For the past four years, New Orleans CONtraflow has hosted hundreds of heroes and monsters from the worlds of fantasy and science fiction. This year will be bigger than ever as CONtraflow combines with the well-established Deep South Con, now in its 53rd iteration, at the New Orleans Airport Hilton in Kenner on Friday through Sunday.
Deep South Con visits a different Southern city every year.
“We’ll probably see a couple hundred more people,” said Jessica Styons, a staff member and organizer at CONtraflow.
While giant industry conventions like Comic Con or Dragon Con focus on film and TV, this is an old-school gathering, emphasizing literature and art.
The convention will offer panels with science fiction and fantasy authors and scientists, a fanzine lounge, a costume contest and a charity auction for the Friends of the New Orleans Library. Of course, there are also collectibles, books and artwork for fans.
It’s a fan-run convention, not an industry convention, said Adam Rivas, a psychotherapist who has attended each year’s CONtraflow and is presenting for the first time this year.
“The difference between an industry con and a fan con is that you never really have to go home with a fan con, so to speak,” Rivas said. “There’s always lots to do. And it’s much more about the people, and it’s put on by the people, so it has more of a genuine feel where you can really get to know folks. You see a lot of the local touches — there’s definitely a local culture to the different conventions.”
“I try to broaden the appeal to people who come in from outside because you get the opportunity to have one-on-one discussions with writers, editors and scientists that you won’t get in another venue,” said Les Johnson, author of the science fiction novel “Rescue Mode” and an employee of NASA who will discuss science and his book at the convention. “If you’re in New Orleans and you have a family member — I’m especially trying to reach out to teenagers — who likes to read science fiction or fantasy or are interested in science and space travel, I would get them to come to this convention.”
“There is something for everybody,” Rivas said. “It’s relatively inexpensive, and it’s a great way to spend a weekend in New Orleans in October.”