Friday, March 27, 2009

Evolution of the Con: Part 2

There is a misconception that sci fi fans are primary interested in and in some cases obsessed with the celebrities that play their favorite charters on TV. But what does the average fan do in between cons to get their sci fi fix? Well, the first part of the answer is easy they watch them on TV, however it is the second part of the answer that is being overlooked by a huge portion of the con organizers, they read a LOT.

More to the point they read science fiction novels. I took a quick look at’s book section and found more then sixty Babylon 5 novels, over 100 Battlestar Galactica novels (if you count both series) and I just gave up on counting how many Star Trek novel there were. There is a point to this exercise and that is with the growth of the internet many book authors have developed a following just as TV stars have. Six weeks ago a new author’s site launched called Booktown. It already has close to 200 members and at least one third of them are sci fi authors. Authors that have websites, book trailers, blogs, and fans.

Many of these authors make the usual rounds each spring, summer, and fall at book fairs, book festivals, and book signings across the country but these are general events, that is to say a sci fi author may be sitting next to an author who writes bedtime stories for children or erotic novel for adults. The folks who attend these events vary so even though these venues are great for meeting people it is not specific to science fiction. I was a guest at a sci fi con recently and found that the fans were very receptive to having authors at these types of events.

A few of the convention organizers have recognized this growing trend and have wisely begun to blend in guest authors with the high profile movie and TV celebrities. This is good for the authors, good for the fans, and most importantly good for the con organizers because since most authors are not as well known as J.K. Rowlings they are willing to forgo a lot of the perks that con organizers must provide to lure celebrities to these events. Once again it’s all about the math. In most cases having three guest authors would equal having one celebrity guest. The cost to the fans goes down and everyone is happy. The alternative is to continue on the same path having cancelation after cancelation until people are afraid to come to such events for fear of losing their hard earned money and that would be a shame. Well that’s my two cents, I am going to the gas station to buy some gas, if this was still the 70’s I could get someone to pump if for me. ;-)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Evolution of the Convention

Evolution of the Convention
Part one

Remember watching old film footage of when people used to dress up to go to the movie theater or when the only time that you saw a man wearing an earring was when he was dressed as a pirate at a costume party, well things have certainly changed. The same can be said for Science Fiction conventions. The granddaddy or at least the most popular of the bigger conventions was Star Trek. For most of us it is the only time that we get to see our favorite sci fi actors up close and personal. Over the years these events have grown larger, grander and more expensive to produce.

The planes, limos, and hotels that many of the big celebrities that headline these events require can eat up a huge chunk of the con’s budget. The more successful conventions have moved to larger venues and have produced more elaborate shows. This sounds like a great deal for the fans but in recent years there has been trouble brewing in con land. Success breeds completion. There were at least 50 sci fi conventions scheduled in the US for 2008, I used the word scheduled because several were canceled due to lack of interest. In fact one was abruptly canceled during the second day because of poor attendance and yes the finger pointing has begun.

Some of the reasons given were over saturation, poor planning, the recession; and some organizers have even blamed the actors. I personally know of one case where a few actors never received tickets for their flights. If you have read any of my post then you know that I am not a big fan of finger pointing so instead I will offer what I believe is a practical (yet self serving) solution to what I see is the possible demise of science fiction conventions as we know them if things don’t change. In order to solve the problem of to many con’s and not enough con goers you must first look at the cost. As the competition to bring in bigger names and more actors heated up so has the cost……to the fans.

Its simple math - the higher the cost the less people will attend so once you fall below your break even point Boom! You’re done. So it all comes down to the fans.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Parallel Universe

Yeah, yeah, I know that this is a bit far out there, okay, maybe more than a bit but when you write science fiction novels from time to time you need to dwell in the land of possibilities and what if’s, for example what if we lived in a parallel universe. Fifty years ago if you had told someone that one day we would be able to plug in a box, put raw food in it and take out a fully cooked meal without the use of fire they would have carried you away to the loony bin right. So what if you were aware of this other universe and you knew that their world was in danger of being destroyed what would you do? Since crossing over to warn them in person is out of the question the next best thing would be to send them a message.

I came up with this idea a few years after writing Escape 2 Earth. The reason is simple, many people (not realizing that it was a science fiction story ) took the novel as a prediction of things to come in 2012. Then lo and behold recently there’s been a lot of talk on the internet about a mysterious planet from another solar system that will enter our system triggering massive worldwide destruction. Planet X has been identified as Nibiru and if that wasn’t enough a few months ago on You Tube a new Crop Circle of our solar system suddenly appeared showing the alignment of our planets on December 21, 2012 with Nibiru included in at least two of the crop circles.

Youtube Nibiru

Okay so you say that you’re not impressed. In Escape 2 Earth there is a mysterious planet from another solar system that enters our solar system triggering massive worldwide destruction. In the story the Aliens also use Crop Circles to send messages to warn us about planet X (in the story the planet is Telderan )and Earth’s destruction. In the book the planet arrives in our solar system on December 21, 2012. Oh, I forgot to mention one more thing, the book was published in April 2006 more than two years before the REAL Crop Circle first appeared. So there you have the parallels, the fiction of Escape 2 Earth and the reality (or perceived reality) that

1. A new planet will enter our solar system bringing mass destruction.

2. The destruction will occur on December 21, 2012.

3. Our government is aware of what’s going on but chooses to remain silent. This is also part of the storyline in the upcoming 2012 movie by Roland Emmerich.

4. The messages are being sent in the form of crop circles by beings not of our Earth. And that’s the hinge that holds this premise together. If we knew who the creator of these crop circles were them we could once and for all separate fact from fiction.

Take a minute to ponder the possibilities while I go and microwave some popcorn.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Great TV Taken Before Its Time

Sometime in the not too distant past the masses cheered and waved their remotes when they first learned that there would be hundreds of TV channels to choose from. At last something worth watching anytime day or night we thought. The hard reality is that things aren’t always as they seem which brings me to one of my favorite topics science fiction television. Often times I feel a wave of nostialga (in between the torture) of sitting through yet another B movie on the Sci Fi channel on a Saturday night. I miss the old days when you looked forward to another episode of Babylon 5, or Odyssey 5. The demise of the latter is still a mystery to me. According to Wikipedia “The show was cancelled despite the fact that the series was one of Showtime's highest rated original series.” Why cancel a show in the middle of its second season if the ratings are okay?

Networks are too eager to pull the plug on shows that could have a long life if adjustments were made before things got too bad. One of the most underrated actresses in the business is Leslie Silva, seems like every show that she’s on gets canceled. Odyssey 5 is not the only sci fi show to die an early death, Roswell, Tek Wars, The Dresden Files, and for those who are old enough to remember VR5. There must be something about TV exec’s and sci fi shows with the number 5, anyway I have some advice to offer the suits at the networks, if a show is not performing well CHANGE THE TIME SLOT, or maybe hire better writers, how bout holding a contest or spending a few dollars on promoting the show. If you don’t want to do it for the sake of your career then do it for me because I am not looking forward to another Saturday night watching another B movie just to please my better half.

Random Cancellations are such a big topic there's a wikipedia page on it. The Friday Night Death Slot. Is your favorite show on the list?

Next Week
Parallel Universes