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Fandom — Force For Good

I observed something wonderful on the final day of MileHi Con.  Dani Kollin had come to do an interview for he and his brother’s Never Ending Panel.  Eytan was a bit late so Dani asked if we knew what was happening on the top floor of the hotel.  We didn’t so he bundled us off to the elevator to go and see.

What had happened was that this wood paneled area with large windows that was probably a conference space or maybe a defunct restaurant had been transformed into Hogwarts — scratch that.  It was the Avistrum Academy of Sorcery.  Stained glass tracings had been placed over the windows.  The art in the room had been covered with painting of dragons and wizards, and all around us were people in robes and long gowns, pointed hats, carrying wands.

In the room was a gaggle of kids in cloaks, all clutching wands and taking courses.  We observed the “Potions” course that was being taught by a chemistry professor, but who had changed  the Mr. Science lecture to better fit with a magical school.  Another teacher was slipping in Latin lessons under the guise of wand and spell control.  They had a physics professor.

Our guide told us that the kids were given homework assignments.  One was to go downstairs and observe and write essays about the muggle science fiction convention.  There were grades.  There are houses in the school, and they earn points for how well they accomplish tasks, and competition was fierce.

But wait, there was more.  In addition to the teachers and the kids there are a number of actors among the group, and a writer who prepares a script for each year’s event.  Periodically scenes play out that carry forward the story.  The kids are present at these events and interact with the actors.  This year a muggle Congressman had come to observe the school with an eye to shutting it down because he doesn’t trust witches and wizards.  His bodyguard were intrusive, hovering over the kids, handling their wands, etc.  There was a disembodied voice of a criminal witch issuing a threat.  The children were totally into every aspect of the events surrounding them as well as their studies.

I think this is lovely, brilliant and wonderful.  It gives S.F. fan parents a chance to attend that panel on plotting without having a bored eight year old in tow.  It means the eight year old is having a marvelous time, and (shhh, don’t tell them) learning while they play.

This is common in science fiction.  There was a wonderful Klingon fan club in the Midwest that dressed up in full uniforms complete with turtle heads and ran blood drives, and literacy program.  The kids loved being bellowed at by a Klingon to “Read Their Book!” and they had very good results.  And of course there is how our gang rallied around a friend who became terrible ill.

I’ll say it again.  Science fiction people are the coolest people.

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