Marscon 2016: The Women in Science Fiction
At one time the gathering grounds for outcasts and the socially awkward, the sci-fi convention is now the epicenter of all things trendy and has come from relative obscurity to the forefront of mainstream popularity. Marscon, Tidewater Virginia’s longest running sci-fi convention, is no exception.
Over the course of three days, Jan. 15-17, the Double Tree Hotel in Williamsburg welcomed for the first time approximately 1,200 con-goers for a weekend of science fiction, fantasy, cosplay, gaming and more with the theme of women in science fiction and fantasy.
Main events included the annual “Dr. Who Tea Party.” There was also a meet-and-greet with the 501st Legion local Rocky Horror shadow cast who participated in Fishnet Inc.’s production of the cult classic film and a tribute to the late horror master Wes Craven.
This year, Marscon saw the conversation of gender politics within the genre dominate discussions. Late Friday evening, fantasy novelists Ellen Kushner, Nickie Jamison and Melissa Scott offered aspiring writers their advice on developing realistic LGBT characters.
A heated debate erupted during the Joss Whedon and Female Characters panel on Saturday when one brave audience member asserted that Captain Mal Reynolds (Nathan Fillion) of the “Firefly” series is actually a closeted misogynist. Panelists Wade Cutrell and Gail Z. Martin dissected “traditional formulas for horror films” addressing generic tropes in “Why the Blond Gets It First.”
Sunday’s “Space Opera Explodes Gender Barriers” group debated how the vast landscape of outer space and its virtual lack of worldly constraints serve as the ideal setting for patriarch-smashing storylines.
Though relatively small compared to Comicon, the Marscon community is tight-knit and far-reaching. Loyal fans attend this annual get-together religiously.
In spite of Marscon staff and hotel management’s best efforts to maintain a safe environment, local police and EMS were called to the hotel on Friday when a con-goer was found unconscious and on Saturday when guests next to a large party suite reported a disturbance.
Friday’s con-goer has since made a full recovery and the Saturday night party was moved into the ballroom where it continued until the wee hours of the morning.
The countdown for Marscon 2017 has already begun, though details as to when and where it will be held have yet to be announced.