Denver/World Sci-Fi Con, Part 2

29 08 2008

Wednesday night we go out to a Moroccan restaurant with Paul & Susie & Paul’s parents. After that, Marcie goes back to my parents’ house, and Erik & I go with Paul & Susie to see The Dark Knight Returns on Imax. I’m the only one who hasn’t waited for an open Imax seat to see it. The rooftop scenes are breathtaking. Everything else is just as good the second time. It’s a late night, but the dual-ended candle-burning has just begun.

Thursday. Day 6 of our trip, day 2 of the Con. What sets this apart from other escapist pop-culture cons is it’s all about the ideas. There is a Stuff Room with vendors of books, t-shirts, jewelry, toys, and so on (one guy has a huge assortment of goggles! More than I could scrounge out of army surplus stores in my whole life! But I keep it under control, I only buy one pair with matching flight hat), but it’s a very small part of the proceedings. The panels, on the other hand, happen 10 at a time all day, every day. Some, like the giant monster panel, are deep trivia fan-fests. There are also panels with a literary focus; plot construction, characterization, sub-genres, meta-genres. And there are professionally-oriented panels; working with large and small press, working with agents, being a sci-fi painter or sculptor. But the majority of panels grapple with science fiction’s assorted hypothetical problems; what life is like under a dwarf star, what makes a believable alien, and what social structures would hold up a galactic empire, to name a few we visit on Thursday.

We’re celebrating Erik’s birthday, but it turns out to be an opportunity to reunite the old Denver gang; Phil and Rachel are in from the Bay Area (also attending the Con), Paul and Susie are in from Chicago, and we all meet up with Chris for dinner. Then we go watch Paul and Susie perform comedy at a burlesque show.

Ever been to a burlesque show? It’s not your garden variety strip club. (I speak from vast experience, naturally.) There are girls taking off their clothes, there is an MC making lewd jokes, but there is also an unmistakable current of feminine power. It’s a tragically unique show tonight; the regular MC had died unexpectedly, and some of the acts were rearranged at the last minute. They don’t burden the audience with sad stories, just go on with the show. Paul and Susie go on twice, and they are FREEKIN HILARIOUS!

Then we go out drinking. I’ve never gone out and partied with Erik, it’s pretty cool. By the second bar we’ve lost Chris, and by the third we lose Phil and Rachel. The last stop is mostly burlesque performers, a kind of wake for their lost friend. We close the place down. For Marcie and I, the whole experience is far beyond our normal bounds of goingoutness. We stumble home at 3 am like the hard-living college students we never were.

Next: Social Change, Geek Fatigue

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