhere closer?". "I actually had to pay for a snack in the con suite! All the food is free at American Cons! You're insulting people!" "Me me me me me me me!" The con com spent months making all this happen and were undoubtedly exhausted after the weekend, and then they had to put up with an hour of whining from people old enough to know a lot better.

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The problem with the Crowne plaza location is that you have to already know how to get to the hotel to get to it. The street address says Eglinton, but you can't access the hotel off of Eglinton. A driver has to turn off and go around the hill to find the access road, and on public transit you have to know to go down the stairs and under the bridge to find the access.

The first time I went there, I gave up trying to figure it out and had to scramble up the grassy hill to get to the hotel (this was in rather warmer weather).

Not to mention the accessibility issues, and the fact that programming almost, but not quite, fits.

Accessibility is a concern, yes. I know a few people who didn't come because it's such a pain to get downstairs - apparently the lift can't accommodate electric scooters. The person at the bitch panel seemed to only be concerned with the location of the hotel, though, which is why I didn't mention accessibility in my initial comment.

Most other hotels that I can think of have something about them that would cause bigger problems:

  • The IP is two to three times larger than what they need - and if someone complained about the location of the CP, they'll certainly complain about the location of the IP or any of the airport hotels unless they flew in from out of town.

  • The Primrose is probably too small for a 500-700 person con.

  • The Marriott Eaton Centre and the Delta Chelsea are probably way too expensive (and I don't know what they have in the way of function space).

  • The larger downtown hotels (Crowne Plaza, Royal York, etc.) are way out of any local con's price range, I would think. (Except for AN, but I don't think anything is out of AN's price range. ;) )

  • The hotel across from the IP (which we used for an overflow room block for TT20 - I forget the name right now) doesn't have all that much in the way of function space that I can recall.

IIRC, Ad Astra tried the Holiday Inn Yorkdale once - did they not? - and it didn't work out. And the hotels in Scarborough (wasn't it held out there once as well?) are even more difficult to get to.

I'm not sure about the Marriott Courtyard. Maybe that's the next one to try. Or maybe we just need HoJos back. ;)

What other hotels would be feasible?

What about the Days Hotel (Formally a Days Inn) near Keele and Wilson that Ad Astra used a few years back? We had two Anime Norths there (99 and 2000) each with about a thousand people and the fucntion space worked out well. Plus all the function space is on a single level and there are some restaurants in the neighbourhood (not great ones, but still).

I don't have any clear memories of that year, so perhaps I missed the con the year it was there, or perhaps I just had no particular issues that have stuck in my mind.

I think I know the one you mean, though - it's near Yorkdale, isn't it?

Still, if Ad Astra moved away from there, there must be some reason why they didn't like it.

It's been a few years since I've done that research. There are hotels with enough function space; it would depend on which of them would be willing to lower their room rates to fill up a dead weekend. I don't know that offhand without contacting them.

It's been a few years since I've done that research.

Same here - and I've only done it the one time, for Gaylaxicon. I don't believe that I was involved in the decision to take TT to the IP after the Constellation closed, though I was probably on the Exec - it would likely have been a decision of the Chairs with input from the Hotel Liaison, and possibly the Board.

I'm sure there are some hotels out there that would be suitable - we're just not thinking of them right now.

Good point - I forgot that on the Friday, I scrambled up the hill (well, "scrambled" is a relative term when the hill is covered with ice). I knew there was a ramp leading up from the road somewhere, but I couldn't find it - I'd forgotten that it was off Wynford. That particular detail had slipped my mind.

The problem with the Crowne plaza location is that you have to already know how to get to the hotel to get to it.

Yeah. If they want the anime con crowd to show up, posting some better "how to get there" instructions on a website that doesn't look like it's from 1994 might be a good first step.

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