At 4:00 was “Failure to Launch: Film Franchises that Failed” with Chris Garcia, Forrest Hartman, Daniel Kimmel, and Gabe Marquez. The discussion ranged from promising attempts to start film franchises to film franchises that should have died to remakes that should or should not be made. There were a lot of films in each category, and it was fun to reminisce about those oldies but not so goodies that were or could have been.
Lauren Beukes, Cory Doctorow, Gary Ehrlich, and Kim Stanley Robinson then discussed “The Future of Cities.” What do the shanty towns of South Africa have in common with the megalopolises of Asia? How will climate and socio-economic changes affect cities? What are the roles of transportation and the economies of scale in the evolution of cities? Not a lot of concrete answers, but many thoughtful ideas.
Now, time for a decision. See the Masquerade or the Puppet Show? I chose the Puppet Show and I made the right decision. It turned out to be something titled Whatnot, and it was far more than just puppets. It was a showcase of short pieces featuring puppetry, masks, movement theater, and music. The cast consisted of Mary Robinette Kowal (winner the next evening of the Hugo Award for Best Short Story), Jodi Eichelberger, and Lance Woolen. The three were dressed in white leotards and used everything from toy xylophones to lawn ornaments to bring their scenes to life. The show began with an audience member pressing Play on a reel-to-reel tape player. The voice directed the audience to place a random item situated at the sides of the room, one at a time, on stage. The performers then used the item as a launching point for their vignette. When the scene was over, the voice commanded another item to be brought forward. Some scenes were brief and others were fairly long, so I suspect the voice was really someone in the troupe reading a script. But however it was done, the effect was enchanting, thought-provoking, and entertaining. This was a pleasant surprise, and I hope more productions like this will be featured at future Worldcons.
I hurried out to the car, stopped at Wendy’s for a quick bite, and arrived at the Peppermill’s Tuscany Ballroom in time to see the last half of the Masquerade. Most of the Master Class entries were in this half, so I didn’t feel like I missed too much. The Best in Show – Original Presentation, “Night at the Sci-Fi Museum” was definitely a highlight. The Best in Show – Re-creation, “Avatar Driver” had great workmanship and make-up, but lacked something in the presentation. Another favorite of mine was “Intergalactic Dating Game,” a mash-up of Doctor Who and the iconic game show. There were a couple of entries notable for their creative use of materials: “The Undine” and “Blue Meanie Blues.”
The “Half-time Entertainment,” while the judges deliberated, was a version of the long-running British radio quiz show, Just a Minute. The object of the game is for panelists to talk for sixty seconds on a given subject, “without repetition, hesitation, or deviation.” Comedy comes from attempts to keep within these rules, and the banter among the participants. (My uncle, who lived in Toronto, gave me a tape of Just a Minute some 20-25 years ago, and I have used its format a couple of times in my Toastmasters meetings.) Hosting tonight’s show was Paul Cornell, with contestants Seanan McGuire (aka Mira Grant), Lauren Beukes, Bill Willingham, and John Dowd. All of the topics were SF-related. After three rounds and a cell-phone call to her mother to quell a challenge for deviation, Seanan emerged victorious.
The day was not yet done. I wandered over to “Whose Line is it Anyway?” a fannish take on the Drew Carey imrov show (which was itself a copy of a British program). I only last about 45 minutes, due to tiredness and the fact that the performers really didn’t know what they were doing; the scenes went way too long and most weren’t particularly funny. Back to the Atlantis for a few hours of sleep.