Windycon XXVI

Windycon XXVI was held over the weekend of November 12-14, 1999 at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago. Windycon is the longest-running annual science fiction conventions in the Chicago area. This year's theme was "Techno," and many of the panels dealt with technology, both present and future.

We had dealers' tables this year, so we made sure to get there in good time by staying in the south suburbs the night before, so we just had to drive through the expressways to the hotel that morning. Of course we were fighting the expressway traffic, so that was no small task. But we got there in plenty of time to get our merchandise carried in and set up. After that, we got our personal belongings into our sleeping room.

Then I went down to the art show and got my art up. I even put out two ceramic pieces that I had done in a ceramics class at SIU. However, I didn't have one of my large mixed-media pieces finished, so I got an OK from the art show people to just put up the mat for it to hold my space until I got it finished.

With all those things taken care of, I headed back to the dealers' room. While I was keeping shop there, I continued to work on the big piece. I finally ended up finishing it after we ate supper, while we were sitting up in our room, waiting for the parties to start. Of course by that time it was already too late to get it onto the art show, so I had to hang onto it for the night.

Windycon is always a great convention for parties, and this year was no exception. The parties are held mostly in the two-level wing where the con suite is. There were a number of promotional parties for other area conventions, particularly Capricon, which is held in the north suburbs in the spring. There were also parties for several other clubs and groups in the area. After we made the rounds of the parties, we turned in for the night.

Saturday began bright and early as we went down to the dealers' room and got our tables opened for business. Then I went up to the art show and got that one last piece into its mat.

By then it was time for my first panel, "Are Series Necessary," at 11AM. The other panelists were P. David, Eric Flint, J. Minz and Mike Moscoe. We talked about some of the factors leading to even books that were originally planned as stand-alones being turned into series. It isn't always a matter of a lazy author not wanting to have to invent a new world and preferring to go back and recycle an old one. Sometimes the author discovers that there are more stories in the fictional world, and they demand to be told. Other times it is the readers who demand to read more stories in a beloved world. Sometimes this can lead a writer to continue to write in a given world long after the original spark is gone. We talked about various series that may have reached that point, including Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series and Anne McCaffrey's Pern.

After that panel was over, I headed up to the art show to check whether I'd received any bids on my pieces. Then I hurried down to the dealers' room to sit table for a little while before my next panel.

At 1PM I had the "Mixing the Genres" panel with R. Ciardullo, Phyllis Eisenstein, Stephen Leigh and Gene Wolfe. We talked about blurring the boundaries not just between science fiction and fantasy, but also between them and other genres like romance and mystery. We also talked about the pitfalls of such mixtures, such as discovering that there's no real market for a given piece because editors on each side of a given genre divide insist that the piece belongs on the other side.

After my panel was over, I waled over to Office Max in the nearby strip mall and made photocopies of two forms to add to the freebie tables. Then I went back to the dealers' room and kept table for a while. We weren't exceptionally busy, so I got a chance to work on my writing.

After the dealers' room closed, we joined a number of friends to go out to a Mongolian stir-fry place for supper. We had a really great time, so much so that I didn't even mind being late for the art auction.

When I did arrive, I sat with an old friend and talked about art and life. Although I did have one piece go to auction (the first time I'd ever gotten enough bids on a piece for it to go to auction), it didn't get bid up further. I was a little disappointed not to get a show, but I was glad to see it go to a friend of mine.

After that, we made the rounds of the parties. A number of them had been going on Friday night, but there were also several new ones. Then we turned in for the night.

Sunday morning we got up a little early to get our personal possessions packed and out of our sleeping room. Then I went down to the green room to take care of some things having to do with my program participation before we could get checked out. After that, there was barely enough time to get down to the dealers' room and get our tables opened before I had to hurry off to our final panel.

This was "Not the Middle Ages" at 10AM with Suzanne Blom, R. Fielder and Kathleen Massie-Ferch. We talked about other possible milleus for fantasy stories beyond the stock medieval society that Diana Wynn Jones ridiculed in The Tough Guide to Fantasyland, which seems to be a mishmash of SCA activities, role-playing scenarios and other people's fantasy novels. Among the societies that were suggested were various East Asian societies such as China, Japan and India. I mentioned working on one that is basically fighting sail with magic.

After my panel, I headed up to the art show and picked up my unsold art. For a change, there wasn't very much to pack up.

However, we had plenty of unsold merchandise to pack up in the dealers' room. Even with last-minute sales to reduce the stock, we still made a lot of trips getting everything back out and loaded up. Then we made one last visit to the con suite to get munchies and say our final good-byes before hitting the road for the long trip back home.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

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Last updated October 21, 2012.