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CONVENTIONS: REPORTS Descriptions and pictures of past cons.

Oasis 20 '07

Con Report by Pagadan

Oasis 20 Con Report
by Joy V. Smith

Friday afternoon, May 25th, running late because of unexpected appointments and visitors, my sister and I headed for Oasis 20 in Orlando, Florida. Even though we live within driving distance, itís more fun to stay there for the whole weekend. Checking in at the hotel took longer than usual because they said I was only registered for one night. Iím here for the con! I registered for two nights!! They finally found us a room, and we headed there with the luggage (first load), but looking over the room, I noticed the sink was full of shards. Hmm. Then the room phone rang; the desk had just been informed that the sink had broken, so they found us another room--just two doors down--and told us to wait there for the new key cards. We waited and waited, and then Char went to the car for the second load of suitcases and tote bags. When she came back, I was still waiting; then help appeared. A hotel employee took pity on us, and she let us in our room with her master key. She was still holding the door open for us when our key cards arrived, and we traded our old ones for the new ones.

Now we could check in at the con and unload those tote bags full of freebies, flyers, and things we were donating to the charity auction. While checking in here, we learned that the con would be returning to the old hotel--which has been renovated--next year (for various reasons). Because we were running late, I missed the beginning of Cover Art by Committee, which I usually go to, but discovered there were only three artists and one drawing this year, and it wasnít as frenetic. Mike Conrad, Stanley Morrison, and Paul Vincenti (youíll come across these names later; theyíre all award-winning artists) were fun to watch, and itís interesting to see how the cartoonís characters evolve as artists come up with new ideas and take off from the other artistsí drawings.

After that we went to the Art Show and enjoyed the dragon flower series, the cat and dragon series, media characters, and more; then we went next door to the dealers room. I tracked down the dealer who carries Sharon Lee and Steve Millerís Liaden universe books and chapbooks and bought four chapbooks. There was an omnibus volume I wanted, but it was autographed and hence more expensive, but the dealer (The Missing Volume) offered to bring back an unautographed copy the next day since she lived nearby. Yes! Iíll be back.

After dropping the books off in our room, we went to the con suite, which happened to be in our building this year and not in the tower, where it was last year. The International Plaza Resort & Spa is huge! We studied the map for a while; and after a snack and drinks, we took a break in our room and studied the schedule. So, up next is the opening ceremony and Cthuluís Chili Challenge.

The two con panel rooms were Okeechobee I and II, which can be divided or open. It was one room now so the opening ceremony table was next to the chili crockpots--quite an aroma. And this year there was an anniversary cake (chocolate) with the con program cover graphic for decoration and Oasis 20 1987-2007 at the bottom.

The table where the guests usually sit was too small for all of them--Authors: Joe Haldeman, Mike Resnick, Michael Bishop, Kathleen Ann Goonan, Jack McDevitt, Robert J. Sawyer, Artists: Mary Hanson-Roberts, Mike Conrad, Stanley Morrison, Paul Vincenti, and Tom Smith (filk guest of honor)--so they stood, which made it easier for the photo op with the cake. Patricia Wheeler, president of OASFIS gave the brief opening talk, and Juan Sanmiguel introduced the guests. (He took over as con chair after Peter Popovich left unexpectedly for family reasons; all the club members pitched in to help with the con.) Then everyone swarmed over to the chili table. There were twelve crockpots this time! No way I could try them all, and one was finished out by the time I got there. After I tasted Dragonís Breath, which was really hot, I couldnít tell if Patriciaís Planetary Prize-winning Perfection was hot or not, but it was good. Then we got in line for the cake. Patricia Wheeler, who was serving, asked--How much icing? How much you got?!

After relaxing in our room, we went to the Alien Artifacts panel, which is one of my favorites. Panelists were Mike Conrad, Johnny Atomic, Craig Caldwell, Jeff Mitchell, and Mike Resnick. (The rooms were switched on the program, but that was a minor glitch. I didnít come across any major problems, but the con workers are always busy.) Mike Conrad used his psychic personna; Johnny Atomic wasnít from our earth or timeline; etc. This panel of experts has to identify alien artifacts, and they rarely agree. The first item was a big plastic ring, which was identified as a toilet seat, a halo from when an angel went to hell when it froze over (political joke), etc.

The shrink wrapped thingie was a dinosaur stool, Ö There were sports, sex, and other allusions and constant byplay. Conrad said that one of the scientists had prematurely willed his brain to science and someoneĎs mind is the only complete vaccuum in the universe. Johnny Atomic had a funny response at one point, but I didnít get it all down, but it was good. Other items included a piece of metal with a hole in it (not quite laser proof armor), a fuzzy wuzzy (not a tribble), Ö Puns included the abdominable snowman. Items were identified at the end, btw, and the fuzzy wuzzy actually was a tribble!

