Tuesday, September 1, 2015
By MICHAEL WALSH
Entering the main hall of the Spokane Convention Centre on the first day of Sasquan, the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention, I recalled the first words spoken in the 1946 fantasy feature Stairway to Heaven: "This is the universe.
"Big, isn't it?"
Nearly two weeks later, I'm still feeling just one more nap away from normal. The days spent on the road and at the event were full, fascinating but also wearing. The days since have been a bit foggy, as mind and body attempt to recover from the inevitable post-con exhaustion.
Big, wasn't it?
According to its organizers, Sasquan sold 11,635 memberships, of whom 5,181 showed up for the five-day convention. In the introduction to my restored review of Star Trek Generations, I recalled that the first Worldcon, a 200-member event held in New York in 1939, was essentially a gathering of teenaged boys.
Today's science fiction fandom is more diverse, with women involved (and often in charge) in every aspect of the community's activities. And fandom is older.
In one edition of Sasq-watch, the convention's daily newsletter, con chair Sally Woherle noted that "There are over 60 people in scooters or wheelchairs at Sasquan." As someone who's counted a cane among my fashion accessories since late 2013, I've been acutely aware of mobility issues. The greying of fandom was certainly made evident by the visible minority of Sasquan members for whom breakdancing is no longer a leisure-time option.
The big event left me with a lot of thoughts, most of which I'm still processing. For the moment though, I'm concentrating on Reeling Back and its demand for every-second-day postings. With more than 500 items in the archive, the 10 most recent are:
EARTH GIRLS ARE EASY — Valley girl-speak was an established pop culture phenomenon when rock satirist Julie Brown took the idea to the next level with this 1988 sci-fi musical comedy. Under Julien Temple's direction, Geena Davis and Jeff Goldblum played a couple who overcome their considerable differences to find love in the stars. (Posted August 31)
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY — Arnold Schwarzenegger, who broke through as a star presence in 1984's The Terminator, returned to the role in this 1991 sequel. The last movie in the franchise to be directed by James Cameron, it remains the best of the five features in the series. (Posted August 29)
CAVEMAN — One of the many eccentric film projects featuring former Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, this 1981 prehistoric farce is set in the year "One Zillion BC." Director Carl Gottlieb's actors all speak an invented language, putting across the story with silent screen physical comedy. (Posted August 27)
STAR TREK GENERATIONS — One of the most successful screen franchises, the Star Trek series marked the transition from the "classic" crew to its "next generation" with this 1994 feature. In its tale of two captains, William Shatner's James T. Kirk symbolically passes the torch to Patrick Stewart's Jean-Luc Picard. (Posted August 19)
MAD DOG AND GLORY — Both tough guy actor Robert De Niro and intense drama director John McNaughton were trying to lighten up when they collaborated on this 1993 inner-city romantic comedy about a cop who receives a girl (Uma Thurman) as a thank-you gift from a mobster (Bill Murray). (Posted August 17)
ROXANNE — Shot on location in Nelson, B.C., Steve Martin's 1987 reconsideration of the stage classic Cyrano de Bergerac showed the comic actor to be a writer of generosity and insight. Daryl Hannah co-starred as the seemingly unobtainable object of his affections. (Posted August 14)
BABAR: THE MOVIE — Canadian acting icon Gordon Pinsent provided the voice for the Elephant King in this 1989 cartoon feature, the first big-screen feature adapted from the long-running series of children's books, orginally written and illustrated by Jean de Brunhoff. (Posted August 12)
OUR FEATURE FILM FEST: 14 — In Part 14 of a 20-part series, Reeling Back continues The Greater Vancouver Book Feature Film Festival with restored notes on 15 movies about madness that could be described as Cabin Fever Dreams. (Posted August 8)
PORKY'S II: THE NEXT DAY — Remembered as one of Canada's most successful directors, American-born Bob Clark made eight features during his decade in Toronto. The last was this 1982 teen comedy, the sequel to his epic money-maker, Porky's. (Posted August 5)
SCI-FI'S BRITISH EMPIRE QUIZ — To mark the B.C. Day statutory holiday, Reeling Back recalled that ours is the only Canadian province with the word "British" in its name, and offered this test of readers' knowledge of the influence of Britain and Britons on science-fiction and fantasy cinema. (Posted August 3)