This is going to be very rambling. I didn't keep a 4 hourly diary, so things are kind of fogged for me in the delirious glow of sleep deprivation that was Genghiscon 2005. Er, let's see, we arrived at 12:00 on Friday to help set up generally and to set up the video room which was Rob's job, he being the video stream landscaper.
We did that and other things in order to get the Con underway, and got the video stream going dead on 4.00pm as was required. Opening ceremony? I think there was one but it was brief and we could get on with the serious business of having too much fun at a convention know for its having funability. Part of this was partaking in our Evil Genghis Must Die game, which is a Killer style game based mostly on Kill Evil Stevie from Steve Jackson Games.
We started by making it part of the Roving Panel, which involved walking around in the Genghis and Bodyguard group to various knots of people outside, while Assassins tried to hit Genghis with single shot foam darts, the bodyguards had rapid fire foam disk machine guns.
It was a lot of fun, and we had a lot of very talented bodyguards and assassins. Rob, as Genghis, was confident in our ability to protect him, and caused endless frustration for his bodyguards by charging willy nilly into the line of fire. Something that seemed to happen quite a bit with successive Genghises. A whole lot of fun, and something that I think that we'll ask next year's committee if we can run again.
After dinner, which was Jester's Pies we introduced some con goers to "Are You a Werewolf?" from Looney Labs. It was a (ahem) roaring success, at least for the werewolves, who won most of the time. Present were; Scott, Chris, Zalina, Ken, Kevin, Shelley, Adam, Trevor, Craig, Wayne, Kerry, Elaine and Leece & Rob. Oh dear. Notable events: Craig's tendency to become the Seer and be immediately eaten or lynched. Wayne and Zalina for the first couple of games were werewolves and got away with it scott free.
The McCaw family seem to have a strong werewolf gene! Yeah, when in doubt, lynch a McCaw seemed to work pretty well...sort of... In the final game of the night Kerry was confronted with deciding which of two people were werewolves, and finally, someone made the Right Choice. This was something that eluded players for most of the evening. A huge success, and a lot of fun.
We also had 2 games of Bronny's cute game, Scotland Yard. This is a pretty cool game, chasing a mostly invisible foe, with a police force that has had it's transport budget severely cut. Very cool. In the first game, Bronny Showed Us How The Monster Worked, and was apprehended by Detective Rob. In the second game, Elaine was Mr X, and was apprehended by Detective Leece. Playing were Rob, Leece, Elaine, Bronwyn, Craig, Mark and Dean. This many people put poor Mr X at quite a disadvantage, I can see that this would be darn difficult with fewer detectives.
I was on first aid duties during this period, but luckily no one needed me. The Oricom walky talkies have been invaluable to Committee and Minions during the Con, and our usual two ways have, of course been invaluable to Rob and I. I'm not sure what Mark S thinks when we foist the spare off on to him....
We watched some of the video stream and then went to bed. Unfortunately we had a very loud party in the room opposite, and despite 3 increasingly terse requests for a bit of quiet and much less door slammings the constant traffic to and fro it meant we had much less sleep than we budgeted for. The delicious hot cooked breakfast that came with the accomodation was only served from 7:00-8:30am, so we got up at 7:00 after about 3 hours sleep, and went to have breakfast and do our morning duties.
Saturday morning breakfast was very good. We played the Great Wall of China variant of Settlers of Catan: Greg/Matt, Mark/Bronny, Rob and Leece. The Mark/Bronny combo saved China. We played Ticket to Ride, during which time my retailer turned up with a load of merch, and we set up the shop and left the retailer to it, and went back to our game. After that we fired up another Evil Genghis Must Die game, and left that in glorious mahem and went off to a nice picnic lunch.
After lunch I had my Build a better critter panel, where with the help of the studio audience we designed a cute furry cockroach catcher that glides (frog, sugarglider,cat genes), a water tiger (Old Seadog - otter, tiger, electric eel and Amazon dolphin genes) that warns of and defends from sharks while you're snorkelling, an organic airfreshner and exfoliator (Portugese Man 'o War, giant clam and something we haven't quite worked out yet that produces helium) and we just had time enough to Build a Better Unicorn!
Rob and Graham Mann had a panel on commercial space flight during which I did a bit of Genghising, and then took photos at the aforementioned panel, which was very interesting...mmm Space Elevators.
And then we had our officially Looney Lab endorsed Rob's Looney Lab experiments, where Rob introduced good fine people, to good, fine games. First a quick couple of rounds of Are You A Werewolf? which was a real crowd pleaser. Then we split into two groups, one to play Fluxx, and the other to play Nanofictionary, among which were, myself, Kevin, Rob, Mark B & Matt. We were lucky with the Nanofictionary, we were able to rope in real live authors to judge our results!
Mark B won!
On the other table, playing Fluxx, we had: David, Meriki, Elaine W, Kerry, Anna H & Hubby (sorry, brainfade...someone remind me((thanks Mark - I now know it's Art - sorry Art, I did actually remember but I wasn't sure, and I thought it would be better to admit that than put down the wrong name!))) and other people who I can't remember, sorry... I also have no idea who won. They all seemed to be enjoying it though.
We had to do some coverage in the video room, we watched MST3K and eventually fixed the (un)sound system. In the end it turned out to be the tape, and not the sound system itself...oh thanks Tony The Great for all your help, your wonderful screen &c We were then able to join the bbq hordes and really appreciated the free food. Mmmm. Chookebabs. Delicious. We flaked out on the grass, talking to Danny Oz and others in the evening's falling light and rising mosquitoes. We rounded the evening off by doing our stint in the video room.
I would've liked to watch all of "As Time Goes By" again, but we REALLY needed the sleep and sanity prevailed. Great Australian SF film with Max Gillies. If you haven't seen it, go and rent it from Planet, it is just so good. If you're Australian and have a sense of humour, it is a must see.
Only a few random door bangings that night, we probably got 5 hours sleep, but felt much worse this morning than yesterday. Felt a bit better after coffee and breakfast and went to play Ticket to Ride. Rob had a first aid call, and came back in time for the end of the game.
We then started playing a humungous game of Munchkin which was eventually abandoned by most people for the AGM (how dull!) and which was won by Wez, if I recall correctly.
I then had a couple of cut-throat games of Fluxx with Mark Turnley's younger brother, (sorry, namefade again) who turned out to be very sharp at the game and very quick at the rules.
The AGM came out, and we had lunch after Rob cleared our room. We then played one of Craig's wierd German cardgames he seems to have an endless supply of. It's called 6 Nimmt and I'm sure I'll be better at it when I'm awake. I went down in meteoric descent! In flames, even. But it was fun.
We started a game of Mu, ha ha ha and Craig and I so cleaned up in the first round it really wasn't funny. Well, yes it was. Pity we had to abandon it, best I've ever done in Mu. Ah well.
Then the closing ceremony occurred, Rob insisted that I go, I hate going because that means the Con's really over. But he wanted me to go and he was committee so I went. It were'nt that bad I guess. Especially the auction. Anyone wanna buy a President?
The President's mum was in the consortium that won the bid, and there's rumours that she's going to make her clean her room!
Great convention and well organised, a good introduction to SF conventions in general and a warm and friendly atmosphere, and a good mix of streams. My grateful thanks to everyone's hard work and sense of fun. Thanks guys and gals.
Cool stuff I wish I'd seen or had the inclination at the time to do: Buld your Own Trebuchet with Chris Creagh. The working cardboard models this workshop produced were very, very impressive! "Learn to Play Terraform Battlecruiser" a new game by local game designer Wez Lamont, looked very interesting, unfortunately I was not in any shape at any time during the con to learn a new strategy game. I'd like to try to catch it later. The CoC LARP would've been interesting too and Munchkin D&D must have been a hoot.
Until next year, this is leece signing out from post Genghiscon.
Mark S doesn't mind having the radio as it averages being quite useful about once every evening. Biggest worry is my paranoia about losing it, and a tendancy to leave it in room at start of day until brain wakes up and I go and retrieve it.
Anna's husband's name is Art, her sons are Isaac and Eve. I can't remember the baby girls name...
I hope to have the oppourtunity to make up for my late crash and burn with 6nimmt. Until the last round I was leading by a mile! Stupid cards, Stupid Orcs. >:(
How about that astounding start we had with Mu! Amazing. Of course we then had to abandon the game. Typical. The one time I actually look like making a showing...Craig doesn't count, he wins too much anyway. :-)
Note that I hereby consent to this review being reproduced in any media that is not intended primarily for profit. Such is likely to include Webpages, Fanzines and small-print-run books. I'd ask for my name to be credited just as "Catherine Jemma". Any editing done should be reasonable.
