Albacon '99

(Don - 118th)(Thomas - 126th)

1999: September 17 - 19

Ramada Inn

Schenectady, NY

GOH: Hal Clement
Artist GOH: Vincent DiFate
Fan GOH: Seth Breidbart

Hurricane Floyd roared up the East Coast the day before Albacon; when Thomas & Don arrived on Friday evening, the hotel was still drying out rooms where the windows had leaked. Many guests and attendees had to remain home, defeated by the weather.

Nevertheless, it was a great Albacon -- perhaps the best ever.

Hal Clement was a wonderful Guest of Honor. He held audiences spellbound with several stories of his Army days. Vincent DiFate, Art GOH, was very friendly and quite entertaining as well. It is tradition, in the Northeast U.S. at least, that a con isn't really a con until one sees Hal Clement.

Don and Thomas worked hard at Albacon; Don was on eight panels and Thomas on seven. Of course, the panels at Albacon are better than at any ten other cons put together; toward Sunday mid-afternoon, the boys had something of a washed-out feeling.

Don and Thomas gave a presentation on the Star Toys Museum on Saturday at 3 pm. This was a sequel to a panel called "You Can't Take It With You" at Albacon '97; the boys were proud to report to Albacon that yes, indeed, one could arrange to protect a fannish collection after one's death (or, as the panel description put it, one need not be a loser despite dying with the most toys.) In the audience were Billie Aul, who works for the New York State Library, and Steve Miller, who founded the Science Fiction Collection at the University of Maryland -- their questions and suggestions were most rewarding.

Steve Miller and Sharon Lee, both originally from Baltimore, moved to Maine in 1989. They were both delightful people, and Thomas and Don enjoyed meeting them.

Doyle and MacDonald were also at Albacon; it was nice to see them for the first time since the previous Darkover. Don's fellow Legion fan Priscilla Olson was there with her level-headed and well-educated husband, Mark.

Other particularly interesting panels included "Are the Borg on the Right Track?: Multiculturalism vs Assimilation" with Don, Billie Aul, Morgan Brilliant, Steve Carper, and Debra Doyle, "Popular Science vs Real Science" with Thomas, Don, Steve Carper, Fingers Delaurus, and Mark Olson.

Albacon co-founder jan howard finder (aka Wombat) was in Australia, so his place was taken by a "Wombat in absentia." Actually, there were three wombats in absentia: jan howard finder's friend Larry, who wore finder's trademark khaki vest and bush hat, and two stuffed wombats (both purchased in Australia.) There was quite a bit of tension on Saturday afternoon, when a person or persons unknown kidnapped the two stuffed wombats-in-absentia; however, the pair appeared late Saturday night underneath a table during the "Conspiracy Theory" panel. None the worse for wear, they stayed to be used as visual aids during the "Alien Sexuality" panel . . . .

After the con shut down on Sunday, Don and Thomas were taken to a great chinese dinner by Billie Aul, Tim Smith, and two guys from the Alternate Universe Gaylaxians (these four were the geniuses responsible for Albacon's stellar program). Laughter was constant, but all of them nearly lost control at the suggestion that e. coli be the Special Guest Disease and Mascot at next year's Albacon.

After dinner, Billie and Tim took Thomas and Don for a stroll in the historic Stockade section of Schenectady. Billie & Tim then went home for a well-deserved rest, and Don & Thomas collapsed into bed. On Monday, they drove home.

Incidentally, Albacon '99 marked just over 25 years since Don went to his first con.


Masquerade contestants.


The hotel lobby, with a wombat in absentia.


Hal Clement, whose presence traditionally makes a con really a con.


Thomas (far right) on a panel. At far left, two wombats in absentia serve as moderators.


A close-up on the wombats in absentia. The contents of the styrofoam cup are unknown.


Don (center) on a panel.

Previous Albacon