Convention Report

WorldCon 1996
L.A. con III

29 August - September 2, 1996
Anaheim, California

Last modified: 31 December 1997

Worldcon 96 Thursday morning, 29 August 1996, I finished packing and went on CompuServe one last time to send out a couple of e-mails. Vic Koman had finally replied to my e-mail query about his book. Marty Massoglia would have a consignment of his book Solomon's Kn ife, so I should be able to pick up a copy in the hucksters' room. He didn't have it yet that day, but I would check again later. We left home as soon as I was ready, but we had to make a couple of stops. I had to stop at the credit union to have the C ity's retirement form notarized before sending it to Vanguard. Mike had to stop for gas and to re-inflate his right front tyre, which seemed to have problems retaining air pressure.

When we got to the Anaheim Hilton, there was a long line to register for a room. Con registration was at the Marriott. By the time we finished with that, there wasn't much time for lunch; but I was really hungry, so we ate at Allie's American Grill in t he Marriott.

Worldcon 96 Then we went to the convention centre, where I signed up for three kaffee klatches. The programme items were also in the convention centre, but the first one I was interested in was at the other end of the centre. I got to my first programme item a half hour late. Titled "Robocop vs. Real Cop: the Future of Law Enforcement," it concentrated mostly on the information aspects. The participants were Joseph P. Bonino, who works with the LAPD; Walter Jon Williams; Joe Wingard; and a woman whose name I didn 't get.

Mike went to the hucksters' room.

Worldcon 96 Worldcon 96

My next programme item was one section closer to the centre part of the convention centre. It was about "Electronic Publishing." Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Katie Filipowicz were also heading there, so I had a chance to talk to them. Since Neil Schulman is the one running the web publishing outfit that published Vic Koman's latest book, Jacqueline was able to get information about that. The other programme participants were Scott Ciencin, Craig E. Engler, William Fawcett, and Brooks Peck. Victor Koman arrived towards the end of the panel, so I was able to catch up to him.

Worldcon 96 Mike went to a Robert Forward presentation called "Indistinguishable from Magic," which is also the title of one of his books. NASA sponsored him to do a faster than light study. He also discussed wormholes at length. With enough energy and mass, it sh ould be possible to create them. Once you had wormholes, he stated that it was possible to do limited time travel. He also has a contract to study space tethers to be used in orbital re-entry and for orbital altitude adjustments. With the space tether, it should be possible to launch geosynchronous satellites from a lower altitude, such as the orbit of the space shuttle, without using fuel. He is also studying the use of space tethers to generate electrical power.

My last panel of the day was about "Politics and the Future." The participants were Arlan Andrews, Jack Chalker, Dafydd ab Hugh, Brad Linaweaver, and Elizabeth Anne Hull, who is running for political office in Illinois. I had to leave this one early to meet Mike for the CompuServe dinner. I had arranged to meet Kees and Angelique van Toorn, but they didn't show. I found out later they had been at Disneyland with their kids.

Mike returned to the room due to problems with a new pair of shoes; one of them fell apart.

The CompuServe dinner was at a Maylaysian/Chinese restaurant called Chicha's very close to the convention centre. We met some new people. As we were leaving, Janice and Chip Morningstar arrived with their kids. Unfortunately, we didn't see them again.

Then we went to the opening ceremonies at the convention centre. This was followed by an ice cream social at the Marriott.

After that, we returned briefly to our room to unload some stuff before partying. We were on one of the two party floors, so it was quite convenient. We went to the Alcatraz in 1999 party; the Australia bid party, which was far too crowded to stay at; a private party Charlie Jackson was having, which Ed Buchman and Bea Barrio invited us to; the Zagreb party, which was too loud to stay at; a Northwest fandom party, which featured the Disneyland fireworks, which could be seen through their room window; an d the con suite, where we talked to Jacqui Marshall and met Jacqueline Lichtenberg's husband, who is apparently quite a partyer.

I woke up early Friday morning, so I would have time for breakfast. Mike was still in bed when I left the room. After breakfast, I went to the convention centre to get Jean Lorrah's autograph. I just wanted to ensure seeing her, since I wasn't sure exactly what I'd be doing. I walked around the hucksters' room for a while. I found Tullio and Amy Proni's table an d got a picture of them and their wares. I also bumped into Mike and Alice Bentley and their son Martin. After doing a turn around part of the hucksters' room, I walked to the Marriott for the kaffee klatch with Somtow. He didn't show up at first, but th e people in charge roused him from bed and got him down. It was a very interesting session. Quite a few people showed up for it. Somtow talked about his current and past works in various media. I found out that some of his out-of-print works and those not yet published in this country were available in the hucksters' room, where I proceeded right after the session. However, when I got to the booth that was selling his works, I learned that the vendor didn't know the pricing for most of the things. I ran around trying to find Somtow. After half an hour or so of running around, I returned to the booth. Of course, Somtow was there. I also bought another of his books from a British dealer, and I picked up two out-of-print works from Marty. While I w as running around trying to track down Somtow, I bumped into Berni Phillips, who, I guess had told me she and David Bratman would be there; I had forgotten.

Worldcon 96 In the meantime, Mike went to a panel on "A Look at Past Futures." The panellists were Larry Niven, David Gerrold, Harlan Ellison, Hal Clement, and another man whose name he didn't get. The room was filled to over capacity; it probably held about five h undred. The panel was concerned with predictions about the nineties that these panellists had made at the Pacificon, held in LA in 1972. Harlan claimed to have correctly predicted ATMs, the Internet, theft on the Internet, pagers, and numerous other thi ngs; he claimed that Larry had been wrong about everything. Larry claimed to have been correct about organ banks, threats to personal freedom, and a few other things; he noted that the threats to personal freedom had actually caused an increase in person al freedom. Harlan said pagers took away personal freedom, but Larry disagreed. The unidentified panel member said he had predicted that the future would never happen and listed his hits and misses. David Gerrold talked about the optimism he'd had abou t technology. Larry and Harlan argued in a friendly way about freedom, power, and technology. Harlan said he prefers typewriters to putting money into Apple's coffers. Larry made the point that space travel is important to the survival of the human rac e. Larry considered gene splicing to have dangerous implications.

Worldcon 96 After that, Mike attended the panel on the "Science Fiction of the Fifties and Sixties." The panellists were Robert Silverberg, Fred Pohl, and Harlan Ellison. One of the key points was that there had been more camaraderie among authors in the past. The y told numerous humorous anecdotes about John Campbell and Horace Gold. They noted that there had been a decline in the craft of editing. It was a fun session.

In the afternoon, I went to a reading by Deborah Wheeler. She had intended only to read a story that I had already heard. However, she added a passage from Northlight for my benefit.

Worldcon 96 Mike went to a presentation of "The Black Pearl" comic book that Mark Hamill hopes he can make into a movie. He hoped to start the filming in 1997. This would be his directorial debut. The basic story is about an ordinary person who performs a heroic d eed. The media blows the incident up and remakes the person into a superhero of sorts. The comic book is made up of five issues with the first one to ship in mid-September 1996. The others are scheduled to follow in monthly intervals. Hamill was very entertaining; he did impressions of Jerry Lewis and Sylvester Stallone. There's a web page with information about the project:

I went to a presentation of a new animated Flash Gordon series. I wasn't terribly impressed by the episode shown. It was also freezing in the room. Since the next item I had intended to attend was also in that room, I wasn't sure I wanted to sit there again. I left the room. I went outside to warm up and think about what I wanted to do. While I was standing there looking at my notes, John Stanley came along; we talked for quite a while. Andy Porter also found me as we were talking and chastised me for not having dropped by his table yet.

Worldcon 96 Mike did get to the session I skipped on "Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys." The first show started about a week and half later on Sunday afternoons. Jerry Doyle, who did the voice of Captain Simian, was there. D. C. Fontana wrote two of the episod es. There was a phone number to get local station information -- 212-213-2700. Here it was announced it would be on KCAL, channel 9, at 1300 on Sunday. The show was already airing in Britain. The first two Sundays here were to have two episodes back t o back. The first two episodes of the series were shown. They were well received.

All the chatting with John and Andy used up my spare time before the taping session for "Hour 25" that I had wanted to see. I was particularly interested to find out what Warren James looked like. As I'd expected, he didn't look the way he sounds on the radio. I took a few pictures of the key players on the show. I couldn't stay for the entire session, as we were meeting Gerri Balter and Debbie Schouten for dinner.

We all found each other easily and decided to eat at Allie's American Grill in the Marriott. Since I hadn't seen my friends for a few years, we ended up talking for five hours.

I partied afterward, but Mike decided to call it a night.

Saturday morning, we drove home to feed Christopher Robin, clean the litter box, and empty our mailbox. We took home a few items we would no longer be needing at the con. Christopher Robin had used one of the bathroom rugs as a litterbox again. I got o n CompuServe to get my e-mail, and there were thirty-five messages. I was considering unsubscribing from the Artemis listserv, as I never found the messages interesting enough to read. More than half the mail had been generated by that listserv.

When we got back to the Hilton, we had trouble finding a parking space. I got to the Fandom in Japan panel late. I was disappointed, as the whole presentation consisted of videos and slides except for a short question and answer period at the end. The Japanese fans did not seem to have a good grasp of English, so there were communication difficulties.

Worldcon 96 Mike went to a reading by James Hogan. He read from a novel that was to come out the following spring titled Bug Park, sort of a take-off on Jurassic Park. He read the prologue and one short section. It's about small bug-sized robots that can interface with humans.

Then he went to a presentation on the Star Wars Trilogy, Special Edition. It was in a large room that was packed. The next movie in the series, which is a prequel to the existing ones, is scheduled to be out in summer of 1999. The special edition comme morated the twentieth anniversary of the first Star Wars movie. There would be a lot of new footage, scenes that had been edited with new material, restored scenes, some new music, and a digital soundtrack. The original film was cleaned up. This new ed ition would premiere in this country in February, March, and April of 1997. The rest of the world would see them later. By summer, everyone would have had the opportunity to see it. New digital scenes were done on Macs. Comparison shots were shown. A film was shown of some of the behind-the-scenes work. A trailer was also shown.

I met Stella Nemeth for lunch. We ate at the Hilton.

In the afternoon, I got Connie Willis to autograph a book that I'd gotten for my sister, Mimi. After that I had a chance to look through the rest of the hucksters' room and finally found Andy Porter's table.

Worldcon 96 Mike attended a new session that had been added with Ray Bradbury talking about various things. He acknowledged the help he received from Forry Ackerman and the LASFS in getting his career started. He also acknowledged the help of other authors, such as Jack Williamson and Leigh Brackett. He added that the movie Things To Come had also been a big influence. He was disappointed about the lack of progress in space exploration. He thought people should do more things that felt good and that people shoul d enjoy life. He deplored the negativity of TV. He had written a new script for Fahrenheit 451; the director and star will be Mel Gibson. A wide-screen version of Martian Chronicles is was being planned; he hadn't been impressed by the TV movie. He wa s working on a script of The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit for Disney. He also had a new book of new short stories coming out in November. Mike had recently bought a CD set of old science fiction radio shows that Ray Bradbury had written the liner notes for , and he got that autographed.

Worldcon 96 After that Mike attended a panel on the "Science Fiction of the Thirties and Forties." The panellists were Dave Kyle, Jay Kay Klein, and Sam Moskowitz. Each related how he had discovered science fiction. Dave Kyle told about the Hydra Club with such di verse members as Lester Del Rey, Asimov, and Clarke. The Hydra Club led Worldcon 96 to the inauguration of Gnome Press, which was the first publisher of hard-cover science fiction. Jay Kay noticed Forry in the audience and asked him to relate his story about discovering science fiction. Kyle said "the Worldcon 96 future is not what it was"; he thought it was worse in some respects and better in others. Moskowitz said that back then the readers didn't generally have much money, so they bought second-hand magazines and exchanged them with other fans. He also said Hugo Gernsback took returned magazines and sold them to cargo ships that would otherwise have gone back to their origin countries empty. This proliferated American science fiction overseas.

Mike also attended the discussion of "Acting in Science Fiction." This one was very popular, and people were waiting in line to get in. They had to wait for a previous "Babylon 5" presentation to clear out. Due to this situation, the panel started late. The participants were Armin Shimmerman, Roxanne Biggs-Dawson, Richard Hatch, Richard Herd, Chase Masterson, William O'Connell, and three others whose name he didn't catch. It was basically a question and answer session. Mike left early to attend a rea ding by Fred Pohl. Worldcon 96

Pohl read an unpublished short story titled "Anomaly in a Decimal Expansion." It was about mathematicians in a lab. He said a novel titled The Other End of Time would soon be published. The publisher had asked him for a sequel, but it will end up as a trilogy. He read a short section from the second novel. This was followed by questions from the audience. Gateway and its sequels were being developed into a movie.

I decided I wasn't feeling up to going to any of the panels I'd planned on attending that afternoon. It was a really bad day for my sinuses. So I went to the Marriott to drop in on Jacqueline Lichtenberg and Jean Lorrah, who were having a private gather ing in their room. The discussion revolved mainly about two topics: writing and the Internet. Jacqueline was trying to set up a web page and listserv. We discussed more ambitious future plans. Jacqueline was also giving writing advice to a couple of new writers. A few side conversations occurred, such as one about low-fat diets with Jean Lorrah. Eventually, four of us decided to go to Baker's Square for dinner. I called Mike from the Hilton lobby, where we'd gone to enable one of our party to get money from her room. Luckily, I caught him in the room just as he had been about to leave for the masquerade, where I was supposed to have met him. He decided to join us.

Dinner was quite enjoyable with the conversation topics ranging from writing to gene splicing. We went partying after this for a short while.

I had breakfast at the Hilton Sunday morning. It was a bit early when I finished, so I started to head to the mezzanine and bumped into Kees, who apologized profusely for missing dinner on Thursday. We talked for a while. Eventually, Angelique and the children came down; I got a family picture. I caught the last half of the Galileo Mission Update. Then I went to the Kaffee Klatch for Hal Clement. After that, I managed to get to the autograph session in time to get autographs from Greg Bear and Jacqueline Lichtenberg.

Worldcon 96 Mike started his day with the 11:30 "Battlestar Galactica" presentation by Richard Hatch. He talked about new "Battlestar Galactica" projects. It was in a small room, and the audience overflowed. Hatch was putting together a role-playing convention for next year; it would be based on various TV shows; it would be similar to the "Star Trek" show at Universal. Twentieth Century was doing a lot of Galactica licensing. Hatch was discussing possible movie and TV show projects. He loves science fiction an d "Battlestar Galactica." He agreed with the audience that "Battlestar 1980" had been a bust. Mike was surprised that there had only been twenty-three episodes in the original series. For the new projects, including comic books, Hatch was planning to d evelop the characters more fully. Many of the original actors were interested in being in the movie. Mike thought following on the coat-tails of the new "Star Wars" movie might help get the studio interested just as it was in 1977; Richard Hatch seemed to be receptive to that idea. Mike was favourably impressed with Hatch's sense of humour and intelligence. He was writing a "Battlestar Galactica" trilogy.

Worldcon 96 At 1300, Mike went to a "Star Trek" panel that included Jean Lorrah, Bjo Trimble, Genny Dazzo, Bill Margot, and Guy Vardeman, who worked on "Star Trek: the Next Generation." They discussed the merits of each of the "Star Trek" series. Bjo likes all the series, but especially DS9. Jean prefers classic Trek. Genny likes Worldcon 96 classic Trek because of the character interaction and hated the first season of Next Generation. Jean said she noticed more aliens than humans in DS9. Genny doesn't like the aliens in DS9 except for Quark. Bill Margot noted the tendency for enemy aliens eventually to become allies. There was much discussion of Voyager. Bjo said it's changing for the better; there will be more exploration, and the Kazon are history. There was much audience participation. Bjo urged f ans to work on story ideas and submit scripts for Voyager. When Guy Vardeman said he was working on the Star Trek Continuum, an area on the Microsoft Network, much of the audience reacted negatively to the mention of MSN. The audience also didn't like P aramount's view of Microsoft as a technology innovator.

As I was heading toward Bill Wu's reading, I bumped into Seth Goldberg and Celia Chapman. We talked so long that I barely made the end of Bill's reading, and I never did get to pick up a copy of his story. I did make it to Hal Clement's reading. This w as followed by Vic Koman's reading and one by Greg Bear.

Worldcon 96 Later in the afternoon, Mike attended a Q & A session with Buzz Aldrin. The large room he was in was full. The audience gave him a standing ovation even before he was officially introduced. Aldrin mentioned that his father's physics professor had been Robert Goddard. Aldrin talked about his life after NASA and the book he wrote with John Barnes. He also talked about space tourism, space marketing, and launch vehicle strategy. He talked about his work with reusable launch vehicles, which he thought w ould lead to space tourism. He believes we need a commitment to a permanent space presence, working in a gradual way rather than spectacular missions. He doesn't consider himself a science fiction fan. At the end, he showed an episode of "Star Hustler" about Tiber, from his book.

Then Mike went to a panel about "Star Trek" history. Bob Justman, Herbert Solow, and Yvonne Fern Solow were the panellists. Yvonne had met Solow when she was working on a book. Justman talked about the book Inside "Star Trek." Herb talked about gettin g the first episode of "Star Trek" aired and about the book. In answer to a question, Yvonne said that Roddenberry's favourite episode had been City on the Edge of Forever. Worldco
 96 The panellists pointed out that David Gerrold and George Clayton Johnson were in the audience. Bob said that Herb had really been in charge of "Star Trek." The Solows would have a book out in 1997 titled The "Star Trek" Sketch Book. Herb talked about t he evolution of Spock, the importance of racial equality on the show, and Desilu. Yvonne believes Gene Roddenberry was pleased with Next Generation and that he liked the fourth (the San Francisco whale episode) and sixth (The Undiscovered Country) movies and hated the fifth one. Justman also liked the fourth movie. There will be a correction in the paperback edition of their book about Bjo's involvement in the letter-writing c ampaign to save the original "Star Trek." Mike took his copy of Inside "Star Trek" to the panel and got it autographed by Herbert Solow and Robert Justman. Copies of this book and Yvonne's Gene Roddenberry: the Last Conversation were also being sold. Mike bought that one and got it autographed as well.

Worldcon 96 At 1700, I went to a Kaffee Klatch for Jacqueline Lichtenberg. After that, I was heading for Somtow's reading when I bumped into Norm Cooper, my first supervisor when I worked at Hughes Aircraft. I was very surprised to see him. While we were talking, Liz Lehmann also found me; she couldn't stay as she had to call her husband before it got too late on the East Coast. I missed Somtow's reading where I had told Mike I would meet him. I managed to bump into him before the Hugos, which we both attended.

Worldcon 96 Mike attended Somtow's reading and got to know him a bit. He read "A Thief in the Night," which is published in Peter Beagle's anthology Immortal Unicorn.

Mike left the Hugo Awards Ceremony early to see the Grand Guignol presentation. I got there after the Hugos, only about a half hour after he left. I missed the introductory comments and didn't manage to find Mike until the thing was over. There were th ree plays that were very well done.

I partied afterward. Mike decided to call it a night.

Monday morning I got up late and went to "Why Flying Saucer Aliens Can't Be Real" without having had breakfast. We packed first and took everything down to the car. We checked out using the video checkout system from the room. As the presentation didn' t seem to be as described, I left. I wandered around for a while trying to decide what to do. I bumped into Ken Porter as I was heading toward the Hilton coffee shop for lunch. Ken joined me later when his lunch date had to cancel.

Mike went to a SETI lecture by H. Paul Shuch. He gave a web address for the SETI League -- He talked about the history of SETI. His lecture was interspersed with SETI filks with lots of techni cal content. The SETI will be using thousands of amateur radio telescopes. He noted that optical telescopes are inadequate for this work. Some people believe that there are, on average, two hundred light years between technological civilizations. So far the only credible signals have been detected at Ohio State University in 1977, but this finding has not been duplicated by any other site or any signals since the original one.

I attended a presentation on "Long Term Future of Life in the Universe," which turned out really to be a cosmology lecture by Dave Clements on the life of the universe.

At 1300, Mike went to the "Starwolf" presentation. There was standing room only in a large room. "Starwolf" is a TV series based on David Gerrold's book Voyage of the Starwolf. He will accept scripts from new writers starting in its second season. He is going to strive for scientific accuracy. The Starwolf is a small ship with a small crew. It was scheduled to air in the fall of 1997. The captain and the crew members are expendable, so the crew will change over time. The star of the show would be the ship. They had an initial commitment for twenty-two episodes. D. C. Fontana was the line producer, Ben Bova was the science consultant, and Jerry Pournelle may be the military consultant. David commented that there would be a DS9 episode featuring tribbles; David would have a small role.

After this I found Mike and wandered around with him until it was time for closing ceremonies. We left the hotel directly after that. Mike collapsed shortly after we got home. I didn't last much longer.

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