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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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SFContario, Toronto new fan-run SF literary con, was on the weekend, and overall it went very well.

It was downtown at the Ramada Admiral, off of Carlton, which was an easy streetcar ride for me. I was helping out at registration, and got there early on Friday to do so. Friday was certainly the busiest time for reg, as most of the attendance had pre-regged and turned up then, so we were pretty busy handling out stuff, crossing names off of lists, and finding the pre-printed name badges (which always look good, but finding them is slow, slow, slow!)

The focus of the con was the written word, and it really shone in that. The panels I attended were not only on interesting topics, but they were also all well-staffed with people who knew what they were talking about. There were only two panel tracks, but it was rare when there wasn't something I couldn't sit down and listen to going on. The Dealer's Room was small, but had books and other decent stuff. The hotel layout was a bit tight, as it's two buildings connected by a bridge (with a few unfortunately steps) but worked pretty well once you got the room locations down. The koffeeklatches were interesting, if lacking in actual coffee (down the hall in the con suite).

Anime North did a suite all day Saturday, with tea-tastings during the day (which had a steady traffic in and out) and videos at night, but we couldn't really compete in the evening once parties with booze started.

The guests were author Michael Swanwick, and editors Teresa and Patrick Nelson-Hayden, who were always worth listening to at all their events I went to.

Total attendance was just over 300, which is pretty darned good for a first time con with no media tie-in. They've already announced same dates and location for next year, and it's good to have another fan-run event in the fall again.

And when I left on the Friday night (late), there was this well-dressed woman hanging around outside. And when I left (later) on Saturday night, she was there again, and wanted to know if I wanted some company. Well, it was on the outskirts of that part of town. But SF fans have no money after buying books.

However, there was a troubling event that no one had gotten a good answer to yet. A certain well-known member of the Toronto SF community (and friend of mind for years) showed up on the Friday, and was denied entrance to the con, to my consternation and that of a lot of other people. The reason for this is still forthcoming from the convention. This matter was bought up at the wrap-up meeting and AGM, and we were told that the board would not be taking this issue up now and would be issuing a statement later. I'm not using names here because I'm not sure how public the person in question wants this to be made, but my benefit of the doubt is 100% on his side, not the convention's, especially as they were not ready to explain it in a forum where they had to know it would come up. I will be waiting for an official statement from them on this matter.

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Glad to hear SFContario went well from your perspective. I read another report from someone who thought it was boring, but I don't know what they went in expecting. Just goes to show not everything is everyone's cup of tea, and the more variety we have in cons, the better!

I'm sorry to hear about the problem with your friend. My only concern would be that given that this is a first year con, there shouldn't be anyone with a history that should result in denial of entry. Sounds unfortunately, like a personal issue... considering it is hard to see how it is a convention one. You can't cause problems at a con that has never happened before!

I had a great time there and I'm going to write up my notes from the panel discussions and post them all. The first part of the report is here.

The person denied entry was sued by Rob Sawyer over a bad Starplex review--in 1998. (See Ansible 134.) He accused Rob of self-promoting to win an award. (Rob does self-promote more than the average author, but I think his writing is decent enough to win awards; I certainly enjoyed Starplex.)

I think a 12-year-old lawsuit, especially when they've been at cons together since--is a pretty thin reason to say someone should be turned away.

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