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The pros of cons

One benefit of joining my writing group was that I learned about conventions. Believe it or not, I really hadn't realized that science fiction fandom approached tribal levels, even though I had been reading in the genre since I was 13.

My first con was the last Disclave; little did I know how that con would be remembered! Next I went to Philcon back when it was in Philly but at the suburban Adams Mark, not the downtown venue. My first Worldcon was Buccaneer, in Baltimore, in 1998. I started going to cons in an effort to network, but what I found was that they were a lot of fun. One thing I noticed was the two friends who introduced me to conventions almost never went to any panels. They knew a huge number of attendees and they could spend hours browsing the dealers' room without complaint, but they almost never bothered to check the program let alone go to a panel.

After I had been to a fair number of panels, I realized one reason is, there is a sameness to many of them. I still attend programming but I have learned to be selective with my time and to sit near the door if the subject— or the panelists— seem likely to devolve into boring rants about things I don't care about.

I thought about all this today because Cheryl Morgan posted an article in the SFWA Bulletin that was a response to some complaints about Worldcon voiced by author Mike Resnick in an earlier article (not online that I could find). I thought Cheryl made some good points. Resnick's main complaint was that events like Comic Con were much larger than Worldcon. Well, duh! The irony to me is that Resnick is annoyed at having a smaller audience at a Wordlcon than he would at Comic Con, when in fact, Worldcon is smaller because it focuses on books instead of movies and TV. As a book author, he should be grateful there is still a good-sized literary con for authors to be Guests of Honor at. He also thinks Worldcon should stay in one city, so it can establish a following.

Personally, I don't want to attend a monster-sized convention. I recently saw a post that referred to Comic Con as having "flesh glaciers." Does that sound inviting? Well, maybe to some folks, but not to me. And I like that it really is a Worldcon, even if that means there are plenty of years when I can't go because it's too far away

So, I decided to do a poll, to see what everyone else out there thinks. If you have an LJ account, please take my poll! And if you don't take it, well, I guess then you're just a "no-account!"

Poll #1545876 Tell me about your con experience
This poll is closed.

Have you ever been to a con?

No, never
Once or twice I went to a local or regional con
I go to my local/regional cons all the time
I go to local cons a lot & Worldcon when it's close enough
I live for Worldcon
Worldcon Schmerldcon, X is much better (please tell me what X is in a comment)

What I like most about conventions is . . . (check all that apply)

attending panels and workshops
being on panels/running workshops
shopping in the dealers' room
schmoozing with other fans
room service -)
costuming-- love the masquerade!
meeting authors
networking to meet agents, editors, etc.
something else I will explain in a comment

What do you think of the idea that Worldcon should stay in one city every year?

What idiot thought that one up?
It would depend on what city it was
Doesn't matter to me; I don't go anyway
It might have some pluses, but they need to think it through
Great idea! When does it start?

Do you ever volunteer at cons (not counting programming)?

a few times
a lot

If you won a contest and could pick any con to attend for free, which one would it be?

World Fantasy Convention
Dragon Con
Comic Con
some other con I will name in a comment

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( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 31st, 2010 11:59 pm (UTC)
You certainly picked a topic that I've wondered about, Karen. I've hardly gone to cons, and actually chronicled my experiences and (lack of) involvement in them here in this post back in August 2009, right before Worldcon.

Honestly, I like the fact that they exist more than anything else. There are parts about the culture of certain cons that I'm not a big fan of -the issues with "problem attendees" and harassment being a big one- but I appreciate that they exist to bring fans and content creators together.

I guess that I have a hard time splitting for the day and indulging in a con; parental guilt can be a powerful thing. My introversion makes it hard for me to actually go ahead and attend a con. While I applaud Jon for his efforts in countering his shyness, I doubt I'd have the guts to go by myself to a con and just show up. I've been to the Dayton Hamvention several times and used to volunteer at the local Celtic Festival for many years, but in the case of the former I always went with someone else and in the latter my wife and I jointly volunteered.

Perhaps another part of it is that I have a hard time embracing all of the aspects of geek culture, particularly the more extreme stuff like Hentai videos, and I realize that a not insignificant portion of the culture will show up at any decently sized con.

I guess it's kind of a copout when I didn't put any entry in the "what con would you attend" and "what is your favorite part of a con" portions of the poll, but at least you'll know why I left those blank.

(For the record, I had decided I was going to try to attend Millenicon this year, but family issues prevented me from stalking tracking down Jim Hines this year.)
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
You might like to try World Fantasy. It's smaller-- they deliberately limit registration-- and focuses almost exclusively on books and stories to the exclusion of media. There is no masquerade and no gaming and only limited programming but there are a ton of readings. A very high percentage of the 1000 or so attendees are pros-- writers, editors, agents, artists. Plus they usually give away a free bag of (print) books. And, it's in Columbus this year! My husband (WA3HNN) and I are going. We could meet and you could talk to him about Hamvention. He has never been to anything but local hamfests,

But if you think you might want to go to WFC, register soon because they cut it off. And BTW, in spite of the name, plenty of science fiction authors go.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:41 am (UTC)
I figured they'd cut it off, but I have no way of knowing if I could go -moneywise- until a bit later in the year. I've suggested to my wife that we could go on Saturday and she could take the kids to COSI while I wandered around.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:44 am (UTC)
they don't usually sell one-day memberships but there are usually last minute sales of memberships by folks who have to change their plans. there's an LJ community for WFC where these things get posted.

