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What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit

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How crazy is it here in Smokane? So crazy I took shelter at the science fiction convention for a dose of reality.

I mean, come on.

Have you ever seen such bizzaro stuff going on?

Half the state is a smokestack inferno. There was that dog and pony, um, lover in Elk. A bedsheet rope was spotted hanging out of a cell window over at the jail ...

Hey, I hope they go easy on the rope dropper.

I can't blame any inmate for wanting to escape this hazy "Twilight Zone" episode that we've found ourselves living in.

Call me a coward, but on Thursday I wandered into the air-conditioned climate of the Spokane Convention Center where the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention is being held through today.

The $70 day fee seemed a bit steep.

At that price they should've included a lock of George R.R. Martin's beard.

Aw, I'm just sore because I didn't get one of the green tote bags that were filled with all sorts of freebies.

I almost got a bag. A cheerful lady checked my official science fiction convention ID lanyard and told me to go ahead and grab one.

"Oh, boy," I said, reaching.

Before I could score, another woman snapped something like, "He's a Thursday only. He doesn't get a bag. He only gets a Convention Guide!"

It's a crummy day in America when 70 bucks won't get you a free tote bag.

But I forgot about all that when I entered the convention area and began to soak up the displays of cosmic costumes, fanzines and some actual rocket-shaped Hugo awards, the equivalent of the Oscars that are given to stars of the sci-fi, fantasy or horror world.

After some roaming, I soon became engaged in a spirited conversation with a middle-aged man dressed head-to-toe in green leather layers of what he called "Orkish Armor."

Which seemed perfectly normal, all things considered.

Michael Kimler, who lives north of Spokane, told me his costume took 31/2 solid weeks of work including 400 yards of delicate hand lacing that left his thumbs aching.

I believe him. His garb was outta this world.

The layers of leather conformed to Kimler's body like perfectly fitted leaves. The costume, he explained, comes from "Skyroom," a video game I've never heard of.

Science fiction is a lot more complex than back when I was a kid.

I grew to love sci-fi back in the mid-1960s by browsing the used bookstore that was next door to Hoffman Music's old Riverside location.

Every Saturday rd go downtown for a guitar lesson and then spend a half hour browsing the bookstore's science fiction section.

The used books were incredibly cheap. I'd plunk down some of the money I made delivering the Chronicle and come home with titles like "The Shrinking Man" by Richard Matheson, "Starship Troopers" by Robert Heinlein or sci-fi pulp magazines like Astounding Stories.

I later began subscribing to the Science Fiction Book of the Month Club, devouring titles by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke and Phillip K. Dick.

Today's science fiction has expanded like the universe.

Fantasy has bloomed into an enormously popular genre. Then there's steampunk, where Victorian sensibilities are cleverly merged with the fantastic.

I discovered at the convention that its not even easy keeping track of Dr. Who, the space and time traveling character in the long running BBC television show.

Chris Corbitt, a self-professed Whovian from Western Washington, wore a red fez and brown sport coat with a red bow tie.

The attire, he said, represented the llth incarnation of Dr. Who although some fans apparently argue that there are 12 Dr. Whos because of some movie that was made by what would have been the 8th Dr. Who.

Please don't call me if I screwed this up. I did my best to follow the young man's detailed and authoritative Who lecture, but I make no guarantees on my comprehension.

He seemed like a great guy, though. In fact, all the sci-fi lovers I met seemed way less weird than any of the oddballs I deal with on, say, the City Council.

Shannen Kuest and Kim Talbot were pretty cool, too.

The congenial couple caught my eye because of my undying love for the movie "Alien."

Kim was dressed up in an authentic-looking uniform. Shannen had one of the Alien babies bursting from her chest, just like those nasty space critters are wont to do.

We stood around the convention and shot the breeze a bit when Shannen confided that Kim loved the Aliens franchise so much that he'd like to have "an Alien/Predator-themed wedding."

That would certainly be an event for the ages.

Can't you see this couple 30 years from now, pulling out their wedding album and rolling their eyes in embarrassment at seeing their younger selves cutting into an Alien pod wedding cake?

Shannen, however, was registering No Sale to this notion.

But that's the compelling thing about science fiction. Its all about a vision of the possible, as improbable as that might be.

"It probably won't happen," Kim acknowledged glumly, "but a boy can dream."

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at dougc@spokesman.com.

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  • APA 6th ed.: Clark, Doug (2015-08-23). What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit. The Spokesman-Review p. B3.
  • MLA 7th ed.: Clark, Doug. "What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit." The Spokesman-Review [add city] 2015-08-23, B3. Print.
  • Chicago 15th ed.: Clark, Doug. "What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit." The Spokesman-Review, edition, sec., 2015-08-23
  • Turabian: Clark, Doug. "What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit." The Spokesman-Review, 2015-08-23, section, B3 edition.
  • Wikipedia (this article): <ref>{{cite news| title=What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/What_a_week_for_costumed,_colorful_sci-fi_lovers_to_pay_visit | work=The Spokesman-Review | pages=B3 | date=2015-08-23 | via=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2024 }}</ref>
  • Wikipedia (this page): <ref>{{cite web | title=What a week for costumed, colorful sci-fi lovers to pay visit | url=http://cuttingsarchive.org/index.php/What_a_week_for_costumed,_colorful_sci-fi_lovers_to_pay_visit | work=Doctor Who Cuttings Archive | accessdate=2 March 2024}}</ref>