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CascadiaCon -- the 2005 North America S-F Convention (NASFiC)

from the fanzine File 770 #147 (2006)

The eighth NASFiC (North America S-F Con; Seattle, September 1-5, 2005) was named "CascadiaCon" for the Pacific Northwest. Writer Guests of Honor, Fred Saberhagen and Harry Harrison (though illness kept both away); Illustrator, Liz Danforth; Editor, Toni Weisskopf; Scientist, Marc Abrahams; Fan, Kevin Standlee; Filksingers, Uffington Horse; Animé, Hiroaki Inoue. Interaction, the '05 Worldcon at Glasgow, being overseas, we had a NASFiC, as we invented in the 1970s. With Nippon 2007 set for Yokohama, CascadiaCon voted on the '07 NASFiC site; St. Louis won.

Our Radisson Hotel had (under the name of Hyatt) been home to the '61 Worldcon. About 300 people attended then; we were six times bigger, and needed too the Hilton and its Conference Center. There was a shuttle bus. Con programming scheduled panels on four s-f classics: Karel Capek's play R.U.R. (1921), which coined "robot"; Robert A. Heinlein's Starman Jones (1953); C.L. Moore's novelette "No Woman Born" (1944); and H.G. Wells' Invisible Man (1897); fliers saying so went to bookshops, libraries, colleges. Perhaps The Invisible Man is best known, R.U.R. most influential, "No Woman Born" most admired for its writing, Starman Jones best loved. Later L.A.con IV, the '06 Worldcon, set discussions of s-f classics, and included "No Woman Born"; one mark of a classic is that it keeps on inspiring.

Thursday. The Nippon 2007 committee brought Japanese artwork for the Art Show. While they got busy with hooks and clips, I mounted the Selina Phanara sun calendar project. She has been making fanciful suns, in colored paper mostly; some will be a calendar, with votes wanted for which sun looks like which month. In '04 I had brought originals to ConKopelli (Westercon LVII, Phoenix), and in '05 charts of the whole set to Due North (Westercon LVIII, Calgary) and CascadiaCon.

At six I gave the Kelly Freas Memorial Slide Show. He drew insignia for Skylab, and Mad magazine's Alfred E. Newman, and some of our best illustrations ever. In June his widow Laura and I made a one-hour retrospective, given by me at Due North, then at Interaction by Joe Siclari who had helped much with the fine historical exhibit in the Noreascon IV Art Show ('04 Worldcon, Boston), Frank Wu winner of the '04 Fanartist Hugo, and author-broker-collector Jane Frank, then by me again at CascadiaCon. Kelly was a master of many media. It's a good question whether we love him

Young in resilience and a certain hardihood of mind.
Dorothy Dunnett
more for his work or his heart, he was big at both. In all fairness, I said, I was conducting the Memorial backwards. Kelly's own word was illustrator. But I had chosen these images because they were good pictures. I did sometimes say what they had illustrated, and some in the crowd knew without any help from me. He sometimes was given excruciating problems to solve; among his points of fame, people sent him things no one else could see how to illustrate; but he did solve them: and not because of his labors, but regardless of them, worked wonders.

Inoue, a veteran producer of Japanese animation, is also a winner of the Shibano Award in Japan for outstanding fan activity. Now he chairs the first-ever Japanese Worldcon. CascadiaCon began Opening Ceremonies with taiko drumming by the Kaze Daiko youth ensemble of Seattle. A member of the ensemble wrote,

Kaze Daiko plays,
The drums echo our spirit
If thunder can float.

Bobbie DuFault, exercising her prerogative as CascadiaCon chair, gave each of her GoH antennae with glittery knobs. At the St. Louis bidding party I ate pineapple, drank Hefeweizen, and watched Hope Leibowitz and Ctein play Fluxx, with strange rules that changed.

