by Chris Garcia
May 23-26, 2003
San Jose, California
Bay Area fandom has had a busy 18 months, from the half dozen regular conventions to hosting last year’s Worldcon. BayCon returned to the DoubleTree hotel in San Jose for the twenty-second time in twenty-two years. As always, BayCon brought together fans from all over California, plus Oregon, Washington, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, British Columbia, Alaska, and Great Britain, more than twenty-two hundred over the course of the convention.
As always, BayCon brought some great guests: Greg Bear, who brought with him tales of the forth-coming Science Fiction Experience museum in Seattle; Artist GOH Mark Ferrari, who gave a delayed, but highly regarded reading from his up-coming novel; Fan guest Janice Gelb; and Toastmistress Rachel Holmen, along with more than one hundred guests made BayCon 2003 the most impressive line-up in years.
BayCon tends towards the highly decorated. The huge ScreamWorks party took up two large guest rooms, plus a significant portion of balcony. At one point, more than 200 people crowded into the space. The League of Evil Geniuses’ celebrated alumni including Cruella DeVille and Eric on the Elevator, an elevator talk show, hosted a party that featured the debut of the first two seasons, filmed at BayCon 2001 and 2002.
The panels were far-ranging, fascinating, and typically well attended. Some highlights included “Five Dollars, a Dead Fish, and a Time Machine, or Turtledoving for Dummies,” which filled a room designed for 50 with nearly 80 attendees. “Futurism: or How the Future Has Failed Us at Every Turn” took the classic Where’s My Flying Car debate into areas such as world government, single pill meals, real internet security, and the fifteen-hour work week. Panels on art and tech were highly successful, as were all the Buffy panels, despite the fact that author Nancy Holder had to cancel at the last moment. All that, plus great readings from Ferrari, Howard Hendrix, Lori White, Cory Doctorow, and Irene Radford made for much great stuff for daytime consumption.
Running alongside the parties in the evenings were the largest masquerade in recent memory, Off The Wall films (actually shown on the side of one of the hotel’s towers), half a dozen concerts, and at least two dances a night. And every issue of Nth Degree that hit the fan handout table flew into a greedy fan’s hand almost instantly!
All in all, a great weekend that signals the begging of a little rest for NorCal’s hardest working SMOFs. Next year’s convention, with GOH Michael Swanwick, will be held May 23-31 (www.baycon.org/2004).