Noreascon 4


            Noreascon 4, the 62nd World Science Fiction Convention, was held on September2-September 6, 2004 in Boston, MA.  The Hynes Convention Center had the dealer’s room, art show, exhibits and panels, The Mended Drum (a bar/lounge inspired from Discworld), con suite, the Masquerade and the Hugos.  Parties were at the Sheraton Boston Hotel. The guests of honor were Terry Pratchett (writer), William Tenn aka Philip Klass (writer), Jack Speer (fan), and Peter Weston (fan). Deb Geisler was the convention chair.

                I always try to get the negatives out first.  Not much this time.  It was a great convention despite the fact I was sick for part of it and worrying if I would have a house to come home to.  Only problem was the lack of a true Internet Lounge.  There were about seven machines set up.  The convention did set up WiFi points all over the convention but there were still long lines at the terminals.  I think there should be a large Internet Lounge (about 25-30 terminals) so people will not have to cart their laptops all over the convention. Beside that it was blast.

                Before Opening Ceremonies humorous slides previewing convention events were shown.  Then a film was shown which first had a view of the solar system.  The film slowly zooms on the New England SF Association (NESFA) clubhouse.  Then the stage is revealed showing the tech crew working on a model of the Massachusetts Ave Bridge.   The crew runs out and the films discuss American history through fannish eyes.  Benjamin Franklin was tied to the first fannish split.  The Revolution and Boston Tea Party were also tied to fans (they could not decide whether to use Coke or Pepsi in the con suite).  Some real history of NESFA was shown including the first Noreascon in 1971.  Con chair Deb Geisler came out welcomed members to the convention and thanked the con staff.  Slides of convention preparation were then shown.  Deb Geisler was asked on a local radio show why she was doing this.  Her reply was “Where else can you say ‘The dragon has to be moved,’ and the response is ‘Which dragon?’ ”.  Deb Geisler introduced Torcon 3 con chair Peter Jarvis.   Then a fife and drum corps came into the auditorium.  Deb claimed she had lost the Worldcon gavel.  Peter said he found at Lost and Found in Toronto and presented it to her.  Deb said had found a more effective gavel and then produced a giant gavel. Jarvis then gave Geisler a survival kit to avoid all the things that happened to Toronto before the Worldcon, such as blackouts and West Nile virus.  Geisler then asked the volunteers to take a bow.  She then introduced the Guests of Honor. Terry Pratchett wore a black T-Shirt stating “Tolkien is dead, J.K. Rowling said no, Pullman is unavailable, Hello I am Terry Pratchett” (each line had a smaller font than the previous).   Then a NASA tape was shown.  Colonel Pam Melroy USAF welcomed members to the convention and discussed the importance of sf in relation to real space travel.  After the tape Geisler invited everyone to First Night and used the giant mallet to open the convention.  The fife and drum corps marched out.   

                Mind the Plot Holes Dear was examined by Grant Carrington, Sharon Lee (moderator), Tamora Pierce, Louise Marley and Connie Willis.  The panelists offered a definition what a plot hole is.  Pierce said it was something you thought was covered and you find it was not after publication. Willis thought it was having the miracle happen (referring to a classic T-shirt/comic) to solve a problem.  Carrington felt they were mistakes in science and character discrepancies, i.e. people do not behave that way. Marley thought a plot hole was a premise she would not buy.  Lee brought up continuity errors and characters that will disappear mysteriously.  Lee then asked the panel how these mistakes happen.  Pierce says quick rewriting can cause the writer to think a hole is plugged when it is not.  Willis admitted she did the missing character and said she needs notes to keep the story straight. Pierce cited two examples of holes.  She felt that towards the end of The Mists of Avalon the characters forgot the relationships established at the beginning of the book.  Pierce noted in Billion Dollar Boy the lead character gets in trouble for drinking early in the book and later drinking is not an issue.   Marley pointed out that in fantasy/supernatural romances writers tend to skip the explanations of how fantasy elements worked.  Willis explained once you set something up such as time travel it must be internally consistent.  If you break the rules it’s called cheating.  Lee pointed out such an inconsistency in the movie Hellboy; a monster was dispatched in manner that should not have killed it.  Lee then asked who finds plot holes.  Pierce responded fans and avid readers.  Carrington recommends giving work to a good reader.  He felt word processors can make holes easier.  Willis pointed out that fans can be wrong or be too picky.  Willis cited the time she was told she got the day Stonewall Jackson died wrong in Lincoln Dreams.  It turned out the reader was arguing over the fact Jackson’s death took place after midnight.  Pierce has her husband help her with plot.  Marley asked if he could be rented.  Pierce warned he is a fan too.  Willis said do not depend on middle of the night solutions for story problems.  Such solutions can cause new problems.   Willis says sometimes she plots out for years.  Pierce does paragraphs breakdowns of her books.    Carrington prefers not to outline.    Pierce says she now takes attention to include some basic details in her books like going to the bathroom.  Willis does not care about her characters going to the bathroom.  She does not like getting mired by the details unless it necessary (she had to write about being on horse for 5 days) or told in an interesting way.

                Daniel Kimmel, Craig Miller (m), John Scalzi and Chris Barkley search for Must See TV and Movies.  The panelists and audience cited what they thought were good examples of sf in media.  Scalzi pointed out that in sf films scientific accuracy is sacrificed for a cool image on the screen.  Furthermore Scalzi said films pre-1977 are still influential.  The audience agreed with this.  Kimmel points out some films age better than others.  Things to Come has aged well while Invaders from Mars has not.  Kimmel goes on to say that films must be taken on their own terms.  Some of the shows and films discussed included: The Prisoner, When Worlds Collide, Bubblegum Crisis, Fantastic Planet, Space Patrol, Star Cops, and Blake’s 7, SF Theater, Babylon 5, Men into Space, Futurama, Man in the White Suit, V (the first mini series) and Buckaroo Bonzai

                Thursday night was called First Night.  Part of the Convention area became a street fair.   There was face painting, an election for a sf president (sf writers Wells, Verne, Heinlein and E.E. Smith were candidates), games, and belly dancers.  Terry Pratchett was put on trial for such crimes as failing to stop a trilogy, cruelty to animals and being a rich bastard.  The SFWA musketeers made a presentation.  Some people had the opportunity to Win Tom Galloway’s Money, for $5.  During this I helped Tom Whitmore give away free books.  Each person was given 2 books and had to promise to give one to someone they did not know.

                The Enchanted Apple: New York City in SF Fantasy was explored by Michael Burstein (Queens), Susan Schwartz (Ohio transplant, m), Esther Friesner (Brooklyn), Madeline E. Robins (Manhattan) and George R.R. Martin (Bayonne, NJ).  Martin says he likes writing about New York because of the contrasts.   The rich and poor live side by side in the city, something Martin tried to portray in Beauty and the Beast (TV Series).  Friesner feels there is always something more to the city.  Robins feels stories and people are compressed into New York.  Robins then talked about the time she saw a whip salesman in New York.  Burstein likes the history of New York.  He pointed out that New York is based on money and has more gold than Fort Knox.   Martin likes the great transportation systems the city has and so finds it interesting that people still walk a lot.  Martin also points out that transportation is better for those with money.  He points those with money can get a cab while those with less must go underground and take a subway.    Martin was amazed by the real estate status in the city.  Friesner called magazines which covered real estate in New York as real estate porn.   Robins talked about a family member who had a 10 bedroom apartment in Manhattan.  Thomas Disch, who was living in a very small apartment, saw it and was amazed that parts of it were not rented out.  This led to the revelation by an audience member that one can get an apartment in New York by looking at the obituaries.  Martin liked that the Marvel Comics Universe was set in New York.  When Martin did his super hero based anthology series Wild Cards he arranged events so the World Trade Center would not be built and the Empire State Building would remain the biggest building in the world.  Martin pointed out for years other cities would not build anything bigger than the Empire State Building out of respect which ended when the World Trade Center was built.  This led to a discussion of 9/11.  Friesner wrote a story as therapy.  The story dealt with resilience of New York.    Robins said that her novel The Stone War, predicted how parts New York would be evacuated.  Robins feels 9/11 shows that in New York everybody ignores each other until they cannot anymore.  Towards the end of the panel an audience member asked Robins about the fate of the 10 bedroom apartment and Robins said it is willed to someone.  Audience members followed up by asking if the heir was single. 

                Fifteen Years of The Simpsons was looked at by Michael Burstein (m), Daniel Kimmel and Pam Fremon.   The first question posed to the panel was why do they like it.  Fremon liked that the characters are both good and bad.  Kimmel feels it is one of the best written shows on television.  Burstein liked the subtlety in its jokes.  When asked about their favorite episodes Fremon brought up the musical episodes.  Burstein pointed out those musicals that showed in The Simpsons such as Planet of the Apes and A Streetcar Named Desire are being produced in the real world.  The panel was asked who their favorite characters were.  Fremon’s favorite was Skinner.  She feels he likes kids but is bogged downed by the bureaucracy.  Kimmel likes Krusty the Clown.  Burstein is fond of all the characters voiced by the late Phil Hartman, which included Troy McClure, Lionel Holtz and the monorail salesman.  Kimmel pointed out the sf references in the show citing the Treehouse of Horror episode, parodying Bradbury’s “Sound of Thunder”.  Burstein avoids the Treehouse of Horror episodes since they give him nightmares.   Fremon shows that morals do appear in the show, citing the episode where Homer punished Bart by not letting him see the Itchy and Scratchy movie.  Burstein says the show presents religious diversity although it makes fun of them equally.  Krusty is Jewish and his father is a rabbi.  The Simpsons go to church.  Abu is a practicing Hindu.  The panel and audience debated where Springfield is.   Fremon said it is where it needs to be.  The panel was asked whether the Simpsons reflect the American family.  They felt it did since the Simpsons love and hate each other at the same time.  Marge and Homer are devoted and they work at it.  Fremon goes on to say the family has its problems but they try hard to work them out.  Kimmel, who wrote a book on the history of Fox, discussed the show’s place in the history of the network.  Kimmel says it is the longest running comedy ever.  He feels it remains fresh by bringing in new writers.  Creator Matt Groening and producer James Brooks help maintain the quality of the show.  Fremon feels its enormous cast is another source of success.  Naomi Burstein likes the fact the writers assume the audience knows about the musicals they are parodying.  The panel talked about the fact that the show shifted from Bart’s antics to Homer’s stupidity.  Fremon says since the characters do not age it makes them very flexible.  The panel was asked about the future of the show.  Kimmel hopes they can keep up the quality.  Burstein hopes they find out it was all a dream. 

