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Cybercon '93 A Retrospective

Compiled by Paul Scoones

Over the weekend of 28-29 August 1993, between fifty and sixty people gathered in the Elizabeth Kelly Room of the Christchurch Arts Centre for Cybercon, a convention run by and for members of the New Zealand Doctor Who Fan Club. In the style of the highly successful Doctorcon'92, held in January of the previous year, this convention was without a celebrity guest (an obligatory attraction of larger cons), and most if not all events required a high level of audience participation. Unlike its predecessor however, Cybercon had a wider scope - the theme was not just Doctor Who but science fiction in general, an innovation which seems to have met with approval from attendees.

Since Christopher Owen's report last issue, I have received quite a few more reviews of the weekend. The following retrospective is a compilation of pertinent comments from those contributions.

Pictionary was one of the convention's highlights, perhaps because it was so challenging. Justin Reynolds: 'For once I actually did quite well in Pictionary, despite some of the phrases being extremely difficult.'

Justin reported that Theatre Sports started slowly: 'Although there wasn't much interest to start with, they were a lot of fun for those who participated. The highlights included managing to kill Wesley Crusher twice, and three contestants abandoning their team mates for one round'.

Seek-Locate-Destroy, a variation on the traditional convention game KAOS (Killing As Organised Sport), was another often-cited highlight. Ehren Stowers thought it was 'A fabulous event; pity it couldn't have lasted a few more hours'.

The Brain Battle Talk Show was described by Justin as 'Phillip Gray taking the role of Oprah Winfrey' and received praise from most reviewers, including Justin: 'It was a great success, especially towards the end. It could easily have filled a bigger time slot.' Ehren also thought it was 'One of the most entertaining events. It was just getting good when time ran out!', and Aden Shillito said 'This event was one of the most popular and would be great as a convention warm-up event'.

The Video Making session did not attract much in the way of comment from viewers, but Justin told us that 'The video's plot, such as it was, involved Archie the Dalek, a group of muggers, and a small stuffed dinosaur'.

The auction was considered to be an entertaining experience, although 'very little was actually sold - everyone had already spent their money at the well-stocked merchandise tables. The biggest item bought was Archie the Dalek,' revealed Justin. 'I personally enjoyed the auction; you just wouldn't believe the amount of Andrew Poulsen's merchandise that people just didn't want to buy!' enthused Aden.

Battle to the Death - The Game Show was another popular item: 'A lot of fun, although the concluding battle could have been a bit more drawn out,' said Justin, and Ehren thought it was 'A huge success, and the questions weren't always that easy'.

The video programme proved extremely popular, so much so that Ehren expressed regret 'that so many people spent most of the con in the video room.' Paul Rigby thought the Amateur Video Festival section of the video programme - an opportunity for amateur production groups to screen their work - was 'an excellent idea, well executed', and Justin reported that of these amateur entries, 'the Matrix Video screening was the surprise hit of the con by popular demand it was allowed to over-run right through the time allotted to Sapphire and Steel'. After the closing ceremony, Aden's amateur production company, Nightshade Videos, premiered their new release, Nightfall. Justin considered this to be 'A very professional looking SF story. If Nightshade Video continue to improve, their videos will soon be good enough to screen on TV.'

The highlight for Chris Harwood was winning the Short Story Competition, but he cautions 'before you all rush to get my autograph, I was the only entry.'

In conclusion, the convention met with praise from all reviewers. 'A very successful event. It was great to meet people and see a bit of Christchurch' said Justin, and Jessica Smiler adds, 'A great con - another neat chance to put faces to all the names'.

The location was considered ideal by several reviewers, including Paul Rigby: 'The venue was idyllic, with a food market and botanical gardens nearby and situated under ten minutes walk from the town centre,' and added, 'Generally the events ran smoothly. It is important to note that the convention lived up to its science fiction billing admirably. While Doctor Who featured, it was by no means the only aspect covered. Like DoctorCon'92, the emphasis was on meeting people, and provided a chance to re-meet old friends and make new ones. Overall, a successful weekend, with the hard work put in by the organisers paying off.' Clinton Spencer agreed: 'An excellent location that can't be matched... Both days were action-packed and I never found myself bored or wondering what to do.'

Chris Harwood, attending his first convention, congratulates 'the Cybercon committee on producing a very enjoyable weekend... I was very pleased with what I saw.'

The final word however goes to the head Cybercon organiser himself, Aden: 'Cybercon consumed a mere six months planning and turned out an amazing success... I am sure this con can be called a success. Despite the senseless chaos, I still gained a great deal of fun from the experience of running a convention, and I'd certainly do it again when the time is right'.

Those who missed out on Cybercon will be delighted to learn that a similar convention is now in the advance planning stages, to be held in Wellington around the same time next year. Judging by the above opinions, it would be wise not to miss it!

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).