July 21, 2008

Fun triumphs at BabelCon 3

I believe that this was the Mississippi Outpost:

Fun triumphs at BabelCon 3

Phenix Crowley, dressed as a ‘Star Wars’ stormtrooper, leads Ali Harcrom, dressed as Spiderman, back to the children’s area Saturday afternoon during BabelCon, at the Holiday Inn Select in Baton Rouge. Organizers say BabelCon is a conference that uses science fiction to generate interest in science and history.

Good triumphed over evil Saturday morning when Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, flashing their blue lightsabers, rescued a hostage from Darth Vader and a squad of Imperial storm troopers.

And that was only the beginning of BabelCon 3, an eclectic convention of “Star Wars,” “Star Trek” and science fiction/fantasy fans meeting again today at the Holiday Inn Select, 4728 Constitution Ave.

Named after a “Star Trek” television episode about a diplomatic gathering on planet Babel, the convention has mushroomed from a single celebrity visitor and dozens of fans three years ago to a half-dozen celebrities and an estimated 1,000 or so fans this year.

The hostage, BabelCon 3 chairman Andrew Myers, was introducing celebrity host Bob May, the human inside the Robot in the 1950s TV series “Lost in Space,” to about 75 fans when a dozen pirates swarmed the center aisle of the “Imperial Senate Chambers” meeting room.

Their seizure of Myers lasted only a minute or two until Vader, played by Gary Breaux, and his storm troopers of the “501st Legion” overpowered the pirates.

Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Wayne Dupree and Tommy Chaisson of the Red Stick Rebellion Star Wars Collectors Club, quickly defeated Vader’s squad. They released Myers to Queen Anne of the Society for Creative Anachronism and members of her court, who then knighted Myers and officially opened the event.

“This was the best opening of any ‘con’ I’ve seen, and I’ve been to a lot of them,” said Linda Anderson, an avowed “Trekker” who sat in the second row.

A librarian in real life, Anderson hosts science fiction and fantasy book clubs in the Jefferson Parish Public Library system. “Science fiction fans are the best — you know that ‘fan’ is short for ‘fanatic’ and we are fanatics!”

May, who attends conventions all over the world and was the lone celebrity at BabelCon 1, said the Baton Rouge meeting is one of his favorites. “Coming here is like seeing friends and family,” May said. “I adore these people.”

Josh Sonnier, 19, and Alex Louviere, 18, both from Jennings, were sitting on the front row and barely avoided several lightsaber blows during the hostage rescue.

“We’re fans — we came here on a whim,” said Sonnier. “We’ll be here Sunday, too.”

“I almost got hit by Vader’s sword,” added Louviere. “I’ve been to some comic cons, and this is just as good.”

Richard Hatch, who played Captain Apollo in the original “Battlestar Galactica” TV show, was happily signing autographed photos for a cluster of fans. Hatch has a recurring role as Tom Zarek in the current remake of "Battlestar Galactica."


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