I went to Bubonicon 50 to check out the local sci-fi convention in Albuquerque, NM. I met a bunch of cool people and saw cool stuff. Join me!
What Is Bubonicon?
Bubonicon is New Mexico’s longest-running sci-fi and fantasy convention. It is the largest science fiction convention in New Mexico and one of the oldest in the southwest.
Why Is It Called ‘Bubonicon’?
“Bubonicon” is an ironic nod to the Bubonic plague LOL!
Here in the desert, we have not eradicated the Bubonic plague. Plague is a rare disease, but about half the cases each year occur in New Mexico. Don’t worry: there are a few infections recorded every year.
How Many Years Has Bubonicon Been Around?
Bubonicon was first held in 1969, making this year (2018) the 50th annual Bubonicon where the theme was “Golden Age of Science Fiction”.
Hey! I just turned 50 at the beginning of August, too. I think I will give myself the gift of this convention for my birthday going forward.
We’re the same age, I feel simpatico with you, Bubonicon! LOL
What Goes On At Bubonicon?
Panels, presentations, costume contests, art shows, dealers, awards presentations, charity auctions, fan programming, gaming, movie screenings, and more.
Where Does Bubonicon Take Place?
Bubonicon usually takes place the last weekend of August in the city of Albuquerque, in the high desert of the Rocky Mountains of New Mexico.
Bubonicon is held at the Albuquerque Marriott Uptown. The ground floor is where the convention is primarily held, but there is a “party floor”, a gaming room, private games going on, and a hospitality suite (for Convention staff/vendors) spread out over different floors in the 17-floor hotel.
Why Go To Bubonicon?
I think most people go because it has a lot of support for sci-fi authors, and it has a lot of activities on the schedule. There is so much to do.
I wanted to go for many years. Honestly, I don’t know why I never went before. Maybe I was always broke? Maybe I didn’t realize how much fun it was?
I’ve been getting their convention flier for a long time and I always forgot or flaked out or had a scheduling conflict.
I decided I would go check it out this year, host a Traveller game, get some feedback on some adventure modules I was developing, and meet other gaming and sci-fi nerds.
Who Goes To Bubonicon?
The Bubonicon Convention attracts a diverse group of people, but they all have one thing in common: their love of sci-fi and fantasy.
There were a lot of engineers and scientists, but there were a lot of regular people there too – from all kinds of backgrounds.
I think this convention attracts these kinds of groups:
- Nerds – there were a ton of nerds there.. the best kind of nerds: sci-fi nerds, er... I mean “enthusiasts”.
- Authors / Writers – This convention features a lot of sci-fi and fantasy authors. This year, George R.R. Martin was present and giving a talk. He could be found between panels hanging out in the lounge just inside the main doors. He was very friendly and approachable; folks were stopping to chat and tell him how much they admire and enjoy his work.
- Content Creators – People like myself who produce sci-fi or fantasy content for digital venues.
- Sci-fi Enthusiasts – Folks who love sci-fi. I saw old-school Klingons and met a friendly girl on the elevator who was sporting a Serenity t-shirt.
- Cosplayers – There are plenty of opportunities to show off your cosplay skills. I saw people dressed like World of Warcraft creatures, Starfleet staff, and Jedis galore.
- Gamers – There were three large meeting rooms for gaming. They were doing a game give-away and a raffle. People were playing board games, card games, and RPGs.
- Artists – The vendor room had a lot of artists and other kinds of vendors. There was also an art show featuring really talented sci-fi and fantasy artists.
- Vendors- There was a vendor hall filled with all kinds of cool things to purchase. There were posters, artwork, replica props from sci-fi movies, and more.
Basically, if you enjoy sci-fi or fantasy and want to meet other people with similar interests, this convention is a great place to go.
What I Did At Bubonicon 50
When I arrived at the hotel, the first thing I noticed was George RR Martin, sitting in the first-floor lounge, just inside the main doors of the hotel. He was chatting with folks that were just walking up to him.
The front desk at the Marriott is in a strange place. It’s on the same wall as the main doors facing into the hotel, so you have to hook a left-hand u-turn when you come in.
The hotel is pretty big, so you don’t have to worry about not getting a room.
Checking in was so easy. I reserved my room when I bought my convention tickets. I was on my way to my room in just a few minutes.
My room was comfortable. The beds were nice and the TV was decent sized. One weird thing I noticed is there was no refrigerator or microwave in the room. I thought that was a standard amenity. I didn’t miss the microwave, but I had no place to store my leftover food.
After getting settled, I spent a few hours prepping for the game. I had to make some pre-generated character sheets so players could just pick one up and go.
I met up with some of my Patrons from Patreon (Patrons? How Traveller of me!) and we enjoyed a nice sushi dinner from one of the many restaurants near the hotel.
After dinner, I visited the convention registration desk and checked in. I was a registered GM so I got a fancy ID card that got me into the “backstage” stuff like the Hospitality Room.
After checking in, I took a tour of the gaming rooms. There were games going on in all the rooms and they were all well—attended.
My game was scheduled for Saturday night, so I went back to the room and worked on finishing up some details on the modules I brought to play.
On Saturday, I spent the day checking out the convention. I toured the vendor room, the art gallery, and attended a couple of panels hosted by scientists and authors.
Saturday afternoon, I hosted a Traveller game. I was hoping to meet some other gamers and get some feedback on two modules I just developed: The Relic and Heart of Steel. I listed my games on the schedule easel and found an empty table to seat myself plus 4 more. I got all my stuff set up and then I waited.
When nobody showed up at the time I was planning to start, I thought it was going to be a bust. Just as I was thinking of packing up, here comes a married couple and two guys dressed like Jedis. They are looking for the Traveller game they saw advertised out on the easel! Yay!
We were all well-met and got down to the gaming business. My goal was to finish these adventures as one-shots, done within four hours.
I let them pick which of the two scenarios they wanted to play. They chose to ‘save the sickened colony’ in Heart of Steel.
We had a great time playing. Three of the four players had never played Traveller before but they picked it up right away.
I had a selection of pre-generated characters to choose from, some with variations. Characters were selected, and the adventure was a success. The colony was saved!
I gave the players little gifts (some dice), and let them take their character sheets so they would have a memento of the game and a character ready if they ever had the opportunity to play again.
After the game, I met up with one of my Patrons and we checked out the party room. There was a sci-fi club that was sponsoring the open bar (for donations). The Honor-Harrington group showed us great hospitality at their open bar and a friendly bunch of folks was hanging out. I actually ran into one of my subordinate webmasters from the SCA that I never met in person and we had a great visit.
How Was Bubonicon?
I had a great time. I met some nice people, played some great games, enjoyed a panel, saw some great art, toured the vendor hall, and spent time hanging out with my generous Patrons.
I think I will make this a yearly gift to myself.
Do you attend any sci-fi, fantasy, or gaming conventions? Which are your favorite? Comment below.