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WorldCon Whirlwind (and a bit of a rant)

Posted by on August 22nd, 2016 with 0 Comments

Brooke Johnson, with me and my wife Laura.I’m currently catching my breath between the last 5 days spent at MidAmeriCon2 (the 74th Annual World Science Fiction Convention) in Kansas City, and later this week, when we take a cross-country drive to drop my youngest child off at his new college. (The picture, by the way, is author Brooke Johnson, with Laura and I. We’ve been on some panels together at ConQuest and now WorldCon, and had a good time hanging out.) Busy busy busy. But I wanted to get this down.

So, I had been lamenting that I’d missed the opportunity to charge my creative batteries at GenCon again — well, WorldCon took care of that. HOLY CRAP, I’m vibrating.

Spoke on several panels — kinda froze a bit when I noted that Larry Muhfuggin’ NIVEN was in the audience of one of them, hearing ME speak. WHAT IS THIS I DON’T EVEN. Met many, many brilliant people. Had the opportunity for sharing physical location with people that I’ve known for years online — turns out, the people from Twitter have, necks and bodies and legs and stuff. They’re not just disembodied heads in squares. Enjoyed time with folks that I already knew “fer realsies”, even though there never seemed to be enough time.

Came away from the show excited about the future — both for stuff that I’m already working on, and stuff that is just at the “percolating idea” stage. Feeling a much-needed sense of actual enthusiasm for my work, which is wonderful.

A couple of other take-aways from the show:

  • I’m in my late 40s, and there were rooms where I felt like one of the “young folks.” Seriously. SFF Fandom (with a Capital F) skews WAY old. I’d love to see more effort made to attract a younger cohort, or this stuff is eventually going to die out. It’s been pointed out to me that younger folks often can’t take the time and spend the money to attend — which is true, and not much can be done about that. But content-wise, there needs to be stuff to attract those that COULD attend, by giving them a reason to WANT TO. The ‘fan-culture’ stuff that’s been kinda stale since the mid-70s is not the way to do it. I mean, sure, have that for those that want it — but make more of an effort to recognize and accommodate 21st-Century fan culture, too.
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  • Today, I’ve been reading another spate of post-Con horror stories about creepers, sexists, harassment, social dysfunction. Again. (As an example, this twitter-thread from Alyssa Wong.) Seeing expected messages of support, ally-dom, etc.

    But. BUT.

    I had convos in person with some folks AT the con about this stuff… and the amount of “well, we shouldn’t ostracize” push-back was noticeable.

    Here’s the thing, though: the socially dysfunctional won’t stop these behaviors without it, to say nothing of the purposefully abusive. Until we get over the “geeks don’t ostracize” bullshit, it’s never gonna change. So yeah, offer ally-ship & support. But start actively insuring that there are negative consequences for these behaviors. Now.

    People do this in your presence? Ostracize the shit out of them. “But they’re socially awkward” can no longer be allowed to be an excuse. Learn how to behave in public, or you don’t get to BE in public. This is Basic Adult Socialization 101. Long PAST time to start enforcing it.

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Rant over. The positives far, far outweighed the negatives, in the end.

Also? I need to take more pictures when I’m at a Con. Folks are posting them all over the place.

Now, back to work.

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