We recently returned from the 2nd North American DiscWorld Convention, held in Madison WI. The first NADWCon was held in Phoenix AZ in August 2009, and we attended that one, too. DiscWorld is the creation of Professor Sir Terry Pratchett OBE, though we began reading his books when he was known simply as Terry Pratchett. At convention events, Sir Terry is fond of asking if any of the crowd are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism; when people raise their hands, he points out that he is a REAL knight. :-) I have written about Sir Terry before, and you can read more about DiscWorld and my favorite author here.
This year’s convention opened officially on Friday, July 8th, although there were small gatherings the night before (such as the Pub with its trivia quiz, and the Seamstress’ Party*). There were a variety of events: small discussion groups with authors (there were at least six there, including Esther Friesner), a plethora of arts and crafts classes, activities for children, screenings of DiscWorld videos and the recent documentary Sir Terry contributed (“Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die”), panels on a large variety of topics (such as DiscWorld arts and science, character design, costume design, DiscWorld and religion, et cetera), a Maskerade one night (with people wandering around in DiscWorld costumes all during the convention), a Gala another night (with delicious food), and a variety of events where you just got to listen to Sir Terry talk with someone else (such as a co-author). The most notable of those last events was the Good Omens panel on Sunday — when Neil Gaiman showed up unannounced! You should have heard the crowd gasp and then roar with delight when he walked through the door with Sir Terry. They discussed their friendship, how together they wrote Good Omens (published in 1990), and the up-coming BBC movie/series based on the book. As the two-hour discussion wound down, Neil surprised Sir Terry by presenting him the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy — to which Sir Terry characteristically responded, “It’s about bloody time.”
A couple years ago Sir Terry was diagnosed with a rare form of Alzheimer’s Disease that first manifests as a difficulty in remembering the position of things. He has been able to continue writing, but it has become more and more difficult. Travel especially is tricky, even something as simple as walking from one place to another. Hence, there is the possibility this convention will be his last public visit to the United States. He is also taking more time to live his life the way he wants to (which, fortunately for us, includes writing). Sir Terry is still one of the most engaging and witty speakers and conversationists I have ever heard. My husband bought a sun helmet (like a cloth pith helmet) at the Phoenix convention [Why do they keep having these conventions where it is hot?], and when we went through the book signing line, Sir Terry said how much he liked the hat, and began talking about his up-coming trip to Africa.
The closing ceremony was on Monday afternoon, July 11th. Sir Terry talked about how he was just a man who enjoyed writing. And then it was done. The Art Show and Dealer’s Room were already being dismantled, and by 7 p.m. the posters, tables, and decorations were put away. The Madison Concourse Hotel seemed so quiet. We were tired, but had a very good time, listening to others talk, and getting to know some very talented and creative people. We are already looking forward to the 3rd NADWCon, hopefully with Sir Terry as the Guest of Honor.
* [It would not be a blog about DiscWorld without a footnote.] The Seamstress Guild is a euphemism for a guild for prostitutes. In Ankh-Morpork, perhaps the biggest city on the Disc, there is a guild for everything. Fortunately, the Seamstress Guild at the conventions is more PG-rated, with lots of innuendo.