Millennium Phlicon - Worldcon 2001
59th World Science Fiction
What do you get when you put together 6,000 Science Fiction & Fantasy fans, authors and artists with hundreds of panels, readings and discussion groups, plus workshops, slide shows, gaming, films, concerts and several major award ceremonies such as the Hugos and the Chesleys? Oh and let's not forget the Masquerade, or the Art Show or the Dealers' Room or the parties or the…well, what you get is five fantastic, fulfilling, filking, fatiguing, fun days (and nights) in Philadelphia.
It was a challenge - to try to experience it all - or at least to survive it all. But several members of the staff of SFRevu were up to the task. We came, we saw, we photographed. Here is our take on the 59th World Science Fiction Convention - The Millennium Philcon.
From day one's Opening Ceremonies with Ben and Mrs. Franklin ushering in the guests of honor while a resplendent Toastmaster Esther Friesner entered on the arms of bare-chested Chip and Dale, this first Worldcon of the new millennium was a fascinating mélange of the past, present and future. Running the gamut of factual history, alternate history, secret history, history in the making and future history an astonishing array of programming traks in Art, Science, Literature, Education, Fandom, Media and more served to demonstrate the impressive scope of the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres.
If anything there was almost an excess of things to do and I defy anyone to claim to have been unable to find something of interest at any given time. My only complaint was not being able to be in more than one place at a time - although I did try my best and thanks to close proximity (for the one and only time) was able on Friday to drop in on three interesting discussions scheduled simultaneously. I tore myself away from Space and Sensibility: Jane Austen a lively discourse by fellow Austen (and Georgette Heyer) aficionados including Ellen Asher, Lois McMaster Bujold, and Connie Willis to check in on Writers Who Filk & Filkers Who Write - Joe Halderman, Larry Niven, and Roberta Rogrow. Roberta, whose filk songs I have long admired, was the person who introduced me to fandom back in the early 1980's. (Thank you Roberta.) After this I was only able to catch the last few minutes of Ernest's slide show presentation but fortunately had the advantage of having virtually followed along on his recent journey and had therefore already enjoyed the show.
As the Con progressed I listened in at a SRO discussion on West Wing one on The Classics of Alternate History, took a look back at The New Wave with Robert Silverberg and Norman Spinrad, and speculated on Where has the Future Gone. I caught several panels that explored SF and other genres where Mysteries and Romances were both compared and contrasted with their SF hybrids . Friday's panels were capped by an uproariously funny surprise roast of Editor GOH Gardner Dozois, by Pat Cadigan, Connie Willis,George R.R. Martin, Michel Swanwick, Joe Halderman and others. Mr. Dozois even demonstrated his famous technique for the high-speed ejection of jellybeans from his … don't ask.
The SFWA Musketeers performed a Sword fighting Demo for a large admiring crowd and an even larger crowd enjoyed Esther Friesner's hosting of the Chesley Awards for Artwork, followed later that evening by the Retro Hugo Awards honoring the best of 1950. One day we took a hike over to Camp Franklin to observe Esther Friesner do Hamster Divination for the many delighted children who lined up for their chance to spin the wheel of hamster. Children and watching adults alike were entertained by Esther's amusing patter peppered with insightful comments.
Having positioned ourselves early in this section of the convention center we were able that same day to get seats up front for the Killer Bs packed panel. Greg Bear, Gregory Benford and David Brin welcomed a fourth B-musketeer, Stephen Baxter, into the group for a discussion on promoting literacy and the reading of Science Fiction by the next generation. This was one of several panels that addressed the issues of the aging of fandom and the need to encourage young readers.
In another panel teachers, librarians, parents and interested fans in general asked the question Why Harry Potter and answered it in a myriad of ways. That evening The Hugo Awards MC'd by Esther Friesner (who opened with a riotous rap routine) answered with a Hugo for best novel for J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Evenings we took a short walk into Chinatown or waited in lines at Maggiano's for dinner before hitting the party circuit. Our surprise Birthday dinner for SFRevu Editor Ernest resulted in a surprise indeed - delayed seating netted our group free appetizers but lost us our honoree when Ernest left to photograph the Masquerade. SFReviewer Steven Sawicki kept asking him just how important photographing the Masquerade really was...but to no avail (He did get some great shots though!).
At parties a SRO crowd sang along with Weird Al, Charlotte wooed voters with barbeque and beer while Boston 2004's bid party encompassed several rooms - each with its own Boston related theme. These people know how to throw a party; we're looking forward to see how well they can throw a Con! (I hope by then though that they can work out how to give a Boston Tea Party that serves tea!) A good time was had by all munching, sipping and chatting with old friends and making new ones.
I hit the road (or at least the convention floor) running and didn't stop until we crashed in the wee hours of the next morning. Note to self - let's try to remember next time the effects of 21+ hours of con & party going on your 21++ body. Mother Nature may be sympathetic and let you get away with a touch up here and there (only our hairdressers know for sure how personal an issue the graying of fandom really is) but Father Time marches relentlessly on.
Although sadly my reach began to exceed my grasp and each day the number of items in my program guide planned for but unattended increased, I managed to attend a satisfying variety of panels, discussion, events and parties. And there is always next year. I left Philadelphia exhausted yet re-charged and re-vitalized with a list of should-have-dones before and during to keep in mind for future cons, lists of books to look for, authors to try out, old friends to keep in touch with and new friendships to develop further.
We know the way to San Jose - see you there next
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We look forward to seeing you at next year's Worldcon in San Jose, CA.
The pictures at shown here were taken by Ernest Lilley with a Nikon D1x Digital camera. Although the D1x has a5.5 mega-pixel resolution, we've reduced the pictures for the web.
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