A Chronologically Circular OddCon Report

Last Saturday, I ran up to Madison for OddCon. It’s a great, little science-fiction and fantasy convention, and this was my second time as a guest. (I made it there in 2005 and had to skip out on account of a family illness in 2007. Seems like an every-other-year thing for me for some reason.) Sadly, I didn’t have a lot of time to spend at the show this year, but I made the most of it.

I had one panel, and I rolled in just before it started. The staff handed me my guest packet, including my badge, and I was ready to go. Just outside the door to the room in which the panel was about to begin, I ran into Cam Banks, Jamie and Renae Chambers (and their two cute kids), and Brad McWilliams.

The panel’s topic was “Game Fiction.” Monica Valentinelli moderated, expertly riding herd on Matt McElroy, Pat Rothfuss, and me. We had a good crowd, and they asked us some excellent questions. After the panel, I had a drink with Matt, Monica, Cam, Brad, and the Chambers clan, then headed back to Beloit.

Besides hanging out with my friends, there were two highlights for me, bookending the past and the future. First, I met Pat, whose book The Name of the Wind, supposedly rocks. I’m picking up a copy today and will read it in the near future.

Second, but before that, on the way into the room, Steve Benton, morning news anchor for local AM radio stations WCLO and WJVL, stopped me to say hi. Steve reminded me that we’d played together in my first-ever Dungeons & Dragons tournament at Beloit College, way back in the winter of 1982, when I was 13 years old. I’d shown up with my friends Mike and Pat Trudgeon, but we needed a couple more players to round out our team, and Steve, who’d come alone, joined us.

We came in first place in that tournament, each winning a year’s membership to the then-young RPGA, which was within the first year that it started publishing its newsletter, Polyhedron. Not coincidentally, Polyhedron #9 later featured my first published work, which was a runner-up entry in the Top Secret gadget design contest, way back in November of 1982.

To hammer that all home, we played the game in the same classroom in which I would later (as a high school student on the Porter Scholars program) take a literary theory class with Professor Bink Noll. Bink was also one of the professors of my fellow Alliterate and old friend Troy Denning, who once offered me a job at TSR, the original publishers of D&D.

To bring that all full circle and back to the future, just yesterday we invited Jamie Chambers into the Alliterates as our newest member. His first official meeting as an Alliterate will be this month.