Because of the publication of A Most Dangerous Woman I am hitting the convention trail this season. And why should you not enjoy them with me? So this is a short travel series which begins with Confluence, the event put on every summer by Parsec in Pittsburgh, PA.
Confluence is one of those driveable conventions for me. Due to family pressures I haven’t gone in several years and was happy to return. This is a small but charming convention, with only one programming track and perhaps three or four function rooms. Everything is in one building, and most of the stuff is on the main floor. For the convention newbie smallness is a virtue. You can meet everybody in attendance here and talk to nearly everybody, and converse with all the pros. It’s very nearly the ideal con for the beginner.
This year the Guest of Honor was Catherynne M. Valente, one of the genre’s rising stars. And there was a fine musical track, with ongoing performances of great talent. There was a beer tasting. There were readings and kaffeeklatches. There was a writers workshop with a pro writer in charge. There were a number of fascinating panels. A well-run convention is a pleasure to attend, and it’s easier to run a smaller convention perfectly.
Although the hotel is pleasant it’s the airport Sheraton. Which is to say that cars rule! It’s not within walking distance of anything, and there’s nothing of note to see nearby unless you enjoy the sight of jets taking off. However, assuming you can bum a ride, there are lots of delightful restaurants only minutes away. I had a noble dinner with David Levine and Bud Sparhawk at a tiny Middle-Eastern restaurant nearby. And the next night we went to a trendy brewpub for draft beers, custom cocktails and artisanal meats. Within my lifetime Pittsburgh has become a thrilling destination, full of interesting foods and events. This is not your grandfather’s steel town any more. And Confluence is a con worthy of attention!