MarsCon 2006
Holiday Inn Select
Bloomington, MN

March 3-5, 2006
things that gobump in thenight

Mars Today - February 2006

(Stop the presses! We break from our normal format to bring a special edition of Mars Today by Baron Dave.)

Welcome to Marscon 2006

A Brief Introduction For The First Time Con-Goer

By Baron Dave Romm, Marscon 2004 Fan Guest of Honor.

Welcome to Marscon 2006! There is no Neofan's Guide, as such, but I've been asked to provide an introduction for new fans. First thing to remember: everyone is amazingly friendly and will be happy to answer any questions you have. Just be prepared to get different answers from different people. Let's start with a quick and very incomplete glossary.

The Bridge or Ops
The Bridge, like the bridge of the USS Enterprise, is Operations central during the con. Go here to ask any questions, for Lost & Found, to volunteer after the Volunteer Table has closed, to Register after Registration has closed, to compliment the convention or anyone on the concom, and so on.
Short for convention, used (by us) to mean science fiction convention.
The convention committee
The Hospitality Suite (or set of rooms) where con members can get a soft drink and munchies or just hang out. Staffed by volunteers.
A science fiction fanatic or aficionado. How rabid/geeky you are may vary wildly, but people coming to cons have some appreciation for the genre. We appreciate SF for its speculative nature, the interplay of ideas and freedom to express our inner geek.
Plural of Fan, used interchangeably with fans. A bit rare nowadays, I'm including it here because I think it sounds cool.
Femfan or Fem fanne or fanne
Female fan. More than a little obsolete, thank Ghu, but shows the roots of fandom stretching back to the male-dominated sf fandom of the 20s and 30s whose reputation survives today when people poke fun at Trekkies and such.
Filk music is a variant on folk with an extremely wide definition that not everyone agrees on. You will likely find many musicians, both professional and amateur, singing all sorts of strange songs. They sing on the Main Stage during the day or in room parties late at night. Some give performances, others encourage you to sing along. Some filkers, such as those in the MN-STF room, will have songbooks so you can sing along. The Karaoke room(s) also have the lyrics. If you play the guitar or some other portable musical instrument, bring it to the circle and join the fun! The song(s) don't have to be funny or parodies or stfnal or original, though we encourage some combination of all four. Like many words in fandom, filk started out as a typo and we were amused enough to keep the term for our use.
Guest of Honor. Pronounced gee oh aitch or sometimes go. These are the featured speakers and guests of the convention. We are honoring their contribution to science fiction. Or else we think they're cool to party with. Preferably both.
Science Fiction
Ha! I'm not going to go there.

A full glossary is beyond the purview of this document (which is a fancy way of saying that I don't want to do all the typing) and you're likely to encounter other bits of fannish argot throughout the con. For larger glossaries, incomplete and possibly contradictory, visit Don Saker's Fanspeak Glossary, Glossary of Major Filk Terms and Words, Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Fanspeak Glossary and others. Google is your friend. If a word zips by you don't recognize, ask the person using it. We're all friendly here, even the Klingons.

Where was I? Oh yeah, Marscon 2006.

First thing to do: Get to the Hotel and rent a room. Okay, renting a room is optional but greatly encouraged (this is why they let us hold cons here). Second, go to Registration to get your badge and Program Book. Registration should be easy to find (it's on the second floor, where all the people are on line) or look around for the signs or just ask anyone.

Wear your badge at all times. This is not merely a security concern, but will help people know who you are, and you will know who they are. At least by badge name.

Experienced fans tend to wander about with friends, but many people (hold onto your propeller beanie) read the Program Book! The packet you get when you register will contain a great deal of information, such as the location of events. If you don't have anything else to get autographed, have people sign near one of their listings in the Program Book, and keep it as a collectable.

There is a lot of stuff going on at Marscon. Plan your day around Programming. Make time to see the Art Show, wander about the Science Room and reserve some cash to spend in the Dealers' Rooms. If you're a Gamer, check the schedule. The Dementia Music Track is fun (though not necessarily child-proof). Check the Program Book or signs nearby for schedules and last minute changes.

Opening Ceremonies (7pm Friday, Main Stage) is a must, introducing you to the concom and Guests of Honor with a dash of literary wit and geek weirdness. See and be seen. Connect with other fans.

