Extraterrestrial birds of prey, space cadets and medieval princesses are prowling the French Quarter this weekend, disappointed at getting so little response from natives for their costumed efforts.

Some of the more exotically dressed delegates to the World Science Fiction Convention said they had no idea how casually they would be assimilated in the home of Mardi Gras."I guess I didn't know how laid-back these people are," Dawn Lange of Newport, Tenn., told Reuters on Saturday. She was wearing a latex and fiberglass breastplate, a helmet with wings and not much more. "It's a little disappointing."

But Julian Headlong, a biochemist from Swindon, England, said he came to sit in hotel bars and visit with old friends from former conventions - "not to shock the locals."

"About 99 percent of these people are fairly normal," he told Reuters. "It's that other one percent that adds the fizz to the mix and gives us a weird image."

For the 7,000 people attending, the convention offers thousands of exhibits, lectures, souvenirs and autograph parties with noted science fiction writers, along with a few masquerade balls. It also functions as a loose, umbrella group for bizarre organizations.

One, according to Headlong, is "the Society for Creative Anachronism" whose members "like to dress up as knights and whack at each other with swords."