Chicon 2000

        Chicon 2000, the 58th World Science Fiction Convention,was held on August 31- September 4, 2000 at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Chicago.The Swissotel and the Fairmont served as supporting hotels.The guests of honor were Ben Bova (writer), Bob Eggleton (artist), Jim Baen (editor), Bob and Anne Passovoy (fan). Tom Veal was con chairman with Mike Jenevice and Becky Thomson as associate chairpersons.

        I was looking forward going to the Hyatt since Mike Resnick said it was the best place to hold a Worldcon in his Worldcon reviews for Mimosa.It certainly was big. It has 2 towers and the lower levels contained the convention area.It took a while to figure out what was where.The Swissotel had the gaming and film program.The Fairmont was used for the Meet the Pros party, Hugo Award Ceremony, Masquerade and some programming.The convention could not use the Hyatt ballroom for the major functions on Saturday and Sunday due the Jerry Lewis telethon.

        The convention provided excellent services. The Internet Lounge ran for 24 hours.The lounge used iMacs of all flavors, which were great for email, web surfing and printing.Both the gopher hole and the consuite were well stocked with sorts of food.The consuite was held at Mrs. O’Leary’s, a bar/lounge in the Hyatt.The con suite felt a little cramped. It may have been better to put the consuite in a more open area like it was at Bucconeer.There were no problems at registration.Interestingly Bob Eggleton provided 2 covers for the convention souvenir book. Both were used. One had to choose between the 2 covers at registration. If you wished the second cover you would have to purchase it, but towards the end of the convention the books were given out for free.

        The Dealer’s Room was about average for a Worldcon.The book dealers, both used and new, were well represented.Still I was not able to find a copy of Spider Robinson’s Callahan’s Lady. I was able to find Alternate Skiffy by Mike Resnick and Patrick Nielson-Hayden and The Heart Readers by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Both are hard to find books.I also picked up a brand new centenary edition of The Wizard of Oz (with an introduction from Ray Bradbury) from Mike Walsh’s Old Earth Books. I also discovered that an outfit was given permission to put out original Doctor Who audio adventures. These were on CDs and featured cast members from the series. I picked up 2 CDs that featured the Daleks and the sixth and seventh Doctors.

        Opening Ceremonies started up with a video presentation. The first part consisted of an interview with Wilson “Bob” Tucker.Tucker explained how the second Worldcon came to Chicago.He and other Chicago fans went to the first Worldcon and asked the fans there to vote for them.The next year in Chicago they reciprocated the favor to the Denver fans for the third Worldcon.The film then showed a history of the Chicago in 2000 bid.Then footage from Jeopardy was shown featuring convention program director Steven H. Silver.Associate Chairwoman Becky Thomson gave a tour of the facilities.There was brief clip with Tom Veal and others showing the harried life of a Worldcon Chair.Toastmaster Harry Turtledove introduced the guests of honor. Then there was the pie throwing.It seems while bidding for the Worldcon, the Chicon bid committee offered pre-opposing memberships.If the bid won pre opposing members got to throw a pie at a member of the bid committee that the committee would pick.The intended target would have been Chicon IV co con chair Ross Palvac. Palvac unfortunately passed away in 1997.So most of bid committee names were put into a hat and the pre opposers would pick the name of their target. The pre opposers were Gary Feidbaum, Jody Lynn Nye, Bob and Anne Passovoy.Seth Breidhart was a special pre opposer and he got to pick his target.The pies were actually whip cream in pie trays.Tom Veal faced the ordeal with an orangutan mask that did not help much (a witness claimed that cream could be seen coming out the ear holes).The ceremonial ribbon was then cut and the convention officially started.

        There were at least 16 tracks of programming.There was more going on than the usual panel discussions. Classic SF films were presented at the Swissotel in 16 MM.Steven Barnes taught a Tai Chi class every morning.Artist GOH Bob Eggleton demonstrated the artistic process by painting a picture in a glass room. Fan Father John Blaker held mass for the religious fans.There were several theatrical productions during the convention. The Moebius Theater group presented The Martian Chronicles.Another group adapted James Patrick Kelley’s short story “Faith” into an opera.On a more humorous note, there was Camelot 5, a mix between Babylon 5 and Camelot, and “And the Worldcon is not Enough”, a series of sketches put on by the Trans-Iowa Canal Company TM.Hypnotist Lee Darrow gave a performance during the convention.

