The Graying of Fandom- Sanford Begley

The Graying of Fandom – Sanford Begley

I attended Millenicon this past weekend (at this writing the date is 3/22/15), a small Literary con in Cincinnati. I’m not a big con goer, I went because my Lady was involved in several panels and because a few friends and a few legends of SF were going to be there. Christopher Stasheff, David Drake, and Mike Resnick were there, Mike’s daughter Laura was the GOH. They are not those I am claiming as friends by the way; I doubt any of them would recognize me as a face they had seen.

I do not attend cons regularly, simply because my only real purposes for being there are friends and my Lady. Most cons I don’t have any friends attending that I know about. Certainly not enough to justify the time and expense of going to a con. Libertycon in Chattanooga is an exception because so many Hoyt’s Huns and Baen Barflies attend. I have a lot of friends in those groups. People attend Libertycon simply because it is considered the Baen family reunion, I am one of them.

Since I don’t usually attend no matter who the guests are I don’t go often. This gives me a more snapshot view of cons than the average fan who attends regularly. For this reason I am going to give you my impressions of the con and especially the attendees. I don’t know for certain, but I think they are probably true of conditions throughout fandom.

The first thing I noticed was that I felt young there. I’m a couple weeks shy of 57 so that tells you something right there. My impression of the average attendee is of a portly sixty-something gray-haired lady. I can’t say that that is accurate, it is my impression, possibly bolstered by the fact that it would be a decent description of the ladies doing registration. I know for a fact that there were younger women there, men too but that is the overall impression you get walking through the door.

Attendance was down from last year, noticeably so. There were less give-away booths, fewer hucksters, less art and generally less of a crowd. This was at 7:30 Friday evening. There were a few children being pulled around by their parents, a few mature adults, including the parents, the rest were, in appearance Senior Citizens. People I thought of as Senior Citizens at my age.

My Lady had a reading at 8:00 and panels at 9:00 and 10:00. Her reading brought in myself, Ed Stasheff who is a friend, The Other Sean a regular commenter here, and David Burkhead an author and friend of ours. This might sound like a pathetic turnout but, it wasn’t, not for this con. The 9:00 panel was on making money as an artist. There was one attendee who never spoke, myself and five panelists. We made the best of it and basically had a round table discussion about professional art.  At 10:00 pm she was in a panel, where there were more in the audience than on the panel.  The panelists were good on the subject of creation through destruction but there was little audience reaction.

Saturday and Sunday were no better. I saw one group of a half dozen teen girls, those younger people with their parents, a handful in their thirties and forties. Most of what I saw was close to, or over retirement age. I also saw few people with a happy look on their faces. Many seemed to be going through the motions out of habit.

This all set me to pondering. If this con is like this, and Libertycon isn’t a whole lot better, where will Fandom be in a few years? I know there are lots of youngsters who love SF and Fantasy, gamers galore. Where are they? Probably at Comiccons and other places which don’t feel like retirement homes.

You see, fandom became locked into a mind set somewhere along the line. The Serious people are serious. Laughter and games are not heavily in evidence. Even the staple of con naughtiness is dying, room parties. We got a ticket each into room parties with our registration. We had no intention of using it. this was a working weekend for us.  I did however see a very sad man loading his van. He had hosted one of the parties. He looked morosely at one of the many bags of candy he had left and asked me “How do you have candy left after a room party?” I suggested that people don’t eat candy when drinking. this brought the bewildered answer that they didn’t drink the booze either.

Now when I was reading about cons and the wild parties there, back in the old days that was a principle thing that made me want to attend. It is no longer. A couple of the older guests were reminiscing about the wild parties and nudity of the old days. It isn’t going to happen unless we bring back the interest of the young people. To be honest with you, had most of the people I saw there disrobed I would have left. You need young people for skimpy outfits and nudity to work. Lets be honest, if you are over 40 and can still take your clothes off to appreciation of the opposite sex they either are very drunk or you are going immediately into something more personal than a party. The skimpy clothing still exists, you just have to have more than the staid old folks of literature to find it.

Fair disclosure I did not see anything to do with the Masquerade. We were busy with other things. Still it leaves me worried about the future of SF cons in general. If we don’t get the youngsters back cons won’t exist in a few years. Maybe I just had a bad con experience. Maybe other cons are doing well. I don’t think so. We have driven our future forth, if we don’t lure them back we are soon to die. Just one fallible man’s opinion

513 thoughts on “The Graying of Fandom- Sanford Begley

  1. Ok, I’ll bite. I went to a con this past weekend as well, Wondercon in Anaheim. Primarily a media/comic book con. No attendance numbers for this year, but last year was 60k attendees.

    The attendees spanned the entire age range, i saw a 3 year old dressed as an Imperial pilot whose carriage was made up as a TIE fighter.

    I think certain segments may be indeed graying…

    …or people my age and younger are tired of being told we’re wrongfans having wrongfun, and we’re not ‘trufans’.

    1. I volunteer at an Anime convention yearly and we’re at around 3k every year most of our attendees are too young to drink (to the point we’ve debated having a parents’ room where the parents could get away from the rampant teen fannage). The youth are still going to cons. They’re going to Dragon Con and various Comicons and Anime conventions because Literary Convention = Academic lecture in their heads. (The writing track at our convention has been well, though not spectacularly, attended and consistently so.) It’s not the books it’s the veneer of academia (and certain parties seem to want it that way.)

      1. My first and so far only RL con experience was when a Baen author showed up at one really close, and I had some disposable funds.

        An online game I play has a Con simulator written by an dealer who works anime conventions. I am aware of the youth element.

        Literary can get people, but at the cost of people with interests that they may not care for.

        I like Shonen Jump. I think Naruto is very good, and worth recognizing. But the ‘violence never fixes anything’ will simply not care for the way it ended.

      2. I took our Animaniacs to SakuraCon until the library system lawyers put a stop to it (now we host our own con–I am so proud of these kids; you have no idea) and wyrdbard has the demographics down solid. At the library booth for Emerald City comic con this year I saw kids, teens, parents, twenty-somethings, and yes, old coots like yours truly.

        My last Norwescon ended when I walked out of a fan gathering that was willing to tolerate snarky and obscene jokes about our military (maybe 5 or six years ago) but it wasn’t a young con the way anime & comic cons are.

        I haven’t had a chance to attend either the steam punk, faerie, or geek girl cons (and I have mixed feelings, about the latter: do we women really want a ghetto?) so I can’t speak to the latter, but based on the expressed interest of my (much!) younger compatriots in fandom) I suspect they’re greeting less than the “regular” cons.

        Since I remember making my first ever “pro” sale at the old Hampton Roads con, playing assassin up and down the hotel, meeting Kelly Freas!!! when I was 18… It makes me a bit sad. But that’s what leftism does. It drives out all the wrongthink until almost no-one’s left. Crying shame.

    2. Cost is probably an issue, too– all the folks I know who can go to cons either are rather hard core (it’s what they save up for as their Big, Expensive Hobby) or they have a higher disposable income– mid to late 20s and single, kids are out of college and they’re not sports fans, long term deployed away from wife and kids and the wife insisted, etc.

      1. Cost is *definitely* an issue. We’ve been to several Worldcons but it’s basically our big trip every few years, and we’re not sports fans or other things (there’s a dearth of concerts in our easily-accesible area, or that might siphon money.)

        Even so, we have certain location preferences. The three that we’ve been to (and the one we’re going to) have either been within 200 miles of home/parents’ home or with large groups of friends about—Spokane is our college town, so we *know* the place really well and have people we haven’t seen in five years.

        1. Nah. You can, “con” on the cheap, if you want to. Shoot, our tosho-con (brought to you by sweat equity and local community groups) is free!

          Smaller cons frequently have low cost day rates that can be further reduced if you pitch in and volunteer. And you can get serious school and library discounts at the gaming, anime and comic cons, and we teachers/librarians are always hard up for adult/parent volunteers.

          World con is a frakkin’ arm and a leg. I’m going this year to “light a candle” for fairness, equity, and sad puppies, but oy, with a side order of vey. I’m not sure it’s fair to tie the con-o-verse with the world con brush.

          1. The major expense of any con is always travel. Even if it’s in driving distance. For example, going to Libertycon would normally be about $1000 for us. It’s a day and a half drive each way from Plano TX to Chattanooga TN, which means 2 nights hotel + 5 for the con. Fortunately, with my job, I have enough Marriott points that isn’t an issue. then figure $50 a day for food, minimum, if you eat out at all. Gas, incidentals, plus making sure you have enough vacation time.

      2. DragonCon gets 60K plus people with a median age around 25-30. Hotels are $250/night for 4-5 nights, food is reasonable, but $20/day, admission is around $150. IOW, comparable to WorldCon. Twenty-five to thirty years younger, spendier, more enthusiastic.

        I noticed the main literary cons deliberately shedding those media, cosplay, gamer and party types starting about 1993. They’ve paid the price for it.

  2. “The Serious people are serious. Laughter and games are not heavily in evidence.”

    This was at Millenicon? A literary convention? In my very limited convention experience (about eight or nine total, none in the last eight years), literary cons have always been more sparsely attended than TV/movie/visual-based cons. I went to a Mythcon (World Mythopoeic Society convention) once, and I don’t think there were 200 people there. Admittedly mythopoeic fiction is a niche genre that most people never heard of, but still… I also recall one convention that was half literary and half Highlander, and it may as well have been all Highlander for all the attention the litcon half got in the hallways and party rooms.

    OTOH, I see your point and share in it to some extent. One of the reasons I haven’t been to a convention, even a local one, in eight years is that the energy is gone. There’s no catalysts anymore. Once there were Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 5, Highlander, The X-Files … Each had a big, mostly young and energetic fandom to draw on and get out to conventions. What is out there today that can take their place and have the same kind of drawing power?

    1. Game of Thrones. The Avengers (and other marvel movies, and other comic book movies…) The Walking Dead. Twenty video games. New Star Wars movies just around the corner. This is just judging from the costumers at Wondercon (i don’t like that other word, it gives me tics.)

    2. Actually it is supposed to be a relaxacon not a literary con but, your point is taken

    3. Not that there are no longer catalysts, but that everyone has already been catalysed, and for young folks, comics and anime are more dynamic catalysts, being somewhat more ‘new’ to their generations. They grew up with Star Wars etc., so that’s not some new enthusiasm like it was for us old codgers.

    4. I always wanted to go to Mythcon. Do you remember Butterbur’s Woodshed.

      Ah, nerddom. Such a small world.

  3. You see, fandom became locked into a mind set somewhere along the line. The Serious people are serious. Laughter and games are not heavily in evidence. Even the staple of con naughtiness is dying, room parties.

    Many of younger people who are interested in SF are not inclined to attend ‘literary’ cons.

    Many young people simply aren’t reading for pleasure. I blame that, in part, on institutional schools who seem to be teaching that reading is not worthwhile. (The home educated kids I know are almost all readers.) Add to that the grey goo offered up in the name of being properly socially conscience, who can blame young people for walking away from written SF.

    I am tangentially involved in the development of a ‘new’ SF con. Among the teens, the twenty and thirty somethings there is still a great deal of interest in SF. While there are readers among them that is not what seems to matter most, it is largely in SF as a visual media: films, TV series, anime, and gaming. They party hardy (sometimes too hardy) and there is a carnival quality to the weekend’s proceedings with Cos-play and dances in the evening.

    So, question: How do we promote reading to rising generations that have learned that reading is boring and have a world of flashy media to entice?

    1. I note that Baen is applying the first principle of attracting new readers: going where the young people are. Thus, Dragon*Con, GenCon… heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Toni managed to find a way to interest the ComicCon crowd.

      I also wonder if that might be a good side-effect of this whole hugo brouhaha – attracting back some of the many, many, many people who won’t read SF anymore because they don’t want the boring preachy crap. I keep seeing people show up around here, around MHI, and so on that say “I stopped reading scifi years ago, but then I heard about you and came to have a look.”

      1. Been there, done that. Hadn’t read much science fiction in probably twenty years, until I got a Kindle and found indie. (is it okay to wear the paint off your Kindle?)

          1. Well, some of the sharp edges are rounded over from finger wear, but no dents yet.

        1. Bloody things don’t last long enough to wear the paint off.

          I’ve had 2 break and 1 get stolen (???) since Oct. of 2008. Now I buy them off eBay.

          1. I dropped mine, so that the left hand page forward is all squirrelly, but other than that it has held up well. Of course, it doesn’t get out of the house much, either.

            1. My first one died after 3 continents, two states and a war zone (16 or 17 months). My (then) three year old stepped on it.

              Second one the screen went stochastic, probably from being slightly twisted.

      2. Bingo. This is what a fair number of my fans have told me: They stopped reading new SF in the late 90s, and stopped going to cons because cons are now where fun goes to die. Run and attended by elderly, preachy, twitchy people who are constantly weighing your every word to see whether or not you’re The Evil Other. Young people are definitely reading, but they have no idea that SF fandom actually exists, and wouldn’t care for it if they did. I intuit that a new, print-fiction fandom could emerge from media fandom somehow (perhaps gathering around Sarah’s concept of Human Wave SFF, but wouldn’t know where to begin.

        1. Of course young people are reading and many of them are reading stuff like the hunger games, divergent and twilight. Which are mostly on the Scifi/fantasty side of things in a lot of ways. Harry Potter a while back. And a whole host of others. But Worldcon isn’t interested in those things.

          1. Exactly, and if you count texting today’s kids read more than our generation ever though of

            1. No, I don’t count the “Creative spelling” of texting as reading.

                1. I agree — ew…

                  Why would we want more James Joyces; the one seems quite sufficient.

                1. For those of us that actually pronounce the r in February and the w in sword, spelling reform is a dubious proposition at best.
                  We would have to agree on the pronunciation of words first, and I don’t see that as an easy feat.
                  Not that I’m against spelling reform, but I don’t trust modern Academia to get it right.

        2. I find it’s the young people who weigh your every word to see if you might be one of the Evil Establishment, but that probably keeps ’em out of fandom too — they peek in, see all the grey hair, and assume it’s nothing but reactionary old farts with closed old minds. We old farts know that’s not the case, but when so many of us want wrongfun rather than PCfun, well, that’s at odds with a significant majority of young’uns these days. 😦

        3. Here’s the eternal puzzle for me: how did those fans find you? If they’ve walked away from Omelas, uh, reading scifi, how do we attract their attention to try us?

          1. In connection to something they are still involved in– that’s why the Air Force has had booths at PAX, for example. The “Also liked” connections with tie-in books– or even being attacked in conjuction with something they like that’s attacked. (The “Sad puppies is Gamergate!” thing was a massive tactical error.)

            1. Getting into a land war in Asia, attacking Finns in winter, claiming the 199 extra nominations meant gamergate must be involved AND Invoking their hashtag for easy searchability!

              … On the other hand, if we could successfully get them to notice “Hey! SF fans in gaming! You might like the books on the Sad / Rabid puppy slates! And if you do, try the other Mad Genius Club authors, and Free Range Oyster Promo Plugs!” It wouldn’t take that high a percentage of the gamergaters trying out the books to make a truly massive sales difference, and encourage the authors to put out more work faster to feed all the ravening fans 🙂 A girl can dream, you know?

          2. I’m really not known for SF, at least not yet. (I damned well intend to fix that!) I have fans from another realm that overlaps SF: computer books. Most of the people who read my blog found me through my technical writing, which I’ve been doing now for over thirty years. I’ve learned a great deal from them on what they read and why, in both the nonfiction and fiction arenas.

      3. I note that Baen is applying the first principle of attracting new readers: going where the young people are. Thus, Dragon*Con, GenCon… heck, I wouldn’t be surprised if Toni managed to find a way to interest the ComicCon crowd.

        They’ve done really good work with the military, too.

      4. I never quit reading scifi — I just quit reading a lot of NEW scifi. I spent most of my time and money on the older works of authors I knew and respected. Indie has introduced me to many new writers, including Sarah, Larry, Cedar, Dave Freer, Dave Weber, David Drake, Sharon Lee, Tom Kratman, even (gasp!) John Ringo! I’ve only read works from these authors in the last five years. I’d been so disappointed for so long that I’d just quit looking for NEW writers. I even quit subscribing to Analog because I enjoyed one story about every three issues (a flood in my basement wiped out 28 years of that magazine…). I’ve also discovered dozens of stories by authors I’d enjoyed, but whose books were out of print, thanks to the free ebook community — Jesse Bone, Burroughs, Randall Garrett, Andre Norton, Robert Howard, H. Beam Piper, James Schmitz, etc. Now the only thing holding me back is a lack of money!

        1. Same here. And it’s not just the messagefic thing; it’s the sameness. The lack of distinct voices, the stale recycling (nothing wrong with reusing old ideas, but at least brush the dust off), and perhaps worst of all, the constant reinventing of the wheel by authors who lack a foundation in our genre’s classics. Too often I finish reading something new and feel an immediate urge to wash my brain out with something more “fresh” from the 1980s.

          1. My hair is grey. Has been gray since I was 28. I’m going to let it go grey because I’m sick and tired of coloring. OTOH I have a LOT of young fans for my space opera. Go figure.
            As for ignorance of the genre, I intend to do a series of podcasts called “the roots of our fandom.”

              1. Must the lady editors have lady parts or are we using the gender construct sense of the term?

    2. “how do we promote reading to rising generations who have learned that reading is boring…”

      You mean the kids who grew up with Harry Potter, Bella & Edward, Katniss and Percy Jackson? Those kids? Excuse me, I have to take a moment to fall about laughing.

      On the other hand, if you’re worried about kids who’ve been raised on the idea that literary message fic is dead boring, you’ve got me there. won’t can’t help you

      1. There are some bright spots, but the vast majority of kids are being taught to not enjoy reading.

        Books that sell like Potter are a very rare phenomena. It is the best selling series of all times — some 450 millions books have sold. If my extended family is any indication, Potter was not just selling to kids, a large number of adults were buying it for themselves as well.

        Percy Jackson is well up the list of best selling series and with five volumes in the series it has sold 15 million books. Very respectable numbers for books. Still, in light of a population numbers?

        I am involved in the con world and I talk to the young people I see. For every reader I meet I meet many more who prefer other forms of media for their entertainment.

        1. Mmm… If you get my yard ape at a con, all dressed up as a steam punk time lady (Just call me Fred 🙂 she’d probably tell you she prefers Dr. Who to anything else. If you get her at the Minecraft gaming station, it will be computer games.

          But trust me when I say, the kid’s a reader who I can just barely keep supplied with reading material. Kids (like teens and adults) have so many more entertainment choices than we old fen had as kids. Shoot, I remember when missing a Dr. Who episode meant missing it FOREVER. It’s not that they aren’t reading, it’s that they’re not only reading.

          Which makes non-boring, non-message exciting funny adventure stories more critical than ever. Hence the chilling effect of telling people they shouldn’t read Mike Maihack (Cleopatra in Space) or Ben Hatke (Zita the Spacegirl) or Jeff Smith (Bone) because of white privilege. I’d say thank god for Kazu Kibuishi at least (Amulet) but unfortunately he hasn’t yet identified as female, so he’s out.

          1. I understand that answers I am given can be conditional.

            If a five movie series were projected to sell 15 million tickets all told it would never be made.

  4. Lets be honest, if you are over 40 and can still take your clothes off to appreciation of the opposite sex they either are very drunk or you are going immediately into something more personal than a party.

    Or you are Dame Helen Mirren. 😉

    1. Tis said that the people you’d see at a nude beach are mostly those you would NOT want to see at a nude beach.

      1. That has been my observation here in the states, Europe it is a little different, simply because nudity, at least where I was, was not a statement it was a practical idea. Of course it could be because of the horrible memories you cannot forget no matter how much you drink.

        1. Well I was in my twenties, Kindred spirits were not the most important thing in the world to me 🙂

      2. Tom Wolfe has argued that past a certain age men should never go topless in public.

        I do not believe he has weighed in similarly on the issue of women…

        1. Ideally, that age would be, hmmm.. 7? 8?

          Gives every adult an equal shot at being alluringly daring (or daringly alluring) to their lover.

          And as an added bonus, tidies up the general landscape. H. Sap. Sap. has a lot going for it, but unlike, oh, birch trees, cats, voles, snails…. Well, pretty much all the rest of nature, we generally do better, aesthetically-speaking, with clothes on (goes to the Sap. Sap part no doubt)

  5. I quit attending conventions after being pulled up by security over what I felt was a harmless, throwaway comment.

    I was lucky enough to receive free passes from an acquaintance who worked as an editor, and I was waiting outside for the convention center to open their doors. There were cosplayers everywhere and, since The Dark Knight had recently been released, there were Jokers EVERYWHERE.

    I was listening to an enthusiastic crowd of Jokers discussing the colorful ways they would commit GBH on the gathering crowd. The conversation quickly devolved into a discussion of “which of us is the best Joker”, and having stood there encouraging and applauding the conversation, I decided to interject.

    “We can settle that. I’ve got a van around the corner that everyone can fit into; lets drive to a secluded area and you guys can fight to the death. Then, I’ll take out the last man standing because he thought that dressing as The Joker this year was a good idea.”

    When I finally got inside, I was rushed by security. They held me and questioned me for nearly an hour because I’d been reported for making “realistic terroristic threats.”

    A group of people dressed as the most successful mass murderer in comic book history, who’d spent quite a bit of time discussing ways they would murder the attendees, reported me for making a joke about mass murder…

    Sorry to write a book.

    1. I had been thinking that a lot of the younger people have probably been scared off the Con scene due to the Politically Correct crowd, and worrying that they are going to be hounded out for saying something that offends someone.

      1. That’s the reason I quit attending. It got progressively (haha! unintentional) worse, and the cliques changed from just being different types of fans (i.e. gaming, comics, sf/f, etc; which all have overlap) to different variations of the “it’s okay when we do it” crowds. I’m sometimes offensive, and I’m okay with that.

          1. *whips out privilege card*
            (That’s how it works, right?!)

              1. You’re lucky I’ve been snubbed and blacklisted from participating in the Oppression Olympics this year or I’d sweep the field. 🙂

                  1. Now, now. You can be a left-handed quadriplegic cross-dressing pre-op identifies-as-female Muslim black person, but if you have wrongthink, you’re not REALLY a LQCPM black.

                    Sheesh. By now, you should have figured out how this works.

        1. This trend is common in any gathering, be it cons or political groups. Inevitably one faction, by virtue of its extremism, tediousness and other factors will drive off those less committed. As this winnowing proceeds the concentration of the “dedicated” tends to crowd out the “just looking for a good time” with increasing velocity.

          That is the function defined in O’Sullivan’s Law: any organization or enterprise that is not expressly right wing will become left wing over time.

          1. Hmmph — should have read the Urban Dictionary a mite more quickly when I used it to save typing up O’Sullivan’s Law:

            One of the reasons for this is leftist intolerance versus right-wing tolerance. Right wingers are willing to hire openly left-wing employees in the interest of fairness. Left-wingers, utterly intolerant, will not allow a non-Liberal near them, and will harass them at every opportunity. The result over time is that conservative enterprises are infiltrated by leftists but leftist enterprises remain the same or get worse.

            Also, leftism is in and of itself a form of decay. It’s what happens not just to television shows but to nations, churches and universities as the energy given off by the big bang of their inception slowly ebbs away. Rather than expend vitality in originality and creation they become obsessed with introspection, popularity and lethargy. Leftism is entropy of the spirit and intellect.

            Another reason is that the parasitic nature of Liberals/Leftists attracts them to existing money.

            1. In my observation, absolutely correct.

              I guess it goes to show that if you want to preserve your culture, a little intolerance may be the way to go. And isn’t that exactly what today’s liberals are doing??

        2. Back in the day, at a Darkover Grand Council, I got a small lecture from a dear little sophmore Feminista about how high heels were symbolic hobbles, and when I said to her “What are you bitching about, when Ii dress up I’m supposed to wear a leash!” the older Feminist fen laughed.

          But that was more than a decade and a half ago.

          Hell, there’s a place for Message SF. RUR was message SF, whence we get the word Robot. Hell, GODZILLA was message SF, the first and still one of the best Kaiju films. I just want some damn variety.

          And, damnit, the Progressive path has been tried and produced little worth keeping.

          Well, for all their fondness for “Natural” foods and so on the aging Progressives strike me as a pretty unhealthy bunch. Even though I smoke, I suspect I can outlive the bastards.

          1. You and I will both Be drinking a little of the good stuff top piss onto their graves while we light up and laugh

                1. Never took to ciggies, but I worked for a cigar store for a couple of years. Sadly, it developed my taste, and so it’s a little expensive now.

                  Started the summer of 1979. My memory is that the American Cancer Society or the American Lung Association (now THERE’S a meeting I don’t want to see) came out with an antismoking ad so offensive that I decided if they were against it I needed to give it a try.

                  Which says a good deal about what a contrary sonofabitch I was at that time.

                    1. I try not to do things SIMPLY because nagging nitwits tell me I shouldn’t anymore. For one thing, I don’t like motorcycles. Just a personal thing.

                    2. I like Bikes, don’t like the road rash and dropping one isn’t something you are over after two beers, but I still like them

          2. IMHO, the place for Message SF is…SF. The thing I’ve noticed (and I blame TV, the internet, and countless other smaller distractibles for this, because I’m a curmudgeonly old man) is that compared to the old days, when a great SF story could have an underlying message that would make me seriously think, nowadays everyone has to have their “Subtle Message” front and center and beating you about the head and face.

            It’s not just SF/F either, the exact same thing is happening in comics, and has been for years. The only thing I’m unsure of is whether it’s because the latest crop of writers/industry faves believe “all we little people” are too stupid to pick up on nuance; or if it’s because they’re NOT ACTUALLY THAT GOOD.

            Maybe it’s some combination of the two. Or maybe it’s like some sort of tribal signifier, so that at a glance they can tell if someone is “one of the good ones”.

