Rifles in the Ardennes

Report from LibertyCon 30

It’s a limited-attendance show, which might keep out some of the riff-raff? ~

Avery Abernethy, 17 July 2017

click images to enlarge

LibertyCon is a small SF literary, gaming and whatnot convention.  They limit themselves to 750 attendees and have sold out for years.  LibertyCon is held in Chattanooga, Tennessee at the last weekend in June.  This was year 30.

LibertyCon is different from every other convention I’ve ever attended.  It is very small, but has an amazing guest list.  This year literary guests included SF (and wargamer favorites) John Ringo, David Drake, David Weber, Charles Gannon, and Michael Z. Williamson.  Also attending (an incomplete list) were  Robert Buettner; Julie Cochrane; John Hartness; Sarah Hoyt; Chris Kennedy; Tom Kratman; Van Allen Plexico and Cherie Priest.  I own probably fifty books written by various author attendees.  Baen Publishing loves me.

The strong author list is partly due to LibertyCon being the local convention for David Weber (who always brings his wife and three kids) and John Ringo.  A huge number of Baen Books authors always attend.  Baen’s publisher Toni Weisskopf is from Wake Forest, NC and they do a two hour “what are we up to” talk every year where they also give away books.  They have a Baen author dinner and probably do quite a bit of business.  They publically give book contracts to authors at the Baen Show.

If interested, you can many small group interactions with authors.  There is a long list of “meet the author” or literary topic panels available if you want to meet an attendee.  This year I got books signed by David Drake and John Ringo.

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Steve Jackson updates at LibertyCon

A Killer Spades Tournament is always at LibertyCon.  Last year I made it to the semi-finals and was one trick away from making the finals.  This year – last on my first round table.  David Weber sat to my left and held the Ace, Queen to my King, Jack – twice.  The first time he hammered me I told him he could not sign the books I brought from Alabama.  The second time he hammered me I stated I would not be buying any additional books written by him (just kidding – except for the book signing).  David and his wife made the final table of four in the Killer Spades tourney and I think his wife won the tourney.

Killer Spades is a brutal game.  Spades are trumps and each individual bids how many tricks they will take.  If you are under, you go negative times ten what you bid.  If you take over tricks, you go down ten points for each over trick.  For example, if I bid five and made six tricks my score would be 40 (50 minus ten).  If I bid five and made four, my score is negative fifty.  If you bid, and take, zero tricks, you get 100 points.  The game is the first going over 250 points without a tie.

David’s wife thought that was a great point of view for a Southerner.  David rolled his eyes.

I had a conversation with David Weber who came in the Spades room for the finals while I was playing a pick-up game.  I mentioned that I enjoyed his books in the 1632 Universe by Eric Flint more than the Honor Harrington books.  David asked me why I had this preference.  I explained that Honor was just too perfect and got boring.  Mr. Weber was upset by this and pointed out that Honor killed a POW and would have spent decades in jail in most armies.  I responded that the guy Honor killed deserved it and she was the best person to do the job – so why was that a character flaw?  David’s wife thought that was a great point of view for a Southerner.  David rolled his eyes.

David Weber

LibertyCon has a very high proportion of guests with military or science backgrounds.  There are quite a few science panels and there is always a science guest of honor.  At many cons, Baen Books gives away a free book during their “road show” to any veterans.  At LibertyCon they only give free books to current members of the military or police because half of the convention attendees are vets.  Many attendees are armed in one or more ways.

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Munchkin tournament

I spent most of my time at LibertyCon gaming.  This year Spades was a disaster.  But I rocked Munchkin.  I won my first round of Munchkin being the only one to reach level ten out of four tables.  This put me into the finals against Steve Jackson among others.  I tied for second at the finals and won a copy of Munchkin Apocalypse.

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Steve also ran an Ogre demo that he won.  Steve was less successful at Munchkin.  I played Star Realms (badly) but got a free deck.  I also played Revolution and other games.

LibertyCon has an eclectic huckster room.  Michael Williamson (author) always has a big knife and sword table along with politically incorrect shirts.  There were multiple book dealers, two clothing dealers, several jewelry dealers among others.  Last year I got my Miskatonic University over the shoulder briefcase from one of the dealers.

Like most Cons, LibertyCon has quite a few party suites.   But because I’m old and need my sleep, I usually take a pass on these.  The Con suite is very nice with alcohol (good beer) and food.  There is always an ice cream social.  There is a kids programming track and it is a very kid friendly Con.

LibertyCon has been at the Choo-Choo in Downtown Chattanooga for several years.  It is a dump.  Poor maintenance, water damage, musty rooms, etc….  The events are held in multiple buildings and when it rains (it poured at times) you will get wet.  I avoid the convention hotel.

I had a great time again this year.  I saw old friends.  I played a lot of games (Spades, Munchkin, Revolution and others).  I won or got free stuff (Munchkin Apocalypse; Star Realms card game; the book Straight out of Tombstone which has a Monster Hunter International and a Jim Butcher short story).  I got my favorite John Ringo and David Drake books signed by the authors.  I abused David Weber for crushing me at Spades.  I plan to attend again next year.


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