Thursday, May 01, 2008

Un-con-ventional

Since I missed last week's theme thanks to ol' sparky giving up the ghost (my beloved laptop. I'm on my kids' computer right now and will be fighting for time between webkinz and neopets from now until my new lappie gets here on the slow boat from China), I thought I'd chime in late anyway.

It's Con season for us here at casa de xandra. As school's end approaches, the summer calendar fills with conventions in the region, and now that my kids are of a certain age (the age where I don't have to carry them around everywhere), we're really enjoying the return to a more mobile convention style. Mr. Xandra and I have been attending cons since we first met in our early college years, and one con in particular holds a special place in the calendar for us. Marcon, located in Columbus, OH over Memorial Day weekend, was our first con together while we were still "just friends."

Marcon stands for "Multiple Alternative Realities CONvention" and is a general sci-fi, fantasy, and media convention. Most general SF/F cons feature a similar format--a handful of special guest speakers, a dealers' room, discussion panels on SF/F-related topics throughout the weekend, a masquerade ball/dance in conjunction with a costume competition, an art show, and additional activities that often include RPGs and LARPs, filk, and "fringe" activities. Although all SF/F cons deal with subject matter within the realm of science fiction and fantasy literature and media, each individual convention bears its own "personality," partly a function of the con's planning committee, and partly a gestalt arising from the con's attendees themselves.

Marcon remains a perennial favorite of ours because the con features a well-rounded blend of media programming--the occasional familiar face from Babylon 5, Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, et al. There are RPGs and miniatures games to be had at almost all hours, and an impressive collection of video offerings in four video rooms. Marcon is also one of those cons that loves room parties, and at the intersection of Fandom and Inebriation, there are many, many men in kilts (and even one or two memorable ones in goat-legs and nothing else). In recent years, the anime room has become a place to spend extended amounts of time, and the panel discussions range from obsessive fandom to hard science, and the panelists have consistently fallen on the more intelligent and engaging end of the spectrum.

Also in recent years, we've become more appreciative of the dual nature of the con--there's a family-friendly track, and the underlying message of, "hey, that's okay that you like stories about spacemen and think you've got a few good ideas about colonizing Mars--there are other people like you out here, too." Having a message like that in my formative years might have made all the difference.

At its heart, SFF fandom is comprised of dreamers, and any time dreamers convene in one place, there's the potential for great things to happen. Just ask the filkers.

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3 comments:

Lynda K. Scott said...

Xandra, hugs on the computer catastrophe. I'm glad your kidlets allowed you to use their pc to put this article up. It's great and gives a wonderful insight into SF Cons. I've only been to one and it was a real treat...although I think the sight of Klingons and cat women and guys who really shouldn't be wearing a kilt boggled my teen daughter's mind :D She wanted to come with me though she's never been much of a SF fan (I sometimes wonder if there was a hospital mix up when she was born, lol, poor kid) and those sights didn't do much to convince her otherwise.

I remain steadfast in my hope that she'll eventually see the beauty and imagination behind SF :D

Xandra Gregory said...

LOL I can understand. I was the opposite--my family is about as mundane as you can get (although my dad did take me to Star Wars when it came out and would watch reruns of Star Trek TOS happily while I was growing up), so finding an actual gathering of people who liked the same things I did was nothing short of a miracle for me.

If you haven't already, try giving your daughter some of Arthur C Clarke's works--nonfiction and fiction. To me, that man embodies the hope that manifests when humanity lifts its eyes and minds to the stars.

Savanna Kougar said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. Since I don't get to do those kinds of events. Darn it! I luv hearing about it. Yep, where the dreamers gathers, thus, the world can be created anew.