So, from Thursday through Sunday, I was in Dallas, Texas, at FenCon. For those of you who might be unfamiliar with science fiction conventions, these are gatherings of folks who like the stuff. There are fans, writers, editors, artists, musicians, costumers. There are panels, presentations, masquerades, cabarets, and room parties. There is an art show, featuring fantasy and science fiction art; a dealers' room, where you can buy books, tapes, CDs, DVDs, swords, rayguns, comics, T-shirts, and jewelry, among other things.
Cons range from small to huge, a couple hundred people, to several thousand.
FenCon was at the Crowne Plaza, in North Dallas (Addison), Texas. It was big enough to draw a fair-sized crowd, not so big that it was unwieldy.
Guest of Honor: Connie Willis
Music Guest of Honor: Tom Smith
Fen Guest of Honor: Kathleen Sloan
Artist Guest of Honor: David Mattingly
Toastmaster: Steve Perry
Special Guest: Toni Weisskopf
Lone Star Shindig Guest: Jarrod Davis
My job, as toastmaster, entailed being on panels and introducing the guests, as well as MC-ing the masquerade and cabaret. Plus I had to sit in the bar now and then and drink beer. And I learned that one of the biggest differences between Dallas and Portland was, when you asked where the nearest Starbucks was, they said, "Well, go out front, take a left, about half a mile down the road."
In Portland, you just say, "Two blocks," and if somebody says, "Which direction?" you say, "Doesn't matter ..."
And when I hiked on up to the Starbucks, I didn't see anybody else on the sidewalk, save two other out-of-towners from the hotel, looking for drinkable coffee ...
Apparently nobody walks anywhere in North Dallas.
When I walked the dogs Thursday morning before I went to the airport, it was forty-six degrees and clear in Portland. When I got to Dallas, it was ninety-two degrees and smoggy ...
Hardly anybody at the hotel spoke with a yee-haw accent. I learned that's because hardly anybody who lives in Dallas is actually from Texas. As I was checking out, there was a guy next to me, cowboy boots, blue jeans, the belt buckle, who looked as if his nose had been broken a few times. Obviously Texan. He asked me about that guy he saw who looked exactly like Captain Jack Sparrow, right down to the drunken walk. I explained about science fiction cons, and the fact that the fellow in the costume was drunk, because that was real rum in that bottled he carried, but I was smiling to myself as I did, because
The broke-nose guy was from Sydney, Australia, had an Aussie accent thick as they come ...
They put on a good show, the kids in Texas. Good as any con I've ever attended.