And so I went to Armageddon

OK, so I went to Armageddon this weekend – the annual sci-fi festival held in my city of Wellington.

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General view of the main event…

I hadn’t actually been to an Armageddon event before, though I am a bit of a sci-fi fan. This year’s star guests included Ted Raimi and a lot of people I hadn’t heard of. So I’m out of touch, but hey, this is sci-fi and in past years it’s had spectacular stands by Weta Workshop, and people I HAVE heard of, and apparently a lot of cosplayers dressed up in manga or hentai or whatever the right word for that genre happens to be.

The audience, I was warned by my friends, also usually includes twenty-something gentlemen who spend most of their time either playing computer games, reading comics, AD&D, or watching sci-fi, notable for the ‘cheeto’ crumbs droozling to their paunches from scrubby beards that barely disguise their spotted and pasty complexions. I probably just described Jeffrey Albertson, but hey…

Actually there were none of those sorts of geeks around when I got there – just a lot of ordinary Kiwis milling about, leavened with the occasional Star Wars Stormtrooper (as opposed to the other kind). I also saw one Gandalf, one Princess Leia, several armoured knights and two Roman centurions. There was no Weta Workshop stand, no booksellers stands, but there were a lot of stalls selling merchandise. I declined to buy a $79 TARDIS bag, even though it looked like I might get a lot more into it than its external dimensions suggested.

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There was lots of stuff to buy. I am still hunting for a 1:1 scale, working model of a TARDIS.

What else? There were places where you could go and get yourself photographed beside somebody famous. I thought that one of these famous people might pay to be photographed alongside me – this ‘celebrity’ thing doesn’t actually mean anything to me – but apparently that isn’t how it works.

There was a place where you could meet professional cosplayers – people who, it seems, have become famous in their own right for dressing up as characters or in genres invented and styled by somebody else. Recursive fame, although this isn’t the first time that’s happened – look at the way some 1960s rock groupies became celebrities in their own right. (Anybody heard of ‘Cynthia Plaster Caster’?)

But actually it was a pretty good event, because I also got to hear part of a talk by Robert Picardo and Robert Duncan McNeill (Star Trek Voyager), and a very interesting talk by Rose McIver – a former Wellington actor currently working in Hollywood on I Zombie.

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Rose McIver giving a public talk about her work. I took this photo at an ISO rating of 12,800 which, pre- the DSLR age, was itself science fiction.

When asked whether she wanted to direct, she said no – she was more interested in developing her writing. I thought that was pretty cool – and for me, that multi-talent also summed up a lot about Kiwis. One-trick ponies don’t cut it on this side of the South Pacific. And we don’t have ‘stars’. We have people who do stuff in all sorts of different ways. So that was a nice note to wrap up Armageddon with.

I still missed the Weta display though.

Copyright © Matthew Wright 2016


14 thoughts on “And so I went to Armageddon

    1. Mine too. The original series, at that – one of my favourites. I used to watch a lot of Brit sci-fi as a kid, none of which remains much on the fan radar – ‘Blake’s 7’, ‘Moonbase 3’, ‘UFO’ and ‘Space 1999’ among them. Of that genre only ‘Thunderbirds’ has really stuck around (and I didn’t see any Thunderbirds merchandise on sale at Armageddon).

      1. If you had had any Thunderbird material – it really would have been unique. (And the original Star Trek IMO was never outdone, especially when you know how low a budget Roddenberry had to work with.)

    1. There was an awful lot of merch on sale. Most of it, unfortunately, related to shows I had never heard of, or to Japanese sci-fi which I know nothing about…

        1. I didn’t see much! A few Middle Earth maps derived from the movie artwork was about the limit. As for other Tolkien presence, there were a couple of cosplayers in green cloaks, one Gandalf, and that was about it. I am a HUGE fan of Tolkien/LOTR and it was a bit of a let-down. (Plus side, I did go to the Hobbiton Movie Set last year, which was 100% Tolkien… https://mjwrightnz.wordpress.com/2015/10/11/tolkien-made-real-a-visit-to-the-hobbiton-movie-set-part-1/

          1. Great blogpost! Yeah, I figured there would be some scores to be found over next 10 years with all the weta digital employees and props

  1. It turned out there was this long-running multi-media con in my hometown just a couple weekends ago and we didn’t realize it. The convention needs to do a little more about letting newcomers know. On the other hand, I guess they’re selling out their memberships so they know something of what they’re doing. (Though the word I did hear was that they’re trying to get furries, to speak of fandoms that are about appreciating one another, to come to events, as a needed shot of youth and new energy.)

    1. The Wellington one has been around a while – based on what friends tell me, it’s seen way better days. I haven’t been before partly because I’m usually out of town on the holiday weekend it’s held. Ummm… furries? As in people who cosplay as animals?

  2. This is one of the things I miss now that I live in a small town. That and food delivery for when I’ve been writing and don’t feel up to cooking.

    1. You didn’t miss much – this was my first Armageddon and the friends I went with tell me it was WAY better in earlier years!🙂 Writers’ cooking time? Yes, I know the problem… and yes, pizza that comes quite literally from Hell (something possible only here in NZ, Canada, India, Ireland and Australia, I think, unless they’ve opened branches elsewhere) has been known to be on the menu…

  3. Ah! I remember when I used to go to Trek conventions. It was fun for awhile. The speakers was always the best part. I’m so jealous you got to see Rose McIver. I love iZombie and a lot of that is because she’s hot! Don’t tell my wife, although I think she already knows.

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