20 November 2007

[liff] OryCon 29 In The News–We're All Just Having A Good (and Smart) Time

1134. As long-time OryCon habitués, Y.T. and The Wife™ are used to a certain cliché in reporting on such gatherings–without putting too fine a point on–that characterizes your average group of SF convention attendees as suspicously wierd.

it's a pleasure therefore to find two local writers mentioning it and showing that that they Get It™. Kristi Turnquist's article for The Big O (14 days free, then you pay), stops by what looks like the usual "fandom-as-group-of-weirdos" station with its opening paragraph:

It's not hard to spot the attendees checking in for OryCon 29 at the Portland Marriott Downtown Waterfront hotel Friday afternoon. They're the ones wearing black tricorns finished with sweeping purple feathers. Or medieval milady frocks, revealing ample cleavage above corseted folds of ruby velvet and black satin. One volunteer sports elaborate facial tattoos and piercings. Others sweep through the hotel lobby in Goth-black full-length coats.

I think I know which tattooed volunteer she was talking about. He's a pretty nice fellow.

At any rate, to those used to the typical look-through-cynical-lenses view that seemed to typify popular press about SF conventions, this may seem a familiar tune. But, suddenly, after a single informational graf, a decided shaft of sunlight:

For those who aren't members of this fan community, it's easy to get stuck on the costumes and tempting to indulge in some eye-rolling jokes at their expense. But that kind of reaction misses the point -- by light years

Well, saying someting about an SF community missed the mark by astronomical measure is still a little clichéd, but given the rather warm embrace forshadowed by that bit of prose, we are more than willing to forgive it. The rest of Kristi's article touched on a lot of the reasons I like to think we all go to OryCon (and to you lucky devils, other cons)–smart people having the kind of good fun smart people know how to have; literary minds who like a bit of adventure in thier lives; the childlike joy of play for adults of all ages with an intellectual slant.

A Saturday morning panel featured authors Ursula K. Le Guin, Kate Wilhelm, David Levine and Leslie What discussing the value of writing workshops. After the session, Le Guin -- an icon in the science fiction and fantasy literature world -- said she doesn't often attend OryCon, but wanted to this year to honor the 25th anniversary of the Susan C. Petrey Clarion Scholarship Fund. It's a program the nonprofit, all-volunteer OryCon operates to send writers to the acclaimed Clarion writing workshops. "I'm not a big partygoer," Le Guin says, with a smile. "But these people work so hard, and I wanted to support that."

We think Kristi ranged over quite a bit of the convention; whilst my The Wife™ was chatting with Alexander James Adams in Dealer's (which I wrote about a couple of discourses back), she thinks it was Kristi who paused to ask them a couple of questions about thier costumes. My understanding is it was fielded with Alec with aplomb).

Meanwhile over at WW, Claire Evans takes a rocket ride around the convention. It's a short article, so not everything gets mentioned (find links to flickr albums as the end of it, tho), but she successfully blends the absurd fun (a mock bad-acting trial of James T. Kirk  on counts of fashion sense, stilted delivery, and bad hairpiece) with the smart:

Every year, OryCon plays host to a cadre of high-profile writers and SF personalities, and this his year was no exception: the grand dame of Oregon fantasy literature, Ursula K. Le Guin, held court, along with legendary animator Will Vinton and award-winning author Robert Charles Wilson. The big names weren’t the only appeal, though: a “gaming room” was well-stocked with men in Utilikilts rolling dice, while the program ran late every night with pagan ceremonies and hearty rounds of Filking (trust me, you’re gonna want to Google that.)

OryConners are amongst the most interesting people I've ever known. I'm thrilled that the mass media–or at least two versions thereon–seem to understand just what goes on there: good fun and a great party put on by fun people.

And any news article mentioning Utilikilts pretty much rocks, as far as we're concerned.

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