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CONVENTIONS: REPORTS Descriptions and pictures of past cons.

Oasis 21 '08

Con Report by Pagadan

Oasis 21 Con Report
by Joy V. Smith

On Friday, May 23, my sister Char and I set out for Oasis, the literary SF con held in Orlando, Florida on Memorial Day weekend. We parked at the hotel parking garage for $3.00 a night (got a discount for the con; $12.00 was crossed out on the parking permit!). After registering at the hotel and unloading our luggage, we dropped off our donations at the freebie table and the charity auction table and then picked up our name tags since we’d pre-registered. It was good to be back in the hotel where everything was in the same building, especially since it was raining again. (It’s been remodeled, and they have a Starbucks now.)

I visited with people and checked out the art show and dealers room, dealers and artists were still arriving. There was a nice selection of furry art and digital photography at the art show. More furry art than last year, I believe. And I discovered that you can get yourself photographed with fairies and other creatures. (Go to www.fantasticalphotography.com )

Browsing the freebies table--the Hulk posters are huge!--I picked up some fiction samples and flyers, among other things. Great selection. Char had gone to the 3 pm panel, Peace Through Superior Firepower: Military SF. (Panels started at 2 pm.) She reported that military SF focuses on future wars while regular military fiction is past and present wars. [Apparently they didn’t address Alternate History which often focuses on past wars.] You have to keep characters believable even though using future weaponry.

Then we tracked down the video room and caught the end of a Deep Space 9 tribbles episode which was fun. After that were the Japanese live action TV series episodes; there were five, but I didn't get to see them all. Then I dropped off the freebies in our room and went to the con suite for the chili contest (a kid was playing a video game on a wall mounted TV there, btw. I would have asked him what the red and blue bars meant at the top of the screen, but I didn’t want to break his concentration). I liked the Internal Damnation chili best. It was the hottest, but a number of people said--You call this hot?! And went on to discuss Thai food..

Back at the video room for more of the Japanese TV series, the Ultraman episode was poetical. Super Star God Gransazers was good. I was sorry we couldn't see all of the Japanese episodes, but there's so much to do. We stopped at our room before the opening ceremonies. (Everything is so convenient here!) Juan Sanmiguel, the con chair, introduced the guests: Dave Gerrold (Writer Guest of Honor who gave us some background), John Scalzi (Special Guest Writer; this is his first time in Florida; his family is at Disneyworld), Bill & Brenda Sutton (Filk Guests of Honor; they were in Japan for the world con & climbed Mt. Fuji). Paul Vincenti (Artist Guest of Honor) was late because he’d overslept, but he was in time to join us for the chocolate buffet (giant chocolate chip cookies and brownies, miniature candy bars, …).

We took a break in our room before the Alien Artifacts panel at 9 pm. This is one of my favorite panels. We had to wait until the 40 Years of Star Trek panel finished (it was full); so I browsed the freebies table and picked up bookmarks, etc.; there’s always something new. I also peeked in one of the gaming rooms (there were two); gaming is hosted by FRAG (Florida Roleplayer's Association of Gamers). Available forms there included character record sheets, Magic Item Creation Logsheets (Living Greyhawk Campaign), and Adventure Journal sheets (Legends of the Shining Jewel).

The Alien Artifacts panelists are scientists. Michael Conrad was Bubba this time. (I missed his psychic personna.) The other scientists/panelists were David Gerrold, Jeff Mitchell (who really is a rocket scientist), John Scalzi, and Craig Caldwell. Caldwell had a fedora, a crystal skull, magnifying glass, gloves, a sonic screwdriver; and he was always pulling new gadgets out of his bag. He was fantastic! The artifacts included kitchen tongs (one panelist said that it was an artificial clapper), a corked beaker (when it was uncorked, a colorless gaseous alien escaped and took over one of the panelists who attacked another panelist), a tissue box (which was a fez, a Martian apartment complex, a helmet, or a space bidet), and a number of other items. There was physical interaction, and, of course, lots of sexual references and sneering comments about the other scientists' faulty assumptions. (You’re not wrong; you’re creatively right.)

After that, we returned to the video room and saw the end of a Buffy episode (edited). Torchwood (pain and suffering) was next, which I’ve given up on, so we retreated to our room, where we read and relaxed.

Saturday, May 24, we started out at the con suite, and then I bought the current con tee shirt and met a couple of fans I’d only met online. After that it was back to the video room where we saw the end of a Land of the Lost episode. We’d gone there to see an old Dr. Who episode (the Sontarrans and Sarah Jane Smith) with Jon Pertwee, one of my favorite Dr. Whos. After that we had lunch at the con suite and checked out the dealers room, where I visited a favorite book dealer, The Missing Volume. (She has the Liaden universe books by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller.) She said she’d bring one of their books that I wanted from home the next day. She did that for me last year too.

Char had gone to the panel, Sex and the Single Werewolf. She said: "Laurell K Hamilton's Anita Blake series was discussed. [She brought it up.] The consenus was too much sex. One writer on the panel advised she was told by her publisher to put in more sex in her stories so they would sell. What your publisher tells you to do, you do."

After the dealers room, I went to the art show again. Some art that stood out to me was Fennecs by Lamplight, Battle Tiger, Curiosity (girl and dragon), the digital photos (dog looking at fairies, a unicorn, and Pixy-Led (girls with fairy wings), and the kiln fired art glass; I especially liked the Siberian [tiger] gryphon; there were also an owl gryphon and horses.

