My invitation to serve as a panelist at OryCon 36 arrived early last week. This will mark my second year as a guest of the con. OryCon is Portland’s home grown science-fiction/fantasy convention. It is also the only one I’ve ever attended so I have no yardstick for comparison to other conventions. I don’t know if it is a tiny regional con or a moderately-sized stop on the convention circuit. I just know I generally have a good time.
I dipped my toe into OryCon in high school. Probably OryCon 8 or 9. I remember it was at the Red Lion near Lloyd Center, what is now the Double Tree. The following year the con moved to the Red Lion on the Columbia River where it remained for many years. I was able to attend only sporadically during those years: college, law school, military deployment occasionally intervened. But those were for me halcyon cons, for at least one reason if not more: the hospitality suite served beer on draught for a quarter a glass. If memory serves the keg-o-rator held two taps: Henry’s Dark and Henry’s Blue Boar Ale.
The Columbia River Red Lion is now an abandoned, gutted shell. (That condition is, I assure you, entirely unrelated to the hospitality suite’s, umm, hospitality.) The con is now back at the Lloyd Center Double Tree for at least one more year. Sadly risk management considerations and, I would imagine, insurance costs (let alone the price of beer) long ago did away with the free flowing barley pop in hospitality (or ‘Hostility’ as we used to call it for no clear reason other than cantankerous bloody-mindedness.) But the con is still going strong, despite that scraping the bottom of the barrel by inviting me seems to imply it is losing steam. It is not; name brand guests headline the show and occupy the panels every year.
Panels are on my mind now (well, panels and my baby daughter sleeping in the crook of my left arm while I hunt-and-peck this post with my right hand.) The OryCon invitation comes with an expansive list of panels. From the list I choose which I feel at least marginally competent to sit in on. The suspense (which will build for months, well-played panel committee) is which few of those panels I will actually be in. Will I find myself second-guessing my selections? “What made you think you knew anything about that topic?” Will I remember to place a copy of Reunion on the table in front of me to prove I’m a real writer?
But I had fun doing it last year. I look forward to giving it a whirl again this November. If any of you come to the con look me up and say hello. And go ahead, buy me a beer. But fair warning: they ain’t a quarter any more.