Magically Fictitious

LepreCon 29. Don't let the name fool you -- there will be no green beer or fuzzy short guys with goofy hats and pipes munching Lucky Charms cereal and spewing riddles. Rather, those who venture to the Embassy Suites Hotel at I-17 and Greenway Road this weekend likely will encounter rockets and rocket riders, dragons and dragon riders, mutants and monsters, time travelers and shape-shifters, barbarians and beasties. Nearly everything but leprechauns, actually, though there might be one or two of the wee folk about (who mustn't be confused with Hobbits or Elves).

In fact, LepreCon, a convention that deals in very elaborate fashion with science fiction, fantasy and horror literature and art -- with an emphasis on the art -- takes its name from the days when these conventions ran on St. Paddy's Day.

According to Mike Willmoth, who co-wrangles the event, "Unfortunately, tourism in Phoenix has made it impossible to book hotels during those weekends, so we moved the date and kept the name."

It all started in the mid-'70s, which makes this the 29th annual LepreCon, and Willmoth tells us that it generally draws between 400 to 500 attendees each year.

Not exactly what one might think of as small-time convention stuff.

There are art auctions, sales and displays, masquerade balls with interesting visual effects, rooms devoted to sci-fi videos (TV and movies) and Japanese anime. There is also live music, dancing and, if we know our sci-fi fan folk, some cavorting as well.

As is usually the case, there is a dealers' area with books, videos, swords and costumes, music and art, from Star Trek to Star Wars to Matrix to Dune to Lord of the Rings to X-Men -- to infinity and beyond.

One of the most fascinating aspects of the event is the variety of panel discussions addressing everything from "Space Exploration in the Wake of the Shuttle Columbia Accident" to "Sex Toys of the Future" to "The Vampire As Good Guy."

And that doesn't begin to take into consideration the lineup of international, national and local guests. This year's Artist Guest of Honor is Larry Elmore, whose fantasy paintings can be found on the covers of many books, like Dungeons and Dragons and Dragonlance.

In the literature arena, the Writer Guest of Honor is prolific urban fantasy novelist Charles de Lint, author of the recently published Spirits in the Wires. Lint and his wife, MaryAnn Harris, will perform some folky/Celtic music during the convention, something they evidently do among friends in the pubs of Ottawa.

Seeing is believing -- or is it? In any case, it's worth the Internet venture to to get a better sense of what this deal is all about. The convention Web site includes links to various participants, including the artists and much of their work, as well as access to prior LepreCon conventions.

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Henry Cabot Beck