My wife Mia and I spend the past weekend in Chicagoland. Friday and Saturday we were at Windycon, a science fiction convention that we have frequently attended since the 1970s. This was first SF con we have been to since the world shut down for Covid-19. There was no Windycon in 2020. Covid, of course, has not gone away, but this year Windycon was back, with changes. There were very strict and detailed Covid policies. Proof of vaccination or a recent negative Covid test were required for admission. Masks were required everywhere except “while … actively consuming food or drink in the consuite or green room” or for performers while performing and at least 6 feet from anyone else. Bill Roper has a positive con report, with which I completely agree.
The con was again at the Westin Lombard, where it has been for many years. One of the two restaurants was closed because of a lack of staff, but the other one seemed to be handling the load well enough. Our room was on the east side, so we had a nice view of the Chicago skyline in the distance.
There was less programming generally, but more concerts by musicians. Friday night seemed a little sparse, but we connected with several old friends. Saturday was busier, and, despite the omnipresent masks, felt more normal. The dealers’ room was much the same as in previous years. I managed to spend less than $100 there. The Royal Manticoran Navy was well represented.
Friday night we went to a show by SpaceTime Theater, an SF improv comedy group. Some of the performers were of our generation, but others were quite young. SF improv comedy has been a part of Chicago fandom for decades, and it was good to see its future.
For lunch on Saturday we walked over to the local Greek Islands. As always the food was wonderful, especially the grilled calamari. There is a extra thrill to eating Cthulhu’s relatives while attending a con :-). The meal also brought back memories of a dinner in 1975 at the Halsted Street location with some fellow fans, which was part of a weekend that changed my life.
Saturday afternoon I went to two panels. “Representation of Space in Science Fiction” was about the different ways space is portrayed in SF. Some stories emphasize its vast distances and hostile environment, while in other stories, e.g. Star Wars, it is quite comfortable, sort of the background for a road trip.
“Logistics of Space opera” was all about how eating, breathing, and other mundane but essential aspects of life are explained in that subgenre. Not very well, as opposed to in hard SF, where they are often worked out in convincing detail.
Between those panels I went to the dealers’ room again. I ran into an old (from 1969) friend. She told me that her husband, also a friend from that era, had died of a heart attack in April. Somehow, probably because of the Covid-related changes, I had missed that news. Had I known at the time, I would have driven down to his funeral. But a lot of communication channels have broken down in the age of Covid. This news was a big shock, and it hit me pretty hard. But I got it at a Chicago con, at the like of which I had seen him at many times in past years. This was much of the world we had shared. Mia and I went to the bar and toasted his memory with Laphroaig.
Saturday evening, as usual at Windycon, we went to the art auction. It is great theater. Bob Passovoy was still the chief auctioneer, as he as been for as long as I can remember. Mia was a runner, as she has often been. We did not buy anything, but we watched one piece go for $600 and another for $575. Some of our fellow fans have money, and they are happy to use it to support the work of other fans.