So after a full day of programming and fun at Worldcon, some rather interesting impressions.
I went to Sasquan last year in Spokane, WA. It is a smaller city, well inland across the state from Seattle, but close enough to drive. It left me with concepts and concerns. This year has not addressed them in a positive manner.
I’m 47. And I’m in pretty good shape (size waist 32 jeans as the numbers escalate, but I still weigh right around 200 lbs, most of the time.)
This thing, this World Science Fiction Convention, looks to have around 5000 attendees. That sounds like a lot, until you realize that the San Diego Comic Con had over 160,000 attendees in 2015. It feels like a small, local con of the sort I started going to thirty-five years ago in Wichita.
Second, I’m in the bottom half of the attendees, by age grouping. Seriously, the average age of all the people I’ve seen the last two days has got to be mid-fifties. These are folks that have been going to Worldcons for decades, and they represent a significant chunk of Fandom, as it used to be known in the bad, old days when these people were pups.
The problem is, they aren’t pups anymore. They’ve grown old, and not brought along the next generation of readers and fans. I might have seen a handful of people too young to drink in the last two days. That’s it.
For comparison, this spring at Emerald City Comic Con in Seattle, the average age of attendees might (barely) have been old enough to drink. That crowd was teenagers, lots and lots of them. Better, young parents, in costume, with their four-year-old daughter dressed up as Rey from Star Wars 7, or Wonder Woman, or something. Deeply engaged and doing it as a family.
I barely saw adult children of attendees here in KC.
And the energy at ECCC was off the charts, compared to WC. Hyper. Excited. Engaged.
The entire dealer room at WC is less than an acre, compared to ECCC that felt 4-6 times as big, and a hundred times as crowded and vibrant.
Next, let us talk about the fans, in as gentle a way as we can.
I weigh 200 lbs. I’m pretty sure that puts me in the bottom half weight category for people, as I look around. And that includes the girls.
I feel bad for the people in such bad shape. It’s not that hard to walk more and pay better attention to what you eat. When I stopped drinking soda pop, I lost 20 pounds pretty quickly. When my wife gave me her old fitbit, I started paying attention to the number of steps I took each day. It had been 3500-4500. Now it runs around 6000-7000 on a weekday, and 12000-15000 on the weekends in the summer. (Winter, I don’t have as much work to do out at the farm, so I tend to write more instead, but I’m standing at the counter when I do and moving around still.)
People, walk more. That’s all it takes. Stretch in the shower in the morning to keep the muscles loose. Eat less processed foods. My diet has shifted over largely to dead critter and fresh veggies these days, with an emphasis on burning fat. I’m in better shape than I’ve been since the days I used to go out dancing several nights each week.
Now, the good parts.
Went to several fun panels yesterday. Afrofuturism in SF was an exploration of black authors and publishers in the field, and what it was like for them to get where they are, and how the field can be more inclusive. Cerece Rennie Murphy was absolute hilarious to listen to, as she recounted the stories about how nobody told her a black woman wasn’t supposed to write SF so she drove up to NY Comic Con and rented a table to sell her books. Another was Bill Campbell, the publisher of Rosarium Publishing.
After that: Taboo Topics in SF&F, which turned into a serious (if silly) discussion on why bodily functions are never discussed in SF&F. Imagine Aragorn up at two in the morning trying to pee with orcs trying to beat the door down. Or how no woman ever has to worry about packing emergency tampons and pads in space. (Science is actually getting close, but let’s talk chain mail settings.) This is topical for me, because my novel coming out shortly, Fairchild, actually addresses some of these topics, and I had to ask very pointed questions and get a good walk through on things from my wife, to make sure I had it all right.
They also touched on the fact that Americans do not deal well with class topics. The best suggestion I saw was for a group of British writers to have a panel on class at an American con, sometime, for American writers to understand. Americans do not see themselves (or admit to themselves) through the lens of class. Everyone is a temporarily down-on-his-luck millionaire. That is helpful at times, but it leaves out other things.
Also met lots of neat people and made some more con buddies. This being so far from home, few of the usual suspects made it this far, but Fabulous Publisher Babe™ knows everybody, and I get to tag along. Had dinner last night with Lyda Morehouse and Naomi Kritzer. Scheduled to have lunch today with Mary Anne Mohanraj. All folks she has known from way back, mostly from Clarion things.
Am off now, Saturday morning, for breakfast and more fun. Probably almost as much programming, but hoping to catch up with a few folks that I have not seen yet. (Left messages.)
shade and sweet water