Monday, July 13, 2009

LibertyCon in Chattanooga

Just got back yesterday from a weekend in Chattanooga, speaking at LibertyCon.

LC is a smaller con, but run every bit as well as one of the bigger cons, and at least as much fun. This is partly because "Uncle Timmy" Bolgeo and clan, he of the "Hump Day" newsletter, are in charge of the con. They are bright as new pennies and possessed of a sense of humor that my husband is one of the few I know can match. They're also incredibly flexible and have loyal attendees and loyal regular guest panelists. So when 3 of their important panelists had to cancel at the last minute (one quite literally), it didn't faze them. They jumped right in and rearranged topics and panelist combos (and several of us volunteered to fill in the gaps) and I don't think fans knew the difference.

Some of my more memorable panels included: a discussion on "So you want to be an astronaut?" which garnered a good many questions, as you might expect. "Small and Electronic Publishing," with Sara Harvey, whom I met several cons ago, lol. We were able to adequately explain to many would-be authors how the publishing business works, what distinguishes the print process from the electronic process, and what delineates a large and a small publisher.

Later on, Sara and I were re-teamed for "The Harvey and Osborn Hour." Sara and I get along well although we're two very different people, and we both have similar senses of humor, along with the adventures to go with it. (This often proves useful as a writer, as we have experiences we can draw from in our work!) Topics ranged from how my now-husband almost didn't survive to marry me, having nearly expired at my own hand ("Miss Stephanie, in the Green Room, with the lead pipe!" as Sara put it!) to Sara's intense dislike of geese, especially Andalusian geese. (Think four feet tall, with big bumped bills that bite hard, smart, easily irritated, and very determined.)

THEN they teamed Sara and me with NASA scientist (and former grad school pal) Les Johnson for "Sex In Space." Now that sounds like a recipe for ribald hilarity, and it had its moments, because we all have wacky senses of humor. (Les blushes really well too. And of course we made him sit between us.) But in all seriousness, we had a very good scientific discussion. After all, for long duration space flights (to other planets) or even generation starships, we really need to understand how the genders interact and how pregnancy might progress. It does a generation ship no good to arrive at its destination filled with humans who can no longer survive in a gravitational environment.

So we discussed not only some of the early animal experiments on embryonic development in microgravity (of which I was familiar from my days as a payload flight controller for Shuttle), but also the psychological studies from Mir, which Les had dug up. Sara contributed some cool notions (as well as humor) from her background as a romance and horror/romance writer. A very...interesting...time was had by all.

Saturday night Les moderated a group session (meaning some of us were experts, but the whole room participated) called "Mad Scientists." We got down and dirty with some controversial topics like whether or not Project Constellation (back to the moon, on to Mars) should be cut from NASA's budget, science and education, etc. It started at 11pm and ran until 2am! Then us "experts" wound up breaking into moderators of our own smaller groups. I finally got into bed about 3am.

Burnout book sales went well, about which I am pleased. I also wound up acquiring a literary agent who is helping me hawk a new ms I have. I got some interest on it from a publisher at the con as well. I was interviewed for a podcast which will air in a few weeks (see my website for information as it becomes available). I met Ben Bova (WAY COOL!) and got to talk to him some. And I finally found a hardcover compendium of the entire (long out of print) Lensman series by E.E. "Doc" Smith, that I could afford!

I came home absolutely exhausted but deliriously happy.