        Do Fans Still Talk About SF was the question addressed by John Hertz, Steve Lazarowitz, Kevin Standleee, Michael Walsh and Ben Yalow.John Hertz defined some basic terms. Fans are those who are active in fannish activities such as fanzine writing or putting on conventions.Readers do not take part in such activities but read SF actively.Some myths are that fans are not reading or only new material.Michael Walsh feels that is not true since he has had great success in putting the Lensman series back in print. Walsh has sold approximately 30,000 copies of the Lensman books.Yalow pointed it out that many no name authors can usually sell about 20,000 copies.He went to say that SF is what brings fans together but does not keep them together.Yalow also felt when readers discover fandom it may cut back on reading since fannish activities tend to take up a lot of time.However once they join they have an easier time finding good books by using other fans recommendations.Milt Stevens said now there is too much material out there in order to find common ground.When asked why media fandom gets downplayed at literary conventions the panel felt it is because many literary fans look down on television and movie viewing. Ben Yalow said that there are certain differences between literary and media fandom.Literary fans tend to talk amongst themselves at conventions more than media fans do.There is very little mixing between pros and fans at media conventions.Mike Walsh summed up the panel by saying that fans are still talking about SF, but in different ways.

        Louise Marley, James C. Glass, Linda Reams Fox and Lynn Flewelling examined Bad Heroes and Good Villains.Glass tries to give his villains motivations. He felt that all human beings have demons. The heroes have overcome them while the villain gives in to them.Fox points out that no one ever sees themselves as villains in there own head not even serial killers like Jeffery Dahlmer.Flewelling compared Dahlmer to a human shark.Her own work focus more on the political situation where point of view determines who the heroes and villains are.Flewelling also feels a lot of fantasy tends to be black and white.The world has a tendency to be more pragmatic for example ugly decisions having to be made due to politics or war.Marley explains the excess of evil deeds in media is done to overcome the clichés of traditional evil deeds.In her own writing Marley works on a more theatrical level. What works well as theater may not necessarily be logical.The panel discussed the limiting factors of characterization on Star Trek.The nature of TV is the main reason why the characters remain static.The panel felt that television is improving on character development.Flewelling said that the best way to make a character 2 dimensional is to limit what the character can and cannot do.

        The publication of Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction from the African Diaspora was the springboard for Is This the Ebony Age of Science Fiction. Participants included Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Betsy Mitchell,and Maureen McHugh.Due hopes that there is audience for black genre writing and that there will be some crossover.Barnes discussed that the justification for slavery outlived the institution which is the cause of the problems we face today. He goes on to point out there has never been a successful feature film presenting a minority characters as a sexual being.Barnes said that SF is more accepting of minority characters than the mainstream media. Since film is the next step above literature that is the next place to go.McHugh feels she cannot capture the attitudes of one growing in a racist society. Barnes felt this could be overcome by research.Due thinks that some writers try to hard to write the “Black Character”.She believes people are more alike than different.McHugh felt at this point the differences are too big.Barnes stated that many of the problems between the races will be cured when the generation born before the Civil Rights movement dies off.He expalined that any group of individuals will try to get to the top of the pyramid.Barnes discussed his work in process Insh’Allah.The novel takes place in an alternate world where Islam is the dominate religion.America is colonized by Africans using white slaves.Barnes plans to make all the characters, black and white, to be fully developed.One of the problems he had with films like Gone with the Wind is that blacks were shown without any inwardness at all.