Apr. 1st, 2010 03:56 am (UTC)
Egad; there are only 1000 attendees? I've been to model train conventions -regional ones, not the national ones- that have larger attendance.
Apr. 1st, 2010 02:44 pm (UTC)
Indeed, 1000 is high -- San Jose (on whose committee I was) sold more memberships than the World Fantasy Convention Board wanted us to sell. WFC has a deliberate membership cap, and it's supposed to be closer to 850. Also, there's no reason to sell one-day memberships if the demand for full memberships uses up all of the memberships you're allowed to sell in the first place.

WFC is deliberately and by design an "elitist" convention, primarily pitched as a professional conference for writers with the fan aspect being only incidental.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:09 am (UTC)
I didn't attend a con until Boskone in 2009. I went again this year. Now I'll be going to Readercon in July and WFC in October. I'm DEFINITELY going to WFC in 2011 (San Diego.) Why do I go? To see friends I otherwise don't/won't see. It's a great geekout, no doubt about it. So far, I've not been to enough of the cons to find the panels overlapping or 'same' but I've heard that complaint before.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:11 am (UTC)
Well, of course, WFC solves that problem by having limited programming! It's my favorite con, though. But you're smart to combine friend visits and cons. I went to Denvention partly to see my old college roommate. It was great!
Apr. 1st, 2010 03:29 am (UTC)
I'm getting awfully tired of being misquoted. I do NOT want Worldcon to become DragonCon or ComicCon. I have been attending Worldcon for 47 years, since 1963; I love it, it represents the highlight of my year, and I am distressed because it is becoming less and less relevant. Each year more publishers and editors elect to support other conventions, and where they go, writers follow. I will continue to attend worldcon to my dying day; I would just like to be sure it's still around at that time, which means it has to be more competently run, and probably in more popular venues. Going out of the country 5 times in 8 years (Toronto, Glasgow, Japan, Montreal and Australia) is probably not the best way to attract publishers, editors, writers or fans...and the attendance figures reflect that. I don't want a worldcon of 50,000 -- but I don't want a domestic worldcon of 2,500 either, and I am afrdi if nothing is changed that's the direction we're going. And if you think the writers are concerned about it, go talk to the artists.

-- Mike Resnick
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:35 pm (UTC)
Re: Worldcon
Well, I'm glad to hear you feel that way. I'm pretty fond of Worldcon myself. But it does seem to me that since Worldcon is run by volunteers and the venue is chosen by (paid) voting, that it's got to be able to travel to where there are sufficient volunteers willing to do all that work. Some years the site selection choice is a single city. I thought Cheryl's article did a good job in describing the reasons for this. Besides, when you say Worldcon needs to stay in this country to "attract publishers, editors, writers or fans.." you clearly mean U.S. publishers, U.S. editors, U.S. writers and U.S. fans. If that's who is supposed to come, then it should be called USCon.
Apr. 1st, 2010 02:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Worldcon
You of course have no way of controlling the idiocy of the US government, but recent actions of that government (including the Peter Watts incident and the foolishness that led to Cheryl being denied entry and very possibly never being allowed to enter the USA ever again) doesn't make it any easier for the US to host more Worldcons. You may have noticed that Charlie Stross has said he will never support another US-based Worldcon ever again -- he will probably attend, if the US government doesn't make it much more difficult -- but he'll not vote for them.

Having said that, note that after this year, we can pretty much expect three US Worldcons in a row: Reno, Chicago, and San Antonio.
Apr. 1st, 2010 11:15 am (UTC)
I would LOVE to go to Worldcon. I can't afford it when it is so far away, yet anyway. I live in hope that it will be in the UK in a few years and I WILL go then. I would like to see ComicCon and DragonCon sometime but they are too big and Cons for me are about seeing friends and meeting authors (and artists too to some extent) The other cons are spectacles where as WorldCon is a big version of my national cons I think. Helping out with conreporter was the closest I could get last year.
Keeping Worldcon in the US might attract more US fans but it would really **** off the rest of the world fans (I think) who would have to travel to the USA every time if they wanted to go, rather than just sometimes.
If I get the money to go to Worldcon outside of the UK (when I am employed again and have money) I would like to be able to add it to a holiday in a new city every time rather than have to spend my vacation days in the same city every year or even the same country.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:38 pm (UTC)
I agree that you can't call it Worldcon and have it only in the U.S., especially now that traveling to the U.S. has gotten so difficult. Now for me, if a Worldcon were in London, it would be a great excuse to take a vacation in the UK!

And good luck with the job search.
Apr. 1st, 2010 12:46 pm (UTC)
Apr. 1st, 2010 02:47 pm (UTC)
The UK in 2014 Worldcon bid will be officially launching itself this weekend at Eastercon, at which time they will announce whether the bid is for a site in London or at the SECC in Glasgow (where the previous two UK Worldcons were held). At this time, it seems rather unlikely that a UK2014 bid will be opposed, so I would feel safe making tentative plans for such a trip right now.
Apr. 1st, 2010 05:05 pm (UTC)
That would be great! I can start saving up for the trip so I can stay over a while after the con.
Apr. 9th, 2010 11:45 pm (UTC)
Interesting. I've always been intrigued by going to a literary con, and have gone to many NON-literary cons, but for some reason I've never done it.
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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