Torcon 3, the 61st
World Science Fiction Convention, was held on August 28-
Well the bad first. Programming was chaotic. The pocket programs were sent to the printer before programming was finalized. Daily updates were printed at the convention. This seemed to be more of a problem for the programming participants. The panels, readings and the signings I wanted go to happened. Panels this year were about 50 minutes. After previous years of having panels at longer lengths, this year’s panels seemed short. The tracks were pretty good this year. It was hard to decide to what to go to at times.
Wanted: Privitization of Space was explored by Stephan
Karen Travis, Henry Spencer, and Elizabeth Klein-Labbik. Lopata
the discussion by saying Heinlein had it right that there has to be a
profit for industry to go into space. Klein-Lebbik, who worked in
satellite industry, points out there have been big successes and
the satellite business. Lopata followed up by saying space is too
expensive for a single corporation. Consortiums are needed and
started to form. The issue of colonization was brought
Using history as a guide, Spencer said that commercial colonies did not
work. Successful colonies were started by refugees. Lopata
and said colonizing the planets is more difficult since the resources
survive will have to be brought there. Manufacturing in
difficult due to the cost of getting into space and size of the
needed Klein-Labbik explained. Spencer added that spacecraft are
expensive due to tight weight limits and the demand for system
perfection. An audience member brought up the issue of debris in
orbit. Spencer said that more people are concerned with debris
He went on to say that this junk is a bad sign since it shows that
satellites and spacecraft cannot be repaired or salvaged.
out there may interest get collecting debris since most of it is semi
metals. Spenser suggested that a one way trip to Mars may
feasible. Lopata added that politicians would get flack for sending
people on a
one way trip to Mars. An audience member stated that other
be more inclined to take the risks. Spencer said the motivation
Apollo program was the Cold War. Now that the Cold War was gone
so is our
motivation. Someone suggested with
Last year it was decided at Worldcon Business meeting to split the Best
Dramatic Presentation (BDP) category. BDP long is anything over
minutes and short is under. It was originally intended to be
medium (TV and film) but it was thought this split would prevent other
(slide shows, records, radio shows, or plays) from being
The Hugo coordinator can make a judgment call on borderline lengths.
question of whether The BDP Hugo Split…Will It Prevail was
examined by Chris Barkley, Vincent Doherty, Peter Knapp, and Guy
Lillian told the story of the origin of the BDP Hugo. At the 1958
There was little seating for Opening Ceremonies. Most people had
up. This was due to the fact there was to be a reception after
ceremony. First up was ConJose co chair Kevin Standlee. He
was a previlige for Tom Whitmore and himself to chair ConJose.
was unable to come to
Frederik Pohl, Elizabeth Anne Hull, Hal Clement and Shelia Williams
came to Remember
Isaac Asimov. Pohl knew Asimov the
They knew each other in high school. Pohl got free malts at the
store. Both Pohl and Asimov were Futurians. Pohl acted as
agent after World War II. Clement meet Asimov at M.I.T.
brought his students to hear Asimov lecture there. At one dinner
Asimov and another friend designed Mesklin, the world in Clement’s Mission
of Gravity. At one Worldcon, the room Asimov and Clement
became a liquor depository due to fact neither of them drank.
Heroines in Anime was interesting since the panelist disagreed with the premise of the panel described in pocket program. The description in the program questioned whether there were true heroines in anime or did serve as fan service i.e. eye candy. The panel consisting of Michelle Thomas, Kimberly Ann Kindya, Brian Chu, Winnie Hui, and Kent Bloom knew there are heroines in anime. Admittedly there are some ditzy heroines in anime but by in large most of them could hold their own. When the question of anime being more chauvinistic, Chu said this was difficult due to the cultural difference in Asia. As for the women being eye candy, anime is fairer since there is a lot of eye candy for the women as well as the men. Chu also pointed out that it is hard to say if there are true heroines in anime. Most anime will have a male who is an equal or a superior hero to the female. The panel went to discuss the major female characters in anime. Some of the characters discussed included: Motoko Kunsage (Ghost in the Shell), Faye Valentine (Cowboy Bebop), Eddy (Cowboy Bebop), Fujiko Hime (Lupin III), Utena (Utena), Misa Hayase aka Lisa Hayes (Macross aka Robotech), Satsuke(X), Karen (X), Karou Kamiya (Rurouni Kenshin), Kagome(Inuyasha) and the females from the works of Hayao Miyazaki.
