I-CON 28

Thousands of fans of science fiction, gaming, fantasy, horror, all things medieval, and pirates headed to eastern Long Island, NY. A college campus was swarming with people, alone or in groups, in elaborate costumes. And it rained. It must have been be I-CON!

I-CON 28 fell victim to one of the prime forces in human history: geography. Due to continuing construction at SUNY Stony Brook, the convention was moved from there -- the first time in the 11 years I've been going -- to the Suffolk County Community College at Brentwood. And it was held at a nearby Holiday Inn. And it was also held at a Marriott Hotel. The split venues were... rough. The bus schedule had several problems, making some folks very late or absent from panels when they had to go from one place to another. Even with a car, I planned many of my events based on how many were happening in the same building. I never made it to the Holiday Inn at all, and I missed most of the gaming events.

Apart from the locational difficulties, I-CON 28 was still a blast! This year I finally upgraded to a digital camera, and the convention was a definite reward. I snapped over 60 photos, from comic book characters to horror to comedy. (I was pleased that no one was dressed as anyone from Twilight.)

As always, there were great folks there. I got to meet and have some stuff autographed by Tory Belleci. (Yes, that's me in the photo with him. He looks great; I... don't.) There were authors, witches, scientists, casual fans, intense fans, and, as I mentioned, those people in the wonderful costumes. I-CON is a great place to meet a wide variety of folks.

For me, the key draw of I-CON is the panels -- and this year has a very good crop of 'em! Some of the panels that I attended included "Women and Gaming," "How to Build a Better Cultist," "From Pac Man to Master Chief: The Evolution of the Mascot," "NC-17 Fanfiction," and "Are Video Games Just Games?"

The panels also defied predictability. Some of the titles were unfortunately ambiguous -- "Animated Contraband" was all anime; "The Coming of the Borg" wasn't about Star Trek but rather real-life bionics and cybernetics -- but even when the topic was right on, there were surprises. "Fandon and Hollywood: How Movies Get It Wrong" somehow veered from superhero movies to a debate over teaching intelligent design in the classroom. "NC-17 Fanfiction" offered some great new ideas (and an effective demo) for creating adults-only fiction. And "Worst Fanfic X-Over Ever" -- where folks listed and then voted on the worst actual fanfictions seen out there -- had some staggeringly awful combinations. (If you're wondering, the final winner was The Diary of Anne Frank combined with Dragonball Z.)

For the past few years I've been running I-CON events, and this year I went with something old and something new. This I-CON saw my third annual "Super(hero) S&M!" lecture, which went pretty well. (Two people showed up quite late, leading me to present 70 minutes of previously covered material in 10 minutes; I used a lot of sentence fragments.) I also ran my first SubGenius Devival -- yes, I'm now an ordained minister of the Church of the SubGenius -- in which people laughed, questioned, laughed at the answers, and fortunately didn't give any money (or power of attorney) to the one true fake religion.

The central locale for I-CON 28, at least at the college campus, was the dealer's room -- and this was, as always, stupendous. If you were looking for just about anything related to fandom, odds are you'd find it here. There were dvds ranging from everything anime to superhero cartoons from the 1960s to the present. T-shirts ranged from movies and comic books to sayings in Latin, funny grammar (I bought two of them: one for me, one for a friend), comments on popular trends ("...and then Buffy staked Edward. The end.") and art you could wear. There was medieval garb, handmade leather and chainmail, Bags of Holding, books, magazines, toys (which, alas, included Twilight Merchandise), a tremendous number of games (alas, the convention was one week before Frag: Gold Edition hit the shelves), posters and prints, and all sorts of dice. If you wanted to shop, you'd wander the dealer's room. Often.

I was occasionally frustrated when I couldn't make it into a panel because of maximum occupancy (the folks at the Marriott really watched out for fire codes), and the driving around wasn't fun. Other than those two difficulties, I-CON 28 was terrific vacation. I hope I-CON makes it back to SUNY Stony Brook (and if it does, I promise not to complain about walking from building to building ever again) but if it's at the Brentwood campus again, well, everything I-CON offers is worth a bit of travel.

Attended and reviewed by James Lynch

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