I'm back from Dragon*Con, without much to report. With the exception of my own session, the Tolkien/Lewis Breakfast Roundtable, all of my own plans fell through -- in fact, I didn't attend any other panels the whole time, though it was because everything that was going wrong suddenly went right.
Next year, I'll be a good boy and attend more panels ... and to my surprise, there will be a next time, as I've already pre-registered and booked my hotel room. I had assumed I would be miserable the whole time. One by one, people e-mailed me to say they weren't coming. I discovered that my panel was up against the parade, and so would be poorly-attended. The fellow I was sharing a hotel room with backed out, leaving me with the full bill.
It didn't turn out that way at all. An old friend I haven't seen for a decade showed up, so I spent the entire Con with him and his friends (explaining why I skipped all the other sessions). My session was full, despite the parade, and the questions were pretty good. Finally, my friend's boss needed a place to stay, so the hotel bill was split after all. A really nice time.
Since I now know I'm returning next year, I'll not only make myself available for a panel, I might even consider putting one together and pitching it to one of the fan tracks. The crowd that attended our panel asked really smart and informed questions, which is good, because I was worried I'd get a lot of questions like, "If Sauron fought Aslan, but Sauron had the Ring of Doom, who would win?"* Fortunately, no questions quite that silly, and only a few with an agenda. For a guy like me who's always seeking out interested folks outside of academe, Dragon*Con was prime hunting ground.
If you're interested in doing a medieval-themed panel at Dragon*Con next year, let me know and we'll see if we can put something together. If you're an academic who has never been to a popular convention before, I would recommend you hold off on doing a panel until you've had a chance to attend another convention and see what they're like -- conventions and conferences aren't the same thing, and neither are the panels!
I'm despairing over the next Miscellany ... so much stuff built up in only a couple of days. Maybe I'll just clear everything and start anew.
*Answer: Sauron would appear to win, but then Aslan would come back from the dead and cast Sauron and all of his followers into Mount Doom. Duh.