After that we went to the video room to see Dr. Who: The Runaway Bride; we caught the end of Free Enterprise (Et tu, Denny Crane?) with William Shatner. Be sure to watch the funny credits and long acknowlegments. (No thanks to El Nino.) We were interrupted by a fire alarm and had to evacuate the building so the audience visited outside till we got the all clear. (False alarm.) After finishing Dr. Who, I watched the beginning of Torchwood, but it was really late now, and we had to make the long trek back to our room in the middle of the night. I figured it would probably be upcoming in the US pretty soon, and Iíve since learned that it will be on BBCAmerica in September.

Saturday I checked out the freebies table and visited the art show again. I loved the kitten and dragon alphabet series. There were photos, including a jungle series; some furry art (not as much as usual), and a couple nudes. Lots of fantasy and SF; I wandered back and forth, making notes and trying to decide which ones to vote for. (There are fantasy, SF, and Best in Show categories.) The Cover Art by Committee cartoon was displayed outside the art show; writers will write a story for it later.

Then it was back to the dealers room, but before going in, I spotted a kitten being bottle fed by David Ratti, who does cat rescue. (Someone else had rescued the kitten and given it to him.) Little Maggie (about five weeks old) was so cute, but eventually I made it into the dealers room, where I bought a Liaden universe chapbook collection (I appreciated the dealer telling me about it because I was going to try to track down all the earlier chapbooks that were in it!); and an omnibus volume. I also bought a tee shirt with nifty graphics (Batoka Station on Mars) from Monk Studios.

After dropping off my books in our room, we went to lunch; we planned to use the lunch buffet coupon the hotel gave us, but we were too early. However, we learned that breakfast was $14.50. Returning at the correct time, we discovered that we still had to wait 15 minutes. Returning later, the buffet still wasnít set up, so we checked it out. Hmm. Not worth waiting for or paying for. We didnít want to miss the new Dr. Who episodes (new companion, Martha Jones) that were starting at noon in the video room.

I think the new Dr. Who series is much better than a lot of the old shows; and the new Dr. Whos are fantastic. The Shakespeare episode was very good, among others. I could have stayed there all afternoon, but there was so much else to do in the building where most of the con activity was going on; the gaming room was always full, btw. While treking between the buildings, I met a woman who said that older people love gaming too; it isnĎt just youngsters who enjoy it. The gaming room is open the longest; I checked out the schedule, and theyíre still going until 3:30 AM. There were Learn to Play classes scheduled: Dreamblade and Magic the Gathering.

After taking a break in the con suite and our room and browsing the con freebie tables (always something new there), the dealers room, etc., we caught the last of the Dr. Who episodes (a two part Dalek story line) and went to the charity auction. Oasis has two charities this year--their regular Andre Norton scholarship fund and the Jamie Bishop scholarship fund for Michael Bishopís son, Jamie, who was killed in the Virginia Tech tragedy. Mr. Bishop thanked us and told us a little bit about his son.

Richard Byers enthusiastically ran the auction. He started with books (always lots of books), a chrome mouse, a tee shirt with five recently deceased SF writers, prints, jewelry, and more. Lots of book lots at the end, divided into interesting categories; the last lot was Whatís Left. Plenty of good deals here! And we got to meet the Andre Norton scholorship recipient who thanked us for our support. Then it was back to the con suite for a snack and later the deli for a sandwich and milk.

The maskerade was at 7:30. Contestants were:

1) Yvonne Wisdom, Guardian Angel (costume designed and made by Mike Conrad; she uses it to promote her book, Roots of Evil). I wish I had a picture to share; her wings unfold, and she has great armor and an impressive weapon.
2) Demon Fairy: Ruth Ellen. (very pretty)
3) Pirate (good)
4) Fairy godmother, who designed and made her costume. (Very good.)
5) A disgruntled, protesting Dr. Who fan with scarf .
6) Celtic fantasy armor (guaranteed against all magic, except white; zombies, and a lot more! There are warranty limitationsÖ
7) The Illusions of the Mind (Four people--very funny).

While waiting for the judges to decide, we learned who the Art Show winners were:

Fantasy:

1) Treasure Dragon by Stanley Morrison
2) Autumn by Paul Vincenti
3) The Rose Queen by Theresa Mather

SF:

1) Alien Attack by Michael Conrad
2) Ring Night by John Kaufmann
3) Signpost by John Garner

The judgesí choice is Roots of Evil (cover art) by Mike Conrad
The peopleís choice is St. Labia by Sarah Clemens

Now for the chili contest winners:

Cthulhuís Choice is Dragonís Breath
Fen Choice is Wicked Omega Cloud.

And, at last, the costume winners:

First place: Guardian Angel (outstanding!)
Second place: The Illusions of the Mind
Third place: Man in chain mail (Loren Danewood)

Tom Smith, filker, started his concert at 8 PM, and sang Zombie Blues, a Dune song, Honey-Glazed Ham (piglet in the honey pot), Blue Screen of Death (Fun!), Tech Support for Dad (A favorite of mine now), Fenton the Death Sheep of Hell, The Illuminati Polka, and lots more--with lots of puns. He has nine albums out now--seven of them original; and he has written a pirate song, which is used by the National Talk Like a Pirate Day group. He was still going strong when we took a break and went to the con suite for the dessert party sponsored by Guardians of Gallifrey. What a wonderful spread! And wall to wall people.

