LoneStarCon, Episode III: The Alamo Strikes Back
When last we left the Worldcon in San Antonio, Bill Clinton had just begun his second term, a young wizard named Harry Potter had just cast his first spell in print, and a young princess named Diana had just lost her life in a car crash. Indeed, that last event occurred while the convention was still happening, and I recall running into Margaret Moser – then Chronicle Books Editor – outside the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center on Sunday and us sharing the tragic news. It was a day when worlds collided: the real one into our sheltered, fantasy one.
Still, writing about it for the Chronicle ("From Scully to Spock," Sept. 19, 1997), I called the convention "an unqualified winner," boasting more than 600 programs on topics as varied as the history of the Soviet space program, the future of Africa, ethics, UFOs, feminism, baseball, mythic images in art, Mystery Science Theatre 3000, and exploring Mars. Each was "its own globular cluster of information, densely packed with genre history, background on creators, advance info on future projects, and recommendations for outstanding works to look up," with the fans and authors engaging in discussions with frankness and abundant good humor.
Is it any wonder then that, with Worldcon's return to Alamo City after 16 years, I'm eager to go again? For LoneStarCon 3 (the official nom de con, it being Texas' third Worldcon, Austin having hosted the first in 1985), much is as it was in '97: same Labor Day weekend dates (Thursday-Monday), same convention center, roughly the same attendance expected (5,000), and the same crammed schedule, with as many as 27 events every hour, including readings by authors, writing workshops, screenings of films and cartoons, how-to sessions, art exhibits, and panels on just about every topic under the supernova (molecular gastronomy, Mexican folklore, firearms in the Victorian era, the Vatican library, women in aerospace, Doctor Who, etc., etc.).
The guests of honor are certainly notable – Bug Jack Barron author Norman Spinrad; sci-fi scholar/writer James Gunn; award-winning editor Ellen Datlow; filk music pioneer Leslie Fish – though also sure to garner attention is epic fantasy's man of the moment, George R. R. Martin. (For an interview with the Game of Thrones creator, see austinchronicle.com/blogs.) In addition to reading his own work (Friday, 5pm), Martin will co-host The Howard and George Show, an hour with Austin's own Howard Waldrop (Saturday, 4pm).
Indeed, Austin is all over the place at LoneStarCon 3. ArmadilloCon co-founder and Adventures in Crime and Space owner Willie Siros is a guest of honor, and Waldrop will be part of a small army of local writers present: Paul Benjamin, Chris N. Brown, Bradley Denton, Rick Klaw, Stina Leicht, Lawrence Person, Alan J. Porter, Jessica Reisman, Josh Rountree, and Don Webb, among them. They'll hold forth on subjects from the legendary Turkey City writers' group (Friday, noon) to gorillas in science fiction (Saturday, 7pm). And several are represented in Klaw's new anthology, Rayguns Over Texas, which has its official release at LoneStarCon (readings: Thursday, 6:30pm; Saturday, 5pm).
In fact, Texian pride is in full evidence, too. The con features panels exploring the state's place in genre fiction (Introduction to Texas Weird, Friday, 11am; Texas Gothic, Friday, 1pm; Yellow Roses: Texas SF/F Authors and Traditions, Friday, 1pm; You've Got Texas in My Epic Fantasy, Saturday, noon); its real history (History of Texas, Friday, 1pm; A Comic Book History of Texas, Saturday, 11am; Famous Last Stands: the Alamo, Massada, and Thermopylae, Saturday, 3pm); and alternate histories, including one, The Alamo You Never Knew, that features esteemed Texas historian T.R. Fehrenbach (Sunday, 1pm). Then there are close to a dozen panels devoted to Conan creator Robert E. Howard, his work, and influence, including an REH poetry slam!
It's a lot to take in, but hey, it's Texas – everything is supposed to be big, right? To see the full schedule, as well as pertinent info on the Hugo Awards ceremony, admissions, lodging, directions, parking, mobile apps, and more, visit www.lonestarcon3.org.