The panel of Vampires, Goth and Sex also did not like their panel description. So panelists Alexandra Elizabeth Honigsberg, Lisa Dumond, Lee Martindale, and Aynjel Kaye decide to ignore the description. Goth tended to bring out many definitions Honigsberg noted. Dumond asked if there was a relationship with Goth and necrophilia. Honigsberg said the only necrophilliac she knew was an executive she meet while doing some psychological work. Goth, Honigsberg felt, as a literary genre explored themes such as mortality, good vs. evil, and hopelessness. Mary Shelley is noted for starting this movement. Martindale added that the literature dealt with romance with death. Death is either coming or not in the works. She added there was also an eroticism of death in Goth literature. An audience member, an academic who specialized in the literary form, added there were also such images as the demon lover, femme fatale and forbidden fruit. An audience member said that Goth (literature and lifestyle) may be desensatizing the fear of death. The panel discussed some attitudes teenagers had towards death. In discussing the lifestyle Kaye said it should be about having fun and there are many variations. Honigsberg felt the lifestyle could also be a way of exploring taboos. Dumond stressed the need to separate the lifestyle from the literature. The panel ended with a recommendation for the Van Helsing anthology coming out soon.
The Future of War was attacked by Joe Haldeman, Paul Chafe, Charles Cohen, Patrick Maguire and Andrea Novin. Chafe, a Canadian reservist, felt there is a need for a smarter soldier rather than developing long range weapons. Haldeman says the U.S. overwhelms its enemies with firepower which is expensive. This will continue as long as the U.S. is the only superpower. The superpower status may have a half life of 10 years. Cohen says the big area is developing systems to lose the fog of war. Haldeman asked about an idea he heard about. The idea was to develop a super soldier so that 4 men could take a town. Cohen said it was being looked into but encountering problems. The equipment is too heavy to carry and there is some politics involved. An audience member asked about the idea of ecological warfare as presented in Samuel R. Delaney’s Triton. Haldeman replied that he done some work with a think tank on the idea of non violent war. Using a crop disease was one of the ideas discussed as well as corrupting computer systems and messing around with a nation’s economics. Maguire stated that biological attacks are difficult to limit the battlefield. Moreover the U.S. abandoned its research in bio warfare in the 70s although the Soviets/Russians continued. When asked about the effectiveness of Agent Orange, Haldeman had seen it used and said it was effective but did ruin the land in some places. The panel noted the U.S. tended to add more to its equipment. Chafe noted this with armored vehicles. U.S. had too much stuff. The Canadian version did not have as much due to cost. Maguire also noted the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) are getting bigger. Haldeman pointed out with cell phones soldiers in the field were able to get needed help in Iraq. This violated the chain of command but Haldeman felt the modern chain of command is now outdated. Another idea discussed was an Electro-Magnetic Field (EMF) attack. Chafe pointed out this could back fire easily. Cohen said this was also a big area of research with no current solution. The shield needed to protect equipment from an EMF attack is too big. Maguire stated that not many nations could launch such an attack. The question of how to fight a low tech army arose. Chafe said low tech armies do not have fight in the open citing Bosnia as an example of this. The U.S. Army in Vietnam could have won in the Gulf. During the Vietnam War, the enemy structured the battlefield in a way which caused the U.S. equipment to fail. Haldeman noted it was calculated to cost $5,000 to kill enemy solider in Vietnam. Haldeman thought it might be better to use the money as a bribe. Robotic weapons such as UAV would take humans of the equation. Maguire pointed out some has to press the button. Chafe said air power is irrelevant. He pointed the United States had air superiority in Vietnam and still lost. A member of the audience asked about the virtual medicine. Cohen said the devices needed are too big. They would also need good fidelity and feedback. Haldeman said high tech war has lost money. For the U.S. it costs 10 million dollars per soldier while the opposition spends about 50¢ per soldier. Chafe agreed and said equipment can be a hindrance if it fails or goes buggy. Haldeman say this problem is added by the male tendency to mess with mechanical stuff. Chafe thinks information camouflage and overload will be a big problem. There will never be another World War II but there will be conflict. Haldeman hopes that some type of way to solve conflicts outside of culture will be found. Novin stated war is always different and we do not learn from history. We need to study history and be more flexible with policy.
