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Origins 2012 Convention Report

Four days dedicated to the always wonderful, sometimes unusual world that is gaming. Each summer in Columbus, Ohio, every card, board, or RPG game (redundant) you could imagine—and then some—is under one roof.

Dungeons & Dragons. Pathfinder. LARPs. Magic the Gathering. Munchkin. Booths stacked high with boxed games line the hallways, along with tables full of everything you need to play, including thousands of miniatures and dice. Custom-made gaming furniture, fake but real-looking weapons, and vendors selling extravagant costumes. There are people dressed as barbarians. People dressed as pirates. People dressed as…well, I am still trying to figure out some of the costumes. Truly, it is quite a spectacle.

Man. As a barbarian. With a duck head on his staff.

From May 30-June 3, well over 10,000 individuals joined other gamers at the Greater Columbus Convention Center, the attendance being 3-5% higher than last year. The ever-charming and charismatic Felicia Day was a guest of honor, along with the witty and wry Wil Wheaton. There might have even been a Patrick Rothfuss sighting or two. Rumors are he was in town in order to destroy bar glasses with Wil and Felicia while playing games. Pure fabrication of course.

John Scalzi, Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, Patrick Rothfuss being miscreants.

Amidst the gaming madness and mayhem was a four-day track of author’s panels in which fantasy, sci-fi, steampunk, and horror writers joined together to discuss various topics about the genres, writing, and the state of the industry.

Aaron Allston was the guest of honor amongst a stable of authors that included such luminaries as NYT Bestsellers Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn, 2012 David Gemmell Morningstar Award nominee Bradley Beaulieu, and Farmers & Mercenaries author Maxwell Alexander Drake.

Michael Stackpole visiting with fans. Timothy Zahn doing the same behind him.

The panels were informative and enjoyable, not just for the audience, but for the other authors as well. Michael Stackpole’s ever- popular “21 days to a Novel” is a must for any aspiring writer to sit in on (and something he does at all the conventions he attends), as were any of the panels on characterization, plotting, setting, or worldbuilding.

Front to back: Steven Saus, Gregory A. Wilson, and Daniel Meyers with me on the ‘Forging an Online Presence’ panel.

For the first time ever, Origins had a limited run of a short story anthology titled Time-Traveled Tales. Every author in attendance, plus a few from last year’s con, contributed a story, nineteen in all. The anthology was a big success with fans wandering about The Library collecting every author’s signature.

Maxwell Alexander Drake (on the right) and booth-monkey, Evan, won the non-existent “Best Display” award. PS – that chess-like game on his table is a lot of fun to play.

I had the pleasure of dining with a number of the authors over the course of a few nights during which, I learned that Maxwell Alexander Drake loves fried pickles. Correction, he loves pretty much anything fried. I also discovered that Michael Stackpole, author of the classic I, Jedi as well as countless other sci-fi and fantasy hits, has only experienced four—in his words—“Star Wars freak-out moments” in his life. Check back with Fantasy-Faction in a few weeks to see if he will share one with us during our interview with the NYT Bestseller.

Much of the discussion in both publicly at the panels and privately amongst the authors focused on the upheaval in the publishing industry. Opinions vary widely on what the future holds, but most agreed the traditional publishing industry, after fighting the inevitable for years, is finally recognizing that a shift is coming. Readers are consuming more books than ever via electronic means, a trend that must be embraced and nurtured rather than fought with heels dug in the ground. What this means for fantasy authors, or any writer, remains to be seen. The only real consensus was that it would take 3-5 years for the dust to settle. Once it does, a new reality will exist, one that is hopefully a better one for writers and readers alike.

Overall, games were played. Ideas were exchanged. Hopefully, more friends were made than lost. It was enjoyable to visit with readers and authors I met last year, as well as meet new ones this time around. This was my second Origins and I enjoyed every moment of it. I am certainly looking forward to next year.

My bookshelf full of Origins 2012 books…and some extraneous Tolkien.

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2 Comments

  1. Redhead says:

    looks like a blast!! hubby and I have been meaning to hit up Origins for some time now, and it’s only a 5 hour drive for us. I think I know where we’re gonna be next summer!

  2. marimacc says:

    Where on earth did you get those attendance figures? Attendance was absolutely down, not up, and though I don’t doubt there will be a reported attendance of 10K, there wasn’t an actual attendance anywhere near that.

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