                Cyber-Crime: Present and Future was investigated by Charles Ardai, Michael Benveniste (m), Harold Feld and Charlie Petit.  Ardai ran the Internet Service Provider Juno.  Petit was Harlan Ellison’s lawyer in the suit against AOL.   Benveniste is an attorney.  Feld is an assistant director for the Media Access project.  Ardai stated there are no laws needed for cyber crime.  Existing laws already cover computer crime.  Ardai could not think of any cyber crime without a corresponding one in the real world.  Petit agreed and said the infamous Nigerian scam that appears in spam originated in 1500s.  All cyberspace provides is a larger pool of potential victims and it makes it hard to track the bad guys.  Feld says national law enforcement wants legislative fixes and new technology made accessible to them.  Ardai says technology provides new opportunities.  But the bad guys seem to pick up the new technology faster.  So law enforcement needs to recruit talent.  Unfortunately, as Petit points out, the best and the brightest are not going into fighting white collar crime.  Feld explains that law enforcement does eventually learn to combat crime.  Petit says the problem is that the new information does not get to people who need it or vital steps are not taken.  Feld went on to say that globalization can complicate matters.  Someone may do something legal in one jurisdiction which is illegal in another.  He cites the example of France prosecuting someone living outside of France selling Nazi memorabilia (which is illegal in France) over the Internet.  Feld gives the example the one online crime that American law enforcement is interested in: online gambling. They cannot stop it since the servers are in the Caribbean.  Petit pointed out the problem of jurisdiction is not new.  In the 1920s James Joyce’s Ulysses was illegal in Britain but legal in France.  Someone brought up that simulated child pornography (images completely computer generated) is maybe a new crime.  This was subject to debate.  Petit explained that the big problem with white collar crime was finding the guilty party.  Bad guys can use other peoples’ machines to launch attacks.  This all leads to them question whether it may be necessary to change the definition of a crime.  Ardai says banning culprits from using computers may not be an effective deterrent.  Feld says punishments may change with civil suits now being charged against users.  An audience member asked whether someone who does not protect their computer should be held liable if their computer is used in a crime. Ardai and Petit compared that situation to driving under the influence.  Feld felt the threat of civil suits may be the answer to this.  Another audience member asked whether software companies could be held liable for vulnerable products.  Petit felt this was not feasible since law cannot distinguish a company from an individual.  Feld disagreed and said the current commerce laws can distinguish.  In summation, Petit reminded the audience that cyberspace has only expanded the range of crime.  Ardai agreed and hopes law enforcement can keep up.  Feld told the audience not to be passive, to get involved and keep all eyes and ears open. 

                Friday night had the Retro Hugos and Guest of Honor interviews.  The audience was warmed up by the group the Lothars, which play the thermin (the instrument which was used in many sf films).  Then the audience saw the prop of the Harvard Bridge and were given a history of it.  There was a 50s dance number called “The Champion Strut” performed by Susan de Guardiola and Jeff Poretsky.  Then Peter Weston came out and introduced his fellow guests of honor.  Then Bob Eggleton in a robe came out and in “hippie speak” explained that he will rectify the fact there were no Hugos in 1954.  He said he would do this with time travel.    Throughout the night the Retro Hugos were given and in between, Peter Weston performed the Guest of Honor interviews.   Jack Speer was first.  Speer had some difficulty understanding Weston’s accent.  When the Retro Hugos for fanzines and fan writers were given out Speer explained why they were good choices.  He went on to describe the first Worldcon.  Speer said fandom has kept up with the times and has become more diverse.  Then Speer discussed the Fan Encyclopedia.  Next came William Tenn aka Philip Klass.  Weston asked about his pen name.  Tenn explained he sent out a lot of material under different names. Tenn material sold and the name stuck.   He discussed a call between John W. Campbell and H.L. Gold (who had revealed his real name).  Campbell was trying to crush a rumor he was dogmatic.  Tenn had a falling out with Campbell over a story.  For Campbell, Tenn had to make his aliens vulnerable because Campbell could not conceive of a being superior to himself.  Tenn did the rewrite to get a cover story.  Terry Pratchett was then interviewed.  Terry Pratchett and Weston met at a British convention 40 years ago.  Weston has picture of the 16 year old Pratchett and at that time Pratchett had only sold two stories which were printed for a school publication.  Pratchett discussed how his novel The Truth was inspired from his newspaper days.  Pratchett told how he had to talk to a suicide jumper while the police looked for the jumper’s wife.  He then discussed his review of Lord of the Rings.  Pratchett was inspired by Larry Niven but he tried to be anti-Niven.  Weston brought up the fact Pratchett won the Order of British Empire.  Pratchett says he only wears it to bed.  Pratchett then interviewed Weston and talked about the first convention they did together.  Pratchett wrote an article for Weston’s fanzine which later sold for $250 because of Pratchett’s contribution.  When asked about the Hugo’s manufacturing, Weston said he would explain all in his talk the next day (Weston is responsible for the current manufacturing process of the Hugo rockets).  Pratchett then got on his knees begging Weston for a Hugo.  Weston said he had to write a sf novel.  They questioned whether they were old farts.  They went back to the convention 40 years ago.  They talked about the cool status of the pros.  Weston remembered pros welcomed fans and bought drinks.  Weston said many pros attended that convention.  There is a reunion planned.  Pratchett cannot make it due to a book tour.  Pratchett and Weston shook hands and left.

