Sunday, March 16, 2014

Cons For Everyone.

I only started going to Cons about five years ago. Until then, I wasn't even aware they existed. In the pre-internet days SF reading and fandom was a reasonably solitary existence, and I never really connected with too many people who were into the same books I was.

In many ways I wish I'd known about fandom much earlier, become involved when I was younger. Not only because I could have gone to more cons and met more people, but I think some of those older cons would have suited me more.

When I think of SF, I tend to think books. Very few SF movies have left the same impression on me as the printed word, and TV series, while enjoyable, have had a lesser impact. Maybe it's my age, maybe it's growing up in an era when SF TV was pretty hokey. Maybe it's the way I am, an avid reader and an able visualiser.

So cons, over the past few years, seem to have moved away from the books and towards the pop culture. Lots of vampires, anime, superheroes and TV series. And while I don't mind some of those (vampires), I simply cannot relate to others (anime and superheroes).

Now I'm certainly not mourning the passing of cons, or anything so dramatic. I recognise they have to change in order to survive. They need to reflect the interests of the membership. And with SF becoming a huge amorphous beast, those interests can be very wide ranging indeed.

I read a post during the week, some of which I agreed with, some of which I didn't, but it certainly reflected much of my recent thoughts. It's true you can't please everyone all of the time, and I have some of the concerns about the divisive behaviours and attitudes that some cons seem to engender.

It seems to me that we need to remember the wide variety of tastes and interests, and reflect that in the programming. We need to remember and enjoy the legacy of SF, whether the popular canon, the diverse or the forgotten. We must also remember that it's more than just what's cool, hip and young. Don't forget the access we have to those older, experienced heads who still have links to the past.

But mostly, don't forget what cons are about.

I'm personally not very interested in panels on politics, for example, or social justice (although it can have its place within the genre). I get enough of that in the rest of the world, in my past, in my workplace. When I go to a con, it's about escapism. Yes, I'm at a con to learn, to share, to meet with others, but mostly I'm there to have fun.

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