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Digital Experience! -- Medium Cool

While summer heat enveloped the rest of New York City on June 23, cool was the watchword at Digital Experience!, the high-tech showcase hosted by Pepcom at the Metropolitan Pavilion. Attending media professionals and industry analysts freshened their market knowledge at the 30 or so displays by top technology companies, and chilled out around the Japanese-themed drink and food stations.

The lords of innovation have clearly been up and at it, as confirmed by the latest computer, wireless and consumer electronics on display. But this being the start of vacation season – and us being -- the objects that particularly flagged my attention were the likeliest ones to punch up your getaway.

Take for kicks the Kodak Playsport video camera, a pocket-sized doohickey that shoots in 1080 HD in depths of up to 10 feet under water. So let's say you're attending the Anima Mundi International Animation Festival of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro this July 16 to 25, and want to take a break from watching to film a striped Nemo of your own. The Playsport features built-in stabilization, so you might swoon amid the waves, but your images won't. Priced at $149.95, this mini dream catcher surely costs less than one night at your hotel.

For your photo album, you may want to bring along the new digital camera from GE, the Active Series G5WP. AMong other colors, it comes in graphite gray, raspberry red and – in a nod to its waterproof materials -- ocean blue.

The optical zoom lens brings you four times closer to that shot of Sugarloaf Mountain you relish sharing with your hidebound friends back home. Plus the lens is internal, so there's nothing to get in your way, and it automatically adjusts exposure. With its 12.2 megapixel sensor, the GE-branded camera will also yield enlargements without getting all fuzzy, and the 2.7-inch LCD display and ISO up to 1600 further celebrate the sharpness theme.

The slim little gadget will set you back a reasonable $179.99, but the price may even come down a notch by October 1-3, 2010, in time to catch the Seychelles’ annual underwater film and image festival, SUBIOS.

For bookworms, I thought the Kobo e-Reader would make a fine travel companion. The sleek custom-colored tablet weighs 221 grams, just a mite more than your average book, and at 120mm x 184mm x 10 mm thick, it's designed to slip handily into your purse. I found its four navigation buttons (home, menu, back, display), easy to fiddle with, and toggled between screens without resorting to the sailor's vocabulary so many tech items manage to tease out.

Though the Kobo comes with 100 titles ready to leaf through, you can also download titles at The battery charge lasts up to 8,000 page turns, which you figure is equivalent to two weeks' worth of e-reading. Enough to make it to South Africa's Durban International Film Festival (22 July to 1 August, 2010) and back.

For additional info on Digital Experience! check out

Digital Experience!
Metropolitan Pavilion
123 W 18th Street

New York, NY  10011

C2E2 2010: The Con Chicago Deserves

That was of course the tagline for  the newest comic convention from Reed Exhibitions, (the group that runs other conventions like New York Comic Con, and PAX) which is better known as C2E2.  While I have never been to PAX I have attended NYCC and it was a very similar feeling to its east coast sibling.  The exhibitors who came, the layout, the style of the brochures, the type of guests and events planned.  However even though there were many similarities, you could tell that this is a very new con, one which is trying to find it’s comfort zone, and it’s general attitude.  So while it was very good there was a lot of room to improve.

The panels and screenings themselves were for the greater part phenomenal.  Kevin Conroy (the voice of Batman in the 90s animated series) hosted a discussion panel, which recently got a little bit of media due to him accidentally leaking information about the videogame.  However this wasn’t even the highlight of the panel which was essentially the Conroy having an intimate discussion with the audience and telling various personal stories ranging from working on Venture Bros. to volunteering at Ground Zero after 9/11.  There were many such events going on all day, many educational, some with teasers for upcoming comics, but one notable factor was not only that there was always something going on, but that there was always room to come in, which meant that you didn’t have to rush around frantically.  The one exception to this was a special event Saturday night called An Evening with Neil Gaiman. The legendary writer known best for his fantasy novels and comic series Sandman, hosted an event for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to a packed auditorium, the first such event he has hosted for nearly a decade.  After DC’s Jim Lee gave a short introductory Gaiman walked on stage to thunderous applause.  Still the event remained rather intimate. The soft-spoken British author read a few of his poems and short stories in a way which only a master story-teller can, and then after a short intermission proceeded to answer questions the audience wrote down for him before the start of the event.  They ranged from topics like the author’s personal life, to questions on the industry, to the truly bizarre, but each one was answered honestly and given the same amount of respect, which was very refreshing.  

