SheVaCon 17 was held in Roanoke during Feb. 27 through March 1, and attracted a large enough crowd so it seems likely it will continue.
The writer guest of honor was Larry Niven, who had a signing table the first night. He signed up to six books at a time, and the line of people carrying his books stretched down a hallway in the motel for the best part of an hour.
“I’ve written everything you can describe — except bodice rippers,” Niven said during the first of many panels he was on. He said he had to do extensive research for a novel; “I can believe anything for the duration of a short story.” When a panel started talking about technology today which would have been science fiction a few decades earlier, Niven commented, “I love my GPS.” He felt the same way about his cell phone: “Don’t use it for anything but a phone, and it’s still wonderful.”
A panel on research had one member talk about how what he was researching changed every time he studied up on it. “What were you researching, Mars?” Niven asked. “They change Mars every year.”
He said he flunked out of the California Institute of Technology in the 1950s partly because he discovered a used bookstore jammed with SF magazines. He eventually earned a degree in mathematics from Washburn (Kansas) University.
Other guests included art guest Joe Corroney (known for his Star Wars work) and media guest Jeremy Bulloch (who played Boba Fett in two Star Wars movies). There was also a builders’ group which produced R2D2 lookalikes, providing attendees with opportunities to have their pictures taken with a “droid.” Author Catherine Asaro, who combines romantic elements with Analog-style hard SF, was there for the second and third days. Writer Allen Wold headed a writers’ workshop for aspiring story-tellers, as he has for a number of years. Nearly a dozen lesser-known writers rounded out any number of interesting panels during the three days. A masquerade and art show and auction were also held. Films and anime were shown in small rooms.
One panel discussed whether classic SF movies needed to be remade. The recent remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still was generally given as an example of why they should not. Others cited were Invasion of the Body Snatchers (remade at least three times, the last two under altered titles), King Kong (two times), Invaders from Mars, The Thing and War of the Worlds. In most cases, the original movie was deemed sufficient. One member of the audience, Anita Allen, suggested choosing bad SF movies to remake and do it right the second time, instead of capitalizing on the classics. One example of that might have been the remake of Roger Corman’s It Conquered the World, but Zontar, the Thing from Venus was even worse.
An extremely popular panel dealt with comic books being made into movies. It drew perhaps the largest crowd of any panel all weekend, with many of those attending looking forward to the release of The Watchmen movie.
Several authors gave readings, including Steve White and Catherine Asaro. Asaro mentioned nasty letters from “venomous fans” who accused her of corrupting “hard SF” with her romantic elements.
The guest of honor speeches were delayed for lack of equipment. Finally, Niven took the podium and asked if those in the back of the room could hear him. When the answer came back yes, he continued: “I’ve just found out we’ve been waiting around for 20 minutes for someone to find a microphone. Screw that,” and gave his speech.
Even the last-day panels drew respectable audiences, even though a snowstorm threatened to make travel hazardous for some driving home. A note on the back of the convention pamphlet cited artist Stephen Hickman as an art guest next February for SheVaCon 18. Further information will be available on line at: www.shevacon.org.
—Paul Dellinger, Y-30 Staff