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Con Report: OASIS 24

So I spent Saturday at OASIS 24, the tiny little convention for sci-fi fans in Orlando. Flying under the radar (no hype, little promotion, etc.) this convention has maybe three panels running at any one time, a gaming room and a small dealers room. This is the type of convention you go to meet people, to chat about the vagaries of SF, and just enjoy geek culture.

This year’s guest of honor was David Drake, so there was a leaning in content towards discussing military SF and space opera. I attended one session where Drake and a panel of authors (Brad Linaweaver, Chris Berman, Rick Wilber) chatted about the future of weaponry. Berman asserted with the force of a soon to be completed master’s in military history that nanotech was the wave of the future. Drake and Linaweaver disagreed – Drake wouldn’t let himself be pinned down, and Linaweaver asserted that it would be something innocuous, something we already use everyday. It was good, but eventually the discussion degenerated into a simple talk about history in general, with Drake speaking about his experiences in Vietnam in the abstract. Good stuff, but poorly directed and off topic.

After that, I headed to the dealer’s room and ran into Mark, who runs a specialist bookshop dealing in SF and with whom I have done a little business (highly recommend him, his prices are very reasonable and he has a lot of hard to find items). Mike then introduced me to Bernie Goodman, of Tachyon Publications, and we spent an hour chatting about the art of collecting novels and anthologies. Bernie is a true SF connoisseur, with an amazing collection, and he gave me some great advice about collecting signatures in anthologies (do it in the table of contents). Bernie and I then hooked up with Richard Lee Byers, Rick Wilber, and Rick’s son Richard to go to lunch (I had the tasty turkey club) down in the hotel bar. There we chatted about the complexities of book publishing, Richard told me about his new ebook collection (review forthcoming) and we all praised Peter S. Beagle’s skills to the heavens.

By the time lunch was done, it was time for the two-man signing of David Drake and Jack McDevitt. McDevitt was neat to meet, because I just read my first novel of his (Echo) and conducted an interview for SFWA that will appear at their site sometime in the next year.

I then headed over to a panel on Book Covers and what makes for good and bad ones. Paul Vincenti ran the panel and it was a lively audience participatory discussion about what readers like and don’t like. I injected my own thoughts by asking about the differences between creating book covers for ebooks vs. print – which touched off some interesting commentary. Vincenti, especially, said don’t worry about it, since the tech will surpass what we already have so quickly that it won’t matter. An artist trying to keep up with the tech is problematic. The best thing to do is work at your art and do simple things like check what your color work looks like in black and white when creating book covers for ebooks comes up.

After that I headed back to the dealer’s room and spoke with self-published (Xlibris) author T. S. Robinson. I had seen his booth at MegaCon earlier in the year, but he was so busy I hadn’t talked to him. He and I had a good discussion about how reviewers should present themselves at conventions, how authors should run tables, and how authoring does not have to be a career to be successful.

I then headed over the auction, which when run by Richard Lee Byers is always a fun time. Richard reads the backs of books in a sardonic way that makes the whole auction experience hilarious. Afterward I got Richard to sign my copies of his novels.

At this point, my time at OASIS 24 was up and I had to head home to the real world. I had a great time meeting folks – particularly Richard Byers as I’ve been a fan of his Forgotten Realms novels for years. Bernie and I had a good time too, as we share a lot of taste in common and so had much to discuss about our favorite authors. I certainly came away with some new authors I ought to check out.

If you live in Orlando or environs, and have never been to a SF convention, I highly recommend OASIS. Its low pressure, easy to get around (it’s just a few small convention rooms all on the same floor at the Sheraton downtown) and it easy to meet likeminded folks and just chat about genre. All in all, it was a great day.

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