by Michael D. Pederson
I spend a lot of time at conventions. But that’s to be expected when you publish a magazine that is targeted specifically at con-goers. Travelling from one convention to another every other weekend it’s easy to become jaded and lose your sense of wonder and amazement at the things you get to see over and over again at science fiction conventions. Hordes of stormtroopers parading through the halls, girls in chainmail bikinis, big-name celebrities, toddlers in Starfleet uniforms, Goths, Klingons, and Wookies. Oh my.
Not long ago, a young anime fan cornered me at a convention and asked me why I wanted to publish a con-oriented magazine. I answered him, “How could I not?” It gives me the best possible excuse for spending every other weekend surrounded by fellow SF enthusiasts—gamers, writers, artists, and costumers; friends and peers; intellectual compatriots.
I clearly remember my first con experience, back in the mid-eighties. Sci-Con, Virginia Beach, Virginia. I had been trying to get to a convention for the past few years but I could never find a local one that was being held when I had a free weekend. Finally though, a couple of friends from college insisted that we drive down to the beach for a fun weekend of sci-fi and gaming. So there I was, swathed in brown cloth, trying my best to look like a Jedi warrior. I can still see myself hanging out in the con suite, chatting (and having a drink or two) with Larry Niven (quite the thrill for a teenage fan). And then leaving the con suite and bumping into an old high school friend that I hadn’t seen in three years. He was there trying to sell a comic book that he was developing and showing off his new wife. I met several people that weekend that are still close friends; many of those people help out with this magazine. It was pretty easy to see that I had found the perfect community that weekend.
Other convention thrills: An exclusive viewing of The Crow, hosted by James O’Barr, before it was released to the public. Dragon*Con’s Betty Page look-alike contest (unfortunately they’ve stopped doing that one). Winning Best in Class, Master’s Division, at the Millennium Philcon’s Masquerade. Meeting Roger Zelazny two months before he left us. Having Jack Haldeman show up regularly to several of our room parties in the early nineties. A quiet evening sitting around talking with David A. Kyle and Yoji Kondo in the hospitality suite at I-Con. Wheeling kegs into hotels on skateboards, covered with blankets, and telling everyone that they were R2-D2 models. And so many other great memories.
So, if you’re reading this while you’re at a convention, chances are pretty good that we’re there as well. Stop by our room party and try our Nth Tea. Tell us about your favorite con experience. Meeting new people is one of the biggest reasons we do what we do. I hope to see you all at the next con!