Those were just two of the great panels, and besides just panels there were guests from every comic book imprint, and publisher, as well as from webcomics, movies, TV, and so on, too many to recount, but most signed, and participated in various events.  However while there was a decent range, the amount of comic book guests vastly outweighed the guests from all other forms of media.  This isn’t too surprising though, as this show was billed as a comic book convention.  Still I went with friends who weren’t as into the comic book scene as I was, and while they certainly enjoyed themselves and found events and panels to go to, there was significantly less for them to do.  At last year’s NYCC there was a much wider range of guests, and a greater variety of stalls notably in the video game genre.  Whereas NYCC not only had booths for a many different video game publishers as well as a separate gaming room, C2E2 had a small booth for Nintendo, and a few previews of the Iron Man 2 game at the Marvel booth.  This is just a matter of finding the right balance.  Reed has been very good about listening to criticism and comments from the fans, in the past and there is no reason to think that will change now.

There were other problems as well, such as the ridiculous amount of walking due to the sprawling placement of rooms and the vast size of the convention center, or the general lack of good food (though this is prevalent at most cons).  Of course there are many other spectacular things to say about this convention, like the fact that there was natural sunlight.  The point being that it’s a convention still in its infancy.  It was still one of the best conventions I have ever been to, without a doubt, but there are a lot of things which the can improve about it, so this one felt more like a dress rehearsal for next years convention.  With all of the news lately about the so-called “Convention Wars” that have been raging between Wizard Entertainment, and Reed Exhibitions, C2E2 rises as a serious contender.  I wouldn’t be surprised if in a year or two it becomes the biggest convention in the Midwest, possibly even surpassing NYCC.  It’s off to a good start, and I’ll definitely be back next year, so for everyone who missed C2E2 2010, I strongly recommend that you keep an eye out on this one.

Montréal Hosted The 67th World Science Fiction Con

The 67th World Science Fiction Convention (or Worldcon), dubbed Anticipation, was hosted in Montréal, Québec, Canada, on 6-10 August 2009. The fifth Worldcon to be held in Canada - and the first one to be held in an officially French-speaking city - Anticipation also incorporated the annual Canvention, the Canadian national sf con.

Author Neil GaimanGuests of Honour (sic; Canadian spelling) at the convention were:

Neil Gaiman and Elisabeth Vonarburg (Invitée d'honneur, the con officially being bilingual)
Taral Wayne (Fan Guest of Honour)
David Hartwell (Editor Guest of Honour)
Tom Doherty (Publisher Guest of Honour).

Julie Czerneda was Master of Ceremonies.

As traditional at Worldcons, the Science Fiction Achievement Awards, or Hugo Awards, voted on by all Worldcon members (attending and not attending, or supporting), were presented. Recipients were:

 Best Novel: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
 Best Novella: "The Erdmann Nexus" by Nancy Kress
Best Novelette: "Shoggoths in Bloom" by Elizabeth Bear
Best Short Story: "Exhalation" by Ted Chiang
Best Related Book: Your Hate Mail Will Be Graded: A Decade of Whatever, 1998-2008 by John Scalzi
Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form: WALL-E, story by Andrew Stanton and Pete Docter; screenplay by Andrew Stanton & Jim Reardon; directed by Andrew Stanton (Pixar/Walt Disney)
Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form: Doctor Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, written by Joss Whedon, Zack Whedon, Jed Whedon, and Maurissa Tancharoen, directed by Joss Whedon
Best Editor, Long Form: David G. Hartwell
Best Editor, Short Form: Ellen Datlow
Best Pro Artist: Donato Giancola
Best Semiprozine: Weird Tales, edited by Ann VanderMeer and Stephen H. Segal
Best Fanzine: Electric Velocipede, edited by John Klima, Cheryl Morgan, and Frank Wu
Best Fan Writer: Cheryl Morgan
Best Graphic Story: Girl Genius, Volume 8: Agatha Heterodyne and the Chapel of Bones, written by Kaja and Phil Foglio, art by Phil Foglio, color by Cheyenne Wright (Anticipation was the first Worldcon to include the category graphic story on the Hugo ballot.)
John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a Hugo Award): David Anthony Durham

Elsewhere at the convention, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists (ASFA) awarded their 24th annual Chesley Awards. The winners for 2008 were:
Best Cover Illustration: Hardback Book: Donato Giancola for A Book of Wizards, edited by Marvin Kaye
Best Cover Illustration: Paperback Book: John Picacio for Fast Forward 2, edited by Lou Anders
Best Cover Illustration: Magazine: Matts Minnhagen for Clarkesworl

Best Interior Illustration: Donato Giancola for "The Wraith" by J. Robert Lennon

Best Color Work: Unpublished: Simon Dominic for "The Gift" (digital)

Best Monochrome Work: Unpublished: Simon Dominic for "Kraken" (digital)
   * Best Three-Dimensional Art: Vincent Villafranca for "The Celestial Itinerant" (bronze)
   * Best Product Illustration: Dan Dos Santos for Hellboy II promotional art
   * Best Gaming-Related Illustration:  Volkan Baga for Stoic Angel Magic Card, Shards of Alara
   * Best Art Director: Lou Anders of Pyr Books
   * Award for Artistic Achievement: Julie Bell
In addition, the Sidewise Awards for Alternate History were announced by its panel of judges:
   * Long form: Chris Roberson, The Dragon's Nine Sons
   * Short form: Mary Rosenblum, "Sacrifice"
and the winners of this year's Prometheus Awards (for libertarian sf/fantasy) by the Libertarian Futurist Society:
* Best Novel: Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
* Hall of Fame Award: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

In its role as Canvention, Anticipation oversaw the presentation of the Prix Aurora, or Aurora Awards (or “Canadian Hugos”):

   * Best Long Form: Marseguro by Edward Willett
   * Meilleur livre: Les vents de Tammerlan by Michèle Laframboise
   * Best Short Form: "Ringing in the Changes in Okotoks, Alberta" by Randy McCharles
   * Meilleure nouvelle: Le Dôme de Saint-Macaire by Jean-Louis Trudel
   * Other, in English: Neo-opsis Science Fiction Magazine, Karl Johanson, editor
   * Meilleur ouvrage (autre): Solaris, Joël Champetier
   * Fanzine: The Original Universe, Jeff Boman, editor
   * Fan (Organizational): Randy McCharles (Chair of World Fantasy 2008)
   * Fan (Other): Joan Sherman for Heather Dale Concert (organizer)
   * Artistic Achievement: Looking for Group by Lar deSouza

Besides the Hugos, the other important decision made by Worldcon members is future site selection. Reno, Nevada, was chosen to host the 69th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in 2011 and to be called Renovation, and Raleigh, NC as the hosting city for the 10th North American Science Fiction Convention (or NASFiC), to be held in 2010 and to be called ReConStruction. Both were decided by uncontested elections. Additionally, the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association selected Winnipeg, Manitoba (the site of the 1994 Worldcon, Conadian) as the site of Canvention 2010 and the 30th Prix Aurora/Aurora Awards.

The 68th World Science Fiction Convention, Aussiecon Four, will be held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 2-6 September 2010.

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