        Panelists Joseph T. Major, James Killus, Eric Van,Karen Parcell, Bill Peterson and James Gifford analyzed Heinlein’s predictions of the future in Expanded Universe during But Heinlein Said.A study in a journal devoted to Heinlein says that Heinlein was 60-70% accurate in his predictions. Van pointed out that Heinlein predicted the end of communism.Major felt that many of the inventions described in The Door Into Summer such as an engineering drafting aid have been realized. The panel went to discuss each prediction.Some felt the social predictions such as the sexual revolution can be easy manipulate to fit current facts.Van pointed out one thing Heinlein did not predict was the mainstreaming of the martial arts.He cited Starship Troopers portrayal of martial arts as proof.The panel concurred with finding of the study in the journal.

        The Guest of Honor speeches were all held at the Hyatt Regency on Friday night.  Toastmaster Harry Turtledove introducedthe guests of honor.This proved a small problem for the first speakers, Fan GOHs Bob and Anne Passovoy since Turtledove was not familiar with them. The Passovoys discussed their fannish careers.The next speaker was writer GOH Ben Bova.Turtledove introduced Bova by discussing his achievements and how Bova rejected him when he was an editor.Bova started by saying for him SF is a way of life. Most of his friends are in the SF community. He met his wife at a convention. He grew up in a tough neighborhood Philadelphia. A visit to the Fels Planetarium got him interested in science and SF.He wrote a novel in 1949 about a space race between the U.S. and U.S.S.R.It was considered too fantastic at the time. He went on to journalism.One of the memories that stuck outfrom that time was the polio box score that ran in the publication until the polio vaccine was introduced.He left journalism and becamea technical writer for Martin in order to get on the ground floor of space.During this time David Kyle asked him if he could bring some real space engineers to a convention.He brought the engineers over and at first the fans scared them. They loosened up and enjoyed themselves.This was Bova’s first introduction to fandom. Bova discussed meeting other professionals such as Isaac Asimov, John W. Campbell, Gordon Dickinson, and Sir Arthur C. Clarke.He did not have time to discuss all of his Harlan Ellison stories.Many thought Ben Bova was house name at Analog.All of his novels are about humanity’s expansion into outer space.Bova believes our commitment to space is essential for our survival. We cannot control our population and remain free.The central theme in SF is that the universe is understandable.He decided to make a few predictions. Life will be found on Mars.Fusion and fusion rockets will be developed. Humanity will find intelligent life outside of Earth. Immortality and end to aging will come to pass.Immortality will make the stars accessible.I was unfortunately unable to attend the other Guest of Honor speeches due to a Masquerade staff meeting I had to attend.

        I mmortality was the topic of I am Going to Live Forever.Participants included Ben Bova, Elizabeth Moon, Charles Tritt, John Strickland, Michael Fossel andJefferey Liss.The panel got to a shaky start when Michael Fossel could not use a non-union slide projector to give a presentation.He went on to discuss his paper on current status on medical research and aging. Some of it discussed the telemeres, which control cell reproduction.Keeping cells reproducing may be the key in halting aging.Elizabeth Moon brought up the quality of life issue. Since the older you get, the fatter you get it she thought it would be nice to be immortal and still able eat chocolate.Bova brought up some of the social ramifications.Relationships may have to be redefined as well as institutions like social security.Bova also pointed immortality may force people to look at the long term rather than the short term.People would have to live with consequence of their actions rather than passing it off to the next generation.Strickland statedthat with a higher quality of life usually leads to a lower birth rate.Moon said that the younger generation may resent immortality since they would lose out on inheritance or position in life.Tritt discussed what one could do to extend life with current technology, diet and lifestyle.Liss points out that many science fiction stories have explore these issues and wish politicians would go and read more science fiction.Tritt considered downloading memory to another medium as another path to immortality. Bova questions this since the individual would still be dead.Liss favored downloading since it would mean freeing up resources.He also says that we have beat evolution already by extending lifespan well beyond reproductive age.Liss went on to talk about various legal aspects that arise from new technologies.Cloning brings up the question what is human.Do clones have rights?Cryonics asks when is one legally dead.Liss feels the lawyers do not have answers to these questions.

