Last weekend at the Marriott Hotel in Cedar Rapids, IA, I attended the thirty-fifth rendition of the convention that Joe built: ICON (This year: ICON 35 – A Steam Powered Convention of the Future). It was originally organized by the Science Fiction League of Iowa Students (yes, that is SFLIS – ask me about it some time. Or better yet ask Joe Haldeman). Later The Mindbridge Foundation was founded to run it and AnimeIowa. ICON, like Archon, ConQuest, Constellation, Contraception, Demicon, OSFest, Valleycon, Visioncon, and Willycon, has been a mainstay in the Midwest Science Fiction scene. AnimeNebrasKon, AnimeIowa, Nakacon, Sogen Con, and OtakuOmaha have featured the Anime side of Science Fiction. MageCon and Nuke-Con have brought great gaming to the Midwest. There is a major comic book convention in Kansas City; Planet Comicon. And in St. Louis a horror convention got its start this year: Contamination. So don't let others fool you. Science Fiction/Fantasy/Anime/Gaming/Horror conventions have been around in our area continuously since the early 1980s. They have not been missing! If you would like to see who has been doing them in Nebraska for the last thirty years, check out the OSFES history project at www.osfes.org/History.htm. Oh and if you have anything to add to it, please let me know. Remember to support your local fan run convention because without you they can never happen.
ICON 35: A Steam Powered Convention of the Future was themed for its Fan Guest of Honor, Susan Leabhart. There were several panels on Steampunk, many great costumes in the subgenre, and even a time-traveling airship (sequestered in a hotel room of course). She took us through what is Steampunk, its costuming, and what works (a steam powered computer?).
With a writer GOH like Cory Doctorow we had to get some serious discussions into the genre we love. Cory is a big blogger and he did a two-part panel on that subject, along with one looking at new media and how it affects our entertainment, he and Hugo winner Bill Johnson examined the economics of Star Trek and other future universes and finally looked at the "Black Box" phenomenon creeping into today technology.
Of course that's not to say that Dr. Who, bad (really bad) poetry, and Zombie panels didn't make an appearance, because they did. And while the number of room parties on Saturday night seemed down for this event, it was only because they had been moved to Friday night.
So overall, ICON was again a fun experience. But I am really glad they are moving their dates back a week so that I don't have to choose between ICON and AnimeNebrasKon next year like I did this year. ICON 36 will be October 28-30, 2001 and AnimeNebrasKon will be November 4-6, 2011 (but give them time to recover from their respective conventions before you demand an update of their pages). Back to back fun next year but you don't have to wait until then, OSFest 4.0 System Upgrade is July 22-24, 2011. Pre-registration prices keep your overall convention experience costs down.