Friday, June 14, 2013

10: SciFi is Not for Sissies; Westercon 66: A Skeptic Comes Home

Worldcon 1972: The Turd

“Extracts (6)…confining capitalism to the margins was the great Martian achievement, like defeating the mob or any other protection racket…”  2312

1972’s Worldcon was going to be held in Anaheim, so that seemed like the logical next convention visit.  By that time HJ had a vehicle and a few of us piled in and made the trek to the first “LA Con” at the International Hotel.  This was probably my first “real” con experience: a few days of total immersion, with great people, both fan and pro alike, including Ray Bradbury, Forrest J Ackerman, Larry Niven, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Bloch.  I think without exception they were gracious and very generous with their time (well, maybe Harlan was a bit bristly), especially Bradbury, who even granted Reality News an interview. 

And of course, that infamous Masquerade Ball, where The Turd (Scott Shaw) made his appearance.  For his competition costume entry, he slathered himself with peanut butter, head to toe, an absolutely horrifying sight punctuated with a stomach churning noxious stench that revolted one and all.  As a matter of fact, due to his exploits and the sticky mess that followed him around, no peanut butter costumes would ever be allowed again.  In addition to the Worldcon’s ball, there was another separate ball going on that Saturday night: everywhere we looked, there were statuesque, incredibly made up women with all manner of impressive headdress and “high-fashion dress”; each seemed to walk the hotel lobby with her own small posse, who were attending to her needs.  There were even a few being carried by well oiled muscle men on plush platforms as they seemed to preen and primp for us onlookers.  They were all congregating in an adjacent “invitation only” ballroom to where the Masquerade Ball was being held.  HJ and I were enamored of these Amazonian beauties, and decided we would try to “bluff” our way into their “beauty pageant” or whatever it was using our Reality News credentials.  So many gorgeous women in one spot!  We had to take a con “break” and try to get in.  What could go wrong?

2312 is not disappointing and in fact, it is only getting stronger.  I’ve just finished a bravura section where two main characters basically do nothing but spend weeks walking through underground tunnels on Mercury in an attempt to save their lives.  Robinson continues to impress: he somehow makes the tedious trek fascinating, blending dialogue, inner thoughts, Beethoven, aches, pains, radiation sickness, and whistling into a brilliant tour de force.  

To Be Continued

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