                Terry Pratchett had his guest of honor speech on Saturday morning.   Pratchett discussed his recent surgery due high blood pressure.  The operation went well except Pratchett tried to get up because he saw a man with sandwiches.  He learned a lesson, “do not go to the sandwiches”.  Pratchett found it comforting to find out there would be food on the other side.  This led him to think on some of the big questions like “can you get a Porsche?”  He did not know.  Then he discussed seeing a live action role playing game based on Discworld.  Pratchett played the game and haggled with a kid assassin over being killed and resurrected.  Seeing people playing the game, he felt his work was done.  An audience member asked what the turtle in Discworld walks on.  Pratchett replied “Not you.”  He then discussed his next novel, Going Postal which is about a con man who redeems himself.  Pratchett wrote the Discworld books to have fun.  There was no plan except Pratchett was opposed to the type of fantasies coming out in the 80s.  He wrote part of the one of the books while working as press officer at a nuclear power plant.  He never had to deal with an accident but Pratchett did have to deal with a man who was too radioactive to leave the plant.  It turned out he disassembled an altimeter with a radium dial.   Pratchett had amusing times with the engineers.  He described the “Fred factor”: how complex equipment must be operated by some guy named Fred who would sometimes do scary things with said equipment, like flushing nuclear waste in a bathroom.  Pratchett then discussed conflicts between nuclear and sewage workers.  Writing allowed Pratchett to leave the nuclear industry.  Pratchett dreads not having a work in progress so he starts a new book after he finishes the last one.  He did this for years.  Pratchett felt a writer without a work in progress is a bum and he was afraid the magic would go away. He does not how many books he has sold.  Pratchett discussed his Hugo begging from the previous night.  Pratchett talked about problems with publishing in the U.S.  The books came out of order.  There were misspelled words and sliding release dates.  Pratchett said he was a convention going fan.  He went into hiatus in 1973 because he was not comfortable with the new faces.  Pratchett talked about competing with Salaman Rushdie in writing contest.  When asked where his ideas come from, Pratchett replied “Don’t know.”  When asked what rich people do, he replied “Buy big computers and books.”  Pratchett was avid reader at 13 and would read almost anything.  He read about a dress made by an arsenic-based process which killed its wearer and used this in a book. Pratchett then could answer where he gets his ideas. He steals them.  An audience member asked how Pratchett wrote his stories.  Pratchett said he makes it up as he goes along.  He never had formal training, he just wrote and published.  Pratchett felt writing for children is more demanding.  Children’s books need more details since they cannot be expected to fill in the gaps.  Children he felt are very plot savvy.   Pratchett is having a lot of theses being written about him.  Pratchett got to design his coat of arms (based on the Discworld).  He says it has been tremendous fun and is amazed about the nice things said about his writing. He thanked the audience for being a guest of honor.  Pratchett says he is doing very well and now does one book a year.  This gives him more free time.  He talked about the fact he was made an honorary Brownie for writing good female characters.  Pratchett talked about writing Good Omens with Neil Gaiman.  He felt Middle Earth was the hero of Lord of the Rings.  Pratchett said Nightwatch is his favorite adult Discworld novel.

                Chris Barkley, Tom Galloway (m), Daniel Kimmel and Bey King opened by saying they hate everything at the Fannish Rivalry panel.  Kimmel thought fights usually start when people try to start new things at cons.  Kimmel talked about how the SMOFs were against the split of Best Dramatic Presentation Hugo into long form and short form.  Barkley was the one who suggested the split in 1998 since many good television shows were coming out.  The debate about the split lead to some heated arguments.  A Swedish fan in audience talked about the time they let a local Trek fan group organize their national convention.  This led a schism with the older fans.  There was a different philosophy between the Trek fans and literary fans.  It was a bumpy convention.   Tim Russ, Tuvok on Star Trek: Voyager, and M. John Harrison were guests of honor.  Tim Russ led to more expenses.  The panel discussed the cult of personality.   Kimmel felt that the literary fans feel that media science fiction is not serious enough. Some audience members do see rivalry between media and literary fans but some do not.  Kimmel said that people who do not crossover have problems. Galloway explained how some conventions in Boston and Minneapolis imploded in the 80s.  They had become too big.  After the implosion the conventions became leaner.  Stuff like anime and gaming got cut out.  Fans started new conventions devoted to these items.  Galloway discussed how weapons policy at convention evolved.  In the mid 70s a mundane thought a Logan’s Run live action role playing game was real and called the cops.  A SWAT team was sent and the gamers thought the police were players.  Fortunately the SWAT team did not overreact.   Barkley recommended dialogs between the groups so mutual respect could be achieved.  Kimmel was impressed by all the sub cultures in fandom.  He first saw this when he came to Worldcon as a reporter, and now he comes as fan/participant. 