            If you tried to pass a joke like that today, I might fear for your safety. 🙂

            1. It’s because they’re being picked up on their political/victim credentials, not their ability. Look beneath at the non-pushed stuff, particularly by long lasting midlisters. We’re more likely to have had to learn our craft.

              1. I do, and I have (your own work included! I just got Shared Nightmares, and Dreamcatcher was fantastic. Thank you,) As someone who aspires to be published, I can only imagine how frustrating it is for real, talented authors to see this go on.

            2. I recall a TV show from the ’50s. Brave Eagle, Chief Of The Cheyenne; every episode ended with a moral. I learned then that I did not like being hit over the head with a moral. Now there are shows that want to hit me over the head throughout. Designing Women got that way.

              1. Exactly! It’s so easy; just don’t preach. Like I keep saying, make me think, don’t tell me how/what to think.

              2. “Anamanics” had the “Wheel of Morality”. They would spin it, and get that week’s lesson of the episode.

          3. Okay, yeah, message isn’t so much of a problem. The problem is all message, no story (or worse: story forced into a message strait-jacket) or the fact that ONLY certain types of messages are allowed.

            No story should receive or be denied awards because of its message; the criterion is “a well told story.”

              1. Plenty of messages no sane and few insane people will tolerate — which is not a problem if the awards are given based on story-telling. Heck, even when the award is based on “correct” messaging it isn’t much problem. Such awards convey useful messages to prospective readers with a minimum waste of time, e.g., the Prometheus for libertarian messages or the Hugo for politically correct message.

                It is when the award conveys a false impression (e.g., claiming the Hugo isn’t for “best story with politically correct messages) that consumers have reason to gripe. The “Trufen” could have avoided much agitation had they been open about having stolen the Hugo and designated it as the Best Dreck Award that they made it into. Their claim to represent SF/F Fandom is no more legitimate than Jesse Jackson’s or Al Sharpton’s claims to represent all African-Americans or even a significant majority thereof, or of the feminazis’ assertion that only they represent women.

                1. Quite true, and their sneaky little tactic of you can send us money but you won’t get anything in return except empty promises has come home to roost

    2. Your comment made them actually think about what they were doing.

      My husband is a Joker fan, and really dislikes the movie Joker because he’s at best half of the Joker– so I’ve seen the effect a lot.

      1. I wonder what the Dark Knight Joker would have been like had Heath Ledger had not died during the filming. His character might have been more fleshed out, but then again it might not.

          1. I recall reports that they had to do work-arounds to accomodate his absence; perhaps principle shooting was complete in Mid-November but reshooting was still going on.

        1. There wasn’t any room left for the “will he, won’t he” type Joker– half of the fun of the “real” Joker is that you don’t know. If you think he’s going to do A, it’s equally possible he’ll do the opposite.

          With the Heath Ledger Joker, you know he’s going to try to kill you and everybody else horribly, you just don’t know how.

          1. Ledger’s Joker was nihilism personified. That allows for the erraticism you note but doesn’t work in the dramatic structure of a single film, introducing the character. Later appearances could have brought out those aspects.

          2. From the animated TV series, Bruce Wayne’s advise to Clark Kent, who was going to cover for him in Gotham while Wayne was on a business trip to Metropolis: With the Joker, expect the unexpected.

            Batman, as I recall, had an easier time wrapping his mind around Lex Luthor’s actions than Superman did the Joker.

            1. I’ve got to watch that one again. I’d worry that the biggest problem Batman would have with Lex would be getting converted!

  6. was at Norwescon last weekend, didn’t see the same thing. The art room was the biggest I’ve seen, the dealers room was about par, the crowd was a fair smattering of all ages. Now bear in mind, there are some real changes, the weapons policies are getting closer and closer to Oricon which got so stupid I won’t go, The crowd was far more hippster and fluffy bunny neopagan liberal than the old days, and the guys behind the tables where more graying…

    1. As I said, my experience might not be typical, and you have to wonder at the whole hipster thing, will they be back or was this ironic?

      1. eh most of them looked like the same sorts of awkward proto geeks we were at a similar age, just a lot less lets say militant… and far more goth in a life sucks then you die sort of way

      1. The proper weapons policy. Do not draw your weapon unless it is to stop behavior that is criminal and dangerous to people legally here. If you do draw your weapon judicious aim and targeting is required

        1. Would be nice. In many cases the venue requires no actual weapons, even with concealed carry permit.

            1. There is that.

              I’m not going to suggest that anyone violate a no-weapons policy *however*… it seems to me that the biggest reason cons developed weapon policies (do other sorts of conventions have them?) is because of the “costume” issue. “No really… I’m Mal Reynolds…” “No really… I’m Blade Runner…”

      2. If you do a costume that requires weapons to be authentic, they do have safety regulations.

        1. Generally something like: “Just don’t. And claiming its your costume doesn’t cut it.”

          1. All ‘guns’ must be non-functional and have an obvious blaze orange tip to the barrel. No weapon taller/longer/wider than 4 feet. No live steel. Weapons must be peace bonded. That kind of thing. There will often be some further restrictions, such as the dance, where no weapon, even as part of costume, may be brought in.

          1. I SOOOO want to make one of those, but this year we’re going to Pensic, and next year to 50th year, and one run across the country a year is all my leave balance can take.

      3. I do have a complaint about the effect of the weapons policy at the con I work.

        For some reason they won’t let me set up a working guillotine in the main lobby so I can sit, knit and glare ominously at anyone who misbehaves…

    2. Did you watch the live Hugo winner announcements up in Evergreen 2? I noticed how completely non-diverse that part of the audience was, a conference room half full of the whitest people you ever saw.

      The long term problem for Norwescon is that Sakuracon the anime con in Seattle on the same weekend has been stealing all the young fen for several years now and will only get worse. It’s just not as far along the path as Millenicon. There were far less parties at Norwescon this year then just a couple years ago.

  7. The thing to remember is that this is old patterns playing out. The Anglican Establishment in England had things pretty well locked down by the late 18th Century. If you weren’t able to profess the Anglican creed, you couldn’t hold certain jobs or go to University. And the Dissenters, like Joseph Priestly, came along and wouldn’t you know it? All the most important scientific breakthroughs of an era full of them were made my Dissenters, because the Anglicans had made their little patch so safe and placid that nobody resting in it THOUGHT.

    The Liberal Intellectual Radical Progressives got a lock on the mainstream media during the 1970’s, and in consequence the journalists of the 1980’s and 1990’s had forgotten how to make a case against opposition. So they had no way to battle the New Media. The atmosphere of bitter partisanship you hear the LIRPs bewailing every election cycle? That’s NORMAL. That’s what happens when the debate is not completely controlled by one side. Don’t believe me? Check out a collection of 18th and 19th Century political cartoons.

    The SJWs snuck up and took over Fandom, or some subsets of Fandom for a while. Then they committed the unforgivable sin; they became tiresome. Now they have a choice; they can either duke it out for the attention of the younger fans, who are busy with Comicons and Gamecons and who read stuff that doesn’t bore them into a coma if they read at all. Or they can pull their little clique in after them and change the rules of the Hugos so that nobody who wrongthinks can win, and eventually disappear up their own rectums.

    Don’t like the Greycons? Start a con of your own. It ain’t hard. The Hopkins Science Fiction Association put on one a couple of years before I arrived at the Homewood Campus, and while it apparently looked like a disaster to the people who worked it it made money and was fondly remembered by the Fen. If the yahoos and screwballs that made up the HOPSFA of that era can do it, so could a troop of mildly retarded cub scouts.

    The thing is, the SJWs and LIRPs can be made irrelevant. We take them entirely too seriously. They aren’t worthy of so much respect. They are tiresome little morons, advocating a worn out utopia that proved to be a nightmare in the real world. They deserve scorn and ridicule, and would wither quickly if given same. By all means, let’s keep up the pressure on the Hugos. If they change the rules to keep them “pure” they as much as admit that they can’t face us on a level playing field, that their ideology is bankrupt, and their writing is tripe. It will be a pity to abandon an award that once meant something, but we can always pick it up and polish the slime off it when they drop it.

    1. Start a con of your own. It ain’t hard.

      The starting is not so hard. Keeping one going is another thing altogether.

        1. Or enlist the help of long time con volunteers who are looking for cons where fun is still allowed. I know a lot of people who have told me that they are no longer interested in helping out at our big local con because it’s turning into all work and no play.

          1. because it’s turning into all work and no play

            There are reasons for that. At one con, after an assistant department head got drunk and assulted the same police officer the second night running he had to be bailed out of jail to get rented equipment he had had in his posession back from the police.

      1. True that. However, if enough little Cons that aren’t Truethink stifle-fests get started, the idea will spread. SOMEBODY who doesn’t like to be preached at will pick up the ball and run with it.

    2. I’ve noticed that a number of the SJW/LIRP crowd who are posting loooong screeds about how evil and bad and nasty the SP crowd is for daring to question whether diversity isn’t the absolute best thing EVARRRR!!11! when it comes to SF…

      … are moderating their comments. They really don’t want the other side to have a voice.

      1. I know it’s been broadly noticed, but I have to say I’d be one hell of a lot more impressed with their commitment to diversity if their little clique was so opressively pasty-white with a smattering of politically drilled Other. They really are a upper-middle liberal arts college phenom.

        1. :mischief: You mean like when someone on MSNBC says something stupid about how racist a conservative group is, and then folks post pictures of the leadership of the two groups?

          1. Like when Keith Olbermann made one of his screeds against the Tea Party apparently lacking “people of color” or similar and then someone made an edited video of the clip showing images up of MSNBC’s rather pale staff during the narration?

              1. I don’t watch Fox News all that much, but I don’t recall any of their talking heads doing the thing I described Olbermann doing.

                Which is funny, people keep telling me that I get all my information from that news channel. That and using “Faux” is somehow clever.

                1. I mean they did a side-by-side of Fox with the MSNBC– sorry I wasn’t clear.

                  We don’t have cable, so it’s rather hard for US to get news from Fox! (And yes, the “faux” is just… juvenile.)

                    1. they do the same with calling folks Koch Suckers, and the Koch name is pronounced Coke.So I guess they, not liking the Kochs, are Pepsi Suckers

        2. The fascists only like their narrow slice of conforming diversity; they can’t abide non-conforming diversity!

        3. Could it be that they assume a lack of diversity everywhere because they have self-selected to live in a patch of the world that lacks diversity?

    3. Start a con of your own. It ain’t hard.

      Puppycon anyone?

      Find a hotel near a large indoor firing range…

      1. Libertycon works well for that, though the range we are using isn’t as close as we would like

        1. Yeah, the days when convention centers had indoor shooting ranges are pretty much passed.

        2. I loved LibertyCon last year. I really want to go but it is a long way from Reno. I am thinking of going to Sasquan because I can drive there. But it feels like settling for second best.

          Of course it would be fun to cheer for any winning Sad Puppies. ;o)

          1. I’m planning on going, because it is close, and I’ve never been to a con before. But yeah I plan on cheering on any Sad Puppies and watching for exploding heads.

            1. We need to have an SP party. I’ve already volunteered to volunteer (it’s the Lutheran way: if you want to Make New Friends, get a job 🙂

      2. There’s a nice indoor range about one “big” block either direction from a bunch of hotels in Albuquerque… including the one we now have for Bubonicon.

        Really… you guys, any of you, show up and we’ll go shooting.

  8. There’s definitely a range in con quality.

    Draven, Wondercon is Comic-con con, and a completely different beast than the literary cons. (Did you know authors at literary cons almost never charge for autographs? Completely different beasts.) To get a crowd in the four digits range at a literary con is extremely rare; a crowd in the handful-hundred range is definitely seen as good numbers.

    The parties have changed drastically. First, the publishers have pretty much abandoned the literary cons. It’s almost unheard of these days to find a publisher party at a con. Getting any sort of official representation from one of the Big Five is a huge coup. Nearly all of the parties are advertising other cons or bids for WorldCon. They tend to be friendly things, lots of laughter, beer, some hard liquor, and candy and cookies. But for the booze, however, they’re nothing you couldn’t bring a twelve-year-old to.

    Art shows and dealers rooms have definitely suffered from the ongoing economic malaise. You see a lot fewer artists shipping their stuff around the country. I suspect a combination of exposure via the ‘net and lower sales is why.

    The cons I attend (ArmadilloCon, Orecon, FenCon, etc.) tend to have well-attended panels, with at least three to five times as many audience members as panelists, though the energy of the audience is definitely affected by the hour of the day and the topic.

    The really interesting one to watch in Texas is AggieCon. Since it’s put on by students, the experience base tends to get purged every four years or so, and they have to relearn everything from nearly scratch. It’s leaning a lot more towards anime, movies, and TV these days and many of the grognards are hesitant to even call it a literary con anymore.

    1. I went to LTUE (Provo, Utah) this year and had a wonderful experience. It’s a student-centered con, and the quality of panels, speakers, and authors at hand was simply unbelievable. I was in writer heaven. Unfortunately, I will not be able to go back this coming year because of my school schedule. But the year after!

      1. I enjoyed LTUE the year I went, and I don’t generally enjoy cons (too much of an introvert) The panels were excellent, and yes, the atmosphere of youth and energy was wonderful.

        1. I attended a few LTUEs way back in the dark ages (80s/90s) when they were still at BYU. Those were the only conventions I have ever been to, and the only kinds of fans I ever actually met. So I had never really met “TruFen” yet.
          The first time I actually met some BIG authors was the Writers of the Future award ceremony I attended in 92 (with Eric Flint, no less!)
          A few years back a friend of mine who had been involved in NorWesCon for years took us to one for a few hours.
          And that’s when I first realized what the dark side of fandom could be like. I’d much rather hang out with the writers (like at LTUE) than the cultureFans (like many other cons seem to be.)

    2. Artists and vendors have been hurting, a number have become much more selective about which cons they attend.

    3. Didn’t a group of students at U of Houston start up a con a few years ago? I think it ran for a couple of years, but I do good to make one con a year since moving to the far side of the state and haven’t heard if it’s still going. (Where I live you can see New Mexico on a windy day because small air-borne pieces of it will hit you in the eye.)

      1. Have to sweep or vacuum the enchantment out of your car each morning. I did, when I lived out there.

      2. U of Houston had something called Collegecon. I attended once, some thirty years ago. Not sure how long it lasted.

    4. I know what kind of con it was. When i had Kevin J. Anderson sigh The Dark Between The Stars (first copy he signed after the Hugo announcement) he didn’t charge me.

      I’ve been to litcons, small trek cons, huge media cons.. cruddy panels, good panels, etc

      Btw, the main vendor floor (which was three out of four halls of the ACC) had an entire artists section with row after row of artists of all different kinds- painters, comic book artists, etc etc.

      1. I am fairly sure none of the cons I’ve attended have been literary and I’ve never yet paid for an author’s autograph (at least, not beyond the original purchase price of the book.)

        I am perfectly willing to assert that this is because of my charm, charisma and indisputable physical beauty. I am not prepared to believe that nor to defend the claim against all any comers.

      2. Yeah, I love me a comic-con, if you can get past the crowds. There’s a great one in Houstin called Comicpalooze that’s sort of an amateur comic-con (not actually run by the Comic-con company, but very much in their style) that has huge turnouts and is bringing in some really big names this coming year.

        That’s great that novelists aren’t charging for autographs. Pretty much anything to do with comics, however, costs. Granted, even charging, it’s not rare for them to have insane lines, and I’ve seen Stan Lee create lines larger than the entire attendance at some literary cons. And I’m hardly one to grinch about people engaging in capitalism. 😉

        1. It wasn’t entirely a comic con, it was a media con, like most CCI cons. If you think CCI cons are just ‘comic’ cons.. well, you clearly haven’t seen the videos of panels from them,.

            1. Comic-Con International.

              Wrong CCI. (the one you’re talking about doesn’t have the ammo to spare to give free samples, have you tried getting .22 lately?)

              1. Not lately, I’ve got about 2 1/2 cases, but it took me about two years of sitting on backorder to get them. What I have been looking for lately is 22 magnum, since I used to have lots of that, until I shot most of it up because I was using it instead of lr when I couldn’t get lr.

    5. Brian, I haven’t been to a world con since Baltimore (I know–!) and I’m wondering what the calibre of art is these days. At Baltimore, I was a bit embarrassed that I’d put up pieces (though I did end up selling one that covered the cost of entering–go figure)

      How small has the field gotten? Are talented amateurs still entering? What’s the state of the show?

  9. Fandom is there. It just doesn’t identify itself as “scifi” fandom anymore. It’s “comic” fandom (with lots of non-comic authors, artists, and movie actors, and musicians in attendance), or “anime” fandom (with lots of non-anime authors, artists, and movie actors, and musicians in attendance), or “gaming” convention-tabletop or electronic (with lots of non-gaming authors, artists, and movie actors, and musicians in attendance).

    My wife’s regular con circuit is the anime one, which gets larger and larger every year. You’ll find almost as much love for Spider-Man, Wolverine, and Luke Skywalker there as you will for Goku, Ruroni Kenshin, or Spike Spiegel. And you’ll find lots of literary authors at those cons too. I once spent 10 minutes talking to Jody Lynn Nye about what a great author Robert Asprin was (entirely oblivious that I was talking to someone whose books I’d enjoyed as much as his).

    Here at home, Anime St. Louis gets bigger every year, with Archon-the venerable convention for “fandom” getting smaller. One would think that “general” conventions would draw more fans than ones designed to particular areas of popular culture, but that’s just it. What we like is “popular” culture now. With scifi fandom having taken over popular culture, the crowds are there; they’re just streaming to more specific venues.

    1. Here at home…St. Louis

      Oh, you know Eric Peniston.

      (sorry, personal joke).

    1. An interesting side note. I stopped going to the local (to me) con because they essentially teamed up with a local polyamory group. The con had an actual “sex track”, not “sex in SF” or “writing sex scenes” or the like, but “polyamory 101”, “polyamory meet and greet”, etc. The Saturday night dance went “adults only”.

      I didn’t feel comfortable taking my daughter to that con any more. Before that change there were things like the “barfleet” room party and so forth. Those didn’t bother me. You could take or leave those. But the change in character of the con itself did. So, when combined with the fact that I had to do eight panels to qualify for a comped membership, higher than any other con I’ve ever attended (mind you, I don’t have a problem “working” that many panels, I like doing panels) and it just stopped being worth my time.

      I don’t sell enough at cons to justify the cost. It has to be fun for me or it’s just not worth it. And part of that is being able to see my daughter have a good time. That con stopped being so.

      1. Fans are too prone to ignore that for writers (artists, whatever) a con is no vacation; it is work. It is a weekend spent making “sales calls” instead of making product. As Sarah has noted, the cost of her attending a con is a week’s missed writing, And that is at a good con, with plenty of people she likes to see and no problems such as missed plane connections, buggered room reservations, problematic eating arrangements and the like.

        Add in the agita generated by a con with a preponderance of SJW wannabees (okay – that con probably ain’t inviting Sarah) and the requirements to stand quietly with a beauty-pageant smile plastered on your puss while some editor goes off on a diatribe about the evils of Sad Puppies, internal-combustion banning Libertarians and Right-Wing Fascist nutcases hug their guns to compensate for their wee willies … we might never see our Fearless Leader write another word for the steam that failed to escape from her ears having scalded her brain.

        Fundamental rule of economics is opportunity cost: a weekend spent at a con is a weekend your favorite writer hasn’t spent writing.

        Suffering enforced tolerance of other people’s peccadilloes just ices the cake. Almost anyone can manage tolerance of the “don’t ask, don’t tell” variety, but the requirement of having to endorse their alternate lifestyles (“I saw a man and he danced with his wife …”) is a bridge too far.

        1. Cons can also be invigorating, and give you ideas and plot developments and the like. I still remember the fun panel where an audience member was trying to develop the economics of an intelligent bee society and we started with “What resources are scarce?” and ran with it.

      2. It’s totally understandable that you would stop taking your daughter to that.

        On the other hand, I don’t think that every event necessarily needs to be suitable for children.

      3. I keep on fussing. For the most part any sex fetish stuff is low key or at least invisible to children but I know what stuff means that kids don’t. That’s fine. The pamphlets on the freebee table really shouldn’t be there. Nor should there be rampant elves in the dealer room or bandage in the art show. Sure…when I hunt my kid down and find her in the room where they’re selling bunny fur lashes they get my raised eyebrow but not more. In other words, I don’t think I’m unreasonable. The public areas really should be at least PG-13.

        1. The pamphlets on the freebee table really shouldn’t be there. Nor should there be rampant elves in the dealer room or bandage in the art show.

          Related story:
          A store that specializes in fairies recently opened up in our area– lots of big flowers, twinkly sparkles and such in the windows, and they do photo shoots for kids (mostly girls, obviously) starting at toddler.

          I figured I’d do a quick look-around to see if I could afford anything there before I took the girls in as a big treat, and to buy my niece something nice as a just-because gift.

          Who the flip thought that a shelf of goth-and-self-cutting-fairies-in-ragged-bandages was a good idea? And or the ‘Jessica Rabbit is too realistic and prudish’ stuff? 0.o

          And it’s not like there was just one corner– it was all over the place. I wasn’t even looking for reasons to question it, but.. good grief, you clearly aim a kids and have a washed up hooker/drug addict fairy?

          And here I was thinking some of the Tinkerbell fan-art got a bit too focused. Oy!


            1. I mean, really, we’re talking about the kind of people who, if you ask them to moderate their language in front of your children in a restaurant, launch into a profanity-laden rant about how you’re not the boss of them.

              1. You’ve got a point.

                I guess I’m largely annoyed because I can be pretty sure that when they go under, they’re going to blame it on everything but the decisions they actually had control over. (And if they don’t, the cops had better be on them to find out what the heck it’s a cover for; the hours are something like 10AM-4:30 on weekdays, and 11-3 on Saturday, when their location would be awesome for afternoon browsing and evening hours would catch the known supply of before-and-after dinner and entertainment crowds.)

                1. The local-to-me bookstore that went under new management and had strange hours such that it was hardly ever open? It was actually a front for illegal gambling. So yeah, you could be right.

          1. Children are unimportant in our society, they should be left in their creches until the are matured enough for sex. In the view of most of the people that think like that it means until age 6

        2. No, bandage should be kept at the first aid station (sorry, it had to be done :-))

          Again, it depends on the venue. No public fornication at a general interest con? Okay, fine. No “upsetting imagery” at a Game of Thrones/Song of Ice and Fire-inspired con? That’s unreasonable.

          I’ve heard of cons banning “aggressive cleavage” of late, which made me think of some H. P. Lovecraft/H. R. Giger mammae dentata kind of thing. It turns out they they’re talking about low-cut outfits. Maybe they should require burqas and have done with it.

          1. While I have seen attendees that I wished were wearing burquas (Male and female) That is a big part of the problem today

            1. The 300 lb. Faye Valentine in the mustard hot pants outfit.
              The Sailor Venus played by a very tall young man with a pot belly with no undies and a most, um, inconvenient hole in his tights and nothing to boast about.

              I don’t know which was worse.

                  1. There is a rather round bearded man who smokes cigars and is known to dress like Sailor Moon. He is referred to as Sailor Bubba, .

          2. In some locations there will be licensing and liability insurance issues if you want to provide first aid — even just handing out bandaids.

            Excessive cleavage restriction? This may not be the con’s choice as it can relate to local decency laws or the venue’s restrictions. In the con’s past, there may have been an incident with a wardrobe ‘malfunction.’ If the con advertises itself as a ‘family friendly’ con it can also be an issue.

            1. It also means that the folks who, without such a rule, will be walking around wearing two “My Little Pony” stickers above the beltline are instead wearing at least a string bikini while showing their lack of sense.

              1. Yeah…ew.
                I worked at Disneyland, and the dress code for visitors may be lax, but they were never that bad.

              2. I once saw a woman pushing a stroller with her five month old who had done ‘sexy no-justsu’ by gluing cotton balls and wadding to her body. I believe that she was ultimately sent out to change, as the con has passes a must have on flesh toned body suit for just such costumes.

            2. Couldn’t be any worse than the Ren festivals, and I’ll actually take my kids to those.

                1. Those are standards for the Booth Babes, not normal attendees.

                  They probably noticed that Seattle is an area that has to have warning signs up on some of our coffee drive-throughs because the girls behind the counter are wearing a bikini, at most; an event that’s primarily but not exclusively for young males?! Oh, golly, I would want a good amount of veto power over what folks were able to do with the staff at their booth, too!

                    1. Oh, grow up.

                      It is not being a second class citizen for a gaming convention to set standards about what lengths people who want to sell stuff at that convention can go to in order to gain attention, and even making the statement puts you well below the idiots who think that being banned from a blog for breaking the rules is an infringement on their right to free speech.

                    2. Banning clothing that would be legal at the beach, or on the public street for that matter, is not “protecting the children”.

                      They’re free to set up any rules they want. I’m free to point at their neopuritanism and laugh.

                      As for “growing up”: I’m not the one who’s suddenly switched to personal attacks. That would be you.

                      See how that works?

                    3. Given how cold they keep a lot of these exhibit halls, I imagine that tradeshow ladies getting frostbite would be a serious danger.

                      Although I’m sure many gallant gentlemen would be willing to help….

                    1. This was in the 80s – I went to the big computer show up in Vegas.

                      One of the microprocessor manufacturers (don’t recall which one, for obvious reasons) had their booth babes in *very* skimpy bikinis with the microprocessor on one side of the torso and the numeric coprocessor on the other side…

                  1. I would want a good amount of veto power over what folks were able to do with the staff at their booth, too!

                    (Tentatively raised finger) …. Uhh .. er, no, some lines not even I will essay to touch.

                  1. Cleavage on the rampage! Come on, fellas, we need some volunteers to get this situation under control.

                  2. Of course. What, you thought all those chain mail bikinis were to protect the wearers? No, they were to keep the angry boobies safely under control, lest they run amok and maul dozens of innocent bystanders.

