Last weekend was Galacticon, and given that this year it’s right here in Seattle, we decided to go check it out. Well. After much hemming and hawwing, admittedly…. I mean, they cut almost all of the new BSG cast from their line-up. I finally caved after Groupon had a two for one deal. “It could be worth it” It sounded like a great deal. Until I realised that I was an idiot for paying because Sunday they announced that entry was free. But my $29 is a drop in the bucket compared to the $275 VIP pass members paid. Groupon was gracious enough to refund us our money and thankfully non-Groupon passholders can get refunds through extremetix.com
So what did I think of Galacticon? It was one of the strangest conventions I have ever been to in my life. When we got there it was dead. Hardly any people. Which did mean access to the actors that did come. I got to say hi to Claudia Christian without a wait, and could have said hi to anybody else there too. Not so great if you’re one of the actors trying to make money off this event. Which I’m sure is why they opened it to the public. Even worse for the vendors. I was hoping to check out the showroom floor and say hi to a friend who I knew was on the vendor list. Maybe get the inside scoop. Alas, he was not there. He, like many vendors, had bailed early. And why not? This place was a ghost town.
A prime example was the Jewel Staite panel. I love Firefly. I’m a huge Browncoat, but I don’t care for the crowds. I knew with everything going on, this was going to be a quiet panel, but I did not expect the 50 people which perhaps grew to 100 that ended up at the panel in their main auditorium. Don’t get me wrong. It was intimate. With both Jewel Staite and Claudia Christian’s panels, I was in the the first few rows. They were certainly enjoyable panels. But this was not the numbers I would expect for a Firefly cast member.
Now I will say this. The people that worked Galacticon: the vendors that stayed, the volunteers, the actors that stayed on (especially Michael Trucco, Luciana Carro, and Leah Cairns) , all tried their best to make the most of a pretty crappy situation. And it was fun. I got to go to some panels with two of my favourite women of scifi. I got to talk to some really cool artists. And the folks from the BSG Fan Club were very nice. Honestly, for $29 it really wasn’t a bad time. Sure, I debated visiting the EMP to kill time between panels, because you could only walk the showroom floor so many times, but it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t “great”. The thing is, I’m not so sure it was ever going to be great.
I doubt we’ll ever get the full story. Apparently they lost a block of hotel rooms for the actors which meant that the ones that had to stay on, were staying down by the airport, which in itself isn’t a n ideal situation. But so many things were already mismanaged. Why hold the con during Seafaire? Ostensibly trying to draw audiences away from one of Seattle’s biggest events? Why hold it at the Seattle Center? I don’t know if The Conference Center where Geek Girl Con is held is cheaper, but I imagine so, and certainly it’s easier to navigate. I’ve been to the Seattle Center at least a half dozen times, probably more, but even I didn’t know where the building for registration was.
They certainly didn’t help their case with signage. Normally one might look for the flow of costumed guests, but in the absence of that, signage is hugely important, and there wasn’t any. Well, unless you include the ones that looked like they were printed from you inkjet at home. They opened up Sunday to the general public, but I don’t know how many people found the con. The Seattle Center is huge and gets a lot of foot traffic, so where were the volunteers twirling signs? Meanwhile, I kept seeing signage for the DOTA2 championships which hadn’t yet begun. It’s crazy.
Not only that. The con felt cheap. We never actually received a program, even though we paid for entry, but the ones I saw looked pretty crappy. Rather than badges there were, or would have been had they not opened it up to everybody that day, cheap wrist bands. Okay, so it probably sounds like I’m quibbling over stuff that doesn’t matter. And really it doesn’t. Had all or even most of the promised guests been there, it wouldn’t have mattered a jot. But it left me feeling that this wasn’t a con that was ruined by one little mistake (the hotels) but more a house of cards waiting to fall.