Did you know that actress Claudia Christian, who plays Jewish Commander Susan Ivanova on the TV show, Babylon 5, loves matza?
If you are one of the many science fiction and fantasy fans who live in Israel, then there is a good chance that you are aware of this piece of trivia. And, you'll also probably want to meet Christian, a special guest at this year's Olamot, the science fiction fan convention taking place at Meditech in Holon on April 16-18.
Thousands of Trekkies, Buffy lovers, Lord of the Ringers and Harry Potterheads will gather for this annual rite, a joint effort between four separate non-profit organizations: The Israeli Society for Science Fiction and Fantasy, Starbase 972, The Israeli Tolkien Society and The Sunnydale Embassy in Israel (fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer).
The convention will feature a range of panel discussions, lectures, movie screenings and merchandise presentations. Guests Christian and Dean Haglund of the The X Files will be on hand to answer fans' pressing question and present an original stand-up comedy improv routine.
Ilan Aminov, director of the event, expects a larger-than-ever crowd this year, a sign that Israelis are feeling increasingly free "to come out of the closet as fantasy fans."
In fact, last year's convention in Tel Aviv attracted 7,000 fans from the full spectrum of the community, up from 5,000 in 2004 and 3,000 on 2003.
"We want everyone to know that this culture is not just for nerds and that people should see it's not a freak show, but a community of normal people," explains Aminov, who worked his way up the ranks of the Tolkein community to his current administrative position.
Aminov cites the fact that the most highly-attended events at the convention are serious lectures about literature and philosophy, sometimes given by top academics. "Israeli fans are less attracted by the merchandising aspects of the event than in other parts of the world," he says.
Aminov adds that the theme, "destiny and free will," is an appropriate one for Pessah. With the kosher-for-Passover fare that will be served and the committed fans who follow their favorite shows with fervor, the result is something of a religious experience.
"Right now, we are in the midst of a lot of change within the science fiction culture. The internet is totally changing the way that we follow shows. Science fiction fans have always been the pioneers within new technology," he says. A special presentation, entitled, "The End of the Television Era,"will deal with just that issue.
But cerebral topics aside, you don't have to be an intellectual to fit in at the conference. As in other parts of the world, fans will come costumed like their favorite characters and can expect a chance to socialize with other people who have seen every episode of Star Trek,or who know the middle names of every actor on Stargate.
Booths selling new and used books, comics, gaming paraphernalia, cards and board games will be set up in the lobby in the free-admission area. Participants then pay an hourly admission to attend movie screenings, shows, trivia sessions and lectures.
But for many true fantasy fans, the best part is feeling like you're finally among your own kind. The diverse crowd, ranging in age from 10 to 100 and hailing from all socio-economic backgrounds, are there primarily to dream the impossible.
And, says Aminov, "We know how to party."
For more information, including an exact schedule, visit www.olamot.org.
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