Most people have learnt to cope with the sudden initial acceleration of anti-gravity, but I still get that uncomfortable tickle in the armpits until we're well out of ionosphere. I leaned back in my personally moulded seat and watched the earth fade back in the retroport, switching to forward viewing as the anti-grav closed in on the space wheel.
The 2050 Worlds Convention was going to be another great one! By the time I'd registered and renewed acquaintance with several old friends my queasiness had long left me. It was great to meet T'ght`k`*llzz again. I hadn't seen him since he ran his home convention on Mars three years ago.
As usual, we had to take care not to tread he half a dozen official delegates from Mercury underfoot, but of course the first time attendees from Jupiter had the same problem with us. It was pleasant to see them now that the hostilities between us have ceased. Because of their size, there would be a few programme items they wouldn't be able to attend and of course there was always the fear that they might renew the ill-feeling between us by trampling on the odd attendee or two.
Once I'd thrown my suitcases into my room I headed for the lounge, sat with my back to the roomsize ports and dug out my pocket screen so that I could see what programme items had been scheduled to take place so early in the weekend.
There was the usual introductory "Meet the Authors" panel in the main hall, which probably meant that most of them had already arrived, probably on a priority anti-grav organised by the con committee.
It was a short event, chaired by Brian Littlemore whose brand of insulting humor went down well with the audience. I wasn't all that sure that the Jovians understood all of his pointed remarks but they certainly laughed loud enough. Three or four fans sitting in front of them were blown off their chairs and the poor Mercurians were propelled clear across the room, much to the Jovians' embarrassment.
I wasn't too sure, either, that new author Clarrie Biggs altogether got into the mood of the gathering, especially when Brian referred to her award winning novella, "The Lawns of Psychosis" as "The Yawns of Narcosis." But then, my initial view of her has been that she takes herself a little too seriously.
As usual, several items that held some sort of appeal were scheduled at the same time and decisions had to be made about which to see and which to miss. I decided against the "Who Remembers the Internet?" panel and opted instead for the Horror Writers' Symposium which I knew was going to debate the ethics of selling across the galaxy those episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer that were filmed on Capitol Hill. The consensus of opinion seemed to be that if it helped the global economy, why not? Tracy Benton said that it was more likely to help the administration in New Washington and the only really dissenting voice came from Roger Zinat who said that making money seemed to justify anything these days. Tom Feller pointed out that it would be better if it were the administration that was sold.
The first fan panel was chaired by Jim Delany, the Fan Guest of Honor. Its theme was "Do Fans Owe Authors Loyalty?" which I thought a clever piece of programming in view of a similar topic listed for a pro-writers' panel later in the con. This was an interesting item but it soon degenerated into each fan naming his personal favorite author and book or webpiece. The most interesting part of the discussion was when a pair of Martians in the audience joined in with some authors whom they claimed were their favorites, in most cases names of which the younger members of the panel hadn't even heard, like Raymond Gallun, Bertram Chandler, Anthony Boucher, Henry Kuttner, and Lewis Padgett. No one seemed at all certain, because of their lack of facial expression, whether or not they were joking, but I'd guess that anyone who has ever read a Martian fanzine would have a strong indication.
As one might have expected, the upshot of the discussion was that readers owe the authors loyalty as long as the authors continue to turn out enjoyable pieces.
In the bar where Real Ale, Tandoori Red, and Nettle Aborania were all being served at reduced prices, I met Johnny and Kate Winslow and the rest of the Vermont gang and was particularly pleased to note that George Haley was with them this time. It's been quite a while since he last showed up. I noted down on my notepad several of his puns to use in my conreport for MimosaInterActive.
This meant that I missed the showing of the color-enhanced Metropolis in 3-D once again. I seem to remember seeing a while back that "Maria" from West Side Story is being grafted on to a sound track for this movie, too. I do hope that it's included in some future con programme. The movie could do with a little livening up.
