by Jack Jeffers
April 1-3, 2005
MidSouthCon 23 was a real success again this year. It was expected that attendance would be down significantly from last year—since DeepSouthCon 42 (a regional science fiction con that is hosted each year by a different convention) coexisted with MidSouthCon 22—however, attendance for MidSouthCon 23 exceeded 1000, as it did for MidSouthCon 22/DeepSouthCon 42. This is very healthy growth for a con that averaged 400 to 500 attendees for years. This year’s programming reflected the higher attendance with 120 hours of programming scheduled in up to six simultaneous tracks (and that’s not counting the Anime, Video or Gaming rooms).
MidSouth’s Artist Guest of Honor was Stephen Hickman. The Art Show featured several of his paintings and he hosted a slide show of his work. You may own some of his work without being aware of it—he has illustrated approximately 350 covers for Ace, Baen, Ballantine, Bantam, Berkeley, Dell, Del Rey, Doubleday, Phage Press, Tor, and Warren Publications as well as a lot of Tolkien and Lovecraft art.
The Science GoH this year was Gregory Benford. He was on the panel for “Using SF to Teach the Scientific Method”—a good match since he won a Nebula Award for his novel Timespace and is also a professor of Plasma Physics and Astrophysics at the University of California.
Of course any convention featuring Brinke Stevens, “The Queen of Scream,” is on my list of favorite places to be. Brinke was the Media GoH. Her panel, “Bad Movies and Why We Love Them,” turned out to be a real hoot. A little known fact about Brinke is that she has a Master’s Degree in Marine Biology from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla. And for a time she worked at the San Onofre Nuclear Power Station and National Marine Fisheries.
The Filk Guest of Honor was The Great Luke Ski (Luke Sienkowski). Luke has the energy of a dozen tribbles. His parodies, “Stealing Like a Hobbit,” based on Eminem’s “Cleaning out my Closet” and “Peter Parker,” a Spider-Man parody are two of the funniest songs I’ve heard.
Gaming was well represented. FORGE (Fellowship of Role Gaming Enthusiasts) set up a room with ten tables for running sanctioned RPGA games. I gamed with them and, as usual, really enjoyed it. MidSouthCon’s gaming schedule included over 150 role-playing, miniature, collectable card and board games as well as a LAN party, a LARP and lots of other fun stuff. The Memphis Strategy Board Gaming Community was also well represented. AEG kicked off its Warlord World Conquest at MidSouthCon and met with great success. Games Workshop was the Gaming GoH and gave a panel on their company that explained a lot about the gaming industry.
The Art Show had art ranging from hobby artists to consummate professionals. As usual, I could not keep my hands in my pockets and ended up bidding on several pieces and winning a few. The Dealer’s Room, in my humble opinion, did not have as good a selection of wares as in the past but I know that the con organizers cannot be blamed for that. There are so many cons now that it is impossible to avoid scheduling conflicts with other locations.
The hall costumes and the Masquerade were good, as was the Art Auction (I did sit on my hands during the auction). Private parties flourished. The Con Suite was always packed, but well run with a good selection of con survival nourishment. As usual I had a good time. Ah well, until next year!