I’ve had the opportunity to go to two Eastercons now. It’s been such a pleasure to participate in conventions outside of the US. I am fortunate to live in Texas, where there are some of the best sf conventions in the country, but having another perspective is enlightening.
It would be simplistic to say that UK cons are “better,” but here in Texas we can learn a thing or two. For example, the programming at FollyCon and the panelists take fantasy and science fiction more seriously. So the presentation on the use of color and costume in space opera from Forbidden Planet to Star Wars, based on Claude Levi-Strauss’s philosophical and anthropological essays, approaches science fiction as worth of this analysis and manages to make it fun to boot.
Similarly, the Culture Clash panel that I was on took the stand that science fiction and fantasy are uniquely positioned to look at interactions between cultures in ways that transcend the typical outcomes (military conquest, etc.) and can posit other stories. After all, that’s what we do. We ask what if, and what happens next?
I think cons in the US should up their game. I’m calling on con runners to ask what if — what if we can get academics to join us for presentations on art, history, fantasy, culture, language, human nature, etc? What if we can make it fun but also interesting? Speculative literature is the best literature; we should use conventions to explore all the possibilities.
Because if you can discuss nature vs. science in Blake’s 7, surely you should do more of that.
The icing on the cake was going to Nnedi Okorafor’s reading. She read from Lagoon, Binti, and other works, and it was so wonderful.
I had an excellent time, and I’m looking forward to bringing some of these ideas to my local conventions, including ArmadilloCon, so watch out, y’all.