We started Sunday by scrounging breakfast from the Con Suite (pretty
good doughnuts--). I must thank Hope Keiffer and the rest of the Con
Suite staff for the amazing amount of work they do every year, this year
including taking classes in food handling for safety's sake.
Georgie is of course interested in library topics, so we went to "Public
Libraries: Where's the SF?" (#165). Although there was some useful
information exchanged, the panel lacked momentum, with most of the
panelists, except Farah Mendlesohn, not seeming to be well prepared or
willing to express a strong opinion. As an audience member, I'm afraid I
made a bit of a jerk of myself arguing with Ms. Mendlesohn. (Although I
DO still think that we were getting at two different meanings of "form"
when it comes to reading material. Oh, well, it gives me an idea for a
panel topic for next year--.)
At the noon break, Georgie and Darlene completed their bartering, with
Darlene getting the artwork and Georgie coming away with a gorgeous
double-strand necklace of rough amber beads and pearls. It was a good
bargain in which both pronounced themselves satisfied.
The next panel we went to was "The Care and Feeding of Your Vampire,"
(#171). Moderator and author of "Vampire Cabbie" Fred Schepartz did a
very thorough job of preparing for this panel, with a good list of
provocative questions. The other panelists, Alex Bledsoe, Suzy Charnas,
Alaya Dawn Johnson, and Jordan Castillo Price, have all authored vampire
novels, and had very interesting things to say about which of the
"vampire rules" they adopted or not and why.
My next panel was "Terry Pratchett, Feminist Author?" (#188). This was
to talk about the many strong characters in Pratchett's "Discworld"
series, and panelists Chip Hitchcock, Carl Marrs, and Farah Mendlesohn
pitched in with a will. The polling question as to favorite female
character in Discworld elicited an interesting variety of responses,
including Susan StoHelit, Nanny Ogg, Agnes Nitt, Lady Vimes, and
Anathema Device (from "Good Omens"). After a very entertaining
discussion, we pretty well boiled down to agreeing that, while Pratchett
could not really be considered a feminist, he definitely likes women and
does as well by them as he can. The large audience seemed to enjoy the
At 4:00PM, Georgie had "Dystopias are Easy, Utopias are Hard," (#210).
Along with Deanne Fountaine, Carole Breakstone, and Phoebe Wray, the
panelists gave a good exposition of the histories of utopias in
literature (and some attempts in fact), the problems they have
presented, and some good speculation on WHY the idea seems to be doomed
to founder on the rock of human cussedness.
We went out for a light dinner of sandwiches at Potbelly Deli, and then
came back to dress for the evening. This was "Fancy Dress Party" night,
so we pulled out the stops. Georgie wore a fabulous formal gown and
jacket of teal with teal and silver corsetage, which drew complements
from everyone who saw it. I was doing "Wulfenbach Minion" from the "Girl
Genius" comic, which outfit consisted of a navy long coat with elaborate
maroon and metallic facings, black lace jabot and cuffs, black shirt
with a "Wulfenbach" winged tower pin, black breeches and boots. I got a
number of appreciative remarks on this outfit also.
Since we weren't actually RUNNING the Fancy Dress Party this year, we
were able to actually attend the guest of honor speeches for a change.
After doing a lot of clowning around doing the weekend, both Geoff and
Ellen decided to play against type for speeches. Geoff read from his
introduction to a forthcoming anthology he is editing, based on the
Joanna Russ theme "When It Changed." This collection of original stories
matches up science-fiction authors and practicing scientists to come up
with a story based on potential developments in the scientist's
respective fields, and sounds fascinating. Ellen gave a touching
recounting of her initiation into fandom and to becoming a writer. While
having a familiar "finding my tribe" theme, it was still both funny and
poignant, with Ellen's reading from her 3AM journal entry bringing tears
to my eyes.
We then went upstairs to provide moral support to our friends who were
doing the heavy lifting of running the Fancy Dress Party, Tim Kozinski
and Judy Seidl (who are dealers as "Ganesha's Treasures"), Judy's
husband Bob, and Henry Osier. They did a really fine job of picking up
and running with the party traditions of elegance and good food and
drink. They had a very nice snack spread, and the drink du jour was a
flavorful and not-too-sweet fruit punch which could be had with rum if
one was of age.
This year's theme was "Classic Fancy Dress", which meant come in
whatever's fancy for you. People turned out in a marvelous collection of
outfits ranging from the simply elegant to the beautifully bizarre. I
stationed myself at the door and acted as greeter, which we consider an
important function, as there are a lot of parties where you can drift in
and drift out without being talked to, and you don't really even know if
the organizers are in the room or not. For Fancy Dress, we want people
to know that everyone is welcome, even if not specifically dressed up.
It's a good sign when you have to ask people to leave when the party
closes up. We closed the doors at about 1AM and began tidying up. By
1:30 we still had a conversation group centered around Pat Murphy, at
which time I made a "closing announcement," which went something like
"Ladies and Gentlemen, at this time the Fancy Dress Party ends its
broadcast day. Cue picture of American flag, Star Spangled Banner." The
people all then obligingly began to SING "The Star-Spangled Banner" all
the way through as they genially filed out, inspiring a marvelous
collection of "WTF" faces from the people in the hall. Now, that's a way
to end a party--.