I-Con Turns 25

by Jon Minners

Read the official G-Pop Review of I-CON 25 by Melissa Minners

I had a strange dream.  Mike Donovan, Darth Vader, Han Solo, Starbuck, Cornelius, a Cylon, a Klingon, a Vulcan, a Wookie, Buck Rogers, Captain Kirk and Inuyasha were in the same room together with hundreds of people around singing happy birthday, as the eclectic sci-fi icons blew out the candles to mark a milestone occasion. 

And while that was just a dream, the reality of the situation was clear as hundreds of science fiction buffs (close to 6,000 to be exact) lined up outside SUNY Stony Brook on the weekend of March 23, some in complete costumes, from anime attire to sci-fi regalia, to celebrate the 25th Anniversary of the highly anticipated I-Con convention. 

"A quarter century has come and gone, but I suspect that many of you have been attending for long enough to see firsthand some of the things that can be done when you gather dedicated people together in the pursuit of a common dream," said Lorena Stuart, event coordinator.  "Science fiction, fact, fantasy and horror are humanity's attempts to envision 'what if.'  The threads, which bind together all these genres, are the strength of the human spirit, and the hope for betterment.  They are a testing ground for tomorrow, from the most utopian vision of the ideal society to the most gritty working of what could go wrong; these genres show us the lengths to which we can soar and the travails which we can overcome.  They are windows to the essential parts of humanity and as event coordinator, I think that this interpretation is a perfect lens through which we can look at what we have been trying to do with I-Con."

For those not in the know, the I-Con is a three-day festival designed to encourage literacy, creativity and interest in science and technology, through science fiction and its related genres.  Some 25 years ago, a handful of students who loved science fiction and dedicated a year's worth of time, created this convention for a total of 500 people, turning it into something so large, it is now considered to be the Northeast's largest convention of science fiction, fact and fantasy. 

"I believe, that as volunteers, we do this, not for the money or acclaim, but for a chance to give something back," said Stuart.  "I think what really drives most of us is the opportunity to be an active champion of something we truly love.  Attached to every single staff, executive and committee badge, there's a person who cares about something we do enough to devote a very considerable portion of their energy to make sure it gets to you."

And did they bust their ass this year!  I-Con 25 featured an expanded dealer room with everything from DVDs, comic books, manga, graphic novels, soundtracks, collectible cards, books, t-shirts, various antiques and knick knacks and so much more from the independent businessman to such companies as Crash Media Group and Media-Blasters, up for sale.  (Note to organizers, I miss the knives and swords.) 

The art show was moved to accommodate its expanded size with just a plethora of paintings and sculptures featuring a myriad of styles that included panel discussions and workshops incorporated into the showroom.  My personal favorites were the chess piece designs and one naughty Little Mermaid piece. 

Of course there was gaming for computer fans, a masquerade ball for those who dressed up for the three days and viewings for movies like Narnia and Serenity and anime such as Vampire Hunter D.  There was even an advanced screening of the new Sci-Fi Channel series Ghosthunters

And then there were the stars who came out from many of our favorite media.  New York Times bestselling author Terry Brooks, who wrote the novelization to Star Wars: Episode I: The Phantom Menace, along with a number of other great works, including his bestselling Word & Void Trilogy and the Sword of Shannara Saga, was on hand as a guest of honor. 

George Takei, a.k.a. Sulu, came out to greet Trekkies everywhere.  Speaking of Star Trek, Kevin Sorbo of Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys also took time out of his busy schedule to visit fans. 

Cassanda Peterson, who is known far and wide as Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, was in attendance signing autographs and greeting fans in the dealer room.  Marjean Holden, of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Beastmaster: The Series, was there as well along with my personal favorite, Marc Singer of V, the Beastmaster movies and the television series.  Singer took time to shake everyone's hand, even those who did not pay for autographs or pictures. 

Richard Hatch, of both the old and new Battlestar Galactica series, was also a featured guest during the show.  Unfortunately, Erin Gray, the hottie from Buck Rogers, couldn't make it, but that's ok...we had Aerosith on hand to perform for the fans.  Rock on!!!  In addition to established stars and quirky bands, rising artists were on hand as well, including Patrick Thomas of the increasingly popular Murphy's Lore book series. 

New author, Charles J. Marino, who wrote Dominant Life Form, purchased a table for the first time in hopes of getting his work out to the public.  "This is my first time on the vendor side of the table," he said.  "It's just amazing.  This is the place to be."

And next year is supposed to be as big, if not better.  "Some may wonder how we got to be as big as we did, but I for one have no doubt whatsoever," said Stuart.  "Twenty-five years worth of love and imagination is a pretty powerful force.  Everyone here at I-Con has a vision to share, whether that is a vision of the future of a favorite genre, the direction of the con or the betterment of humanity itself through science fiction and its related genres; in some way, each of us has contributed to this dream.

For more information on this and future I-Cons, go to www.iconsf.org.

Read the official G-Pop Review of I-CON 25 by Melissa Minners

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