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by Gideon Marcus

My, what a pleasant surprise this weekend turned out to be! The group known as the North Escondido Rarities Devotees (NERD) put on a little gathering at a local venue. It was supposed to be an informal party, but attendance ended up over several dozen! It was essentially a little convention -- NERD-CON, if you will. It looks as if there are far more weirdoes in my town than I thought...

I met a lot of wonderful people. There was Angel, the flautist; Chris, the camera collector; Jay, the photographer; and many, many more. The highlight of the event (for me, anyway, and perhaps a few others) was my hour-long presentation. I talked about the state of science fiction, and which of our current predictions might become future realities. It was something of a Mort Sahl stand-up routine, and by the end of it, I was both elated and exhausted.

I can't wait to do it again!

If there is anything that unites us fans beyond an abiding love for the genre (one charming fellow buttonholed me to discuss the comparative virtues of Space Opera legend, Doc Smith, versus the offerings of today), it is our love of dressing up in bizarre costumes. I've developed my film and hereby devote the rest of this article to the outrageous cast of characters that brightened up my weekend...

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!)
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Two conventions in as many weeks! What as I thinking? And yet, despite the undoubted ardor of the undertaking, it was well worth it. San Diego's intimate little science fiction and comic book convention, aptly titled "Comic Con," was the most fun I've had at a convention in 1960.

There was plenty to see and do, including a well-stocked exhibit hall, fascinating panels with opportunities to meet creators--like the new Marvel (formerly Atlas) Comics hotshot, Stan Lee, and, of course, people in costume. There was a refreshing number of female and juvenile attendees--and not just Millie the Model fans, either!

One could say that D.C. (Detective Comics) ruled the roost, with big exhibits devoted to perennial favorites like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, though there are rumbles that Marvel Comics may return to superhero comics next year. I remember the brief revivals of Sub-Mariner, The Human Torch, and Captain America with fondness, so here's hoping they can pull it off.

Now, they say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so let's take a look at these lovely (color!) photos I took at the convention, speedily developed for my eagerly awaiting fans.

(see the rest at Galactic Journey!
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No man is an island; but without conventions, the moat can be pretty broad.

Humans are social creatures. Most of us have a natural desire to share our passions with others. When we read (or watch) science fiction and fantasy, we are receiving a broadcast from an author, but the communication stops there. If we want to discuss the experience, we need to find fellow fans.

There are many ways to do this. You can take out an ad in the newspaper's personal columns. You can join a local fan group, either public or privately sponsored. These venues let you find nearby fans, and many clubs have become formidable associations.

But if you want to meet fans from all over, or change your relationship with your favorite authors from a one-way experience into a face-to-face dialogue, there is no substitute for the convention.

The father of all science fiction conventions is the annual World Science Fiction Convention, at which the Hugo awards are announced. This year, it will take place in Pittsburgh from September 3-5.

There are lots of smaller conventions, however. For instance, there recently was a small affair in Anaheim called "Wondercon" whose focus was comic books, science fiction, and animated films. Anaheim is very close to my home town of San Diego, so we decided to make a family weekend it.

It was a jolly time. Being a small convention, the folks were very energetic and creativity abounded. My daughter hawked mimeographed copies of her home-grown comic book, which the professional writers at DC purchased with gusto. My wife dressed as the Bat-Woman (of recent prominence in the Batman comics); she pulled it off quite well! I perused fanzines, expanded awareness of this column, vigorously discussed the ramifications of copyright and trademark laws, and gawked at the well-crafted costumes.

Genre great Robert Heinlein was not in attendance, but a fan circle devoted to him was there leading a blood drive. I also met up with the family of the late great Edgar Rice Burroughs, who fretted about the upcoming ACE paperback reprintings of the master's works. Apparently, ACE will not be paying royalties (the original works having fallen out of copright).

Without further ado, here is my slew of photographs from the convention. My apologies for the blurriness—it is my first time working with color film.


Rose Tyler

Peggy Carter

Amy Saunders (who is an excellent artist; contact her for some excellent comics-inspired and science fiction prints!)

As Anaheim is the home of Walt Disney's theme park, Disneyland, Disney costumes were popular:

Historical dress was also common:

Who doesn't like Captain America?

And, of course, Superman!

The Author, himself

By the way, the Wisconsin Democratic Primary is today. My bet is on Hubert Humphrey. After all, he is for all intents and purposes, the state's third Senator. I can't imagine an East Coast upstart like Jack Kennedy winning more than four of the ten delegates, no matter what the over-enthusiastic polls are predicting.


(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)
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Seattle really knows how to throw a science fiction convention.

I had been saddened that I hadn't gotten to join Bjo Trimble in her caravan across the country to Detention last month. After once again experiencing the joy that is GGC (the acronym was never explained to me), all of my regrets disappeared.

I mentioned in my last article that GGC is quite remarkable. Much of the attendance is female, and the emphasis is on female creators and protagonists in our niches of the literary and cinematic worlds. There were lectures on our woman science fiction luminaries, with Judith Merril and Katherine MacLean particularly prominent. There was an update on the state of women in the sciences. Someone from Space Technology Laboratories talked about scientist Frankie van der Wal and engineer Jenny Sanders: the former directed the Mouse In Able project that launched rodents atop several Thor-Able test rockets; the latter is the first woman to work at Cape Canaveral. There was also a spotlight on women in comic books, Wonder Woman being the obvious example, but with much also made of newcomers Supergirl and Lady Blackhawk.

For those who couldn't attend the convention (and for those who did and want to see themselves), here is a selection of photographs, on which I rushed development to get quickly to press. I did not get pictures of the science-fiction play or the costume masquerade--the light level was too low, but I did get a nice selection of attendees. Take a look!

A superheroine, by the name of Bluebird (a new character, apparently).

This is Nick, a gentleman with whom I had a pleasant conversation, and behind him are a number of attendees playing various card games.

Michael is an interesting chap. He is part of a growing group of people who finds solace in the past, reveling in past literature, culture, and clothing (he appears to be from the 1920s). It's a seductive idea, though I'm certainly not about to go in for that sort of thing.

Miss Molly (good Golly!) is a vendor for a small publishing group called Northwest Press. They print, among many things, comic books of a rather progressive and subversive nature. Avante garde indeed!

I'm sure you've all seen Walt Disney's newest masterpiece, Sleeping Beauty. These costumes are exquisite.

(These are the best I could find amongst my rolls of film, but perhaps other attendees have contributions they'd like to make. There were certainly plenty of snapshots to take!)

In many ways, the convention was a glimpse into the future of society and fandom. Someday soon, women and men will work in all arenas of life as equal partners, heading shoulder to shoulder to the stars. I can't wait for this golden time to arrive.

Until then, at least we have GGC. See you next year...


Note: I love comments (you can do so anonymously), and I always try to reply.

P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns. While you're waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!

(Confused? Click here for an explanation as to what's really going on)


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