Every fall I look forward to attending Philcon, the science fiction convention hosted by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS). The organization was formed in 1935, and in 1936, founder Milton Rothman and his friends invited science fiction fans from New York to join them in what became the first science fiction convention.
Since 2008 the convention has been held in The Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ — right across the Delaware River from Philadelphia. The move to Cherry Hill has made the trip easier for me since I no longer have to pay for parking or bridge tolls.
This year’s principal speaker was science fiction author Cory Doctorow. Artist guests of honor were Boris Vallejo (who, I heard, was unable to attend due to illness) and Julie Bell, and the music guest of honor was S. J. Tucker.
The convention has the traditional dealers’ room, art show, and con suite. One meeting room is devoted to panels about science, which is something I particularly enjoy about the con. Along with the traditional panels on a variety of topics, activities include author readings, a writers’ workshop, concerts and filking, fan gaming, films, anime, the Time Travelers’ Ball, and the Masquerade. The range of activities is so extensive it would take at least four or five of me to see it all. I always wish that I could have seen more.
Here’s a small sampling of the programs and panels available:
- Ghost stories
- Kitchen science
- Lightsaber practice
- Zombie survival plan
- Rube Goldberg machines
- fantasy mask making
- how to develop a stage presence
- costume philosophy
- costume & garment embellishment — when do you stop?
- Filk 101
- Filk theme circle
- Science fiction music
- Illustration, photography, and digital art
- The business of art
- The basics of composition
- Space art — Capturing the universe
- Comics — the art of sequential storytelling
- Dark matter gets darker: new discoveries, new mysteries
- Not your father’s gravity
- Advances in gene therapy
The sky’s the limit: amateurs and astronomy
- Tapping the quantum foam: can “zero point” energy ever be real?
- Anime and the revolving door of culture
- The visual language of anime
- Battleship Yamato: past, present, future
- Astro Bay to Naruto: the animes that captured our culture
- In their own words: the business of voice acting
- Is science fiction going away?
- Does military science fiction glorify war?
- Is steampunk here to stay?
- Science fiction not published as science fiction
- Portrayal of the disabled in sF media and literature
- Creating new fantasy creatures
- The use of dreams in fantasy
- Not your father’s zombies
The evolution of Dracula since Bram Stoker
- Images of heroism in literature and art
- Edition wars: comparing the versions of D & D
- Game making 101: basic game design
- Game making 101:publishing and marketing your game
- You all meet in a tavern: starting you RPG
- Role-playing games: online versus tabletop
- Experimental fiction
- Story openings
- Hammering down the expository dump
- The career of a short a story writer
- Types of copyright
- Podcasting” can you hear me now?
- Social skills for the socially challenged
Science and art: conflict or creation?
- Appreciating diversity in fandom
- Internet privacy and you
- Remembering author L. A. Banks
- SF Jeopardy
- The SF Quiz Show
- It’s time to play the music, it’s time to light the lights … mee the Muppets
- Pirate, ninja, alien, big damn space hero — who wins?
The Eye of Argon — dramatic(?) reading
I’m looking forward to next year’s convention. Maybe I’ll see you there!