Fun with science fiction conventions

I went to my first science fiction convention when I was fifteen years old. There was a bookstore in the outskirts of Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts called “The Science Fantasy Bookstore” that my brother and I discovered and it was the proprietor of that store, a gentleman by the name of “Spike” who recommended Boskone. Prior to that point we had no awareness that SF conventions existed, but my brother and I decided to check said Boskone out and off we went that fateful February to our first convention. It would not be our last.

At that time Boskone was a relatively small convention, but it grew over the next few years as John and I also grew. Finding that convention was like stumbling into the light after being in the dark. There were BOOKS everywhere, and artists and our favorite writers and movies and so many good things I couldn’t decide which was better. Was it the books at the dealer room? The artists with fabulous dragon pendants? The art show? My favorite authors signing books? Yes, yes and more yes.

This went on for several years, and included a Worldcon in 1980 that was the biggest convention I’d ever seen. I loved it and looked forward to the convention every year. Conventions were part of my growing up process, and was also part of my friends circle. Most of my close friends shared that interest and we used to raise hell at the Heinz Convention Center (yep, we were “those teens”).

When I moved to Los Angeles I went to a few Loscons before my interests went in a new direction, specifically into the rock and roll arena and the Sunset Strip. It would be many years before I re-discovered my love for SF and decided to try SF conventions again. I decided against Comic-Con, that is simply too big for me. So I went back to Loscon. It was much smaller than I remembered it from the 80s but it still had a sense of the familiar. There was a Loscon this past weekend and I went. It’s much smaller now, though, so much so that I could walk from one end to the other and be done in a few minutes. It was more like a family reunion for me where the kids aren’t there and it’s mostly the same people as before, just as a family reunion has the same aunts and uncles from prior years. There were some interesting panels and a small dealer room but it didn’t hold for me the same sense of wonder that those early Boskones had. I’m older, and maybe so are the conventions. I am glad I got to go to those other cons, where I met authors like Anne McCaffrey (still my fave to this day and the woman who got me into SF and fantasy) and artists like the late Don Maitz. Conventions where it wasn’t uncommon to see Isaac Asimov sedately walking the corridors. I still appreciate this convention and still have no desire to go to Comic-Con (Crowds! Ugh!) but it’s different now. Oh well. We’ll always have Paris (or Boskone)


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