October 23–25, 2009
St. Petersburg, Florida
I have attended Necronomicon as a guest, dealer and fan for several years, and had the opportunity once again this year. Necro is, by most standards, a small convention; about 1000 attendees, including guests. For a convention this size, it offers a lot with the focus on science fiction, fantasy and horror. It has grown in recent years, and has changed venue twice, from a very small but funky little hotel just off I-75, to the ultra-modern tower of the downtown Tampa Hayatt Regency, and finally to the smaller but much friendlier venue it currently inhabits, the downtown Hilton in St. Petersburg, Florida.
This year’s Guests of Honor were authors Catherine Asaro, Patricia Briggs and Richard Lee Byers.
The con has the usual attractions of dealer room, art show, videogame room, and three rooms for table-top and card gaming, but Necronomicon also offers much that you do not find at many larger conventions. Along the impressive “Author’s Alley” you can pick up signed copies of books from the author guests, and the discussion panels are wide ranging and are manned by a surprising array of experts in whatever field you are interested in. By experts, I mean true scientists, engineers, physicians, authors, artists, game designers and costumers. It’s really something special when you can sit down and talk about the future of space flight with a genuine NASA engineer, or the possibility of human cloning, genetic manipulation and cyborgs with PhD geneticists, biologists, and neuroscientists who are really working in the field. There also are “how to” panels on everything from creating your next convention costume to submitting a manuscript to a publisher. And where else can you ask authors if they are really as screwed-up as their writing suggests?
There is always a costume contest at Necro, and this year’s was quite spectacular. This year’s theme for the convention was Arkham Asylum, from Batman fame, and the costumes were wide ranging and very imaginative, though there were a good number of zombies and anime characters as well. Following the award ceremony, the costumers get together for an all-out bash—Necronomi-prom—and dance to the wee hours of the morning, which put a hold on the LARPing for at least a few hours.
The convention charities are Kids & Canines, a Hillsborough County Schools Program that uses “At-Risk” students to train assistance dogs for the disabled, and The Francis House, a day respite center for people infected or affected by HIV/AIDS. Money was raised for the charities through a flea market and raffle.
In summation, Necro is a small but surprisingly diverse and, dare I use the word, “intelligent” convention; well organized, well staffed, friendly and fun. Who could ask for more?