OryCon to collect sci-fi, fantasy fans under one roof

Mark Roland is a visionary artist. His fantastical, detailed paintings and prints have earned him the position of artistic guest of honor at the upcoming OryCon, Portland’s own science fiction and fantasy convention.

Roland, who creates imaginary worlds in oil, acrylic and graphic media that span genres like fantasy, mythology, psychedelic and landscape, has been attending conventions for years. He still remembers his first.

“Science fiction conventions have been around for well over 50 years. I attended my first one in 1973 in San Francisco. Before the Internet, this was how you met other fans of alternative worlds and imaginations,” Roland said.

OryCon will run from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9 at the Lloyd Center DoubleTree Hotel. The convention will feature three days of panels, art shows, costume contests, musical performances and workshops all with a unique fantasy twist. Admission is $65 at the door and covers all three days.

This year will mark OryCon’s 36th anniversary.

“For some it’s about getting together with people you only see once a year. For others it’s about going to panels and learning new things. Other people like to see the guests of honor,” said Diana Cerasin, OryCon’s secretary of the committee.

“I decided to tag along with some friends several years ago to volunteer, and I’ve been hooked ever since,” Cerasin said.

Despite her modesty, Cerasin’s ties with the convention run deep. She’s been involved for nearly 15 years.

This year OryCon is celebrating several guests of honor. Among them, Cerasin said she is looking forward to meeting William Nolan.

Nolan is the author of numerous books, including Logan’s Run which he co-wrote with George Clayton Johnson, and is this year’s guest of honor for literature. Among his numerous accolades, Nolan has won the Edgar Allen Poe award from the Mystery Writers of America twice.

Although Cerasin has crossed paths with Nolan many times, she has never really had the chance to talk with him. This year, on the OryCon show floor, she is hoping to do just that.

This year will mark a new guest of honor category: cosplay. The cosplay guest of honor will be Jesse Lagers, best known as an Oregon costumer and for his role in the SyFy reality show Heroes of Cosplay. Lagers will be one of three judges for the convention’s costume contest.

“We are having a costume contest for three different categories this year. It’s going to be really interesting. I’ve seen some amazing costumes come out of there,” Cerasin said.

OryCon will also feature an art dealer’s room, auction and concerts in the main ballroom. Musical artists will include acts like Steve Jody, Danica Dixon, and newcomer to the OryCon stage and traditional Irish fantasy singer Riona Aibhann. There will also be children’s activities, childcare and author readings.

No convention is complete without a healthy dose of panels.

OryCon’s panels will address topics such as writing, art, publishing and music. Traditionally, though, the most popular are the Doctor Who panels.

OryCon will host several Doctor Who related panels such as Doctor Who: Whovian Media Sharing Hour, Doctor Who Fandom Celebration: Tiptoe Through the Tardis, and Magical Realism: All You Ever Wanted to Know.

Although OryCon’s focus is primarily on science fiction and fantasy, Cerasin said that it is an event that is all encompassing.

“We’ve got kids dragging their parents here for the first time. We’ve got multi-generational families coming that have been for the past 36 years. We’ve got all kinds of people kickin’ over there,” said Cerasin. “It’s about people getting there, and just testing the waters and finding things that they like. You never know until you have gone.”

Cerasin said conventions have changed over the years, but that at its core OryCon still represents the needs and loves of the science fiction and fantasy communities.

“It offers you opportunities to discover new friends, books and artists. You can wear the costume you spent weeks making. You can sleep too little and laugh too much,” Cerasin said.

Roland said conventions offer a chance to reconnect with the fantasy community.

“Personally, I get to emerge from the relative isolation of my studio and show everyone what I have been creating, see my old friends and meet new artists and fans,” Roland said. “It keeps the spark going.”