There’s no question about it–conventions are here to stay.
Remember the first “Worldcon,” when a whopping nine fans (all men) showed up in New York? Now the annual event always draws hundreds of attendees, and I suspect someday soon it will break the thousand-fan barrier. Since the War, a number of regional conventions have also sprung up: Westercon, Boskone, Eastercon, Disclave, Midwestcon, Lunacon…
And those are just the big formal ones. There are plenty of smaller events–irregular gatherings associated with local clubs or movements.
One that I’ve enjoyed over the past several years is a little Seattle event run by a gang of highly motivated and talented female fans. These are ladies who have seen the 90/10 split between male and female authors (on a good day) and want to see things improve. As always, the shindig was a great opportunity to engage in intellectual discussions, meet like-minded fans, and learn about up-and-coming female science fiction and fantasy talents.
Perhaps the most valuable episode, for me, was a group conversation regarding liking and recommending fiction that contains troubling elements. For instance, what do you do when your favorite author includes demeaning depictions of certain races in her/his story? Or when a creator turns out to be a horrible person in private life? To what length can you diassociate yourself from the bad parts to continue enjoying the good? And do you mention the bad bits when recommending the works to your friends? Do you not recommend them at all? It’s a highly nuanced issue.
In the end, the consensus was that everybody has their breaking point (for me and Randall Garrett, for instance, it was Queen Bee), but up to that point, we can enjoy what we enjoy without feeling guilt. If something really bothers us, we can write letters to the authors and editors and urge them to alter their practices. And when it comes to recommendations, honesty is the best policy. Even if you worry that mentioning some teensy-weensy little thing will poison someone’s perception of an entire work, it is important that: 1) the recommendee know what s/he is getting into, and 2) that it is understood that you are not blind to the troublesome issue.
On that philosophical note, here are some photos from the gathering!
It’s still World War 2 in some places:
Disney remains a perennial source of popular costumes:
Here’s an interesting take on the “Bat-girl”:
And a rather dapper fellow from another era:
Here are some attendees who came in their street clothes (more or less):
There was even a tiny dealer’s hall!
(Becky and James Hicks of Little Vampires; dig their Breakfast at Tiffany’s parody!)
(Crystal of Crystal’s Idyll)
And, of course, yours truly.
Thanks to all of you lovely people who made our weekend so enjoyable We will be back next year.
Stay tuned: the third Kennedy/Nixon debate is airing tomorrow. I hope you’ll all join me for this prime-time event so that we can compare notes the next day…