Klingons coming to Bloomington—again


“It’s the kind of con where you come out of your hotel room in the morning, and there’s a guy in the hall half-dressed in a Klingon costume, wearing bunny slippers and talking on a walkie-talkie,” explained Lyda, a con fan. “You think, ‘How much did I have to drink at the parties last night?’ And then you remember, you don’t drink. You may be tired, but you are not hung over. The guy is real.”

The walkie-talkie suggests that the half-Klingon was one of the people running the convention. The theme is science fiction, and the people are definitely fun.

A “con” is a science fiction convention, a gathering of science fiction fans and professionals, usually over a weekend, though some stretch to four or five days. The professionals may actually get some work done, meeting with other professionals or promoting their work to fans. A few people (the guests) are paid to attend. But most people are there to enjoy themselves with other people who share their love of science fiction, fantasy and horror.

Information on CONvergence — July 2-5, 2009

CONvergence came out of the old Minneapolis Science Fiction Convention, which became too big for its organizers in the 1990s. Minicon decided to downsize; and CONvergence (according to its web site) was founded by people who “hoped to provide a home for those that wanted the large, boisterous convention that Minicon was moving away from, while further broadening our convention’s focus to an even wider variety of genres and mediums connected to Science Fiction and Fantasy.”

The convention reached 2,500 members last year. CONvergence features costumes, gaming, music, movies, discussion panels, an art show, a dealers room, a masquerade, parties, everything that makes a big con enjoyable. The parties, which sound quite amazing, include Federation of Planets parties, Klingon parties, zombie parties, a gnome tavern party, karaoke, and much more. Panels are plentiful: a few examples include discussions of race and gender diversity in comics, science fiction in academia, how to use science fiction to teach science at various school levels, Dr. Who, the work of Joss Whedon, Japanese anime, gaming, costuming, and a Monty Python Quote-Along Pane.

CONvergence has programming for teenagers. No childcare is provided, but the con is child-friendly. One of my friends is planning to take her five-year-old son. Another is taking her eight-year-old daughter.

Guests this year include fantasy authors Kelly McCullough and Pat Rothfuss, horror writer Brian Keene, comics/animation writer Dwayne McDuffie, and four writers and/or actors from the Mystery Science Theater 3000 TV series.

Diversacon, another local summer science fiction convention, is held in St. Paul July 31-August 2. This is a much smaller con, attracting about 200 attendees. It bills itself as a multicultural, multimedia con, which celebrates diversity in all forms. The convention’s commitment to diversity has meant that its guests of honor have often been nonwhite. In a field that is still dominated by white writers and fans, this has been terrific. The con has an equal commitment to gender and orientation diversity, which gave me the chance (a number of years ago) to spend time with the wonderful science fiction writer Melissa Scott and her partner Lisa Barnett.

If you want a huge, fun party con with great costumes, go to CONvergence. If you want a quiet convention with friendly people and thoughtful discussion, go to Diversacon.

The last summer convention is actually an autumn con: Gaylaxicon, a national convention taking place in St. Louis Park this year on October 9-11. Per its web site, it is “the annual international Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror Convention for gay men, lesbians, bisexuals, transgendered people and their friends.” If you are any of the preceding and love science fiction, fantasy or horror, this is the place for you.

Eleanor Arnason writes science fiction and fantasy. Email: eleanor@tcdailyplanet.net

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