                Bob Greenberger (m), Barry Short and Jerry Weist remembered the The Strange Adventures: The Eccentric World of Julius Schwartz.  Greenberger talked about Schwartz’s early career.  Schwartz was a pulp reader and read the letter columns in the magazines.  He met Mort Weisigner (DC writer/editor) at a sf club meeting.   He wrote a fanzine called The Time Traveler. While talking to editors, Schwartz realized they were looking for talent.  He became an agent and worked with many writers.  Schwartz got H.P. Lovecraft his biggest sale. Alfred Bester advised Schwartz to go work for All American Comics in 1944.  He did so with little experience in comics but Schwartz would later become one of the biggest editors in comics.  He put letter columns in comics and help start comic fandom. Schwartz attended the first Worldcon in 1939.  Schwartz was a member of First Fandom. Short said that Schwartz was a great panelist since he had great memory.  Weist said Schwartz was very sociable.  He went on to say that The Time Traveler became Fantasy magazine.  There he created a round robin novel.  Schwartz was always thinking of marketing.  Greenberger said Schwartz enthusiasm never waned.  He liked to introduce comics to sf fans.  Schwartz also published (Superman co-creator) Jerry Siegel’s short stories.  In the audience Guy Lillian (Challenger editor/writer) said Schwartz was the next important man he ever knew after his own father.   He then talked about the time he got a comic script for a letter he wrote which was a common Schwartz practice.  Another audience member remembered that she got a Superman insignia pin from Schwartz after showing him her baby dressed as Superman.  Another said Schwartz was not comfortable talking about himself but could talk about others.  He also got John Broone (co writer with Schwartz on Green Lantern) to attend a San Diego Comic Con.   Another audience member felt obliged to remind the panel that Schwartz was a Yankee fan (announcing this in Boston can lead to arrest/lynching).  Schwartz skipped out of the Worldcon on Sunday to see Lou Gehrig’s last game.  Schwartz had multiple interests which also included Dixieland jazz which was played at his funeral.   Schwartz was also a devoted family man and did not go to conventions while raising his family.  He then went back to conventions after his wife’s death. 

                Vamps were hunted down by Tanya Huff (m), Ellen Datlow, Cecilia Tan, and Charlaine Harris.   Huff thanked the convention committee for not placing this panel at midnight.  Huff then asked the panel, “Is society growing up or getting more kinky in accepting the vampire?”  Tan felt people are more self aware and the more self aware one is the more kinky one can be.  Datlow thought characterization was everything and the sky’s the limit for a vampire.  Tan says in her anthologies she uses vampires to explore human sexuality. She hated the “vampire walks into a bar” story.  Harris admitted she used that as the basis of her series.  Datlow says vampires have been used to explore blood diseases like AIDS.  Harris pointed out that vampires are usually sterile so they can used to play out fantasies since there is no fear of pregnancy.  Huff said that vampires are showing up in all genres.  Tan explained this is because they are adaptable.  She went on to say that the vampire provides sex without guilt since the vampires usually seduced their victims.  When asked if more vampires are coming out as protagonists, Tan agreed and felt the dark side now is more marketable.  Huff felt there is a little interest in female vampires. Datlow pointed out Nancy Collins in the Sonja Blue series.  She went on to say vampires are mostly men since women are writing a lot of vampire stories.  The good vampire trend has being going on for 15-20 years.  Tan continued by pointing out many vampire romances are being written.  Huff explained the genre lines are blurring and pointed out Harris books are a mix.  Tan thinks it OK to make a protagonist a little evil but not hideously evil.  If one goes for hideously evil there is a tendency to go over the top.  Harris thinks the vampire is the ultimate “scary” date since they can kill you.  The panel looked at were vampires were going.  Datlow thought it is difficult to predict trends.  Tan did not want to see “CSI” vampires.  An audience member asked who gets to decide where the books go in a bookstore.  Datlow said some placement is paid for.  Huff worked at a specialty bookstore and chose not separate horror from fantasy.  Harris said her book’s location is dependent on the individual bookstore.  Huff has seen an “angst” section in a California bookstore.  Another audience member asked is the vampire a metaphor for rape.  Huff thought it was more like rape fantasy since there usually enjoyment afterward.  The panel was asked are there any groups they want to see as vampires.  Harris said hip hop vampires books are already out.  Huff has seen Asian vampires.  Vampires are coming from other places outside of Eastern Europe.  An audience member pointed the lack of female vampires may be due to the fact of lack of conflict between the female vampire and a male victim.

                Catherine Asaro (m), Jim Butcher, Wen Spencer, Karen Traviss and Paul Witcover looked at SF Love Scenes.  Asaro opened up with saying love scenes is way of exploring the “other”.  The panel asked what is the difference between a love and sex scene.  Witcover said the difference lies in how you want to move the audience.  Traviss was not sure there was a difference but thought love scenes are respectable and sex scenes are edgy.  Spencer said love is between two people who want a relationship.  Asaro thought there is such a thing as gratuitous lack of sex.  She went on to say that love scenes need to further the plot and do not necessarily involve sex. It has to be an expression of something for the character, more than just titillating the reader.  Witcover saw that sex can serve additional purposes in sf.  Such purposes include dealing with alien relations or an allegory.  Asaro said the sf audience is more willing to experience new things but can be prudish at times.  Witcover discussed writing some really repellent scenes, but had to for the story.  Traviss said that in not putting enough detail is a copout.  Asaro got complaints from male readers for the way her women characters perceived the male characters.  She went on to say she had to change an alien character’s anatomy due to some male workshop input.  The panel was asked why we are interested in interspecies relationships.  Witcover says this goes back as far as fairy tales.  Traviss thought it was our fascination with the “other”.  We are interested to see how the “other” interacts with their physical and emotional makeup.  Asaro continuing saying aliens helps us to define what it is to be human.  Love and sex are a fundamental part of humanity.  Spencer asked how far you could go.  Witcover says far as you want if you write well.  Asaro felt explicit and violent death would not go over well.  An audience member felt it was America’s puritanical nature which led to the criticism Asaro received.  Asaro admitted the puritanism is still there but it is better now than in years past.  An audience member recommended the works of Spider Robinson for good love scenes.  The panel made some recommendations.  Spencer said that the sf romance web site has good recommendations. Witcover recommended Tony Daniel.  Asaro recommended Susan Savires, Pamela Sargent, Sharon Shinn, and the works released by Circlet Press for erotic sf.  She went on to recommend LeGuin’s The Left Hand of Darkness. Asaro felt it could have used more sex but was restricted due to the times.  Spencer recommended the early Anita Blake books, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jane Cassell, Jacqueline Carey and J.D. Robb.  An audience member recommended “Man of Steel, Woman of Kleenex” by Larry Niven which examined Superman’s sexuality.    

