Saturday, October 06, 2018

The Return to VCon - Day 1

I'm back.

Every October for the past I-don't-know-how-many years, I've happily (generally) attended the Vancouver Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Games Convention, or VCon. Last year, however, was an exception. The con organizers opted to go for a "relaxicon" format, and with the shorter event and a programming lineup that didn't really jump out at me (never mind other obligations at the time), I took a pass.

This year, they're back in the swing of things with a full con (the 42nd full con in VCon's history), so, even though my schedule's busier than it was last year, I wanted to come back. I'm not a social butterfly who hits all the parties (but, by the same token, I'm not a misanthrope either — some of my most enjoyable con moments have been random conversations with fellow fans), but I have become quite attached to BC's annual nerd gathering — as small as it is, I'm happy to identify it as my home con — and I missed it last year.

And I'm glad I came back. I arrived mid-afternoon today, and while the opening Friday is always a little sleepy at first, there was a nice energy in the halls of the hotel that charged me up.

As usual, after registration, I prowled around for a while to get the lay of the land. The Sheraton in Richmond has been a regular venue for VCon off and on for years, but the layout of the con in the facility is a little different this year, so it was good to do a walkabout. What was unusual was that I broke one of my prime rules of attending a con: never buy anything in the dealers' room on the first day. In this case, a couple of anthologies on a book dealer's table caught my eye and I didn't want them to be bought-up before I could snag copies, so I made that purchase. Then there was a chainmail maker who'd made some interesting pieces of jewellery that I thought would make nice birthday or Christmas presents for my nieces, so I figured I'd get that out of the way. Which is all fine, because now, even though I may wander through the dealers' room again, I won't be tempted to buy anything. Nothing wrong with another walk-through anyway just to look and stop and chat though (one of the dealers today was selling a replica of the Glaive and we had a good laugh about how few people are familiar with Krull, with most movie audiences these days associating it with Ready, Player One). I also spent some time in the art show. There were some nice pieces on display, but, as much as decorating will be on my mind when I buy a new place in a few months, money's tight, so I'll just have to enjoy looking without shelling-out for art this weekend.

Saturday traditionally is the big day for costuming, but during my walkabout today I saw a couple of cosplayers in nice getups: a guy who'd put a lot of work into an astronaut costume,

...and a Cylon centurion.

On to programming.

The first session I took in was "Flags & Iconography in Fiction". While I'm not a Sheldon Cooper "Fun with Flags" kind of guy, I did have to absorb a certain amount of flag-related lore on a job years ago when I was doing a project pitch with a government protocol master, and enough of it stuck that I thought I'd drop by this session to see what they had to say. Overall, it was interesting, and everyone had a chuckle over some sf flags that wouldn't work particularly well in the real world, like the Earth Alliance flag in Babylon 5 (too busy, and it has words, which is apparently a no-no), or the Alliance flag from Firefly (a clumsy-looking mashup). Not a bad way to start the con, programming-wise.

From there, it was over to the opening ceremony, which started with a flash mob dance by a bunch of local high school kids promoting their production of Monty Python's Spamalot. Everyone got a smile out of it, and it was a nice way to kick off what's normally a dry affair. The opening ceremony was also fairly short, so bonus points to the organizers and guests of honour.

After that, I took in the "Ghost Stories of Antiquary" session (perhaps that should have been "Antiquity"?), which gave an overview of authors of that genre from the Regency, Victorian and Edwardian eras. I was familiar with a couple of them, but it was nice to learn about the others. At first, it seemed like the room housing this session might itself have been haunted, as the lights kept turning off and on, and dimming, at random with no-one at the switches. Rather than a pesky poltergeist, it turned out to be the doings of some well-meaning hotel staff on the other side of the back entrance, trying to turn off the lights to assist the panelists' powerpoint, but not telling each other that they were doing it, resulting in two or three staffers repeatedly flicking the switches as they passed back and forth. Finally they realized what was happening and we finished the session in a comfortable, wannabe-spooky darkness.

When that was over, I got some exercise in the wonderfully brisk autumn night air and walked several blocks to get some supper at Pho An Nam, my favourite Vietnamese place in Richmond.

Back at the con a little over an hour later, I took in "The Quad Comedy — Sci-Fi/Fantasy Improv" performance, which was a riot, especially the "Spider Farming Song" and the "Time Bomb Song". Lots of fun, and I hope they con keeps bringing them back in the coming years.

I was half-tempted to call it a night at that point, but I figured I'd squeeze in one more session, so I went to the first half of the "Not So Family Friendly Feud", a pleasantly raunchy take on the gameshow classic. I would have stayed to watch the second set of teams challenge the surveys, but I didn't sleep well last night, and the day was catching up with me. And I knew there were two hungry cats at home probably plotting to eat me in the night just to make a point if I didn't get back soon. So I hit the road.

Looking forward to what Saturday has in store.

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