Genghiscon # 4 (28 to 30 Jan 2005)
Perth's annual Science Fiction and Fantasy convention (known as "SwanCon") has been running successfuly for the last 30 odd years, and I myself have attended the last 10 or so.
However over the last several years a number of smaller "mini-conventions" have been organised and run. Usually these, although still science fiction and fantasy based, will have a particular theme a slightly different leaning.
Genghiscon was originally conceived as a cheaper convention to attend (without paid international guests for example) with more emphasis on "gaming". As such the attendance averages a lower age than "SwanCons, including many university students.
I attended a "Genghiscon" for the first time last year. Then it was held at "St Catherine's" college which is a university student accomodation facility, and that 'con was full to the legal capacity of 110 people attending.
This year, being the 4th Genghiscon to be held, was at "Trinity" a student accomodation college located right next door to last year's venue. This facility is considerably larger and superior and allowed a larger number, of some 120 people to attend. There is even room for some further expansion of numbers to occur in future.
In speaking to other con-go-ers, there was a belief that over the last few years SwanCon had gotten into a bit of a rut, becoming somewhat of an annual re-union of "the old guard". Well watch out, because Genghis is snapping at your heels. SwanCons are known for being quite friendly, but Genghiscons, partly because they are smaller, do seem to be friendly-er. I'd suggest future SwanCons have a "meet-and-great" volunteer stationed at the entry door, with particular attention being paid to first timers and younger attendees.
Note that GenghisCons choose this time of year, because only during the Christmas/New Year period is the student accomodation available (this being in between academic school year periods).
Located in Crawley-Nedlands area, across the road from the main University of WA buildings, Trinity college evolved from amalgamating the old Kingswood college with other neighbouring establishments. This means that it has plenty of separate rooms available as convention room areas, plus a range of cheap overnight accomodation options. I myself chose the $ 55 per night option of the bedroom with ensuite bathroom and this price included a full cooked breakfast on both mornings. Both cheaper and dearer room options were available (all included breakfasts).
The breakfast as available at the dining hall on Saturday and Sunday mornings was absolutely fabulous, and you could go back for a second serving, so enough to keep you going most of the day !
Trinity was undergoing some renovations at the time and this did cause some minor hassles for organisers, having to change some things, and I understand that the only access to the Men's toilet in the convention rooms area was by a labyrinthian maze and staircase that would've confused most hobbits even. However I found Trinity to be an excellent venue with respect to the convention rooms, with good value accomodation and excellent breakfast catering. I would recommend that future Genghiscon organising committees continue to use this accomodation college for future conventions. Plenty of off-street car-parking is available, and public transport buses pass right by.
With a number of small rooms, plus a large common-room with a folding wall, it is well suited to GenghisCons, with it's focus on Gaming. The one failing of Trinity is that the convention rooms are mostly upstairs and there is zero wheelchair access upstairs. I suggest future booking infomation simply make clear that con-go-ers need to be able to negotiate one flight of steps, if they wish to attend. Two of the main committee members both had some difficulties with mobility, but managed to get around ok.
OK so what was on at Genghis this year ?
Well from 4 pm Friday 28 th to 4 pm Sunday 30 th January it was pretty much full on, all the time.
Genghiscon allocated 3 rooms for Gaming purposes, plus one room dedicated for panels. Many panels weren't just talks either, some including demonstrations etc (including the making of deadly Trebuchet catapults.......well working cardboard models anyway)
The "Common-Room" as already mentioned usually had at least one if not more things going on in there pretty much all the time.
In a square bounded by 4 buildings, Trinity has a lovely grassed central lawn area of approx one-and-a-half acres I'd guesstimate, partly shaded by trees around the area of the picnic tables and this was pretty much constantly in use. (Note to overseas folks, remember that Perth is a Mediterranean subtropical climate similar to Los Angeles or Southern Spain and this is our mid-Summer period. The days were beautiful and fine with temperatures in the high 20's and low 30's Celcius, the nights cooler but still comfortably warm).
