Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Over the last 20 years, I have been attending anywhere from one to four conventions a year. So far they have all been comic book conventions. I decided that this was the year I would go to my first science fiction convention. My good friend, Terry Kissinger, attended Confluence 2011 and found it to be a good literary convention. Based on his recommendation, I decided to spend Saturday at Confluence 2012 with him. Two and a half hours (normally it takes two hours to drive to the Pittsburgh airport but a detour through a residential area added another half hour) after I left my house I pulled in at the hotel.
The convention was different from the comic book conventions I have attended. The comic book ones tend to be more visually oriented with the large number of artists. In this case, most of the convention consisted of three rooms running panels, one room for movies, and a dealers room. We spent most of the day at the panels with a break for lunch and a visit to the dealers room. I loved the panels. Among my favorite panelists were Paul Melko, Jonathan Mayberry, and Bud Sparhawk.
Most of the panels were extremely interesting but my trip to the dealers room netted me some great reading material. At one of the boths, the gentleman was selling some older magazines. This was the first time I found Analog Science Fiction in the magazine format instead of the digest. I managed to get the last four issues he had on the table. They were all from 1963. In addition, he guided me to some anthologies he was selling. I picked up two-“Ascent of Wonder” and “The Hard SF Renaissance”. The pair of anthologies tell the history of the hard sf field with numerous notes bracketing the short stories. Listed below are the table of contents for each. The dealer and I had an interesting short discussion about some of the forgotten writers of the field. I never did hear his name. Imagine my surprise when he took the stage at the next panel we attended. The person who sold me the magazines and anthologies was one of my favorite “Best SF of the Year” editors-David Hartwell. Part of the fun of attending conventions is that you never know who you are going to meet.
Based on this year’s experience I will be attending more sf conventions in the future. Hats off to the Pittsburgh fans who organize Confluence.