As I often do, I had arranged docent tours of the Art Show, docent (borrowed from the museum world) being a tour leader good at pointing out things worth looking at. I try for a mixture, pros and fans, men and women. Docents take one another's tours. For CascadiaCon, pencil wizard Mark Ferrari, me, woodworker Johnna Klukas, pro writer Larry Niven, '98 TAFF (Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund) delegate Ulrika O'Brien, watercolorist Margaret Organ-Kean. From a nearby florist I got a helium balloon that would rise above the aisles of artwork to show where the tour was, Teresa Nielsen Hayden's bright idea for Torcon III ('03 Worldcon). The balloon was a five-pointed star. The shop was Sea-Tac Flowers & Espresso.

Friday. Organ-Kean's tour noted Amy Bradley's beadwork in fractal patterns. Klukas, who was along, noted how without aristocracy we forwent costly material and high labor but were helped by technology. Then the Fannish Inquisition, where we kindly put committees of seated cons (i.e. their bid won but their con is yet to be held), and bidders (i.e. their election is yet to be held), on the hot seat. Moderator Vincent Docherty was still alive after co-chairing Interaction. Kent Bloom, chair of the Denver for '08 Worldcon bid, faced Dave McCarty of Chicago. Each of these bids is attractive. If McCarty's bid wins we shall have Chicon VII. He said "I can't imagine why you wouldn't want to be there every year." Then Bloom and I went off to R.U.R. in the other hotel.

Jerry Pournelle joined us; I moderated. R.U.R. is "Rossum's Universal Robots"; Capek ("tchah-peck") had subtitled his play a fantastic melodrama. Alexander Woollcott, who discovered the Marx Brothers, had called a New York production "murderous social satire ... hair-raising." Bloom said R.U.R. lay under perhaps a third of s-f. Pournelle said the problem of any republic is that the least citizen must feel and be a part of the republic. In R.U.R. robots did the work, Huxley's Brave New World chemically stupefied workers before birth, two warnings of false paradise. Later, in the Heinlein Society suite, Pournelle said Ray Bradbury was the man to be on television with; people would try to direct all the talk to him, but he wouldn't let them get away with it.

In the Fanzine Lounge, I found Coquitlam fan Steve Forty's mimeograph equipment, a medium once indispensable; all worked, and some was going to the S-F Museum. Suzle, back from Britain as '05 TAFF

No state can be more destitute than that of him who, when the delights of sense forsake him, has no pleasures of the mind.
delegate, found Flo Newrock of New Jersey; they hadn't met in person for years. Wu told how, during the Kelly memorial at Interaction, a man in the audience recognized a pistol in a Western cover Kelly had done; the pistol, which was in the story, had been an anachronism, which Kelly was left to fret over. In the lobby, I found a casino, Bank of Serenity scrip, Standlee in a dinner jacket, and Klingons at cha'maH'waH with all the card-suits weapons.

Hot dogs at the Chicago party. A San Jose for '07 write-in bid emerged to challenge St. Louis. It promised to support Nippon 2007. To move things along I joined as Pre-Supporter 4. I then immediately recruited Diana Paxson, since four is an inauspicious number in Japan. The Montréal for '09 Worldcon bid served spruce beer. Kansas City for '09 had a Cookie Goddess. At the Radcon party (Pasco, Washington), their dreaded Toxic Waste had reached the sludge state, in which I seemed to detect kiwi fruit.

Daylight Saturday. James Glass moderated The Invisible Man, with Robert James, me, Pournelle, and Alan Rosenthal host of the Fanzine Lounge. Rosenthal said a classic was independent of its time and place. I said, look at the characterization of Griffin, Kemp, and marvelous Marvel. James said Invisible Man was allegory, we treat one another as invisible. For that, Pournelle liked better Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. Rosenthal said Kemp foreshadowed A Modern Utopia. Pournelle said Griffin didn't act like a scientist. Rosenthal said Kemp making the discovery would have been worse; he wasn't out for himself; he would have tried to help. I said, thus was Galadriel tested in The Lord of the Rings. James wished Wells had given the epilogue to a witness. Glass said it had the viewpoint of the highest drama.

Klukas on her docent tour noted that three-dimensional art has viewing angles. In 2-D, you can refine your point in monochrome. Monochrome can be a study of edges. The Illustrators of the Future contest brought winners and finalists, done as interior illustrations for magazines and thus all monochrome. The LiftPort Group, promoting a space elevator, brought two dozen drawings. Klukas remarked how work made functionally can be admired by others as good to look at. And so to Starman Jones, in the other hotel.