                    I’m reminded of Stephen King slamming someone’s “poem” about “angry lesbian breasts” in his book on writing. 🙂

                    Seriously, what do these people do when they walk past Victoria’s Secret in the mall? Blindfolds for the kids? Welding helmets?

                    I’m not saying that people should wear string bikinis to formal weddings, of course, but this is a gaming convention. Black or white tie is rarely required for one of those.

                  1. Bullet bras, torpedo boobs (ah, many a man has been sunk by those) — all are adaptations of the nacelle concept.

                    I searched for an appropriate illustration (some of which left me wondering whether fashion would ever induce women to mount propellers on their bras — and now I await the cosplayer going as a de Havilland DH.98 Mosquito) but all I found was this inappropriate one.

                    1. Oops — link fail.

                      That should fix it.

                      I ought know to be more careful lifting links from those “more images for …” pages.

      1. Ah yes, even they haven’t touched furries yet.
        Of course, the furries I’ve known have been of the “consenting adults in the privacy of their bedroom” types. None of them have screamed that I have to accept their fursona as reality.

        1. The furries I have met and work have expressed the sentiment that they are quite tired of the non-furries assumption that their fursona is all about, ah-hem, sex play.

          1. This is true. For most of them, sex didn’t even come into it, (most).
            Though, when I was discussing it with another coworker, I had to wave her off of looking “furries” up on the internet,

      2. Heh…mostly just PDAs in public. More than that and it gets troublesome. Admittedly there is a massive clique of leftist and SJW types within the furry fandom (The ‘get out of my fandom’ or calls for lynching for non-leftist views). I just left that closet…

    2. It’s not that they can’t get nekkid, it’s that they’ll randomly decide to punish you for noticing.

    3. Well… Emerald City comic con is ver specifically a family friendly con, while still having an I define myself by how I diddle my naughty bits program track. So honestly, I think the two modes can co- exist, as long as the parents are paying attention.

  10. My first con was 20 years ago, and the graying/imminent-death of fandom was already the topic on everyone’s minds then.

    But of course, in those days, being socially awkward in fandom wasn’t a punishable act, and there were still lots and lots of open, unstructured social spaces where people could casually hang out and maybe make some new friends. Unless you were a GoH (and thus scheduled to be a panelist), you went to maybe 3 or 4 panels over the weekend, and spent the rest of your time in social space.

    But social space is being locked down on the one hand, and crowded out on the other, these days. So con-going is less and less pointful. Simple as that.

    1. and my real reason for attending cons, outside of what is good business for my lady, is social space. Yeah that seems to be disappearing

  11. In Chicago, WindyCon and CapriCon are doing well but aging; DuckCon, however, has collapsed and had to be cancelled this year due to financial problems; it may not return.

    It may be easy to start a con, but keeping one going requires $$$$. If you at least break even you’re fine, but a lot of conventions are starting not to even achieve that because they’re not attracting the younger con-goers.

    As for Dealers rooms… I blame the internet, especially Amazon and eBay. It used to be that any dealers room had four or five book dealers, and all would do brisk business. Not any longer. Gone are the days when you went hunting for out of print books because there were holes to fill in your Drey Prescott or Dumarest collections; nowadays you can fill them easily (and cheaply) just with a few clicks on Amazon.or eBay. And SF-dom has always been tech savvy, so Kindles or their equivalent are becoming an increasingly common sight. Keep in mind, I’m not criticizing Amazon or eBay for this; but it is what it is, and you just can’t deny the obvious.

    The younger people are going to media-friendly cons like DragonCon and ComicCon, where their tastes are at least respected if not encouraged. The more literary cons? I deeply regret to say this, but I suspect their day may have passed. 😦

    1. Add new tax laws to the woes: Booksellers did not used to have to pay taxes on held inventory. Now a unsold book represents an annual tax liability.

      1. Before he passed, my Father had been bitching about that for years, because of the effect it had on scholarly presses. Time was, if Bigstate University Press had published a book five years ago that you needed for research or a class the chances were good that they still had copies in some dark corner. That changed when the IRS started taxing inventory as income.

          1. To be more specific, as a consequence of Thor Power Tools, you can not depreciate your inventory. Destroy it all and write it off, or nothing.

            1. The IRS is involved, do we have to *say* it, or is it just implied?

              I was under the impression that it wasn’t “income” until it was converted to something you could spend. Apparently I’m a neanderthal.

              1. Part of why things got so far is that it’s perfectly reasonable for anybody not in the targeted businesses to think this.

                Ditto on how many second hand stores have gone out of buisness, with the expansion of “safety” measures meaning their costs or risks (especially on things like baby gear, which is really expensive when new) went up.

            2. It’s also part of why “just in time” delivery systems make sense.

              Yeah, except for those people who shop in the wee hours of the morning, when the stores that get their “Just in time” deliveries are out of everything. THANKS, IRS!!!

  12. A panel I’ve done at “literary” (as opposed to “media”) cons from time to time is “Is an SF Renaissance right around the corner?”

    My opening salvo is to ask for a show of hands in the audience about how many people are under thirty. Generally, at best, I get a couple of hands.

    “That right there’s the problem,” is my follow up line. “Unless we start bringing in young people in large numbers, there will be no ‘Renaissance.'”

    Fortunately, there are other avenues: games, movies and TV. The interest in the field is there. And phenomena like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and, yes, even Twilight, show that these younger people are not averse to reading books. The question is how to write books that they want to read.

    1. > The question is how to write books that they want to read.

      Somehow, I don’t think introspective stories about were-seals and their lesbian awakening are going to fill that bill. Now, if you were to have that same were-seal utilize their burgeoning lesbian awareness as some new, unique way to defeat Cthuhlu, you might have something.

      1. If only someone would write something like a story about a trailer trash elf princess named Tanya. Oh, wait, someone did, but he’s an old white Mormon male so nothing he does can count.
        My belief is that the worst crime committed by the clique who finagled control of the Hugo nominations these past years is that they represented their picks as still being the best of the best. Young readers took them at their word and left SF&F in droves.
        Harry Potter and Huger Games and Twilight have done vastly more to reach and hold the interest of young readers than anything done by the literary crowd. What we need to do is somehow get the message out that there are many equally engaging stories still out there.

            1. And instead of “braaaaiiinnnsss” they’re moaning… umm, what is this blog rated?

              1. lol!
                I shouldn’t read this at work. I laugh and then my co-workers want to know what the joke is.
                Sometimes I can share.
                Sometimes not.

      2. I’m working on a story with selkies and dovemaidens. It goes by personality: quiet, shy, retiring types. Who know magic.

        There are werewolves in the world that are hostile to them. And werewolves are — not nice.

        The selkies and all could teach most armies a thing or two about “defense in depth.”

    2. See Sarah’s Human Wave Manifesto. She basically describes what SFF was thirty years (and more) ago, before it got grim, anti-human, and excessively literary. That’s the template right there, and that’s what I think the young people would read if publishers were willing to put it in front of them. The emergence of profitable indie publishing means we don’t have to rely on traditional publishers, especially the big NYC-based houses. I’m going to go after it as hard as I can.
      –Jeff Duntemann K7JPD

        1. thewriterinblack: Very nicely done. I particularly like your point about agency in popular vs. literary fiction. Hadn’t thought much about that, but it’s bang-on. Radical lack of agency would seem to be one of the primary causes of grey goo stories.

  13. The young fans seem to be going to Anime cons and Gamer cons. Perhaps they read the last few years worth of Hugo nominees and abandoned SF/F as too depressing. Maybe kids these days don’t enjoy reading stories when they could be reading Tweets.

    Of course, there is also the fact that large gatherings of old farts tend to discourage participation by youngsters.

  14. I also saw few people with a happy look on their faces.

    This could be because a preponderance of attendees share my disinclination to wear our happy on our faces. My face provides many expressions, many of them non-negative, but I no longer bother to don “happy” because I rarely find it suitable for the occasion. Curious, bemused, fascinated, inquisitive, puzzled, scrutinizing, abstracted, engrossed, preoccupied — all those and more do I wear, but rarely “happy.”

    I am minded of a problem they discovered when initial crowds at Euro-Disney were disappointing … apparently the Disney ideal of happy, smiling faces did not play into European attitudes that only fools, imbeciles and idiots went about with perpetual smiles.

    For a contrasting viewpoint.

    1. The sour pusses I saw were just unhappy, not pensive or quizzical or any of the other things you mention. Many of them did look lost though

  15. Actually, the final person in your list of attendees of Cedar’s reading was me. David Burkhead didn’t arrive until about 9:30, and I showed him where to find the room for the Creative Destruction panel, while he tried to contact someone to confirm his registration, since registration was closed at that point..

      1. I WAS a bit disappointed that the time constraint on the Creative Destruction panel shorted your portion. And then we found out that no one showed up for the movies that were supposed to be shown there, so would have had all the time we wanted.

        1. Sorry I slighted you Wayne. Could it be because I think of you as part of the family? 🙂

  16. By my observation there has been one small benefit from older fen, the food’s gotten better. Back 30-40 years ago a swing past hospitality would reveal chips & dip, bowls of candy, and maybe a lonely veggie tray. These days at least those for a base, but one can expect periodic infusions of pasta, and soups, BBQ, actual food one can survive on.
    Of course the only cons I still attend regularly are Libertycon and Con*stellation, so can’t say whether this hold true in general or not.
    As to room parties, any con without a Bar Fly suite just ain’t worth the trouble IMHO. The thing I miss most about the old Liberty venue was Bar Fly Central off the pool. I still remember arriving one Friday, stepping into BFC and there was Mad Mike in one corner disassembling a pistol (a Makarov as I recall), Ringo stepping in from the pool area where he’d just smoked one of those nasty cigars of his, and Toni holding court across the room. I knew at that moment that I’d come home.

    1. > Of course the only cons I still attend regularly are Libertycon and
      > Con*stellation, so can’t say whether this hold true in general or not.

      Mixed results in Chicago-area conventions. CapriCon USED to have a really awesome consuit with real food, but that kinda dropped off these last few years (though the last one was actually a step above the previous few, so hopefully that’s rebounding). WindyCon, however, has had dreadful consuits for a long time now, due in part to an obsession with cleanliness and an over-emphasis (in my view) on allergy awareness. Mostly these days its just a place to pick up a can of soda and leave, because there’s not much else.

    2. We have one of the party rooms at Liberty this year because of the wedding. I plan to be hosting there as much as possible. Please come by, we won’t provide booze and the pool is elsewhere, but I hope to recreate just the atmosphere you remember

    3. I went to Westercon in my hometown a couple of years ago. The ladies running the con suite were veteran con suite types from the Bay Area and OMG the food was fantastic. Including something they called “Squish” which was zucchini, cheese, and spices, and looked like something it wasn’t but tasted awesome. Most of the options they had available were even reasonably healthy and filling, and changed out from time to time.

      I went to the Dead Dog party and ended up with probably $70-$80 worth of leftovers in my trunk, and they would have given me more if I hadn’t felt so much like a mooch. Crackers, cheese, veggies, sodas, and so on. I made sure to write an extensive letter of appreciation to these folk for Doing It Right.

    4. FenCon in DFW usually has a fairly decent con suite. Haven’t made it to ConDFW in a couple years, but the last time I went it was about the same.

  17. Interesting. I’ve never been to a fandom type con (I’ve been to some work/political conventions, don’t know how different they might be).

    Elizabeth Peters wrote a book called ‘die for love’ many years ago set at a romance novelists convention. I wonder if anyone has written one about a worldcon sort of event? Might be fun.

    1. Very, very, very different. I went to a con and stood in registration line behind a couple I knew, their son, and a friend of his from school. This friend — well, that’s when I learned that “my jaw dropped” doesn’t have to be hyperbole. (it was the steampunk get-ups, mostly.)

      She noticed I noticed and told me it was her first con, and we talked a bit. I assured her that wearing a tie-dye Star Trek was JUST the thing to wear to fit in nicely.

      1. Well, i am familiar with the concept of comic-con, primarily from shows like the big bang theory and its ilk. I’ve just never attended one.

    2. “Charles Fort Never Mentioned Wombats”, by Gene DeWeese. And it’s sequel ( can’t remember the name offhand). Both are murder mysteries set at Worldcons. Also provides a good view of 1970s con life.

      Also somewhat related, “Murder at the ABA”, by Isaac Asimov. Murder mystery at the American Booksellers Association convention.

      All are good reads. The Gene DeWeese books are kinda hard to find these days, tho.

      1. John Ringo’s Princess of Wands contains a novella (novelette? section) set at a convention set in Roanoke, Virginia. Unrelatedly, that convention schismed when one faction schemed to drive out the “wrongfen” (coincidentally all Barflies) and then collapsed over the subsequent few years for reasons wholly (cough) unrelated..

        Also check out Kate Paulk’s series about her con-going vampire, ConVent and its sequels.

        (Sarah, i take the liberty of asking you to insert a suitable link for that series so as to insure your share of the Amazon Vig for book flogging.)

