In 1989, Greenville, South Carolina, suffered a shock to the system when Magnum Opus Convention Four moved across the state line from Georgia, exposing this medium-sized southern city to the likes of Marion Zimmer Bradley, Roger Zelazny, Brion James, and George Takei. Located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains (and the buckle of the Bible Belt), Greenville wasn't quite certain what to make of the...peculiar individuals who had arrived on its doorstep. Bemused mundanes could be seen craning their necks outside the Regency Hyatt as barbarian berserkers, Klingons, faerie princesses, and God-knows-what meandered down the sidewalks of Main Street while real, honest-to-God picketers turned up outside the front door.
Over the next five years, Greenville learned to cope with, and actually look forward to, the annual invasion of those "strange people." People like Lois Bujold, Robert Jordan, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Nichelle Nichols, Bruce Campbell, David Weber, C. J. Cherryh, Melanie Rawn, Ben Bova, Holly Lisle, Jane Lindskold, Rowena, Steven Brust, Timothy Zahn, S. N. Lewitt, Lawrence Watt-Evans, and Gunnar Hansen became both accepted and welcome visitors.
From the perspective of southeastern fandom, MOC, as the only South Carolina con, became a single oasis of light, glowing against the state's unrelieved darkness. Filking, dealers' rooms, (a few) art shows, gaming, writers panels, staged combat demonstrations, masquerades, japanimation, live action role-playing, dances, "bimbo contests" (non-sexist; you could be a male bimbo, too) . . . Where else was a poor Southern fan to find such essentials of modern civilization? Where else to participate in deep and meaningful debates on fission versus fusion power in interstellar vessels or "How Many Ways Can a Klingon Style His Hair?" What other organization could bring the Mighty Rassilon Players to Greenville?
Which is not to say that MOC was perfect, of course. Like many cons, MOC's personality has evolved over the years, and, to some of its earlier supporters, it seemed to lose its way to some extent during its latter years in Greenville. After about 1992, the con began developing a reputation as a "party hard" con (with emphasis on the "party"), but in 1995, with its return to Georgia (at Calloway Gardens), its organizers made a deliberate effort to reclaim its earlier primary focus on its guests and fan interests.
MOC 10, which was dedicated to the memory of Roger Zelazny (a two-time MOC guest who had been scheduled as writer guest of honor for this con), was a considerably more "laid back" experience. The guest list included old friends like Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Yvonne Craig, and Gunnar Hansen alongside such new faces as Sharon Green, Chris Potter, and Bruce Boxleitner. While the country resort atmosphere of Calloway Gardens was quite a change, those in attendance quickly adapted and enjoyed themselves thoroughly.
MOC's departure has returned Greenville to the dimly lit fringes of fandom, but having been once exposed, local fans are not totally distraught. With Charlotte, North Carolina, to the north, Chattanooga to the west, and Atlanta to the south, they can usually find sufficient cons to satisfy their addictive cravings. And for those who prefer to deal with old, established firms, MOC is still in action...and still evolving. One of the highlights of MOC 10 really was the softball game between the celebrities and the fans (even if the umpiring was the teeny-tiniest little bit prejudiced in the former's favor).
Fanfaire is [was] going to be a multi-media fandom convention, dedicated to bringing together all aspects and elements of fans of the fantastic, be they Trekkers, role-players, wargamers, SCAdians (medieval re-creationists), collectors of memorabilia, movie buffs, avid readers, filkers (aficionados of original fannish music), model builders, investigators of the unknown, science nerds--the list goes on and on. Our convention, Fanfaire, is intended to be a general forum for these people to come together and share their interests and activities, to interact with others of like mind, and to learn from those whose interests are different from but parallel to their own. [...]
Fanfaire got its start when we learned that the only other convention in Greenville was leaving town. Fairfaire 1994 was a small event which, while not financially successful, was at least well-received by our 250 some-odd members. That event left a sizable financial burden, however, which cast some doubt on whether or not there would be a Fanfaire in 1995. Fortunately, we were able to turn around the debt in short order, but emphasis on fund-raising left us less time than we ought to have had to promote Fanfaire 1995. That, in turn, led to lower than expected attendance figures, which, coupled with the increased expenses of a bigger site, left us with an even bigger debt. This time, though, we are going ahead with Fanfaire despite the current debt, instead planning our budget more prudently.
Fanfaire is being run as a not-for-profit event, with any net revenues (we should hope!) to be rolled over into the next event. The organizers are doing this as a labor of love, not to line our pockets. [...] For more information, please write to: Fanfaire Productions, PO Box 1801, Greenville, SC, 29602-1801. Fanfaire: Fare for the fans that's fair to the fans!
Other SC clubs and conventions:
Columbia: Starzone, PO Box 2672 W, Columbia, SC 29171. Star Trek, Dr. Who, gaming and filking. Monthly meetings and newsletter, Starzone. Contact: Geoff Wingard.