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Arisia 2005
Review by Daniel Dern
Arisia.org Event  ISBN/ITEM#: 0502Arisia
Date: Arisia 2005 announces new dates: January 21-23, 20 / Show Official Info /

Not counting the occasional WorldCon, the Boston area has three major annual convention: Arisia (arisia.org), in January; Boskone (http://www.nesfa.org/boskone/) in February, and ReaderCon (readercon.org) in July. Each serves a reasonably-well-defined audience (with some overlap in content and attendees); Arisia being the most media-and-costume oriented, ReaderCon the most book/author-oriented, and Boskone somewhere in between.

2005's Arisia 16 got off to a delayed start; originally scheduled for its traditional "Martin Luther King weekend," a close-to-last-minute discovery by the hotel that they'd double-booked that weekend pushed this annual Boston convention to the following weekend, January 21 through 23.

In retrospect, this turned out to be less than salubrious; while the original weekend's weather was clear if cold, Arisia's new home in the calendar turned out to be double-booked instead with a record-breaking weekend snowstorm, dropping over two feet of powdery snow Saturday early evening through Sunday morning.

The timing of winter weather allowed everyone to get TO Arisia in a timely fashion... but by early Saturday afternoon, many had already begun to wonder/worry how and when they would get home, or begin strategizing where they might stay for an extra evening. (And keeping your intrepid reporter to not make it in Sunday, sadly.)

This year's Pro Guest of Honor was Diane Duane, well-known for her Young Wizards series ("So You Want To Be A Wizard" and six other titles do date), Star Trek books, and other works. For her interview, GoH, Victor Raymond interviewed Ms. Duane interviewed Terri Gross (NPR Fresh Air) style, with more of an informal, conversational approach.

Like most WorldCons', the huckster room at Arisia runs the gamut, The huckster room this year was its usual mix of books, jewelry, weapons, cloaks, kilts, armor, puppets, art prints, minerals, anime DVDs, media tchoktches and whatnot... and "dealer's alley" in (bed)rooms on the seventh floor hawking more of the same, including more costumers and other garb-sellers. I found (and bought) a pair of Monty Python Angry Bunny Slippers.

Programming has become more comprehensive at Arisia in the past few years; sessions ranged from "Go, Podkayne, Go" (are there any better juvenile books than Heinlein?), a Jeopardy-like quiz show, how-to's on costuming, gaming, filking, fencing, plus lots of LARPs, anime, kids programming, and even a session on sleep apnea (where I was a panelist).

Lots of media-related sessions, of course, e.g. No Buffy. No Angel. Now What?, and Fan Fiction 101, along with lifestyle/crossover topics like Jews and Fandom ("Which is harder: explaining to fellow fans why you wrap a leather strap around your arm in shul but don?t wear Goth at a con, or explaining to your family why you?ll be observing Havdalah with a pro, a Klingon, and people going to a masquerade?" As is so often the case, there were lots of sessions I wished I'd made it to, like Dan Kimmel's "The Year in Review" film look-back, and NESFA's replay of "The Filkado" Noreascon musicale.

While Arisia is clearly popular with the younger generation (teens, pre-teens and post-teens), there was no shortage of us graying-haired (and hair-impaired) fans around, ditto fans with children (some parked in the kids areas). The Art Show had a good batch of stuff, including flat art and sculpture, soft art, and jewelry.

Kudos to Arisia staff for alerting car-bringing attendees early Saturday afternoon that Boston would be "No Parking" the streets by a certain time (i.e., find another place for your car, or be towed).

As always, Arisia seemed to be well-enough run -- I'm sure it's possible to have found complaints, but what con would be complete without them? The Con Suite was reasonably quiet, people seemed busy and happy (enough) as a rule, and there was lots to do.

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