Octocon 2017

James, Dublin 2019 GOH Diane Duane, Peter Morwood and Dublin 2019 treasurer JC.

By James Bacon: After the ceol and the craic of Friday night at Irish DiscWorldcon, I slept well and made an early breakfast with Vanessa, before heading to Kent Station, Cork for the 10.40 departure, but as we go we are wished warm and pleasant farewells from Siobhan the Irish DiscWorldcon Chair.

Octocon beckoned and once we arrived in Dublin, the trip from Heuston Station to the Camden Court Hotel, in the City centre, on the south side of the Liffey was quick in a taxi. The warm welcome at Octocon was amazing and as we walked in we are greeted, and soon joined other committee members at the Dublin 2019 table. We were also met by Janet O’Sullivan the chair of a Octocon and Sakura Perez the programme director as we receive our memberships and I hear that membership has hit 350 people, which is a fine figure for Octocon.

Pair of chairs. Janet O’Sullivan and James Bacon

I thought that I’d get into some programme but suddenly I’m catching up with so many folk that over two hours passes by, our table is strategically placed near the bar and I encounter many friends and new fans, and also pleased to listen and hear the excitement for the Dublin 2019. I look to hand out some ribbons, which are popular here, but new, and so any are well accepted, I have a variety of old ones, and they are eagerly received.

Mike Carroll busy signing comics.

I take a moment to catch up on a presentation, one by Michael Carroll. Mike is a writer and long-time fan here in Dublin, who has written prose, script and comic. He has written over 100 episodes of Judge Dredd for 2000AD, amongst a wide variety of work. After talking a little bit about one of his recent stories in that comic, he begins an incredible motivational and pragmatic presentation about writing. I am fascinated, his sound bites and ideas, make so much sense. Simple things like “Finish the work” and  “No one cares what you’re ‘going to write’ only what you have written” — the point being that the thing you’ve not yet written doesn’t actually exist, so people can’t evaluate it. “Start,” it all makes such wonderful sense.  His positive encouragement and forthright honesty is quite fantastic. His sensible and achievable down to earth advice is amazing and he has the whole room enrapt, and indeed it is compelling, I am wondering myself about the idea of a story, and how, well, I haven’t actually followed his rules and sure isn’t it a wonder that I am nowhere near writing it. He offers five rules of writing which somehow seem very basic, but with consideration filled with crucial points.

It is a wonderful programme item, and I really enjoyed it. Overall feedback at Octocon is that the programme is exciting and interesting and indeed, I note that I am challenged for choices. The programme booklet is visible here.

I get to meet Paul Trimble who runs Enniskillen Comic Fest [Facebook link].  I am looking forward to this event next year, and really enjoyed it this year and it is vital for the Dublin 2019 team that we connect across the country here, and Vanessa from promotions is chatting with Paul, as well as the team from WexWorlds.

The chat and laughter never stops, and it is just brilliant to be home. This is home you know, my science fiction fannish home, my first convention, my first piece of purchased artwork, my first book signed, so many firsts happened at Octocon for me, and it is a vital part of my makeup and I love it. It has had many venues, shapes, committees and guests, and now in its twenty-seventh year, it is an amazingly well spirited and friendly convention. The attendance includes a lot of new fans. Indeed, I smiled when Janet pleasantly informed me that they ran out of ‘first time attendee’ ribbons when they gave out their 42nd, such a science fictional significance.

The feeling of celebration continues as the Dublin 2019, An Irish Worldcon promotions team of Vanessa May, Marguerite Smith and Sara Felix have worked closely with Janet O’Sullivan chair of Octocon and the team and so have sponsored the nights entertainment here. The promotions team have a new Iain Clarke poster, which I really like, and magic green wands that are multi-functional, and so the evening’s  entertainment has a theme.

Vanessa, James, Marguerite, Esther and Ruth

As the dancing continues, the Octocon arrange Guerilla DJ Phil Dyson to extend the disco into the early hours, alleging that a ‘post party, party’ is occurring during clean up and so dancing continues, and indeed the music by Phil is excellent.

