Medtrek (con)

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Convention
Name: Medtrek
Dates: 1980s, 1990s
Frequency:
Location: Australia
Type: fan run, celebrity guests
Focus: multimedia
Organization: Astrex
Founder:
Founding Date:
URL:
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Medtrek was an Australian multimedia (at first Star Trek) con. It generated two zines, one fiction: Medtrek and one non-fiction: ReviewZine.

Medtrek 1 (1982)

This con was held 13-14th February 1982 at the Hydro Majestic Hotel in Medlow Bath, NSW. The pro GoH, science fiction novelist A. Bertram Chandler, was listed in pre-publicity as "a surprise" and the fan GoH was Shayne McCormack. This first con was a Star Trek one.

Medtrek 2 (1984)

This con was held March 10 and 11, 1984 at the Shore Inn Hotel in Artarmon, NSW. The pro GoH was Bjo Trimble.

Medtrek 3 (1987)

Medtrek 3 was subtitled Eccentricon, and it was held July 4 and 5, 1987 at the then-Hawkesbury Agricultural College in Richmond, NSW. The pro GoHs were Bjo Trimble and Blake's 7 actor Brian Croucher.

  • Theme: By Popular Demand: The Galactic Senate Take Over.

Medtrek 3 (1987): 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]

Medtrek 4 (1991)

This con was held October 4-7, 1991 at the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, in Richmond, NSW. The pro GoH was David Prowse of Star Wars. The fan guest of honor was Marianne Plumridge.

program front cover for 1991
back cover of the 1991 program book, a space for autographs
a flyer printed in Beyond Antares R-Rated #8

Other guests of honor were Ian "Ace" Auhl (professional model builder), Gary Armstrong (models, props, costumes), Peter Lupinski (costuming and latex work), Edwina Harvey (huckster), Jozef Szekeres (animation), Nick Stathopoulos (artist, also the con's Master of Ceremonies).

The con had about 110 attendees.

It was chaired by Joanne Keating, Susan Clarke, and Patrica Anderson. Other con members were Ruth Collerson, Graeme Batho, Jo Kaye, Susan Bellenger, David Hayes, Christopher Smith, Ian Kerr, Mavis Smith, Rebecca Kennedy, Karen Auhl, Linda Cox Chan, Andrew Scott, Carolie Johnson, and Peter McMullen.

The program book contains 48 pages. It contains:

  • a full-page photo of the con chairs: Joanne Keating, Susan Clarke, and Patrica Anderson
  • programming, descriptions of programs, rules
  • a bio for Prowse
  • full-page photo of Prowse
  • a full-page photo of Marianne Louise Plumridge (fan artist), fan guest of honor
  • a bio and interview with Plumridge
  • a two-page comic by Linda Cox Chan and Sean Rowleson called "Revenge of the Empire"
  • smaller photos of the other con com members
  • bios of each of the con chairs and the other committee members
  • an introduction regarding the con and its history
  • transcript of an 4-page interview with Prowse, conducted by the mail and administered by Justine Fisher. Some excerpts:

In your numerous appearances in Science Fiction conventions you must have been asked some outlandish questions by your fans - what was the most memorable one?

Nothing outlandish springs to mind but something probably will after I have sent this letter off to you. One of the most interesting happenings was at the very first convention I ever did in Columbus, Ohio. When I was met at the airport by the organisers they said they were giving me a team of bodyguards to look after me. When I got to the hotel where the Con was being held I met the bodyguards who were ten of the largest, toughest girls I've ever set eyes on. They followed me everywhere, kept all the fans at bay and even slept in sleeping bags outside my room in the hotel corridor "to stop the lady fans getting to me".

What was the most unusual request you have received at one of your appearances? I am always getting asked to sign my name across ladies' bosoms and other parts of their bare anatomy."

Many of your fans would say you possess the attributes of the ultimate screen villain. What do you think they are? Darth Vader is now regarded as the ultimate screen villain of all time and I am very pleased to be the actor who created him. I thought a lot about the portrayal and decided the first thing I had to do was to make everybody else subservient to myself and this all started with the walk where everybody else practically had to trot along just to keep up with me. Of course the costume and the mask helped enormously and you also got the impression that Vader was remorseless (until he weakened in "Return of the Jedi" which I personally thought was a wrong move.)

What was the most difficult aspect of playing the character of Darth Vader?

Having to try to convey your emotions through a black plastic mask and helmet and after Star Wars where they overdubbed my voice, knowing that whatever lines you were called upon to deliver, it did not make the slightest bit of difference because James Earl Jones was going to be called in to do the final voice over. We were only given our pages of the script and we had no idea as to where they fitted in to the overall story. I think the complete lack of trust by the producers and directors was the most difficult aspect of the Star Wars involvement to deal with.

Why did you turn down the first Star Wars role that was offered to you - that of Chewbacca?

I turned down Chewbacca primarily because I considered it to be a nothing of a part -the occasional grunt here and there - and I didn't fancy three months in what amounted to be nothing more than a gorilla skin.
From the program book:

Welcome to Medtrek IV. We mean it, so we're reiterating it.

We'd like to share some of the background of this convention with you. As you can see this is the fourth Media SF convention that I (Susan) have organised with] more than a little bit of help from my friends. Joanne is already talking about the fifth convention in the series... I'm talking about hanging up my hat for a little while and getting back to my writing, editing, fanzine publishing, and acting like a mother to my four children again. Walking the dog sounds really nice about now. Sitting back, vegetating in front of the video machine, embroidering gifties for my friends. Sleeping... yes, sleeping sounds wonderfully revolutionary at the moment. What's sleep like, Joanne? Neither of us have had very much of that precious commodity for monthes now.

At least it is a true test of friendship when you can live in each other's pockets, talk on the phone each day, work together each night, and still be talking and sharing things together.

How did Medtrek come about? It was something that was said by the departing members of the Sydney in 91 SF Worldconvention Bid team as they left for the United States with "Boomer" (who was called "Syd" in those days) in August 1988. We were going to have a "Not The.World Con" party should we not be successful. Whilst drinking beer in a bar at 3 am in the wet heat of New Orleans, we decided that that was indeed what we were going to do... only we'd make it a convention. Coining back, we threw ourselves into finding the long weekend nearest that date, a venue that people could afford, and planning a convention that would be fun and relaxing. Don't be fooled, folks, this is a RELAXACON! We're not pretending that it is anything else. A fun weekend, to raise money for the Camperdown Childrens Hospital.

Originally we intended to run for the National SF Media convention for this year, but several things prevented us. Both ourselves and Victoricon wanted to run but when our bids were refused by the chair of the business meeting at Conspire because the two-year ahead clause had only just been ratified and they weren't willing to instigate it from that convention, the time from Huttcon to our convention wasn't long enough, we felt, to achieve enough in the way of membership numbers to make the convention viable, financially - for either ourselves or Victoricon.

Since we were already committed to running the convention on behalf of the Camperdown Childrens Hospital, had asked our guest, David Prowse and booked the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury as the venue,we went ahead and we are here now and you are going to enjoy this easy-paced multi-streamed (well, there is a convention with a guest who gives freely of his time to any fan who is genuinely interested in having speach with him. Get to know him, Norma and our fan guest, Marianne Plumridge. They are all worthwhile people.

Medtrek 5 (1997)

This science fiction media convention was held January 25-27, 1997 at the University of Western Sydney, Hawkesbury, in Richmond, NSW. The pro-fan GoHs were Lewis Morley and Marilyn Pride.

References

  1. from Horizon Newsletter #19