Sunday, October 04, 2009

VCon Day 3 - The End

The last day of VCon 34. I strolled in mid afternoon since none of the morning or early afternoon sessions interested me much. Having borrowed a couple of bucks from my wife (because I knew I wasn't going to spend enough to warrant the credit card) and armed with two VCon dollar vouchers that you get with your registration, I went to the dealers room to score a couple of used books. I ended up buying The Star Rover by Jack London (until I stumbled on this paperback, I had no idea London had ever written SF, but those Victorian/Edwardian era authors weren't worried about the SF cooties like mainstream authors are now) and Philip Jose Farmer's Riverworld and Other Stories. Had a nice chat with another guy browsing at the used book stand about everything from online publishing to fanfic to which stories in the pile in front of us were worth reading.

Then it was over to the art room to pick up the little golden glass dragon (done by Kristina Gray) that I'd purchased yesterday as an anniversary present for my wife. Chatted briefly with the chief art room volunteer. Sounds like this year was a tough year for the art room: lots of great pieces, but very little buying - people liked the work but, due to the economy, just didn't have the money to buy.

After that I put my sanity in harm's way and went to the Turkey Readings. To the uninitiated, the Turkey Readings are a tradition at VCon, where a panel reads pages from a selection of the worst SF ever published (usually from the 1970's) mind you - while volunteers from the audience act out the story at the front. The rest of the audience can bid money to have a particular reading stopped. Another person might then pay even more money to have it continue. The money collected goes to the Canadian Unity Fan Fund (CUFF), which every year pays to bring one fan from another part of the country to whatever city is hosting the annual CanVention (the national SF con, which rotates between the regular regional cons like VCon or KeyCon or TorCon, etc). Depending on how terrible a story is, you could see bids of up to $15 or $20 to end the damn thing before people have had enough. The readings are so completely awful that you can't help but laugh (because the alternative is for your brain to cave in with the horror of what you're listening to), and this year was no exception. One truly painful inclusion in this year's roster was a tale by Conan creator Robert E Howard about French highway robbers. In order to save all of you from the suffering we in the audience had to endure, I won't bother to describe it.

This session was followed by a bit of a break before the Closing Ceremonies and the Elron Awards took place. Like the Opening Ceremonies, the Closing was short and to the point, something I very much appreciated. Then came the Elrons. The Elron Awards are VCon's tradition for the close of the event, where spoof awards are given for stupidities that have occurred over the course of the year. This year's Elrons went to:

NASA for staging a contest to build a robot probe that could walk on the Moon - but only requiring the entries to walk on Earth.

Stephen Colbert for having a treadmill named after him when NASA refused to name the new space station module in his honour, even though he won the agency's naming contest by a landslide.

The wife of Japan's new Prime Minister, who claims that while sleeping she was taken to Venus by a UFO.

The Syfy channel in the US for, well, rebranding itself as Syfy.

The late Forrest J Ackerman for inspiring legions of SF fans. Now, before you get all up in arms, understand that in this case the award was given out of gentle humour and respect. The folks running VCon had actually been set to give Ackerman an Elron a number of years ago, and he was happy to come in person to accept, but he had to cancel at the last minute due to illness. Thus, because Forry would have quite happily gone along with it, this award is in good taste.

Dan Brown for continuing to write bad novels using the same formula he always does.

And lastly, John Norman for inflicting yet another Gor novel (it was released last November, about a month after last year's VCon) on the world. It should be noted that it's tradition for Norman to get an Elron every year for some reason or other.

And that was VCon 34. Felt smaller than last year, but it was fun and I can't say enough how much I enjoyed the choice of venue. Thanks to the organizers, the guests/panelists, artists, dealers, and volunteers for putting on a great event. See ya next year!
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