Con†Stellation XXXV: Horologium (The Clock)
13–15 October 2017——Huntsville, Alabama
|GoH: Mary Robinette Kowal||Artist GoH: David O. Miller||MC: Toni Weisskopf|
Like many parts of life, science fiction/fantasy conventions develop their own lingo—with regional and local differences. We want to welcome folks who may not quite follow the expressoins so we're trying to explain some of those terms, especially as they relate to Con†Stellation. We intend to add more sections to this page as time goes along.
This page is a work in progress.
What is a "general interest Science Fiction & Fantasy convention"?
Con†Stellation calls itself a general interest sf/f convention. By that we mean that we celebrate all aspects of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres. While Con†Stellation tends a bit toward the literary side, you'll also find our staff & members playing genre games, watching movies & TV, buying collectables in the dealers room, messing around with fantasy weapons, craving that beautiful picture for sale in the art show, and doing just about any thing you can think of that relates in any way to the genre. We also don't focus on just one author or on just one specific type of fantasy or on just one series of movies or any other specific interest. There are fine conventions out there that do that quite well (though you may have to travel quite a distance to get to one of the few cons if your focus is narrow enough).
We want to be straight with you—we're a local fan-run convention so we don't have the resources (space, manpower, money, etc.) to be all things to all people at all times. As an example, back in the day (before a lot of you reading this were even born) our type of convention would be the place to go to see movies in the Video Room. But then, the DVD wasn't even a gleam in it's daddy's eye and VCRs (plus the tapes to plug into them) were new, expensive, and far from common. Over the years genre TV and movies became much more affordable and ubiquitous. Now it would be wasting the hard-earned membership money you gave us to spend it on a Video Room that very few people took advantage of. Were we a huge con with many thousands of people there would be enough people who wanted to see the latest obscure (fill in the country of your choice) TV show that we could devote a room to show the entire season and fill it up with eager viewers.
Instead, we focus on not focusing.
No matter what your interests are you'll almost certainly find other fans—and that term includes all the professionals attending the con—who share one of more of those interests. Being a smaller convention then works to your advantage in that you can actually find those folks then sit and talk to the fans (and pros) about the latest novel from what's-her-face or see if anyone remembers the name of that movie that had who's-it in his first featured role (and someone probably will know) or break open the shrink wrap on a promising new game and try it out with several folks who'd heard of it and wonder how good it is just as much as you do.
What is a "relaxicon"?
A relaxicon (aka relaxacon) is a convention with little or no programming and typically no or very few guests. It is intended primarily as a place for fans to relax in the company of like-minded folks. Other typical aspects of a general interest convention, like a dealers room or art show, are often sharply scaled back or absent.
What do you mean "Membership"; why don't you say "Ticket" if that's what you mean?
The short answer is that we don't, in fact, mean tickets, we mean memberships. Tickets are what you buy to go to a movie or a play or a concert and watch other people perform. Memberships are what you buy if you want to be a participant in something, and we definitely want our members to participate.
A surprisingly large percentage of our members directly help run the convention at some level—on the convention committee (concom) that works for months planing, then runs a department during the con; as staff that works in setting up, running, and breaking down all the con functions; or just as "gophers," the folks who pitch in an hour or three over the weekend to do whatever needs to be done. (And something pretty much always needs to be done.) But even if you don't participate in that way, we'd love you to be the one raising your hand when a panelist calls for questions or stopping another member in the hall to compliment their costume or telling the art show staff how excited you are when you discover a great piece of art you can afford. We think of our convention as a full-contact participant sport. (Well, OK, not full contact. Remember what your kindergarten teacher told you—play nice and share your toys.)
What do you mean by "Fandom"?
Wikipedia says that "Fandom (a portmanteau of fan [fanatic] and the suffix -dom [domain], as in kingdom, freedom, etc.) is a term used to refer to a subculture composed of fans characterized by a feeling of sympathy and camaraderie with others who share a common interest." When we use it, it's short for science fiction fandom—the group of fans of science fiction, fantasy, and related genres who are in contact with one another through clubs, conventions, and other means.
Fandom's roots go back to the letter columns in early professional sf/f magazines (c. late 1920's) and the amateur magazines (fanzines) that grew up (c. early 1930's) to facilitate communications among the fans who "found" each other in those letter columns. Fanzines are still very much a part of fandom, but as time went by other means of contact came into being, including conventions (aka cons). The conventions exist at all levels from tiny ultra-local relaxicons to large national and international gatherings. Con†Stellation is proud to occupy one niche in fandom, providing a place for fans—mostly within driving distance of Huntsville—to gather annually. The sponsoring club, NASFA, fills other niches by providing a monthly gathering for fans from north-central Alabama and by publishing a club-sponsored fanzine (clubzine), the NASFA Shuttle.
What is a "Con Suite" or "Hospitality Suite"?
People are social animals and conventions of people—no matter what else they are—are social functions. We strive at Con†Stellation to provide things that will inform and educate you about many aspects of science fiction/fantasy (and about science) but we are not robots. No matter how much some of us profess to want to be.
The Con†Stellation Con Suite (or Convention Hospitality Suite) is one of the places to go unwind a bit and grab a drink or a quick nosh or strike up a conversation or just take a load off. Yes, all the food and drink is free... well, your membership money pays for it. The suite is open around the clock for relaxing or soft drinks. Other than late evening or the wee hours, there should be at least some finger foods available. (The 4 fannish food groups are Sugar, Salt, Fat, and Caffeine.) Periodically through the day you'll find much more substantial fare. We recognize that often there's not time for you to go get a full meal somewhere and still catch all the panels and other events you want to see and we don't want you fainting from hunger. (Fat chance of that at Con†Stellation. Pun intended.)
What the Con Suite is not, though, is a place to get all your meals. Play nice. Take some food if it looks interesting (and leave some for the next guy or gal) but also take the time to go out and get a balanced meal. The 6-2-1 rule is a very good idea. (At least 6 hours of sleep a day, at least 2 meals a day (Con Suite or party munches don't count), and at least 1 shower a day... that last is self explanatory ;-)
What is a "Fanac" or "Fannish Activity"?
Fanac is a contraction of "FANnish ACtivities"—that is activities within science fiction/fantasy fandom(←What's That?) as opposed to professional sf/f activities. This can include participation in clubs, conventions, fanzines (fan-published amateur "magazines"), blogging, or just about any other activity promoting fandom.
What is a "DSC" or "DeepSouthCon"?
DeepSouthCon was one of the earliest science fiction/fantasy in the, well, deep south part of the US. The first DSC was held in 1963 in Huntsville with a total attendance of five people. DSC became a rotating regional convention, moving around to many cities in the southeastern US. The site for each year's convention is currently selected by a bidding process with the vote at the DSC two years in advance of the year being selected.
DSC has been in Huntsville several times—DSC 1 (see above), DSC 4 (1966), DSC 23 (1985), DSC 25 (1987), DSC 40 (2002), and the recent DSC 50 (2012).
What is a Tuckerization?
Tuckerization is the act of using a person's name in an novel or short story as an in-joke. The term is derived from Wilson "Bob" Tucker, a well-beloved (and sadly deceased) Science Fiction writer, fan and fanzine editor, who made a practice of using his friends' names for minor characters in his stories. Many genre authors auction off Tuckerizations at conventions with the proceeds going to charity.
This is also know as a Red Shirt or Redshirt, for the frequency with which such minor characters meet their demise.