Dragoncon 99

          Dragoncon 99 was held on July 1-4, 1999 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. Major literary guests included Anne McCaffrey, Kevin Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Fred Saberhagen, Stephen R. Donaldson, Ann C. Crispin, Nancy Collins and Caitlin R. Kiernan.   It was estimated that attendance was over 20,000.
        The use of facilities improved this year. Consuite include an Internet Lounge.  All programming was held at the Hyatt, unlike last year were it was broken up between the Hyatt and the Merchandise Mart.  The Dealerís and Exhibitorís Room was all on one floor at the Apparel Mart, not broken up into two areas inaccessable to each other. The only problem was having main programming all located in the same place each night.   This was really a problem on Saturday when Masquerade and the concerts were held in the same hall.  It took too long for Masquerade to empty out that delayed the set up for the bands playing that night. This caused the first concert not start till after midnight.  Holding the concerts in a separate area from the main evening program could solve this.
         There was always something to do at night at Dragoncon.  Several concerts were held. The most interesting concert being Grand Moff Tarkin's. This group dressed as Imperial characters from the Star Wars saga and performed a heavy metal set, which included a metal rendition of the Imperial March.  Other groups included Gwar, Godhead, Changeling, Cruxshadows (from Tallahasse) and the singer Voltaire.  DJ Gallifrey and Legion (also from Tallahasee) ran the Dragon dances were the music varied from retro, alternative, industrial and gothic. On Friday, a banquet was held to award the Julies, given to those for lifetime achievement in the SF/comic field named after writer, editor, and agent Julius Schwartz. This year recipients were Anne McCaffery and Will Eisner.  Animae and other video rooms always ran.
         There were several interesting film presentations.  Before Grand Moff Tarkin's concert the film The Dark Redemption.  This film made by Australian fans takes place on the spice mines of Kessel a few days before the events of Star Wars: A New Hope.  The film explains how Leia got the Death Star plans and why Han Solo had to dump Jabba's shipment.  Boba Fett, Palpatine and Mara Jade, a character created by Timothy Zahn for the book series appears in the film.  The film had some good but moderate effects.  Supposedly the film has the approval of George Lucas.   John Hudgens presented his last Babylon 5 music video.  The opening sequence was heavily inspired by the Star Wars films and used The Duel of Fates from The Phantom Menace.  The crew, which produced Babylon Park, made a new film, called Frightspace (www.infinicorp.com/babylonpark). 
         Beneath the Blood and Guts. Taking the Bite Out of Dark Fantasy discussed the state of dark fantasy and horror.   The panel consisted of Richard Lee Byers, Nancy Collins,  Keith DeCandido and Caitlin R. Kiernan.  The panel began by defining the difference between horror and dark fantasy.  Most agreed horror was an emotion and dark fantasy is a genre.  Byers went further and felt dark fantasy was not objectively real while horror is anything scary.  DeCandido cynically said that horror stopped selling and the publishers started calling it dark fantasy.  Kiernan agreed since her editor labeled her novel Silk fiction, which she felt helped sales.  While adult horror is doing badly young adult horror, thanks to R.L. Stine's success, is doing very well as is dark fantasy comics thanks to Sandman.  The only problem with writing for young adults and comics is the restrictions that are imposed.  DC Comics has been sued for being the source of copycat crimes.  It was asked whether, because of Littleton, the 50s Senate hearings on comics will happen again.  DeCandido felt it was highly unlikely because it is harder to suppress things now and because the original hearings are not looked upon favorably now.   Video games may get more scrutiny, but Collins felt this may lead to less game inspired movies.  When asked if they felt a need to self-censor, Kiernan said she did once for a story on necrophilia.  Collins felt self-censorship is a matter of ethics.
