Capricon 2016 – A Chicagoland fan con for everyone!
When February rolls around, Chicagoland fans make the trek up to the Westin North Shore hotel in Wheeling, IL for Capricon, a 4 day sci-fi convention put on by Phandemonium, Inc. In its 36th year, Capricon has built a reputation on being fan friendly and inclusive with something for everyone. My goal for Capricon was to try to experience as much as I could in the time I was given. Many fan cons are Friday to Sunday affairs so having a whole extra day of con time seemed promising but, as with any convention, no matter how much time and how many good intentions, there is always too much to do and see!
This year’s theme was “Once Upon A Capricon…” with a focus on storytelling. Panels throughout the weekend included Zeerust: How Authors Got the Future Wrong, Evolving Meanings Behind Urban Fantasy Creatures, The Resurgence of Serial Storytelling, Late Night Adult Mad Libs, How To Create A Book Cover, Religion in SF/F, The History of the Book, and so many more interspersed among tons of author readings!
Early Thursday panels included How the Voice/Mannerisms of Characters Define the Character and Mythical Beasts in Lore, Stories, and Games. At 5pm, I swung by the Scott Lynch & Elizabeth Bear panel called Heists, Capers, & Jobs: Crime Stories in SF&F. They held a fantastic talk that dissected what makes for a good caper/heist and discussed their favorites. I felt like I left that panel with a few years worth of TV shows, movies, and books to watch & read.
Amy (my sidekick for the weekend) arrived after the Heist panel and our good intentions for the evening gave way to relaxing with beers at a brewpub across the street from the hotel but we did manage to get ourselves back in time to check out the Books and Beer room party! Some folks from Minnesota held a beer tasting and, if you know me, you know I can’t resist a beer tasting!
On Friday, I had my first round of interviews with the Guests of Honor. Over the next few days we’ll be releasing all of my interviews, so be sure to keep an eye out for them! Friday interviews included Artist Guest of Honor, Eric Wilkerson, Dance Guest of Honor, Mae The Bellydancer, and Author Guest of Honor, Scott Lynch. From there, I went to the panel called Non-Binary Gender in Stories. The panel description said “Asexual or non-binary gender characters are almost universally used in a way to make them less human. Why is this, and what can we do to change it?” Unfortunately for the panelists, this panel got a bit derailed by the audience watching, many of whom didn’t have the understanding of the vocabulary needed to have the conversation they were hoping to have but some questions around the topic made it through and the panelists all showed patience and passion. After the panel, I met up with a couple of friends in the gaming lounge and we played Splendor before heading off to dinner. Post-dinner, we made our way to see Mae The Bellydancer’s troupe, The Glint, perform. We managed to catch the last few acts and it was lovely. From there, we went to check out another panel Scott Lynch was speaking on called When the Heroes are Bad Guys. The panel was moderated by Elizabeth Bear and also had Chris Gerrib (author of Pirates of Mars) on it as they all spoke about the differences between villains, heroes, and anti-heroes and crafting stories around those characters.
Saturday rolled around and kicked off with more interviews! This time, I interviewed Mark Oshiro of Mark Does Stuff, Stacey Gordon of Die Puppet Die, and the Fan Guest of Honor, Wendy Zdrodowski. From there, I ran upstairs to start getting into my Klingon gear, picked up Joe from the train station, and we played our first convention gig of 2016! We debuted 2 new songs for the con-goers – a translation I worked on with John Harness of Danzig’s “Mother” and a translation of Twisted Sister’s “We’re Not Gonna Take It”. We had a couple of mistakes here & there but we packed the room as the set went on, got invited back to Capricon next year, and secured an invitation to WindyCon this year! After my performance, I sat in on part of the Depression In Fandom panel with Marinda Darnell, Scott Lynch, Evan Middleton, and Helen Montgomery. This was a really moving discussion on the struggles of the panelists, the place they’ve found in fandom, and ways they have found to cope. After dropping my guitar player off at the train again, we grabbed dinner and started hitting the room parties! We did some booty shaking at Barfleet who were serving up Alice In Wonderland inspired cocktails, I colored at the coloring room party, and then we made our way back to the Books & Beer party from Thursday night. Played some Chrononauts at 2am in the game lounge and hit our beds at 3am! Now that was a solid day of convention going!
Sunday involved sleeping late and lots of folks were starting to check out. I stopped by the Capricon Cafe to check out the open jam session of filkers while I drank my coffee and then made a final pass through the Dealers Room to buy stuff followed by making a dash to sit in on Mark Oshiro’s reading from his upcoming YA book, An Insidious Thing, that he’s working on! From there, we checked out of the hotel, packed up our cars, and waved good-bye to Capricon 36!
Capricon offers the best of the Midwest hospitality and fandom – an inclusive environment, friendly people, and something to do for everyone! I never even made it into the art show, I was so busy! The guests of honor were incredibly generous with their time and I appreciated the chance to get to sit down and talk to them!
This is Jen Usellis-Mackay for The G&T Show signing OUT from Capricon 36!
But, wait. There’s more.
He is the co-owner of Busy Little Beaver Productions and is the producer and co-host for G & T Show and Gates of Sto’vo’kor. He’s directed voice actors, and produced and edited audio podcasts and dramas because he doesn’t have the face for video. He plays well with others and is always on the look out for the next project, the next thing, the next next. If he wasn’t working on something with a half dozen other projects waiting in the wings, somebody please check to make sure he’s still breathing.
During the day, he’s a mild-mannered computer repair man who dabbles in web design in his small, rural, Central California community. He lives with his lovingly dysfunctional family and loyal canine companion and spends most of his time in the closet concocting some hair-brained scheme or another. He’s got an unhealthy obsession with Lego video games, Klingons, and Star Trek Online that borders on the neurotic.
Despite all this, he still finds the time to write the words. Find out what he's doing here.
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