|Art by Bill Hodgson, Artist Guest of Honor|
OSFest 6: Ruminations On Attending My First Sci-Fi Convention
I had heard about conventions or “cons” as they are more commonly called. I was told many things by a few that attended them, and heard a lot about them on the podcasts I listen to. I figured that they only way I was really going to know what it was like to attend was to actually go to one. Some of the ones I had heard about were the San Diego Comic Con, Shoreleave, Balticon, and of course the granddaddy of them all, the con in Las Vegas. The problem was that either these were at time of the year when I am working at my real job, or are so far away that they are cost prohibitive. So I typed “Nebraska sci-fi conventions” and that is how I learned about Osfest 6, just a three hour drive away from my home in Omaha. When I followed the link, the first thing on the page was the Guest of Honor list, and at the very top of that list was the name Keith R. A. DeCandido, and that the con was scheduled to be held on the last week of July. I immediately started making plans to attend with the attention of meeting one of my favorite authors, buying a book, and getting an autograph, not to mention finding out what this con thing was all about for myself.
I discussed this with Diane (my wonderful wife who completely supports my adolescent tendencies) and she green lighted my plan with the condition that she and daughter Chrissy could go along, not to attend the con, but to do other things like go to the zoo, shop, and so on. So I registered for the con and reserved my room at the Ramada Plaza.
In the meantime, I contacted Scott of the Scifi DinerPodcast and asked him if he would like me to interview Keith DeCandido for the podcast; he gave me the go ahead. I contacted Keith DeCandido and visited with him and he was also all for the idea. So I had a mission.
OSFest 6 was held this past weekend, and I did make it. Here’s what happened…
Friday, July 26, 2013…
I arrived in Omaha about two hours before the convention was set to open. I checked into the motel and got the “lay of the land” so to speek. While wandering around, I saw a sign on a pillar that advertised “Raktajino” and to go to a room. I went there and met a nice couple of Klingons who served me a cup of raktajino (Klingon coffee) that consisted of coffee and a mixture of spices that wasn’t bad. As I visited with these folks I learned that they were part of a Klingon Assault Group (KAG) and that they are in command of the IKV Raptor’s Heart.
Registration for the con opened at 3:00, so I took care of that and then visited the dealer’s room, the art room, and the modeling room, met Keith and bought a book, and then went to watch the Match Game. I was even selected to participate and won a bag of chocolate.
|Melissa Ann Conroy|
Next I went to an author’s reading. I had heard the term Steampunk on several occasions but never really knew what it was. I received an education in the genre from author Melissa Ann Conroy. Melissa read from one of her books, Steam on the Horizon for about 20 minutes and then asked the two of us that were in attendance if we had any questions. I asked her to explain Steampunk, which she did. If anyone reading this lives as sheltered a life as I do, Steampunk is a genre of stories, set in the Victorian era where everything runs on Steam, and the stories are futuristic in nature. So, in my mind, Steampunk is the genre that the old Wild Wild West show would fit into. She also talked about the costumes that go with the genre, and how difficult it is to breathe while wearing a corset.
Later were the Opening Ceremonies. It consisted of a Starfleet Admiral being killed by a bunch of Klingons followed by introductions of the guests of honor. It was pretty funny.
At 9:00, I attended a Babylon 5 gathering hosted by Mitch Obrecht, a man who knows his stuff. There was discussion and he asked trivia questions for which he would hand out cards autographed by the B5 actors. I really wanted one of those. One question he asked was the names of Molari’s wives. Mitch gave us one, and asked for the other two. We all sat, scratching our heads. I remembered that Molari had refered to his wives by “pet” names, so I gave it a shot. I said “Pestilence and Death?” Everyone in the room laughed and Mitch said, “I’ll gotta’ give you that one.” And he handed me an envelope with a card signed by Peter Jurasik!
I spent the rest of the evening wandering around meeting people. I got to visit with an artist who lives right here in Kearney. Patrick Kennedy and I visited for quite a while and this is where I learned about how cons work; things to do, and not to do and so on. We visited several more t imes over the course of the con. He’s a good artist, a good person, and he attends lots of cons in the Midwest with his art. I also visited extensively with Keith and another author, Gail Carriger. That discussion was all over the map and it was a rare occasion for me to sit and listen to, and converse with folks on something other than education. It was at this point that I set up my interview with Keith.
Saturday, July 27, 2013…
Woke up early and found people to visit with, mostly Klingons. I gotta’ say, I really enjoyed hanging with the Klingons.
I started the con day two attending a panel on Klingon Culture hosted by the Raptor’s Heart crew. When I arrived, I noticed that there was some problem with the computer on the stage. The panelists were not able to hook their computer to the projector. I ran back to my room, grabbed my computer and loaned it to the panelists and the show went on. Needless to say, the panel ran late, but it was interesting. Much of what they talked about I already knew. When I went to retrieve my computer, I was asked if I could set up my machine for a later panel they were hosting.
I missed the next panel I wanted to attend, a real science panel on the Militarization of Space.
I again loaned my computer to the Klingons for the Klingon Cursing panel. It was okay. I missed another panel I wanted to attend on Space Law, but I saved the Klingons.
About 2:00, I started feeling a little sick. I thought about it and realized that I had not had anything to drink since before the con started and was probably getting dehydrated. Note to self (and advice to inexperienced con attendees): Drink More Water. There was really no excuse for this happening to me because there was a Con-Suite, which I learned is always stocked with food, drink, and a place to relax and visit free of charge to attendees.
I started to feel better when I went to Keith’s reading. He read two stories from his newer books, Ragnarok and Roll and Scattered Earth: Guilt in Innocence, one of which I had purchased earlier, and I picked up the other later, before our interview appointment. I really enjoyed the reading session. Keith talks and reads with a great deal of enthusiasm for what he does, which is a quality I appreciate in people I visit with. This is also why I enjoy reading his stories, his passion for writing, and life in general not only shows in person, but it also comes through in his writing.
I went to the bar about 5:30 to await our appointed time for the interview, Keith arrived about 6:00 and we recorded for a little over a half an hour. He is a very easy interview. Just ask a question and stay out of his way. Again, his enthusiasm shines through. I will be sending the interview to Scott and Miles in a few days and hopefully they will find it worthy to play on their show. If I could change anything, it would be that I butchered the guy’s name, not once, but twice! The only times I did this was on the interview and I felt like a schmuck! I introduced my family to him and got it right. Geez. He was a good sport about it, but there is no way I can edit it out of the recording without ruining it. So it stays. I will be blogging a transcript of that interview at a later date. Following the interview, we visited for a little bit more and he went to dinner. I went and found some Klingons to visit with.
In the evening, I attended the Masquerade contest. I cannot believe how much time and money some people invest in their cosplay. Some of the costumes were really stunning in their detail. It was all good fun and Catwoman was tapped as best in show. This event also got underway well after the appointed time due to problems with the sound system.
At this point, I was pretty well worn out, and probably still suffering from my bout of dehydration, so I just went to my room and slept.
Sunday, July 28, 2013…
After having coffee and breakfast with Diane and Chrissy, I went to a panel on the Philosophy of Star Trek. It was a great panel and the most intellectually stimulating part of the weekend, other than my visit with the authors on Friday evening. The panel went for only an hour, but I could have sat there all day discussing the aspects of Trek. I am planning another blog post just on this subject at a later time. I would love to serve as a panelist for this subject in the future.
Following that, I went to a reading by Gail Carriger. She read with a lot of expression and it was fun to listen to, but her work isn’t my kind of literature to read.
I was pretty worn out, and so was the family, so we headed home.
All in all, it was a fun weekend. I had a blast and am very much looking forward to attending OSFest 7 next summer. Was there a downside? I do have just a few nits to pick:
1. Panels should be set up before the start of the event. Panelists should not be checking whether their equipment is working fifteen minutes into their presentation.
2. The lighting in the main hall was horrible. This was not due to the convention oragnizers’ oversight, but arrangements should be made.
3. Sound equipment needs to be likewise set up in advance of an event. I could barely hear in the main hall. When I helped the Klingons with their panel, I noticed a good mixing board behind the curtain. The EQ was set with no treble, so speakers’ voices were very muffled. (If you are with OSFest and are reading this, I would be willing to help out with this problem next year. You provide the equipment, I will get it set up properly.)
Here are some other pictures from the convention. I have these and more posted on my Facebook page.
|It's not good to startle a Klingon!|
|A Dahlek in the lobby.|
|The Mellinium Falcon in the Modeling Room|
|A Friendly Steampunk Engineer|
|The Security Chief in the Klingon Hospitality Room|
|No Intro Needed|
|There's Always a Klingon around when you need one. Kevin Carroll - One of the nicest Klingons you'll ever meet.|
Well, there it is…