Shore Leave is, I believe, the oldest surviving fan-run Star Trek convention in the United States. Does anyone know of an older one? Please let me know, if so. I’ve been attending since Shore Leave VI, in 1984. I recall that Mark Lenard and Walter Koenig were there. At that point in time, I didn’t know there was much more to a con than actors and a dealers’ room. I was on the committee for Shore Leaves VII and VIII, and then wrote, directed or appeared in plays at their “Shore Leave Showcase” on Sunday afternoons for more years than I could count. You might say I have a long history with this convention.
This is my third outing as a guest of the convention and part of its author track. I got to participate in a lot of programming. Here’s the highlight.
Friday there was an authors’ panel on Star Trek: Into Darkness. Actually, I wasn’t part of it, but my son Ethan was, so I attended. For this one, I think we heard from the audience more than the panelists. Susan Olesen, who proposed the panel, had really wanted to avoid having it become an “Old Trek v. New Trek” battle. I guess that couldn’t be avoided. There were some very good comments about the story structure and the characterization, but there was an awful lot of outrage directed at the film for parodying the beloved death scene from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. My favorite moment was when Ethan described the relationship between Kirk and Spock as “guy love,” a la Scrubs, and A.C. Crispin called out “Thus spake the grandson of Bev Volker.” (My late Mother-in-law was a major player in the fanzine movement known as “Hurt/Comfort,” which was all about male-male friendships. She also help Ann edit her first novel, Yesterday’s Son.)
Meet the Pros always happens late Friday night at Shore Leave. This year several dozen authors were lined up to sell and sign their books, myself included. I sold a few books, notably volumes II and III of the ReDeus series, and signed a lot of autographs alongside fellow ReDeus authors Phil Giunta and William Leisner.
Saturday morning we discussed The Influence of Soundtracks on Writing. This was Jim Johnson’s brain child. Turns out an awful lot of us put an awful lot of energy into finding the perfect music to write to, and film music, lacking lyrics, is ideal. David Mack tagged Hans Zimmer as his favorite composer for inspiration. Several of us mentioned John Williams, and I brought up my favorite, Patrick Doyle. Though I do admit that I just throw my “Scores” genre on shuffle most of the time. Melissa Scott talked about fitting the piece of music to the mood of the passage being written. I also told the story of how one piece of music from the Lost in Space TV series (“Lift-Off” by Hans J. Salter) inspired me to turn the god-awful final act of Unfriendly Persuasion into something that I wasn’t ashamed to put before human eyes.
The Influence of Fanzines on Fandom delivered several perspectives. Paul Kupperberg was very active in Comics fandom in the early 70s, and keeps his hand in today. Martha Sayre started off in Trek fandom, also in the 1970s, and is still active now. Phil Giunta and I started off in Trek fic as well, in the 90s and 80s, respectively. And Loraine Anderson describes herself as “Halfway between pro and fandom.” Not a bad place to be. We reminisced a lot, of course, talking about Prestype and wax rollers and collating parties. We also took on some questions of intellectual property, how creators feel about their characters being “slashed,” and Amazon’s new “Worlds” program for paid fanfic.
Superheroes in Film was a free-for-all. Well, when you put Peter David, Keith RA DeCandido, Greg Cox, Ethan and me on a panel to talk about comic books and their film adaptations, that’s what you expect. Thanks to Jon Eigen for bringing up the ridiculous level of violence and the too-long scenes of people punching each other, and to Peter for answering it, “So you didn’t like Man of Steel?” (No one on the panel did, except Greg, who wrote the novelization. Sorry, Greg! You’re still a helluva storyteller!) Favorite question: “What the hell is up with DC Comics?” The answer? Peter basically said that, as a comics company, DC is a wonderful producer of TV shows.
The Firebringer Press session was opposite Bill Shatner’s autograph line, so it was under-attended. But we did have two very nice attendees who asked great questions, and we filled the whole hour talking about what’s coming next, and admiring Mike Riehl’s beautiful concept sketches for our upcoming anthology.
Saturday night was the Marty Gear Memorial. I’m so grateful to my friends at Shore Leave for helping me pull this together on short notice. So many of Marty’s friends and family were able to gather together for the first time since his passing and share their memories. It was just what we all needed. We spoke in turns for two hours plus, without a pause. Some of the stories were funny, some were touching. One or two moved me to tears. And yes, someone (I think it was Cindy Shockey) had the presence of mind to have Kleenex delivered to the room in advance!
“The New Frontier – Self Publishing” was basically a primer on what to think about if you’re going to self-publish. Thanks to Aaron Rosenberg for saying that the Crazy 8 Press crowd saw me as a pioneer in this field. In fact, Don Sakers is largely responsible for me knowing how to do this! Great discussion, covering a lot of the points covered in a similar panel at Mysticon, and in my earlier blogs.
“Old Tyme Radio” was TA Chafin’s baby. Alan is a rabid collector of OTR. Alan, any idea why it was spelled with a “Y?” We reviewed a lot of the SF radio throughout the decades since its inception, and covered some modern stuff, too. Richard C. White joined us at the last minute, and was a pleasure to share a panel with. He’s written a novella based on the classic series Rocky Jordan.
Sunday was capped with the ReDeus panel, which featured too many authors to fit on one wall of the room. Bob Greenberger and Aaron Rosenberg (Paul K. had to catch a train) discussed plans for ReDeus in the next year, including plans to release two or three novels alongside another anthology.
Actors? Yeah, they were there too. I don’t move in that circle much, but I saw Brent Spiner at his table, as well as Greg Evigan. Never did see William Shatner, Eddie McClintock, Amanda Tapping or Saul Rubinek. (Oh, wait! I think I went in the ballroom during Saul’s talk, but I was on a mission and it didn’t register.) Fortunately, I did see Shatner at his one-man show back in November. I can never thank him enough for his inspirational advice: “Never be afraid to make an ass of yourself. I do it all the time!” (And no, that’s not a dig. William Shatner was, is and always will be my hero. I hope the love and admiration that fans at Shore Leave brought to him makes up for some of the undeserved abuse he’s suffered over the years from people who claim to be fans.)
I was glad to catch up with old and dear friends from the committee: Inge Heyer, Marilyn Mann, (never saw her – we only spoke on the phone!), George Laurence, Larry Kozek and the Conventional Magic crew, Jim Kratzer, Kathy Daugherty, Weston Scrimger, Karen Strong, Melissa James, and (briefly on the escalator) Kett Kettering.
Seeing these people, most of whom I’ve known and worked with for almost thirty years, it occurred to me that local Fandom still has an overwhelming ratio of maturity to youth in key positions. I’m proud that my two sons, as well as a half-dozen or so other high school and college age fans are on the Farpoint and Shore Leave committees and staffs, but there are still an awful lot of us doing a bit more work than we probably should after all these years. I think one of the biggest priorities we have as con organizers (and retired con organizers like myself) is to encourage young people to join our ranks. We need to find what they’re interested in and support it, we need to make them feel welcome at our cons, and we need to embrace their ideas. This was a message which rung out loud and clear at Marty’s memorial, and it’s a very important one. If you’re reading this blog and you can think of something we should be doing that we’re not, please shout out!