Looking Forward

So you thought last year was busy? Even if you aren’t leaving the Bay Area for SoCal conventions or the state for Westercon and Worldcon this year you can still look forward to a packed calendar.

After a relatively quiet January during which to recover from the holidays things are already beginning to pick up. Further Confusion already came and went, and looking forward, this year promises to be a very busy one for Bay Area fandom. This month alone we can look forward to three major events; Wondercon, PantheaCon and DunDraCon, as well as newer/lesser-known offerings such as Animation of Display — now in its sixth year — and a local concert by geek superstar Jonathan Coulton, of “Re: Your Brains” and “Greetings from Chiron Beta Prime” fame.

This month also should see submittal of the final plans for Viz Media’s proposed J-pop center in Japantown, which is apparently slated to include a 150-seat movie theater dedicated to anime and other Japanese pop culture, as well as a bookstore, boutiques and a cafe. A Maid Cafe perhaps? If all goes well the center may be open by the end of the year.

All of the usual conventions are back of course. BayCon’s theme is Space Pirates — which is bound to be a big, loud, drunken, hit. Fanime is also on Memorial Day weekend, alas — but it seems that many folks manage to hit both conventions anyway. Contact: Cultures of the Imagination returns to the NASA Ames Research Center after a one-year hiatus. Later in the year we can look forward to SiliCon, Yaoicon and APE. Those not making the pilgrimage to San Diego for Comic-Con may be able go to the wine country instead for Vintacon. And there are even some wild rumors floating around that there is a Con-X-Treme 2 in the works.

The most exciting event we can look forward to is definitely Costume-Con 26, chaired by the evilest genius of them all, Kevin Roche, and to be held at the good old San Jose Doubletree. From the look of things so far it promises to be of interest to both hardcore costumers and those of us who enjoy costuming as a part of the overall convention experience without ever hoping to acquire the skills to recreate a historically accurate Elizabethan gown.

Consonance, the local filk convention, returns in March. But throughout the year we can also look forward to performances by The Phenomenauts, The Aquabats, The TomorrowMen, and Warp 11. Local independent movie theaters El Cerrito, Parkway Speakeasy and the Mighty Clay all have exciting genre events on their respective schedules, and although licensing issues shut down the immensely popular Buffy sing-alongs, there are still plenty of other things to look forward to including returning favorites like Thrillville with Will the Thrill and Monica (and often as not, Mr. Lobo) and Midnight Mass with Peaches Christ.

For those more inclined towards civilized fare, PEERs has a full slate of balls scheduled for all tastes and themes: Regency, Swing, American Civil War, Fantasy and even Steampunk. The Golden Gate Renaissance Faire returns, as do the larger faires later in the year.

If you have two left feet or are simply disinclined towards hijinks, there will no doubt be plenty of author signings and events; SFinSF has already hosted their first reading for the year at the Variety Preview Room. Conlan Press is releasing an unabridged audiobook of The Last Unicorn. Tachyon Publications has a slate of excellent-looking anthologies scheduled for publication, as well as a new edition of The Stress of Her Regard, probably my favorite book by this year’s BayCon GOH, Tim Powers.

Night Shade Books continues to dazzle with gorgeous covers and a nice selection of upcoming releases like the intriguingly titled The Mall of Cthulhu. McSweeney’s dodged a bullet last year and not only survived but thrived, and the pirate store at 826 Valencia is now part of a network of 826 stores in several cities. The local bookstore scene is seemingly back on an even keel after what felt like a rash of store closures in the last couple of years.

On the science front, Ask a Scientist returns for another year of salons and NASA CoLab’s new series of Luna Philosophie discussions looks interesting. For those of a more practical, less philosophical bent, Robogames returns to Fort Mason in June.

In short, there’s something for everybody and a few other things besides, so get out there and enjoy yourself this year. And if you manage to take some notes and some photos while you’re at it, feel free to submit them to our fanzine.

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #59, February 2008