By George Basler
Roberson Museum and Science Center is hanging out the welcome sign this Sunday for science fiction enthusiasts of all shapes and sizes.
The event is the first ever Roberson Science Fiction Convention from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the museum, 30 Front St., Binghamton.
“First and foremost our goal is to have a community and family-friendly event for all geeks, nerds and lovers of science fiction,” said Jason Fiume, marketing and public relations manager for Roberson.
The convention grew out of discussions earlier this year between Roberson officials and representatives from local sci-fi fan groups. From there it snowballed as the Binghamton area’s science fiction, gaming and fantasy enthusiasts came forward to participate, Fiume said.
Binghamton, of course, has a strong connection to science fiction as the hometown of dramatist Rod Serling, the creator of the landmark television series The Twilight Zone, which is still shown on the SCI FI Channel.
Serling’s daughter, Anne Serling, will be a special guest and will speak at 1 p.m. about her book, As I Knew Him: My Dad Rod Serling. She also will participate in a question-and-answer session and sign her book.
Some 15 panel discussions will cover a range of topics including the legacy of Rod Serling, costume building, local film making, sci-fi literature, Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who. Chris Kocher, an editor and writer at the Press & Sun-Bulletin, and April L’Orange, an editor, writer and self-proclaimed “science fiction geek,” organized the panels, which will include local authors and representatives from fan groups, Fiume said.
Also on the scene will be some 25 vendors and representatives from 15 fan groups who will set up displays on all three floors of the museum. The museum’s digital planetarium will hold presentations through out the day. (For a complete list of participants, panel discussions and times, visit Roberson’s website, www.roberson.org.)
The convention will be capped off by a 4 p.m. showing in the planetarium of Europa Report, a sci-fi thriller that premiered in June at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City.
The museum is sponsoring the convention because it wants “to engage any and every part of the community,” Fiume said. The marketing director admits he wasn’t much of a fan of sci-fi fan before beginning to plan the convention. But the more he’s learned, the more he appreciates the art form for its creativity and imagination.
The response has been positive enough that organizers are already planning to make the convention an annual event, potentially expanding to two days next year, he said.
“Roberson is dedicated to art, history and science so that makes the convention a perfect event for us,” Fiume said.
Admission for RoberCon is $10 ($7 for students 12 and under; $5 for Roberson members).