For many, the con centers around the Masquerade, (8-10pm Saturday, Main Stage) with numerous costume workshops and demonstrations. For others, the con revolves around the Art Show with the Art Auction (6-7:30pm Saturday, Deimos) and Charity Auction (1-2:30pm Sunday, Main Stage).

Autographing sessions are there for you to get your book/whatever signed; perhaps buy something at the table they brought just for the con. They also to help you get to know the participants better. If the line is long, don't dawdle, but if the table is clear feel free to talk to them, especially if you bought something or got an autograph. Some guests are here as publicity or just came for the money, but most are also at these kinds of cons because they like to hang out with fans. This is one of the big differences between Professional cons and Fan Run cons.

Marscon is a kid-friendly environment, but we don't baby-sit and you're expected to wrangle your own charges. Parents should keep the very young close by, but the people in the Science Room are happy to show you the exhibits and (depending on the kids) families can visit the Art Show, hang out at the Main Stage and relax in the Consuite. We have a lot of gaming at Marscon: Games range from silly fun to serious battle simulations. Gamers range from grandparents to young teens. Parents should determine acceptable activities for their kids. Teens are encouraged to volunteer as Badgers and Gophers!

The Consuite(s), on the 13th Floor, will have food and drink and a convivial atmosphere. We won't have meals, as such, but feel free to graze on whatever is put out. The restaurant downstairs is okay, and if you're willing to drive a few miles you have lots of choices; you're near the airport and the Mall of America.

Remember, you are not an attendee of the convention, you are a member of the con. You are encouraged and expected to go to panels, talk to people, volunteer to be badger or gopher and in general help others also have fun. You don't have to do everything, certainly not all at once, but take the plunge into the con. It's for you.

Half the fun of conventions is the parties. Stick around after Programming ends and/or pay attention to the various Party announcements. If previous Marscons are an indication, there will be karaoke and filk rooms, Klingons, costumes and more. SF fans are known as heavy partyers, but that means staying up late. Alcohol is present in some parties but (with a few exceptions) we're not a heavy drinking crowd. We tend to take care of our own drunks; if you see someone you feel needs help, call the Bridge.

You can relive Marscons over and over. Some of the music CDs from the Dementia musicians were recorded at various Marscons, and the great Luke Ski is going to record his concert DVD here. Let's Play Doctor, The Shockwave Radio Theater performance at Opening Ceremonies at Marscon 2004, is still available. Go here for a list of Marscon 2005 pictures (and earlier). My own picture galleries include Marscon 2005 and Marscon 2004.

Finally, there are, for me, two things that make science fiction conventions feel like Home: Sensawonda and Egoboo.

Sensawonda, is the sense of wonder one gets at living in the future or getting caught up in the swirl of imagination. Gosh wow boy oh boy is the traditional cry, though hardly used by whippersnappers these days. Hey, this is fun! No one plays with ideas more than sf fans. People who you've never met become instant family. We are connected by possibilities.

And we only do it for fun. Egoboo, a boost to the ego, is the fannish currency. No one is getting paid, though some of the guests might get a speakers fee. All the committee and all the people on panels and all the people running the Art Show and all the people running the Science Room and so on and so forth... all are doing it for the love of the genre and to give and get recognition. Sure, Dealers are there for a profit and Artists are often there to sell their work. But the money isn't great, and the main reason anyone shows up is to have a good time. Encourage people! Applaud at performances. Thank Guests of Honor or panel members if you see them in the halls. Talk to people at parties. Let the Bridge know if a volunteer has done a particularly good job. Congratulate the people putting together the Program Book. Gush over a clever costume. Admire the signs. Thank people for running a party. Compliment a writer on their book or say nice things to a musician who's CD you play a lot.

See you there!

Baron Dave Romm is a real baron of a fake country. He produces Shockwave Radio Theater, now in its 28th year. He likes being weird at science fiction conventions, and encourages others to be so. This means you.

MarsCon 2006: Things that Go Bump in the Night
Holiday Inn Select, Bloomington, MN
March 3-5, 2006 -- All Weekend Long!

Current email: (Our email address changes often due to spam, spam, spam, wonderful spam. Surf to: for how to contact us if ever an address is not working.)

© 2006 FenSF, Inc., except for the part that's © Dave Romm. All Rights Reserved. This page last revised February 28, 2006 at 04:15 PM

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