AnachroCon is a convention for all ages, with time travel and alternate history its themes. Every year it also has a more specific theme, and this year it was the ’60s: any ’60s. Lots of people come in costume. So there were hippies mingling with belles from the Civil War era and cowboys from the Wild West. Ben Franklin (portrayed by Bill Pacer) directed the History track, and a troupe of sword-fighters who are called Zholdak Kozaky demonstrated their techniques with an impressive duel between a shepherd in a tie-dyed toga and a Western farmer. Attendees’ eyes were constantly entertained.
But there’s much more to this “con.” Like all of Atlanta’s smaller conventions AnachroCon is a thrill for the brain as well as a rest for the soul. If you pay for the whole weekend and get a hotel room at the Marriott, once you step inside those doors you leave your everyday world behind. For three days, you aren’t thinking or talking about work or money or taxes or politics. Instead, you can attend panels where you can discuss Vikings, Doctor Who, or the Cold War. You can bounce from game shows to learning to make mead to studying the sun and the stars.
I love history and archaeology, so this year my favorite panel was “Dead Men Do Tell Tales,” in which anthropologist and archaeologist Dr. Dea Mozingo presented a slide show and talk about how human remains can tell us a lot about the people’s culture, with lots of photos of ancient skeletons. We also enjoyed her panel with Dacre Stoker (great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker} on the origins of vampire mythology, in which I learned more than I ever knew there was to know about what happens to the body after burial. “It’s a Cold, Cold War” was surprisingly fascinating, and the panel on “Bestsellers of the 1860s” was as well. Where else do you get to talk about things like this without people’s eyes glazing over?
In the Doctor Who track, lively discussions about The Doctor, his Companions and The Master and other villains were fun, and everyone was respectful even when they disagreed.
Meanwhile, other people were learning about sewing costumes and creative uses of hot glue, or how to create props out of metal or other materials. There were workshops on how to entertain in high style and panels on how Victorian ladies used flowers and fans to send messages. There was a very popular gaming room as well.
At night there was music. On Friday it was a “Psychedelic ’60s” theatrical presentation followed by “Broadway in the ’60s.” On Saturday contemporary Celtic folk musician Marc Gunn charmed and delighted the crowd with his unique autoharp style, his witty singalongs, and his exuberant movement about the stage. He was followed by familiar con favorites The Gin Rebellion.
In between all these activities, you could visit the vendor room, where there were wonderful clothes, jewelry, books and other treasures for sale; visit the booths to talk to authors and guests and lean about other conventions; visit the lounge on the 11th floor for snacks; or go up to the ConSuite for more substantial food and some of the best conversation at the con. Or you could visit the bar and hang out with your friends.
Cons are this reporter’s favorite form of escapism, and AnachroCon is always one of the best. This year was no exception. A wonderful time was had by one and all.