Doctor Who Cuttings Archive

Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia

From The Doctor Who Cuttings Archive
Jump to navigationJump to search

2001-09-13 Central New Jersey Home News.jpg


Michael F. Flynn, a former Edison resident and well-known science-fiction writer, checks a copy of his novel "Firestar," top. Among participants at the convention in Philadelphia were. bottom from left, Steven Yoder of Edison, who is preparing for a convention in Edison in April, Roni Katz of Princeton, center, and Shane Tourtellotte of Westfield.

Michael F. Flynn, a well-known science-fiction writer and, until recently, a longtime Edison resident, was one of many Central Jerseyans who attended the recent 59th World Science Fiction Convention in Philadelphia.

Flynn, author of the highly acclaimed "In the Country of the Blind," published in 1990, also was on a number of panels, as well as signing his most recent book, "Falling Stars," at the Asimov's/Analog table in the vast exhibition hall at Philadelphia's Convention Center.

'In the Country of the Blind," which was Flynn's first novel, has been called "a novel of big ideas," by Publisher's Weekly. called it a "tense, complex, exciting conspiracy thriller, highly recommended to all fans of suspense ELIAS fiction, secret HOLTZMAN history, alternate history and science fiction." Another reviewer suggests Flynn as a successor to science-fiction great Robert A. Heinlein. One of the panels Flynn appeared on with other science-fiction authors was "So What Happened to Clavius Base? Why 2001 is Nothing like 2001."

Other panels on which he appeared were "Mathematical SF," and "Beyond Ayn Rand and Robert A. Heinlein: Libertarian SF."

Also, "Life on Mars — Reality or Fantasy?" and separately: "How to Lie with Statistics: The Continuing Story."

Like many — or most science-fiction writers — Flynn supports himself with a day job. In his case, it is as a quality-management consultant for a firm on Oak Tree Road, Edison, called STAT-A-MATRIX.

Flynn lived in Edison for 15 years before a recent move back to Easton, Pa., his birthplace, but he commutes daily to his job.

Flynn was a guest at an earlier science-fiction convention — JerseyDevilCon — held in April at the Holiday Inn in South Plainfield. He will be a guest again at JerseyDevilCon2, which will be held April 5-7 at the Raritan Center Sheraton in Edison.

Steven Yoder, chairman and founder of JerseyDevilCon, also was at the Philcon and manned a JerseyDevilCon2 table, along with his fiancee, Christina DePaulis of Edison, a fantasy artist and illustrator.

"Things are going great," Yoder said, noting that many New Jerseyans had stopped by, and a number had preregistered for JerseyDevilCon2, which has a Web site, Guests of honor at JerseyDevilCon2 will be Jerry Pournelle, a physics professor at UCLA, whose science-fiction works include "Falkenberg's Legion." Pournelle also is co-author of "The Mote in God's Eye," "Lucifer's Hammer" and "Fallen Angels."

Fantasy guest will be Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld series and co-author of "Good Omens."

Other guests at JerseyDevilCon2 will include a number of people who were at the Philcon, including artist Bob Eggleton and Shane Tourtellotte of Westfield, who was at the JerseyDevilCon.

Since that time, Tourtellotte has had a novelette, "The Return of Spring," published in the November issue of Analog magazine. That issue also also included a story by the late Poul Anderson, revered science-fiction writer and seven-time Hugo Award winner, who died July 31 at the age of 74.

Next to the JerseyDevilCon table, keeping it company, so to speak, were the Prydonians of Prynceton — a Mercer County-based group with more than 450 members in over 35 states and Great Britain and Japan. Followers of the "Dr. Who" television series know that Prydonia is the planet from which Dr. Who escaped. The Prydonians of Prynceton are followers of science-fiction television shows and movies. They also show an interest in writing and art, and publish a literate, newsy and upbeat monthly newsletter, the Prydonian Renegade. That's how Dr. Who referred to himself, says Tom Beck of East Windsor, editor of the newsletter and co-founder of the Prydonians back in 1984. Beck is a technical writer, free-lance editor, and science-fiction writer.

Manning the Prydonian booth was Garry Blog of Edison, an editor of the Prydonian Renegade.

Stu Segal of Metuchen, a retired Harley-Davidson motorcycle dealer "and a science-fiction fan since I was a little kid," commented that the monthly newsletters from the group were terrific.

Ronni "Tyger" Katz of Lawrence, a science-fiction writer, robot experimenter and Prydonian member who teaches computer science at the North Brunswick campus of DeVry Institute, also was present at the booth, signing copies of her new science-fiction novel, "Wing Commander."

"It's about the first woman in U.S. history to command an aircraft carrier air wing in the 21st Century," said Katz, a former naval aviator. It's her first novel and was written under a slightly different name: Ron Karren — a variant spelling of her middle name. "The origin of 'Wing Commander' came out of my mom's advice to write what you know, as opposed to all the space-based science fiction I'd been writing and trying to sell most of my writing life."

And then there were the fans, such as Wayne and Johanna M. Dionne of Bowie, Md., both government workers, who were were spending their 25th anniversary at the five days of the Worldcon.

Twenty-five years before, they had spent their honeymoon at a science-fiction convention in Kansas City.

Wayne carried a large gray-colored cloth goose, which had a bill and neck made from a wooden dowel he turned. "He's Frederic," he and Johanna said.

Wayne is a computer programmer for the Department of Agriculture and Johanna is a meteorologist for the National Weather Service.

A number of science-fiction-and fantasy fans were walking around with clever buttons attached to their clothes, such as the fan wearing a variety of pins, the most visible of which read:

"Ask me about 'Up Doc'".

I was tempted, but did not ask him: "What's 'Up Doc?'"

One of the major events at the convention was the awarding of the coveted Hugo awards, named for Hugo Gernsback, the father of magazine science fiction.

Elias Holtzman is a free-lance writer whose column appears Thursdays in the Community section. He can be reached by email at

Disclaimer: These citations are created on-the-fly using primitive parsing techniques. You should double-check all citations. Send feedback to

  • APA 6th ed.: Holtzman, Elias (2001-09-13). Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia. Home News Tribune p. D3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Holtzman, Elias. "Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia." Home News Tribune [add city] 2001-09-13, D3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Holtzman, Elias. "Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia." Home News Tribune, edition, sec., 2001-09-13
  • Turabian: Holtzman, Elias. "Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia." Home News Tribune, 2001-09-13, section, D3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia | url= | work=Home News Tribune | pages=D3 | date=2001-09-13 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=Science fiction fans flock to Philadelphia | url= | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=6 December 2023}}</ref>