Fangs for the Memories: Dragon Con 2019

The costumed multitudes

Another Labor Day has come and gone, and with it, the latest incarnation of Atlanta’s Dragon Con. Founded in 1987, the annual multi-genre convention set a new attendance record in this, its thirty-third year. Spread across five days, five hotels, and the AmericasMart Atlanta exhibition center, the multimedia, pop-culture convention drew 85,000 people to celebrate their fandom of science fiction, fantasy, gaming, comic books, literature, art, music, and film.

This year marked my second visit to Dragon Con, and the folks who run it continue to do an amazing job. Starting with Rachel Reeves, who serves as Co-chair and Senior Director of Guests and Media, and Regina Kirby, Senior Director of Programming, down to the individuals checking people in and handing out entry badges, every person I’ve dealt with has been affable, hardworking, and professional. In my association with Star Trek over the years, I have attended numerous conventions, and while I usually manage to enjoy myself during those outings, I’ve never encountered this type of event as masterfully managed as Dragon Con. I offer my compliments and appreciation to their entire crew.

Arriving in downtown Atlanta on Friday morning, my wife, Karen, and I headed over to the Atlanta Marriott Marquis hotel, one of the Dragon Con venues that resembles a setting out of a science fiction film. We quickly found the room where we could pick up our convention badges. Once checked in, we ambled through the gathered throngs to peruse this year’s bevy of costumes. I spotted numerous familiar outfits—Starfleet uniforms from different Star Trek eras, the white armor of imperial stormtroopers from Star Wars, various superhero garb from the Marvel universe, just to name a few—but I also espied plenty of unrecognizable attire. Some were doubtless original creations of their wearers, but I’m such a terrible geek, entrenched as I am in my little Trek corner of nerd culture, that I can’t always identify the habiliments common to other entertainment milieux. I know, for example, what Daleks are, and that the TARDIS encompasses a larger space inside than it does outside, but I’ve never watched even a single second of Doctor Who. That means that there are doubtless a myriad of DW costumes I would never recognize.

Inside the futuristic Atlanta Marriott Marquis Hotel

At 1 PM, Karen and I made our way to the International Hall South in the Marriott for an authors event. I shared space with Terry Maggert, who pens dark fantasy novels, and Sarah Glenn Marsh, who writes young adult novels and children’s picture books. The autograph session lasted an hour.

After the author signing, we had several hours before the next item on my schedule, so Karen and I grabbed some lunch. We then simply walked around the convention, enjoying the sights and sounds of all the attendees. I am always heartened to observe so many people reveling in their fandom, and as they do so, often demonstrating their own creativity and artistry. Costumes can be intricate or simple, exactingly precise or imaginatively interpretive, on the nose or quite clever, adapted from a beloved work of entertainment or wholly original. It is always a sight to behold.

Eventually, Karen and I walked over to The Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel, to the Chastain Room. At 5:30 PM, I sat down with fellow scribes on a panel titled, “When the Show Comes Before the Book: Media Tie-In Novels.” Moderated by Anna Puerta, the discussion technically fell within the Urban Fantasy track of the convention, but with six writers sitting in, it most assuredly focused on the written word. The panelists included Keith R.A. DeCandido, Clay and Susan Griffith, Thomas E. Sniegoski, and Tim Waggoner.

From left to right: Anna Puerta, Tim Waggoner, Thomas E. Sniegoski, Susan Griffith, Clay Griffith, DRG III, and Keith R. A. DeCandido

DRG III expounding on one thing or another…

On Saturday, I had only a single event, a reading at 1 PM. Karen and I made our way to the Marietta Room at the Hyatt Regency hotel, another ultramodern venue. Before the convention, I debated with myself about what I should choose to read. I finally settled on the final chapters of my Deep Space Nine novel, Plagues of Night. It seemed a dramatic enough entry to me, given that the selection, and the novel itself, ends with the line—spoiler alert!—“And then Deep Space 9 exploded.”

Inside the ultramodern Hyatt Regency Atlanta

From left to right: Tony Daniel, Keith R. A. DeCandido, and DRG III

Other commitments kept us away from the con on Sunday, but Karen and I returned on Monday morning. At 10 AM, I sat on a panel in the Trek Track called, dauntingly enough, “Creating the Great Star Trek Novel.” In the Galleria Room at the Hilton Atlanta, I joined my compatriots Tony Daniel and Keith R. A. DeCandido. I don’t know if we conveyed just how to pen a great Trek novel—none of us felt comfortable thinking we’d yet done so—but we did have fun talking about the process and privileges of working in the Star Trek universe.

DRG III at DS9

At that final panel, I met a man who introduced himself simply as Leo, and who told me that he managed the Trek Track. Neither of us could be sure why we hadn’t spoken before that, but we left off agreeing to talk again soon so that I could participate even more at next year’s convention.

Here’s looking forward to Dragon Con 2020!

 

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