World Science Fiction Convention in San Jose.

August-September 2002

As I was traveling from Australia, I added a tour with Trafalgar Tours to a few places, and wound up with three days in Las Vegas, which, much to my astonishment, I loved!

San Jose itself was a bit of a disappointment. One of the things I wanted to do while in the US was browse a couple of big bookshops, and big DVD stores. In nearly three weeks in the US I never found a big bookstore! This was because I was basically on foot. I found a half-built mall in Las Vegas, the Fashion Show, and I got to one called the Great Mall in San Jose - which didn't have a single book shop. I did get to a couple of shops which sold DVDs, but found they cost about twice what they do in Australia! (As do most things except books).

In the area around the Fairmont Hotel, where I stayed, there were few shops, and hard to find. Possibly all America is like this outside the malls.

The convention, however, I enjoyed a lot.

Apart from a few changes on the first day, panels were on where it said, and with whom it said. I arrived Wednesday to register, and my badge had not been printed, but I got everything else. (I heard they ran out of pocket programs, but that did not affect me, if it was true). Next day when I arrived to get my badge the dealers' room was already open and running!

The Masquerade, Hugos and surprise Patrick Stewart appearance were in the Civic Center over the road from the Convention Center, and everybody could fit in. This did not stop people lining up an hour or more before for the good seats, but I could arrive a second before time, and get a good seat on the balcony.

The newsletter, Dot.con, was a bit straightforward, with the first funny article in number 10 (out of 13 if you count the Hugos issue, and the final joke issue), but the final joke issue was very good. I worked out that mine was not the only shower in the Fairmont that was like a fire hose. That was my only complaint about the hotel. I even had the channel with the tennis for once, so I could watch the US Open as I dressed in the morning, and any time I retired to my room.

I took pictures with a Canon EOS D30, which is a digital SLR camera. It can be set to different ASA (or ISO) speeds, and I generally leave it on 1600 ASA. In sunlight it can go to a 4000th of a second, and in low light it can still take pictures. My shots of the Masquerade were adequate, but the Hugos and Patrick Stewart must have been more poorly lit (or my hand shakier).

These pictures are somewhat arbitrarily divided to give about seven to a page, but the first lot are of the general environs of the convention.

The second group are of the environs inside the con.

Third, some of the occurrences during the con.

I took a lot of shots of panels, and these pages are a selection.

Very few autographing shots.

The masquerade. I took a vast number of shots, so this is a smallish selection.

The Hugos. I took lots of shots, but most were duds. I was trying to take them on about an eighth of a second with a 480mm lens.

A couple of shots of the closing ceremony and Dead Dog party.

There were negatives. The Fairmont's lifts could not handle the traffic, and there were long queues to try to get to parties of an evening, and two nights I did not even bother. This did not bother me, as parties are not my thing, but in retrospect it may have been better to have the parties on the lower floors. And in my short stay I never found how to track down healthy food, but hey! I was in America! I also thought the soft drinks pretty tasteless - is this something to do with their being made with corn sugar?

When I arrived I was told at the airport to catch the white bus to the light rail station, and get to the hotel for $1.40. I caught the blue one, which sounded as if it was going to the right place - but it wasn't. A passenger told me to leap out and get bus 22, which would deliver me near the hotel - and it did. On my departure I was all set to leave by light rail when someone held up a place in the street behind the hotel and took a hostage, so that the light rail was blocked. After waiting an hour I gave up and took a taxi to the airport. I hope nobody was hut in the standoff.