          1. Well, okay, but if you don’t get the Amazon vig it ain’t my fault. I mean, we’re talking about some big pennies here!

            ConVent (The Vampire Con Series Book 1) [Kindle Edition]
            Kate Paulk (Author)
            4.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
            Kindle Price: $4.99
            Length: 279 pages (estimated)
            Series: The Vampire Con Series (Book 1)

            Book Description
            Publication Date: December 9, 2011
            A vampire, a werewolf, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. Whoever picked this team to save the world wasn’t thinking of sending the very best. But then, since this particular threat to the universe and everything good is being staged in science fiction conventions, amid people in costume, misfits and creative geniuses, any conventional hero would have stood out. Now Jim, the vampire, and his unlikely sidekicks have to beat the clock to find out who’s sacrificing con goers before all hell breaks loose — literally.

            ConVent is proof that Kate Paulk’s brain works in wonderfully mysterious ways. A sarcastic vampire, his werewolf best buddy, an undercover angel and his succubus squeeze. The “Save the world” department really messed it up this time.

            The series consists of two novels and a short story, but I am Con-fident that Kate will crank out more if sales pick up (share with friends, post glowing reviews, “accidentally” abandon printed out editions on bus seats.) I believe Naked Reader Press books are DRM free (I know I was able to convert ConVent for my Nook.)

            N.B., if you take the trouble to scroll upward and click on the link for any of Sarah’s excellent books you will find yourself Amazon bound through a link that kicks back to Sarah some minuscule portion of all purchases.

            1. Your comment is awaiting moderation.

              Sheesh! One link and WP wants me to be more moderate? The Wombat of Punishment don’t roll like that!

              Ah, the amusements of commenting on a comment endorsing ConVent before WP has foreclosed on it.

        1. and then collapsed over the subsequent few years for reasons wholly (cough) unrelated..

          I think that would be called “Bad Luck”, right?

          1. Rumor has it that they didn’t demonstrate an understanding of the business end of matters. Something which some do call, “Bad Luck.”

        2. And the middle third of Queen of Wands was basically a dream quest through DragonCon.

          1. Then you should try Kate’s Impaler, and the prequel novella (can’t think of the title right now). I know Impaler isn’t supposed to be comedy, but some claim my funny bone is twisted, and I found it laugh out loud funny, as well as being a good story.

            1. Have you met Kate? I have had that privilege once. She has a delightfully wicked sense of humor.

              1. Kate is going to be at Libertycon this year. One of our nefarious plans is to get her and Peter Grant into the same room with a few glasses of that which relaxes you and enjoy the talk 🙂

                  1. Please do Madame. Since your husband is going to be officiating, and Kate is going to be one of my two best men, we should be able to manage it

    3. Try Sharyn McCrumb’s ‘Bimbos of the Death Sun’ or ‘Zombies of the Gene Pool.’

    4. Don’t forget “Bimbos of the Death Sun” by Sharon McCrumb, about a murder at an imaginary con. Some people didn’t like the way it satirized fandom but I thought it was hilarious. Then again, I’m not a fan, just a reader of sf/f and thus an outsider.

      1. The filking scene was a remarkable attempt to teach one’s grandmother to suck eggs, since most filkers at the time were also folk fans and Celtic fans who knew all the supernatural ballads by heart. I remember once suggesting an album of just all those ballads, and being told it was too cliche to sell.

        Nowadays, there are more filkers from a background of rock, country, or musicals who don’t know ballads, so it would seem more realistic.

      2. Nah, I’m a fan, and I thought it was pretty funny. Merciless, and definitely unkind, but true enough to how we are, and how the mundanes see us. Her Highland Laddie Gone, however is a scream, and she gets a sly dig in on our side in it as well.

    5. A portion of John Ringo’s “Princess of Wands” is set at a small SF con.
      Replete with insider jokes of course, given the Ringo sense of humor, and naturally death, destruction, and massive gore. Pretty good read even if it’s really three novelettes linked with a common thread.

          1. Adultery is the one offense almost all Christian sects allow as sufficient reason for divorce

                1. Yes, but Ringo’s Muse she be a fickle beyatch.
                  Soon as we his fans are hooked on one series she screws with his head and makes him write something entirely different.

    6. How about Sharon McCrumb’s “Bimbos Of The Death Sun”? Set at a con. I was greatly amused by it.

      1. I replied to way back yonder, and THEN I find out I’m the 3rd or 4th with it.
        Never been to a Con; likely never will.

    7. Misty Lackey wrote one of her Diana Tregarde stories set at a romance con, which made for an interesting twist, a fantasy book set at a convention of romance writers. And Sherrilyn Kenyon wrote a paranormal romance novella set at DragonCon. Which apparently she attends, but then she also references (positively) David Drake and Spider Robinson in at least one of her romance novels, which surprisingly wasn’t the kiss of death for her. (one wonders if her editors even knew who they were.)

      1. Oh yes. How did she (Ms. Lackey) not get in trouble with the SJW for that one? The obese older romance writer casts a spell to get the love she thinks she wants . . .
        I’ve never been to a con, (which is really odd, considering,) and I didn’t laugh nearly as hard for that story as for Kate’s, but it was still laugh out loud funny.

    8. My Father took me to one or two meetings of the Midwest Junto for the History of Science when I was a tad. There are strong similarities with Fandom; panels, parties, wide ranging conversation. Not much of a dealers’ room that I can recall……

  18. I do keep wondering how all these hugo people who want this to be for ‘worldcon attendees’ and keep telling us how they have been going for decades as if that is required think about younger fans or the absence thereof.

    Do they not think it might be a problem if they run off all the younger people?

  19. I’ve got three kids – aged in range now from 24 to 33. They read. They watch movies. They like Ringo, Weber, W.E.B. Griffin, Divergent, Patrick Rothfuss, My daughter is dyslexic and does all of her reading using If Dough Dandridge hadn’t had to use such an execrable reader, she’d love Dandridge’s stuff.

    I can’t imagine any of them putting up with say, China Mieville for more than a couple of pages. I couldn’t stay with Ancillary Justice past about the 3rd chapter.

    We got in arguments about whether Ringo’s Looking Glass and Zombie Apocalypse “jumped the shark” or not. But they cared and they talked about it.

    Katie really liked the Darkship series. If the Shape Shifter thing was audible she’d like it. I’m trying to get her pointed at JIm Butcher.

    My point is there is good stuff that young people like getting read. It just isn’t boring “message is more important than story” books. Not when you are finally an adult and you get to choose how you spend your hard earned money.

    You know how to fix the graying issue. It’s getting fixed. World Con will probably die before they fix it.

  20. I am particularly interested in children’s books and have been struggling to find more recent good science fiction and fantasy stories for the younger crowd that aren’t heavy handed on environmentalism and/or angst. One problem (sorry to sound a bit stuffy) is the inclusion of sexual themes in everything. There are plenty of precocious young readers who aren’t ready for that kind of content. What do you give them that isn’t pap? There are only so many Heinlein juveniles. I would encourage all the writers here to fill that niche, if possible. If you already have, please point me in the right direction.

    1. While not SF, Andrew Klavan has written an excellent thriller series, The Homelanders, starting with The Last Thing I Remember continuing in The Long Way Home, The Truth of the Matter and concluding in The Final Hour.

      It is an excellent series addressing such issues as what is truth, what are our values and how do we live up to them under pressure.

    2. Cedar Sanderson’s work, while not all YA has nothing in it you can’t read in front of your mother,children,or pastor. Good stories too. Discalimer, UI am marrying her at Libertycon so my judgement is biased

      1. I recently read Cedar’s Pixie for Hire series and it is great, and YA suitable. Same for Christopher Nuttall’s Schooled in Magic series. Those, I decided I must be reading a YA series anyway, but they are so good any adult will enjoy.

        1. Pixie for Hire isn’t YA, Cedar simply believes that everything doesn’t have to be about sex, nor does cursing require the profanities be printed. Think of it as a throwback to a less vulgar style of writing. after all the P.I.s in the old Noir books seldom used profanity “on screen”

        2. Cedar’s Pixie for Hire series

          I’m actually reading this to my daughter in installments as bedtime stories. (Well, not right now because I’m traveling on business, but when I’m home.)

      2. Responding to sandfordbegley: I knew a guy who found a book (The Pearl) at an airport, and read it carefully, only partially opened, sitting next to a minister. It’s a compilation of issues of a Victorian porn magazine.

        1. I read that, interesting from two perspectives. 1 it was my introduction to the fact that Victorians were not how they are depicted today. 2 The different language and descriptive terms were fascinating

        2. One of the long-standing problems of SF has been that the covers are often not what you want to be seen reading in a public place.

          C’mon — you know that’s true. Too many mundanes, too many gratuitous interruptions.

    3. Pam Uphoff’s writing as Zoey Ivers.

      I’ve bought three copies of this book, because my sons say their friends also need it. It’s excellent for pre-teens (mine are ten and twelve), and suits “I want big adventures and people doing stuff that really matters and no icky romance stuff.”

      1. This reminds me that Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell series comes about as highly recommended as an old coot like me can offer today’s kids. If nothing else, once they get started in on reading it they won’t be getting on my lawn.

        The trilogy is available in an omnibus edition but if buying thie for kids I strongly advise paying the extra for the individual books. Two reasons: 1) a single volume is more reader-friendly for small hands and less intimidating to the kid who isn’t sure he (she, it, whatever) wants to tackle so thick a tome and 2) you can hold back the later volumes as bribes encouragement to do various household chores, like cleaning up his (yadda-yadda) room, washing the car, mowing the lawn, vacuuming the cat or filling that hole in the backyard that is never going to reach China.

    4. You could try my latest, Jinxers 😀 No sex, no environmentalism, just kids having fun and adventures.

      1. Your Sequoyah trilogy may not be specifically YA, but it is totally acceptable for all age readers also. Actually I would say all of your books except your one short story, Coyote and the Amazing Herbal Formula would be all age appropriate.

        1. Thanks! I would hold off on Last Mage Guardian until a certain age… there is a “mature situation” that drives some of the plot. No on-screen sex, though. It might prove a springboard for discussion of responsibility and consent for young teens, but younger children would not necessarily understand.

        1. Oh, heavens, yes. My younger kid read the first three at 12. In a day. Then rea-read them three time s over the rest of the week.It’s still a favorite of ALL of us.

    5. What age range? Phil Stong wrote a bunch of good childrens’ books, the best of which is THE ADVENTURES OF HORSE BARNESBY (young ’49 er).

      Arthur Ransom’s SWALLOWS AND AMAZONS books aren’t SF either, but very good (if a little dated) adventure stories, with adventure that kids could pretty much actually have (a couple of the later books violated this. Oh, well).

      W. E. Butterworth wrote a slew of boys sportscar stories (some of which are published under multiple names and titles, so check). That’s W. E. B. Griffin, but writing for the juvie market. The Butterworth name is also used on a bunh of MASH books that Richard Hooker wrote to cash in on/take the piss out of the TV series. They AREN’T juvies.

      Anybody remember THE MAD SCIENTISTS’ CLUB?

      On juvie SF, I have no great suggestions other than (of course) Heinlein. Well, maybe Piper.

      1. I was hooked on The Boxcar Children for a while– got me into cooking, too. The mindset is very compatable with human wave. “This is our problem. This is our set of standards. This is what we are going to do about it.”

      2. As soon as they are ready for chapter books, on up. For example, from Janet Asimov’s Norby to Sylvia Engdahl’s Enchantress from the Stars. To narrow it down somewhat, with a focus on books that promote some concept of liberty. Whether dealing with slavery, totalitarianism, confronting fear, etc.

        1. A couple years ago we made Eldest, so he would’ve been ten, read the anthology “The World Turned Upside Down” and rate the stories in it as either “More by same” or “No way”. I don’t remember which stories by title he liked, I do remember he disliked The Cold Equations–which is one I agree with him on. (He liked the Asimov one about the computer becoming God and the other one about the computer becoming God, the former benevolent and the latter malevolent.)
          The librarians had to go digging around for some of what he wanted and I think gave up trying on a couple authors. I need to drag out Laumer, he’d probably like Retief now.
          There have been quotes from Hitchhiker’s Guide floating around, so I think he read that on the down low.

          1. Try him on Christoffer Stasheff’s Warlock Series. Very right for that age, good for ya’ll too if you haven’t read it yet

    6. Mackey Chandler’s April series, I highly recommend it for adults as well as juvies. The only reservation I would warn you about is that at second or third reading I started to be bothered by some of the underlying anti-Christian bias (I’m sure it was subconscious and not inserted intentionally by Mackey) that I started noticing. Sandra Leone’s Jackal Chronicles have some sexual innuendo (and I believe some cursing, it has been a while since I read them) but it will probably go over the younger ones heads, and as a PG-13 rating they are good stories.
      Also Burroughs while not explicitly YA is basically so, and acceptable for all ages.

    7. With apologies to Leslie Bricusse:

      There are so many books to remember,
      As you ponder the great reads of life,
      Like collections of some funny poems
      Or, adventurous tomes about strife.