George R.R. Martin opened up his Guest of Honor speech by promoting his book GRRM: A Retrospective which was a collection of essays, scripts and other items of interest. He then went to thank the convention for inviting him and the audience for attending. Martin reminisced about the last Torcon, his second Worldcon. He was not going to do a slans are fans speech nor would he do a state of the field speech. The field was too big for any one person to define. Martin said the speech would be about him. He opened by describing Bayonne, New Jersey where he grew up. The city was a Navy town and a resort. It was also an urban city. Despite its closeness to New York, Bayonne was its own city. Both sides of his family had long ties to Bayonne. His mother’s family was very prosperous. Unfortunately the Depression had ruined the family business. Martin knew little about his father’s childhood except that he was a marble champ. Martin’s father was a World War II veteran who had served with some distinction in the Mediterranean. He was also an avid sports fan and gambler. He once gambled on George’s ability at chess and won a lot of money. After his parents married they lived at his great-grandmother who was a very intimidating. Martin, due to where his family lived, grew up alone without other children. This changed when his family moved into the projects. There he made friends who would be his first audience for his stories. He would stay there until he went to college at Northwestern. Martin described his like of sunsets and autumn. He said that his current Fire and Ice series was inspired by his own family history. Martin hated the old adage of writing what you knew since he wanted to write about dragons and spaceships. Bayonne would be an integral part of his Wild Cards character the Great and Powerful Turtle. Martin said all of his characters are him in one facet. He then quoted Faulkner that the heart was the only thing worth writing about.
For Us the Living,
unpublished book by Robert A. Heinlein, was the subject of Heinlein:
Lost, Strayed, Misplaced and Found. The history of the
be told by Spider Robinson, Eleanor Wood, David Silver, Robert James
Dula. James, a writer for the Heinlein Journal and
researcher for a new biography on Heinlein, found the book while doing
at the estate of L. Sprague de Camp. James had found the
week before Virginia Heinlein’s death.
The 50th Hugo Award ceremony started with Spider Robinson
songs on his guitar. Robinson discussed the state of the
future is not what we had hoped it would be. We need to look
rather than backward. Robinson felt we were on the verge of a
renaissance. He then described a viewing of 1992 Shuttle
There Robinson saw a bunch of people give Dan Quayle the finger when he
over to view the launch. He then read his description of the
launch from Callahan’s
Key. Phillip Jose Farmer won the First Fandom Award and
accepted by Joe Haldeman who read a letter from Farmer. Rusty
the Sam Moskowitz collecting award. Havelin was surprised when he
award. John Hertz, who thought he was just going to model a
beanie on stage, won the E. Everett Big Heart award. Robert
and Greg Egan won the Seiun award best translated work. Sawyer
Sunday was interesting for it had a whole track devoted to Doctor
in the afternoon. This was sponsored by the Doctor Who Information
Network based in
This year’s Masquerade had a total of 34 entries. The masquerade opened with film footage Torcon 2. There was a Tribute to Canadian Costuming fashion show. This occurred midway during the Masquerade. “Morpheus Squared” consisted of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman from the story “The Ramadan” and The Dream Hunters. When they encountered each other on stage they started dancing with each to the tune of Billy Idol “Dancing with Myself”. “Arena” featured a reenactment of Captain Kirk’s battle from that episode except the Gorn was replaced by Godzilla. “Winter is Coming” depicted a bleak environment inhabited by some very detailed ice creatures. Mike and Celia from Monsters Inc. were brought to life. The best in show this year was “Trumps of Amber”. These master costumers which include Father John Blaker and Byron Connell depicted the royal family of Amber from Roger Zelazny’s Chronicles of Amber and their Trumps. The fashion presented many good costumes by veteran costumers from Canada. Costumes included Superman, Sponge Bob, Fantine and Christian from Moulin Rouge.
