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This review was written by Elizabeth Fisher
Published on May 30th, 2004

Empire Fan Fest

Empire Fan Fest, in Secaucus, New Jersey; April 17-18, 2004.

Empire Fest . . . an enlightening quest!

Our journey through life can be lined with predictability, monotony and conformity. The element--so prudently never divulged--is it can also be lined with disappointing pitfalls, bias, arresting trepidation, and disturbing coincidences. Empire Fest--held April 17 & 18 in Secaucus, New Jersey--was one of those mystifying twists of fate.

My initial interest in conventions was not like those of your usual attendees. I am an aspiring writer--aren't we all? The fandom summits hold an insightful and unique exchange of ideas unlike any other open forum I have ever attended. Yes, the preconceived notion of the individuals frequenting these activities is not as kind as it should be, but I am a grown woman who wears high top "Chuck's"--how normal can I be?

My journey along the wild road of life has shown me that although objects are closer than they appear they continually evade me. After numerous writing courses and taking the short road to a Bachelor's degree--nine years--I was left in dire need of a reality check. Though I write Contemporary Romance, the topics shared at Cons--The Nature of Evil, Dealing with Character Death, and Writing Combat Scenes--far surpass that of mortal lectures. Moreover, I found the authors attending these functions open and willing to share their insight and experiences as writers. Most importantly I grew to respect the committed corpuscles navigating the vascular system of their all but forgotten realms.

Distancing their world from absolute zero, the Star Wars fan unwaveringly mans the lines of force dousing scorn and ridicule. Its interminable appeal often written off as nostalgia--pure adolescent infatuation--does not explain why science fiction and fantasy seldom makes the bestseller lists--Star Wars novels are often the exception.

Empire Fest's "relaxacon" format gave flight to my virgin curiosity. Finding its congregation--adorned in painstakingly detailed attire reflecting its sphere of influence--eagerly willing to abide my ignorance, I met the challenge of disputing their unified field theory.

". . . by overcoming the dark passions, the hero symbolizes the ability to control the irrational savage within us . . ."

A quote? How dare a Geek in costume quote Joseph Campell to me? How indeed! Taking firm hold of my overconfidence, I skillfully deflected my ingorance; "The collective unconscious," I countered.

"That's Carl Jung," the young Jedi parried politely, his thrash leaving me staggering for equilibrium. Not only could he cite Campbell's work, but proceeded persuading me of its importance in the development of the space opera.

This science fantasy is comprised of irrationality and the enigmatic, and the power of myth to organize experience. Luke Skywalker, thrust into facing his destiny, unfurls a path to self-discovery. Han Solo, returns not for fortune and fame, but in defense of his friends. Princess Leia selflessly serves society. Cleverly disguised as entertianment, the redemption of evil reclaims the good for all mankind.

The tale's intellectual sophistication, the emphasis on societal and psychological issues, and its human frailties, caterpolted Star Wars into greatness. Its profound impact on the literary world is a direct correlation of its enduring popularity. Serious criticism of the genre is now common. Science fiction and fantasy has ascended ivory towers, studied both as literature and its relativity to science and society. This, apparently known to all but this humble writer--slow, but humble.

Debilitating my point of wisdom, my sanctimonious complacency was challenged yet again by the festivals magnum opus. Having reviewed Mark Hamill's stage performances previously, nothing presented would have been new. Wrong again.

Brimming with exuberance and charisma, his fans adoration could not be contained with in the rooms four walls. The witty and whimsical icon--master of all he attempts--amused his worshipers with impersinations, anecdotes and personal stories, superfluously exceding all expectations, confirming his genuineness, sweeping me off my feet.

After years spent debating whether the Faust of Marlowe or Goethe's was superior; after all the descents into Dante's Circles of Hell; and the heated examination of Beowolfe, I emerge forever changed by a movie-well, three movies. An archetypal storyline whose simple premise and fundemental value eluded me for far too long while satisfying its fans' voracious hunger with an expanded universe of books and comics.

As lines adorn my brow and scars map-out my life's misfortunes, jaded by astringent disappointment I look to the bright shiny faces playing pretend. Procuring a page from their book, they convinced this bitter wretched soul that goodness can still be found within the passageways of life. Hamill and the dedicated fans have slain my preconceived notions, unselfishly inducting me into their universe.

My journey through your galaxy is not over, it is only just beginning.

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