Dance floor shenanigans. (Fia doing the peace sign)

I attended a Fan Fund discussion and was well pleased to engage with Fia Karlsson the current NOFF delegate from Sweden. The Nordic Fan Fund happily sending Fia here to Dublin. Previous fan fund winners Tobes Valois and James Shields engaged with loser Douglas Spencer under the keen moderation of Fiona O’Sullivan. I made good mention of bursaries and other elements that are out there to help fans.

Listing off future cons is a thing at Octocon, and David Ferguson of Irish Comic News and Carol Connolly listed all the events that would be taking place in the next twelve months and beyond. Much mention was made of many cons including the Dublin Comic Con which got a lot of positive comment and was nice, I had to miss this years one, Dublin 2019 had a strong presence with other cons, handing out thousands of free books and comics as part of an outreach initiative.(http://forbiddenplanet.blog/2016/dublin-comic-con-report/). There is quite a lot going on in Ireland right now.

Future vista of conventions and events in Ireland is positive but it was a special moment as Carol skipped forward a little bit to August 2019.

I was courteously allowed some time to speak at the closing ceremony, and thanked the Octocon Committee and previous committees, as well as the members. They, a huge amount of people have been collectively hugely supportive. It was five years ago that I stood up, and the chair asked for recording devices to be turned off, and shared the secret that a Irish bid for a Worldcon was in the offing. Now to thank everyone as we are a seated Worldcon was an amazing thing. I made mention of our ‘First Worldcon’ rate of €100 and also of the Fantastic Dublin Fund, which is there to help people who need some help. I said that it would pain me greatly to work on something like this for many years, to find that some regular fan, just could not get to it. My sentiments were noted, and as I finished off by thanking everyone, my brief moment at the top of the room ended with ripping applause and cheering. A good bunch here, the noise from the closing ceremony was rapturous at the right times, that is for sure.

I’ll be heading to the con next year of course, although a venue change is on the cards, and dates will need to be confirmed, but at the end of the closing ceremony, after Janet had announced this news, the queue to join up for next year, was as long as ever, if not longer.

The evening continued, and later I found myself introducing many foreign fans to a ‘Spice Bag’ later at my Mom’s up the road on Black Horse Ave, ending the evening with a unique Dublin dish, and more talk, everyone having loved the con. Seven Spice bags please!

I admit it, I missed so much, The Blasters, the Vault of Horror, the amazing Guests of Honour, Dan Abnett and Nik Abnett, the variety of guests, the wondrousness of home-made foods in the dealer’s room, next to great books and comics. There was so much, and all the while the spirit was fantastic.

Dublin street furniture.

Classics of SF at Loscon 44

By John Hertz: We’ll take up three Classics of Science Fiction at Loscon XLIV, one discussion each.  Come to as many as you like.  You’ll be welcome to join in.

Our working definition is “A classic is a work that survives its own time.  After the currents which might have sustained it have changed, it remains, and is seen to be worthwhile for itself.”  If you have a better one, bring it.

Each of our three is famous in a different way.  Each may be more interesting now than when first published.  Have you read them?  Have you re-read them?

Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Herland (1915)

Three men who discover a country peopled only by women find “daring….  broad sisterly affection … fair-minded intelligence…. health and vigor … calmness of temper” (ch. 7).  Of course it’s a sermon; but it’s neat, imaginative, warm-hearted.  How does she do it?

Robert A. Heinlein, Citizen of the Galaxy (1957)

Fans know the Heinlein Double Surprise: something strange happens, then something really strange happens.  Here’s a quadruple, each so carefully portrayed we’re ready to believe it’s the story.  What’s this for?  And we could sing “all the lonely people”.

Arkady & Boris Strugatsky, Hard to Be a God (1964)

Centuries after Communism has inevitably prevailed on Earth, students follow other planets – but if they interfere, they’ll ruin the progress of historical materialism and bring about catastrophe.  How’s that for a Prime Directive?

