Just don't call it "sci-fi." The term conjures images of scantily clad women in the arms of bug-eyed beasties. "SF" is the acceptable shortened form for today's smarter, socially conscious incarnation of science fiction, warns Connecticut SF and fantasy author Esther M. Friesner, a guest speaker at this weekend's Tropicon 16 science fiction convention.
And please don't get into any serious discussion about the difference between SF and fantasy.
"Every single fantasy and science fiction writer has discussed the difference fiercely -- forever," explains Friesner, the author of more than 25 novels, including the forthcoming Star Trek: The Next Generation book To Storm Heaven. "A science fiction story would say, 'The aliens took her away.' In fantasy it would be, 'The elves stole her away.'"
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Tropicon 16 features panel discussions (including one on baseball and fantasy -- think Field of Dreams), a dealer's room of SF memorabilia, a Meet the Pros party, an art show, charity auction, gaming room, video room, brunch, and "filking," the fantasy/SF incarnation of folk singing.
"After my first one [convention]," Friesner recalls, "I took my parents to one. They're very conservative, and they had a great time. They started asking me when I was going to another one. It's intergenerational, something for everybody."
-- John Ferri
Tropicon 16 Science Fiction Convention. Cost: $28. Friday through Sunday at Doubletree Guest Suites, 555 NW 62nd St., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-772-5400.