Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Let's Throw a Bigger Con! - BabelCon '81

With the success of BabelCon 1 in 1980, plans were laid to hold a bigger con in 1981.  It would be at the big OKC Lincoln Plaza Hotel, and our main guest was to be James Doohan, "Scotty" himself!

Now, this was after ST:TMP had revitalized TREK fandom, and before the hotly awaited-and-debated release of STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan.  At least among some of us, the appearance of a STAR TREK movie in ANY form justified and made righteous our ten years "in the wilderness."  We had been rewarded for our fanatical loyalty with a movie.  And a second film was in the wrapping up stages.

Now the rumor mills, which had buzzed about how Leonard Nimoy didn't want to play Spock in the firts film, were now whispering the speculation that Nimoy had agreed to come back for II only if he could kill the character off.

THAT was the big question, would Spock die or not?

Meanwhile, the putting-on of such a big con required lots of staff, organization, and ... MONEY.  My understanding of the situation for BabelCon '81 is, that because S.T.A.R. OKC president Larry Jones personally put up the money for the con (including a mortgage I heard), the con was legally "in his name" so that, along with the risk, he could receive the payoff (of there was one).

This makes perfect sense to me.

Well, the con was set for August 7-9, 1981, with guest Jimmy Doohan, as mentioned above.

And then Doohan had to go and have a heart attack!

As it turns out, our favorite Engineer had recovered pretty well by the time of the con.  However, in the months in between, some OKC "fans," who (for whatever reason) did not wish BabelCon well, began spreading rumors that not only was Doohan too sick to show, but that the con knew this and was still using Doohan's appearance as a vehicle to sell tickets.

It's this kind of petty, childish infighting that often helps destroy social groups of all kinds, from SF fan clibs to churches.  It's a sad human foible to exult in the misfortunes of others.  The Germans call it Schadenfreude, sorrow-joy.

Here are a flyer for BabelCon '81, and the cover of the Program Book.  As you can see, Doohan DID show up.  How else would he have autographed the flyer with thanks to Larry Jones the Con Chair?

Next time ... when Jimmy Doohan ate BBQ before the con.

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