Sunday, June 9, 2013

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

Art by Virgil Finlay

“The two most common elements in the universe are Hydrogen and stupidity.”  Harlan Ellison

Somewhere around 1970, HJ and I joined campus radio station KERS (which was where we met my notorious co-blogger).  I mainly functioned as a dj (and would turn pro at the local free-form station about a year later) and HJ joined the news team.  As a “newsman”, HJ quickly embraced one of the position’s greatest perks: access.  Even a college radio station news team was allowed almost anywhere FOR FREE.  As the months progressed, HJ became unhappy with the actual “assignments” he would get from the News Director, and before very long quit.  But when he did, he started his own news organization: Reality News.  All he had to do was tell people he was with Reality News, and that he filed reports to KERS, and doors would open like magic. 

The Mythopoeic Society is an organization promoting the study of “fantastic” literature.  It’s one of sci-fi’s many “sub-cultures”.  They established their own annual convention, called “Mythcon”, in 1970.  Due to various logistical issues, HJ and I had been unable to attend a convention since Baycon, but Mythcon 2 was happening at the Francisco Torres Conference Center in Santa Barbara Labor Day weekend, 1971.  HJ, SK and I decided to go, and recruited a fourth person, fan gal Donut C, to join us.  None of us had much money, but we did have our “press credentials”.  Something else we lacked was a usable vehicle, but since it was the early 70s, we figured this wasn’t a problem and that we could hitchhike. 

Unfortunately, when the time came, it seemed like every other college aged person had the same compulsion to hit the road with their thumb out: there was a huge line of people trying to get a ride out of town, PLUS there were four of us, which of course was a big problem.  So we decided to split up: SK and DC would be one “team”, and HJ and I would be the other.  This seemed to work as it didn’t take long for SK/DC to find a ride; HJ and I were picked up shortly thereafter.  So off we went, to our first “real” convention.  No, it wasn’t a World Con or even a Westercon, but it was a con nonetheless.  What could go wrong?  Little did we know that the next few days would include a night spent sleeping in a public bathroom, a beach community terrorized by a mysterious murderer, and most terrifying of all, naked pool antics.

Have made tremendous progress on Redshirts.  Scalzi is keeping the pace and hilarity at a fever pitch.  Have completed the main “novel” and am now in the “codas”.  Hope to have a final comment in the next day or two, then on to Hugo nominee #3.

To Be Continued

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