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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


After a Year Gone, I-CON Returns Home

The biggest sci-fi convention in the northeast United States boomeranged back to Stony Brook University, two Saturdays ago.

I-CON, a campus-wide convention of science fiction of both fact and fantasy, was an annual guarantee on Stony Brook’s West Campus until last year. Proposed renovations for the Indoor Sporting Complex disposed I-CON to the Brentwood campus of Suffolk Community College. Without the Sporting Complex, I-CON had nowhere big enough to put the Dealer’s Room.

Stony Brook‘s Indoor Sporting Complex pulsated as the main hub of previous I-CON conventions. In the Dealer’s Room there are Star Wars collectables, meme t-shirts, dragon figurines and just about every other kind of knick-knack.

I-CON’s 29th campus-wide convention showcased the Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel actress, Charisma Carpenter. She starred as Cordelia on both television series. Also at the convention, the science advisor to former President Bush and a former president of Stony Brook University, Dr. John Marburger, came to compare science under Bush and Obama.

“We’ve been here before, so we know what works and what doesn’t,” said Jeff Nagels, 37, president and CEO of Icon Science Fiction, Inc. He contrasted Stony Brook’s West Campus to Suffolk College’s Brentwood Campus at a discussion with loyal I-CON attendees. Nagels has been volunteering at I-CON since he was a Stony Brook student.

Nagels tittered and shrugged when talking about how those planned renovations to the Sporting Complex were canceled anyway. Since I-CON needed almost a year to prepare, it was too late to turn around and come back to Stony Brook.

Attendance between I-CON 29 and I-CON 28 was too early to tell. “Pre-registration was much higher for this year’s convention than last year,” noted Jay Schneiderman, 31, from Massachusetts. He volunteered this year at I-CON 29 and helped Nagels, unofficially.

Cosplayers idled in the heart of Stony Brook University’s Academic Mall to pose for pictures. “I love it. I really like the open space and the great weather. The convention is very sociable,” said Jason McClain, from Virginia, whom donned himself in the bounty-hunter armor of Boba Fett from Star Wars.

Han Solo, the cosplay helmed by Luke Chapdelaine, moseyed on over to McClain’s Boba Fett. Snubbing the well-known enmity of their characters, they high-fived each other and put their arms around each other.

“I came down with seven friends. And I like the convention so far,” said Chapdelaine from New Hampshire.

I-CON 29’s Media Guest of Honor was Charisma Carpenter whom described herself as a “late-bloomer geek” ever since she starred on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. When she sat down on a stage at the Javits Lecture Hall, she presented herself, “Well this is a Q&A session, does anybody have a question? Please somebody have a question.”

It muted the audience for a few moments.

As a Media Guest of Honor, Carpenter’s Q&A was low-scale and straightforward. She elaborated more on audience questions that focused on her role in Buffy and Angel.

“I really want to kick more ass,” laughed Carpenter when talking about her character Cordelia and highlighted that feeling for any future role, too. In the upcoming action movie, The Expendables, she “got to kiss Jason Stratham.”

Setting aside science fiction and fantasy, I-CON 29 discussed serious things about science as well. “President Obama is much more interested in science and the US’s competitiveness. Bush was much more interested in national security and was very result-orientated,” said Dr. John Marburger who served as George W. Bush’s science advisor.

Marburger spoke along side Benjamin Parris and Anthony Leotta in a discussion titled, “Science and the Obama Administration,” at the Student Activities Center. Marburger dominated the discussion as he contrasted the approaches to science undertaken by Bush and Obama. He was pleased that Obama softened views on nuclear energy.

“The success rate of grants under Obama is 30 percent and that’s very high,” reflected Leotta on Obama’s push for science.

The mission of the I-CON science fiction convention, completely powered by volunteers, is to foster interest in science, technology and the arts. It aims to promote creativity and imagination to advance the artistic and technical fields.

“Stony Brook is our home,” said Matt Weinberger, press liaison for I-CON 29. “Every year we try to do new things for the people who keep coming back.”

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