This letter opener set was so shiny that I couldn't resist. Curse you, dealers' room!

This letter opener set was so shiny that I couldn’t resist. Curse you, dealers’ room!

What, you want me to go into more detail? Sure.

How about this: Ad Astra 2013 was the second con I ever attended (after starting out with World Fantasy last year), and it was just as good (even better!) than I hoped it would be. The panels were almost universally excellent, the food nearby was good, and the variety of books and other goodies on sale – like this lovely letter opener set that I got on the final day for only twenty-five bucks – was great.

But it was the people who made it the most fun. Case in point: a few hours after Rob and I arrived at the hotel, we were waiting for the elevator to take us to the lobby. As we waited, I noticed another woman standing there who looked strangely familiar, resulting in this:

Me: You look really familiar.

Her: You do too.

Me: Why do you look so familiar?

Man standing next to her (her fiance, it turned out): She used to work for Dragon Lady Comics.

Me: **pauses for a moment, then gasps** Kathryn?

Kathryn: Yeees?

Me: The Margaret Atwood lunch!

Both of us: Eeeeee!!! **we rush in for a hug**

Yes, you read that right. A year and a half after we first met, I randomly ran into one of the other winners of the Toronto Public Library contest who had lunch with Margaret Atwood, all because our hotel rooms were on the same floor. Rob and I spent the rest of the weekend in contact with her and her fiance, touching base and going to panels. We even had dinner together at a buffet restaurant I hadn’t been to since I was a kid. The meal was a lovely mixture of deja vu and giddiness.

Two days later, I had a similar meet-cute as I recognized that one of the people staffing the SFContario registration table was an employment counsellor of mine from five and a half years ago. Again, crazy stuff.

But that doesn’t even scratch the surface of all the people I met and connected with. There was an editor who said she might have a future copy editing gig for me. There was another writer who asked me if I was interested in reading submissions for her magazine. There were people who run blogs that I want to contribute book reviews to. And the authors. Oh goodness, all the lovely authors: I got to meet Julie Czerneda and Ben Bova and Guy Gavriel Kay and so many other writers that it boggles the mind.

One highlight in particular: I got to tell Gregory A. Wilson after his reading that the story (“Spar”, by Kij Johnson) that inspired Speculate, his SF podcast, was recently “remixed” into a more humorous version involving eating bacon. I then read the opening paragraphs of the bacon remix from the issue of Clarkesworld I had stored on my Kobo. Technology connects people and saves the day yet again!

One of the benefits of Ad Astra is that it represents a highly interconnected slice of the SF community. There were several people that I saw participating in multiple panels (Gregory A. Wilson, who I first saw speak at WFC 2012, was a particular delight across the 3 panels I saw him at), and several more that I saw and chatted with at the book launch parties. I felt like I was in the thick of things there – returning to the real world, with my bags much heavier and my wallet much lighter, was a real letdown.