MidAmeriCon (34th Worldcon)

(Don - 5th)[Don - 2nd Worldcon]

1976: September 1-6

Hotel Muehlebach, Kansas City, MO

GOH: Robert A. Heinlein
Fan GOH: George Barr
Toastmaster: Bob Tucker

Attendance: 2800

"Big MAC," as the MidAmeriCon was affectionately(?) known, was in trouble even before it began.

Horrified by the 4500+ crowd at DisCon II, the MAC committee decided that they must find ways to limit membership. Despite the unusual step of using more than one hotel, they still could not hope to deal with a crowd which they projected at over 7000. Therefore, MAC put the following "unprecedented" measures into practice: (1) A "sliding" membership rate which increased with time to an "outrageous" at-the-door fee of $50; (2) Discourage "fringe" fans by having no programming relating to comics, Star Trek, Planet of the Apes (!) or SCA; (3) Eliminate all-night movies; (4) Keep a "low profile" in publicity, both local and throughout the sf field.

You should have heard the screams of protest!

Well, looking back on it all from the perspective of today, the things MAC chose to do weren't all that bad; just about every Worldcon since has used some combination of the above measures.

Don took the bus to Kansas City, and discovered a vital fact about himself and Greyhound buses: he has no trouble with any bus ride less than 1000 miles. Unfortunately, KC was 1100 miles away. Don was miserably carsick the last hundred miles, and he wound up using his Dad's MasterCharge to purchase a plane ticket for the return trip. The first time (at least in adulthood) he'd flown, too.

Big MAC was truly enjoyable. It was the first con where Don stayed at the hotel, and he discovered room parties as well as bheer, skinny-dipping, and a number of other fine fannish traditions which have since passed away. He was by myself in a strange city, 18 and free of parental supervision; he loved it.

Big MAC issued con members with hospital-type ID bracelets; a truly non-counterfeitable ID. In addition, of course, there were the usual name badges.

The highlight of the con was the Robert A. Heinlein Blood Donor Reception: Heinlein decided to encourage volunteer blood donation by having a couple receptions for blood donors, to give them special pins and sign their books. Don still has both his pin and his signed copy of Time Enough for Love....

The program also featured closed-circuit TV coverage of the Masquerade and a special Cordwainer Smith presentation ("Sails of Moonlight, Eyes of Dust") that was really nifty.

The saddest part of any Worldcon is scanning the "In Memoriam" page of the program book; Big MAC's featured James Blish, Leo Margulies and Edgar Pangborn.

The Bullsheet is filled with interesting tidbits, including this: "Remember the Star Wars display. Production paintings, and sketches, as well as props, costumes, and photographs from Star Wars are on display in room 364. On Saturday the room will be open from noon to 9:00 PM. At 1:30 in the Imperial Ballroom Star Wars producer Gary Kurtz and actor Mike (sic) Hamill (he plays lead Luke Skywalker) will answer questions after a special slide presentation on the film."

(Sunday's Bullsheet offered the following correction: "It's Mark Hamill, not Mike Hamill . . . ")

Viking II touched down on Mars on Saturday of the convention.