Aug 19

CON-VERSION 25: Preview

by Wil Knoll · 1 comment

“I’m totally going steam-punk. Because honestly, Storm Troopers are so 1990s.”

Ben comes across as an average guy upon first inspection. Normal looking, no glaring social defects that stop interactions, he even has a girlfriend who is gorgeous, fun and intelligent. He does not have any issues maintaining his personal hygiene. But here’s the thing. He’s one of them. Them. Ben you see is a nerd. Or a geek depending on who you ask. I personally would say geek. as I’ve always thought nerds were geeks that lacked the social skills. He’s part of the new breed. He walks among the normies. Girls give him their numbers when we hang out.

He is one of us. We are Legion. We are many. We are not your old school nerds. And we are gathering this weekend.

When I asked Ben if he was heading down to CON-Version, the three-day science fiction and fantasy event happening this weekend, his first response was “Yeah, I’m going to totally go steam-punk all over it”. He’s referring to one of the many subcultures in our broad mosaic of sub-genres. Steam-punk borrows style elements from an industrial age of steam power machinery, brass, leather and lace. Often, steam-punk costumes involve goggles, a laundered shirt, and a leather utility belt. But think less Batman and more Burning Man looses the color and fur, replaces the dust with grease, and reads by gas-powered light.

This year CON-Version, happening at The Metropolitan centre starting Friday, opens with a Steam-punk costuming session. If you are one of the normies and unfamiliar with a festival like this, where literature, media, and networking surround all forms of fantasy and science fiction, you may be unprepared for the very eclectic schedule of events. There are many discussions about the literature of course, with Terry Brooks and Hugo award winning Robert Sawyer as some of the keynote speakers. But it’s some of the other tracks that really show the the DNA of the community. The Craft of Making Armour, Science and why a Mile is a Mile, Radio Plays, Table Top Gaming, Movies, and then the requisite social events and parties flesh out any conferences day. Karaoke anyone? It’s right after the Masquerade and annual Slave auction.

As the media gestalt begins to move Geek towards sheik, I’m meeting more and more individuals like Ben, who are proving that most of the old nerd adages don’t hold true. Sure, he owns more than one telescope and microscope, but he doesn’t speak through his nose and gets out of the house weekly. Sure, your mom will really like him. But I’ve been solicited twice on my Facebook wall for his phone number.

You should come down to CON-Version. It’s gone way past being nerdy and it’s all the way into the cool now. You’re actually behind the times. Get your pocket watch, bowler cap, and science goggles and head on down. A weekend pass can be had for $50. If you just want to check out the Slave Auction and Party, a $25 Saturday Pass with get you all day Saturday and the night’s festivities.

CON-VERSION 25 – August 21 – 23, 2009 at the The Metropolitan Center.

Ben exists. An astrophysicist by trade, he is a founding member of
protospace, Calgary’s Hackerspace where he is a regular speaker. You
can watch his “Astronomy for Hackers” video on YouTube, and follow him
as @malzraa on twitter.

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