San Jose Mercury News (CA)
GAMES, ANIME, SCI-FI CONVENTIONS INVADE BAY AREA
May 17, 2007
Edition: Morning Final
MIKE ANTONUCCI, MERCURY NEWS
Barbecues and baseball, picnics and parades. That's the stuff of Memorial Day weekends, right?
Absolutely. But in the Bay Area, you can add anime, science fiction and game-playing conventions.
The annual events -- FanimeCon, BayCon and KublaCon -- are basically four-day parties for avid fans of a sprawling range of pop culture. That means Dragon Ball Z and Dr. Who. It means Japanese pop music and role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons. For some folks, it means blowing their monthly budget in a spree of impulse buying in the dealers' rooms.
The three conventions -- and a video-game concert presented in conjunction with FanimeCon -- have overlapping interests. But they also offer many distinct experiences. FanimeCon, with a primary focus on Japanese animation, expects to draw more than 10,000 people. The sci-fi inspired BayCon and the game-based KublaCon both expect more than 2,000.
Interested? Here's your detailed planning guide:
(additional information at www.baycon.org)
Where and when:
The San Mateo Marriott, May 25-28.
What it's all about:
BayCon, celebrating its 25th anniversary, is ''the San Francisco Bay Area regional science fiction & fantasy convention,'' which means its tendrils extend to just about everything with a pop-culture flavor. The organizers also plan events and panels that capitalize on sci-fi and fantasy fans' attraction to subjects such as current events and technology. Diverse interests intersect in unexpected ways: Pet lovers snap up fantastical illustrations of cats from artists selling their work in a dealers room that's also jammed with books, sci-fi DVDs and collectibles. The ambience features many convention-goers strolling in costumes -- so many, in fact, that the convention spontaneously gives out award ribbons to people who make a memorable impression in the hallways.
The big attractions:
The big-name guests are authors: The sci-fi guest of honor is Alan Dean Foster (''Cyber Way'' to cite one of his many novels), and the fantasy guest of honor is Diana L. Paxson (''The Golden Hills of Westria''). James P. Hogan (''Inherit the Stars'') is attending from Ireland. Events include masquerade (costume) competitions, all-night anime screenings, a charity casino and charity auction, and a variety of concerts, kicking off with a Saturday evening performance by ''filk'' artist Lynn Gold -- filk being music and songs with sci-fi themes. Interactive events even include overnight ''Boffer Wars,'' at which people may ''pummel friends and strangers alike with padded weapons.''
Inside tips and recommendations:
BayCon has never been out of San Jose before, but hotel issues have pushed the convention to San Mateo for one year (it's booked for Santa Clara for 2008-2010). On the up side, organizers say there's more than enough free parking and that they've worked with hotel management to expand the dining choices, which will include affordable breakfast and dinner buffets. The biggest programming tip involves Sunday's 90-minute screening session for movie trailers and other film previews. Many of the details are secret, but (hint, hint) some clips from major projects may be seen for the first time.
Online preregistration has closed. The full-weekend cost at the door for adults (anyone 12 and older) is $75. Friday only is $25 for adults; Saturday or Sunday only is $40, and Monday only is $20. There are no single-day child prices, so kids aged 8-11 get in for $25 either for the weekend or a single day. ''Kid-in-tow'' admissions (for children 7 and younger who must be accompanied by a parent at all times) are $5.