World Science Fiction Convention Shows Denver at its Geekiest

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"Take me to your leader... David Duchovny."
For those of you who missed the memo (or last week’s Night & Day story or Kenny Be’s awesome cartoon), let me remind you once again that should you see a Klingon wandering 14th Street or someone on Stout singing songs about Dungeons & Dragons or how smart their cat is, please don’t panic. They’re just overspill from Denvention, the 66th World Science Fiction Convention, which has taken over the Colorado Convention Center through Saturday, August 9.

Unlike what you might’ve heard about (or seen) at some of the other science fiction/Star Wars/Star Trek/comic book conventions that occasionally roll through town, Denvention is really more about high-tone geekery and science-fiction fandom than most other confabs. And while this doesn’t mean there aren’t going to be people in costumes, people selling funny hats, people arguing the fine points of the subtextually homoerotic relationship between Major West and Dr. Smith on Lost In Space, there will also be some serious science fiction going down.

As a matter of fact, if you’re a science fiction fan or a science-fiction writer living in or around Denver and you’re not reading this from your laptop in the lobby of the Colorado Convention Center, what the hell are you waiting for? By the time I arrived to scope out the place around one o’clock yesterday afternoon, I’d already missed an hour-and-a-half discussion of Robert Heinlein’s short fiction, a primer on how to read Tolkien, a classroom discussion on how to write a good query letter and an open-form discussion on classic giant monster movies. I consider myself to be a kind of mid-level geek -- I know some stuff and have read a lot but have not yet gone the additional step of filling my house with movie memorabilia (except for Blade Runner props and an original Mattel Millennium Falcon) or assembling for myself a full-body, original series Cylon costume -- and I’m actually a little pissed that I missed some of those.

Still, I did get to take a quick cruise through the art show (which was still being set up when I arrived) and made a turn through the dealer’s room (apparently, the geeks of the world need far more chainmail than one would immediately assume, making me a little worried that they know something I don’t) and managed, with no effort on my part whatsoever, to get roped into an animated discussion (read: two steps shy of a slap fight) about the current state of the science fiction publishing industry—my contention being that virtually the entire remaining readership of the science fiction genre (myself included) was currently housed right here in the Convention Center and that this did not leave one with a lot of options for riches and/or fame as a sci-fi writer.

And granted, there are books like the Yiddish Policeman’s Union (written by Michael Chabon, who is up for one of this year’s Hugo Awards, being given out at the Wells Fargo Theatre on Saturday night) and The Road, Cormac McCarthy’s tale of a man and his son surviving in the aftermath of a never-described apocalypse, which won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction in 2007. And while I allowed that yes, every once in a while an extraordinarily talented writer of non-genre fiction like Chabon or McCarthy turns his hand to science fiction and makes a name (and a few zillion dollars) for himself, when was the last time the Pulitzer Prize for fiction was given to something like Theodore Sturgeon’s seminal man-vs-technology epic Killdozer!?

Anyway, this went on for some time until I, claiming a pressing engagement in the Korbel ballroom to listen to the Libertarian Futurists, wandered off and immediately fled the premises for a cigarette, a beer and some distance. I was missing my chance at seeing Heinlein’s 1941 Worldcon speech (living in Colorado Springs at the time, he was the guest of honor at the first Denvention in 1941) and a lecture on the building of spaceships, but that was okay. By my count, there were roughly 3,000 other small lectures, big lectures, readings, workshops, masked balls, square dances and sci-fi sex talks taking place over the next several days. I needed to pace myself.

I’ll be back, though, and will be making regular reports leading up to the Hugo ceremonies on Saturday. For more information about the convention (registration, events, etc.), go to www.denvention3.org. And in the meantime, may The Force be with all of our international visitors heading out for drinks at altitude for the first time. Stay hydrated, stay loose and keep those phasers set on stun, friends.

Let’s be careful out there. – Jason Sheehan


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