Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Putting the Science (& History!) in Science Fiction Convention: Heliosphere NY

As longtime readers of this blog may know, I generally go away for one science fiction convention weekend per year. For the past two years (last one in this one), that convention is Heliosphere, a new convention held in Tarrytown, NY, right off the Hudson River and the Tappan Zee Bridge, and just a stone's throw from Sleepy Hallow.

Heliosphere is a small con, but growing. It's not one of the big flashy events with all the media guests. It has writers and editors in attendance, and they'll happily offer advice along with telling you of their latest projects.

Unlike the inaugural outing last year, I was not a panelist or program participant this time around. I was a plain old fan, with no commitments, free to go where I wanted. (That also make this review a tad more independent, I guess.) And there was pretty to do.

For the science fan, there were panels devoted to the mechanics of sci-fi, including a Sunday morning discussion on Quantum Mechanics, and their applications in real life.

But the big draw would be for the History buffs (and the Alternate History buffs), because the con hosted a 1632 Mini-con, based on the works of, and the world created, by Guest of Honor. In this alternate timeline, a piece of land that included the fictional town of Grantville, West Virginia, was transported in time and space to Germany in 1632, in the middle of the Thirty Years War. The residents had to adapt to their new home and survive hostile encounters. Their "future" tech is helpful to a point, but they have to start an industrial revolution of their own even as they form their own United States over a century early.

A fun panel on Friday consisted of the "Weird Tech" that they could create based on the knowledge they brought with them and the raw materials on hand.

The Gaming room was a good place to pass some time, although I didn't play too much. Personally, I don't want to start a game that'll pull me in for a couple of hours when there are other things going on. Card games and word games usually work best for me -- but those can fool you, too, so be wary!

Another highlight is the popular Books & Brews panels, where the "brew" is coffee. I had signed up in advance to sit in with a group with another Guest of Honor, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, author of the Caine Riordan series of novels, as well as some entries in the 1632 series. Rather than took about his own work, Gannon quite eagerly chose to speak to the attendees about their writing, as nearly everyone at the table had done some kind of writing, or was at least trying. He sympathized with my comment that most of my writing credits happened in a different century.

What made this a highlight was running into Dr. Gannon again, later in the evening, at one of the parties. He came up to me, and asked me about my writing, and where I wanted it to go. If he hadn't had a fan before, well, he sealed the deal here. The guy's for real. (And now I have to make sure I have something written and submitted -- and accepted?? -- if I encounter him again next year.)

I've already registered for next year, April 5-7, 2019. Guests to be announced. More information can be found on their website: http://www.heliosphereny.org/

No comments: