NON-SCIENCE FICTION FAN WARNING: I am really geeking out here and it may be embarrassing for you, so you are welcome to leave now. Or at leas keep the eye-rolls to a minimum.
For three years in a row, my partner and I had been attending a Doctor Who convention in Los Angeles called Gallifrey One. Moving to Europe got in the way of attending this year, so we wanted a consolation prize. FedCon, Europe’s largest science fiction convention held yearly in Dusseldorf, Germany, seemed like an adequate substitute. This con was less specific than the primarily Doctor Who themed Gallifrey One, and promised scads of stars from a variety of shows, including Star Trek (both Deep Space Nine and Voyager), Doctor Who/Torchwood, Battlestar Galactica, etc. Overall, there were some disappointments and guest cancellations, but we made the best of it by getting out and seeing the city when the schedule thinned out. Getting to meet John Barrowman, Eve Myles, and a few Voyager cast members made it worthwhile, but it really made us appreciate and miss the extremely well-run Gallifrey One.
The guest list we saw several months ago had seemed too good to be true. It included both Tricia Helfer (Six) and Katee Sackhoff (Starbuck) from Battlestar Galactica, Alexander Siddig (Bashir) from Deep Space Nine, John Barrowman (Captain Jack) and Eve Myles (Gwen) from Doctor Who/Torchwood, almost the entire cast of Voyager (with the exception of Kate Mulgrew), and Levar Burton (LaForge from Star Trek: TNG). Several more minor cast members from a variety of other shows would be there too, including Matt Frewer (he was there for a show called Eureka, which I never watched, but had also been in a Star Trek episode and would be known to mainstream audiences as Max Headroom) and Ben Browder (who was there for Farscape and some Stargate show I’d never seen, but who I recognized from an episode of Doctor Who). I had reason to be excited. This was far more guests than Gallyfrey One had ever promised. The problem? Very few of them actually showed up. Helfer, Sackhoff, Siddig, Burton, and all but three Voyager cast members cancelled just before the convention, leaving me to wonder if they’d ever really confirmed and if the organizers were just using their names to sell tickets. In spite of it all, we were determined to have fun anyway. And we did! Some photos from around the convention:
Our favorite part of any of the dealers’ rooms was the Canvass Warriors display, and meeting the artist Sandira Reddy was a treat. She had been at the horror convention in Dortmund as well, and my partner had talked to her there, but we actually bought something from her this time. She hand paints designs onto Converse Chucks, and you can either give her artistic license or specific instructions for what you want. My partner is having a special pair of Freddy Krueger shoes made, and I am currently picking out a TARDIS design for mine. She is really talented, and also quite friendly. And for what she does, it’s really not that expensive (less than 200 Euros per pair). She delivers all over the world, so check her out if you want some custom made shoes! Here is their website.
So…most of the guests bailed at the last minute, there was a certain lack of organization (dealer’s rooms were spread all over the hotel instead of centrally located), and they had left out the guidebooks from our entry packets. We still had the opportunity to see interesting panels and meet several familiar guests, though, so all was not lost. All the panels we attended were entertaining, but John Barrowman and Eve Myles alone would have made the convention worthwhile. They were hysterical together. Some photos of the guests who actually showed up:
The silver lining of a vastly compromised convention schedule was having the opportunity to get out and see some of Dusseldorf. Originally we were afraid we might not get to explore the city, but on Saturday nothing was really going on at the convention hotel. So we hopped on the tram and did a bit of exploring. This city of around a million is situated on the Rhine, and has a friendly rivalry with Cologne–which is only around an hour away. Though we both preferred Cologne, Dusseldorf was not without its charm. There is a friendly rivalry with Cologne as well, apparently over the local beer, so the consolation prize for Dusseldorf is that we prefer their beer (altbier) to the local beer of Cologne (kolsch). There are several boat cruises offered between the cities, in case you want to explore both.
Above all, I would highly recommend the Kunsthalle Dusseldorf, which is the city’s oldest contemporary art installation. Photos are not allowed (I now know what “Kleine photo bitte!” means), but they have a great collection of Picasso, Kandinsky, and Kunze paintings–just to name a few. Even for those not typically interested in art, those artists alone are sure to keep you entertained at least for a while. I may have accidentally snapped some shots of the Kunze exhibit. It was utterly mesmerizing. Don’t tattle.
As an aside, I would like to remind readers that there was some sort of major football match (aka “soccer” in the US) going on in Dusseldorf while we were walking around; people were out in droves wearing the regalia of their respective teams and acting like drunken fools in public. Sports fans, please keep this in mind when you’re ridiculing science fiction geeks for being “weird.” Multiply the following photos by roughly six million, and you have a rough idea of what I’m talking about.
Final verdict? Overall enjoyable, though we will think long and hard about returning to this particular convention. Dusseldorf was pleasant, though, and we may explore it further at a later date when there is more time. I urge tourists of the city to avoid the following, though, as brochures for it were all over the tourist offices.
I’m generally opposed to the death penalty, but the fact that this musical exists makes me think twice about an appropriate punishment for Mr. Lloyd Webber. Never ever see it. Sorry for changing the subject, but the word needs to get out. I saw it in the 10th grade and am still haunted by its sheer awfulness more than 20 years later.
To make me feel better about seeing this brochure, I must now remind myself that the following happened: