Jeff Duntemann's Contrapositive Diary Rotating Header Image

MileHi Con 43

Just got back last night from MileHi Con 43, held at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt. I haven’t been to a lot of cons lately, and my congoing skills are definitely rusty. One of these skills is new to me: Remember that your phone contains a camera. Duhh. My V530 camera jammed with the lens open so I didn’t get any photos, but I’ve requested some from friends and will post a few here as time allows.

What was a little surprising is how much a con in 2011 feels like a con in 1981. The big difference comes down to one word: smartphones. Nobody spends any time searching for friends at cons these days because everybody always knows where everybody else is, and if somebody wanders outside a general understanding of their whereabouts, well, it’s one tap and they’re back within earshot.

Costuming has also changed, though this may be old news. However well-done, the costumes were basically hall costumes rather than elaborate and fragile stage-show assemblages that you could barely move in, much less sit down. The con organized a zombie crawl around the 16th Street Mall on Saturday afternoon, and it got into the Sunday Denver Post. The Post also did a good job snapping most of the better costumes, and you can see them in a slide show on the newspaper’s site. I had never heard of absinthe fairies, but boy, there were a lot of them around. (And, later, “wingfic.” Yes, there is a subsubsubsubgenre called wingfic. It’s about characters who have wings. Beyond that, anything goes.)

I hung a lot with close friends Jim Strickland and his wife Marcia Bednarczyk, as well as Taos Toolbox colleague Sean Eret. Jim and I both did panels, and we shared a late-night author reading slot at 10PM on Friday. The reading was interesting for a peculiar reason: I did not get an email that the other five panelists apparently did, reminding everybody (but me) that the reading had been slotted late to allow for sex and violence. I was fourth of five in order to read. In quick succession we heard some bishonen fiction (there’s a descriptive Japanese word for the genre that I can’t find right now but sounds like “yowee”) and some heavy-duty mayhem (including a gripping section of Jim’s novel-in-progress, Brass and Steel: Inferno) plus a sex scene with Dr. Moreau’s squid-woman. Then it was my turn. “And now for something completely different,” I said, and began: “STORMY vs. the Tornadoes…”

They loved it. Comic relief exists for a reason.

Speaking of which: I had chosen STORMY because I was on a panel about writing SF humor the next day. The panel was great: We dissected the machineries of humor, and delivered quite a bit of it ourselves. (I sang a little of my 1976 filk from “West Side Story,” “I’m a Trekkie,” if you can picture that.) I was a little surprised that out of an audience of forty or fifty, only two people had ever heard of The Witches of Karres, which I was using as an example of that rarest of things, SF whimsy. Another person asked me to spell “Laumer.” Egad. I guess I’ve been away a long time.

My other panel was about robots, and once we got past some problems with definitions (Robots, to me, are “AIs in a can,” not cyborgs) we did some good things. Again, I was puzzled that so few people were familiar with AMEE, which I consider the scariest robot in film history. I was delighted to be sitting on the panel beside longtime SF writer Cynthia Felice, whom I had read years back but never met. She is gracious, interesting, and, well, tall. (She also grew up in Chicago and now lives in Colorado Springs, which I did not know.) At the end of the panel, the moderator took a quick audience poll, and we discovered that (within this microcosm, at least) Marvin the Paranoid Android is our favorite robot.

I hugely enjoyed it, and with Carol away in Chicago and all of the Pack except for QBit vacationing at Jimi Henton’s, I hope to use some found energy to make progress on Ten Gentle Opportunities over the next few days. I talked to people at the con who write four novels a year. I started work on Ten Gentle Opportunities in 1984, and it’s based on an (unpublished) novelette I originally wrote in 1981. Gotta pick up the pace a little, whew.


  1. Erbo says:

    Sorry I missed this one. I’ll have to catch next year’s, if possible…

    The word you’re looking for is yaoi, which is a Japanese term for female-oriented fiction focusing on homoerotic/homoromantic relationships, also known as “Boys’ Love.” Bishounen is a term that refers to the kind of males you see in such fiction, generally rendered as “pretty-boy.” There is a counterpart fiction type that involves lesbian relationships–called yuri–but it’s a wider blanket term, in that that genre can appeal to men or women. (Have I mentioned that we are not nearly afraid enough of the Japanese? 🙂 )

  2. Carrington Dixon says:

    Boy do I feel old. My first thoughts on “The Witches of Karres” are not of the novel but the original novelette!

    I’m not, quite, old enough to have read the novelette when it was new, but I am old enough to have bought back-issue Astoundings two for a quarter when I was in high school. I think the novelette was my introduction to James H. Schmitz.

  3. Rich Rostrom says:

    You think you’re old?

    I have a friend who teaches art. (?) (More of a friend of a friend, which is why this story is a bit vague.) With each new class, he asks the students “Who was John Wayne?” For the last five years (IIRC), no one knew.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *