Last weekend I had a wonderful time at LoneStarCon 3, in beautiful, blazing-hot San Antonio. I went to panels, served on a couple, went to parties, ate a great deal of meat, watched the Hugos, and generally hobnobbed with the nabobs of science fiction and fantasy.
And I made a discovery which should have been blazingly obvious, especially since Ken Hite and Robin Laws pointed it out a year ago on their podcast. Worldcon is now a literary convention.
That's a big change. I can remember the day when the World Fantasy Convention was the lit'ry one, along with Readercon and ICFA. Worldcon was the big all-embracing fannish convention, with people in costumes, movies, games, and so forth.
No more. All that has moved to the big "media conventions" like DragonCon in Atlanta or the titanic San Diego Comic-Con. Worldcon is now mostly about written SF, with a large sideline devoted to the interests of the "Secret Masters of Fandom" who run conventions.
In some ways, it's a good thing. One no longer gets elbowed aside by the entourage surrounding third-tier Star Trek cast members, or embarassed by Klingons misbehaving in the hotel bar. Other than the afternoon before the costume contest, I didn't really see anyone in costume at this year's convention. We blend in better with the tool-and-die distributors or state dental associations having their conventions at the same time.
But . . . one of the recurring topics at modern conventions is the "graying" of science fiction. How do we attract new fans? Where are the readers of tomorrow?
At DragonCon and San Diego, apparently. This is a problem. I'm not sure how to solve it, but now is the time. The Secret Masters of Fandom and Grand Masters of SF need to take steps now to reconnect, before they become an irrelevant and forgotten appendage on the main body of science fiction -- games and movies.