Where to start? Over the decades I have learned a great deal about conventions and how to survive them without being overly tired or sick afterwards. There is also a very unique and specific social structure within conventions that you don’t find in the outside world. This is the first of more than 20 posts that will be devoted specifically to surviving conventions intact. I will cover such diverse subjects as why some conventions give away glycerin soap with dice in them to dealing with or being security, from what the hell was I drinking last night to making fun of the mundanes.
Science fiction conventions are the largest nonreligious special-interest group in America. Part of the reason for that is because they are so accepting and inclusive. The existence of the related conventions such as comic book, horror, fantasy, anime, etc., is actually a side effect of the science fiction convention. Science fiction fans still consider these other conventions as part of their general format. Honestly that’s entirely fair. Not only were science fiction conventions first, but they went out of their way to cater to these various special interests even when they didn’t have a very large fan base of their own. Individual SMOF’s and RMOF’s work hard for no pay to make conventions work and to provide programming for a variety of genres. If you don’t know what SMOF’s and RMOF’s are you are not alone but if you ask around will probably find some answers. Just assume that there wouldn’t be any conventions without these guys.
The very first convention was WorldCon. It started in New York City in 1939 and travels from city to city all over the world to this day. The only reason to go to any other convention during WorldCon is because WorldCon is too far away and you can’t afford to go. I have heard people make excuses for going to other conventions during WorldCon, but as I said before there really are only two reasons not to go to WorldCon if you are an actual fan.
Yeah, you can argue if you want, but even that is only because you feel you have to justify your position. I don’t have to justify my statement and if you don’t understand why I say what I do then you’re just not as much of a fan as I am and that’s okay. In fact, you don’t have to agree with anything I say. That is part of the freedom that is fandom.
So, you may be wondering why you should even read my posts if you don’t have to agree with them. Okay that’s fair. The answer is simple: if you want to maximize your enjoyment of conventions without losing your job, girlfriend or boyfriend, mind, or health, then this blog will save you wear and tear and decades of time. You might even get to hear or read about people being kidnapped and taken across state lines to Ren fairs or the story of the great lobster liberation or at least a little information about the Knights of the purple tower. Certainly fandom has changed a lot over the years. Before there was Second Life there was Second Skin. No, I’m not actually planning to explain that, but I might.
By the way, the very first WorldCon or Nycon had 200 attendees and the very first Hugo award was a stolen hood ornament from a car in the parking lot. Forrest J Ackerman wore the first costume at that convention and that is why there is costumeing today. Back when I ran my own science fiction magazine called Planetary Previews, they were among the things that went into Forrey’s collection.
No discussions of cons would be complete without stories of alcohol and both practical and impractical jokes. No, you are not allowed to throw them off a hotel balcony, no matter how deserving they may be. It is perhaps sad that I have had to say those words in real life on numerous occasions, and unfortunately, sometimes it sounded like a good idea even to me.
So, starting with the next installment we will be discussing how to pick which con to go to.
Copyright 2012 Julian Thomas Reid III