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World Fantasy Convention 2004 by Colleen Cahill
Leprecon Inc. Event  ISBN/ITEM#: 0411WFC04
Date: October 28-31, 2004 / Show Official Info /

Location: Tempe Mission Palms Hotel, Tempe, Arizona USA
Official Website: www.worldfantasy2004.org

Author Guest of Honour: Gwyneth Jones
Artist Guest of Honor: Janny Wurts
Editor Guest of Honor: Ellen Datlow
Publisher Guest of Honor: Betty Ballantine
Toastmistress: Jennifer Roberson Other Guests: Don Maitz (artist), Yvonne Navarro (author/artist)

Official Information: The World Fantasy Convention is the annual professional convention for Fantasy Authors, Artists, and Editors. The 2004 edition in Tempe, Arizona has a theme of Women of Fantasy and Horror. It will feature a Dealer?s Room, Art Show, Programming featuring our Guests of Honor and other participants including discussion panels, workshops and readings, the World Fantasy Awards Banquet, Autograph Reception, Artists Reception, and more.

The 30th World Fantasy Convention gathered at Tempe, Arizona from October 28 through the 31st. The guests of honor, Gwyneth Jones, Janny Wurts, Ellen Datlow, Betty Ballantine and toastmistress Jennifer Roberson all kept with the theme of this year?s Convention, Women in Fantasy and Horror. There was plenty of feminist literary panels, such as Horror Genre-Women?s P.O.V and Mistakes in Creating Strong Female Characters, along with more cross-gender discussions, as in Character Abuse: Why We Bully Our Protagonists. But as any attendee will tell you, the panels are but one of the attractions of this convention. With an attending membership of no more than 850, this is a intimate meeting, dominated by the large number of professional authors, editors and publishers.

Arriving on Thursday afternoon, Tempe did not seem very Arizona-ish as the weather was rainy and cool. No problem for me, as this being my fourth WFC, I knew where I would be: indoors at the readings. The half hour reading sessions start in the morning and except for Sunday, run until late in the night. It is a treat to hear authors such as Charles de Lint, Kij Johnson and Ed Bryant read aloud their own tales, adding tones and colors I might not get in my perusal of their works. It is also a great way to get a preview of their in-process stories, as many of these pieces are of to-be-released items. Another bonus is to get a glimpse of authors I have not read before, introducing me to new names and plots to follow. One author I was particularly taken with was Vera Nazarian, who read from her Wildside Press book Dreams of the Compass Rose. There is hidden treasure in the readings! (You?ll find Colleen?s Review elsewhere this issues ? see review)

You should not skip the dealers? room at WFC, for while it might be small compared to World Con, it has a very interesting mix of books, jewelry, art, books, memorabilia, ... and did I mention books? There are small presses, such as Old Earth Books and Wheatland Press, displaying their wares and scattered among them are new and used book dealers. If you are looking for a title that is something beyond what you might see in the local chain book store, this is the place to be!

One thing all first time WFC attendees find fantastic is the Autograph Reception held on Friday night. Any author at the Convention is welcome to take a name card, grab a chair and wait for the fans to line up. Often this event is held in a ballroom, but Tempe took advantage of a lovely courtyard in the hotel to spread out the tables, giving the signers some elbow room and those looking for their favorite author a bit of exercise. It is fun to see some authors away from their chairs tracking down signatures of their own favorite writers.

The climax of WFC is the award ceremonies, where the Howards (the trophy is a bust of H.P. Lovecraft) are handed out for Life Achievement, Novel, Novella, Short Fiction, Anthology, Collection, Artist, and special awards for Professional and Non-Professional publishing. This year I was not able to be at the banquet or awards, as I had to return to work the following day, but a complete list of the winners is available at World Fantasy Awards List not just for 2004, but for every year of the Convention.

The WFC is my favorite convention, as it has warmth, intimacy, plus lots and lots of authors. My plans are already set for next year?s gathering in Madison, Wisconsin and the 2006 convention, for which the location was a hot contest, will be in Austin, Texas. If you like fantasy and horror books, WFC might become your favorite, too.

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