Con Report by Joseph T Major on Parthecon XXVIII (April 28-30, 2000)

I won't be going to Parthecon next year. Lisa won't be going to Parthecon next year. I think I can say with reasonable confidence that Tom and Anita Feller won't be going to Parthecon next year. Particularly, Khen Moore won't be going to Parthecon next year. But then, Charlie Dickens won't be going to Parthecon next year.

Oh all right. Khen has agreed to take over running the convention again. Next year it will be, not Parthecon, but Kubla Khan XXIX.

I can understand why. Charlie managed things all right but he just didn't publicize. Last year, the pro Guest of Honor was David Weber. This year it was James P. Hogan, backed up by Cliff Amos as Fan GoH. That should have packed in the attendees. Yet the attendance was, as I heard at the time, under a hundred. This meant for a small, cozy con, but I think of all those people out there who would have enjoyed it.

All this was still in the future for us when we departed our happy home on the morning of April 28. After an uneventful trip we ate lunch and went to see our cousin Sallie Beck. (If you have monitored my previous con reports, you know that Mrs. Beck is the daughter of my relative Snooks Major and Lisa's relative Sallie Cunningham; therefore "our" relative.) She had some more stories about the family and we enjoyed hearing the tales.

After a stopoff at the same used bookstore as last year, we went on to the con. To my annoyance, Larry Smith did not have Darwin's Radio, which left me one Hugo nominee short. Lisa, meanwhile, set about putting a smile on the face of John Hollis as she snapped up bundles of his 50 books.

Tom Feller wanted to have dinner at the hotel, as he was overseeing the programming, so we ate in the hotel dining room; the Fellers, the Hogans, Debi Hussey, and us. After all, Pro GoH James P. Hogan didn't have to be on until seven for the "Pros and Cons" panel, so he could eat with the riffraff like us.

Tom left briefly at one point during dinner, and returned with some dispiriting news. The idea of the "How to Attend a Convention" panel, he had intended, was to get neos con virgins into the swing of things. But instead it was old vets being counseled by old vets. Indeed, to look at the attendees was to see examples of the graying of fandom.

The "Opening Ceremonies" introduced the GoHs (except for Art GoH Debbie Hughes, who wasn't there yet) and confirmed the news, readily available to anyone who looked at the back cover of the program book, that next year it would be Kubla Khan XXIX.

After that it was parties or should have been, but I hadn't been able to sleep last night, and after lying down at quarter to nine to take a half-hour's rest and waking up at 10:30, we decided that bed was a good idea. (So of course I couldn't get to sleep.)

Saturday, April 29, we were up and about, wanting to get through breakfast (at the buffet, where we ate too much) so we could find out about the "History of Kentucky and Tennessee Fandom" from Cliff Amos. There were only isolated fans in these states until roughly the sixties. With the emergence of DeepSouthCon, there came to be a coalescence. (Somewhere around this point, Cliff asked Irv Koch to come up out of the audience and join him. And in fact the audience was close to being Tom, Anita, Irv, Lisa, and me well there were some more.)

Nashville fandom of today owes its origins to Khen Moore, John Hollis, and Dan Caldwell all at this con, by the way. They took to going to Worldcons and DSC's in groups, accumulating other Nashvillians. After that, a convention and club were inevitable.

Cliff, on the other hand, had a different way. He was friends with the originator of the Free University at the University of Louisville. The idea was to hold the sort of class that universities wouldn't teach. Hence, science fiction; and it turned out that the same people were meeting every Monday night for the discussion. FOSFA came not long afterwards. (This is near where I came in and in three years I will be eligible to join First Fandom as an Associate member.)

To someone who feels upset if a Usenet discussion stays on topic past the second response, the noon panel, "Deep Space 9 and Fifties SF" would be reassuring, as it hardly mentioned the topic at all. Sharon Green, for example, talked about taking in runaway children (and by some miracle not getting robbed or worse).

The Fellers, the Majors, Dan Caldwell, and Debi Hussey then adjourned to the local Wonderful Hamburger Emporium, a place called Fat Mo's, for lunch. Lisa and I went in Dan's nice new car, which he was very satisfied with. I ate too much, but their -pound hamburger is a splendid taste treat.