Trip to Cork, Irish Discworld Con 2017

Fergal, Vanessa, Gwen, Brian, John, John, James and Kevin

By James Bacon: Heuston station is one of Dublin’s finest stations, and is the main connection to the west and south of Ireland, the Cork train is a sleek modern machine, propelled by a powerful GM locomotive with a streamlined consist of ‘mark iv’ modern 21st century carriages, it awaits us calmly, patiently.

The journey starts with an adventurous element, I am meeting Vanessa May at the train but Vanessa is delayed by a bout of Dublin traffic, and so is now under the kosh for the 11.00am departure. There is a chance that we will miss this train, as time ticks by, I speak to the dispatcher, there are now many Irish Rail staff aware of Vanessa’s predicament – we can get the next one for sure – but everyone appreciates that people like to go on time and in their reserved places.

I am standing next to the dispatcher, the whistle is blown, the 2-minute announcements is long gone and as a timely train operator myself, I know doors close 30 seconds before departure, that time point came quickly and is now past tense with the sharp shrill of the whistle

Flying through the crash barriers Vanessa comes at speed, accompanied by Irish Rail staff assisting, and the dispatcher seeing this makes a reassuring and positive acknowledgement to me and is promptly deploying a ramp, soon Vanessa is on board, doors shoosh close, and the train is moving as soon as we are at our table and designated seats, a bit late but no bother.

We smile in the knowledge that the level of customer care and service here is solidly good and we are on our journey.

As we pass Portlaoise, we interrupt our Dublin 2019 meeting and I briefly chat to Vanessa about the first gunshot of the 1916 Easter Rising, which involved rebels and the railway, just south of Portlaoise station on a railway line that no longer exists, fortunately the countryside is a lush and beautiful sight to see and captures the imagination as well as the heart.

We are on our way to Cork, where we will be meeting other committee members and starting a celebratory weekend, marking the winning of the bid for Dublin 2019, an Irish Worldcon.

James Bacon and Siobhan Greaney. two chairs.

Irish Discworld Con is taking place in Cork, and chair Siobhan Greaney has welcomed us to the Cork International Hotel, and there is a Trad Session scheduled for tonight, sponsored by Dublin 2019. The theme here is based around an open weekend at the Unseen University, so there is a lovely selection of swag handed to all members, from a stylish notebook to simple wizards’ hat button badge, it is all nice.

Swag

The bar and restaurant are well populated, and Colin Smythe chats with Vanessa and Brian as I type away, relaxing and enjoying a drink, that is a vital part no doubt, and so we are catching up and greeting a variety of Dublin 2019 team members, some of whom are also on staff here. Colin is one of the many guests here, Terry Pratchett’s original publisher and subsequently his agent, Colin has a strong connection to Ireland, his company having specialised in publishing 19th and 20th century Irish literature and criticism and Irish myths and folklore. Indeed, for services to Irish literature Colin received an honorary Doctorate of Laws (LLD) from the University of Dublin in 1998.

The convention sold out at 300 members and the excitement and enthusiasm is palpable at the opening ceremony which is well-filled. A wide variety of cosplay is on display and all members are armed with ‘credits’ that can be awarded for excellent costume, best fake beards, audacious puns and being very helpful.

The opening is rumbatiously great fun and sets a lovely tone, audience engagement, an unruly potential student body here for the open day, and laughter at the jokes of the ‘acting faculty’ along with Siobhan the chair welcoming everyone amongst friends they may not have met yet.

Opening ceremony; Alan, Siobhan and Roy.

Alcohol, goodwill, energy and volunteers are the key ingredients here, we are informed and I smile. Although the love for Terry, his work and he himself is strong here, and indeed charities have been selected that represent his support and with the mention of the esteemed departed author the room is momentarily solemn. Soon though, channelling the authors propensity for humour and good fun theatrics return on stage to entertain the filled room. With the announcements a lovely mention is made of the Dublin 2019 win, and it is met with a strong cheer, as I sit amongst these fans it’s a phenomenal response to hear.

