I got to the con and registered in time for the 2:30 panels *before* the 5:30 opening ceremonies--and panels started that morning at 11:30. Including a couple that sounded really interesting, one with Bujold. Oh, well, you can't do everything at a big con no matter what....
First panel I made was one of a series on classic authors, this one on Zenna Henderson. The panelists were Priscilla Olson, who is the editor of NESFA's compilation of all the known Henderson "People" stories (most of her work), Mary Morman, the Denvention programming head who is a long-time Henderson fan, and a third person whose background wasn't clear to me, but who is also in the long-time fan category. Discussion was pretty unfocused, lots on the NESFA book (good seller, only NESFA book that gets "love letters" from those who are so glad to have it available), some on how the audience found the stories, some on the aging of the audience for them and for SF in general (the question was asked "is anyone here under 50?"--there were none), and some on Henderson whose background is not well known. Henderson was a teacher, which could be easily surmised as the stories are, as someone put it, the classic teacher wish-fulfilment stories. Teacher finds the student in a poor, mixed-level class who really is special and who blossoms. Teacher finds the job that looks undesirable but is really a wonderful teaching opportunity. And also general wish fulfillment--person finds that they really are part of a special group with different abilities the group values. Another wish-fulfillment line--the adolescent thought of "I can't be from here", where it is true.
Henderson taught on Indian reservations in Arizona, and probably in one-room schools like those in the stories. The panelists I think said she was Mormon, or that the stories at least showed Mormon influence--I need to re-read, but don't really see that except in the ones showing the People being persecuted--and that could as easily be attributed to influences from post WWII, post Holocaust era. [Later research says she was raised LDS but married out of the church and left it.]
Second panel was on Age & Wisdom: The Older Protagonist in SF, with a stellar panel of Elizabeth Moon, Larry Niven, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Robert Silverberg and moderator Margaret Bonham. Interesting discussion, wandering (of course) around the general topic and several tangents. I was interested in hearing these authors I'd never heard before: Bujold is familiar, Moon I 'know' from SFF.Net, and was an excellent panelist--answered the topic, provided good anecdotes and other thoughts. Silverberg was also excellent and extremely witty. Niven suffered in comparison: my overall impression was that he'd written one work very appropriate to the topic, and kept relating all questions to it. Or maybe to one other story of his. Not much in the way of other contributions to the discussion....
Oh, at the first panel I hadn't hooked up with anyone, though I saw Bujold come in late and leave early. After a while I spotted filkferengi seated several rows up from me. At the second panel the Bujold listee cluster started, and I met James Bryant, Franz Tomasek, Mary (CatMtn). growlycub found me--we'd planned to meet up. She let me know that Preeti was there, too, a contact primarily from the romance-reading world, though I knew she was also an SF fan.
Anway, following that was Opening Ceremonies, which I skipped to go claim my hotel room as it had not been available when I checked in. Got back (through the light rain that started falling mid-afternoon) in time for the Summerfair reception, and a major listee gathering. I was handing out little tassels in either Vorkosigan or Chalion five gods colors as listee markers--which worked great to let me meet most of the listees who are here. Spoke to Lois briefly and took Preeti's picture with her. Met up with mbernardi. Watched the dancing (mostly square dance style adapted for Barrayar when I was watching), enjoyed the costumes, and got an adequate dinner from the finger food being passed around and the buffet of fruit and cheeses. After the reception closed, Sasha, Michael, and I walked through heavier rain to the Crowne Plaza, sat in the lobby with dan_ad_nauseam as Dan had dinner, then the 3 of us decided to walk to the Sheraton for the SRM Publisher party. A look at the heavier rain decided us against that (especially as Sasha and I are staying at the Crowne Plaza and didn't need to go out), and we ended up in my room using the WiFi and chatting until we all decided we'd had a day.
Oh, I did get a little Friends of Liad contact in--found the fan table, collected a set of ribbons to attach to my badge ("Monday is for Saltation" "I follow Theo Waitely" "Friend of Liad" "I Read Advertently"), paid for the FoL breakfast on Saturday, and also chatted withrolanni andkinzel as they passed through the Crowne Plaza lobby on the way to the SRM party.