My first impression of Arisia was one of sartorial richness, stirred together with equal parts of humor, history, literary allusion, and performing arts. The non-stop schedule of movies, panels, gaming sessions, readings, parties and demonstrations got lost in the spectacle of costumed attendees swarming randomly around three levels of the hotel, and visible from any number of perspectives along the balustrades of the atrium. Out of this dizzying scene the iconic image of this con, for me, was that of a black-clad woman with blonde dreadlocks, jacked up on really tall stilts, and moving hazily across the rippling lobby carpet while slashing playfully at people with her foot-long razor nails. There were plenty of other costumes…indeed far to many to describe, except to say that the standard for corsets, ray-guns, battle-armor, cloaks, boots, scabbards, gowns, ragged wings, top hats, gloves, goggles, spats, walking sticks, holsters, capes, chain mail, and hardened-leather bustiere was conspicuously high! This managed to fit in with some of the subtexts running through the con, such as hentai anime, freemasonry, and steam punk vs. cyberpunk. And you could follow some of those threads on the con Twitter feed.
Let’s see if the traitors fleeing the pirate ship run by Bush and Cheney have as many tricks as my personal hero, Felix the Cat. Hopefully not! They deserve whatever is coming to them! Meanwhile,
On this snowbound Solstice weekend in New England, I happened to be reading reviews of The Day The Earth Stood Still remake, and pondering the ways in which humans have envisioned our first contact with alien life forms. Without going too heavily into the subject, I pondered the range of human-alien frission typically presented in SF, from the over-hyped assumption of instant warfare, or the however improbable love at first site, to the more nuanced anthropological approaches of Chad Oliver and the intensely portrayed psychological gestalts of Theodore Sturgeon. At that point Sturgeon’s amazing story To Marry Medusa (aka _The Cosmic Rape_) popped into my mind, and in particular the lush red cover image for the 1968 paperback by Paul Lehr. This image, so typical of Lehr (with a mountainous half-organic construction looming in the center, while miniscule beings flit around it like so many fleas,) represents the contact between human and alien minds in the realm of abstraction and metaphor. In that sense it fascinates more than the familiar image of some athletic dork with a ray gun zapping the tentacles off of a bug-eyed wierdo.