Alexander Film Works

Posts Tagged ‘ConClave’

Conventions, Science Fiction, and Me…

In Just Because..., Think About It on January 24, 2013 at 11:02 pm

One of the two remaining science fiction conventions in the Detroit area was this past weekend.  ConFusion, the younger of the two, had its thirty-ninth iteration; the new con committee, volunteers all (as true fannish conventions are), decided to forego one-day memberships – good from midnight to midnight on one of the three days of the convention (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday).  This seemed to be a big mistake to the old-timers in the area, but they weren’t consulted.

They also moved from the hotel in Troy they had been using for the past eight or ten years (the exact number escapes me) to another down in Dearborn.  Again, this seemed to be a mistake to the experienced conrunners, but again, they weren’t consulted.

This is, unfortunately, the way things go with fannish conventions… every new con committee insists on reinventing the square wheel.

I have been a fan long enough to both shrug at these occurrences, and to wish that they didn’t make the same mistakes the last six committees have.

I have “pubbed my ish”, as they say… several editions of my fanzines scopus:3007 and Lightning Round are available on efanzines.com.  I have been active in con committees off and on since 1987, including working on Worldcons (the World Science Fiction Convention, the annual gathering of fans from around the world).  I have been involved in costuming,  bickering about whether a Worldcon bid should be made for Detroit (our last successful bid was for 1959), and many other fannish discussion gatherings.  My wife Megan and I have become slightly involved with steampunk (I have pictures from the 2012 World Steam Expo, where we were vendors), and have listened intently to “filkers” (science fiction folk singers, whose name came from a typo in a program book back in the day).

I look with pride at my autographed copy of Warhoon 28 (the omnibus collection of Walt Willis’s fannish writings, published in bound mimeograph form by Richard Bergeron), value my friendships with such luminaries as Mike Glicksohn (Fan Guest of Honor at the first Aussiecon), Fred Pohl (who should need little introduction), and George R. R. Martin (whose acquaintance I owe to both Mike Glicksohn and my wife Megan).

But the “traditional” fannish values of yore seem to matter little to the generation currently running things… General cons, where everything is on the agenda, is falling victim to specialized cons, such as “steampunk”, costuming, gaming, media, and even a couple of cons honoring the “old school” fanzines of yore.

This Balkanization of fandom may just lead to its eventual demise, but I hope not.

Weekend R & R

In Just Because... on January 23, 2012 at 12:41 pm

For the two of us, in most years, January means ConFusion.  This science fiction convention, a joint venture between the Ann Arbor Science Fiction Association (AASFA) and the Stilyagi Air Corps, has been held for over thirty years now, most recently in the Troy Marriott hotel, on Big Beaver Road (also known as 16 Mile Road) just east of Interstate 75.

We hadn’t been for a couple of years, because of the issues we’d been going through with Megan’s mom dying, the brothers and stepbrothers causing different problems, and others in our lives becoming leading contenders for the Richard Cranium Awards.

With these issues (somewhat) resolved, we went to this year’s convention, named “Epic Confusion”, hoping just to have a reasonably good time.

We did.

We saw people we hadn’t seen in a couple of years, saw the widow of our dear friend Mike Glicksohn (if you know Mike, you’re the poorer for his death; if you didn’t know him, you’re the poorer for not having met him), and discussed the way things are going, have gone, and may go in future.

We also saw new and different stuff that we thought was cool, and would be good for costuming uses.  (Trust me, this is never far away from the top of our consciousness.)

It’s good to hang with people who understand you, and whom you understand, every so often.  Unfortunately, the other large convention here in the Detroit area, ConClave, is having hotel problems, and will be taking a one-year hiatus, according to the convention committee.  The thing is, science fiction fandom has a notoriously short memory, and a con that skips a year may not be able to regain their past momentum.

The absence of ConClave would leave only Penguicon (a science-fiction convention/Linux user group gathering), Youmacon (a dedicated anime and manga convention – Japanese comics and animated cartoon movies), the World Steam Expo (a convention for those who try to make Victorian and Edwardian science fiction), and Motor City Comic Con (dedicated to the entire spectrum of comic art, from mainstream comic books, to “graphic novels”, to webcomics) as companions to ConFusion as a gathering point for people whose interests run outside the everyday.

Personally, I think this would be a shame, but things do change, and it would be foolish not to recognize that.

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