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Maybe it's because I was more familiar with some of the guests, or maybe it was just generally better picking and choosing ... but I felt like this year's Shore Leave lineup was especially winning. The entertainment was good, the guests were nice ... all good things. However, that means I'll be spending a bit more time on the negative points, which I really would prefer not to have to do.

First, the downsides. Scheduling. Timing. Whatever you prefer to call it. There was too much leeway given for groups to run over. This is horribly nasty, especially when it comes to main events. I know it's a convention and things are always slightly off-schedule, but half an hour off-schedule? That will destroy certain events and performances outright. This needs to be seen to, either by announcing last-minute schedule changes or by just not arsing it up in the first place.

Secondly ... oh, what do I always mention for this con? Anyone? Bueller? You've got it -- bootlegs. It's getting worse and worse. Not only is there still that ridiculous front-and-centre table ... there's a table of people selling licensed sci-fi that's about to be available in R1. They're selling Robot Chicken bootlegs. And how much are they selling them for? You really don't wanna know. I had a peek. You really don't want to know. This will probably keep turning up in my con reports, even though the con won't do anything about it.

Other dealers? Lovely. Some old favourites were back, and there were some very creative groups -- including one who did embroidery on demand. I suppose it almost makes up for the gross amount of illegality that there are such good dealers once you get to the inside area.

I also liked seeing so many local artists and dealers getting to sell their wares.

The best show of the night -- okay, the second-best show of the night -- was provided by the magnificent Dean Haglund (X-Files, Lone Gunmen) and Gary Jones (Stargate SG-1) in the form of the hour-long improv Starhole. The two of them alone were positively dynamic, and I'd love to see them doing this sort of things at other cons. (That's directed at Dean and Gary and other East Coast sci-fi conventions.)

Other guests ... well ... erm ... if you've heard the Claudia Christian stories, they're all true.

Masquerade. Run wonderfully as usual, no snags that I could see (except the aforementioned GoH getting 'interesting'), and the halftime show provided by The Chromatics was wonderful as usual.

Panels, general staffing, etc. -- all unnotable, which is to say they went well since no one noticed anything. Hate to say it, but no news is good news with con staff more often than not. It shows they're working hard and good at what they do.

Per usual, I can't wait to see what guests Shore Leave trots out next year. They seem to be growing and expanding and willing to change up the types of guests they bring in. Let's see if we can get them to pull some ladies and gents from overseas next year.

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