The Road (from) Reno, Part I

So endeth Renovation, so endeth my first WorldCon. I’m decompressing, just relaxing, in our hotel room in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland. Tomorrow begins the second, more easy-going half of our vacation.

The plan is this: I’m going to write up my Renovation experiences in two parts. Today, I’ll just write some general, random thoughts in more or less the order they occur to me. Friday’s post, on the other hand, will go into a little more detail on the panels and talks I attended. So, stay tuned.

First of all, the bad news. Reno is a pukehole. There’s this contrast between the depressingly artificial glitz of the big casinos towering over the depressingly realistic grime of the rest of the city. There were some newer shopping centers, and the convention center was quite nice, but we avoided the rest of the city wherever possible. Don’t ever go there.

The convention itself was pretty awesome. It wasn’t quite the non-stop spectacle of a megaproduction like PAX; in contrast to a lot of gaming and comic-cons, it was quite small and sedate. Two reasons for this: first, there weren’t a lot of people there. Renovation only had about 5,000 registered attendees, about 3,500 of which showed up on any given day. So, compare that to the SDCC’s 130,000 or PAX’s 68,000. The second reason was far more surprising: the average attendee of Renovation was old.

Well, perhaps not old, but certainly middle-aged. I was really surprised to find that I was one of the younger people present, and that there were a few people as old as my grandparents. Science fiction and fantasy have been around for a long time, of course, but I didn’t really expect the demographics to look like they did.

And I definitely got the feeling that a lot of those people have been going to WorldCons (and cons in general) since they were my age. Science fiction fandom wasn’t just organized around their hobbies, like gaming fandom generally is. No, SF fandom is more like a family, or at least a club, where a lot of the regulars have known each other for years and years. There were times (not many, but a few) that I felt like I was intruding on their private gathering.

Of course there were younger people there too, and a lot of the authors I was most interested in were in that group. Of course, they had their own groupies, and that leads me to the slightly negative part of my experience.

So, the panels were really interesting. And I did meet a number of authors–including everyone from Writing Excuses, which was very gratifying to me. But I didn’t really make any connections, like I was hoping to. I only chatted lightly with a few of the authors, and except for maybe Howard Tayler I don’t really expect any of them remembered me beyond the next moment. It was a little disappointing that I couldn’t find more of an “in.”

I might’ve fallen short of my hopes, but that doesn’t mean that my hopes were necessarily realistic. I didn’t really know how cons worked, and I didn’t make much of an effort to connect with people before WorldCon, which would’ve helped immensely. In a sense, I was hoping to make an “in” with some of these writers, but I should’ve come to the con with an “in” already prepared.

Of course, part of it was just my usual social anxiety. I hate feeling like I’m being an inconvenience to someone, and I can’t tolerate the thought of being “that guy” that hounds after authors, desperate to make conversation.

Well, there’s always next con. If what I saw was any indication, most of these people know each other pretty well, so I’ve got to start small. Like, say, by getting something published. Hmm…

Ooh, lemme talk about the Hugos. Pretty fun stuff, like our very own tiny little academy awards. It really made me feel like a part of this big happy family watching the way that the emcees, the category presenters, and the winners were so chummy. No real competition, and lots of genuine emotion. In particular, the winner of the fanzine Hugo was pretty much sobbing like a maniac at the podium for five minutes. Fun stuff.

Despite the fact that we were in Reno, no odds were offered on the winners. Which was good, really, because I picked almost none of the right ones. Best novel? Nope. Writing Excuses? Nope. Freaking best novelette? No, no, no. Ah, well.

That’s pretty much it for general impressions. The dealer’s room was cool, and the art gallery was amazing, but they’re both pretty par for the course. The panels were pretty much uniformly awesome, but that would be getting into specifics.

Speaking of specifics, on Friday I’ll be discussing the panels and kaffeeklatsches in more detail, plus anything I forgot to mention today. Stay tuned! Should be great.

One response to “The Road (from) Reno, Part I

  1. I’m bummed that you had taht experience but I feel exactly the same. The shy gene kicks in and I feel awkward. I hate that. Aren’t these our people? Well, one thing I’ve realized is that by making comments on FB I can sometimes get a “big” writer to engage in conversation with me. I try not to be “one of those” people. The topics are usually not about writing but about shared other interests. This does seem to be prying some doors open. I do have more conversations and sometimes one of “them” will even post a comment. Still, I think until we earn some creds we really will never be part of the club. Guess I better get busy on the next novel.

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