Here I moderated Mary Morman of the Denver for '08 bid, Niven, Pournelle, Geo Rule, and Weisskopf. Niven said s-f was about patterns. Of characters in Jones, Pournelle called Sam -- not Max Jones -- the formal protagonist, the one who made things happen. Weisskopf said Sam was redeemed by finding Max

That lightness of spirit without which life would be unbearable.
to teach. Dr. Hendrix who did everything himself, and Sam the fudger, were the heroes we'd expect in this technologically corrupt society. Pournelle noted how everyone fudged, starting at the truck-stop. From the audience Bill Patterson of the Heinlein Society asked what made Jones a favorite. Niven said it went outside the Solar System. Weisskopf said the writing exercised restraint. Pournelle called Between Planets a better book, but worse undercut by our now knowing it false-to-fact.

Niven on his docent tour said "Once I thought I'd seen enough dragons to last me the rest of my life. But every now and then I see a good one, so I stopped saying that." Paul Cordsmeyer, who was donating his collection to the S-F Museum, kindly displayed some in the Art Show, book and magazine cover art, Program Books, letters, T-shirts hand-painted with galaxies -- Niven happened to own one by that artist. At Ferrari's display Niven said "Trying to Fit In" stuck in his mind. With this weary teenage elf in jeans and baseball cap, skateboard, and yard-wide butterfly wings, Rockwellesque and exercising restraint, Ferrari burst upon us a few years ago, winning Best of Show at Westercon LVII (Spokane, '99).

Two Klukas pieces, which she calls a diptych, impressed my docent tour, "Origination" and "Destination". She associates them by parallel composition, and parallel materials: cherry, walnut, maple and maple burl. In each the central disk is patinated copper, the stars wire. We pondered what made "Origination" look ancient, "Destination" a future, and thought the integration of shapes in "Origination" more tense, while elements in "Destination" opened from one another to stand independent. Ed Cox had begun to work in steel, displaying skull shapes like flat masks. My favorite Danforths, among paintings and pots, were two monochromes, "Windsong's Master", and "Bert the Troll" with a gnarled face and a jug o' punch.

In the Masquerade, this year's judges were Marie Cooley, me, and Inoue (with Takayuki Karahashi interpreting); Workmanship Judge backstage (optional for each entry), Joy Day. Best in Show, and Best Workmanship, was Sue-Lyn & Kristopher Taylor's "Wizard & Roo" (Master class), from The Witch and the 'Roo of Wicky Woo by Jan Loudin (1996); the kangaroo -- with butterfly wings -- could fly, neatly exchanging a boy for a doll, against a gorgeous backdrop; an earlier version had been at Westercon LVI (Seattle, '03). Most Dramatic, Journeyman, was Laura & Mark Rieschiek's "Dark Shadows Fairy Tale", Laura winged, Mark a mirror. Most Humorous, Journeyman, was Kalyn Nilsson's "Princess Luthien", afflicted by slugs, eeuw. Mike DuQuette won Workmanship

Truths would you teach, or save a sinking land?
All fear, none aid you, and few understand.
Judge's Choice (Journeyman) for "S.T.O.A.T." in alien armor. Elizabeth Fellows' "Dance of the Sugar-Plaid Fairy" (also revised from Westercon LVI) won Honorable Mention (Novice) and Best Workmanship in Class. Half-time entertainment while we judges deliberated was a magic show, The Cabaret of Dr. Caligari. As we returned, it had come to a really breathtaking joke (and chosen-card revelation) based on a big color reproduction of Da Vinci's Last Supper.

At Interaction the convention center had, for its shape, been re-named, and adopted as the starship WSFS Armadillo, "WSFS" supposedly "White Star Federated Spacelines" being the convenient initials of the World S-F Society, beneath whose happy wingspread Worldcons and NASFiCs stand. Standlee was Captain, Docherty was Admiral. The self-proclaimed Cabal that produces Plokta having won the Hugo for Best Fanzine, and having each been armed with a rocket by means of Hugo trophies, all invaded Closing Ceremonies as space pirates. At CascadiaCon, under the guise of raising money for relief from Hurricane Katrina, Standlee was court-martialed. Around midnight at the L.A.con IV party my roommate Tom Veal arrived with news. "We acquitted Kevin, and convicted Seth." Two hours later I found Seth Breidbart in the lobby. "Of course it's true," he said. "Were any charges brought against you?" I asked. "Of course not."

