written by Mackensie Baker (@MackensieBaker)
This year's theme for this convention combination was Military Might, or as their slogan says, "From Swords & Sorcery to Phasers & Grasers". As someone who has been a proud bookworm since kindergarten, I admit that I g33ked out to the nth degree this weekend. There were so many Canadian authors and artists that I struggled to choose whose panels to attend to! I first went to VCON two years ago, and I actually did have the misfortune to miss some prime panel action, so I was, naturally, quite determined not to make the same mistake this time around.
After a number of mishaps with administration on Friday and we got through the laborious registration process, I very excitedly attended the first panel on my list: "Best Writing Advice I Ever Received," with no less than five authors as contributing panelists. The room was packed, there was lots of joking and question-taking, and each piece of advice was solid and useful to the aspiring writer. This first panel was actually my favourite, with the runner-ups being Saturday's Human Battleship (which was just as amazing as you think and more) and the 18+ version of Family Feud. For a con that lacks greatly in size, it more than made up for it in the quality of events.
While we're on the topic of quality programming, I should mention here that there was even a "hospitality room," run entirely by volunteers, which consisted of a varied spread of food and beverages, all by donation. Absolutely amazing, I'm telling you. And don't even get me started on how many types of tea they had. I was in heaven. Friday night, there was even fondue and Cards Against Humanity. Best. Night. Ever!
Now, as Vancouver's Premier Science Fiction, Fantasy and Games Convention, they definitely delivered. Besides the impressive number of guests, the Vendor's Hall, Art Show/Auction, and Writer's Workshops are reason enough to go to this convention. In the Vendor's Hall, for example, there were multiple publishing houses selling their books for astonishingly good deals, a table full of authentic and replicated historical artifacts (all of which was on sale for surprisingly low prices), and, as per usual, many a table overflowing with nerdy merch and more board games and card games than your little heart could ever desire.
The Art Show, where you could also purchase the dislayed art, was full of beautiful, and sometimes frightening works. My particular favourite was the digital art of Nancie T. Green, whose portraits consisted of dark, surreal landscapes and really captured the eye with her use of light and shadow. Melissa Mary Duncan, also a Guest of Honour for her books and her art, had a very distinctive style. Her illustrations were very reminiscent of Arthur Rackham's work, with perhaps a touch of Brian Froud. However, there was much more than your usual visual art there. There were rocks painted to look like miniature galaxies, crocheted characters of exceeding cuteness, and steampunk-themed knick-knacks. I would have bought it all, really, if I had unlimited money. But alas, my wallet is quite finite, and so I was forced to walk away without a crochet orc warrior or picture of a mist-enshrouded castle.
If I had to pick a favourite part of this convention, I would have to say the attention to lesser-known authors, artists, publishers, and other exhibitors, which too many other cons sadly overlook. But their loss is our gain in this case. I will definitely be returning next year for some more of that prime VCON experience with its swords and phasers. And the tea. Don't forget the tea.