I promised to report on my Worldcon experience “next week” a month ago. Better late than never. But first, some writing news…
I sold a story titled “Time and Not Space” to Galaxy’s Edge Magazine. It will appear in the November issue. I will post a reminder and a link when the time comes. Scide Splitters columns continue with the latest being a review of Unidentified Funny Objects 5.
I’ve been wanting to go to a Worldcon for decades, but time and money have held me back until this year – that and not realizing what I have been missing. Prior to my experience at MidAmeriConII (that is the name of the 2016 Worldcon held in Kansas City last month), I was concerned that I would be disappointed for two reasons, hype and being an outsider.
The hype concern was due to my having built up decades of anticipation based on all the wonderful stories I have heard about Worldcons past. How could the real thing live up to the myth fostered in my mind? The other concern was based on my feeling like something of an alien to my own species. Yes, I understand that this is not an uncommon feeling among science fiction fans. We are outcasts. Even so, I suspected that the SF community would be yet another group where I would not fit in.
I was wrong on both counts. Worldcon lived up to the hype and I found many kindred spirits.
First, the people, because without them, there is no Worldcon. The majority of them were friendly and welcoming. Not that this is unique to SF fandom, but it is a prerequisite to friendship. Beyond that, I can’t easily explain why I connected so well with so many at the convention. It was more than just a common interest in science fiction. Sometimes people connect. It is a complex thing and I won’t try to analyze it here.
It may have helped that I smoke. Smokers are the outcasts of outcasts, forced to congregate out of necessity. It’s kind of like being stuck on an elevator together. Eventually you will talk to each other, and having nicotine to calm the internal fires, smokers tend to be a friendly bunch when getting their fix. There is something at Worldcon called BarCon. People congregate and get to know each other over drinks. I will call the smoker’s version AshtrayCon. I don’t know if the word, or something of similar meaning, exists in the lexicon of fandom, but it should. And when you put BarCon and AshtrayCon together, all the better.
As for other activities, WorldCon has so many appealing things going on at any given time, that you have to set priorities. I ended up trying to evenly divide my time between my various interests as a writer, a reader, a fan, and a lover of science. I partook in panels, presentations, kaffeeklatsches, literary beers, book signings, award ceremonies, and wandering the exhibit hall. But it was always the people that made these events worthwhile.