|The 1997 Hugo Award Winners|
|By Thomas Myer|
| August 30, 1997 |
LoneStarCon 2 was, at least for me, about shattered expectations. It is the first science fiction convention that I've ever attended. For one thing, I expected more from science fiction fandom. Instead of the intelligent folks I expected, I met people in funny costumes who felt somewhat scared of the Web. Instead of folks interested in technology, I encountered a lot of bushwa technophobia from social outcasts. Instead of young people like myself (I am 26), I found balding boomers with pudgy waistlines. Nowhere I went did I see myself reflected back at me.
This, of course, could also be seen as a benefit to mankind.
There were other shattered expectations. I met Joe Haldeman for the first time -- in fact, he sat next to my wife at a marvelous KaffeeKlatch encounter. Haldeman's The Forever War was the first novel I read, at the tender age of nine. It was his voice that caused me to buy more and more science fiction. I expected him to be snippier, more military in bearing, commanding. Instead, I was delighted to find a likeable, graceful, grandfatherly man, a man who rides his bicycle and writes his first drafts longhand with a fountain pen. That blew my mind.
Another encounter with an author, this time with Sean Stewart, was easily worth the entire $150.00 a person admittance. I've never read any of his work, but I found myself simpatico with him, levelling, understanding. Both in a panel on "Making Fantasy Real" and in an up-close KaffeeKlatch that ran forty-five minutes over schedule (to everyone's delight), I found a human being struggling to connect with that hard diamond of deathless prose in himself. He took the time to talk about books, writing, technique -- and in an aside, refreshingly, told us how much he hates the hard-sell promotional activity that goes on at conventions. He is a man who writes good fiction first, and good fantasy second--I don't know what fandom thinks of that. He shared with us his thoughts on what makes good writing good, and that alone was worth any amount of money.
The last expectation sacrificed to reality was the Hugo Ceremony. Nothing dignified about it, no hint that this is the biggest award given to artists who achieve excellence in the field of science fiction. Fans milled around in Klingon costumes and shorts. Everything happened with its own lackadaisical pacing. The awards for fan work took twice as much time as the awards for pros -- again, this being my first convention, I had no idea how big the fan union is in SF.
I don't know what I expected from the Hugos -- more pomp and circumstance. It almost felt like every award being handed out was somehow secondary to some other nameless quality. There wasn't a crackling anticipation in the audience. I think my high school graduation had more pacing to it.
Has science fiction reached a plateau of self-boredom? Or is it that fandom needs new blood in it, some quickening of the spirit? I saw about two other people at the convention who were under the age of 30. Maybe all the vivacious people were in the gaming room playing NetRunner. Having a lot of wise old crones in the village is nice, as long as there are also lots of red-blooded young warriors, too.
Thomas Myer is a technical writer by trade, a dog lover by default, and a schmoozer by necessity. One day he hopes to actually complete an intelligent, linear thought.
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