What’s Your Favorite Con?

No, I’m not talking about Locke Lamorra’s best swindles, but conventions.  You know the gig: panels, filking, masquerades, parties, the bar.  As a writer I find myself going to quite a few and, though most are great, there are a few I’d just as soon not return to.

Generally, I divide conventions into two sorts: working and schmoozing.  There’s plenty of overlap between the two, but in the first I’m more often working hard to promote my books, while at the other I’m mostly trying to have a good time.  Hanging out at the water cooler, as Tobias Buckell, SFNovelists’ Fearless Leader, likes to call it.  Since a writer generally works alone, the only time you get to share the sort of business gossip most people talk about over the water cooler is at cons.

For working cons, I really like the small, regional venues.  Confluence in Pittsburgh, Albacon in Albany, Bubonicon in Albuquerque: all are great gatherings where the work is fun, with interesting panels and knowledgeable participants.  Yet they’re also still small enough that you can interact with nearly everyone who attends.  I know there are a lot more great regional cons out there, and only wish I had the time (and money) to get to them all.

Then there are the schmoozing cons, larger, and with a more professional bent.  World Fantasy, which changes location every year, is the first con I ever attended, and still one of my favorites.  Readercon, which is held outside Boston every summer, is another enjoyable event, where you’re always sure to have a great conversation at the bar, or the con suite, or any of the parties that take over large portions of the hotel after dark.  Though the panels and workshops at these larger conventions are also interesting, I have to admit I’ll blow them off completely if there’s a good conversation going somewhere else.

How about other folks?  What are your favorite cons?

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  1. 1. Marie Brennan

    World Fantasy’s one of my favorites for schmoozing, too. I also like ICFA: it’s an academic conference, but also has attending writers and editors and the like. Which sounds all very noble and high-minded until I admit that it’s in Florida next weekend, and that is a big selling point for those in more northerly locales. <g>

    My other standard is VeriCon, a college event hosted at Harvard. But I’ve got a personal attachment to that one — I was its guest coordinator for the first two years. It’s had some very good panels, but it’s a small con, and has a lot of non-publishing-related stuff going on.

  2. 2. Chang

    I’ve only been to Readercon and it was fun! Lots of great people there to meet, harass and enjoy.

    I’ve missed Boskone two years in a row. I don’t plan on making it an even three. It’s looking too good to pass up.

  3. 3. chrisweuve

    I have limited SF con experience (3 PhilCons, a few day trips to Balticon, and an Arisia and a Boskone). I have been to a lot of gaming conventions, and I can answer (although this is not the question asked) that if I had to choose between never attending another game convention and never attending another SF con, I would deselect game cons in a heartbeat. SF cons are, on a whole, a lot more fun in my mind: the attendees are generally smarter, and while the social skills might be similar, SF con attendees aren’t thrown into a competitive environment. YMMV.

  4. 4. Joyce Reynolds-Ward

    Both of these cons are local to me, but I’m rather fond of Orycon (in Portland, OR) and Radcon (Pasco, WA). Both are great fun, with good conversation to be found.

    I’ve yet to make it up to Seattle for the Seattle-area cons, but plan to do that next year. Potlatch is a nice, intimate, reader/writer focused con that travels, and I’ll be at my second WorldCon this year (last one was LoneStarCon). I’ve done a couple of Westercons as well, and they can be quite nice.

  5. 5. Kelly McCullough

    WisCon and World Fantasy top my list but I’m also lucky to have CONvergence, MarsCon, and MiniCon, local to me–all fine conventions. I really want to get to ReaderCon and NorwesCon. And someday maybe I’ll get a chance to go to WorldCon–so far the combination of dates and times hasn’t worked for me, though I had a great time at NASFic last summer.

  6. 6. S.C. Butler

    Speaking of cons, I’ve been at Lunacon all weekend, which is why I’ve been so slow returning to this discussion.

    Marie – I think we first met at a Vericon several years ago. As I recall, we both backed off from joining a group reading that seemed to feature too many dramatically trained readers. But it looked like a fun small con.

    Chang – See you at Boskone next year!

    chrisweuve – The only gaming convention I ever attended was an Origins more than twenty years ago. I noticed what you said about attendees’ skill sets. Balticon is one I really want to get to as I have a lot of friends in the area.

    Joyce – Two more names to add to my list. Some day I want to do a west coast swing. It would be great to spend a month going to cons in the Northwest.

    Kelly – You always know the best cons. I’m hoping to get to one in the Twin Cities next year.

  7. 7. Jackie

    I like Romantic Times, specifically because there are so many readers who attend. It’s terrific getting to schmooze not only with industry professionals but also with the people who read our work. (Got to love the Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance crossover.)

  8. 8. Chris Coen

    I’ve been to one WorldCon (in Boston) and one WFC (in Austin), and am trying Fourth Street Fantasy in Minneapolis this year as an attempt to find a smaller con where I won’t feel entirely lost. http://www.4thstreetfantasy.com/

Author Information

S.C. Butler

Butler is the author of The Stoneways Trilogy from Tor Books: Reiffen's Choice, Queen Ferris, and The Magician's Daughter. Find out what Reiffen does with magic, and what magic does with him... Visit site.

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