Worldcon 2006 - L.A.con IV
Review by SFRevu Staff
Convention ISBN/ITEM#: Worldcon20
Date: Aug 23-27, 2006 / Show Official Info /
The convention was held in the Anaheim Convention center, just a block south from Disneyland, where many of the approximately 6,000 fans wandered off to at some point in their stay. Though the center is under renovation, that only affected the outside, and within it was cool, spacious and a bit bigger than we actually needed. A home expo was also going on at the other end of the convention center...but there was plenty of room to swallow both without either group ever actually seeing the other.
Things blasted off on Wednesday with a screening of the first episode of "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" (1950) and the gaveling open of the con by chair Christian McGuire, who accepted the "con" from Interaction (Worldcon 2005) co-chairs Vincent Docherty and Colin Harris. Christian introduced GOH Connie Willis (to say nothing of her husband, sitting in the audience) and led the crowd in a rousing, more or less, rendition of the Space Academy Anthem, projected onto the view screen. Having vowed to protect "inter-planet peace" the throng went off to mingle, renew old friendships, and attend a few panels.
Over the course of the next five days we enjoyed the con pretty well. Ern sat on a few panels, crashed a few others, and stayed up way too late going to bid parties. The exhibit hall was spectacular, with a display of robots from anime, film and TV just inside the door, including a "life-sized" Jessica Rabbit. It may be that life-sized doesn't exactly apply to an anime creation, and even if it did there would be some question as to the validity of her measurements, and further that she's not really a robot...but she was pretty popular anyway. It being the 40th anniversary of Star Trek, which was originally screened at a Los Angeles Worldcon, there was plenty of Trek stuff around for fans to see, including a number of cast members on panels and signing autographs. The actors were a bit baffled by the general reaction of the congoers, having just come from a Creation Star Trek convention in Las Vegas where things are done a bit differently. We saw this realization dawn on Marina Sirtis' face during the "Women of Star Trek" panel when she asked the packed room how many people had ever seen her or the other actors at a con before. Like 5 out of 500. Worldcon is, after all, primarily a literature con, not a media one.
Ern also joined the convention's official photo team to provide coverage of the many events, and you can see a "few" of his shots on SFRevu's Photo Gallery.
The con hotels, a Hilton and a Marriot were both nice and conveniently located, but the room blocks did fill up, sending excess fans to the many surrounding hotels. Ern stayed at the Anabella hotel, located just on the other side of the convention center for the outstanding price of $57 a night, thanks to an Expedia bargain. The hotel was listed at three stars and much to his surprise, deserved every one of them.
Unfortunately, the convention center wasn't as reasonably priced, and the con staff was forced to economize on some events and services. Corkage fees necessitated setting up a secondary "Green Room" and the "Con Suite" in the nearby Hilton, and though the photo team would like to have run a plasma display in the reception area to show off their pics, the rental would have cost thousands...putting a damper on that project. Shots were shown before major events, and the idea of an official photo team was good, but implementation needs some work.
The con had an internet café set up in the "spaceport lounge" outside the exhibit, dealer's room and art show, which was decorated with excellent movie spaceship models on each table and a huge flying saucer overhead. The 10 computers always seemed to have some users, but the lines never seemed unmanageable, and extra ports for connecting laptops were always available.
Bid parties were held in the Hilton on the 5th floor, which opened onto three different lania areas. Thus, parties shared a common outdoors area, making wandering from party to party easy, if occasionally confusing since there were three distinct open areas. The outdoor courtyards had the look of a giant miniature golf course, and we wished someone had thought to put up some appropriate hazards. Maybe next time.
The award ceremonies all went smoothly. First the Chesley's, named for Chesley Bonestell, legendary space artist, and presented by Tor Editor Jim Frankel for the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists (ASFA). Then the Masquerade, which reportedly had somewhat fewer entries than in years past, but still provided fans with lot of brilliant costuming and stage productions. Finally the Hugos were handed out on Saturday night with Ms. Willis hosting one of the smoother presentations the award has seen. Still, no Hugo award could be without incident, and Harlan Ellison was happy to provide this year's measure of mayhem.
There were panels for pretty much every taste, as befits a Worldcon, and we especially enjoyed listening to editors from the major houses talking about the present and future trends in the genre. There was a popular and volatile panel to discuss the demise of the character "Wash" in the Serenity movie, which handily won its Hugo category, and a series of painfully parliamental business meetings of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). One change to the constitution that we'll be paying attention to was the splitting of editor into two categories, one for novel-length works and the other for magazines and collections. As a result SFRevu will soon be trying to include editorial information along with our reviews.
If the con had a downside, it was that the increasingly notable lack of younger attendees, and possibly some shrinkage of the overall number as well. Personal scooters were nearly plentiful enough to need their own parking lots, and looking around the con made it hard to reconcile the population with the observation made by the first Worldcon GOH in 1959, that he was " mighty glad to be here among as fine a crowd of live-wires and go getters that has ever assembled under one roof." (see: Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches) Fandom hasn't changed all that much...but it's definitely getting grayer.
We stayed till the end, flying back to the East Coast on a Sunday night Red-eye, arriving back at Baltimore early Monday morning...exhausted but happy to have gone.
Next year Worldcon will meet in Japan, which will be interesting if on the pricey side, NASFIC, the con held in years that Worldcon is outside the US will be held in St. Louis, where you can get a great frozen custard on Route 66. In 2008 it will be back here, this time in Denver, CO.
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