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WorldCon Report: ConJose by
The location of this year's convention in San Jose, California was particularly fortuitous in that it afforded me the opportunity to share an important aspect of my life with both friends and family.
In mid August I packed up my bags and my son and headed for sunny (except SF mornings) California escaping the oppressive heat & humidity of summer in the metro NY/NJ. Several SFRevu staff members convened at my beloved brother Pat's place in San Jose to avail ourselves of his generous hospitality and return the favor by introducing him to our extended family - the SF community of fan and pro con-goers.
In contrast to the frenzied pace of last year's historic MilPhil Worldcon, in keeping with the more laid back attitude of California and no doubt influenced by the events of the interim year, ConJose the 60th World SF Convention proceeded at a kinder, gentler pace reflecting a theme of shared community and an attitude of thoughtfulness and concern for each other.
Inviting the SF family to enjoy themselves and be kind and helpful to each other the opening ceremonies (which included an amusing homage to Rubber Ducky) set the tone which was to prevail throughout, resulting in the usual share of minor glitches being overcome or at least ameliorated by the pitch in and help attitude of all concerned.
This is not in any way to suggest that this year's con lacked any of the diversity, excitement or pleasures associated with this yearly event. The cornucopia of offerings included exhibitions, a plethora of panels, parties, award ceremonies and author readings, autographing and Kaffee klatches. There were activities to delight all varieties of SF and Fantasy enthusiasts from costumers, gamers and filkers to those interested in TV, Films and Plays, and in poetry, art and the publishing, reading and writing of the many subgenres of SF literature including classic SF and Fantasy, Space Opera, Romance SF, Military SF and Historical Fantasy.
There were multiple examinations of the many facets of fandom , looks at Alien Language, Music & Sex and programming on such diverse topics as Gardening, Flirting, Candy, Tarot Cards, Architecture, Politics and Religion. There was even a track for those to whom the science appeals as much as the fiction - delving into computers, astrophysics, astronomy, etc.
Publishers including Ace, Aspect ,DAW, Del Rey , EOS, ROC and Tor presented slide shows highlighting upcoming releases, and there was also a welcomed presentation by a collection of Small Press publishers. And there were a number of discussions on trends and legal aspects of epublishing and the effect of the web on SF in general and fanzines in particular, a subject we certainly found of interest.
New to the convention scene it didn't take either my son or my brother long to discover the delights of the Dealers' Room although their interests were greatly divergent both left wholly satisfied with their purchases. James was disappointed by the Anime program glitches and Pat was one of the many attendees to the "A Journey Through the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope" - who decried the lack of slides and were tempted by the laughter and merriment of the adjoining panel ('Cat Vacuuming: Strange Things Writers Do When They're Not Writing') but both found other items to turn their attention to. Pat 's enjoyment of the perennial favorite 'Attack of the Killer B's (V's even)' Benford, Brin & Bear (joined this year by Vinge) resulted in another trip to the Dealers' Room and the acquisition of several more books.
In addition to the myriad of main programming offerings at the McEnery Convention Center many events and ancillary activities occurred at the other facilities including Anime, Filking, Gaming, Kaffee klatches, the Fan Lounge, the Con Suite, Dances (spanning the centuries Regency & Victorian to Techno & Goth) and parties.
Speaking of parties, several of SFRevu's staff celebrated editor Ernest Lilley's birthday at the generous (books, food and drink) EOS party at the Tech Museum where my son and several others found the hands on exhibits of as much interest as the consumables.
Other members of our staff enjoyed the festivities at Ballentine's bash where Bruce was most pleased to have Terry Brooks and his wife pose for a shot and left toting an appreciated autographed Brooks anthology. Most of us convened later at the civic auditorium to enjoy Patrick Stewart's entertaining appearance. The actor, a favorite with many fans, was warmly received and much appreciated, sharing insights, future plans and movie trailers.
The following evening we returned to the civic center to marvel in the ingenuity, inventiveness and industry of this year's costumers. Photographing was in less than ideal circumstances but the participants posed graciously for both the official photographers and the many fans that waited in the hallways after the presentations. Heading off to the Fairmont Hotel we were all able to enjoy Tor's party - engaging in engrossing conversation, trading amusing antidotes and partaking of various potent potables including welcome non-alcoholic beer beverages for those of us who don't imbibe but had had our fill of soda.
The Hugo Awards Ceremony on Sunday night was enlivened by Tad Williams (whose Toastmaster speech can be found at ConJose's website http://www.conjose.org/wsfs/wsfs_hugo_tad.html) and the humor of presenters such as Connie Willis and Robert Silverberg and capped by a rather memorable acceptance speech by Best Novel winner Neil Gaiman.
This year SFRevu maintained for the first time a Fan table displaying some of the previous day's photos .
All in all ConJose was a most pleasurable experience for all of us. We
congratulate the convention committee and we are very much looking forward
to seeing all of SF family again next year, in Toronto.
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