When I first moved to the area two years ago, one of the first things I did was to attend Dragon*Con, one of the country's largest science fiction and fantasy conventions. This year was my third attending 'the con' and it was the best one yet.
I've been a fan of science fiction since I first saw "Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi" when I was a six. Over the years my fondness for the fantastic and mythological world of sci-fi has developed into a full-blown case of geekinitis. So when it's time for Dragon*Con each year, I'm in geek nirvana.
Each year the convention keeps getting bigger and bigger as more and more people give into their inner nerd (and are the better for it) and allow themselves to indulge in a weekend of Stormtroopers, comics and robots. Now encompassing four hotels, the con has become a 'big tent' for many collected fandoms, housing fans of anime, Star Trek and Lord of the Rings alike.
At the convention it's like an invisible self-imposed gag around my mouth is removed and I find myself happily debating with complete strangers the real motivations behind Anakin Skywalker's fall to the dark side (I'm not buying that drivel spooned out in "Revenge of the Sith") while the group behind me prattles on freely about the latest fan sighting of Sean Astin, who is a frequent convention attendee.
I'm a little amazed each year to see how many new different sci-fi/fantasy worlds keep sprouting up. Even for one fairly-in-tuned-geek, I can't keep up with all of the new books and games that keep coming out. I don't recognize half of the characters in costumes that waltz past me in the Hyatt's lobby. But it's all part of the appeal of Dragon*Con - getting tuned into something that you otherwise might have passed up.
Like Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon's new "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog," a short musical starring the hilarious Neal Patrick Harris and produced exclusively for Internet distribution that became a huge hit with fans/acolytes of Whedon over the summer.
I spent a large part of this year's convention hanging out with the Whedonverse folks, debating why Joss had to go and kill Wash from "Firefly." Years after the TV show's unwarranted and uncool cancellation by Fox and the even more abrupt axing of one of the show's most beloved characters in the movie "Serenity," the fans are still not over it.
My highlight from this year's con was definitely hearing Academy Award nominee Edward James Olmos, who plays Admiral Adama in "Battlestar Galactica" (one of the best TV shows ever created, period) lead a crowd of thousands of fans in chanting the show's famous saying, "So say we all" for several feet stamping, fist pumping rounds. It was thrilling; especially considering this was one of the first conventions Olmos has ever attended.
It's my opinion (also shared by Olmos) that sci-fi conventions are one of America's best-kept secrets. To all of you out there who think you're too cool to attend one because they're only for geeks, nerds and fangirls, I've got news for you, you're not too cool and you really should attend.
For information on next year's Dragon*Con, held Labor Day weekend, visit www.dragoncon.org.