I spent 15 years in fandom, up close and personal. I’d say I worked on cons, but the truth is I was mostly a tourist who pitched in with the running of a con or two. Most people I knew worked far harder than me to make it a reality. I met some awesome people, including Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Br. Guy, ESR, and Lois McMaster Bujold. This does not count all the wonderful fen who made those cons a reality.
This book was a fine bit of nostalgia for me. This book was like being immersed in the chaotic world of a new con attendee for the first time. You may not understand half the references, but you don’t care because the ones you do reference are good enough to follow through the maze into the heart of the thing. My first reaction about half way through the first act was, “Declan never told me he worked Con-Com!” Either that, or he was regaled with well annotated stories over the course of years.
I admit, the con scene thing has been done before. But most people either give you an incoherent wall of sound for a background, or sketch through it so quickly it barely has time to be a bad stereotype. This plot surges through a roiling complex venue, and no faction of fandom is left unscathed. Rest assured, filkers get off easy– this time. But anybody who is a fan of the vampire subculture must bring a healthy sense of humor to the party. IF not, you should just toss the book aside right now. Fandom is acted upon, and fandom reacts. It is not a static backdrop to be marveled at but a living entity. And it shows.
In order to have all this going on at once, it is a fairly complex plot with many things and layers going on at once. It helps that he has many vivid characters that stand out–yes, even from each other. you’d be perfectly willing to follow most of them down a rabbit hole– with appropriate body armor, of course.
There is a lot of action– and violence. Granted, you are seeing it all through the eyes of one of those sheepdogs who is not quite sane. He is a fascinating study of a “good guy sociopath”. This would be off putting for some. You get the sense he enjoys his job a bit too much. For fans of his other work, seeing the “Sean and Inna, the early years” is entertaining in itself.
Though totally packed with goings on, it also is densely packed with a collage of geekery. There is something for any fandom, pretty much– with an emphasis on media fandom. LOTR is heavily represented. You could say Tolkien has a whole character to himself.
There is one guy on Amazon who asks where the action is. Clearly he didn’t read the book. Because it doesn’t take long to find it, and it is pretty much constant throughout and accelerates as it gallops to a finish.
Seriously, this guy has to break into TV. I want to see his work on screen.