2019 LTUE AAR: Day 1

I arrived in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, and after acquiring a rental car – pro-tip, don’t rent from a company whose name you do not recognize, and whose location is far, far off airport. I would not have expected SLC to have a barrio, but I know where it is, now. I was very happy to get into the car and take off for Provo. However, flying in early to do some sightseeing didn’t work, as there was a storm lowering over the mountains, and by the time I reached my destination there was quite the snowstorm happening. I’ll elide over the details… suffice it to say I started my con early by meeting up with friends that evening, and blissfully indulged in human social interaction. Look, I’m not as introverted as the First Reader. I may not want to seek human company weekly, but when it’s been months I get hungry for it.

Thursday the con started off bright and early with a panel at 9 am. LTUE was originally a student event on the campus of the university, and although it has moved into conference rooms at the hotel, it’s still got the student volunteers, and the feeling of being more academic than most cons are. Which is why I love it so. This is my second attendance at LTUE, the first as a student five years ago, this time as a panelist and presenter with several years of publishing and art under my belt. Very different feelings. Last time, I volunteered and helped out at registration for several hours. This time, I didn’t have the time for that, but I was on five panels, a solo presentation, and a signing over three days. I also attended a number of panels, one of which I wrote up at length over at Mad Genius Club this weekend. I’ll try to hit the highlights, but there was so much I’m afraid I’ll miss bits. I highly recommend this event to you if you are a writer. The cost is reasonable – $55 for the whole event – the hotel is very nice and reasonably priced in the con block, and the town is well worth a visit on it’s own, with beautiful downtown and breathtaking scenery.

Anyway! On to the meat of the report. LTUE has a neat little app you can use to coordinate your schedule – for the luddites there is also a program book (with handy-dandy map) but I liked being able to open the app and link through to see who was on what panel, with a blurb about the panel, before I chose what worked best for me. Sadly, as with any symposium that has multiple tracks, there were hours I couldn’t just split myself three or four ways to take it all in.

The first LTUE presentation was Amanda Fuesting speaking on Death and Dying at 9 am Thursday morning. Amanda has been a hospice nurse for five years now, working in an area where most nurses measure their careers in months. It takes a special kind of person to work with patients who are dying, it’s only a matter of time, but even more unpredictable, with the families at deathbeds. They will be exhausted, she told the note-taking authors in the audience. You have no idea what tired is until you have been watching a loved one die for days, or weeks. She went on to explain that because of the sheer weight on the caregivers’ shouders, at the moment of death they may feel relief. The suffering is over. Later, they will likely feel tremendous guilt that their first sensation was relief. This was an excellent presentation and later I’m hoping it will be one of those available online as video – many panels and presentations were videorecorded.

I spent a few hours catching up with friends, talking, picking the Old NFO’s brain about Cold War era spies (for a WIP), and then at 1 pm I went to a panel on Prisons and Prison Guards, not only to support LawDog, but to make notes for a planned future project. The panelists were Robison Wells, who summed up his background for this as ‘extensive research’ for his writing, LawDog, who has been working in corrections for 25 years and is currently the commandant of a jail. Dr Luke Peterson, a professor who is conducting a research project involving the families of incarcerated persons, and JJ Safley, who works in a Utah prison as a corrections officer. The panel was interesting, going over the history of prisons, how they have evolved, and what current practices are in prison populations. Calling corrections officers prison guards would be considered an insult, Safley pointed out. The moderator brought up the Stanford Prison Experiment, and LawDog leaned forward and intoned “Codswallop!” He and Safley went on to describe the ways the experiment is flawed, the safeguards in place to prevent the abuses of power and cruel actions in the experiment. Dr. Peterson commented that the ethics boards he has to work with in his research are an ‘unfortunate consequence’ of the Stanford Prison Experiment.

