Corrections or additions?
This article by Bart Jackson was prepared for the April 3, 2002
U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.
Horror, Sci-Fi, & a Full Moon
Those seeking deliverance unto goulies, ghosties,
beasties, and authors who make you go howl in the night will assuredly
want to step through the portals of the Second Annual JerseyDevilCon.
Held during the moon’s final quarter — Friday through Sunday,
April 5 through 7 — at the Sheraton Edison Hotel Raritan Center
in Edison, this purely grassroots convention promises an eclectic
smorgasbord of science fiction, fantasy, and horror programs for all
Certainly, JerseyDevilCon’s celebration of the outlandish will be
most marked by the opportunity to hear and chat with its coven of
renowned and best selling cult authors. British fantasy writer Terry
Pratchett will be on hand to ponder his sardonically fantastic
the hilarious setting from which have risen and flourished 25
novels, like toadstools in a mismanaged swamp. Jerry Pournelle, who
has authored "Footfalls," "The Mote in God’s Eye,"
"Lucifer’s Hammer." and a host of popular science fiction
novels will discuss both technology as it now stands as well as
as soon may be. Before taking up the fiction pen, Pournelle worked
on projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo. He currently writes several
non-fiction science columns. He also chairs our nation’s Citizens’
Advisory Council for a National Space Policy.
Pratchett and Pournelle will be joined by popular horror and sci-fi
writer Charles Grant whom thousands know as Lionel Fenn, creator of
the humorous Kent Montana series. From a more classical launching
pad, Grant, as Timothy Boggs has written several original novels,
based on the Hercules television series. His latest books are
"Whirlwind," and "Raven and Jackals." Each of these
authors has accrued numerous honors from such specialized critical
organizations as Nebula, along with plaudits from millions of readers.
Yet too frequently, their quality is bypassed as they are condemned
into the dustbin of "genre" fiction.
Britain’s wildly popular and insightful Pratchett stands a prime
of this literary passover. Those unfamiliar with the author or his
blunderful creation Discworld, might best envision a muddly medieval
realm of Bettlejuices, blended with characters far more human and
thus more bizarre. Throughout such novels as "Small Gods,"
"Carpe Jugulum," "Death," and his latest "The
Truth," Pratchett holds a hilariously fractured mirror to our
own slightly skewed daily travails.
Pratchett’s books are truly page-turners in the most luxuriant sense.
Currently, in this overly rushed era, "page turner" has come
to be considered the zenith of all literary praise. Publishers pray
for it. Readers pay it, while hastily striving to put an author’s
work quickly behind them. Writers, however, returning this compliment
with a forced smile, realize that their every agonized image and
has just been swept aside in the headlong pursuit of plot.
But the verbally unique Terry Pratchett inspires readers to rush and
revel in each new sentence. We cannot wait to move on, seeking to
savor that next satiric jest about this dwarf or the new insightful
barb concerning that patrician. And in this, Pratchett never
He sweeps into the city of Ankh-Morpork in which "the street was,
if not a dead end, seriously wounded by the area’s change in
and where its ruler "does bloody nothing — one of the most
difficult things to do properly, in politics." Institutions,
even avenues are laid bare in this world supposedly totally unlike
For those of a less literary bent, JerseyDevilCon
an array of famed and fascinating personalities well worth meeting.
Aetherco/Dreamcatcher’s president Barbara Manui will join its VP Chris
Adams and illustrator David Fooden to discuss their firm’s development
of Role Playing Games (RPG), such as "White Wolf,"
and "Narcissist." They will also unveil the secrets behind
their creation of the satiric comic strip "Yamara" that
in Dragon magazine. Fantasy artist and Dover Publications art director
Jeff Menges will also add an artistic and RPG touch, as will comics
artist Mike Kaluta, famed for his for his work in "Batman,"
"The Shadow," "Metropolis," and "The Spawn of
Drifting to the farther edge of reason, Dr. SETI, the rambunctious
scientific pundit, will again take possession of the body of Dr. H.
Paul Shuch and enlighten listeners via a blend of science and song.
For the children, costumed storytellers, musician Roberta Rogow, the
rather macabre Patient Creatures, and local artist Jael will all flow
through the Sheraton’s enchanted hallways.
Among the petrified realm of the laboratory-bound, JerseyDevilCon
may be swiftly and erroneously tossed aside as containing no redeeming
scientific value. Yet science, whatever its search, demands both
and vision. And it is here, amidst the art shows, masquerades, and
autograph signings lurks that elusive scientific vision. Such
as "Artemis Awaits" — a serious discussion of what it
takes to return to the moon using reasonably available technology
— "Bioethics of the Human Genome Project" and "Basic
Astronomy" all dwell happily with "How to Lie with
"Utopias for Communists, Libertarians, and Thog’s Ultra-Militant
Feminist Masterclass." Wisdom defies format. It can even burst
forth with a laugh.
Conference founder and organizer Steve Yoder, who makes a career of
selling books on E-bay, moved to Metuchen a couple of years ago and
discovered the Garden State’s terrible void. "There was absolutely
no sci-fi/fantasy convention in the entire state," he says. Taking
advantage of New Jersey’s close proximity to centers of publishing
and scientific research, the convention quickly outgrew its original
scope. So for those who still hold a touch of vision within their
souls, come join your fellows. A faithful leap into science —
and its art — await.
— Bart Jackson
732-287-6401. The second annual convention features authors Jerry
Pournelle, Terry Pratchett, and Charles Grant; artist Jeff Menges;
and comic Mike Kaluta. Cost is $40 for three days; or $15 to $25
day’s admission. Friday, April 5, 1 p.m. to midnight,
April 6, 10 a.m. to midnight, and Sunday, April 7, 10 a.m. to
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