Sunday morning we took two suitcases to the car to expedite our later checkout, and then went to the video room, where we caught the end of a Dungeons and Dragons cartoon. We were there for The Sarah Jane Adventures. I learned about Sarah Jane and Torchwood from a friend in England, btw, and was really happy when I saw both of them, plus Dr. Who, on the video room schedule. Thank you, Arthur Dykeman! He always has a fun and varied menu of videos. He had a number of Heroes episodes also, but Iíd already seen them. Also anime.

The Sarah Jane Adventures episode was Adventure of the Bane--the first one, I believe. It was fun, and I loved this line: There are two kinds of people in the world--People who panic, and then thereís us. I caught the beginning of an anime after that--Full Metal Alchemist, which looked interesting, but there were other things to do. We had breakfast at the con suite and then checked out.

Back at the con area, I registered for next yearís con, and went to the Art Show again to check out the winners. I learned that the con attendence was over 400, which made them happy. Then I caught the end of SF Pictionary, which I was totally ignorant of. Itís sort of like charades, but with drawings. You have to guess the book title. Itís audience participation, and there was a small group having lots of fun. Thereíre usually more people, they said. I didnít get Dreamsnake, but at least I recognized the title. Other titles included Buying Time, Hot Sky at Midnight, and Red Planet. It was almost over, but I thought Iíd have a try and utilize the Red Planet drawing because it reminded me of a favorite story, Red Dust of Mars. Thatís when I learned that youíre supposed to draw a card with the title (in Easy, etc. categories), but the audience took pity on me and let me play. Thank you all!

Then I checked out the dealers room again and bought Mike Conradís Peter Parsec comic (RC Press). While doing that, I met an artist signing her illustration in Roots of Evil, which has an interesting premise. (Also from RC Press.) After that, I went back to the video room and caught the end of Full Metal Alchemist. My sister went to the Dr. Who panel--New vs. Old. Hereís her report:

ďThe Doctor Who panel discussed all the Dr. Whos from Jon Pertwee to David Tennant. The panel members discussed their favorite Dr Who. Some liked Tom Baker, others preferred Peter Davison, whom I loathed; still others preferred Christopher Eggleston & some David Tennant, the current Dr. Who. ( The audience was also divided in preference for their favorite doctors.) The Doctor's companions were also mentioned, especially Sarah Jane. I joined in & advised I thought Davison was a wimp & that so many plots were idiot driven. The Doctor & his companions acted as idiots to advance the plot. The panel was to last an hour, but the audience was still discussing the doctors when the hour was up.Ē

I stopped by the art show again and chatted with an artist, Carol Jeffers, whom Iíd met signing her illustration earlier; and I discovered that I already knew her art, which I praised in an earlier con report, as I recall.

Then it was back to the con suite and the dealers room; I always want to be sure Iím not missing anything. And on to the How Do You Get Published panel with Mike Resnick, Jack McDevitt, Glenda Finkelstein, Gay Haldeman (moderator; married to Joe Haldeman), and Robert J. Sawyer. The Creative Costuming panel was still going strong though. They were discussing how they create their costumes. Sounded interesting.

Lots of helpful info from the publishing panel. Finkelstein was first self-published with POD (Print on demand), but had distributers, and now also has a traditional publisher. Sawyer said: Start by submitting to SF magazines. Resnick said: Submit to other markets--not just genre. McDevitt said: You have to begin and submit. (Heís the author who read Dickens and stopped writing for a long time!)

Resnick told us that when he was an editor, slush pile readers had two minutes to reject a ms. The first two paragraphs are important! The traditional career path, said Sawyer, is to start with short stories. (Hmm. Unless that was Resnick, and Sawyer emphasized it.) Haldeman said: Start submitting at the top. Finkelstein said: Hire an editor. Haldeman said: Save your writing receipts, including your con membership. Sawyer said: Few big companies take unsolicited mss; and one of those that does can take three years to get back to you.

Other words of wisdom from the panelists: Be persistent; remember that Writerís Market listings are often outdated so check out the SF sections in bookstores; by the time you see a trend, itís too late; donít get an agent who takes unpublished authors; when youíre offered a contract, get an agent because they take care of the fine print, foreign rights, etc.; with POD, you have all rights; it helps if you win an award with a short story. Whew! I learned lots more from that panel.

We left before the con was over, as we usually do, because thereís so much to catch up with at home; but there were more panels, the art auction (I wish Iíd gotten that Corgi), and the closing ceremonies. íTwas another great con experience! And I look forward to going back to it and the old hotel, where everything was in the same building.

The End