Renovation, Day 3 (Part 1)

Friday morning started with a chance meeting at breakfast with an old friend of mine, Juanita Skillman. She was at the convention to help give away the 4000-book collection of the late Diana Ann Barbour, whose family did not want to keep her collection. During the next couple of days I stopped by their table in the exhibition hall and took some old SF magazines, Star Trek novelizations by James Blish, Perry Mason novels, and James Bond novels. I’m sure many fans were thankful to Barbour’s friends and family for sharing her legacy.

The Main Business Meeting, with Donald Eastlake presiding, started at 10:00. I had to admire his skill at handling the often chaotic action. There were a number of items that had been approved at last year’s Business Meeting that needed to be ratified to become “law,” and these for the most part, were handled quickly and without much opposition, although due to their number, it took over an hour to dispense with them. Then the fun began! The proposals to change the eligibility rules for the Fanzine and Semi-Prozine categories and to add a Fancast category were, as expected, met with a lot of discussion. They were still deliberating them when I got bored and left to see a panel with David Brin at noon. Later, I saw in the daily convention newsletter that all of the proposals had passed and that they would be considered at next year’s Business Meeting for final ratification.

“SIGMA–The Science Fiction Think Tank” with David Brin, Charles Gannon, John Hemry, and Larry Niven went from noon until 2:00. SIGMA is a non-profit group started by Brin to bring science fiction and science writers to the attention of industry and governmental agencies, working to provide ideas and provide feedback on possible new technologies. Brin and Niven are both very opinionated and entertaining, although it was evident that Niven was not quite as quick as he once was. Topics during the discussion ranged far and wide, from how to get young people more interested in science and science fiction to anecdotes about how some military leaders behave. The panel probably would have been better if it had only been one hour, as the second half started to ramble into less interesting territory.

Tim Powers

At 2:00, I went to the Guest of Honor Speech by Tim Powers in the auditorium. Powers gave an insightful and humorous look at his career and life. One of his best anecdotes was the time a Christian evangelist came to his door and they got into a religious debate. It didn’t matter that Powers was a Catholic; to the evangelist that was perhaps worse than being an atheist. Powers wanted to show the evangelist some scripture, but asked to use the evangelist’s own Bible since his own Catholic Bible would be suspect. They were outside on Powers’ sunny porch, and Powers took out his reading magnifier. Well, somehow, the Bible just started burning! The evangelist left without even taking back his Bible. Powers could only imagine what the evangelist said to his group when he got home.

As I was leaving Powers’ presentation, I ran into another old friend, Lyle Wiedeman. It turned out that Lyle is trying to become a science fiction writer and has been going to workshops and conventions the past couple of years. Who knew? I also had a nice chat with Lyle the following day.

“WTF? Truly Bizarre Anime” was next. Panelists John Hemry, Mari Kotani, Robert Luoma, and Tim Szczesuil discussed a number of anime series that just defy description. It was further complicated by Kotani’s less-than-fluent English. Nevertheless, Kotani brought a clip from one of the craziest cartoons I’ve ever seen, Tamala 2010: A Punk Cat in Space (2003), black-and-white adventures on a weird cat planet which harkened back to pioneering animators Dave Fleischer and Tex Avery. Many modern American animators have lost that sense of whimsy. Fortunately, not all American animators feel this way; that’s why I like Adventure Time so much!

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