Bob Embler wanted to show an unusual film, so he did. The film happened to be of a German forensic pathologist who analyzed hair samples and found traces of cocaine and nicotine. The problem was that she found these traces in the hair of 3000-year old Egyptian mummies. And this was the first of many problems discussed in the conflict of "History vs. Archaeology and Paleontology". Fortunately we were spared the discussion of V*l*k*vsk* since his advocate Mr. Hogan was not on the panel.

After Bob's intriguing beginning, the panel declined into the usual comments about Mayan and Egyptian pyramids, Thor Heyerdahl, the Piri Re'is Maps, and so on. An earlier panel had been on "Evolution vs. Creation". Perhaps I should have asked Charlie to invite Edgar Evans Cayce.

Towards the end of the hour one of the panelists took notice of a tall bearded man standing in the back, and asked him if he wanted to come up. Well, he did, eventually, and so we began "An Hour with Uncle Andy" Offutt. He discussed some more his heart attack, his pause in smoking he reiterates that he has not quit smoking; he's just waiting to have that first cigarette of March 15, 1999. It is reassuring, he gleefully noted, that now he is past sixty-five, we have to pay his medical bills.

However, he is proud of Chris, the literary light of the Offuttspring, except that they will argue over who is the better writer. (Each says the other is.) In other literary (well, maybe) news, Robert Asprin has found a new sucker publisher who might take Thieves' World TM so we might be reading more about Hanse Shadowspawn.

I paid off our bill at Larry Smith's before the dealers' room closed. Lisa needed some socks, so we went to the Dollar General store to buy some. After that we had dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse, where I ate . . . oh, you guessed already? From there we went to Davis-Kidd, which didn't have Darwin's Radio either, but did have Barrow's Boys, cover-blurbed as "The Original Extreme Adventurers" and "A Stirring Story of Daring Fortitude, and Outright Lunacy", all about the British answer of what to do with those surplus naval officers after the Napoleonic Wars.

We got back in time for the parties. The besetting problem was that everyone was budgeting supplies for the last few Kubla Khans. The disgusting problem was that there were only about a hundred people there, in spite of the relaxed atmosphere, the convenient locale, and the outstanding guests.

At one point I ran across Khen, who wanted to include flyers for Kubla Khan XXiX in some forthcoming issue of FOSFAX. I relayed the request to Tim.

So it was that we went to Irv Koch's Charlotte in 2004 Worldcon bid party, at which point Lisa noticed she had not put on her badge, went back to the room, and (as I found out later) then off to the Secret Commonwealth concert. I stayed at the party for a while longer, went off to look for Lisa, and then stopped in at the Huntsville for DSC in 2002 party, where we talked about Dark Shadows. From there, I was off to Pat & Naomi Molloy's Boston in 2004 Worldcon bid party. After due consideration, Lisa decided to support Charlotte, since she could inquire into her maternal ancestors in North Carolina.

It was a small enough con that everyone else drifted from one party to another. Around midnight we went to bed.

In the morning we sort of drifted down to the con suite and chatted. Around eleven I opined that we might have to adjourn soon to load up and check out. Steve Francis informed me that checkout time was eleven and Charlie that he had obtained an extension, to two, for those who requested one. As it happened they gave me until one, but I got the car loaded up right away and checked out. Then, with much regret, we left the con for our other business.

Before leaving town we went to see a couple of relatives of mine (and, perhaps not so curiously enough, of Elizabeth's). Cousin Ruth Rounds had had a most interesting life; she had been a professional dancer and singer, and had the pictures of the thirties life to prove it. Whereas Cousin Bennett Major and his wife Edwine knew us well and it was like old home times. Their grandnephew will graduate from medical school and their grandniece will graduate from college this May, while my niece will graduate from high school this May. As I said, fandom is getting grayer.

And smaller. At that History of Kentucky and Tennessee Fandom panel, someone described how Khen, John, and Dan had gone down the list of all the things in a con and had them at Kubla Khan. By the time I started going (Kubla Khan Khubed, the third one) they had it all down right; masquerade, big program, lots of parties, and moore, moore, moore. Also several hundred attendees. And now . . . ? Well, it hasn't been for lack of trying.