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Windycon 24

Copyright 1997, 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

On November 7 I got up early and headed north on I-57 for Windycon, an annual convention held at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield, Schaumburg, in the Chicago area. Getting up there took me a little longer than I'd intended, since I had to stop and take a nap on the way up (I knew that starting a con sleep-deprived was a Bad Idea, but with the car problems of the preceeding two weeks and the stress attendant upon trading cars, I didn't have much choice). When I started nodding really bad and didn't feel refreshed after stopping and getting out, I figured it was time for a longer break. I sure didn't want to wreck my car less than 24 hours after buying it!

I finally arrived about 4PM, not excessively late, but still later than I'd intended to get there. As a program participant, I collected my badge in the Green Room. Then I headed down to the dealer's room to connect with a friend I'd be rooming with, as well as helping. After that I went to the Art Show to get my art up. That required a little correcting of problems, but I eventually got my art up, even if I did end up with some older art on display that I hadn't intended to show.

After the dealers' room closed for the evening, I went out for supper. Then I came back to the hotel and cruised the parties. There were several good parties, including the MSFFA Beach Party. I also went to the memorial for Kathryn Roth-Witworth, a good friend of mine from APA-Dimentia whose sudden death the week before cast a pall on my enjoyment of the con (I had been looking forward to seeing her and visiting, since we'd missed each other at Worldcon). While I was there I saw Emory Churness, OE of APA-Dimentia, and we talked for a while about our plans for dealing with her loss in the format of the APA (APA-Dimentia is a "natterzine for characters" in which we each run different characters and carry on conversations in character, which meant that we had to find a suitably in-character way of explaining the sudden disappearance of Katy's characters.)

The next morning came early and it was time to head down to the dealers' room to open for business. Then I had my first panel, "Leash Laws for Fandom," with Roland Green, Elixabeth Barrette, Jim Rittenhouse, and R. J. Johnson. This concerned the appearance of BDSM elements at certain conventions and what role this had in fandom. I pointed out that not all "leash and collar" play was BDSM, and at least some of it came from the furry (anthropomorphic animal) community, in which it was just people pretending to be domestic dogs being walked. The discussion then turned to the incident at Disclave, in which a group of people having a playparty hooked a bondage rig to a sprinkler and broke it off, flooding a large number of floors. Most of the audience agreed that it was not a sexuality issue but a stupidity and irresponsibility issue. This led to some discussion of the libertarian tendencies of sf fen and of Robert A. Heinlein's role in developing these attitudes about freedom and responsibility.

Then I headed back to the Art Show, intending to make a quick check on my art before returning to the dealers' room. However, I met several good friends there and ended up staying and talking a lot longer than I'd intended. I spent a good bit of the afternoon at the dealers' room, until it was time for me to go to my second panel discussion. While I was sitting outside waiting for the previous panel to let out, I heard someone say hi (I was busily working on a piece of artwork at the time, and had my head down concentrating on it). I looked up to find Tim Lane and Elizabeth Garrott, Windycon Fan GOH's and editors of FOSFAX. We talked briefly about the Art Show and I gave them some pictures for them to use in upcoming issues of FOSFAX.

This panel was "From Watt to Scott -- The Legend of the Scottish Engineer" with Bill Thomasson, Roland Green, YaleF Edeiken and Windycon GOH David Weber. We started with a little discussion of the economic history which led many Scots to become engineers, and particularly engineers aboard ships. David Weber then shifted the discussion toward the ethos of professionalism and of self-sacrifice that came to prevail among them, and how many times the engineers would do things that they knew would cost their lives in order to save the ship. He also made the point that he often could not incorporate these kinds of accounts into his fiction because the average reader simply would not believe it.

After supper I went to the Art Auction. Although none of my art made it to auction, I wanted to see what was going well. Also it's always fun to watch when several people get really emotionally committed to a particular piece and get into a savage bidding war. There were some really good moments when some of the charity pieces were being auctioned off. One of them was a space-related shirt which Christian Ready modelled. Things got rather silly when he took off his regular shirt to put that one on, and someone (apparently connected to the auction) snapped a Polariod of him in the process and included it with the shirt. That particular item wound up going for several hundred dollars.

After the Art Auction was over, I went to see the parties. I visited the Anime Central party and talked to some of the people there about sending mail-in art for their art show (unfortunately it is too close to several other cons that I'm already committed to attending, so I won't be able to go, but I do want to get art on their art show). I also visited the Zha'ha'dum in 2250 hoax bid party, as well as several others, and finally turned in for the night a little after midnight.

The next morning I went to the Art Show and checked out my art before going to my third and final panel discussion. This was "Can You Be Homesick for a Place You've Never Been?" with Pat Sayre McCoy, Sue Blom, Kathleen Massie-Ferch and PJ Beese. This started as a discussion of favorite sf/fantasy series and drifted to techniques for creating believable worlds.

I spent the rest of the con in the dealers' room, helping last-minute buyers and finally packing up the shop and getting it out. When everything was done I made one last visit to the con suite to get last minute munchies and a can of pop for the long trip back to Carbondale. Then I said my goodbyes and got in my car to head back home.

Copyright 1997, 1998 by Leigh Kimmel

For permission to quote or reprint, contact Leigh Kimmel


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