construction zone in Waukesha county, had a lovely drive and got to the
OddCon hotel about noon. Check-in for both the hotel and con went
smoothly. When we went up to our room, we were very pleased by the
"welcome" package the concom had put together: a couple of cute stuffed
cows, fruit basket, chocolate, cheese, and an assortment of beer. Very
The first panel we attended was 'SF vs. Fantasy," which had as panelists
Con co-chairs Paul Wiesner and Janet Lewis, TOR Editor Jim Frenkel, and
writer GoH Patrick Rothfuss. The panel dealt with whether or not the
difference between science fiction and fantasy can be defined or not
(especially taking into account various sub-genres like "science
fantasy", Lovecraftian horror, etc.). This was a rambling but enjoyable
discussion, with Patrick Rothfuss making a nice distinction between
"hard" and "soft" fantasy. There weren't any firm conclusions reached,
but most everyone agreed that they know what they see when they see
Georgie and I were both on the panel "Mad Scientists in Story and Fact."
We started by working on some defining terms for "mad science," which
Mad methodology: "I wonder what happens if I do THIS?" as opposed to
scientific "hypothesis-experiment-result--new hypothesis" method.
Lack of concern for consequences or what happens next: example:
Willingness to experiment on oneself: example: Dr. Jekyll
Obsession: example: Rotwang
Revenge motive/"They said I was MAD!" : too many to count--.
Indifference to public opinion, high tolerance for grotesquerie/ick
factor: example: Soviet scientists.
We also spent a little time distinguishing between such related
Evil Genius: Lex Luthor, Victor von Doom: These guys' gadgets are often
well-researched and work, just not well enough to beat the good guys.
Evil Overlord: Ming the Merciless, Palpatine: "I am not a mad scientist,
I employ mad scientists."
Sadistic Monster: Josef Mengle: Even people who worked for him said his
"experiments" made no sense.
In the category of Real Life Mad Scientists, we kicked around such names
as Tesla and Einstein (mainly on attitude (Tesla) and appearance, both
common stigmata of mad scientists--), Teller, Oppenheimer and Von Braun
(concern for consequences), and Demikhov and Bruyukhonenko, Soviet
scientists who did dog head transplants or kept decapitated dog heads
alive with artificial circulation.
In the category of Mad Scientists in Fiction, of course Victor
Frankenstein was acknowledged as the grandfather of them all, with Dr.
Jekyll first in the category of self-experimentation. Rotwang from
"Metropolis" was the first great cinematic mad scientist, with his wild
hair, mad glare, mechanical hand, fantastic laboratory and obsession
with bringing back his dead wife in the form of a robot.
We allowed that there were "good" mad scientists, such as Dr. Zarkov
from "Flash Gordon"
We noted that the mad scientist was alive and well with new members of
the club Dr. Horrible, Dr. Cockroach (from the movie "Monsters vs.
Aliens") and most of the cast of the Foglio's wonderful comic "Girl
We had a lively and participating audience, and a good time was had.
We ducked out for dinner and had a good meal with friends at Maharaja, a
nearby Indian restaurant.
Then, back to the con for Opening Ceremonies, with the con committee
producing a rather shapeless but still funny skit.
This was followed by a musical performance by Emma Bull, who sang and
accompanied herself on guitar. Emma is an excellent singer, with a
repertoire including filk, music for "Shadow Unit" (on which more later)
and her new passion, cowboy songs.
We forced ourselves to duck out of the concert so we could get set up
for the "Art, Cheese, and Chocolate" reception at the art show. J.J.
Brutsman had rounded up and matted all Georgie's OddCon cow originals,
and we brought along a retrospective collection of other drawings, zine
covers, and cake pictures. Georgie also brought along a large cake
decorated with a full-color rendition of the "Cowager Empress," which
was displayed for the first half of the event, and eaten the second
That closed down a bit after 10:30PM. We HAD to stop in at the "Mad
Scientist's Party" ("Blue Stuff" in the punch bowl, "Dr. Horrible" on
TV, a lot of fun being had) before going to bed. Things you ONLY
encounter at a con: a group of women in the hall equipped with tiny
horse head finger puppets, standing in a circle singing the "Bad Horse"
song, accompanied by one of them's iPhone--.