Vulkon -Orlando Spring 99


          Vulkon-Orlando was held on April 16-18, 1999 at the Orlando North Hilton. The main guests were Nicole DeBoer (Ezri Dax, Star Trek:Deep Space 9) and Jeff Conway (Zack Allen, Babylon 5). Other guests included artist Arne Starr, NASA Hubble Telescope Specialist Inge Heyer, and Apollo astronauts Richard Gordon and Charles Duke.

          Vulkon had some interesting science programming. Inge Heyer gave a tour of the solar system using the latest pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA's space probes. Paul Cordsmeyer, former Omnicon chairman, gave a talk on the technocracy movement. Richard Gordon (Gemini 11, Apollo 12) and Charles Duke (Apollo 16) gave a talk on their mission and space flight in general. Gordon discussed the problems that occurred when Apollo 12 was struck by lighting during launch. Duke explained how the lunar rover performed during his mission. They explained the working of space suits, theirs and the current ones being used by shuttle crews. When asked about their feeling about science fiction the feel its good since it helps keep the interest in space alive.

          There were several panel discussions at Vulkon. Erin Wells, Neal and Jason Leatham discussed the roles of women in science fiction. The talk focused mainly on media SF. While they felt the roles for women have changed for the better since the days of classic Trek there is still room for improvement. One problem the panel noted was that on Voyager the crew usually disobeys Janeway's orders. They also noted that female leads on Babylon 5 do not have their authority similarly challenged. Neal and Jason Leatham also had a panel discussing horror in Star Trek. Both the panelists and audience noted there have been episodes which have had horrific elements, citing "The Wolf in the Fold" (Star Trek) and "Night Terrors" (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as examples. The Leatham bothers propose that horror is a prime mover in Star Trek because of the fear of the unknown, which appears a great deal in all the series. I held a panel discussing the best SF books in the last 15 years. Some of the titles mentioned were The Diamond Age, The Days of Cain, Forever Peace and Robinson's Mars's series. Other programming included the usually games such as Match Game, Trek Trivia, and Jobob-ardy (a variation of Jeopardy).

          Arne Starr informed us on what will come to the movie theaters in near future. The Wild, Wild, West, directed by Barry Sonnenefield (Men in Black), will join the ranks of television inspired movies. The cast consists of Will Smith (James West), Kevin Kline (Artemus Gordon) and Michael Branaugh (Dr. Loveless). The trailer seems to indicate the movie will emphasize the campier aspects of the series. Disney brings to life Inspector Gadget starring Matthew Broderick. Warner Brother's animation division gives us The Iron Giant, which deals with a young boy who befriends an alien giant robot. Winona Ryder portrays a survivor of demonic possession who helps a priest fight a potential anti-Christ in Lost Souls. Tom Hanks plays a prison guard who helps a prisoner who possesses healing powers in The Green Mile. based on the Stephen King serial novel.

           Nighttime programming still is problematic for Vulkon. The Masquerade was hampered with problems with the sound system and being delayed over an hour. The most humorous costume was a trio of Klingon divas dressed as gun molls lip-synching to Madonna's "Hanky Panky". The best costume of the show was a detailed recreation Darth Maul, the main villain in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. The Vulkon Gong Show followed the Masquerade. The Gong Show while amusing at times should have been held at another time since it delayed the starting of the Ten Forward Dance. It was already midnight by the time Gong Show finished. As a result of that and the absence of a dance floor the dance promptly fizzled. If the Vulkon organizers want the dance to work they have to get it started by 10:00 PM and get a hardwood floor.

The only other problem with the convention was what Nicole DeBoer would sign. There was a communication problem between Vulkon organizers and DeBoer's manager. This was resolved on Sunday which was too late for the Saturday only attendees who could have a bought a cheaper picture had they stayed a day more. Despite these problems the convention went over well. A definite improvement from lasts Vulkon.

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