After the opening ceremony, the Trad session gets started.

Arundo Trad: John, John and Kevin.

The 3 set band are Kevin, John and John, the Arundò  trad, and soon they burst into song and music filling the room with traditional Irish sounds. The room is brimful and a variety of instruments are being played, flute, bodhran, uilleann pipes, whistles, guitar and mandolin are used.  The bodhran and uilleann pipes are the only indigenous musical instruments, we are told as the lads educate while entertaining.

Jigs, slides and polkas interspace songs, while lyric sheets are available so those that are not au fait can sing along. It goes brilliantly (in my mind anyhow) when “Whiskey in the Jar” comes on and sure I’m at the Dublin table singing me lungs out while I’m enjoying my pint but fortunately I’ve not contaminated the sound too despite my best efforts to slaughter the song.

In desperate need to make good for my dreadfully out-of-tune efforts at accompaniment we fire Brian up into the limelight for a much more polished rendition of “Molly Malone.” Slides and songs, “Wild Rover,” “The Parting Glass,” “Star of County Down,” the audience are loving it and the large semi-circular room is packed and thankfully there’s no bother as more come in to the sounds and find standing space in corners and such, pints or colas in hand and enjoying the music.

John is fierce on the uilleann pipes and talks us through three tunes he will be playing with distinctively different feelings, talking about happy, sad and lullaby music. The first tune has the room in silent in concentration and contemplation, leaning forward in their seats, compelled to listen, this is “Port na púca.” In English this is ‘spirit music’ with two stories about how it came about, the “Ghosts of the Harbour” was the sound the last fiddler who left the Blasket islands heard on his last night there, but it’s also been told that it’s the sound fishermen in traditional curraghs would hear from the humpback whales. John gently ponders aloud to the audience about whether there be truth in either after this and the subsequent songs the eruption of cheers and applause.

More songs and the flute and bodhran are on gently, soon joined by guitar after a while, the pace increasing the room swaying and jigging, followed then by more songs including an incredible rendition of “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash, beautifully done.

John, John and Kevin.

This is what I love about cons in Ireland, enjoying the social scene, the good times and having some music and great discussions. Of course, there are the debates and passion and love of fantastic fiction and here the Worldcon is pushing an open door, again applause is in the air as much for the music as for the forthcoming Dublin 2019 which makes one feel warm, optimistic and even excited, although that could be the cider.

A grand day overall. Tomorrow we belt back up to Dublin and will get to Octocon where the celebrations and good times will continue.

Judge Denies Key Motions for Summary Judgment In Comic-Con Infringement Suit

In his latest rulings on San Diego Comic-Con Inc.’s suit against Salt Lake Comic Con, a federal judge refused to grant summary judgment on the trademark infringement issue because some factual issues can only be resolved by a trial.

However, U.S. District Court Judge Anthony Battaglia did grant several other motions, clearing away some lines of argument, and revealing his thinking about others.

The court observed that the defendant, Salt Lake Comic Con, has introduced evidence that “fluctuates” between two different defense theories, genericness ab initio (that “comic con” was a generic mark before SDCC began using it as a trademark) and genericide (that the term “comic con” has been appropriated by the public, as it has done with aspirin or escalator).

The judge ruled against the Salt Lake Comic Con’s genericness ab initio arguments:

Unfortunately for Defendants, the Ninth Circuit [the controlling circuit Court of Appeals to which this case might be appealed] has not recognized a genericness ab initio theory of defense.

While the judge accepted that there is a genuine issue of material fact as to genericide, he disagreed that Salt Lake Comic Con’s evidence entitled them to judgment as a matter of law.

This conclusion is reinforced by Plaintiff’s submission of its consumer survey that demonstrates that over 80% of consumers believed “Comic-Con” to be a brand name and not a generic name. Accordingly, the Court also DENIES Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on a theory of genericide.

