We attended an out-of-town convention last week, the first we have done together in many years, the first I’ve done since 2015. I made a policy not to go on the road when I have nothing to promote. The exception to that is the chance to see friends who will be at a con or who live nearby and the dates just happen to coincide. In this case, two of our favorite people live in Pittsburgh and seeing them was the deciding factor in choosing to attend Confluence.
Confluence is a small local convention that has in the past been surprising in what it offered, namely the chance to sit down with writers I respect and admire. I’ve had breakfast with Gene Wolfe, longish conversations with Michael Swanwick, met William Tenn (Phil Klass). The panels are of interest and usually the interaction with fans has been on a high level. I like the people who run it. They do a good job.
But it’s quite a drive from St. Louis to Pittsburgh, and while it has become a familiar one, we are older and more susceptible to road-burn. The weather was pleasant enough going up and it remained moderate while we were there, but it was hot coming back and we return to a scorching week. It’s Friday and I’m still recovering.
One off-site event was fascinating. Friday morning, before the con got started, a small group of us drove into the city to tour a church with some amazing murals. St. Nicholas in Millvale. Go to site, take a look. A Serbian artist named Max Vanka painted murals over most of the interior and they are amazing. Done in stages, from World War I on, they are more than just religious paintings, and they are radiant. There is an organization trying to save them (watercolor over bare wall, the leaching is bad) and I commend you as an art lover to help if you are so moved.
You might wonder, knowing me, why I would marvel and support something like this. Religion aside, which I could not care less for, these are works of art. This is the product of people of skill and imagination. The passion is evident.
After that, we returned to the hotel (out by the airport) and spent a few days being fans. I reconnected with some folks I haven’t seen in some time. And we spent time with our friends, Tim and Bernadette, who are amazing. We needed a longer stay, but alas.
Confluence, as I mentioned, is good convention. They take science fiction seriously and are good to their guests. But I will tell you that I’m now of a disposition that I’m less inclined to just pop into a town, especially that far away, for just the con. Next time we will take more time, do other things, relax. The in-between time from the road is the vital part, even though we generally like traveling. I want to take things more leisurely in future.
Next up, SF-wise, is Archon. Perhaps I’ll see you there.
Meantime, it’s good to be home….and not moving.