I am one of the people in local Fandom (capital-F meaning 'those people who attend cons' as opposed to one's community based on favorite media/etc.,) who is old enough to remember the Great Fan Schism that broke Minicon into its various parts. Back in the day, the difference between the factions was roughly translated as CONvergence = media fans and their followers; MiniCON = literary snobs. I mean, I suspect that last bit was unfair even at the time, but in the hazy murkiness of memory, this is how I remember the fight being portrayed. So, like so many, many, MANY (as it turned out) others, I abandoned Minicon for the younger media crowd, to whom I felt a closer kinship to, despite being an aspiring writer.
The first time I really went back to Mnicon was last year, when I was one of the guests of honor. This year it was, naomikritzer So, I decided to try the con out as an attendee.
I... had a amazing time.
Do I sound surprised? I suppose I am, in a way. Perhaps one of the reasons I am *surprised* I had such a good time is that I had an extremely light programming schedule. I was only signed up for four panels. It goes against conventional Lyda wisdom that a light load would equal a good time. Normally, a light programming schedule at a con is a recipe for disaster, in that, as an extreme extrovert (and complete diva), I LOSE energy when not directly engaged/in the spotlight. But, I found a LOT of good hallway discussions at Minicon this year, and that seems to have been the cure/the thing that put the con over the top, in terms of my enjoyment of it.
So, a lot of what I have to report can be summed up by: "I hung out with a lot of really cool people!"
The panels I did were all very good, too. I started off with one that initially felt like a huge disaster because no one on the panel seemed particularly interested? well-versed? in the topic, which was also weirdly specific? It was called "Fae Rites of Passage" and the description made it sound like it was supposed to be very specific to Irish fairy and maybe actual rites, or maybe some specific pieces of literature that didn't end up being named in the description, so none of us knew what they were? So, it started out very "???" but since Jane Yolen was one of the panelists, we basically just ended up talking about women's roles in fairy tales and myth, and THAT was a fascinating topic of discussion. By the end, Jane was saying, "I could talk about this all night!" In fact, Jane kept coming up to me for the rest of the con saying, "We need to do that again. It was fun!" Which, I mean, is cool on a lot of levels, right?
The next panel was my interview of Naomi, which... I mean, the thing about Naomi and I is that we once talked the entire drive down to Chicago and back without hardly taking a breath and that is my favorite thing, so, even though I did prepare a number of questions to ask, I was NOT worried that there would be a ton of awkward silences (like the time I interviewed Sheri S. Tepper for Science Fiction Chronicle. Which was early in my interviewing career and I was NOT PREPARED for someone who would answer terse yes/no replies to open ended questions.) Anyway, a couple of people came up to me to tell me specifically they enjoyed the interview, so that was also a success.
Then, I was on a panel about Artificial Intelligences., which I'm not as convinced that I had a huge amount to contribute to other than enthusiasm and a few Alexa jokes. With that one, I felt that the far end of the table where Eleanor and a guy who was an actual scholar in this area, hardly got more than a few words in edgewise, but it was still a LOT of fun. I was reminded about the Saudi Arabia case by an audience member, where Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to "Sophia," an AI. (Link is to an article about what she's been doing since. The article about her also links to another case of an AI in Japan who has been granted 'residency. Interesting stuff!!)
My last panel on Sunday was "Fan Fic is Real Writing," which was very life-affirming on a lot of levels. Much squee was had.
So, Minicon was exactly the kind of con I wanted to have. Lots and lots and LOTS of good conversation with interesting people and very good panels. I'm only sad that I missed all the opportunities to hang out with jiawen . Boo. but, I suppose if the con were PERFECT there'd be no reason to keep going back, which, at the moment, I totally intend to do!
How was your Easter/Passover/Other weekend? Do anything fun?