SLCC is allowed to keep making genericide arguments. However, the judge foreclosed a third line of defense by granting summary judgment that San Diego Comic-Con did not abandon its marks.

Thus, despite Defendants’ attempt to argue abandonment through third party use or failure to police, these arguments are unquestionably meritless as Defendants have not proven that Plaintiff’s mark is generic…. (“Abandonment of a trademark, being in the nature of forfeiture, must be strictly proved.”). Accordingly, Plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment on this factor is GRANTED.

Additional rulings were made about expert witness testimony.

The judge also had sharp words for Salt Lake Comic Con (the Defendants) regarding their attempts to introduce fraud claims against SDCC.

On a final note, the Court articulates that it takes issue with the alleged “undisputed facts” section of Defendants’ motion for summary judgment based on abandonment.

Within this section, Defendants list Plaintiff’s trademarks and then delve into allegations surrounding and Plaintiff’s purportedly “fraudulent registration of the hyphenated form Comic-Con.” …It is unquestionably clear that these arguments are anything but “undisputed facts,” but are actually highly contested allegations.

… Furthermore, the fraud allegations are not only a baseless attack on Plaintiff unsupported by the record, but they are also in complete disregard of the Court’s previous [gag] order.

…Consequently, finding that Defendants have used their motion to improperly inject irrelevant and scandalous allegations into their motion, the Court finds a motion to strike warranted.

The court decision was handed down Tuesday, September 12.

The lawsuit began in 2014, when San Diego Comic-Con sued Salt Lake Comic Con’s organizers, accusing it of violating its copyrights on the term “comic con.”

The latest Salt Lake Comic Con begins September 21.

No Lunacon in 2018

The New York Science Fiction Society, Lunarians (2), Inc., Board of Directors announced they will not be holding a Lunacon in 2018.

After skipping 2015, Lunarians succeeded in bringing back Lunacon, their proprietary convention, for each of the past two years, however it is going on hiatus again.

The press release says:

It was felt that, even though the 2016 and 2017 Lunacon’s were mostly creatively successful conventions, under the current circumstances, and looking at the time frame and other issues, the Board and the Membership of the organization felt that it would be difficult to present a convention of the high caliber and quality that the Lunacon attendees and its guests deserve and have come to expect.

“Lunacon has been a part of the New York area fannish community for over 60 years, but times have changed, fandom has changed and is more diverse, and, unlike years ago, there are many other events and conventions for our target audience to go to.”, said Stuart C. Hellinger, Lunarians (2) President.

“A complete reevaluation of what Lunacon can and should provide, its viability for the future, possibly expanding our offerings to draw in a larger audience that will encompass the interests of fandom today, is not only prudent, but necessary to create a possible successful future Lunacon that will meet everyone’s objectives while remaining financially viable.”

Mr. Hellinger continued, “Our organization has the future of Lunacon under complete review and evaluation. Once a decision has been finalized as to how and if to proceed, we will make an announcement to the public in all the appropriate venues.”

Lunacon information is available via social media at: www.lunacon.org/ , on Facebook, and on Twitter: @lunaconsf.

Women Hurt By Chairs, Bottles Thrown From Dragon Con Hotel

Where the chairs landed outside the Marriott Marquis

Two women were taken to Atlanta hospitals for treatment after being struck when chairs and bottles were thrown from the Marriott Marquis in downtown Atlanta on Sunday morning around 1:30 a.m. The Marriott Marquis is one of Dragon Con’s host hotels.

Kelly McDaniel was walking in a first floor area of the hotel when one of the chairs hit her in the head. After treatment at the hospital, which used two staples to close the head wound, she gave an interview to reporters.

Atlanta’s Fox 5 quoted her:

“I feel this sharp pain and I thought maybe someone hit me with a water bottle saw chairs everywhere and someone dragged me inside. It was complete chaos,” said McDaniel.

