Another highlight from Space City Con

It is time to recall some highlights and other good experiences from different conventions I have attended.

Continuing with Space City Con I brought a poster that I had made from the photos I took at Phoenix Comicon in May 2013. with pictures of the Babylon 5 cast, some fans and a few of the pictures I took while traveling the South-West of the US – California, Arizona and Nevada.

I wanted to have the poster signed by everyone of the B5 cast who were at both cons, and apart from one person who did not really like the personal picture, the reacti0on was very positive. I also gave a copy of the poster to Patricia Tallman, so she could bring it to the “Great Maker” himself.

The #FreeBabylon5 group campaigning for getting B5 back on TV and streaming services got one that could be auctioned at Ebay for support of the group, and Ranger Jenny immediately set things in motion to get that one signed.

The most knowledgable B5 fan I know, Jan Schroeder, received one as well, and just seeing the surprise in the face was worth every effort.

I managed to get the poster signed by every cast member present at Phoenix and Space City. Mission accomplished. A slight disappointment was missing Jerry Doyle who canceled last minute, probably to to work commitments.

As a bonus, Peter Jurasik agreed to have a picture taken with him and myself showing the poster. Looks like he enjoys the interaction with the fans very much.

JurasinPosterWeb

A very enjoyable moment of Space City con, indeed.

My Highlight of Space City Con Jan 2014: Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

As convention highlight goes the Phoenix Comicon was Excellent, with the “Promise panel” where Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS) told the story of Michael O’Hare’s illness leading to his departure from Babylon 5 after the first season. That was the absolute highlight of any convention for me and probably for the few hundred other fans attending the panel.

The other highlight was, of course the Reunion Panel with 14 people involved in creating Babylon 5, including JMS.

Come Space City Con in the beginning of January in Galveston, Texas.

One of the guests, Marshall Teague, was probably the most approachable of the guests from the Babylon 5 cast – with Jason Carter as a close second. Mind you, essentially all the Babylon 5 cast is very appreciative of the fans

First of all, on Friday evening, just having met with Jan (Schroeder), we entered the lift. He was in the lift already, and immediately started greeting every one of the fans there – personally – handshake and all. It gave us all the sense of a very gentle man.

He had also brought the sword of Ta’Lon and displayed it in public for the first time. At the “Narn” Panel he told that JMS had asked for some input for the character. This sword was his input to JMS for creating the character of Ta’Lon (aptly named after a talon, this sounds very much like JMS) .

At the last hour of the con I took time to go to all the B5 cast still present at their tables, and thank them for coming to see us fans.

I walked up to his table and did just that, when he asked “Have you seen the sword ?” “No, not really”. It was hanging on the wall behind him, but I had not seen it close-up.
He then invited me behind the table and took it down from the wall and handed it to me. I took and held sheathed sword carefully, studying it, knowing that is is a personal treasure for him.
I was standing there holding the sword of Ta’Lon in my hands.

I then was startled that he asked me to “Draw it !” I looked at him in the “Really ?” questioning look, and he repeated. Carefully I drew the sword and held it, felt the weight and balance, carefully moved it a bit around, then re-sheathed it.

Sword of Ta'Lon

Marshall Teague and the sword of Ta’Lon

I was stunned when he told me “Apart from me, you are the first person I allowed to draw the sword.”

I have no idea why this honour was bestowed on me, and I am pretty sure that my face looked absolutely ridiculous at that moment.

The morning after the con I talked to some of the people who accompanied him during the con, and they already knew the story, *he* had told *them*. They also told me that he was very particular about who could handle the sword.

When they heard that no pictures of the situation were taken, they kindly arranged for a picture to be taken, so on Monday evening I was holding the sword once again, this time for a picture with Marshall Teague.

A most extraordinary experience. I doubt that I will reach that level of excitement again at a convention, but then again, I thought that about the JMS “Promise Panel” at Phoenix CC. But The sword of Ta’Lon was a personal experience, and not shared with a few hundred people.

Update :
When thinking a bit about it, I realized that this is the first time that I have been recognized as a martial artist by another martial artist – without doing or saying anything consciously.
Interesting.

Another update :

A few months after this happened, Marshall Teague entered a fan conversation a few fans had on Twitter. Since he did not know my Twitter name I told him that I was the one with the sword story. He just came back with : “Ah ! the virgin draw”, and when I mentioned that I must have had quite a stunned facial expression, he just said “Priceless!!

