Swancon 95 January Progress Report

Loosely transcribed by Chris Creagh

This was another Easter Con, Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April and it looks like this was the penultimate progress report. It is a well organised little A5 booklet which contains not only information about the 8 roleplaying scenarios, 5 freeforms, 2 video streams but also the planned out program! I just asked my fellow scribes if the Con was as organised as the progress report and received a resounding “**** no!”.

The front cover depicts a poster-like picture from Blade Runner, Deckard and Rachael in typical poses.

Inside cover has the “Who, How and Where?” of the Con i.e.

Venue: Sheraton Perth Hotel

Principal Guest: Pat Cadigan (a writer)

Other Guests: Ellen Datlow (an editor)
                Peter Read (a games person)

Membership Rates: Adult (to 1 March $70, thence to 12 April $80, at the door $90 and day membership $30) The children’s membership was a little less than half the adult membership but there was no definition of what “child” represented. Previous progress reports indicate children are between 5 and 15 years.

The Committee:
Paul Branch – Secretary, Gaming, Guest Liaison
Doug Burbidge – Publications, Programming
Michael Deegan – Front Desk Coordinator
Guy Dyson – Treasurer, Guest Liaison
Damian Kneale – Security
John Parker – Awards
Jay Stratton – Promotions, Programming
Mark Suddaby – Promotions, PR, Liaison, Program
Celine Zhu – Video, Art

Page 3 entitled “What?” continues…
So just what is a Swancon anyway? Perhaps you’ve heard vaguely about SF conventions, in magazines or through semi-coherent stories from friends, or maybe you just saw this little A5 booklet with some SF-type cover art, and thought you’d look inside.

One definition of an SF convention is “a party for you and 300 close friends”. Swancon is Perth’s annual SF convention, and is running in the Sheraton Hotel over five days of the Easter break. (Many cities specialise their conventions into separate SF, fantasy, media and gaming conventions; Perth doesn’t. Swancon encompasses everything, and comes as close as possible to being all things to all fans.) It’s difficult for people who have been to a con to explain to those who haven’t just what it’s all about, and it’s often similarly difficult for people who haven’t been to one to understand. (“So you stayed awake for three days running for what? But here, I’ll make the attempt.

A convention is one big long happening event, encompassing several hundred short happening events: an opening ceremony, a whole bunch of panels, discussions, workshops, activities, a banquet, a masquerade, room parties, roleplaying games, elevator parties, freeforms, room parties, Guest of Honour speeches, front desk parties (It wasn’t a party, it was a small informal gathering! Really!), video programs including cartoons and movies, room parties, an attempt to meltdown a Pizza Hut, a bid by the Global Domination Subcommittee to take over something or other, stairwell parties, a closing ceremony, and the Dead Dog party.

Well, OK, perhaps there aren’t quite that many parties, but you’ll be able to find at least one on any given night, and at any other time that a large enough portion of the population think that it’s night. There’s a huckster’s room, where there are people who will sell you all manner of interesting things (“Psst! Wanna buy a dragon?”); a computer lounge, where you can play with the Web, and crawl through the gopher tunnels in gopherspace; two video rooms showing a variety of stuff from the almost mundane to the almost incomprehensible, 23 hours a day; three main program rooms, a gaming room, for both spontaneous and scheduled gaming, some corridors connecting it all, and a fan lounge to collapse in.

There’s instant friendship. Everyone is wearing a name badge, with their preferred name carved upon it, and this makes it easier for a complete stranger to drop straight in on a group discussion. Chances are most of the other people in the group are strangers, too, or at most only meet once a year, but you can’t tell. You can just act like you’ve known these people for decades. (It’s also useful for me; I’m terrible at names, and this way I can’t forget anybody’s, including my own.)

There’s also a wide variety of people. The rest of the world has a stereotype of SF fans as being small nerdy people in glasses. OK, we’ve got our fair share of them, but we’ve also got a high concentration of almost every subculture or interest group you care to name. From lead miniatures to rocketry; from Shakespeare to Python; from shooting at people to dressing in black and pretending to be dead. Yes, shocking as it may seem, those who read and write SF, the literature of ideas, are interesting people.

And we are interested in new blood. (Why? Because it tastes fresher.) So if you’ve never been to an SF convention before, we want you. (Insert mental image of Uncle Sam with antennae, pointing hand.) Even if it’s too big a step to come to the full convention, buy a day or half-day membership. After all, if you don’t try something new occasionally, the Subcommittee of Personality Types will officially label you a Boring Person. So there.

And that takes us to the end of page 4. To be continued…

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