Eccentricon

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Convention
Name: Eccentricon
Dates: 1987
Frequency: one time? (considered to be Medtrek III.)
Location: Australia
Type: fan run fan con
Focus: Science Fiction, Blake's 7, Star Trek, other media fandoms
Organization:
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL:
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Eccentricon was a fan-run Science Fiction and Media con in Australia.

1987

Printed Ephemera

Con Report

Hawing arrived at the College, we found it to be a collection of buildings of various vintages, the older brick ones being quite charming, some festooned with a vivid orange honeysuckle(?). Contrary to warnings from Australian friends, Hawkesbury wasn't cold at all, despite its proximity to the Blue Flountains; it didn't freeze and we hardy Kiwis appreciated the sub-tropical palms and wild cockatoos. The student accommodation we were assigned was first rate - each room was well heated and had a little balcony complete with washing line. There were communal tea and coffee making facilities, and the shower had copious amounts of high pressure hot water. Where the College fell down was the food. Most of the time it was abysmal, however this did help to create a feeling of fellow suffering and camaraderie, with warnings of "Don't touch the meatballs! They're still alive!" being shouted across the lawn to latecomers. I was assured by two nurses though that this fare was one hundred percent better than that served at their hostel. The stomach churns at the thought!

The spread of the College buildings was a little confusing at times, especially as the con facilities weren't well signposted, making night excursions rather adventurous at first. I feel this was compensated for though by the pleasant country setting and birdlife. We made a beeline for the dealers' room on the first night, and predictably this soon became the con social centre. I also managed to spend more than time in there over the course of the weekend. This was my first overseas con, and the sheer amount of zines, magazines, badges, etc, overwhelmed me. The quality and amount of artwork on sale also greatly impressed me. We have our own share of good artists in New Zealand, but they are only just beginning to display and sell their work.

[...]

The main attraction at the con for me was Brian Croucher. He was very friendly and approachable, and doubly dazzling in the beautiful multi-coloured Fair Isle jersey he'd bought in Sydney. It was the first time I'd met a B7 cast member, and I surprised myself by not even feeling nervous when I first sidled up to him. His easy manner soon put me at my ease. It was lovely to be able to share a meal with him, or just approach him at any time for a chat.

Brian did a question and answer session each day, and also signed his way through two lengthy autograph bouts. He demonstrated endless patience; I should imagine all the B7 cast are rather tired of being asked the same questions by different groups of people. I think he also showed remarkable restraint in not thumping the two people who persisted in acting as if they were groupies rather than intelligent adults.

The second major attraction of the con was being able to meet so many other fen who had hitherto been only names on letters or stories. I made a special point of searching out all the Blake fans, as we are a bit thin on the ground in comparison to the Avon ones. And despite what you Avonphiles are thinking, yes there are a few of us out there!

I loved the way many of the attendees wore costumes each day as a matter of course. Breakfast with Servalan and her honour guard of marines is something to be remembered. There was an 'official' costume parade on the Saturday afternoon, and a cabaret in the evening to give those who had developed an act to go with their costumes a chance to exercise their talents. Some of these were very good indeed: I wish I could remember more of the Klingon ladies' duet of "All I want is a man somewhere..." out it's a little risque anyway for a family newsletter. As well, there were some concern items, such as the Nearly Wed Game, eventually won by Servalan and Travis (alias Brian) by dint of some honest cheating. The concept of the off-world fashion parade was good, but the presentation fell rather flat despite the food vendor - selling 'Alien' eggs - who had bought the franchise off "the guy called Vila",

I must say a word here about the MC, Ian McLean. Superb. Brilliant. Amazing. I know that's three words, but he was so totally over the top he deserves the acclamation. I mean to say, have you ever seen an Imperial Klingon in formal evening attire before? He and Brian did an impromptu reading from an unfilmed "Star Trek" script that was being auctioned, and he managed to swap from Kirk to Decker to Zon,(the new Vulcan science officer,) in the blink of an eye, with each character more outrageous than the last.

Besides "Blake's 7" and "Star Trek", the theme of the con was the Galactic Senate Takeover, which was rather down-played from previous years from what I could gather. This is an opportunity to vote your favourite villains into power, and standing this year were No. 2, various Klingons and Romulans, Thrush, The Master and the Klingon Waltz (He Who Was Forgotten between ST 3 and 4), alias Ian MacLean. Thrush ran a very spirited campaign, bribing voters with lollipops or threatening them with bombs. Waltz also ran a spirited campaign (all the way from a cell on Vulcan, in fact) with free malt milkshakes, malt biscuits, and even a promotional video. Thrush eventually won the vote however, polling 1300 votes from only 292 attendees. Hey, I think there's something wrong there, especially as voting had to close when the ballot box was stuffed to overflowing.

The con ran late most of the time, and was slightly disorganised in that no-one seemed to be quite sure what was being held where at times. I felt it was under-programmed, with a few gaps here and there. I missed the supporting programme of videos we usually have at New Zealand cons; if you're at a loose end, you merely sit in on what's currently screening in the video room. When there was double-streaming, it ran against something like the writers' workshop, which was the one I most wanted to attend, against Brian's talk, or the auction, so I had to miss the first two workshops. No way was I going to forego Brian's talk, or the auction, as there were several B7 items on offer. There were several other workshops offered! sf gambling, costuming, fantasy makeup, running a convention, putting together a fanzine, and also a children's convention. This must have been of invaluable assistance to parents, as it enabled them to pursue their own interests. It must also have been an unqualified success, as we only saw the munchkins at mealtimes.

A news team from Channel 9 came and spent much of the Saturday afternoon and evening filming the goings-on. Someone was able to video their report and show it to the attendees. Unfortunately I've never seen anything so patronising and condescending; the reporter used the footage actually screened to entertain rather than inform, and treated everyone as if they had just escaped from the local asylum. The serious interviews with Brian and Bjo never made it to the screen. So much for unbiased reporting.

A large, magnificent air brush painting of the Liberator had been donated to the concom to raffle. However, despite buying lots of tickets I didn't win it, and had to console myself with third prize. If only Brian had drawn first prize last, as some wanted him to, it would have been mine. Sigh.

I was delighted to find that, in common with New Zealand fen, few Australians smoke, and as smoking was banned anyway in the communal rooms under College rules, it was a largely smoke free con. There was no filking though, which was something I sorely missed. One other interesting point is that out of the 292 attendees, 27 were librarians, which seems to be a rather high representation from an occupation which is not as common as soma. Perhaps this merely proves that librarians have good taste in their hobbies? The other Guest of Honour, Bjo Trimble, is a very lovely lady. She ran the writers' workshop each day, and also presented a slide show on the "Star Trek" television series. The two Federations co-existed peacefully for the duration, but I think Servalan would like to teach Kirk one or two things about military strategy.

Although Eccentricon didn't quite gel somehow, it was enjoyable from my point of view, and access to all merchandise available from the hucksters made the trip well worthwhile. Needless to say meeting Brian Croucher was worthwhile too; the opportunity to see the cast members comes very rarely Down Under. So although enthusiasm seemed to be lacking on the part of many of the attendees, it was a memorable experience. [1]

References

  1. from Horizon Newsletter #19