        Chicon 2000’s trivia contest was held in 2 parts on Saturday and Sunday.It was done in Jeopardy format very similar to they way the contest is run at Oasis.The host of the contest was fan GOH Bob Passovoy.The organizer of the game was Leo Dorochenko who was part of the winning team of Bucconeer’s trivia contest.The games were held between 2 teams of 4.Participants included Tom Whitmore (ConJose, 60th Worldcon con chair), Tom Galloway (longtime comic fan and poster to several SF and comic newsgroups), Len Wein (creator of Swamp Thing and Wolverine) and myself.The categories came from everywhere.Although Tom Whitmore’s team Allamagoosa won,the real winner may have Dorochenko since many of the questions stumped the participants.

        The Hugo Ceremonies were held on Saturday night at the Fairmont.I was fortunate to sit next to Hugo nominee Mike Glyer and last year’s DUFF recipient Janice Gelb.This year the Hugo organizers decided to mix up the order of the awards although best novel was still last award given.There many typos on the jumbo screens when displaying the nominees. Some of the most notable was the misspelling John Campbell’s name and writing out all the zeros in James Patrick Kelley’s story title “1016 to 1”. In the middle of the ceremony a group called The California Crew presented a music video.The video featured women in media SF from Dale Arden to Trinity from The Matrix.Also featured were Uhura, Scully, Ripley and Ace. These clips were presented with Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Best Shot”playing in the background.It was great congratulating Mike Glyer after winning the Hugo for Best Fanzine.The only other notable event at the awards was the Dramatic Hugo presentation. The award went to GalaxyQuest.The writer and director Robert Gordon and Dean Parisot accepted the award. They gave a speech about the film and being a bit overwhelmed by the convention. They then left the stage and forgot the Hugo.One of them came back and grabbed it.One of the new innovations at Chicon 2000 was the con badge ribbon given outto the Hugo voters.Although some would have to wait awhile until they could tackle Mike Nelson to get it.Hopefully future Worldcons may do this. It may encourage more voting.

        Robert Silverberg and Joe Haldeman held an informal discussion on Sunday morning. Haldeman started out discussing growing up in Alaska. He specifically talkedabout having a bear cub as a pet.While at school it attacked his mother and had to be put down. Unfortunately Haldeman saw it being dissected when coming to his father’s lab.Silverberg had a similar incident with an eel. He had gotten an eel from a pet shop and put it in the bathtub to study it.His mother found it and made him give it back.Haldeman had ordered a snake. It escaped one day and curled up his mother’s leg.He had to give up the snake.Silverberg climbed up a volcano in order to see a rare plant called the silver sword, which can only be found in volcanoes.He did it in Hawaii and was at summit for approximately 30 seconds due to the heat.Haldeman tried to become a medic when he got drafted but ended up in demolitions. He did want have to use a rifle or grenades. He never learned how to throw a grenade properly. Silverberg went on to explain how beat the draft in the 50s.He intentionally screwed up his IQ test.He told a psychologist he had tried to commit suicide and that he never worked normally.Having a degree from Columbia and an IQ of 60 indicated he was a malcontent and the military did want to deal with that.He advised fellow SF fans and professionals about the draft. Harlan Ellison did not heed Silverberg’s advice and was drafted.Both Haldeman and Silverberg discussed collaborating with Ellison.Haldeman’s collaboration has never been finished.When asked what they did for fun. Haldeman replied biking across the U.S. Silverberg said spending too much money at French restaurants.

        Rob Gates, Ronald Oakes, Lee Gold, and Father John Blaker examined The Myth of Fannish Tolerance.Oakes opened up with problems encountered when mundane functions were going on at the same time at the convention hotel.Gates points out that some fans seem to enjoy freaking out the mundanes.Gold said that is wrong and too easy.An audience member said that fans should try to recruit the mundanes rather than freaking them out.Gold brought up a study done by an anthropologist, which stated than many SF fans displayed a distinct body language. Gates recommended Science Fiction Culture by Camille Bacon-Smith, which explore fans relationship with other groups. Gold recommends that fans should stand up against intolerant behavior.