         Brad Linaweaver was late for the Optimism vs Pessimism panel.  Victor Koman, replacing Dafydd ab Hugh, discussed his views.   Koman said he was a pessimist in the 70s due to Nixon, the SLA and other events of the period.  Many of the predictions made in 70s such as worldwide economic collapse by the nineties never happened.  Koman feels he is more of an optimist now.  He does see some problems with the way the news is being presented now.  Linaweaver arrived and made the prediction that the world state will happen.  He feel the United Nations, despite its recent problems in eastern Europe, is doing better than the League of Nations.   He felt that by having an active frontier, such as space, will keep freedom alive.  Linaweaver agrees with Heinlein, that while one is fighting nature all the time one does not have the time or interest to make laws to restrict the rights of others.  He defined a frontier as a physical danger that provides somewhere to go to.  Linaweaver felt that man must either conquer nature or himself.
         Peter David and George Perez acted as Master of Ceremonies at the Masquerade.  Masquerade started with David and Perez dressed as Jedis fighting Maul with the Star Wars music playing in the background.   In the middle of the fight Perez's creation the Crimson Plague comes out and Maul stops and leaves with her.  David and Perez remove their robes and David says "Knock it Off" and stops the music. The best skit went A Figment of your Dementia.  In the skit the Warner Brothers and sister (Yakko, Wakko and Dot) explained Romeo and Juliet from the original Klingon.  There were several Star Wars inspired costumes.  Leah Levin won best Star Wars costume for her recreation of Queen Amidala and baby Luke.  Florida fans Christine Antolak and Pete Simpson recreated the duel between Darth Maul and Qui-Gon Jinn.  Another group of Florida fans won best in show Star Wars- The Sith who Shagged Me.   This skit revealed Darth Sidious to be Dr. Evil plotting to take over Naboo with a clone of Amidala.   Jedi Austin Powers severely injures Maul, who cries for help offstage and reveals the Amidala clone is actually a man.  Other notable costumes included the evil Lily from Legend and the Joan Vinge's Snow Queen.
         Participants in the Violence in Society panelicluded Con chair Ed Kramer along with Brad Linaweaver, Victor Koman, Bob Trebor, Stad Hughes and Jason Miller.  There was a great deal of focus on the Littleton incident and Kosovo.  Jason Miller, lead singer of the gothic group Godhead, felt the lesson of including outsiders was not learned.  Koman feels the percentage of crazies is the same but absolute number has gone up because of population growth.  He feels there is greater coverage of violence because it is more rare.  Koman also felt violence is a part of us, the only question is whether it is defensive or aggressive.  He felt that if the audience is getting what in wants in violence on film and TV, one should ask why do they want it? Linawaever, whose Doom novels were confiscated as evidence after Littleton, asked why films and TV are rated but not books.   He felt this was because of class issue.  It used to be that the working classes had to protected from dangerous images now the target is teens.  Stad Hughes, who had known serial John Wayne Gacy before his capture was asked if Gacy was reader.  Hughes said that Gacy was intelligent but not a reader.  Actor Bob Trebor, felt that if one found a creative outlet, explosions might be prevented.  He felt fans and con goers were an example of this.  Kramer pointed out how the news slants the views of violence. During the Vietnam War, the public was shown the casualties of war, while during Kosovo bomb runs from the air were shown.  Koman felt some of this was due to government restrictions on the frontline.
         SF at the Doorstep at 21st Century was held on Sunday morning with James Hogan, Kevin Anderson, Rebecca Moesta, Fred Saberhagen, Stephen Donaldson, A.C. Crispin and Brian Herbert.  Donaldson thought panel was SF as the doorstop to the 21st century, since he felt that SF helped describe and shape the 21st century.   Anderson pointed out how some SF devices has become reality like palmtops.   Herbert pointed out his father missed a chance in patent the design for the modern tanker which he described in one of his book.  Hogan felt that most of technical problems have been solved though the social problems need to be addressed. Donaldson felt a predictions were made to prevent certain futures.  Moesta followed up by pointing that 1984 sparked discussions on privacy and freedom.  Crispin wonders how the information revolution will affect society. Her big fear is that chat room short hand could be become standard English. When asked if SF will be more optimistic or pessimistic, Anderson said that there are so many sub generes now trends will be hard to determine.
         Other programming included Brian Froud discussing the history of his fairy books, Peter David reading from his upcoming fantasy novel and Kevin Anderson and Rebecca Moesta explaining the technology of Star Wars.  The convention had a good mix of programming.  Hopefully next year they will solve the crowding problems at main programming.

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