Yet another update :
A year or two after the event I was told that someone went to Houston for another con, and talked to Marshall about this, and was told that this is never going to happen again.

Also, during the panel discussion it turne out that Marshall Teague tells this story at conventions.

I have not just had a convention experience of a life time, I have also *become* a convention story. Again, not something I ever expected.

Watching now : Farscape and The Prisoner

A long time ago I saw some single episodes of Farscape.
I had a bit of trouble getting into the “muppet” style.
This year could be different :
At Fedcon in Germany some of the guests were Ben Browder and Claudia Black.
Their panel was a hoot, and, apart from Stargate, they talked quite a bit about Farscape, and how they enjoyed it.
At Phoenix Comic Con, two weeks later, just before the big Babylon 5 Reunion Panel – we had Gigi Edgley and David Franklin – also quite an enjoyable panel. Yes – all (well, mostly) about Farscape.
So, I decided to get started watching Farscape, in the correct order. I can appreciate the characters quite a bit better now, and I have finished the first season.
Very enjoyable season, when it gets going, a bit of single episodes, but still with some good vharacter moments and development.
Now, before I continue with Farscape, I decided to take a look at the old BBC series “The Prisoner”. I have heard a lot of good about it, and, even if I have not seen it, I know a few references in other shows.

Farscape Season 1 : 8/10
The Prisoner : remains to be seen 😉

New Header picture, and some travel news.

I have installed a new theme for the blog.
The old one seems to have developed some errors in the rendering, and I did not have the inclination to look into the CSS or PHP code.
On top of that, The theme had some stock images (not too bad), but I decided to make my own Header Image.
The image is a crop of a photo I took a few weeks ago in Arizona.
Yes, I travelled to the USA in order to visit the Phoenix Comicon, since they had a celebration of the 20th anniversary for Babylon 5. How could I resist that ? 14 of the cast – well it ended up being 13, Bruce Boxleitner got work and had to cancel – and the creator of the series (“Great Maker”) Joe Michael Straczynski (JMS), in among others a big reunion panel on Saturday.

When travelling from Europe to the South West of the US, do you only go there for 4 days at a convention, and nothing else ? Of course I had to combine the convention with some travel in California, Arizona and Nevada, so I spent 2 weeks total in that area, and took a fair amount of photos. I was driving about 1900 miles (close to 3000km) in 7 days of driving.

One of them has now landed as the Header image for this blog. It is taken near Sedona in Arizona.

Apart from the convention the trip took me to :
San Francisco,
Joshua Tree National Park,
The area near Sedona, yes, all the red rocks,
Grand Canyon,
The Hoover Dam,
Passing by “Area 51”,
Yosemite National Park

Quite a lot in 2 weeks, and I had to cancel a few destinations I wanted to see, such as the Petrified Forest and the Meteor Crater in Arizona.

The trip is clearly too short for what I wanted to see, so I may have to go to the area again some time to complete the experience.

I have organized the pictures from the convention, and I am in the process of organizing the pictures from the rest of the trip.

Expect to read more about the trip later.

The convention pictures can be found at : http://jgander.home.xs4all.nl/photo/phoenix2013/index.html

Have fun if you take a look.

– and 2 weeks before the Phoenix CC I went to the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany. Probably not the last time I do that, especially since it is only a few hours drive from where I live right now. Pictures will be sorted out for that one, too.
I expect to look through pictures from more conventions after that, most likely in the autumn/fall this year.

Photo a Week #5 Fan model at Fedcon

At a large convention like Fedcon you are likely to find a lot of people having built models (sometimes full size) of science fiction icons.

R2D2

R2D2 rolling around among participants of Fedcon

It is quite amazing how much attention to detail there is. The guy with the remote control told me that he built the whole thing – except for the dome that was machine made. Well done !

The other thing found rolling around was a Dalek from Doctor Who :

Photo a Week #4 Jonathan Frakes at Fedcon 2012

This week’s photo was taken at the Fedcon in Düsseldorf, Germany in May this year.

A very entertaining actor, he suddenly left the stage and walked among the audience.
When he passed right by me I was quick enough with the camera to catch this picture :

Frakes walking by

Jonathan Frakes walking among the audience.

The colours come from the stage lighting, I like the mood of the picture.

As an experiment it may be worth trying to convert this picture to black/white.

DanCon 2010

Today I went to a small scifi convention in Copenhagen.