        The Masquerade was held at the Fairmonton Sunday night.I worked as den mother in the green room.On the same floor as the green room was an elaborate wedding reception (we were told the bride would be making several wardrobe changes).As a result we would have to share the bathroom.At first this seem be OK. Green room staff would escort the costumers to make sure there were no problems.This was changed suddenly and Masquerade participants were not allowed the bathroom and had to use a bathroom one floor down.This is an inconvience one would like to avoid when moving around an elaborate costume.The only other bad thing about the facility was the green room did not have a closed circuit TV to see the Masquerade although it could be seen in the hotel rooms.Despite this the Masquerade went on smoothly and started on time.There were 38 entries.Several fans from Philadelphia chose a cow theme in honor of Chicago’s Mrs. O’Leary’s cow.There were such costumes as Cowvalier, Elsie Borden, The Dairy Fairy,Cowltic Warrior and Hugh Heifer.Most of the costumes were with cowhide and the appropriate props for whatever the play on words was.George Richards was a very convincing Ming the Merciless.Master Costumer Joy Day presented an elaborate fairy like costume with removable wings called Spring Rain.Kim Saxon recreated Trinity from The Matrix.An Ent from The Lord of the Rings was brought to life by Susan Eisenhauer and Margaret Blakesley.Fritha Coltrain was St’Harazade.The non-cow pictures can be found on my web site at ~sanmiguel/conphotos7.htm..

        Getting new fans was the topic ofWhat If We Acted like We Wanted New Fans?The panelists included Moshe Feder,Kathleen Mayer,Linda Reams Fox, and Teresa Nielsen Hayden.Part of the problem of recruiting new fans is the elitist attitudes of some of the older fans. Fox is tired of hearing she is not a real fan for not being a hard SF fan who came into fandom inthe 30s .She feels that older fans have to get more accepting of the new fans.Suggestions of having mentors to help the fans settle in or having more informal get togethers at conventions.One audience member pointed out that high priceconventionmemberships could be part of the problem. Meyer sees both sides of the price arguments. Large conventions like Worldcon need to have membership rates due to facilities fees.Local conventions can keep the rates low.Other recommendations were a neo fan suite and just doing anything to help the con virgins.

        Monday was slow being the last day so I slacked off taking notes at most of the other panels I went to.There was a panel that looked back at losses the genre suffered in the last year.The panel consisted ofJohn Clute, Tom Galloway, and Charles Brown and Harry Turtledove.A.E. van Vogt,Catherine Crook de Camp, Charles Shultz, John Sladek, Gil Kane,James White and Joe Mayhew (a special memorial con badge ribbon for Mayhew wasgiven out) were some of the people remembered.Michael Flynn gave a talk on statistics and showed how they can be misleading.There was a panel discussing the difficulties of translating a comic book story to film.Tom Galloway and Kristine Kathryn Rusch participated in this panel.The success of The X-Men was central to the discussion.The afternoon Tai Chi session was cancelled but this gave those of us who showed up an opportunity for an informal talk with Steven Barnes on the martial arts, his views on race and the novel he working on.

        There were as always several parties at Worldcon.The most memorable was the Babylon 5 and Japan in 2007 bid parties.The official title of the Babylon 5 party was Babylon 4 in 1260 and GalaxyCon IV in 2263.Party hostesses were Melissa McIntosh and Clarissa Biel, who were in costume as Ivanova and Delenn respectively.All parties were given buttons that resembled the time stabilizers used in the episode War Without End.I even participated by playing a pizza delivery boy from the pizzeria on Babylon 5.Door prizessuch as Babylon 5 novels were raffled off.The suite was pretty well packed most of the night.The Japan in 2007 party was memorable since it was the first time I had sake.Which was pretty good.Since I have always wanted to visit Japan I hope they win the bid.

        The convention was overall pretty good.There were some problems but no real show stoppers.The only other problem was that fact that the volunteers did not get the traditional gopher T-Shirt.The volunteer staff did give volunteers a bag of free stuff on the last day.Hopefully the next time around the problem with the facilities will be avoided.All things considered pretty good for the last Worldcon of the 20th century.

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