|The Second Occasional LoneStarCon Science Fiction Convention and Chili Cook-off, Variously known as the 55th World Science Fiction Convention and LoneStarCon 2, the 1997 Worldcon, To be held from August 28th through September 1st, in the year 1997, in San Antonio, Texas.
Feature Article: Thought for Food
Reprinted from LoneStarCon 2's Progress Report #1
hought for Food
by Teddy Harvia
Diana Thayer and Bill Child, the editors, have asked me to write
the premier guest feature article. Why? Your guest is as good
as mine. The role of the first is to set a high standard for those
who follow. I should stoop so low. Ha, ha, ha!
cience fiction fuels the imagination. Food
fuels the science fiction fan. It's one of those universal and
I can't count the number of world science
fiction conventions I've attended on the fingers of one hand (unless,
of course, I evolve a sixth digit). At every one, I've eaten.
No matter what was on my mind in the beginningrockets, schmoozing
with editors, cheap souvenirs, the opposite sexeventually my
thoughts turned to my stomach.
To MidAmeriCon in Kansas City in 1976, which
also happened to be my first convention ever, I took peanut butter
and crackers to save on expenses. What I saved in money, I lost
in adventure. I got a taste of what I was missing when a buddy
and I scrapped together enough change to have breakfast in the
convention hotel restaurant. At the table behind us sat Frank
Herbert, author of Dune. We could hear every word he was uttering,
but neither one of us had the nerve to open our own mouths except
to eat. But I never forgot that restaurants are great places in
which to run into pros. "Hey, George Alec, mind passing the
Some fans can't wait until they get to the
convention to eat. On the road from London to Brighton for Seacon
in 1979 with a family of British fans, I was surprised when the
husband stopped in front of a meat shop (I think the sign actually
said "shoppe"). "He's addicted to pork pies,"
the wife explained, "and they make the best here. They're
bad for his stomach, but I haven't the heart to tell him no."
A moment later the husband came back, down in the mouth. He lamented
that others had beaten him to that day's limited supply. The wife
smirked as we drove on to the beach.
By Nolacon II in New Orleans in 1988, my financial
situation had improved enough to allow me to eat in sit-down restaurants.
I did get one free lunch in the Big Easy. George Laskowski, Jr.,
editor of Lan's Lantern, treated me to lunch at a sandwich shop
across from the Marriott for some cartoons I'd sent him. For a
boy used to nothing more exotic than ham and cheese on white with
mayo and mustard, my sandwich was strange, with green sprouts,
leaves, and spices (cilantro, cumin, etc.), things I'd never heard
of, much less seen between two slices of ethnic bread. But I liked
The next year in Boston at Noreascon III,
artist Peggy Ranson and I discovered the Cactus Cafe. We ate there
not once, but twice. The motif of howling coyotes, towering saguaros,
and warm adobe in the heart of proper Boston was very appealing.
The cafe didn't serve my familiar Tex-Mex, but their New Mexico
variety was close enough.
My most unusual dinner date came in Chicago
at Chicon IV in 1991. Eleanor Lang (an editor with Ace Books)
and I had just finished an exhaustive tour of the Chicago Museum
of Science and Technology and were hungry. We reached the snack
bar in the basement just as they were locking the doors. Our only
other immediate alternative was the area of snack machines across
the hall. After managing to make the bill changer take our crinkled
dollars, we chatted over canned cola, cheese crackers, and fig
At MagiCon in Orlando in 1992, I ate better.
For being a part of a successful program at my company, my boss
offered to reimburse me up to $100 for dinner for two. I asked
Peggy Ranson to join me at the most expensive restaurant in Orlando.
It was closed on Monday, the day of our date. We settled for the
second most expensive in the Peabody Hotel. If the snooty and
fawning waiter knew I wasn't accustomed to such service, he never
let on. I enjoyed my sword fish, imagining the titanic struggle
someone must have gone through to catch it just for me. Roast
duck wasn't on the menu. I wonder why. Peggy and I ended the meal
sharing one of their decadent desserts. The final tab plus tip
was $99.97. Keep the change.
The powers behind LoneStarCon2 have not forgotten
about food, given that "Chili Cook-Off" is part of the
convention title. Have a meal or two in the convention hotel restaurant
to rub elbows with the pros if you must, but escape at least once
to explore the city beyond.
A fast food restaurant across from the Alamo
has a second floor dining area with a wonderful view of the Texas
shrine. Remember your parents yelling at you when you were a kid
for leaving the backdoor open? Restaurants on the San Antonio
River Walk try to air-condition the whole outdoors on purpose,
blowing cool air onto the patrons on the patios. The food, from
Texas-size burgers to the whole enchilada, is cool, too.
Go a little out of your way at LoneStarCon 2
and take home some unique culinary memories of the convention
city. Can you imagine attending a WorldCon and going home hungry?