FenCon VII Report: Part One (aka Filking and Fun)

This year The Wife and I attended FenCon VII, a Dallas-based speculative fiction literary and filking* convention**.  It was the first year we had attended FenCon but had heard about it at other cons we have attended.  We also brought along an old friend who had never attended a con before and wanted to see what it was all about.  I think we may have warped our friend’s mind a bit but I daresay that a grand time was had by all.

The biggest highlight for me were the opening ceremonies–in which it was announced that I had won third prize in the con’s short story contest (see my previous post).  This was a huge ego boost for me as a fan and as a writer (and, yes, I’ll try to shut up about it already).   

Another big highlight of the con for me was the attendance of one of my literary heroes, Joe R. LansdaleMr. Mojo was selected as this year’s toastmaster and sat in on several awesome panels.  I attended one of these Q&As, plus a reading session, and then watched the midnight viewing of Bubba Ho-Tep, a fun movie based on one of his award-winning novellas.  Mr. Lansdale provided a great introduction to the movie, speaking about how both the novella and the film came about and his encounters with the stars, Bruce Campbell and the late Ossie Davis.  I also managed to get a few autographs from him and shook his hand in the dealer room.  He’s a real raconteur and a genuinely nice guy.

My life has been forever changed by this con due to my introduction to filk*.  I had seen filking on the programs for other cons I had been to but didn’t have real good sense of what it was.  Part of it was an impression that I would be expected to sing…an act to which only The Wife is subjected as part of our marriage vows.  Another part was a small cool-factor fear, the idea that “Hey, I may be a nerd but at least I don’t filk!”  Well, my friends, I am now officially a filking-fan.  We saw some great acts during the con: Jeff and Maya Bohnhoff, Tom Smith, Marc Gunn, Randy Farran, and October Country.  All of these acts touched that special place in my heart for Dr. Demento-style*** tomfoolery.  However, what really touched me was the sheer fun and enthusiasm all of the performers brought to their art.  I’ll think twice about missing a filk event at a con from now on.

We also attended several interesting panels over the weekend. We joined Ethan Nahté, Julia Mandala, Brad Sinor, and Libby Smith Singleton for a panel on favorite ghost stories.  We also listened in on a discussion of sword and sorcery movies with A. Lee Martinez, Adrian Simmons, C. Dean Andersson, Ethan Nahté, and Christopher Fulbright.  We had a grand time with the “Yard Dog Press Road Show”, which consisted of various author readings accompanied by interpretive dance.  The highlight of that panel was a spoof Twilight monologue by Kathy Turski.  Hilarious!  The panel by Dusty Rainbolt on ghost hunting was pretty interesting–despite some annoying audience participation… The weirdest portion was the midnight showing of “Evil Dead: The Musical“.  A very surreal musical adaptation of the classic “Evil Dead” movies.  It started off a little rocky but eventually grew on me…or perhaps I simply decided to chuck it all and “join us!”. 

I also attended two interesting writing-based panels on what to do with your ideas and on fantasy economics.  I’ll save those for Part Two…

*Filking (or Filk): Essentially, music written and performed by fans with a certain fannish element to it.  It usually involves favorite characters or settings from sci-fi/fantasy books or programs  but also touches upon pop-culture, fan-culture, or what-have-you.  Sometimes these are parodies of popular songs but can also be original compositions.  Usually filking events last late into the night at sci-fi/fantasy conventions.
**Another question I often get is “What is fen?”  Apparently it is an appellation adopted by the fan community many moons ago as the plural of “fan”…similar to the way that “men” is the plural of “man”.  I also suspect that it was a means to separate the connotations of “fanatic” from the fan community, with “fen” being closer to being an “enthusiast”.  A bit artificial, in my opinion, but what do I know?
***Interestingly enough, Dr. Demento helped bring The Wife and I together.  I had always been a fan of Weird Al Yankovic and of parody music in general before I met my wife.  The two of us had only gone on a few dates when I visited her apartment for the first time.  While she was in another room I perused her CD collection and found not one but several Dr. Demento compilations.  I knew then I was in the right place…
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About Shedrick

I am a professional librarian and a part-time writer that's working to do that the other way around. I currently live in North Texas in the lovely city of Denton (“The Home of Happiness“) with my lovely wife and the obligatory demon-spawn cats. When not writing, gaming, or watching cheezy kung-fu flicks, I can sometimes be found in a pub (or the American equivalent) enjoying a fine brew.
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2 Responses to FenCon VII Report: Part One (aka Filking and Fun)

  1. Kathy Turski says:

    Bless you, Good Sir, for your kind words about my Twilight spoof. I had great fun doing it, and am so glad to know others enjoyed it.

    I clerk in a public library, working in the technical processing dept. After a few hundred (or so it seems) copies of the Twilight series crossed my desk, I knew I had to poke fun at it or explode. Thus, the monologue. It was sort of a defense mechanism.

    Congrats on the short story contest prize, that’s really great. Like you, I hope to make my way in the writing biz, and wish you luck in your writing. If you haven’t already found it, Ralan.com is a good place to check for market listings.

    Thank you again for your great review, and take care!

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