Necronomicon 99

         Necronomicon 99 was held at the Radisson Inn- Sabal on October 8-10, 1999.  Joan Vinge and Jennifer Roberson were guests of honor.  Other guests included Jack C. Haldeman, Barbara Delaplace, Owl Goingback, Joseph Green, Rick Wilber and Sarah Clemens.
         The facilities were still being renovated.  This year the hotel's restaurant was not available this year.  An interesting feature was the air conditioning units seen around the hotel.  To many con goers they look like science fictional devices.  They were boxes connected to the ceiling by a large hose.  The boxes had two probes, which reminded me of Doctor Octopus' arms, which one could move to direct the airflow.  The con suite was well stocked and had a television available for those of us who were following the baseball playoffs.
         Nighttime activities started with the Ice Cream social.  This well stocked since I got there an hour after it started and got a helping of ice cream.  I did miss out on the games however.  Later that night was the Ygor/Igor party.  This year theme was Austin Powers.  Several attendees dressed in sixties fashion or as Austin, Doctor Evil, or Felicity Shagwell.  Saturday night had the traditional midnight sex panel.  Sarah Clemens invited her friend exotic dancer Kristen DeBragga to discuss her job.  Kristen fielded questions from the audience and gave a demo of a typical dance with writer John Urbancik.  There were three video rooms running at all hours. Two rooms were devoted to animae. The other room showed more recent offering of media SF in the last year.  This included Deep Impact, NBC's Alice in Wonderland and this years Hugo Winner The Truman Show.  Both nights had the Club Necro dance.  DJ Mike LoBue played a good mix form the 80s and 90s on Friday night while DJ Jim Shippey went for a lighter sound on Saturday.
         Joan Vinge, Rick Wilber and Bob Somers participated in the first characterization panel.  Vinge said she wants to write how people are affected by technology.   She said she found it easier to write about men since it easier to distance herself for them. Vinge explained she got her hints for male characters from other books and friends. Wilber emphasized the need for sources of expertise.  Recently he had asked a female acquaintance about applying makeup.  Details like this help make the story more authentic.  When asked if a minor character ever taken over a story, Vinge discussed how BZ Gundhalinu started out as a minor character in The Snow Queen and later became a major character in the finished work and later books. Rob Sommers pointed out there are no throw away characters.  Minor characters tend to be more colorful and add depth to the story.
         Characterization was also the focus in the Strong Female Characters panel.  Panelists included Barbara Delaplace, Jennifer Roberson, Linda Evans, Sarah Clemens and moderator James Basset.  Roberson felt than people should be people and that all characters should be all well developed regardless of sex.  Delaplace pointed out that motivations cross genders and the sexes were more alike than different. Clemens explained that the reason that most protagonists are male is simple demographics.  The marketers are telling those in charge that the audience is mainly male.  Clemens also brought up current issues affecting male-female relations such as reverse sexism and sexual harassment.  When an audience member asked the best way to integrate strong female characters, Barbara Delaplace responded by saying write a good story. Clemens used the works of Nicola Griffth as a good example of incorporating good strong female characters.
         Jack C. Haldeman, Rick Wilber and Randy Miller discussed Sports in SF/F.   When asked why there are not more sport SF stories, Haldeman  said that editors claim they do not sell.  The few stories that came out are considered to be the exception rather than the rule.  Wilber pointed out that sports are ideal for fiction since plot revolves around conflict and sports is all conflict.  He also said the good SF needs boundaries and sport provides that as well.  There are the macro boundaries in the form of physical limitations and micro boundaries in the form of rules.  When asked what makes the athlete compelling, Haldeman repled with the will to win.  The panel also discussed the current status of college sports.
         Mark Jones hosted the trivia contest.  The contest was a team effort.  Six teams in all participated with names like the Honor Guard, Qless, the Cabal and the Hind End of Space. Orlando was well represented by Arthur Dykeman in the Hind End of Space and myself in the Honor Guard.  The questions came for SF literature, media, music, and gaming.  The competition was fierce. At times there were two or three way ties.  The final winners were the Honor Guard, which included Derek Wallen and Perry Burns.  Dealers bucks were given to the winners.
         The Central Florida area was also well represented at the Masquerade.  Rhiannon Smith was a Banshee,  Julia Langston was a Cyberman from Doctor Who and Arthur Dykeman was Super-Beast inspired by a Rob Zombie song.  This year's Masquerade had a special award for best gothic costume, which went to a Man from the Nineteenth Century.   Other notable costumes include the ten-foot Evil Master, Lelu from The Fifth Element, Queen Amidala in purple, Rocheforte from The Three Musketeers, Ambassador Kosh, and the very detailed Cyberdargon.  The time between judging and presentation was filled in by a theater group who presented the first fairy tale.  This required participation from the audience both on and offstage.  While the group told the story on the audience members would respond with a phrase when a character was mentioned.  On stage audience members portraying the characters would respond with a gesture.  As an onstage participant it was quite surreal experience.
         Frank Frey, Rob Sommers, and John Urbanchik went to explore violence in fiction and society.  Fey felt that society has gotten more violent. He explained by saying his father, a police officer, started his career in the 30s with a nightstick as weapon.  Frey believed violence is being used as the first option to solve a problem.  Urbanchik thought that the theories of media violence tie in with real violence were conflicting and that the media by itself would not turn someone on to violence.  Rob Sommers pointed out that there are also a lot sitcoms on television and he does see them effecting the real world in anyway.  The problem with media violence according  to Frey is the lack of emotional consequences for the killers.  Audience member Donna Wooten pointed out that most murderers are detached and do not see their victims as human.  When the asked whether creators have a responsibility to tone down the violence, Urbachik asked where does one draw the line.   Frey felt that violence has to be relevant not gratuitous and should be used as part of a response.
         The Stone Hill gang did another good job this year with the convention.  Hopefully there will be no problems with next year change of dates.  Hopefully we will see fully renovated hotel.

Special thanks to Arthur Dykeman for letting me share his room for the con.  My apologies to Arthur, Carl Swann and Mary Gladding  for being with me when I  viscously betrayed by my car's ignition switch.

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