If you’re a writer in the sf/f tradition, the subject of conventions is going to come up sooner or later. If you’re coming to writing through fandom, chances are that you’ve been attending conventions for a considerable length of time and what is there to talk about? And then there are those new authors who get told by their editors or other close associates that “You really need to attend conventions” and they go “Conventions? What’s that?”
What it is often called, or was before sub-genre fragmentation took over, is “A Gathering of the Tribes.” (Though some reserve that term for WorldCons) Fans and writers and artists and such folk gathering together on a weekend to meet each other, talk shop, drink in the bar, hang out with friends, sometimes attend panel discussions and readings, maybe meet your favorite author. That kind of thing. There’s usually one going on somewhere, most weekends.
I still remember my very first, long before I was selling. I was never a real fan, mind you. Probably for the same reasons that I’ll apply to the subject of conventions in a minute, but I was a reader and aspiring writer, and I knew about them. Usually they were taking place a long way from where I had just started work after college, and I had no travel budget to speak of. However, I learned of one within driving distance, and it was JUST IMAGICON, being held that year in Memphis, TN. It was back in 1978, and as for the convention itself, you can probably imagine what it was like for someone like me: Theodore Sturgeon. Kelly Freas. The de Camps. It was, and I say this without either irony or hyperbole, like walking among gods. Continue reading