CY: Summer is practically here! A friend emailed a few days ago, asking which conventions we’re going to this year. Unfortunately, I had to say “none”—we’ve got too much going on right now—but it got me thinking about past conventions and some favorite memories. A not-insignificant example: Hanging out with you for hours in a hallway at a convention a few years ago led directly to the relaunch of Fantasy Magazine!
What I love most about conventions is the way they bring readers and writers together. My favorite conventions have always been the smaller ones for that reason: World Fantasy, the Nebula Awards Weekend, ReaderCon, WisCon, etc. are small enough to feel intimate and not overwhelming. I met some of my dearest friends—and my husband!—in a hotel bar at my very first convention.
AS: Smaller conventions are the best! I’m so glad I met you at a convention, as well as John, and Wendy, too! I’ve met so many cool people at conventions in general, but smaller cons are almost always where I have the best hangouts. And let’s get this right: the hangouts are what I go for. (Yes, I’m an introvert . . . but still.) People just tend to have more time for each other at smaller events. I’ve enjoyed Can*Con, ReaderCon, WisCon, the Locus Awards Weekend, the Nebula Awards Weekend . . . BayCon was my first ever convention, here in the SF Bay Area, and I usually go to FOGCon as well!
CY: And then there are WorldCon and DragonCon, which are very different from the others, due to their sheer size. There’s so much to do! DragonCon in particular has programming tracks for so many different interests; it’s more of a genre entertainment convention than a literature convention. The comic conventions have evolved in that direction, too; I know novelists who say their most successful events have been at comic cons! It seems like no matter which one you choose, there’s going to be crossover between media and interests.
AS: As a person of color and as a gay person . . . well. Nearly every convention I’ve attended (and I’ve been going since 2013) has come with some degree of racism, microaggressions, homophobia, transphobia, and even misogyny. In particular, people of color often have terrible experiences at conventions. I witnessed an act of racism at the recent DisCon (Worldcon) and heard directly about others, for example; and unfortunately, this isn’t unusual at conventions. I’m glad to see many are trying to change the way they are run, from programming to bylaws, and I hope more conventions look to Fiyahcon and take notes. Fiyahcon leaders have told me that they welcome other conventions reaching out to ask questions and seek advice.
CY: Thank you for sharing that. It’s appalling that anyone has to endure that anywhere, more so in a space that is supposed to be about sharing our enthusiasm for genre fiction, which has its roots in breaking down barriers and imagining a better future. There are a handful of conventions that have been actively combating -isms of all kinds for many years, with varying degrees of success—and the larger cons are going to have to work to keep up. WisCon was explicitly established on that basis, though every con seems to have its own growing pains. I’m so glad that Fiyahcon is now an established part of the convention landscape! I think it’s a sign that we’re headed in the right direction as a community.
Accessibility has been another pain-point for so many convention-goers. One of the few good things to come out of the pandemic was convention programming being made available online. That made conventions accessible to so many people who otherwise couldn’t enjoy a convention, due to failures by concoms and venues to accommodate their physical limitations, or because they could not afford the expense. I hope that we’ll see parallel tracks coming out of the conventions in the future, so that we don’t lose that access. Flights of Foundry is an entirely online convention that has really impressed me with their level of organization and thoughtful programming.
AS: I was on panels for Flights of Foundry in a previous year and I really enjoyed it! Augurcon (run by Augur Magazine—in many ways spiritual kin to Fantasy Magazine) was also great! I agree—I hope the online component continues to be available. It also creates potential for better international focus and attendance. I’m going to WisCon this year, and probably WorldCon and World Fantasy. Going to cons, for me, means a lot of extra costs, stress, time lost that I could be working on something . . . but I’m looking forward to meeting new friends and spending time with established friends. Maybe I’ll see some of our authors and readers there!
In this issue’s short fiction, Fatima Taqvi gives us happy endings where none are expected in “Baba Nowruz Gives His Wife a Flower Only Once a Year,” and Sara S. Messenger’s “Potemora in the Triad” is an earth-shaking kind of coming-of-age story; in flash fiction, Victor Forna explores cosmic consequences in “rat/god,” and revenge could be quite tasty in “The Magical Sow” by Wen Wen Yang; for poetry, we have “Georgia Clay Blood” by Beatrice Winifred Iker and “noonday reflections” by Doriana Diaz. Plus we have essay “Oral Storytelling and Culture as Personal Canon” by 2022 Nebula finalist Suzan Palumbo. Enjoy!
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