Windycon XXVII

Windycon XXVIII was held over the weekend of November 9-11, 2001 at the Hyatt Regency Woodfield in Schaumburg, Illinois, one of the western suburbs of Chicago. Unfortunately this year we weren't able to get dealers' tables, so we didn't have a room to stay at the hotel. In past years we had volunteered in exchange for being able to stay in gopher crash space, but after our bad experience at Capricon, we didn't want to go through that. Thus we decided to stay at my parents' place in New Lenox (one of the south suburbs) and commute back and forth.

We drove up early Friday morning and arrived before registration had even opened. I was able to get my art onto the art show as soon as it opened. Then I went up to the green room and got my badge and my schedule with the panels I was supposed to be on.

Since I didn't have any panels scheduled on Friday, I had plenty of time to look through the dealers' room and the art show. It was rather nice to not be tethered to a dealer table through most of the convention, but I did miss the convenience of staying in the hotel.

We walked over to Joe's Crab Shack, just down the street from the hotel, and got ourselves a good supper. After supper we attended the opening ceremonies, since we had no dealers' room duties to conflict with it.

After the opening ceremonies, we made our rounds of the parties. Windycon is a really good convention for parties, which are usually held in the set of rooms in the small side hall just to the left of the back entrance.

Unfortunately, we had to cut our partying short because we had to get to my parents' place for the night. We got a fairly good start, but we ended up arriving later than we'd intended because I made a wrong turn trying to get from Illinois 83 to Bell Road and ended up going around and around in some industrial park before I finally found the right way. When we got to my parents' place, my mom was still sitting up and waiting for us, which just goes to show that no matter how old you get, your mom will still sit up and wait for you to get in.

The next morning we got up early to get a good start, and headed back up to the convention. In the daylight I could see where I'd made the wrong turn, but I wasn't sure if I could avoid the same mistake in the dark.

My first panel was at 10 AM, and I barely got to it on time. This was "What are Fanzines and Where Do I Find Them?" with Tom Boglub and Steven Silver. We talked about the history of fanzines and their role in providing a forum for fans to get together and plan other types of fannish activity. In a sense, fanzine fandom helped create convention fandom and club fandom. We also distinguished between fanfic fanzines, which are primarily places for people to publish fanfic writen in various established universes (Star Trek being the most well-known, but there are many others, including Jacqueline Lichtenberg's Sime~Gen universe) and discussion zines, which consist primarily of articles and letter columns, such as FOSFAx or Mimosa.

We also talked about the technological history of fanzines. The earliest fanzines were generally produced on such duplicating systems as hectograph (a very basic methid invlving a bed of special gelitain, but able to produce only a very limited number of copies before the gelitan would lose its consistency and the words or images would blur beyond recognition), or mimeograph or duplo. By the 1980's dry photocopy process machines had become inexpensive enough and generally available through outlets such as Kinko's that most fanzines could be printed in high volume and excellent print quality. At about this same time desktop publishing software was becoming more common, so that faneds could do all their layout electronically and print out a high quality laser printed master to run off at the local photocopy shop.

More recently many faneds have begun publishing Internet editions of their fanzines, or publishing them entirely on the Internet, with no paper edition at all. Some of these are plain-text fanzines transmited via e-mail, while others are on the Web and use HTML to produce elaborate color layouts, often incorporating high-quality photographs.

We noted that there are both pros and cons to the shift to the Internet. On the pro side, electronic publishing allows production values that would be economically unteneble on paper. Also, they are much easier to find. While paper fanzines were often dificult to find and relied upon word-of-mouth to bring in new people, and many sf readers could go for years without ever discovering them, Web-based fanzines can often be found via search engines such as Altavista or Google. On the con side, Internet fanzines can inadvertantly shut out those fans who do not have computers or Internet access. Also, they are dependent upon maintaining compatible technology. Formats can change drastically, leaving old files unreadable by newer equipment, while paper fanzines can be read by any literate fan.

After that panel I had to run straight to my second panel, "Whose Gene is it, Anyway?" with Kathleen Massie-Ferch and Bill Thomasson. We talked about the rapid changes in biotechnology and how companies' need to secure profits from their expensive research has led to some legally problematic situations. There have been situations where companies have literally refused to produce hormones they owned patents to, which could be useful in the treatment of various diseases, and would not license anyone else to produce it. They claimed that there wasn't enough demand to justify the overhead of producing it or dealing with licensing it, and depserate people were breaking the law to produce small amounts of these biochemicals to treat "orphan" diseases. We noted that many of the bad situations are the result of lawmakers and courts not understanding the science they're dealing with, and trying to apply precedents that aren't really analogous.

After that panel was over, I took another look in the art show and the dealers' room. Then I went up to the green room and just sort of vegged out. I did some talking with other program participants, but I was so tired and draggy that I couldn't really think very well.

At 4PM I had my last panel, "A Dog and His Boy: Intelligent Animals in Science Fiction and Fantasy" with Kevin J. Anderson, Dr. Guy Concolmagno and Linda Fox. We talked about the wide variety of intelligent animal motifs, from folk tale and fable to furry art. We discussed how animals can serve as stand-ins for human characters, and can allow an author or artist to make points that might be considered stereotypical or outright offensive if the characters in question were human. One can also call upon an entire wealth of lore about various animals and their supposed temperaments -- the cuteness of bunnies, the slyness of foxes, the sneakiness of snakes, etc. -- without having to explicitly state them.

After that panel, we connected with some friends of ours to go to the Mongolian Stir-Fry for supper. Unfortunately, their vehicle was crammed full and didn't have extra space for us, so we ended up having to drive our own vehicle down to it, which made finding the place a little tricky. The Mongolian Stir-Fry is one of our favorite places to go for supper while at a Windycon, since you can get a really filling meal for not a lot of money. However, when we got back, we'd lost our good parking spot and had to park really far back in the lot.

We did go to a few of the parties, but weren't able to get to many of them because it was getting late. This time we drove back to my folks' place by going Illinois 53 all the way to Lockport, but it took us a lot longer and we still got in really late.

Sunday morning we got up and got all our stuff packed, because we were planning on going straight home after the convention. But as we were driving up to it, I realized just how tired and run-down I was. I asked my husband if he would be up to driving back to Indianapolis, and when he said no, we decided that it would be best to go back to my folks' place and stay the night (my husband had Monday off for Veterans' Day).

When we got up to the convention, I went to the art show to get my unsold art. There was a fairly long line, so I pulled out my sketchbook and did some portraits of characters from a novel I'd been taking notes for. When I finally did get into the art show, I discovered that there had been a problem. One of the pieces that I had received a bid on had been incorrectly marked as unsold. Thus my check did not reflect all my sales. Since the check had already been made out and the treasurer was not available, I was told that another check for the additional amount would be mailed to me.

After I took my art out to the car, we went down to the dealers' room for a while and looked around, since we were in no hurry to get going now. We also went to the con suite to get some munchies and say our good-byes before heading back to my folks' to stay the night before pressing on to Indianapolis the next day.

Copyright 2012 by Leigh Kimmel

Permission is granted for reproduction in fanzines and other non-profit fannish publications.

For permission to quote or reprint in other venues, contact Leigh Kimmel

Last updated October 21, 2012.