                Neil Gaiman was the master of ceremonies for the Hugos.  He made references to his previous Hugo acceptance speeches which involved an explicative.  Gaiman at an early age read many of the stories and novels that were nominated for the Hugo.  At 16, Gaiman wanted to be a hard sf writer and win a Hugo.  It did not happen as planned.  When someone had told him they saw a Hugo it was like having a piece of the cross.  Gaiman discussed the Hugo mystique.  During this he brought up Dave Langford, who has won the Hugo several times for fan writer.  As an adult Gaiman got blasé about the Hugo.  One of his happiest moments ever was winning a Hugo.  The coolest thing about the Hugo is that it is part of the sf community’s history.  There are multiple definitions for sf, at least as many as members to the convention.  Gaiman said the Hugo helps defines what is sf.  Science fiction is not dead.  The joy of sf comes from the fact it contains everything we enjoy and that it can coexist.  Gaiman then brought up the quote from the head of the U.S. Patent Office in 1899, who had asked the President of the United States to close the office since everything had been invented.  Some people have had on occasion felt sf is over for similar reasons. It turned out the quote was a fraud.  Researching the story Gaiman found out it came from a book written by Dave Langford. 

Just before the Hugos, Robert Silverberg gave a speech about the Hugos 50-year history.  Silverberg has attended every Hugo ceremony.  The first ceremony, he had to get nose bleed seats since could not afford the $5.75 banquet fee.  Silverberg’s Worldcon roommate Harlan Ellison could afford it and was being smug about it.  He talked about seeing Heinlein descend in his white dinner jacket to receive his award.  Silverberg remembered the time Asimov was the master of ceremonies.  Since Asimov had not won a Hugo, he derided the winners during the ceremonies.  Asimov was surprised at the end when he won a special Hugo.  Silverberg talked about the combination Hugo Ceremony /crab fest in Baltimore.  There were disastrous results from giving anxious fans crab mallets.  Silverberg finished off his speech saying “please say a few kinds word for him 50 years from now.”

  Edwin Strauss (aka Filthy Pierre) won First Fandom’s Big Heart award and special award from the convention committee for his contributions to fandom.  He received a standing ovation both times.  Both times said like what he does and will keep doing it. 

                Joe Siclari, Jack Chalker and Jack Speer reflected on Fandom’s Bad Ideas: Remembering the Best of the Worst.  Chalker talked about the 1967 a convention when they shared a hotel with the Scientologists.  Chalker decided to spy on them and saw they were enraptured listening to a reel-to-reel tape of Hubbard.  Hubbard later showed up at the 1982 Worldcon and could not socialize due to his status.  Chalker felt Hubbard wanted to see old friends but could not.  Speer described the Exclusion Act of the first Worldcon.  This banned members of Futurians.  Many of these Futurians would become famous pros.  Chalker said Isaac Asimov was a Futurian but came to the convention with editor John W. Campbell, which prevented Asimov from being blocked entry into the Worldcon. Speer said this was done because some of the Futurians were pushing communism.  Siclari brought up the idea of slan shacks, places were fans could crash for a few days.  Siclari ran one in New York called the Cinemansion (the house had movie posters for wallpaper).  Speer said a fan named Dengler proposed Slan Central.  This would be a town of fans.  Nothing came of it but Speer thought a town of fans would be ungovernable.  Once incorporatation of the World Science Fiction Society was attempted.  It lasted for a few years but it did not work.  Speer said suing is always a bad idea and talked about suits started by David Kyle and Forrest J. Ackerman.  Chalker talked about calming down and impatient Worldcon audience armed with crab hammers.  Chalker then talked about the many things that went wrong at 1968 Worldcon in Oakland.  Siclari and Chalker could not agree if the air conditioning was working at that convention.  One of them thought Philip Jose Farmer’s 45-minute guest of honor speech made it feel like there was no air conditioning.  Chalker went on to discuss the Masquerade. Don Studebaker was placed in charge of the masquerade and was given a budget of $1000. He spent it on three bands, a light show and boxes of incense.  It turned out the hotel had no stage.  They improvised by taping tables with duct tape. At the Masquerade incense was handed out.   This created a large cloud. Due to the incense people started to pass out.  Robert Bloch asked Chalker what they were going to about the bodies.  Realizing the seriousness of the situation Chalker dragged the people out into the open air.  The convention staff tried to call emergency services but they were tied up with Berkley riots also going on. 