Ten a.m. Sunday, to moderate "No Woman Born" with James, Pournelle, Milt Stevens one of our finest fanwriters. James ranked C.L. Moore among our finest pro writers. Pournelle had known her in person. Stevens brought the December '44 Astounding where the story appeared. In the story, Pournelle said, Deirdre had no one to talk with, the private nightmare of every writer. We discussed her line "Luckily I never was beautiful", belied by the James Stephens poem quoted in the text. Such an exploration as "Born" of beauty and attraction probably could not have been written in any other medium, or by a man, at the time or perhaps today.

O'Brien's docent tour looked at hydroplanes like orcas, with bird wings, by Lizzie Newell of Anchorage. Sarah Clemens displayed a giclée print of "Stigmata", a woman in white floating cruciform amid church ruins, hibiscus for blood; Ctein at ConKopelli had called my attention to the original. There was a large Kelly Freas display, including "Transition", one of his few nods toward the abstract -- yet its spine is the realism of the mask and stars, how light shines through the eyes so we know it's a mask, how the metal gleams. In the verticals red and blue, the horizontal flash, we see an event.

Local fans Marci Malinowcyz and Twilight, and Tom Whitmore who is so local everywhere some of us still know him as Itinerance, played Book Fairy. You got two copies of a book on condition you'd give

Large, abnormally united by allusion and shibboleth, and not particularly encouraging.
Sir Ronald Storrs
away one to somebody you didn't know. In the restroom a man in a business suit asked about my propeller beanie. I said there was a science fiction convention in the hotel. He said "Really! Can you recommend a good book?" so I did my duty. Publicity is what you make it.

English Regency ballroom dancing has become a tradition at cons, taught by me if I'm there; my article in Mimosa 26 is, I hear, on the Web at <>. Cross-cultural contact is homework for s-f, and this whimsical era, when the First Gentleman of Europe was Crown Prince, then Regent, appeals to the fannish mind. Besides, it's an excuse to read Jane Austen, with Georgette Heyer and Patrick O'Brian for apéritif. The prevalence of women among romance-writers is a fact of which we heterosexual men should be deeply ashamed. Naturally the dance was in the other hotel. Dressed like the trademark of Johnnie Walker whisky I had a walking stick. For us the formalism of these dances may be, like selenium, a nutrient valuable in minute quantity.

From 1805 white tie to 2005 black tie for the Awards Banquet. With Inoue being our GoH, the English-translation part of the Japanese Seiun Awards was announced, not as usual at the Worldcon, but here. Also we had the Heinlein Award. Amy Baxter, the Heinleins' adopted granddaughter, wore a gown of Mrs. Heinlein's. On the last weekend in the year when a man may wear a white dinner jacket, I did, as Mr. Heinlein had. Joe Major, I sat with your publisher. Theodore Sturgeon's "And Now the News" won the Best Translated Short Story Seiun (as Nyusu no Jikan Desu, tr. Nozomi Omori). The Heinlein Society gave its Award to Niven and Pournelle. Greg Bear quoted Niven, "If we can put a man on the Moon, why can't we put a man on the Moon?" At the Baen Books

A noble mind disdains not to repent.
party, Weisskopf presided over chocolate and a one-shot: these fanzines for the occasion, which used to need a mimeograph hauled in, can now be done by lapsize computer.

Filking, where women pick banjos in T-shirts decorated with the Periodic Table. One sang "Why don't you do right, like some millionaires do? Put your stuff on the market, and make a million too." Geneticist Anne Prather, in a black cloak glistening with spider stars, sang "Step it out lightly, my fine daughter." I helped her back to her room with her harp. As the elevator door opened and we got off, there in the elevator lobby, at 4:30 a.m., was Phoenix fan Jean Goddin, quietly reading. I love s-f cons.