In fact, she’d been injured by a chair. As she told the local CBS reporter (“Woman hit in head after chair is thrown from hotel’s 10th floor”):

McDaniel heard loud pops and felt something wet and warm gushing down here face.

“It was just so much blood,” she told Channel 2’s Rikki Klaus….

Paramedics rushed her to the hospital dressed in a Loki costume from the Avengers movies. McDaniel thinks the costume helped lessen the blow from the chair.

“I really think that saved my life,” she said.

McDaniel was one of two women who were hurt, police say. Both women were treated at the hospital and released. McDaniel is urging witnesses to call police.

“I think they need to punished by the law for assault with a deadly weapon. I could have been really hurt,” she said.

The Director of Media Relations for Dragon Con sent the Atlanta CBS affiliate the following statement:

Two women at Dragon Con were injured at the convention early Sunday morning when two chairs were dropped from an outside balcony on the 10th floor in the Marriott to a landing below. The women were treated and released at separate hospitals. We are grateful that the injuries were not more severe.  And we are proud of the Dragon Con attendees who stepped up quickly, realized the severity of the situation and provided immediate assistance.  Atlanta Police Department is investigating.

Here is the video of Fox 5’s report aired Sunday evening:

[Thanks to David K.M. Klaus for the story.]

Dragon Con Answers Safety Concerns

Dragon Con has an antiharassment policy, and in response to “Dragon Con Safety Advice From Delilah S. Dawson”, the convention’s Director of Public Relations, Greg Euston, sent the following information about the policy, the way it’s enforced, and how people can find help at the con.

We, at Dragon Con, saw your article yesterday based on Delilah Dawson’s tweets, and hoped you would help us educate all our attendees on how best to address behavior of concern in an effort to eliminate it from our convention entirely.

We pride Dragon Con on being a safe place, where everybody is welcome and anybody can be whomever they desire. Even so, certain kinds of offensive or harassing behavior are not tolerated. To the best of our ability, we intend to eliminate inappropriate conduct from the convention. In 2014, we revised our convention policies to be clearer on this point.

We have also taken steps to make it easier to report instances of such behavior. It is very important that if you are being harassed or are in any way endangered, you report it immediately. We cannot address anything that we are not made aware of and we need whatever detail that can be provided, such as names, badge numbers or other descriptive information.

If you feel you have been harassed or have witnessed harassing or offensive behavior, please find the nearest Dragon Con volunteer. This year, all 2200 Dragon Con volunteers will be easily recognized by their purple lanyards. They will direct you to the security operation in the Marriott.

You may also go directly to the security operation – room L405/L406 in the Marriott, on the Lobby level – to report an incident. We have set up a private screening area, staffed by an Atlanta Police Department officer to counsel individuals who feel they have been harassed. We will work closely with the APD to determine the best course of action.

Dragon Con reserves the right to revoke or suspend memberships and passes. If an individual breaks the rules of the convention, he or she may be barred from the convention, either for several hours or for the rest of the event. If an individual breaks the law – city, state or federal – he or she will be arrested.

Dragon Con Safety Advice From Delilah S. Dawson

Delilah S. Dawson, author of the forthcoming Star Wars: PHASMA (9/1/17), The Perfect Weapon, Wake of Vultures, Hit, Servants of the Storm, and Blud, says she loves Dragon Con – but she sure doesn’t make it sound easy to love.

And, yes, I know *nothing* is really “safe”. But I’ve been harassed and groped at DragonCon more than all other cons COMBINED.

Here’s are her tweets about staying safe. She has another tweetstorm on why she likes the con.

[Thanks to rcade for the story.]

Westercon 70 Was Hot

By John Hertz:

Let’s see, if we can,
Xanadu on other worlds,
Xenogamously.

I wasn’t sure I could manage a 5-7-5-syllable acrostic about Westercon LXX.  You may think I didn’t.

