Monday, September 4, 2000 - Chicago, Illinois The 58th World Science Fiction Convention - Chicon 2000

The final day of the convention, probably for the best as I really do need some sleep soon. I find that even just walking around I am like the walking dead (though some say this is typical of me even on a good day…).

Session: The Fiction of the Year...So Far

This session was held in one of the filking rooms (for some strange reason - “filking” is folk singing with a fantasy or SF theme) so many of the chairs were simply scattered about the room. One panellist was a horror writer and the other was the SF reviewer for the New York Times (if I recall correctly). They discussed (with various suggestions from the audience) the authors and titles that they felt deserved to be read though the conversation seemed to focus, to a large extent, on short stories (in SF magazines in particular). The input from the crowd was quite good (even more so since we had an editor in the crowd).

Session: Asteroids and Comets

Another science panel, this one focused on the potential problems associated with a collision of an asteroid or comet with the earth (the former being a bit more concerning than the later). It was suggested that this would be a good reason to go to the moon - to put a listening post on the moon to watch out for such objects. They discussed how they are beginning to finally track down the asteroids in the keifer belt (orbiting the sun quite some distance out, between planets) - none of which are very large. They also discussed the mining of asteroids (and the utilization of comets for water or other chemical elements). They suggested that it is most likely that an asteroid will hit the earth but it is most possible that we would know many years in advance (50-100 years).

They also commented on the lack of any sort of realism with the various asteroid-hitting-earth movies of recent years (the classic was a science analyst working on a movie where they had an asteroid travelling at about 60 km/second hitting the atmosphere - which is about 60 km thick - then having another 20 minutes before it eventually hits the earth, the comment from the scientist being “unusual” in the margins of the script). They suggested that the WORSE thing to prevent an asteroid from hitting the earth is NOT to blow it up (instead of one big rock hitting earth, why not have many thousand?) but rather redirect it away from it's path to earth.

From here I took care of a bit of housekeeping - getting my attending membership for the 2003 World SF Convention in Toronto (which, you may recall, I voted for and also pre-supported) since it was VERY inexpensive (since I voted AND pre-supported) and it also means I will not have to take care of it by mail though the line was quite something. Toronto, by the way, won the vote by quite a large margin over Cancun (about 5 times the votes). I was glad to see that reason prevailed over the desire of people to sit by the pool…

I have been dropping by the ConSuite just about every chance I can, picking up soft-drinks (they have them on “tap”) and munching on various snacks they always have. Never mind looking around for various people that I have met while at the convention. This has also been the primary source of nourishment for me as well over the past few days…

Session: The Rebirth of Hard SF

Hard Science Fiction definitely seems to be an ongoing theme at this convention, or perhaps it is because those are the types of panels I go for. This discussion was quite good, discussing why people seem to be interested in Hard SF now more than in the past. Again, they discussed the definition of what exactly the term means as well as suggesting good SF writers to read. They did not exactly provide an answer as to “Why?”. I would suggest this is because there seems to be a large number of scientifically literate SF readers. They did seem to suggest that a lot of the Hard SF writers are British (which I knew already, being a fan of such writers, having met a few of them also).

Many of these SF sessions I attended today gave me great ideas about what writers to give a try – which is most definitely a reason to attend these sessions.

Session: Closing Ceremonies

The closing ceremony was pretty corny - just the passing of the gavel to the next WorldCon (in Phillidelphia) and thank-you's to all of the people who made the convention possible. I was surprised to hear that the broadcast of the Maskerade (last night) and the Hugos on Saturday was arranged by a volunteer in conjunction with the hotel at the VERY last minute (interesting considering he got it to be broadcast at all three convention hotels!). The room was just jammed but the atmosphere was very playful (balloons being bounced around a lot in the crowd).

Finally free of the convention, I headed down the street to Navy Pier which is playing host to the Tall Ships this weekend. Every night (including tonight) they have been having fireworks over the harbour which I can see quite clearly from my 23rd floor. I walked over and all around the area which was just crawling with people – many of which had picked up the tickets in advance to board the ships. I was disappointed that there were only about 6 tall ships (many from Canada) and none were terribly large. I also was able to see a few of the facilities on the pier which is an up-scale Brighton Pier (from England). It was actually quite cool and windy today (had to put my coat on).

Navy Pier - During Tall Ships

Grabbing something to eat from Taco Hell (where bad tacos go after they die) I headed back to the hotel and, well, relaxed for the evening (for the first time in quite some nights now). Yeah, like tomorrow is going to be relaxing…

⇒ Continue to Tuesday, September 5, 2000 - Chicago, Illinois