Apollocon has come and gone, and boy are my arms tired! Seriously, I'm wiped. This is due to a number of factors. Firstly, I somehow managed to pull the adductor muscles in my right leg last week and that made walking--or even moving--an exercise in pain-making. By the time Apollocon started, I'd recovered somewhat, but walking stiff-legged so as not to antagonize those muscles wears a fellow out. Secondly, I'd arrived at the con following a three-hour drive to College Station to pick Monkey Girl up from swim camp, which then led to a 90-minute drive into Houston. And today we left the con early to make the hour drive up to Spring (ironically, where Apollocon used to be held) to pick up cousin Sean to spend the week with us, at which point we had a nearly four-hour drive to get back to New Braunfels. So yeah, I'm wiped. And that's not counting the seven hours of programming I completed on Saturday. It was good to get back to Apollocon, as it was just as friendly as I remember. The location off Gessner is actually more convenient for me under normal circumstances. The hotel itself was somewhat more swank than your regular con hotel, and there was ample space for the con to spread out, even with other conferences going on simultaneously. The hotel restaurant had good food, and (much to my surprise) actually had prompt service. The location's great, too--next to Memorial City Mall and surrounded by all manner of interesting restaurants as well as a nearby HEB. The downside--and I'm sure this will be discussed for quite some time--is that the hotel clearly doesn't understand the concept of convention/conference attendees mingling and meeting after hours. Only the first four floors were accessible by everyone. The floors above that, the residential floors, were only accessible via your room key, which you swiped in the elevator. So far, so good. They have to ensure security, right? Well, yeah, but your room key only granted access to your floor, none of the others. Which proved problematic, seeing as how the hospitality suite was on the 5th floor, and all the room parties were on the 6th. One could only reach those with an escort. The con com did a valiant effort to facilitate this, with volunteers standing by on the 4th floor to "beam you up" to one of the forbidden floors. But really, hotel elevators aren't all that fast to begin with, and the third or fourth time I stood around waiting for a lift to the hospitality suite just to see who was hanging out there... I started thinking "Why bother?" And forget about dropping by anyone's room to chat or make dinner plans. The room parties Saturday night were sparsely attended from what I saw, and I can't help but think the convoluted access restrictions played a large role in this. I simply don't understand why the hotel, as a matter of policy, doesn't have room keys allow access to the residential floors. I've seen that at work in other hotels and everyone appears happy in the end. No fault goes to Apollocon on this one--they did their best under the circumstances. My only other issue with the new venue is just that--it's a new venue. I never got a real feel for how many people were there, and several old friends I saw in passing--Bill Crider and John DeNardo, for example--I never saw again. It takes a while to learn a convention's ebb and flow in a new venue, and I still hadn't gotten it down by the time I departed. Fencon always knows how to party in style. One of these years I'll make it up there, but this one just falls at a bad time of year for me. Montreal Worldcon bid threw a pretty good shindig as well. They had a bunch of Canadian liquors on hand, which I'm not really a fan of (the liquor, not Canada) but then pulled out a triple from Unibroue, which is just about my favorite brewery not located in Shiner. And yes, it was a very good golden triple. They've got my vote.
Chicken Ranch Central