Written by Tom Knighton
Some have suggested that Downtown Albany should host a science fiction convention. Alright, I was the one that suggested it, but a lot of folks have told me that they like the idea. I threw the idea out there in a column well over two years ago with the intent of starting one.
It still hasn’t happened.
The problem was that I hadn’t actually been to a science fiction convention, otherwise known as a “con”. That was meant to change this year. It started with a text message from my best friend Jennifer Bell Grey. As my wife is also named Jennifer, I call my friend “J” for short.
The text in question asked me if I still wanted to go to DragonCon. My answer followed after 37 minutes of bouncing up and down and squealing like a little girl at a Justin Bieber concert. It was a yes.
All I had to do was get here, and the party was on. I arranged a ride with a friend from Albany who was going, and here I am.
The con didn’t actually start until Friday, but folks start getting here on Thursday, or even earlier in some cases. We hadn’t even exited the car before the Star Trek uniforms were visible, and it was still fairly early.
Nothing was open on Thursday, but people were still milling about in costume. Your beloved reporter had to brave some unsavory sorts to file this report, I’ll have you know. Stormtroopers, bounty hunters, Daleks, and even the dark lord of the Sith are here. Fear not for me though. Reporters throw themselves at danger.
When people think of cons, they only think of the hordes of people shuffling hither and yon. Most don’t really think of where those folks are going. For a lot of them, it’s the panels.
The panels generally consist of one or more people sitting in front of a large crowd, answering questions. At a place like DragonCon, the panels often consist of celebrities speaking to their fans. The first of these I got to see was none other than Anthony Michael Hall.
I’m a child of the 80’s. The John Hughes movies like The Breakfast Club and Pretty In Pink were staples of my youth, and here was one of the actors that was a part of that sitting just a matter of feet in front of me.
What does The Breakfast Club have to do with Science Fiction? Well, not much, but remember that Hall was also the star of films like Weird Science and television shows like Deadzone. In addition, he guest starred on the SyFy original series Warehouse 13. His science fiction credentials are solidly set in stone.
Much of the rest of my time bounced between random panels of special interest (one on steampunk props) and just milling about looking at the clever costumes people had put together.
Boba Fett was fairly common, as were stormtroopers; both from the Star Wars franchise. Captain Americas and Wolverines were all over the place as well. Even the xenomorph – the bizarre looking yet deadly creature from the Alien franchise – made an appearance.
My personal favorite, steampunk, was plentiful as well. For those who don’t know, steampunk is a genre of science fiction that has Victorian roots. Think anything written by Jules Verne for starters, and you have the essence of steampunk. The aesthetic qualities involve Victorian clothing with bits of “high tech” done like a Victorian era person might have done them.
The exhausting day came to a close, with me having seen so much that my mind can barely comprehend it all. What I do know is that 40,000 people are here with me, having a blast. I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!