Here's some of what went on in that outdoor area
Saturday morning there was free scones, in a Morning Tea and talk session with long standing WA fan and university academic "Grant Stone" (hey did you see him in the newspaper article on "collectables" recently ?)
There was Juggling (including with illuminated things, after dark), Master Wing Chung led a morning martial arts demonstration and lesson. Familiar to previous SwanCon go-ers for his Aikido demonstration and lesson, he also was on the panel with Paul Kidd and others "Katori, Martial Arts and Swords". Indeed this demonstration was more than the room-building itself could contain so that aspect later moved out onto the central lawn. This item was very popular, I did a head count of the audience while in the panel-room and came up with 26, so this was one of the most attended items at the whole 'Con.
Belly Dancing was scheduled, it might've happened (I didn't see it, but hey I couldn't be everywhere at once, and there was just s-o much going on to choose from), lessons and a safety session preceded the "Combat L.A.R.P." (note = Live-Action-Role-Playing that is dressing up and hitting each other with plastic/foam rubber swords...........there was a panel-workshop item preceding this so you could make your own sword ready)
I must say a special thank-you here for the Kalamunda Governor Stirling Archery Club who attended with 5 of their members plus 12 loaner bows for people to try. This was on Sunday morning, they arrived early and set up their targets in a roped off part of the lawn area, but this item was so popular that even by halfway through Saturday, the sign-up sheets for this activity, were fully booked out. There were 2 one hour sessions for 12 people each time. Future convention organisers should consider this item again for inclusion in future Con's.
Doug Burbidge was due to hold a fencing demonstration and class there too. I'm afraid I missed this but last I heard some 20 folks had already signed up for that one.
Note that only a handful of items had to be signed up for in advance, where organisers could only cope with a limited number of participants for example. Pretty much all other items at the 'Con, you simply turn up for. The membership fee for the 3 days was just $25 but you had to leave the college area by 11 pm, unless you also had the onsite overnight accomodation booked ($40 extra per night was the cheapest option there in the basic student's room, with shared bathroom)
Genghiscon has just one panel stream however the room runs pretty much 9 am until 11 pm. The noisiest panel item I know of was the "Creating a Fan Reality TV Show". The panel of 3 was "MSquared", John Robertson and someone who's name I don't recall, sorry. "Firebird" iirc, hid amongst the audience. Well the audience of 14 were the noisiest bunch I'd ever heard...........
.....Until that was, the item held in the common room on Sunday titled as "Fan Olympics" I have no idea what went on there, except to say that a very rough head-count was something around 40 (I braved sticking my head in the door, just as it was finishing), and there was so much noise that I'm surprised the police weren't called !
There were panel items on "Zombies" and on "Hordes" (ala Genghis Khan's invaders) generally. There was s'posed to be a new book launched, alas I read my timetable wrongly and arrived an hour late so I'm not sure whether that went ahead as scheduled or not.
Intermittantly, Candy-Floss, which Australians insist on calling Fairy-Floss was prepared and distrubuted freely for free. A serve-yourself Tea, Coffee and Milo were freely available all throughout the 'Con, day and night and were much enjoyed by those attending. I commend this and ask future organisers to continue with this practice (even though there is obviously a cost to provide this).
With 3 dedicated gaming rooms plus plenty of other areas available, a wide range of gaming was happening. Some was organised and some simply folks turned up and joined in. For the uninitiated, these included older style D+D dice games, pictorial card games, plus various board games, like the legendary "Rail Baron" which is familiar to anyone who's ever been to a SwanCon. The newly devised game of Terraform Battlecruiser was there with its creator Wez Lamont as well as some almost new games like "Ticket-to-Ride". Indeed Robert Masters brought so many games in with him that he needed to use a large plastic crate with wheels underneath to carry them all.
Saturday evening was a free barbecue, held in a dedicated area just to one side of the central lawn. I think this went down very well and commend the idea to future organising committees
A video-room ran full time for the entire 'Con (with just short breaks for cleaning etc). Last year, Mike Fineberg sourced a variety of weird and wonderful items and this year Robert Masters again managed to schedule a mixture of old classics, brand new stuff unseen in Australia plus a few weird items thrown into the mix. Again I say, I regret I didn't get in there more often, but there was just too many other things going on at the 'Con.
