Lost at the Con, by Bryan Young

80d7c397ff05ef38d11674e181ff4396

Rating: +5 ConFreaks, ??? general public

Available at: http://www.amazon.com/Lost-at-Con-Bryan-Young/dp/0615489494

Summary

A political journalist gets an out-of-left-field assignment: cover a sci-fi convention for his employer, a trashy web tabloid. Under protest, he packs his bags for "GriffinCon" (DragonCon minus the potential for trademark infringement). The main character is a drunk, a raging jerk, and mostly unfamiliar with geek culture. He's got some preconceptions about his fellow attendees: male, overweight, hygiene-challenged, and an axe to grind. As he goes about the convention, judging, belittling, and getting into altercations, the con and its denizens challenge his preconceptions.

He runs into a couple of young women who find his belligerent confusion charming and invite him to a room party. He ends up fall-down drunk and high on E, being stalked by a steampunk Abraham Lincoln. Maybe it's the euphoria of the drugs, but he finds himself actually liking the convention, and the story goes into redemption arc mode.

Review

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. If you're a fan of cons, and don't mind that the narrator/main character starts out thoroughly dislikable, you'll most likely enjoy this book. If you're unfamiliar with geek culture or con culture and looking to understand it better, this might be a good introduction.

In the beginning, I love to hate the main character, and enjoy watching him suffer. I was going to say that, as he begins to grasp con culture, he's revealed to be a more complex character, but honestly he starts out pretty complex. Professionally, he's torn between idealism and cynicism, and angry at how useless and uninspirational his work feels. He's got ideas for other projects he'd like to try his hand at, including writing a novel. He's in love with a woman who seems to be falling out of love with him. His brain is imaginative, and perhaps even prone to hallucinations. You learn early on that he's got some social phobias.

But he still starts out thoroughly dislikable, destructively alcoholic, and is constantly being punished for his own poor choices. As he starts to "get" the con, and more of his character is revealed, his partial redemption makes sense. There's a somewhat contrived bit at the end, with him stumbling into just the panel he needed to be at. Others have criticized the ending, saying it was unfinished or that it seemed too much of a sequel-opening cliffhanger. I didn't take it that way. Sure, one plot point seems unresolved, but you know that it's about to be resolved in one direction or the other, and whichever way it swerves, he's going to be okay.

I docked it one star because I don't think the prose is where it needs to be, but that didn't detract from my enjoyment.

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