The Hal-Con website (www.halcon.com) states that: Hal-Con is a science-fiction, fantasy and gaming convention run completely by much-too-dedicated volunteers. We are community focused, participating in many events around the Halifax Regional Municipality in Nova Scotia (such as other festivals, parades, and gaming events).
Hal-Con is definitely a unique way for me to spend a weekend in Halifax. It was my trusty office nurse, Susan, who talked me into attending this event. I didn’t need much encouragement, because I have always been a fan of all things geekish and nerdish, though I had never attended a convention. While the words “geek” and “nerd” were rather generic pejoratives in my day, they are now differentiated, and many are proud of the designation. When you think nerd, you might think of Sheldon and his crew in “The Big Bang Theory”. Mind you, Sheldon is a bit extreme, even for a nerd, and I am certain he would be diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome if he were to be formally assessed. Nerds like ideas and are socially awkward, except when discussing some esoteric topic with a fellow nerd…but for most of the rest of the world, they may as well be speaking a foreign language (eg. “string theory” has nothing to do with tying knots or that gooey stuff you shoot from cans), and you’d better know a tachyon from a barion if you want to be taken seriously by a nerd.
A “geek” is more social and may superficially appear more normal. He or she may be more concerned about being accepted socially. Geeks also tend to concern themselves more with things more than ideas. The semblance of normality ends, however, when you realize how incredibly focused the geek is on some television show, movie series, Japanese cartoon or comic book. In general, the geeks come across as somewhat cuter than nerds and often dress as their favorite characters.
In preparation for my venture into Hal-Con, I taught myself about the world of “Steam Punk”. Imagine a futuristic Victorian society as Jules Vernes would envisage it. An idea of good costume ideas would come from a review of the Will Smith movie “The Wild Wild West”. Having a top hat and tails as a nucleus, I visited the local army surplus store and bought a pair of black army combat boots, old electronic parts and white utility gloves. The local Hallowe’en shop provided a monacle, the electronics were attached to a white gauntlet worn on my let wrist (my “temporal distorter”)…et voila! I was set.
That Hallowe’en, the halls of the Halifax Metro Centre and World Trade and Convention Centre resounded with the voices of elves, My Little Ponies, those dressed as characters from Mario Brothers video games, a multitude of Dr. Who doppelgängers and a plethora of those punked steamwise (myself included in that number). The Jules Verne Society had a booth with representatives who looked steam-punk ready-made for a Hollywood movie. I purchased two tickets to their 2015 Time Travellers’ New Years Ball. The vendor assured me that it had been wonderful, almost as good as the 2018 event…
The Society for Creative Anachronism is an international venue that promotes re-enactment of the Middle Ages, or at least its better moments. Some choose to battle with armour and swords, others to learn medieval music, dancing, needlepoint and textiles, and many other aspects of that time period.
I even found a vendor selling Harry Potter-themed memorabilia, including scarves embroidered with insignia of the four Houses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She [the vendor] also sported a fine assortment of magic wands. Some great Christmas gift ideas for my 14 year old daughter.
Hal-Con boasts an assortment of celebrities and authors in-house whom you could line up to meet, get autographs from, photos with, and maybe even chitchat a bit. I didn’t do this until after Symphony Nova Scotia’s special sci-fi concert that Hallowe’en evening, complete with a costume contest and hosted by John Rhys-Davies, the Welsh actor who played Gimli the Dwarf in the film trilogy “The Lord of the Rings”. He has also acted in James Bond movies, Star Trek episodes and his career has encompassed many other roles including Macro in the BBC “I, Claudius” series. I lined up to meet Rhys-Davies after the symphony. A few moments of chat with a photo op revealed him to be an utterly delightful, charming and intelligent man, and as you can see from the photo, he is a good six feet tall, not dwarfish in stature at all!
All photos from Stella van der Lugt and George Burden – All Rights Reserved
This post first appeared in Life as a Human (lifeasahuman.com)