                This Book Sucks: How Not to Write Reviews was explored by Tobias Buckwell, Thomas Easton, Janice M. Eisen (m), Scott Edelman, and Steve Sawicki.  Easton said no writer likes a bad review.  Eisen added book reviews can also be disturbing since they can have the facts wrong.  Sawicki felt one can do negative reviews if they have a column.  Eisen hated the use of stars or grades.  Scott Edleman’s SF Weekly (web magazine) uses grades but there is no F graphic yet.  Edelman went on to say some books are so important that they demand reviews.  Eisen had a policy of “no slamming of first novels.”  Easton says some people do the opposite of what the reviewers recommended.  People use reviews as a roadmap.  A member of the audience asked if some writers use negative reviews to improve.  Easton said some do.  Easton got two favorable letters from writers who got bad reviews from him. Buckwell says the review is not current to the writer.  By the time the book and review come out the writer has already moved on. Sawicki never got good feedback from a reviewer.  The panel was asked how you review books by friends.  Easton said if you give a friend a bad review and he/she are still your friend, you have a good friend.  Eisen gave a good review to someone she was arguing with.  Edelman pointed out that reviews do matter.  He brought up the fact that Damon Knight’s review of A.E. Van Vogt’s work destroyed Van Vogt’s career.  Some writers like Stephen King are not affected by reviews.  An audience member asked is there such a thing a bad publicity.  Sawicki said being ignored is worse than a negative review.  An audience member said that negative reviews have helped sell books and sometimes they can be fun.  Eisen hates deliberately nasty reviews.  Easton tries to have a good zinger in his reviews.  An audience member talked about the time they had to give a bad review for a book they found contemptible.  Edelman discussed how Adam-Troy Castro got complaints for reviewing an Anita Blake novel without reading the rest of the series.  Edelman thought Paul DiFilipio was his best reviewer at SF Weekly. When Easton has to review an anthology, he tries to explain what the anthology is and talked about the original stories in the book.  For anthologies, Buckwell talks about the outstanding stories. 

                The Noreascon masquerade was one of the bigger Masquerades in recent times.  There were about 50 entries. Susan de Guardiola was the master of ceremonies.  The only odd thing this year was that no program given out.  There were several entries based on Discworld.  There was a special award for Discworld entries judged by Terry Pratchett.  Second place in Discworld and Best in Show Workmanship was the A Pale Rider.  This was Pratchett’s Death on a motorcycle.  The winner of the best Discworld costume was Not the Usual Unusual that involved Discworld and Tom Jones’ signature song “It’s not Unusual”.  Jim Henson’s Muppets were brought to life in Beaker the Vampire Slayer.  Master costumer Anne Davenport was a Patriotic Pagan.  Her dress was patterned after the American flag but the stars replaced with pentagrams and using the Dixie Chicks music in her presentation.  A group of time travelers with a George Pal-esque time machine made up Adventures in Time.  Between the presentation and judging the audience was treated to a one man performance of the first Star Wars trilogy.            

                Daniel Kimmel, Daniel Hatch, Lynn Gold and Sally Wiener Grotta looked at the relationship between Mundane Media and SF.   The panel focused on how cons and fandom are covered in the print and electronic media.  Grotta says she does not like the “us versus them” attitude between fans and media.  During ConJose Gold, she corrected an error at her radio station which had Patrick Stewart as the main guest.  Upper management and non-tech types do not understand fans.  Grotta never got to do a con or fandom story.  She was just never assigned to one.  The mainstream world is ready to embrace sf if we give them a reason to.  They are not getting good stories.  Conventions need better press relationships.  Kimmel came to Noreascon 3 to cover it.  He noted that some stories get butchered by editors.  Kimmel has sold several sf news pieces and was working on some with material from this Worldcon.  The key, Kimmel says, is to find a good hook for the newspapers to work with.  Hatch also did a story on a convention.  He focused on a gathering of readers.  The panel was asked what we need to win the media over.  Grotta said the New York City literary mafia does not like sf.  She reinforced the need to find good story angles.   Newspapers need a month notice.  Magazines need six months notice.  The convention staff needs to inform the local paper about the economic impact of the con.  This should get a convention a little attention unless a national catastrophe occurs.  Hatch said that editors need to fill out publications.  Stories need color, quotes, and local/regional material.  An audience member mentioned the fact that fannish charity works rarely get covered, although an L.A. writer did do a good story once.  Someone mentioned the fact that Magicon got a lot of good press.  This may have been due to a desire for good news after Hurricane Andrew.  Grotta pointed out that the subject does not control the story and the journalist controls the slant.  An audience member asked why the facts come out wrong in some stories.  Hatch said this is due to tight deadlines.  Gold says that journalism pays little so it is hard to hold good people.  An audience member who plans to make the line for Star Wars Episode Three asked how they could best represent themselves.  Members of the line will be participating in charity work while in line.  Grotta said represent themselves as people with ideas.  Also prepare some things to say as sound bits.  Kimmel said that people need to get thicker skins about small mistakes.

                John F. Hertz (m), Richard and Nicki Lynch had A Farewell to MimosaMimosa was started in 1982 as sequel to an old fanzine.  Richard and Nicki Lynch had heard David Kyle complaining there is no fan history in fanzines.  They decided to create Mimosa to preserve fan history.  Mimosa was nominated 14 times for a Hugo and won 6 times.  Hertz thought Mimosa succeeded because it was well made.  It had good covers, layout, and writing.  The Lynches asked for first person articles.  Some articles were researched.  Some issues had a theme.  These were developed organically.  Issue 15 was devoted to food.  Issue 16 was the last one to be mimeoed.  This was due to a fire next door to the Lynches.  Putting out the fire damaged the Lynch’s home.  The next issue was made with more modern methods.  It was well received.  Richard and Nicki chose to retire Mimosa because they felt they accomplished their goal of preserving history.  There are new places to do that.  They felt Mimosa was old fashioned.  Hertz felt that paper fanzines still have their place in fandom.  Artist Charlie Williams’s work appeared in every issue of Mimosa.  The audience mentioned the reasons the liked Mimosa.  They discussed the mixed results of the live fanzine (videotape) made in conjunction with issue 4.  Nicki Lynch read the intro to the final issue of Mimosa.

                It was standing room only for How Do you Know When You Die?  Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman, Larry Niven, Uncle River, Terry Pratchett and Scott Edelman (m).   Pratchett thought the undead can be funny.  Gaiman though being dead gives you a wonderful perspective.  Willis does not deal with the undead.  She does real death.  She talked about some things which can be worst than death.  River had dreams about his mother not believing she was dead after she died.  Niven felt to be a successful sf writer in Hollywood one had to be dead.  He cited the fact many of Philip K. Dick‘s stories have been turned into movies after his death.  Dead writers are easier to deal with.  Gaiman is working on children’s book where a child is raised in a graveyard by ghosts.  Willis said the movie Truly Madly Deeply showed what the dead do: rent movies.  Pratchett and Gaiman mocked medium Jonathan Edwards.  River thought being dead would mean dealing with other dead people.  Willis went further saying you may be trapped with people you do not like.  She felt the same way at the SFWA suite.  Gaiman replied with that death is like being in the SFWA suite.  Gaiman is fascinated by ideas of resurrecting the dead by downloading their essence in a new body.  Niven wanted to brought back in the future and get his starship.  Pratchett suggested that Niven be frozen, have movies on his works made, be revived and get his starship.  Gaiman added that the movies would be on the ship. Willis saw a bad side effect to nanotech immortality.  No new innocents to sell books to.  Mysteries would also disappear.  Gaiman thought many ghost stories do not make sense.  Willis agreed and felt they should be disturbing.  Gaiman once got a letter from a woman whose baby died.  She said his character of Death from Sandman got her through it.  An audience member told Gaiman his Death also helped her deal with the death of her son.  She thanked him and left.  Willis got a lot of questions about death after her near death experience novel, The Passage came out.  She had to inform them she did not know more than them.  Willis felt the speculation of the afterlife stems from our failure to imagine a world without us.  We are desperate to make sense of things which make no sense.    River felt there is a possibility of life after death.  Pratchett said there are three possibilities: nothing happens, something pleasant happens, something unpleasant happens.  There is a one in three chance of something bad happening.  An audience member discussed exploiting the dead.  Gaiman thought it was a good idea since there was no union.  Pratchett said it changes the term “working stiff”.  Gaiman liked the myth of the angel of death.  The angel is so beautiful one falls in love so deeply and willing they let their soul get suck out of the body.  Willis thought the best Death was in Charles William’s All Hollow’s Eve.  Gaiman, when asked to be a horror host for Fox Movie channel, insisted on all the trappings of a horror host.  This meant coming out of a coffin.  Though the coffin was comfortable, when they closed the lid his heart beat faster and a voice in his head was screaming “get out.”  Gaiman said the unknown is good for stories. No one can challenge you.  Willis said one can turn traditional images on their head.  Pratchett say one dies when they stop talking about one.  Writers die when they are finally out of print. 

                Closing ceremonies opened with greetings from New Zealand fans.  A fife and drum corps came in.  Deb Geisler came on stage with a big mallet.  She wondered if this was a Dallas dream.  Geisler hoped it was good fannish reunion.  She thanked the Guests of Honor.  The Guests of Honor came out and thanked the convention. Geisler asked the com committee, staff, and volunteers to stand up and asked the audience to applaud them for their efforts.  Geisler thanked her husband for getting her through this.  She introduced Vince Doherty and Colin Harris, chairs of Interaction.  Veteran Worldcon chair Doherty was given the big mallet and Harris got a small mallet.  Then there was replay of the con.  This was like the one man Star Wars show. Highlights included First Night, Pratchett begging for a Hugo, and Cheryl Morgan winning a Hugo.  It was noted this performance could be nominated for Hugo (Best Dramatic Presentation (Short)).  Doherty and Harris gave Geisler her past Worldcon chair ribbon.   Doherty and Harris introduced the Interaction staff.  A film narrated with the Provost of Glasgow was presented.  She invited all to Glasgow for next year’s Worldcon.  A bagpipe band ended the ceremonies.

                As always there are people who help make Worldcon a great experience. Special thanks to Patricia Russell for letting me her guide in this strange and wonderful world we call Worldcon.   Thanks to the members of OASFS, SFSFS, WSFA and the usual suspects of Worldcon attendees who always make the convention fun. Thanks to Brad Ackerman for rooming with me.  Special thanks to Melanie Hertz who kept finding me stuff to do. Thanks to the Exotics, my Australian tour group, it is always great to see you guys (sorry I could not make it to the dinner). Thanks to the costumers in my den and the staff at the Masquerade Green Room (you were all great to work with).  Thanks to Dave Plesic for being.  See you all next year in Glasgow for Interaction.


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