ConQuesT 49: A Review

Last weekend, I participated as a panelist in the 49th annual ConQuesT, a science fiction and fantasy  convention in Kansas City. It was scorching hot outside, so I was glad to be comfortable in the AC with my fellow panelists.

Downtown KC was the hot place to be, too. A tattoo enthusiast convention was going on at the same hotel. So, you can imagine the number of fascinating people wandering around! Lots of people covered in amazing tattoos, a number of people cosplaying for the convention, authors, gamers and more! (If anyone ever told you that KC was boring, they were wrong!)

This year, I participated in two panels: one about Edgar Allan Poe and another about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Each panel had a decent crowd, somewhere in the range of 15-17 people at any given time. And, most of the panelists I conversed with during the Frankenstein panel were also on the Poe panel. It felt so good to talk about Gothic literature with other knowledgeable people! It’s been such a long time. I felt like I was back in the classroom in graduate school all over again.

The Frankenstein panel had an enthusiastic crowd. A number of people interjected thoughts and asked several questions. The panelists also had lots to say and contribute to the conversation. A lot of our talk focused on why this book stays relevant, especially given the philosophical questions it asks. We also talked quite a bit how it’s Frankenstein’s monster who gets all the attention in today’s world, when the novel actually is focused more on Frankenstein himself. Great stuff!

It was clear that everyone on the Poe panel was an enthusiast. But, what I loved most was learning about all the different aspects of Poe that drew each of us to him. Most of us have been intrigued by him since childhood. Two of the panelists are horror writers, so we spent a good deal of time talking about how Poe was sort of the progenitor of that genre. One  of the horror writers works in law enforcement and talked a lot about how Poe inspired modern police investigation. Another panelist was fascinated by the mystery around Poe’s death, while the third panelist was attracted to his critical theory. Despite our differing interests, I think we had a great conversation!

This is only the second convention I have ever participated in, but I would call it a success! I met some new writers and even picked up some Victorian reading recommendations! Next year is the big 50 for ConQuesT and I’m sure it will be a blast with big-time authors and guests.

Hope to see you next year!

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