Just over a year ago, I’d never been to a science fiction convention. Mostly, it was a question of access; I didn’t live in places where SFF conventions happened. I also didn’t really know what went on at them.
Last year, back in the US, I decided to change that. Starting with Sasquan/Worldcon in Spokane, I’ve now been to four conventions – global, regional, and state. What I’ve learned from them is that I’m not really the convention type.
I enjoy the idea of conventions – the fact that SFF fans gather in large numbers to talk about a shared interest. But I find the actuality of conventions underwhelming. The vast majority of panels don’t interest me. And the panels themselves appear to draw from a small, cliquish group. I think there’s a problem with any con that has one panelist on 20 panels, and a handful of people on over a dozen panels apiece. I’ve been to my local con twice, and each time it seemed like the same group making the same comments to the same audience – a lot of it self-promotion.
“Well,” you say, “get involved. Make it better.” Good advice, but apparently easier said than done. Rather to my surprise, I had no success getting involved not just in programming, but in volunteering.
Clearly there’s an audience for cons. Clearly a great number of people really enjoy them. I’m glad they’re around. But I think I’ve tested the waters enough now to be sure that conventions and I aren’t a very good fit.