    8. Anything by H. Beam Piper will do you just fine.
      Well. Um. Some of the Paratime stories you might want to skip.
      But he wrote good stuff–lots of ideas, lots of action, precious little bludgeoning.

      1. Some of George O. Smith would work too. Venus Equilateral is kid friendly, some of the others not so much. Of course, Dean Ing has a lot of stuff that works. (you all knew it was coming)

    9. Some oldies that I grew up with:

      James Schmitz. Baen’s even helpfully reprinted his works, so you can order copies without having to ferret out used works. He was truly a writer ahead of his time; when I was reading him in the late 80s, I was shocked to find out his books had been written twenty or more years earlier. He was *that* aware of the tropes. And he loved to play with them.

      Zenna Henderson. She’s a bit harder, since her stuff is out of print, but Amazon has a lot of it available.

      The Harper Hall trilogy by Anne McCaffrey as a gentle introduction to Pern. Misty Lackey, of course. Lois McMaster Bujold, Connie Willis, Robin McKinley (especially The Blue Sword and The Hero and the Crown.) And Steven Brust tells a mighty fine story. (Yes, I know. He *still* tells a mighty fine story.)

      Heck, The Belgariad is a classic introduction to epic fantasy, and pretty fun. David Eddings did go over the same ground a bit much in later series but that one still holds up as comfort reading to me.

      Watership Down. My favorite book when I was eight years old and still on my shelf. I was… shall we say… a bit odd in my reading choices even then.

      I can’t help much with more recent stuff because as an adult, I’ve become desensitized to the presence of sexual themes in books, so most of the stuff I’ve fallen in love with in recent years is a bit much. I will suggest, to anyone who wants, that I’ve wondered if you could snag Twilight readers with C.S. Friedman’s Coldfire trilogy (Black Sun Rising being the first one.) It’s got the incredibly handsome and dangerous secondary protagonist, and would seem to strike a good balance…

    10. These are pretty old books for the most part, but you miiiiiiiight want to look into Christopher Stasheff’s Warlock books, in which the hero finds a lost colony heavily populated by psychics. Due to being founded by SCA refugees, they’re medieval in flavor, so said psychics are warlocks and witches rather than any sciencefictional terms. He marries a powerful local witch and has four kids, who proceed to have adventures as well. I read them as a young teen and adored them, except for being miffed that the only daughter never got to Adventure quite as adventurously as her brothers. Stasheff is-or-was a devout Catholic; there’s one sexual encounter in the first book that raised my adolescent hackles, but IIRC anything else is fade-to-black between married characters. He’s also written “A Wizard in Rhyme” with similar themes but a straight fantasy approach, though I’ve only read one or two of those.

      Ursula Vernon’s YA books are also good; she’s a fairly emphatic lefty but doesn’t force it into her fiction. The occasional environmental theme shows up, but it’s much more from the standpoint of “I have a biology degree and this is SO COOL”, not “evil Gaia-destroying humans”. Her main kids’ series is “Dragonbreath”, on a comfortable middle-school level, plus “Nine Goblins” and “Nurk” for slightly older. Illustrations are awesome, too. 😀

      I can recommend Holly Lisle’s “Minerva Wakes” as well, for older kids; there’s one almost-affair and some heavy one-sided flirtation, but the angst is of the “will the family get reunited” variety. There’s some moderately hair-raising bits involving elementary-age kids in Dire Peril. (Admittedly, I am recommending Holly Lisle all OVER the place these days. Have gotten addicted to “Tales from the Longview”, which is nice nailbiting space opera with a strong but not bludgeon-y conservative slant.)

      (I should mention that people who ask me for book recs generally regret it…. 🙂

    11. Email me at my work addy at kirstedw —at— kcls then add the “org”. This is what I do for a living. I vpcan’t hook your daughter up with amazing science fiction and fantasy both old and new that fits where she’s at: both in terms of the kind of story she enjoys and how much of the social sewer you’re/she’s willing to put up with. HTH

      1. Sorry. That should be “can hook”. Stupid old fingers and khreppetastic touch screen interface.

  21. It’s analogous to the days when VFW and American Legion Posts were not exactly receptive to returning Viet Nam veterans. It cost them.

    Science fiction and fantasy fandom, of course, are TOTES different. It doesn’t matter if the kids have no idea who Poul Anderson was, or even Isaac Asimov, as long as we have the right quota of angry womyn and transgendered whoevers with the prose sense of a bitter community college English professor writing revenge fantasies about their dinosaur lovers.

    I mean, honestly, how relevant is Keith Laumer’s Retief in an age of Marie Harf and Jen Psaki, who are enacting REAL “change”? How can Nicholas van Rijn be relevant if he never had gay sex with a willing minor? What can a roguish space merchant teach anyone about understanding and interacting with foreign cultures?

    A significant portion of contemporary fandom has driven away an entire generation of potential fans. Those lost fans did NOT reject the tropes and themes of science fiction; they embraced them in television, movies and games, even if they have no idea where they came from. Seriousy: do you think someone who plays Elite: Dangerous would not enjoy reading about the adventures of Commodore Grimes or Nicholas van Rijn?

    What those fans rejected was the hectoring, the self-righteousness, the pettiness. Why pay to go to a convention for that crap? They can get it for free from their teachers in high school.

    The audience didn’t shrink, it was fandom that got small, and it was shrunk deliberately.

    1. How can Nicholas van Rijn be relevant if he never had gay sex with a willing minor?

      Baron Harkonnen was repeatedly depicted as having such sexual preferences; does that mean Dune should have its Hugo revoked for being contributing to anti-gay stereotypes? Or does that mean anybody accepting a Hugo also accepts that element of the award’s heritage? Oughtn’t anybody supportive of positive homosexual images in fiction decline nomination for an award with such a hostile history?

      1. Please, don’t give the CHORFs ideas about retroactively revoking awards.

        1. Didst read Larry’s blog today? His reply to George Martin?

          Martin says:

          The prestige of the Hugo derives from its history. The worth of any award is determined in large part by the people who have won it. Would I love to win the Hugo for Best Novel some day? You’re damned right I would. But not because I need another rocket to gather dust on my mantle, as handsome as the Hugo trophies are. I want one because Robert A. Heinlein won four, because Roger Zelazny and Alfred Bester and Ursula K. Le Guin and Fritz Leiber and Walter M. Miller Jr and Isaac Asimov and Frederik Pohl and so many other giants have won the same award. That’s a club that any science fiction and fantasy writer should be thrilled to join

          What the CHORFs are trafficking in is stolen valor. As Larry noted, how many of those authors would even get nominated today (for that matter, think you RAH would even get published?)

          So, if they want to control the award make them own it, make them contort themselves to explain past recipients rather than just gloss over them.

          It ain’t as if this is the only prestigious award they would have tried to strip from past recipients. (Just the only one I can recall at the moment.)

    2. The same thing happened with many civilian fraternal organizations (Masons, Elks, etc.). Some of them wised up. Others are just waiting for the last person to die.

      1. I was told recently that before Medicare and general government pissing in the healthcare pool the Fraternal Orders were a big way for people to get insurance. Anybody know much about that? Seems like setting up social clubs to serve that purpose might be a way to deal with the fallout when the whole State Health Care thing implodes.

        1. Not only was it a way to get insurance it was also a way to do charitable organizations such as hospitals and hospices. The Feds took that away from them and many have died from it

          1. Duh. The Feds dislike competition. Verily is it written: Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

          2. I do believe the AMA frowned on the Fraternal Orders medical systems. See, we hired doctors for our lodge/chapter/whatever-we-called-ourselves for a flat annual salary. Which was, um, bad, or something, and wrong, and never mind that the doctor had, if not so high an income as some others, a solid, guaranteed income, which is maybe not a bad thing for a young doc, at least, without outlawing the practice the AMA could not get it to go away so lobby they did.

            I believe the Shriners are still paying for med school for young docs who are willing to sign a five year going rate contract for their specialty for their hospitals, or if it has changed since I was a teen, I haven’t heard, and I rather think I would.

        2. It’s how the Catholic Knights of Columbus got their start. Back in the days when the KKK and other groups wouldn’t deal with Catholics at all.

          1. Excuse me; I meant “the KKK and other groups pressured people to not deal with Catholics.” That’s a really weird potential interpretation otherwise.

              1. Heh. No, it’s that the KKK put Catholics somewhere below “pond scum” in their list of hates. People forget that Catholics used to be seen as subhuman in much of the U.S.

              2. Well, there was a strong anti-Catholic mindset that the KKK shared.

                On the other hand, there’s still a strong anti-Catholic mindset but held by the Left. [Wink]

              3. In the second iteration of the KKK foreigners and those believed to have foreign allegiances, including those of Asian and Eastern European lineage and Catholics were added to the list of non-desirables.

                From Wiki’s article Anti-Catholicism in the United States

                Anti-Catholicism was widespread in the 1920s; anti-Catholics, including the Ku Klux Klan, believed that Catholicism was incompatible with democracy and that parochial schools encouraged separatism and kept Catholics from becoming loyal Americans. The Catholics responded to such prejudices by repeatedly asserting their rights as American citizens and by arguing that they, not the nativists (anti-Catholics), were true patriots since they believed in the right to freedom of religion.

                Yet another reason to just love the era of Wilson and the progressives …

                1. Oooh, one of the things that contributed to this fad was utterly hilarious (in hindsight, to me): crypto-pr0n focused on convents and monasteries. In the early 19th century and into something like the 1870s, there was a bunch of “tell all” books stuffed with all sorts of salacious detail.

                  So there was a generation or two of “everybody knows” after the fad to contribute to all the silly anti-Catholic junk, in addition to Catholics being mildly exotic and mystic n’stuff.

    3. “What can a roguish space merchant teach anyone about understanding and interacting with foreign cultures?”

      More than some whiny piece of crap written by some academic who has never interacted with anyone outside their own urban leftist social circle.

      BTW, my comment below is in moderation because I misspelled my email address. Totally not an imposter. Honest.

  22. Now that I think on it, the entire notion of a “literary” SF con is contrary to the spirit of science fiction, a genre that was always supposed to be about embracing change and the future.

    Well, the future is here, and “literary” is only a part of it. It could be an important part, a germinant part as it has been for so many other media in the last century…or it can collapse into a black hole of self-congratulation, never to be seen again…

  23. Over Easter weekend I was at ConGlomeration in Louisville, and was talking with other dealers and with regular members about its shrinking attendance and its future. Of course the bad weather on Friday and the fire at the GE plant didn’t help, but the dealers’ room just felt *dead*.

    By contrast, in March we sold at Indiana Comic Con and ShutoCon (anime con in Lansing), and both of them were *busy*. At Indiana Comic Con we had friends helping and still couldn’t keep up with the flow of customers. And at both we brought in mid-four-figures sales, while we’re not even sure if we broke even at ConGlomeration.

    I’ve noticed that books simply do not sell at conventions, to the point I’m seriously considering phasing out our books. It’s frustrating to haul in thirty or forty boxes of books and sell only a handful of books. They don’t even sell well online, and there’s a real problem with people who buy a cheap reading copy and then complain about the condition, apparently hoping they can use the threat of bad feedback to coerce the seller into refunding the book without requiring it be returned. I got three of these in three months, and got in trouble with Amazon. Right now I’ve taken all my listings down because I can’t afford another of these people, and I’m trying to figure out what I want to do to unload our huge stock of books that don’t move, without taking a huge loss on them. But they’re occupying warehouse space where I could more productively store t-shirts or collectibles that have decent turnover (the tea sets and other Asian porcelains actually sell quite well).

    ConGlomeration is looking at moving to the same weekend as a big comic con we’re trying to get into, so much as we enjoy seeing our friends at ConGlomeration, we may well miss it next year in favor of the big comic con. They’re exhausting to do, but at least we make money.

    1. Comic con anime con whatever con. The literary cons need to start pushing those sort of tracks or give up. Well at least until SF can shake the PC Mavens from control and start writing fun books again

    2. Don’t kniw if it’s any use to you, but I’ve unloaded a bunch on PAPERBACK SWAP, and used the “credits” (they don’t swap 1for 1, but who cares?) on CD SWAP and DVD SWAP. Dealers aren’t supposed to troll for stock, but you could use it to defray your personal music and DVD expnses….

  24. This puts me in mind of the parent/grandparent who comes into the bookstore and says, “I’m trying to get my eleven year old to read.”
    My initial response, (which I do not say), is “If you’ve waited this long, it’s already too late.”
    Now, I realize that many people have not gotten onto the reading bandwagon until later in life, but a preteen is not the age to introduce reading. Their isn’t much available that isn’t, as was mentioned before “heavy handed on environmentalism and/or angst”.
    (The exception is the YA stuff from Shadow Mountain Publishing.)
    I just wish parents would stop expecting the schools to get there kids to read, because most of them won’t.
    (Considering the crap I was expected to read, it’s not surprising kids don’t like the written word. I think it’s a large part of why RPG video games have gotten bigger since the characters went from a written to a spoken format)

    1. Yeah. I send picture books to small cousins for the Christmas before their first birthdays.

      1. My tradITION is to send the A.A. Milne books, WIND IN THE WILLOWS (so the child gets exposed to the true quill before Disney poisons the well) and THE SPACE CHILD’S MOTHER GOOSE. My Lady likes to send THE CYBERIAD.