The DanCon is a one day convention with a single thread, all going on i one room. It is organised by one of the Danish Science fiction societies, Science Fiction Cirklen. Everything was going on in Danish.

The con opened with a very nice panel discussion on “Tendencies English language short stories”, with a few examples of authors old and new.

After lunch we had a very nice presentation on medical science of the future, seen in the light of Star Trek technology, quite entertaining with a few examples illustrating how far we have already come and where we are behind the ST tech. An interesting fact is that the “hypospray” of ST had already been invented and tested some years before the original series aired.

The rest of the afternoon we had a presentation of the older British comic strip “Dan Dare”, a presentation of Anime

The afternoon ended with a presentation of the classic scifi magazine Astounding (before Campbell), an interesting insight into the scifi of the 30’s.

I found that I might have a subject for a presentation on a following con, so I am afraid I may have some work to do until then.

All in all a very enjoyable day meeting scifi friends in Denmark.

Update, and visit to DK

Just back from holidays in DK

Got the blog software updated to the latest version.

I went to the small Danish convention “Fantasticon” (organised by the Danish Scifi association Fantastik)

Nice little con with about 150 people, Guests of Honour were British authors Charles Stross and Gwyneth Jones. Thinking of going to the Easetercon in London next year, and possibly the Eurocon in Stockholm 2011.

Looking at Hugo Awards nominees 2009

This year I decided to become a supporting member of the Worldcon/Anticipation that takes place in August in Montreal, Canada.

With a (supporting) membership of the Worldcon comes the right to vote on the Hugo Awards, the science fiction fans’ own awards.

Not just that, this year a big part of the nominee’s works are made available to the voters, so last week I downloaded the “Hugo Voter’s package 2009”, a zipped file of about 180 MB.

The file contains 4 novels, several novellas, short stories , a graphic novel (as far as I can see, have not opened that file yet), and other contributions, in order to facilitate an enlighttened voting process.

Now I am very happy that I got myself an eBook reader – it would be far too tiring reading that much on the iPod Touch. Still I am not tied to the computer screen, but can read anywhere I want – the Sofa or lazy chair is a good place.

I started reading “Saturn’s Children” by Charles Stross, partly because I expect to see him at a small local con (Fantasticon) in Copenhagen this year.

With 4 novels and all the other material I have a quite sufficient amount of reading to do before the Worldcon, even if I am not going to Montreal. I would like to go to a Worldcon once, especially if it takes place somewhere in (Northern) Europe.

Fantasticon2008, Copenhagen, 26 – 27 April

This is a small Danish convention with a few hundred people attending. Only foreign Guest was Norman Spinrad. The con was held in the “Vanloese Kulturhus” (cultural house) in nice large rooms and a terrace. Even the weather cooperated and we could sit outside chatting along between the programmed events. I arrived there after a long (12 hour) drive and a few hours of sleep.

On Saturday I went to the interview with Niels Brunse who has translated a large amount of English language books into Danish, and also written stories of his own. He was, among other subjects, talking about the difficulty of making a good translation, something I can relate to in a limited capacity, having attempted translation in both directions between Danish and English. Some elegant words or phrases in one language translate *very* poorly into the other.

Sunday had a surprise guest speaker, the Danish physicist Holger Bech Nielsen, giving a presentation of his version of the “theory of everything” : “Random Dynamics”. He is a *very* lively lecturer, and it is always fun to see him, his enthusiasm for the subject is just radiating from him. This was the first time I saw him “live”, the other times were just on television.

Arthur C. Clarke :

For me the best part of the programme on Sunday was the panel discussion about Arthur C. Clarke, the panel consisting of 3 Danish fans and the guest speaker Norman Spinrad. Spinrad had sopme cooperation with Clarke in the 1960’s and could tell us that the final scene of the movie “2001 – A Space Odyssey” was in fact not the one we saw in the movie. Clarke had envisioned a scene with very beautiful aliens, but it was not technically possible to do to his satisfaction – meaning the scene had to be rewritten.

Clarke’s relatively optimistic view of the future has by some been regarded as naive, but it most probably is an expression of his dream about the future.

Finally there was a discussion of Clarke’s unusual combination of hard science fiction and the “mystical” (for lack of a better word), something very prominent in “2001”, but it is in much of his other work.

Of course, you cannot mention Arthur C. Clarke without talking about his strong influence on science and technology (as well as science fiction), interesting to see how many of his early thoughts have come true already.

All in all a very nice week end , I will try to make it again next year.