Tuesday, July 10, 2012
I haven’t been to a big sf convention in years. Things haven’t changed a whole lot, the attendees are mostly young people and most of them come wearing costumes from sf and fantasy novels and movies. Lots and lots of weapons, from bows and arrows to light sabers. Spock ears and mouse ears and bunny ears and one gigantic rat tail. The Steampunk angle is new, and there are tattoos galore, which there didn’t used to be. I enjoyed just finding a seat in a public area and gawking at the passers-by. There were not as many vampires as I expected. Lots of men in kilts. I bought a lovely little sterling-silver brooch shaped like a three-dimensional Buck Rogers spaceship. My favorite panel was the one on the “Big Bang Theory” television show. One of the panelists had attended a taping of the show and gave us all a fascinating glimpse of how it’s put together. At the end we all sang “Soft Kitty,” a lullaby/running gag that has appeared here and there throughout the seasons. I noted to a woman sitting beside me that sometimes I feel as if I’ve married Sheldon – and she said she felt that way, too. I met her Sheldon after the panel and he’s almost as charming as mine.
I was a panelist on “Medieval Minnesota,” which featured Minnesota authors who write stories with medieval settings. One, Ellen Kuhfeld (Yes, my Ellen Kuhfeld) has published an alternate-universe mystery novel in which the North American continent is settled by Europeans fleeing the Muslim conquest in the eleventh century. They hold a great fair at a portage on the upper Mississippi River – which we in this world call St. Anthony Falls, located at Minneapolis – St. Paul. When an outlaw from the north is found murdered, a clash of cultures makes finding his murderer problematic. (In the Viking culture, killing an outlaw is perfectly legal.) I talked about my previous series of Tales, set in fifteenth century England, and about my first published mystery, set at the Great Pennsic War, an annual gathering of the Society for Creative Anachronism. The latter rings many sword and sorcery chimes, and I suppose it could be thought of as a kind of Steampunk because the participants drink Coke from their goblets.
I don’t write science fiction or fantasy – I don’t even read much of it any more. But the event was fun. I didn’t come in costume, of course, but I did wear my most elaborate hat, a large silver straw creation, on Sunday for my panel, and it felt right at home