Anyway I meant Coleridge’s wonderful poem (not particularly how he may have come to imagine it, nor the Raymond F. Jones story “Person from Porlock”, about the fellow who interrupted him, nor the strange Sturgeon story – “strange Sturgeon story” may be redundant).  “Xenogamy” – cross-fertilization – is from a conversation I had with Kevin Standlee a few years ago about what general-interest cons, like Westercon, are good for.

There are lots of special-interest cons these days.  At a general-interest con you meet people you didn’t know you wanted to meet.

When the chair of next year’s Westercon took the gavel during Closing Ceremonies she quoted that, gosh.

But we trespass upon chronology.

Westercon LXX “Conalope” was 1-4 July 2017 at the Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, Arizona, combined with local Leprecon XLIII.  Attendance about 600; Art Show sales $5,100 by 31 artists.  The Hospitality Suite had a stuffed-toy jackalope; the newsletter was The Jackalopian.  It being the 70th-anniversary month of something or other in Roswell, New Mexico, just 400 miles away, slant-eyed oval heads were all over.

Author Guest of Honor, Connie Willis; Graphic Artist, Julie Dillon; Fans, Val & Ron Ontell; also Science, Henry Vanderbilt; Special Guests in honor of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary, Bjo & John Trimble; Filker (our home-made music, from a 1950s typo of “folk” that stuck), Tim Griffin; Local Author, Gini Koch; Local Artist, Tom Deadstuff; Special Artist, Larry Elmore; Toastmaster, Weston Ochse.

On the cover of the Program Book was my favorite Dillon piece in the Art Show, Skyward Bound, a muscular black man in a knee-length tunic, golden wings strapped to his arms, poised to fly from a cornice in the clouds.

When I say the con was hot I mean it was lively, engaging, fun.  You probably know it was also 110F.  Even in the noonday sun I saw folks basking happily outdoors.  I asked.  They liked it.  There’s diversity for you.

Sarah Clemens leading her Art Show tour said “I couldn’t think of anything more incongruous for dragons to do than pressing flowers.  They’re terrible at it.”  That’s how she painted them.  Also “I like art’s having some ambiguity.  It gives people room to play.”

Regency Dancing had its usual salad bowl (so these must be my salad days) of people in modern clothes, period costume, fantasy and science fiction.  The last four words also describe my adventures teaching folks all over the spectrum from knowing nothing to lots.  I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

The Utah for 2019 Westercon party had Italian sodas.  Also mead from Hive Winery in Layton, where they’ll hold the con (they won).

At the WesternSFA party Craig Dyer gave a cordial reception.  He’d started distilling the best from life in 1988; he was well along by Westercon LVII when I was his Fan Guest of Honor (and where I saw Clemens’ superb “Stigmata”).

Hal Astell the Vice-Chair of LXX told me how well the multitudinous local groups were co-operating.

First Classics of S-F discussion, The Sword of Rhiannon (Leigh Brackett, 1949).  Rich McAllister said, a planetary romance head and shoulders above the rest.  Lin McAllister said it was like The Sea Hawk (M. Curtiz dir. 1940).  I said, look how naturally everything that has to happen, does happen.  Also we see not only “I’ll give them the technology, punish me for it” but why it might have been forbidden.

Enter, Led by a Bear

Art Show chief Annette Sexton-Ruiz taught me about mono silkscreens.  She said half the Show came from mail-ins.  I think it’s vital people can participate from a distance.  Kuma Bear’s tour had, as Lisa Hayes admitted, a simple but limited perspective.  Bears don’t like dogs; dogs fight bears.  Cats steal fish.  Kuma liked Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce” and the Steampunk (with railroad trains!) of an artist identified only as Voit.

Tabitha Ladin’s “Blackberry Bounce”

Leviathan – Voit

I was Chief Hall-Costume Judge; hall costumes, the term we evolved years ago, are the fantasy and science fiction clothes some people wear for strolling the halls.  Marjii Ellers used to call them daily wear from alternative worlds.  Helping me were Elaine Mami, Sandy Manning, Bjo Trimble.  Jim Manning brought me a cookie from Alaska.

