Corrections or additions?

This article by Bart Jackson was prepared for the April 3, 2002

edition of

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

our own.

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

JerseyDevilCon, Sheraton Edison Hotel, Raritan Center,

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

6 p.m.

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