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SCI-FI Summer Con - Atlanta GA, May 30 thru June 1 2003

Convention Organizers Prepare for Upcoming Season

by the Radioactive Fanboy

(originally published in Revolution SF)

Well, summer is rapidly approaching, and for many fanboys and fangirls, that means one thing: going to cons.

Although there are many conventions held throughout the year, spring and summer are when the convention circuits really start heating up. The most major con of all, WorldCon, is usually held at the end of August. And Atlanta’s own Dragon*Con, reported to be the southeast’s largest gathering for all things even remotely SF, is once again holding their shindig opposite WorldCon.

I asked convention organizers at these two events what they were doing to prepare for this year’s onslaught.

"We’re beefing up security," says Dragon*Con security chief Andy Yeager. "After last year’s Richard Hatch fiasco, we’re not taking any chances. We’ve got more net guns, more rubber bullets and riot shields, and if things really get hairy, we’ve hired a crack unit of Australian Bushmen armed with blowguns with curare-tipped darts. We’re also experimenting with charged-particle beam weaponry."

As previously reported in Revolution SF, actor Richard Hatch throttled a fan last year during a Battlestar Galactica panel. He is on the guest list for this year.

"We’re hoping everything will run smoothly," says Dragon*Con spokesman Paul W. Cashman.

"And to make sure there won’t be any sexual shenanigans, we’re going to add a substance to the water supply that will render everyone who drinks it temporarily sterile. I was conceived at a Doobie Brothers concert, and I have nightmares about that. Can you imagine what some kid would go through when his mother tells him, ‘I don’t know what your father looks like. He never took off his stormtrooper helmet’?"

Yeager adds, "We’re also adding to our cleanup crew." This is in response to another incident last year, in which author Harlan Ellison vaporized a fan who whined that information should be free with the twin lasers mounted in his eye sockets. "That ash was tracked all over the place by the time we got a chance to clean it up," Yeager says. "He was about to raze the entire audience, until John Shirley remembered to say ‘Klaatu, berrada, nikto.’"

To ensure that everyone has a fun, safe time, Dragon*Con has made a few changes to their costumes and weapons guidelines as well, starting with heavy enforcement of their "no costume is no costume" rule.

"Basically, if anyone shows up as Buffy and Riley about to do it again, we’ll send them packing," explains Yeager. "Also, no slime or ooze, and no powered battle armor bristling with weaponry. That’s for the guests."

Meanwhile, at San Jose’s WorldCon, preparations are also being made for the upcoming festivities.

"We’ve made a lot of changes," says a WorldCon Committee member. "For example, we will now have two consuites for munchies, one for Gardner Dozois, and one for everybody else. That way, no one will call security when he starts hitting on them, and we won’t run out of cheese straws so quickly."

Another change has to do with guest registration, following an incident last year, in which imaginary guest Perry Rhodan was enraged at not being made Imaginary Guest of Honor, and attacked IGoH Ferdinand Feghoot. "We’ve got to do something to separate those two," says one official. "There’s always been bad blood between them. Perry had an entire panel devoted to him, and he still complained."

So, whatever con you’re attending, you can rest assured you’ll have a safe, fun, relaxing time. Or else. Remember, you are representing a wide and diverse group dedicated to the literature of ideas and progress. So be on your best behavior, or next year, your favorite convention’s space could be rented out to an orthodontist expo. Sure, the orthodontists don’t bring in the same numbers, but at least the hotel staff won’t have to hose the place down with napalm afterward.

The Radioactive Fanboy is a colony of microscopic bacteria lodged in the frontal lobe of Winona Ryder’s brain. To survive his planet’s dry season, he consumes mass quantities of Mountain Dew and Barq’s root beer during the winter.

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