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Boskone 44
Review by Daniel Dern
NESFA  ISBN/ITEM#: 0702BOSKON
Date: 20 February 2007

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From Official Info: Boskone is a regional Science Fiction convention focusing on literature, art, music, and gaming (with just a dash of whimsy). Join us as we explore the worlds of the human imagination.

February 16-18, 2007, Westin Waterfront, Boston, Massachusetts.
"Hearts Song" © 2005 Gary A. Lippincott
Guest of Honor: David Gerrold
Official Artist: Gary A. Lippincott
Special Guest: Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, PhD
Featured Filkers: Lee & Barry Gold

NESFA Guests
Hal Clement Science Speaker: Richard Binzel
NESFA Press: Christopher Stasheff

Winter can be a tricky time for SF conventions, complicating travel for program participants, guests, not to mention the hucksters and artists.

Both Boston-area winter SF conventions -- NESFA's annual Presidents-Day-weekend and Boskone, and Arisia, have city-paralyzing snowstorms hit just before or during probably one year in three, if my memory is anywhere near accurate -- storms throttling down airport service, closing down street parking, even slowing or stopping above-ground portions of Boston's MBTA public-transit system.

Adding to the challenge, both Boskone and Arisia changed venues from last year (neither by choice).

For the past several years, Boskone has been at the Sheraton in downtown Boston -- conveniently connected to the Hynes Convention Center's food courts, and associated hotels, restaurants and malls, many accessible without needing to venture outside.

Boskone 44, Friday February 16 through Sunday February 18, 2007, was at the new Westin Waterfront, next to Boston's year-old Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. The hotel is only about three blocks from the Silver Line public transit stop -- but with the path far from well labeled, and large patches of steps and sidewalks still iced over from the past week's weather, making the crossing treacherous for many.

This year's Boskone featured a good roster of pros -- many being Boskone regulars. -- including GoH David Gerrold, official artist Gary A. Lippincott, Special Guest Brother Guy Consolmagno, and Featured Filkers Lee & Barry Gold. Other participants included (sorry, no fullish listing seems available -- the closest thing is the "Confirmed as of mid-December" list from Progress Report #2.

Participants I saw included Michael Burstein, Bruce Covill, Don D’Ammassa, Vince Docherty, Michael Flynn, Greer Gilman, Daniel Kimmel, Sharon Lee, James D. Macdonald, George R.R. Martin, Marvin Minsky, Patrick Nielsen Hayden and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, John Scalzi, Wen Spencer, Michael Swanwick, and Jane Yolen.

GoH David Gerrold did yeoman work zipping from panel to panel, autographing copies The Involuntary Human, this year's NESFA Boskone book (collecting "some of the best of Gerrold's recent short stories, updated works and three pieces that have never been published before) along with other of his works bought or brought by attendees. There was also an on-going Great Tribble Hunt (for kids), followed by a tribbles-as-chips poker tournament.

Notable panels I got to included a Jack Williamson appreciation, by David G. Hartwell, George R. R. Martin, Joe Siclari (M), Melinda Snodgrass, and Eleanor Wood, and "Visiting Japan," a pre-Worldcon info-briefing. Michael Swanwick read a locked-room mystery chapter from his upcoming new novel. Mark and Priscilla Olson again did their annual "Chocolate for Trivia" sf trvia contest (using chocolates as points) -- I came in third (and coulda been second, if I'd been just a bit faster.

The art show included a wonderful exhibit of art by SF illustrator Hubert Rogers -- "Hubert Rogers (John W. Campbell's favorite SF illustrator from the '30s and '40s, who did most of the original Lensman covers for Astounding Science Fiction)." The Boskone display included works currently on exhibit at U. Mass Amherst -- plus "covers that aren't even in the Amherst exhibit!"

The Huckster's Room seemed smaller than usual -- mostly familiar booksellers, plus a few jewelry, art, t-shirt, and clothing sellers. The combination of weather, location and possibly prices may have contributed.

The Westin Waterfront is a very nice hotel -- even though Boskone is so local to me I can take public transit there, we indulged and stayed there for the weekend.

Most concerns seemed to be due to a combination of the hotel's newness, and the weather. Foodwise, there's only one -- pricey! -- restaurant, plus a Starbucks in the hotel -- at present. Many fans got take-out delivered to the hotel; some hardy souls ventured out. Parking was pricey -- about $36/day.

On the other hand, I didn't notice any rooms being too small for the number of people trying to get to a session, and within the hotel, everything was convenient -- unlike Arisia this year, where the art show and huckster room were on floors 16 and 17, and the elevators small and slow.

I had a good time, managed to get to a good mix of panels with people I wanted to see, topics I wanted to hear, kaffeeklatsches with individual pros, David Gerrold's GoH speech, the Dealer's room, and, of course, some hanging out in the con suite area or hallways, schmoozing with friends, plus being on two panels.

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