Connie Willis, David Hartwell, and Eric M. Van discussed the life and work of Phillip K. Dick. Hartwell was Dick’s editor at the time of his death. Willis was fan of Dick and lives near his grave. Willis says Dick’s vision of the future now dominates Hollywood. This also includes movies not based on his books. The Matrix has a Dick like feel to it. Van also saw Dick’s influence in The Truman Show. Van liked how Dick wrote about ordinary people at their jobs. Hartwell felt Dick could be disturbing about the nature of reality. His characters have to deal with reality. Van felt that the endings of Dick’s stories were more upbeat than they appeared. Van discussed the story “Faith in Our Fathers” which dealt with the government drugging the populace. The story implies that society is simply an agreed upon collective reality. Van felt Dick’s description as a paranoid schizoid inaccurate. Most schizophrenics cannot be convinced of anything. Dick however could be convinced of anything and dismiss a day later. Hartwell said Dick was treated for his pathologies. Van felt he may have had a neurological disorder. Willis said these actions may have hurt Dick’s reputation. Hartwell said Dick had tendency to lie. Dick would lie to get someone off the phone before the mail came. He was very anxious for the mail since it could contain work and payment. He also fabricated drama in his life. Willis thought Dick had interesting take on traditional SF tropes. Dick took into consideration the psychological aspect of those tropes. Hartwell saw Dick as the Bob Dylan of SF. Unfortunately Dick was not well respected while he was alive. Dick did not go to conventions much due to agoraphobia. Hartwell brought up the time Dick spoke to him for four hours outlining the novel The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch. Willis hopes movies will attract Dick new readers. Unfortunately Hollywood changes the ending thinking the public cannot handle it. The panel said there are biographies available on Dick and more being written.
Janice Gelb, Linnea Dodson, and Adrian Bedford debated Internet: Social Enabler or Disabler. Gelb thought paper communication still has its place. She added that responding quickly can have its disadvantages. Gelb also said that large, pre-Internet conventions had to budget for large phone bills. Other problems with the Internet included people who do not frequently check their email can feel left out. Gelb talk about how she almost got nominated for governor of California. In the space of a few hours, she found out $800 was raised in pledges for registration (Gelb declined the nomination). An audience member brought up the fact that computers can isolate people. Gelb answered that by saying there have always been individuals like that. Dodson explained how she meet the people she hanged out with on her trip through the Net. Using Instant Messenger (IM), Dodson was able to get information on who was safe and who was not. Gelb said that could have also been done in print. She recommends the audience to read The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers. Another audience member suggested that the Internet can be used to make politicians more answerable to policy. Bedford pointed out that antiwar protests in San Francisco and even in the former Yugoslavia were organized over the Internet. Gelb saw a possible dark side to the flash mob phenomenon (flash mobs spontaneous gatherings of people organized completely through IM or email). An audience member wished there was an Internet when she was growing up due to a dysfunctional home life. Dodson said she liked AOL since it has good accessories. Gelb explained that AOL brought everyone to the Internet, before it was just the geeks. She added that the Internet is great for shut ins and the people should moderate and police themselves on the Internet.
