My Weekend at DucKon
I spent this last weekend at the DucKon Science Fiction Convention as the Science Guest of Honor. I was both flattered and honored when the organizers selected me as Science GOH. It is worth pointing out that it was my love of science fiction, especially hard SF and SF dealing with human settlement of the Solar System, that got me interested in science in general and astronomy and planetary geology in particular.
Arriving at the con at 5:00 or so on Friday, I had to get checked in, pick up my registration, and get my artwork set up in the Art Show. I brought seven pieces with me, one of which I donated to the Super-Con-Duck-Tivity Charity Auction. This was especially fun because I told the staffers that they would have to pick which one of my seven pieces they thought would bring in the most money and that would be the one that I would donate. The fun part was listening as they weighed the pros and cons of each piece. In the end they choose NGC 7000, a digital astrophotography piece. The other six pieces in the art show were:
- Fate of the Sister Star – an impressionist interpretation of a supernova,
- In the Stream of Stars – a blue gas giant planet against a background “stream” of stars,
- A Moonish Mars – a view of the region of Pickering Crater created from a composite of Viking orbiter images,
- The Face on Mars – a color rendition of the “Face” using Mars Global Surveyor Narrow Angle Camera data,
- Intus Astrum Navis – a 3D surreal rendering of the interior of an alien star ship,
- Mistress Moon – a Photoshop created version of the Earth's Moon.
My hat is off to Melissa, who ran the art show, and to Trouble whose assistance was invaluable. Both ladies encouraged me to participate in this fall's Windycon SF convention and I might just take them up on it.
Friday evening's activities consisted of the opening ceremonies, the high point for which was having a vulture from the World Bird Sanctuary flying around the room inches over the audience's heads. Following was the Spacetime Theater's presentation of Dancing With the Star Wars which was a mix of improv and comedy routines. Following the show I spent my time in conversation with various folks: some old friends and some new.
Saturday was a busy day during which I gave two presentations and chaired one panel. I was pretty happy with how my presentation of The NSS Space Settlement Art Contest turned out. I was even happier to have a full house for my The Universe According to Monty Python talk, which I had to rush somewhat since my analysis of this two and a half minute song actually has a little more than an hour's worth of material. I met up with my space artist friends Walter Myers and Tom Peters for our panel Space Art: Voyage to a New Frontier. Tom had brought along several of his pieces to facilitate discussion. Walt had also brought art but, like me, he had it all in the art show. Dinner that night saw me, Walt, Tom and his wife heading out for a steak dinner.
Later that evening Walt and I attended the con's art auction. Sotheby's it wasn't. An art auction at a SF convention is far more fun. The auctioneers and runners did a great job of selling artwork while simultaneously entertaining the audience. Afterwards Walt and I made the rounds of the parties, er hospitality suites. One such venue was serving a particularly appealing mysterious blue liquid: an interesting combination of tasty and deadly.
Sunday morning I was sitting in the con's Green Room having coffee and a late breakfast when I was joined by the con's guest of honor Alan Dean Foster. Surprisingly our conversation was centered around people we knew and family, and not science fiction. I was then off to deliver my Imaging Mars presentation in which I provide an overview of how people can process Mars science mission imaging data for themselves.
Checking in at the Art Show I was pleased to learn that four of my six pieces had sold, not counting the piece I donated which had also sold at the previous night's auction. Surprising to me was that The Face on Mars had not sold. My supposition that it would be the most appealing piece to an SF audience was obviously incorrect.
And that was pretty much the end of my weekend at DucKon. I do expect to return next year with a new lineup of both presentations and art for the auction.
Ad Astra, Jim