Sunday, May 14, 2006

Monday Spotlight: Why writers go to conventions

It's just after midnight here in Toronto, on Sunday night; ToBeCONtinued, such as it was, is now over, and, had things gone according to plan, I'd have just arrived back home now from Chicago.

All the troubles with ToBeCONtinued got me to thinking about just why writers go to SF conventions in the first place. It's not the first time I've pondered that. In fact, The Ottawa Citizen -- the leading newspaper in Canada's capital city -- paid me to contemplate that very question back in 1999, which is when this little article by me first appeared; it'll serve nicely as this week's Monday Spotlight, highlighting one of the 500+ documents on my website at


At May 15, 2006 12:07 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

It really is just after midnight here in Toronto! I see, though, that Blogger has time-stamped this at 11:57 p.m. Hey, Blogger-folk! Didja know you can check the actual time over the internet ... ?


At May 15, 2006 8:55 AM , Blogger Jose said...

I suspect that the internet is slowly but surely replacing much of the contact that cons provided. I don't feel much of a need to go to them anymore myself. I'd rather spend my vacation time and travel money on a hiking trip as I get plenty of contact with authors and other sf fans through blogs.

At May 15, 2006 9:13 AM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Jose. Yes, this is certainly a reality for a lot of fans. Many of the cons I go to every year are just a little bit smaller each year -- presumably because of the factors you cite; after five or so years, the reduction in size is quite noticeable.

I personally love a good science-fiction convention. Norwescon in Seattle and Ad Astra in Toronto, both of which I attended last month, were terrific conventions. My pal Mike Resnick has been known to quip that his version of heaven would be a Worldcon that ran 365 days a year; I wouldn't go quite that far, but my life is a lot happier and fuller because of SF conventions.

At May 15, 2006 2:59 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've never been to a con before. I think I was turned off the idea by reading Harlan Ellison's essay "Xenogenesis", published in Asimov's magaizine in the early 90s. There also aren't really any cons to speak of held in my part of the country either.

John F
Truro, NS

At May 15, 2006 3:06 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Yes, I remember that essay. :) It's too bad their are no Atlantic Canada cons of note anymore.

At May 15, 2006 3:52 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I saw you were coming to Winnipeg for the long weekend my 9 year old son and I made plans to attend keycon. We have never been to one of these but we are looking forward to a great time. I've read 6 of your books and love them. Blame John Scalzi for making me read mindscan.

At May 15, 2006 4:01 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Well, my thanks to John Scalzi! :)

And I think you'll have a fabulous time at Keycon! I've been once before -- in fact, I'm proud to say I'm the only repeat Author Guest of Honor they've had in the convention's 23-year history -- and it's a good convention. You'll have a great time. Please do come on up to me and say hello!

At May 15, 2006 4:02 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Oh, and just so American readers of this blog won't be confused -- I'm GoH at KeyCon over the CANADIAN long weekend, which is next weekend, one week in advance of the American long weekeng. Information on Keycon is here.

At May 15, 2006 5:33 PM , Anonymous Dave Robinson said...

I keep seeing reference to the Internet replacing Cons, but I find that it just doesn't. Nothing can match a good Con.

I recently got back into Con-going and it's been a great experience both as a fan and a writer. I was at Norwescon this year which, in large part thanks to you Rob, was probably the best thing I could have done apart from writing to further my writing career.

I made tons of contacts and learned a lot.

I've also been involved in bringing people into the Con circuit. I brought someone who had never been to a Con to the last two Cons I've been to, and both people are going to go again. We've got a third person who'll be coming with us to V-Con in the fall.

Of course one's own mileage may vary.

At May 15, 2006 5:43 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

Hey Robert

Is NonCon (Edmonton) still around? Last time I went to that was I think 1979. I understand NonCon is big in Calgary and Winnepeg.


At May 15, 2006 5:49 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, Dave. Good for you, for bringing someone new to a con! :) I'm always trying to recruit new con-goers myself.

Jim, I think NonCon is long gone, but the Calgary and Winnipeg annual cons -- Con-Version and KeyCon, respectively -- are still going strong.

At May 15, 2006 11:59 PM , Blogger E.Jim Shannon said...

So that means no sf conventions here anymore? Too bad.I recall you being at NonCon at one time and James P Hogan was here. SF conventiones must be hard things to organize.


At May 16, 2006 10:57 AM , Anonymous Chris Gerrib said...

Although the Internet is replacing some contact, people still have a need to physically see each other. For example, bloggers (the most Internet-adept crowd I can think of) have conventions.

Cons may get smaller (which might make them easier to organize) but they won't go away.

At May 18, 2006 8:10 AM , Blogger Jose said...

I didn't mean to construe that cons will disappear or even that they should. I went to in a Worldcon in the early 90s (caught a shuttle launch while we were down there too) and had a blast.

My other big love, hiking, dominates all my travel time (and there's some kind of unexplainable connection between science fiction and mountain stuff). I'd love to go to a SF convention. But the contact that I already have on a daily basis with SF types via the internet makes the desire much less urgent.

So for me at least and I suspect a few people like me the web is supplanting cons. But it makes tinier more specific connections possible. I may be going to one of the BSFA pub nights in London this summer. That's something I probably wouldn't have done before encountering SF fandom on the web.

At May 22, 2006 6:51 PM , Blogger J Erwine said...

I certainly hope that Cons never disappear. Last year was my first year attending them as an author, and my first Con was CopperCon in Phoenix.

One of my best memories from that Con was when I was doing my "signing" and Robert came over and talked to me. You're one of the nicest pros I've met so far, and I'm really looking forward to doing MileHiCon with you this year.

At May 22, 2006 10:21 PM , Blogger RobertJSawyer said...

Hi, J Erwine! Good to hear from you, Alan! Looking forward to seeing you at MileHiCon, too! Thanks for the kind words!




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