The Closing ceremonies opened with Peter Jarvis’s wife singing a song looking for him. Jarvis came in with a fife and bugle band followed with guests of honor (Spider Robinson was not there because he was being interviewed by Locus at the time). Jarvis thanked the guests of honor including Robert Bloch. Mike Glyer was ecstatic to be a guest of honor. He explained how his daughter had a hard time understanding the idea of Canada when explaining where he was. Jarvis thanked Frank Kelly Freas and hoped everyone had a chance to sign the book in the Art Show. The book will be presented to Kelly Freas after the convention. Jarvis went on to thank George R.R. Martin for doing more panels than usual for a guest of honor. Martin wanted to party specially since he missed Keith Kato’s Chile party. Martin then thanked the committee. He had the opportunity to see friends he had not seen in awhile and made new friends. Thanked his handler Mike Glicksohn. Noreascon 4 committee had a present for Martin. Since Martin had said during the Hugos had not won the Big One (the novel Hugo), they got him a very large rocket. Martin held the rocket triumphantly over his head. The guests left. GalaxyPress gave Jarvis a Frank Franzetta painting. Jarvis thanked everyone connected with the convention and asked for help with tear down. Then The Prisoner theme started to play. Jarvis passes out and awakens in a strange meeting room with prior Worldcon chairs and next year’s chair Deb Geisler. Geisler declares herself as number 62 and Jarvis is number 61. Jarvis declares “I am not number, I am free fan.” Then the prior con chairs began to laugh. Jarvis then brings the gavel down on and rings out Torcon 3 with same bell he used to start it. Jarvis hands the gavel to Deb Geisler and runs out of the room. Geisler had hoped the guests of honor could be at Torcon but with the exception of Jack Speer none of them could make it. The Noreascon 4 committee then came to the stage to the opening theme of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Geisler had a hard time deciding what to do for the closing ceremony. She and the committee decided to do no singing, dancing, swaying, or acting. Geisler hopes everyone will come next year to Boston. The committee marched out under the banner with a lobster on it and threw out lobster toys to the audience.
Parties were held on the first and second floor of the Royal York. LA in 2006 was the most elaborate party. They had prop doorways of a futuristic space camp which seemed to go with there space scout theme. Yokohama in 2007 party was pretty cool and I got my traditional taste of sake. The Volunteer party and the Dead Beaver party were well organized. The dance on Friday night was also put together well. The DJs played the convention dance standards like “Time Warp” and “Doctor in the TARDIS” and good SF/Fantasy related songs like Oingo Boingo “Dead Man’s Party” and Duran Duran’s “Electric Barbarella”. The Internet Lounge did a great a job providing the convention with a link to the outside world. The Lounge was placed in the Crowne York and accessible through out the convention. Went to more readings this year. The readings I attended were Connie Willis, Catherine Asaro, Neil Gaiman and Adam-Troy Castro.
As always there are people who help make Worldcon a great experience. Thanks to the members of OASFS, SFSFS, WSFA and the usual suspect of Worldcon attendees who always make the convention fun. Thanks to Colin McGregor for running a great Internet Lounge and letting me keep the tradition of working every Worldcon Internet Lounge. Thanks to Brad Ackerman for rooming with me which aided me in cash strapped situation. Special thanks to Dave Ratti who helped me get my Callahan’s Bar universe collection signed. Thanks to Exotic Erotic, my Australian tour group, it is always great to see you guys. Thanks to Den 5 at the Masquerade Green Room, you were great to work with. Thanks to Beth Lyman who took a shift at the Lounge to keep it open while I got some sleep. Thanks to Dave Plesic and Patricia Russell who gave me feedback on my daily Worldcon reports. Now its time to get ready and head off to one of the great hubs of fandom, Boston for Noreascon 4.