I don't know if the person on duty in there kept a head count for the entire time, but I would suggest in future that a "full-time" video-room need only run for 20 hours a day. Especially At a Mini-Con with limited helpers, I think this would help take some of the load off. Folks have to get at least a little sleep sometime, eh !
Talking about "helpers" reminds me. At GenghisCons they are referred to as "Minions" (sometimes referred to as "volunteers" or "stewards" at other 'Cons). Minions could earn "M $". No that's NOT Millions of Dollars, that's "Minion-Dollars" which they could spend on various chocolate and softdrink goodies. I wasn't involved with scheme directly but to me it sounds like a good idea. The more "Minions" there are to share tasks, the less over-stretched the official committee are, and keep in mind these people are ALL volunteering their time and effort. Indeed we were told at the AGM/business meeting on Sunday that Zara's leg injury occured as she was heading home from a committee meeting in the weeks prior to the 'Con opening.
Talking of the AGM, it started somewhat late and dragged on some, indeed it effectively ate up most of the lunchbreak time as well. Now, yes, a new committee had to be elected for next year's 'Con and yes, certain other items of official housekeeping needed to be addressed, but I do feel that a tighter rein could have been kept, and that we *should* have been able to start pretty much on time, and finish in the originally alloted one hour.
Note that although the first 3 GenghisCons were entirely independant, this year's was arranged as an autonomous Con but beneath the WASFF umbrella (similar to the way that SwanCons operate). This meant that in these liability-insurance-crazy days where even public singing of Christmas Carols in public parks has been stopped because of inability to get insurance, Genghiscon could still run a "full service" 'Con, including the Archery, LARP, Fencing and Martial Arts segments, because we share insurance under WASFF's banner. Genghiscon's insurance bill is approxiamately halved, and, after the 'Con, any loss or surplus is shared 50/50 with WASFF (WA Science Fiction Foundation) As this system worked well during this "trial" year, I'd suggest the we maintain this relationship. WASFF also gives budgetry oversight and advice, but DOES NOT interfere with the normal organisation and running of the GenghisCons.
A provisional report made at the AGM was that GenghisCon 2005 should finish with a small surplus (which is the way that fan-run, not-intended-for-profit Cons should be)
Helen Creagh stepped down as President of the old committee and is to be commended (along with all the rest of last year's committee) for a job well done Mark Turnley was elected un-apposed to be the boss for the upcoming year. The other positions were also declared vacant and re-filled as necessary.
There was a brief closing ceremony on Sunday afternoon, (my head-count was some 60 then, packing the panel-room to standing-room only) where the committee was thanked and prizes awarded for the short story competition (as judged by real published authors !) Prizes were awarded for first, second, and "worst". The entries are supposedly gonna be posted up on the Genghiscon website (www.genghiscon.org ) ......when "Msquared" gets around to it !
In Genghiscon tradition, the outgoing President (last year that was Msquared, this year it was Helen Creagh) was auctioned off for fundraising. The top bid was $75 from a consortium of dastardly fiends including Helen's Mum. I reckon she can probably look forward to a full day's laundry duty or house-cleaning !
In closing I'd ask fans to get behind fandom and help support these mini-conventions when they happen, as well as the long running annual SwanCon. Indeed just a few weeks ago in December 2004 WA had "Wai-Con" a Jap-anime' convention held at UWA which had some 500 people attend. I understand that that 'Con was successful despite problems caused by the venue (room layout etc causing problems) I enjoy Jap-anime' in small doses, but wish the organisers well and hope for future 'Cons. Mini-Cons allow a diversity of different interests to permeate fandom. "Borderlands" with a more literary bent, ran 3 consecutive annual mini-cons, then last October we had the "Wastelands" post-apocalypse mini-con. Then in the December just gone "Wai-Con" with wall-to-wall Japanese Anime'.
This Easter long-weekend at The Emerald Hotel in inner city Perth is this year's annual "Swancon" so fans should try to support and attend where possible. For those interstate or able to travel later in the year, Remember too that "Continuum" happens in Melbourne this July and "Conclave" in September in South Australia, where some WA fans are helping to organise that.
That's all, undoubtedly there's more I'll remember as soon as I've clicked the "Send" button. But hey, I couldn't fit in a description of it all anyway.