On Sunday afternoon I went to “Accurate Science in Science Fiction”.  As usual, the part after the colon was the real title.  Before the colon was “It Doesn’t Work That Way”, which might have been – I’ll let you do it.  Ron Ontell offered the best remark, “I’m only annoyed when after setting out to do science they get it wrong.”

Mami was the Masquerade Director; judges, Bridget Landry, Ochse, Bruce Rowan, Bjo Trimble; workmanship judge, Jocelyn Winters.  Julie Padegimas won Best Novice and the Southwest Costumers’ Guild workmanship award for “Dr. Arson” in red, and boots, and swell make-up; her name meant arson in Lithuanian.

Julie Padegimas as “Dr. Arson.”  Photo credit: Steven Goldstein – Keyhole Productions Photography

Steven Goldstein / Keyhole Productions Photography on Facebook

Sandy Manning won Best Presentation (Novice) for “A Touch of Color”, of course mostly black; expert at running Masquerades, she’s competed little herself.  Randall Whitlock won Best Workmanship (Master) and Best in Show as part of the Cady Family Strange Fabric We-Can-Do-It Challenge, each element judged separately.  He had fine stage presence.

Monday, The Lights In the Sky Are Stars (Fredric Brown, 1953).  Ben Yalow had stopped me in the hotel lobby to say kind things about this set of three.  Stars may be Brown’s only straightforward SF.  And what a wallop!  Bill Green said the protagonist, Max Andrews, was a villain.  Or was he a tragic figure?

At the Star Trek 50th-anniversary party I was neither first nor last to tell the Trimbles “You’re responsible for this.”  John said it was the greatest case of Who knew?  At the Westercon LXXI party (Denver, Colorado) – I think – Rick Moen tried to explain the Norwegian languages Bokmål (in case your software doesn’t show it, that’s a volle, an a with a tiny ring over it) and Nynorsk.

In the Hospitality Suite, talk of Justinian II led me into conversation with Paul Honsinger, whom I hadn’t known I wanted to meet.  Filking; I heard “Water’s been found on the Moon” and the Monster’s Lullaby.

Tuesday, The Time Machine (H.G. Wells, 1895).  R-Laurraine Tutihasi said it’s widely read a hundred years later.  Laura Freas Beraha asked “Who is its intended audience?”  Rich McAllister said it argues that struggle makes intellect.  Linda Deneroff asked “What kind of struggle?”  I asked if the end meant the world of the middle had failed.

For “How Do We Get to the Stars?” Steve Howe brought a chart of energy against distance.  He dared to mention the Orion pulsed-fission model.  A drive using antimatter is conceivable; he’s written about it. Unless I was asleep – always possible – we didn’t get to ramscoops.  You don’t carry much fuel, but what if you arrive somewhere thin of interstellar dust?

The Dead Dog Party (until the last dog is – ) was fine for fireworks.  I recited a poem to Leslie Fish.  Sandra Childress, currently of Tucson – as Woody Bernardi said he was – had been coaching archery.  The hotel lobby had a ten-foot color-photo display from the Arizona State University School of Earth & Space Exploration (gosh) with Ceres, Vesta, Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons, and the Cassini, Dawn, Galileo, and New Horizons missions.  And so to bed.

Montreal’s “What the Fur?” Ends Its Run

What the Fur (WTF?), a Montreal furry con, held its final event over the last weekend of July. The reason given was lack of volunteers to pick up the reins.

That leaves Otakuthon as the city’s only non-commercial con.

A fan has started a GoFundMe to help Feli (Christopher Pilgrim) pay the bills. It has raised $455 of its $5,000 goal as of this writing. However, the slow response may be because Christopher Pilgrim made no such request in his farewell comments and, in fact, said he was proud that this year’s con had managed to give over $900 to charity.

[Thanks to Cathy Palmer-Lister for the story.]