by Tee Morris
November 13-14, 2004
Media con. Two words that strike terror in the hearts of writers everywhere.
While all media cons are not created equal, there is a consistent thread between them all: Authors Approach At Your Own Risk. It’s not the fault of the con organizers (sometimes). On a whole, the people who attend media cons think authors are nice but are a far cry from James Marsters, Virginia Hey, Nana Visitor, or George Takei. The bottom line is that media cons are for television and movie stars. Authors are invited to take a place on the second tier unless they are media tie-in authors. Only then is there a bit of elevation in your class status, but not by much. That being said, I got an invitation to attend GalaxyCon 2, a new media con held in the Beltsville/College Park, Maryland area. I was invited because a friend of mine was organizing the weekend and thought the con needed more authors. The other reason I got the invite was because I am a raging fan of Farscape and Gigi Edgely was on the guest list.
Now, as I have painted media cons with this rather dark brush, I should say there are exceptions to this rule of media cons and their regard of authors, Toronto Trek was one such exception. I now add GalaxyCon 2 to that list of exceptional conventions. For such a young event, the atmosphere was pleasant and its operations (and their security… kudos to the security!) were professionally run. There was also a hint of down-to-earth camaraderie. While media guests usually remain sequestered from the rest of the guests, all the GalaxyCon guests shared the same room for autographs. There was just something cool about Battlestar Galactica’s Richard Hatch and Farscape’s Gigi Edgely stopping by your table to say “Hi” and even talk geek with us working SF stiffs. Not only were these two a lot of fun to chat with, but both of them were jumping into the spirit of the con, feet first. I found it refreshing that these two actors, one who is fresh off the success of a mini-series and the other a pop icon of 70s SF, refused to bite the hands that fed them and made a conscious effort to meet and greet the fans.
I also need to give props to Jewel (Firefly) Staite’s husband, Matt, and Gigi’s traveling companion, Marcos. Instead of trying to remain invisible, the guests’ Significant Others were also taking part in the fun; and when offered a CD of just Matt and Jewel singing karaoke together, Matt said “Well, what about pictures of everyone else? I want memories of the people we meet.” Pretty classy.
And speaking of karaoke, that was an unexpected bonus of the weekend. I have attended cons that invite celebrities to grab the mic and stumble their way through the classics. At GalaxyCon, Gigi, Richard, Marcos, and Matt (who did encourage wife Jewel to join her in a duet) all took the stage. Sadly, Angel’s Mark Lutz doesn’t do karaoke. Perhaps he was afraid of coming across looking foolish. Buffy’s Robia LaMorte was also quite hesitant until a gauntlet was thrown… by me. In response to the audience’s coaxing, Robia cried out “But I don’t know the words!” to which I came back with “Well, you could try acting.” Yes, when in doubt, aim for the ego, and actors jump like beans from Mexico.
The overall con attendance was low (which I can only attribute to a lack of advertising and promotion); but what GalaxyCon lacked in numbers, it compensated with a sense of fun and genuine sincerity. I was impressed with the attendees, all of whom were warm, enthusiastic, and having a great time. I was also a little disappointed in the lack of programming, the bulk of panels were reserved more for the media stars, but this did offer plenty of time for autographs, workshops, and a few eye-popping multimedia presentations that included the Richard Hatch-financed proposal video for Battlestar Galactica: The Second Coming. (In a word… WOW! Too bad Universal and Skiffy’s Bonnie Hammer didn’t share the sentiment.) Still with its light programming schedule and two-day run, Sunday afternoon rolled around, guests and activity began winding down, and goodbyes were exchanged between staff and guests, goodbyes that were quite heartfelt. “This is one of the best times I’ve had,” Hatch admitted. That is something con organizers really appreciate hearing.
Did I sell a lot of books? No. Did I make any contacts? No. So what did I get out of GalaxyCon? Quite a lot. I made some new friends with the I-Maniacs, the GC Staff, and a few young fans of SF/F. I sang Sinatra’s “My Way,” arm-in-arm with Richard Hatch, Marcos, Matt, and a score of guys. I talked web design with Gigi Edgely, and I also got a gem of a story concerning The DaVinci Code that will be providing a lot of laughs in future talks. This was a con that I walked away with many wonderful memories, and a con that reminded me of exactly why I genuinely enjoy this weird and wacky genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy.