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To infinity and beyond

CopperCon convention brought out more than the inner-Trekkie

 by Nicolle Fuggs
 published on Thursday, September 7, 2006


Captain Spock, fairies, pirates and storm troopers.

Science fiction fans went all out for this year's masquerade at CopperCon 26, an annual sci-fi and fantasy convention.

More than 200 people attended the 26th CopperCon festival Sept. 1 to 4 at the Tempe Mission Palms Hotel.

CopperCon is a small-scale conference that originated to give the local science fiction community their own WorldCon. While most conventions focus on the films and the stars of science fiction celebrity, CopperCon spotlights the folks behind the scenes of science fiction media.

"We don't go ga-ga over the actors," says Charles Cady, a convention volunteer who has been attending sci-fi conventions since the early 1970s.

The guests of honor at the festival were authors, artists, poets, directors and writers.

Although many attendees were there to show off their costumes, this year's convention wasn't just for the movie and television show fanatics. Dozens of presentations, programs and discussions about a variety of science fiction topics were also available.

Just ask David A. Williams, a faculty research associate who works for the Department of Geological Sciences/Planetary Geology Group at ASU.

Williams says he is glad Arizona has a strong science fiction community.

"A lot of the people that go to these [festivals] are very interested in science and space exploration," Williams says. "That's why I started to do presentations here."

Williams says he came to Arizona as a graduate student studying planetary geology at ASU. He was inspired to go into planetary geology when he was very young, and now NASA funds much of his work that focuses on robotic spacecraft missions to other planets.

"I used to watch 'Star Trek' as a kid, and this year at WorldCon [CopperCon's national convention], I got to meet William Shatner and tell him how his show led me into the career I'm in today," he says.

Williams has been attending CopperCon for the past eight years. He gives presentations on the projects that he works on, as well as NASA's other upcoming projects like the New Horizons mission, a project that will explore Pluto in 2015.

Other ASU organizations like the Mars Society, the National Space Society and the new School of Earth and Space Exploration also had informational displays at the convention.

But for the light-hearted fans in it for fun, the convention wasn't all about space and technology.

There were presentations and workshops about everything from anime to Star Trek books and the sad state of science fiction television programming.

CopperCon also featured a masquerade on Saturday night where attendees could show off homemade costumes inspired by their favorite fantasy character or historical era. Some contestants reenacted scenes from films or TV shows.

The winner of the contest was a man who dressed in Renaissance garb. His costume made it appear like he was standing on the shoulders of a dwarf, with his real legs disguised as the dwarf's legs. He designed his costume based on a scene in an old "Star Trek" episode where one of his favorite characters rides on the shoulders of a very strong little creature.

The convention setting combined with an unconventional topic translates into a strange cultural experience.

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