At 3 pm I attended the Self Defense Law panel, panelists being Old NFO, LawDog, and Erin Palette, moderator Michaelbrent Collings. This was not a boring exploration of caselaw (although frankly I’ve found caselaw presented correctly can be fascinating) but rather a discussion of what is a good shoot versus a bad, but also not limited to flying bullets. Self defense encompasses all sorts of weapons. They started down a road of improvised weapons but didn’t get far to my disappointment. LawDog and Old NFO, both of whom have seen service around the world, pointed out to authors that laws vary wildly in different countries, and authors developing self-defense laws for their worlds should take into consideration the country/culture the author is based in when building the law.

Starting at 4 pm on Thursday I was going back-to-back presenting, paneling, and (surprise!) serving as moderator on three panels. I presented on Wildcrafting: foraging wild foods on this world and beyond at 4, to a packed room with people being turned away at the door. This was recorded, I am hopeful I can get a link for it to put up here – you’ll want to keep an eye on the LTUE youtube channel for other excellent panel videos as well. Following this, I was on the Origins of Dragons panel with Jessica Day George, and Kaitland Zupanic. Both brought interesting perspectives to dragon lore, as Jessica is an author, and Kaitland an artist. As the moderator didn’t arrive, I volunteered to serve – with selfish intentions, as I really wanted to hear what they had to say! It was a fun panel and fascinating to compare legends of dragons from around the world, which I commented indicated speciation as the phenotypes of dragons are clearly differentiated in, say, the five-toed Chinese dragon and the three-toed Japanese. Finally, my marathon block of panels wrapped up with Surviving Poisonous Characters. Not, although that would also be interesting, toxic personalities, but inimical to sharing physical space toxins. The panelists were Peter Orullian, myself, Dr. Nik Rao, and Darci Stone as moderator. We dove into talking about how the mechanisms of mutual toxicity might work (allergens? Differing atmospheric needs?) and discussed how this would affect the potential for relationships, antagonism, and alliances in characters who could literally kill one another without effort.

I would say this brings Thursday to a close, expect I was still enjoying being with friends nurturing my soul. The cons I attend each year are carefully chosen to get me in physical proximity to my social group. Friends, those I consider family – this is my time to actually hug them, and look in their eyes, and see how they are. Plus, vibrant minds spark stories, art ideas, and more. It’s so worth it.

in the interests of space, I’m going to break up the AAR into parts.




13 responses to “2019 LTUE AAR: Day 1”

  1. It really does sound interesting! If they put up videos, can you send me links?

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard Avatar
    Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Very Interesting.

    Of course, it might be interesting to discuss “toxic fictional personalities”. 😈

  3. PapaPat .Patterson Avatar
    PapaPat .Patterson

    Incredible picture of Erin holding forth, while Ian and OldNfo are face-palming. I’d LOVE to hear the audio that went along with THAT picture.
    And I understood almost nothing about what you said about your Poison Panel. I thought it would tell me how to recognize what I could eat when in the weeds.

  4. I see you caught us in a ‘fine’ moment…

    1. yeah i kinda wanna know what Erin was saying that made you facepalm

      1. So there’s a tv show – don’t recall the title precisely, it had arrow in it – where the bad guys wanted to pull off a heist and in order to penetrate body armor stole a bunch of industrial diamonds. To make diamond-tipped bullets. Yeah.

  5. Bob Greiner Avatar
    Bob Greiner

    Speaking of dragons — Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) just posted a beautiful aurora of one. 18 Feb 2019.

  6. i wanna go. 🙁

  7. “LTUE youtube channel ” Oh? {grabs pen and pad to leave sticky note in lunch box.} Must look this up.

      1. Thank you. 🙂

  8. I was one of those people turned away at the foraging panel! It was packed!

    It wasn’t the only one either. There were a number of panels that were all full.

    1. Yes! I left one where it was just too many people in a small room.

      I’ll be posting about the foraging in the next day or two, as I edit photos I took on my hike. I learned a lot about wild edibles in Utah from that.