The committee had really gone to town on the art show this time, with four corridors of display boards and all four walls of the Bonestall Suite covered with a fantastic and colorful realistic wrap-around array of work by science fiction and fantasy artists past and present, from Hieronymus Bosch through Hannes Bok, Virgil Finlay, Margaret Brundage, and Roy Krenkel to Debbie Hughes, George Metzger, and Steve Stiles. There were some wonderful graceful sculptures by Mm'terhh Canly Zrr and I particularly liked the huge display by Philippe Druillet loaned to the convention by the Quai d'Orsai and spread across one entire wall.
I bumped into Ken Logie in the corridor and we carefully avoided a pair of Jovians who were intently showing each other the ancient Star Trek paperbacks they'd purchased in the dealers' room. Together we went to the pro panel on "Do Authors Owe Fans Loyalty?" which was chaired by Don Lorimer. Guest of Honor Janet Kay said that she always wrote with her public in mind, and considering that she's sold over a hundred novels, she really would have a 'public', and her words didn't sound at all conceited.
Tammy Cornish's admission that she wrote entirely for the money seemed to shock some members of the audience who weren't sure whether she had her tongue in her cheek or not. Probably they haven't read any of the thirty-seven trilogies she had published last year. T'fghy T'fghy interjected, "@@Hjper**^ Mits'';;'@ L. Ron Hubbard," and, while I wouldn't put it quite like that, I certainly wouldn't disagree with him.
Susan McKay, who has always been quick to voice an opinion or three, immediately said that for whatever reason anyone wrote anything, the financial reward should be the lowest priority. Some wag in
the audience made a sotto voce remark here, which caused a good deal of merriment among those sitting near him.
Pam Baines told of how, at a signing session at a large store, she'd once been asked to sign the cover to someone else's holographic story and had debated whether to sign her own name or that of the author. When Janet Kay asked her what she'd actually signed, she suddenly became very demure and ducked out of the question. I can see that little mystery cropping up again on some future occasion when Pam is again on a panel. Josie Gonzales mentioned Raymond Chandler being surprised to find that he had a coterie of fans who eagerly awaited his next novel and commented with some feeling, "Would that we all had fans like that!"
Susan McKay pointed out that after reading that old story, Misery, and seeing any of the versions of the movie, she had no desire to have any fans; she wrote entirely for one reader only, the editor whom she hoped would buy her story. There was some uncomfortable laughter here and it was obvious that the audience was uncertain whether or not she was joking. I've heard her make this statement on a number of occasions and I've certainly never been sure.
I thought the fan room this time was especially good. There were holograms of so many well-known fans throughout the whole of the previous hundred and twenty years including those personalities from Maryland's infamous eleventh fandom who always refused to have themselves photographed. A real scoop there!
There were, too, hundreds of issues of fabled fanzines, all capable of being zoomed in on and downloaded with provided scanners. I have a pile two feet high to get me through next winter and I was particularly pleased to obtain the full file of Les Nirenberg's Panic Button.
The dealers' room and the auction also provided excellent fare and I managed to obtain pristine facsimiles of the January 1930 Astounding and excellent reprints of the Gnome Press Conan books. At only $75,000 for the lot, too.
And then there were the informal fan room discussions, happily held during the night in the high atrium in order to accommodate the Jovians who responded by respectfully talking in a whisper.
The Masquerade was definitely something special, a wonderful flight of fancy this time with those taking part really giving full rein to their imagination and several of those in costume really put their hearts and souls into the parts they were portraying by flying around the atrium, which certainly added to the fun and the lavishness of the costumes. It was a pity that the Jovian fans had to be dissuaded from abseiling from the atrium blconies in their costumes depicting their planet's extinct prehistoric gigantic animals.
Still, their costumes were superb and deserved the delicate crystal statuettes which were this year's prizes. I particularly liked Jim Delany's two-headed Venusian Vampire from Alan Cherowski's Footsteps in the Mirror and Clair de Wolfe's recreation of the stunning diaphanous winged costume created those many years ago by Karen Anderson.
All in all, it was an enjoyable and stimulating con. I'm looking forward to the next year's gathering which will be back on Earth in Belfast over the Willis Weekend.
All illustrations by Kurt Erichsen