I browsed the auction table (books and items that weren’t going to the auction) and bought a book. (Bought more there later.) After meeting Char, we went back to the video room for more Dr. Who. And then on to the aikido demonstration. Aikido is the way of harmony. The men and women fought in their bare feet; the slapping sound on the mats is very loud as they‘re thrown. They also used staffs. (Aikido weapons include long staff, short staff, long sword, short sword, and dagger.) A light person can defeat a big person by using their energy. And there was a demonstration when three people attacked one. That involves use of space, as I recall. They were all incredibly graceful. Check out their website: http://www.shindai.com/

After that I voted in the art show. (Only one category this year; other years there were SF, fantasy, and Best in Show.) Back at the video room there were some old British TV series episodes (Third Man, Sir Francis Drake, and Sir Lancelot) and a new one that hasn’t made it to the US yet--Primeval. I came back for that; it was good. Dinosaurs, etc. are breaking through a rift into our world. (Thanks to Robert Yazel for the Japanese and English TV series episodes, and, of course, to Arthur Dykeman for running the video room and sharing his collection and to the other contributors, who include Juan Sanmiguel with his anime music videos.)

After checking the freebies table, it was on to the masquerade contest. The judges were Mike Conrad, Paul Vincenti, and Patricia Wheeler. The contestants were: #!: Captain Ozzie, space ranger; #2: Elf of the Forest’s Edge; #3: Atlanta; #4: Professor Marcus Smythe Smythe Jones; and #5: Lady Darth Drama. While the judges deliberated, there were announcements (desserts at the con suite, volunteers needed, Seattle 2011 bid party, chili contest winners: Fan choice: Zsa Zsa‘s; Cthulhu‘s Choice: Internal Damnation; Best name: Nerd's Nosh. The art contest winners were:1st place: Spring by Paul Vincenti, 2nd place: Snowy Owl Gryphon by Marti Roberson, and 3rd place: Nuclear War by Mike Conrad. Judges’ choice was Awakening in Glass by Marti Roberson.

And now the masquerade awards: 1st place was Professor Marcus Smythe Smythe Jones; 2nd place was Elf of the Forest’s Edge; and 3rd place was Darth Drama. (She certainly was.) After that we viewed Quark in the video room, went to the Seattle bid party, and enjoyed the filking. They played and sang a number of songs, including the classic about the aliens who keep dumping their pets on a man's farm on Earth.

Sunday, May 25: We checked out and finally found our car… We had breakfast at the con suite and browsed the art show and freebies table again. (Still more goodies there: I found a space launch schedule courtesy of Spaceyideas.com) After that I went to the Blogging panel; panelists were Ann Morris, Juan Sanmiguel, John Scalzi, and Adam-Troy Castro.

They started out with the question, Why do people do it? For some it’s socialization, therapy, and release; some people keep a boring diary; one man wrote nasty posts about his wife’s ex-husband; and groups and organizations have blogs. A panelist said that Live Journal has cachet; people like it. I think panelists agreed that Live Journal is better than My Space or FaceBook. A panelist mentioned that kids often don’t understand that the Internet isn’t private. And things can go horribly, horribly wrong. Incidents blow up; people react; some people want an instant response to their posts. Scalzi doesn’t like emoticons, and Castro dislikes IMHO. You can make friends online, but you have to be careful; sometimes you find that someone lives right down the street from you. Very interesting panel. (I'm a blogger.)

After that back to the con suite where kids are playing a video game. (There were also movies frequently running on the TV screen: National Treasue 2, I Am Legend, ...) And I stopped at the dealers room to pick up my Liaden universe book. Char went to the Evolution of Gender & Sex Roles in SF panel. She said: "On the evolution of gender & sex roles panel, it was more like going into different types of sex roles, like hetero & homo. I thought it would be more like heroines no longer need to be rescued while standing helplessly in a corner, but this was only touched on when I brought it up."

I visited the art show, freebies table, and The Discarded in the video room. I asked for a hint about it. Okaay. That’s a negative so I check out the con suite where I find a lost panelist’s name sign; I discover that on the back is a list of the panelist’s panels and schedule. That’s helpful. I wander the halls, visit with people some more. The halls are less crowded and quieter. I go on to the Terry Pratchett panel. (I have most of his books, btw.) Steve Grant and Patricia Wheeler are the panelists. Small panel and audience, but we have a good time discussing favorite lines, books, and characters. There are so many good ones! Wheeler recommends The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Someone said that Steve Hawkings mentions turtles (from the Discworld) in A Brief History of Time. We discuss if Carrot would ever be king. No. And I learn that a movie’s been made of The Colour of Magic (newer than Hogfather); and Wee Free Men has been cast. This was a really fun panel.

Next I’m off to the charity auction (which followed the art auction); it had already started. Mike Conrad is the auctioneer and is very funny, as usual. There were books; prints; original art, including two Art by Committee cartoons (I missed that this year); puzzles, jewelry, a really big butterfly, and David Gerrold’s name sign signed with his name and a tribble. (He wrote that famous Star Trek episode. You could buy tribbles in the dealers room, btw; I met a girl with one, and she had it purr for me.)

We left before the auction was over; it always runs long. And didn’t stay for the closing ceremonies. Back to home and work with so many happy memories! (I registered for next year's con earlier.)

The End