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Norwescon and ST:Phoenix: a review


Leaving the house 2 hours late coupled with near-standstill traffic through downtown Seattle resulting in arriving at the hotel 5 minutes before my first panel was to begin. I hit the ground running and got there in time, carried it with aplomb, was appreciated by the audience; then I ran off to my next presentation, which had much the same result, and then had a little less than an hour to haul everything out of the car and up to the room (once I found out where our room was) before my next panel.

That was Thursday. It was Friday when things actually got busy, with never as much as an hour between spates of presenting. And of course I'd had about a half hour's sleep Thursday night. :P Supposedly, food was consumed somewhere in there, but I recall that both the Green Room and Hospitality had very little in the way of consumables that were not highly refined carbohydrates. (I was good and managed to keep my ingestion of sucrose to the barest minimum, despite the offerings of four different kinds of sugared donuts.)

Saturday was obligation sparse, which of course meant I was bored much of the day. (I again slept very poorly the previous evening, but I never managed to settle anywhere for even a short nap despite the presence of a large block of uncommitted time.) People actually showed up for my reading, so it was nice to have an audience there to listen as I read a couple short pieces and an excerpt from what will probably be at least a novella when I'm done with it.

I checked in on a few panels as a member of the audience, but those presentations were rather flat, and I knew most all of what they were talking about already, so I wandered around, finished reading Cherryh's Cloud's Rider, and had a few very interesting conversations with a couple of very interesting people.

The Art Show offered a wide variety of skill levels and styles, though I found only one piece there I really coveted. (It went to auction and rapidly out of my range of affordability.) The Dealer's Room had the Same Old Stuff as ever, and I was disappointed that no one carried the Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls card game (though everyone knew what it was and knew I wasn't actually making it up).

I attended what was intended to be the premier showing of the fan-produced movie/series Star Trek: Phoenix but, due to falling being schedule, had to be turned into Star Trek: Phoenix - the Documentary, which was a kind of "making of" thingy, with interviews and excerpts.

To put my criticisms in perspective, I will say first of all that, for a fan-produced project, it was impressive, with high production values. The sets and most of the photography were first class. Some of the acting was also top notch - but two of the actors in particular did not come across as characters in the story as much as people trying to sound like actors. Poor casting choices there.

The writing was sometimes overwrought, and two (maybe three) of the scenes they showed went on far longer than the story warranted. (Okay, we get the point. We can move on anytime now.)

The characters, though reasonably well formed, are all the same people we have met before in the Star Trek universe. Hello? Just because it's Star Trek doesn't mean you can't use someone new.

Which segues into my Big Question:
A lot of time, effort, and love has gone into this thing. Why, o why, don't they take all this creative energy and do something - gasp - original instead of placing it in a world owned by Paramount--where they are constrained by a history, fannish expectations, and the legal necessity of being unable to make a dime of profit?

Yes, I know, it's a fan thing, but it seems to me an enormous waste.

(The question comes up in writing panels all the time: "What's the best way to publish a book set in the Star Trek/Battlestar Galactica/Firefly/Powerpuff Girls universe?" and the unvarying answer by those in the know is "Don't". Far better to create and promote something that is uniquely your own.)

We were warned that what they showed was not the polished work, so maybe some of the things I've complained about will be fixed (though I don't know what they can do about the bad acting). Still, while no one will mistake it for a Hollywood production, it looks to be a helluva lot better than any other fan-produced project I have seen.

Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
kmarier
Apr. 13th, 2009 04:38 am (UTC)
Thanks for posting! It is nice to see folks writing up stuff besides me :-)
(Anonymous)
Apr. 15th, 2009 07:44 pm (UTC)
happy to find this
I was poking around LJ for news about the con and I am glad I found this. I saw the phoenix thing on Thursday (on the floor, they needed a bigger room)and I think I liked it a lot.
I want to know who you thought the 2 bad actors were. I only saw 1. The kid in the fight with his dad was kind of weak to me. I liked the Dr. and the engineer better than the others, those 2 looked like Star Trek to me and that's what I was there to see. The other stuff wasn't bad, but it wasn't Star Trek. You're right about stuff needing to be fixed, but I think it was good enough to watch once they're done working on it.
Love to Norwescon and see you next year,
Suzanne
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )