Monday, September 10, 2012

World Science Fiction Convention Chicago 2012

I notice I have quite a few drafts or unpublished posts piling up that I wanted to tweak or add pictures to.  I'll just add the details as I can or I will never post another thing.  Just check back now and then for tweaks if something vaguely interests you.   9/10/12

Strolling with the Stars billed as a leisurely one mile walk around the area was a nice stroll indeed. We had a chance to talk with a few people who were also walking and trying things out. The real walk is today, with stars galore.

There were two authors there who I was unfamiliar with. You know how I love authors though so I talked with the gentleman about reading and science fiction and ya sf. I have this odd habit of getting nervous around serious people and then I start to babble. I'm not sure at which point I began babbling. But blah blah blah I went. At one point I could see the guy had a bit of that deer in the headlights look developing but I had gone by the wayside.

I think the point may have been when he and others were mentioning that some were pushing for a YA and Children's Hugo and I was all perky and thought that was a fantastic idea because this is such a great time for ya sf especially. Blah blah, I said, as he gave me a skewering look, even alot of adult authors are now writing ya, blah blah.

I tried to steer the conversation to mysteries but when he asked me who I read and my mind went blank and I could only name a few...I might have as well been wearing a full BOZO the Clown outfit.

We're going on the stroll this morning. I shall seek to be zenlike and not go blah blah blah.

Our first panel was on How to Moderate a Panel

Four women who had done considerable moderation offered tips and experiences. Unfortunately, two of them had such strong personalities that they dominated the conversation, thus nullifying their own panel as an example of "here is how to do this". The moderator sat silent with her arms folded most of the time and another woman with some valuable things to offer did not get many words in edgewise.

My husband was beginning to twirl his thumbs in a gesture of something not good, and every time one of the women spoke he leaned forward a little bit like a bird of prey and I thought he might say something to her when luckily it ended.

Panels are one and a half hours long which is really too much. We took away from that one sit at the back of the room by the door so you can slink out, but we were right up front, still in ComicCon mode of thinking that was the place to be.

Opening Ceremonies

John Scalzi was the toastmaster for the opening ceremonies. He ran a very Johnny Carson like routine with the accompanying band accenting his moves.

Huge couches were set up in front and he interviewed the guests of honor then they took a seat as a new person came by. I found the guest of honor Mike Resnick to be a particularly interesting fellow, also very down to earth.

The lady whose design won the selection for the base of the Hugo award was also quite interesting. I hadn't known it was a competition.

There was a bit of Chicon history which was also fun.

LARPING: Make Believe for Grownups

I read a book a year or so ago called This is Not a Game by Walter Jon Williams. In it, a man ran LARP events that had people via the Internet solving puzzles and acting as characters in a dramatic game that he had created. He had some people who were regular players and others who would join in for a single game. Things go awry when a new player seems to know too much and he/she takes over the game. It becomes clear that this new game is a matter of life or death for someone and the regulars join in to help the game master solve the puzzles before anyone dies.

That story is what I had in mind, but the panel participants all have very diiferent experiences. I don't think they really explained what a particular LARP session would be like, they all just mentioned favorite bits of LARPS they have been involved in.

My best guess explanation from what they said is: someone writes a scenario which is acted out in a very limited space, say a room or two. The game master responds to player questions and moves things forward plotwise as he would in a Dungeons and Dragons game. Only, there are no cards, no boards, no character figures. The players themselves are the figures, often in costume, and with props for weapons.

Haunted Bus Tour

We could go to the Planetarium for a special event or on a Haunted Bus Tour of Chicago. Although I've never been to a planetarium and would like to go, I am not one to pass up something like a Haunted Bus Tour.

We visited various sites such as a theater where a fire had killed several hundred people, the site of the St. Valentine's Day Massacre and the former coal pit where the doc from The Devil in the White City supposedly disposed of ashes.

As we rode along the guide told stories of murder and disaster throughout the city. Occasionally after hearing a tale we got out of the bus and examined the site. He told us in many cases that people would find ghostly shapes or people in their photographs. He himself had one seen the imprint of six bodies in the snow at the site of the St. Valentine's Day massacre.

Having grown up reading ghost stories like mad it was all fun, but only two places looked creepy as if something might lurk there:

The alley outside the Iroquois Theater seemed shadowy and spooky.

The Jane Addams Hull-House was curiously empty for a museum. Though well kept it was eerie. I kept thinking this would be a good place for Lizzie Borden to hang out. Note how close the name is to "Hill House". Yup. Creepy place. It has a charming story of a "devil baby" having been in hiding there that is detailed on the museum web site.

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