Why you should attend conventions (and particularly this year’s Worldcon).
I loves me a good convention. I have since I attended my first one (Conflux) in 2004. There are some scary aspects of convention going, but all in all I have to say the positives far outweigh the negatives. Here’s why I think you should make an effort to attend a convention asap.
a) Meeting like-minded folks. Honestly, it’s like coming home. Intelligent discussion of genre, followed by raucous laughter in the bar. Finally finding that person with whom you can have that spirited debate on which doctor is best. Standing at the elevators at stupid-o’clock talking with the author who made your teenage years bearable. Ah yes, the people make cons.
b) The inspiration. I think regardless of how you come to a convention (as a writer, artist, filmmaker or fan), you leave with a myriad of ideas of what to explore next. Either you want to delve into your work-in-progress or you want to delve into the world of the person you discovered there.
c) The education. You’ll spend hours sitting in panels listening to some of the best minds around talking about your favourite genre, and you’ll come away with knowledge you never had before. Attend one of the workshops that most conventions have and that learning will be intensified.
d) The socialising. Ah yes, conventions are about hanging out with friends (most of whom you only see at conventions due to the constraints of distance). Indeed, some people never go to a program item at all and spend all their time in the bar.
e) The shopping. Budget big time for buying cool things. Mostly books, but at various conventions I’ve seen pottery, stuffed animals, replica weapons from Lord of the Rings and RPGs.
f) The networking. Conventions, particularly in Australia, are where you get to meet a lot of the professionals in the field. Writers. Editors. Publishers. You might not think this is pertinent to you if you’re not published now but believe me, the work you do before publication on establishing yourself as a hard-working professional and someone to be respected will pay dividends later on.
Ah, I could go on and on and ON about conventions. I love them so much that I was on the committee for the Conflux conventions in Canberra for five years (including chairing Conflux 4). I was also on the committee for Aussiecon 4 (this year’s Worldcon, in Melbourne, September 2-6) before a certain trilogy sale meant I had to say no to extra-curricular activities.
I really do think that if you’re an Australian science fiction, fantasy or horror fan, you should seriously consider attending Aussiecon 4. Yep, it’s gonna be expensive. Not gonna hide that from you. But here’s some of what you’ll get –
a) Attendees – apart from the guests (Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaun Tan and Robin Johnson), other people who have indicated they are attending include Greg Benford, Cory Doctorow, Kate Elliot, George RR Martin, Alastair Reynolds, John Scalzi, Robert Silverberg, Charles Stross and Carrie Vaughn. Some of the biggest names in the world are coming down-under. And that’s just the internationalists!
b) The program – Aussiecon 4 will have events running from early morning until late at night for five nights running, and membership gets you into pretty much all of them for free! There will be an academic stream, featuring papers delivered by some of the genres top scholars. There will be multiple streams covering literature, film, anime, manga – you name it, it will be there. And at night – well, Worldcon parties are legendary. Events are being organised – I know the horror guys have already got The Nightmare Ball up and running and there’s also the Hugo Awards, which are a glittering night.
c) The socialising – again, Worldcon parties are legendary! There’s a floor of the party con which has been set aside just for the parties, which publishers and such host. Wanna find yourself spending the night finishing off the food with George RR Martin, such as happened at the end of the Aussiecon party at the last Worldcon? Gotta be a member.
d) National pride – the plans from Australian publishers and artists, big and small, for Worldcon are incredible. You’re going to see the best our bonza nation can offer on display – why not be part of it?
Over the ditch (hi New Zealand!) their Natcon (that’s national convention) is the weekend before Worldcon, August 27 to 29. Au Contraire http://aucontraire.org.nz/index.php is going to have some of the Worldcon attendees as well, doubling up on the trip down-under. Some mad Aussies (ie me) are jumping over for it too. Should be a blast!
If you can’t make Worldcon or Au Contraire, start planning to go to one of the 2011 conventions in Australia. So far, there’s three to choose from.
Swancon 36 (which is also the fiftieth Australian Natcon) April 21-25 in Perth
Continuum 7 June 10-13 in Melbourne
Conflux October in Canberra
Nicole Murphy is the author of SECRET ONES, Dream of Asarlai Book One. She has had many short stories published, and has edited speculative fiction magazines. She lives in Queanbeyan with her husband Tim.
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