This past weekend, I spent 5 glorious days and 4 late nights in sunny (mostly), sparkling-with-tree-pollen Atlanta, Georgia at the 5th annual JordanCon! In case you don’t know, JordanCon is a weekend-long convention in honor of the late author Robert Jordan. The last novel in the fourteen-volume main series was completed in January 2013, after more than twenty years since the debut book, The Eye of the World.
This was my first ever JordanCon, even though several of my friends have either attended or been intimately involved with the Con since its inception. (Hi, Tiff! Hi, Jen!) I have to say that, despite Atlanta in spring time being an absolutely miserable place for someone with allergies, I am very glad that I went. JordanCon isn’t just for fans of Robert Jordan (though that helps!), but has plenty to offer for other SF/F fans. I had only ever been to Dragon*Con before, and – in my opinion – JordanCon has nearly all the benefits of a larger con with a much smaller and more pleasant crowd.
My husband and I arrived on Thursday afternoon, with enough time to check into our rooms and have a sit down before most of our other friends arrived. We wandered down the street to a local sports bar for dinner. They were having a trivia night, which was entertaining and I had the best burger of the weekend there. If I could remember the name of the place, I would certainly share it, but I don’t. Also, I’m too lazy to look it up now. I had tickets for the Atlanta ghost tour scheduled as extracurricular to the Con on Thursday night, but sadly my allergies didn’t like Atlanta’s peak tree pollen season. I let a friend go in my place and stayed indoors with several varieties of medications instead.
The hosting hotel, the Doubletree Roswell, is very well-appointed. They have a bar and restaurant downstairs that had a special menu for the occasion, complete with the Raken Chicken Salad. The Con had every square inch of the hotels communal space booked, including the ballrooms, conference rooms, and even something called the “board room”. The dealer hall was combined into one room with the art show. The fan in me wanted more booths, but my wallet appreciates that there were only a handful of carefully selected vendors. I am also proud that I didn’t spend half of what I could have there!
My friends and I ended the evening early by retreating to our rooms for pizza and a rousing game of Cards Against Humanity. If you haven’t heard of or played this card game before – you honestly should. We decided pretty quickly that we’re all going to hell for some of our answers. I’m okay with that though… At least all of my friends will be there right beside me!
One of the best things about JordanCon is that the day’s panels don’t usually start until late morning, so one doesn’t need to feel as if you’re missing anything by getting a proper amount of sleep after a late night. Our Saturday started off with an unexpected detour. What we intended as a quick trip up to the Con Suite for breakfast turned into a nearly hour-long chat with Wilson Grooms (WoT fans will recognize the name), his wife, and Lisa, the fabulous jewelry artist featured in the Art Show. We were able to hear some off-panel personal stories about Jim (Robert Jordan) from people who knew him, including his niece and grand-niece who showed up later. Wilson kept insisting throughout the discussion that he and Jim were just regular folks. And they are, I know, but it doesn’t make those stories less important to us. Authors are a reader’s gateway into another world. Most of the time, we readers only see that world, so those “just folks” stories are precious to us. Even more so for an author who is gone.
There was also a reading by Brandon Sanderson on Saturday of his upcoming middle grade novel, The Rithmatist. A friend of mine took video, so I’m hoping that shows up somewhere that I can view it again. What I could tell from the snippet, however, is that this will be an awesome book for kids and adults alike. This one has one of those wonderfully strange magic systems that Brandon is famous for, and I can’t wait to read it.
Unfortunately for me, my allergies started doing their tired old song and dance again as my friend Paige and I hit the Con Suite for lunch. This meant instead of attending the really awesome Urban Fantasy panel, during which Chuck Wendig was named the panel’s mascot/spirit animal, I was lying flat on my back in my room waiting for two different kinds of allergy meds to kick in. I am still pissed off about this, as it rumor has it it was the best panel of the entire weekend. I did manage to see the Memory of Light panel and the costume contest, however, before packing it in for the night and retreating to our rooms for Cards Against Humanity 2: Drunken Boogaloo!
Sunday’s panels included Theological & Mythological Influences in the Wheel of Time, during which Harriet made me get kind of misty eyed. (She said, paraphrased, that the closest we come to our own Creator is through the act of Creation ourselves. This is quite Significant to me.) There was also a super cool slide show of Michael Whelan’s art where he explained the thought process and some of the history and metaphors behind each painting. Steampunk Hour and the Writer’s track Pacing & Plotting panel rounded out my weekend.
There are more personal anecdotes however. Such as how my friend Paige (from New Mexico) has become almost famous. We discovered Brandon has been telling the story of Paige-from-New-Mexico at signings. Presumably it is the story of how a group of fans as wide-spread as Ohio, Nebraska, LA and Australia mentioned her name to Brandon at several of his signings, until she was so familiar that she seemed like an old friend when she finally showed up at an event in Albuquerque. She has such extraordinary luck (and nerve!) We found her deep in conversation with Michael Whelan in the dealer’s hall, discussing the merits of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings adaption. This is on top of the fact that it was Paige who initially started up our talk with Wilson. My friends? They are some pretty cool people.
Other anecdotes are either not worthy of blog space, or are private. But I hope you’ve enjoyed my little recap. If this has tempted you in any way towards attending JordanCon VI (at which Patrick Rothfuss will be the Guest of Honor!), then I hope you’ll attend. I will definitely be there! Don’t forget to say “Hi” if you see an Aes Sedai running around in a green shawl with the name Kiara on her badge.