        Good for read-aloud. A little advanced, maybe, but they won’t bore the parents to death.

        Ogden Nash’s THE ANIMAL GARDEN is good too. I hope to hell nobody has published it without the Hillary Knight illustrations.

        Do you know, several editions of WIND IN THE WILLOWS exist that have illustrations that are NEITHER the Sheppard nor the Rakham? Why?!?!?

        1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There, are two books I would never do without. (I have a decided attachment to the original Tenniel illustrations.)

          I liked Swiss Family Robinson, I would pretend that I was in the adventures. I read the entire Laura Ingalls Wilder series many times.

          When I first discovered the Narnia Chronicles, I read one a day, which is no mean feat for a dyslexic (BTW: in the original order, please).

          When I discovered mysteries I loved Sherlock Holmes. (Stephanie Osbourn has done a fair job of extending the character in her Displaced Detective series. They are, well, different and not exactly for the young.)

          The Spouse turned me on to the delights of the Heinlein juveniles, Rascal, The Princess and the Goblin and The Princess and Curdie.

          The Daughter introduced the family to Diana Wynne Jones when she found Carol Oneir’s Hundredth Dream A family favorite is Archer’s Goon. And she and a friend recommended The Swallows and the Amazons.

          1. I started reading Through the Looking Glass to my kids… I don’t remember how many pages I read before I shut the book and declared myself Done.

            1. Sorry. Alice is not easy to read aloud if you are not very familiar with it. The language is used differently in the writing from how we use it today, the rhythms are not the same.

              If you have a chance and can find it Cyril Richard did a lovely reading of the two Alice books. I still have the vinyl LPs, although I presently have no way to play them. I would lie listening to them pretending to be all on a lazy afternoon even if I did have to keep getting up to change records.

              1. Let me just assert that it was not, in any way, that I couldn’t handle the archaic language or that I was unfamiliar with how it was used. If anything it was the archaic pacing that was the problem.

                It was the most amazing *slog* of anything I’ve tried to read.

                1. That was The Daughter’s complaint when she undertook to read Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables at twelve.

                  1. Les Miserables was one of those books I read because it was required. I can’t think of a single damn one of them that didn’t suck

        2. “Do you know, several editions of WIND IN THE WILLOWS exist that have illustrations that are NEITHER the Sheppard nor the Rakham? Why?!?!?”

          I’ve seen an edition of The Tale of Peter Rabbit that didn’t have the Beatrix Potter illustrations. That was worse.

          1. And the thing that baffles me is, all thre sets of illustrations we’re talking about here have to be in public domain, don’t they? Why pay extra for something not as good?

            I am reminded of the story of a group of people who were bent on publishing an anniversary (don’t know which) edition of ALICE IN WONDERLAND. They approached James Thurber to do new illustrations.,he told them he ha a better idea; keep the Tenniel illustrations and Thurber would re-write the text.

            1. More to the point, Beatrix Potter wrote the book, why wouldn’t they keep her illustrations? It’s splitting off half of the creation for some weird reason.

              1. I think it’s a case of some middle management twit needing to piss on a project so it smells like him. My Father actually had to deal with that over one of his books, a scholarly volume on history of science. The editor in question had been hired from the midstream publishing industry and had to be taken aside and told rather forcefully that one does not alter factual content of a scholar’s work, unless one wants to have one’s plums ripped off.

    2. Their isn’t much available that isn’t, as was mentioned before “heavy handed on environmentalism and/or angst”.

      I was reading adult books mostly by 6th or 7th grade (I distinctly remember trading michael crighton and john grisham books and yes I realize this dates me!), but there are so many YA books now that kids can read. It’s really amazing. I don’t think they’re all preachy and angsty (although lots of kids like angst).

      But I do agree reading has to start earlier. I’ve been buying my nephew comic book stuff because he loves it. I don’t care what he’s reading at this age as long as he’s reading something.

      1. Back in the day, there were tons of SF/F that would be considered Adult stories, but only because of their POV characters mostly being adults, and perhaps the plot being more involved, which didn’t have themes you would worry about your children reading, nor scenes such as battle or “relatioship” scenes described in the sort of detail that would be worrying, either.

        Now, there are many YA books that some people would be wary of letting their older teenagers read.

          1. Did they ever say “Chrestomanci, Chrestomanci, Chrestomanci” to see if he showed up?

            Hum, I guess “saying it” by writing doesn’t summon him. [Wink]

              1. Because they knew he won’t come or because they were afraid that he would? [Evil Grin]

          2. Gotta tell folks that Howl’s Moving Castle has pretty much nothing to do with the movie, and have them go from there.

            Teen-ish folks already know about angst, what they need is a path THROUGH it….

              1. It is worth noting that the film is essentially a combination of the first two books of the Howl trilogy (at least, so I recall.)

                Howl only knows why — there was ample material in those two books for three movies.

                1. It was the story old man Miyazaki wanted to tell? I’m willing to give him a look any time, environmental messages and all. Don’t think I’ve ever seen an animated that touches SPIRITED AWAY for pure joy.

                  1. See Big Hero 6.

                    Or The Incredibles which manages to do for every Bond-ish slash superheroes movie what Galaxy Quest does for Trek.

                  2. Note that the author watched the movie and was delighted. She basically said that it wasn’t her story but she loved it as its own thing.

                  3. I do wish someone had gotten Miyazaki the rights to The Swallows and the Amazons, which he had expressed interest in doing. I imagine that an adaption by him would have been breathtakingly beautiful.

        1. Since they switched things so that “young adult” is the age of the characters, there’s a sizable portion that I’d be uncomfortable with me reading!

      2. Which reminds me …

        As Sarah discussed recently, you really can’t go wrong with the Barks and Gottfredson work at Disney, and Don Rosa (as well as others whose names escape me) did some outstanding work as well. There was an effort a couple decades back to reprint all the Disney comics in very nice graphic novel formatting … a quick check of Amazon indicates these are still available (and many of them at reasonable prices for an item first published at $9.95) if you search for “gladstone comic album series” you will find a number of these 48 page delights available for prices ranging $0.90 to you wouldn’t believe it, but generally they’re in the four to ten dollar range. Fantagraphics is apparently re-issuing these in 240 page hardbound collections running about $20 each.

        There is a wealth of other classic comic strips that have withstood the tests of time. Calvin & Hobbes comes first to mind as a book rewarding to both young and old and which will grow in enjoyment as the reader matures. Crockett Johnson (creator of Harold and the Purple Crayon) created a comic strip called Barnaby, relaying the adventures of 5-year-old Barnaby Baxter and his fairy godfather Jackeen J. O’Malley in a comic which will delight. I also recommend any of the earlier Peanuts collections for a charm and simple satisfaction which became less common as the strip grew in popularity.

        A personal favorite is Elsie Segar’s Thimble theatre, which introduced Popeye, but I suspect the relative crudity of the art makes this a peculiar pleasure. Milt Caniff’s work in Terry & the Pirates stands up very well over time and is rollicking good adventure. For similar works that were created as graphic novels do not miss Asterix nor Tintin. The pacing and artistic quality of Prince Valiant probably require a somewhat more advanced reader to appreciate but may work well for the particular child.

        Larry Gonick has produced an excellent series of Cartoon Histories which may require a little parental supervision — I don’t recall anything too problematic but am notably indifferent to such elements as the Daughtorial Unit was both voracious and largely lacking in prurient interest.

        Moving out of the illustrated works, there are well-regarded classics, such as the Baum books (Oz and others), Lewis’s Narnia, MacDonald’s Princess & Curdy (which may be challenging for very young readers), E. Nesbitt (especially Five Children & It), Rowling’s Potter books, mot near anything by Lloyd Alexander, Susan Cooper’s Darkness Rising books, Diana Wynne Jones (start with the Chrestomanci tales), Patricia Wrede, Jane Yolen, Patricia McKillip … gosh, more people than I can shake a bookmark at and plenty I’ve overlooked.

        Sterling North’s Rascal, the Little House books, Cheaper By the Dozen, even The Glory of Their Times (for the budding baseball fan) offer glorious looks back at an earlier America. (BTW – that last reminds me: the budding sports fan should be given John R. Tunis’ Kid From Tomkinsville series, the various Chip Hilton books by Clair Bee* and sportswriter Mike Lupica has a pretty good series of YA novels centered around sports.) Any time you can tie-in a kid’s interests with reading you get a step up, so be alert for such items at the book store.

        * “Clair Bee (1896-1983) was a hugely successful basketball coach at Rider College and Long Island University with a 412 and 87 record before his career was derailed in 1951 by a point-shaving scandal. In the trial that sent his star player, Sherman White, to prison, the judge excoriated Bee for creating a morally lax culture that contributed to his players’ involvement with gambling.

        “To a certain extent, Bee agreed with the judge’s scolding, concluding that coaches, himself included, had become so driven to succeed on the court that they had lost sight of the educational role sports should play. His coaching career effectively over, Bee launched an effort to reform the ills he saw in college sports, and he did so in the pages of the Chip Hilton novels for young readers.”

        1. Disneys are very good because the plots are involved, the language decent, but the reading is relatively easy. I’ve found it’s a great access drug to bigger and better books.

        2. “Larry Gonick has produced an excellent series of Cartoon Histories which may require a little parental supervision ”

          they aren’t accurate. I mean, he summarizes St. Augustine’s Confessions in four panels and tells five flat-out lies.

            1. Wow, who needs to make up slang when one can mine the Meltingpot… ❤ yiddish. (and the internet, so I can find out what things mean)

        3. Patricia Wrede’s Enchanted Forest novels will be out in e-format in (IIRC) September.

          Mind you, in the last published one she has an infuriating critic that may go over the head of the kids.

          I once asked her if she had a particular critic in mind but she said that she didn’t have any particular person in mind. [Smile]

          1. Oh dear – we gave the Daughtorial Unit a copy of Uncle Shelby’s ABZ Book,

            Which reminds: Where the Sidewalk Ends, all Kipling poems, any Robert W. Service and if possible find it in audiobook form to teach proper rhythm and meter.

            1. Or read them aloud yourself.

              iiiiiiiiff you have a decent delivery style. I’ve heard books read out loud by someone with no sense of delivery. Serviceable, but I’m a theatre junkie by choice and can do it well.

              1. I have already admitted to watching Book TV on C-Span 2 when we had it. Poetry Reading For Children from January 25, 2005 was one we recorded and watched more than once.

                Joseph Bottom’s readings were a particular delightful surprise.


              2. That’s me. I can’t do read-alouds. Anything I’ve got memorized is fine, though. My kids know ‘The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere’ really well because I can ‘read’ that without my eyes getting a page ahead of my mouth.

    3. When I was about 3 years old, my mother was reading to me, and I complained that she was reading too slowly. In frustration, she handed me the book and said “fine, YOU read it”…and I did. Real frustration, or sneaky strategy? I dunno…the way she still tells the story, I think mostly the former. But either way, I was hooked.

      And it was a good thing, too…12 years of exposure to public school English teachers would be enough to turn _anyone_ off reading for life, if they weren’t already totally addicted by the time the schools got their hooks into them.

    4. Not true! Unless the the yard ape is reading way bespoke grade level, we can hook them into reading. Send them ’round to your local librarian, and you’ll have them back as customers in three years, tops!

      It took me untill my sister was nearly 20 to find the book that got her onto reading! Don’t give up! 11 is not too late!

  25. I sell books as well as a part-time job, but strictly online and strictly on eBay; I no longer sell on Amazon because I had the same problem you had with people using feedback threats as a way of intimidation.. At least on eBay I can put such buyers on a “do not sell to” list, and now it hasn’t been much of a problem (only one in the last year).

    I also concentrate on certain areas and forget everything else. Book series’, for instance, tend to attract collectors interested in that particular series. And if they don’t sell after a certain amount of time (usually 2 yrs), off to Half Price Books they go, no exceptions., Its important to have a mechanism of getting rid of the deadwood.

    1. Funny, our online books don’t suffer from intimidation, but we do have people that will intentionally damage a book and send it back wanting a refund.
      And we only bother to post expensive books in the first place, so it can be a major loss.

      1. er. I got that sort of when I was selling prior to move. Someone told me the book had arrived in horrible condition, clearly I lied about “like new.” He wanted a refund now. I said, sure, send me a picture first, though and then return it. Got back “Uh… later.” or something like that, and then NOTHING.

        1. *Is boggled*
          I need to buy books from all of you, apparently. I got a text book off of Amazon, Saxon Algebra 1, which was ‘good’, and when it arrived, turned out some kid had scribbled over the geometry pictures in pen. Pen! So I figured that for less than $30 well, I’d got a good enough book but I’d make a note that in the future that seller doesn’t think ‘good’ means what I think it means. I would’ve said pen in a math book in such a way you really can’t read the problems is poor shape, not good.
          Penciled notes, I can see listed as good. Not pristine, but good, you know? Just takes a few minutes with an eraser to get it ready for use again. Heck, a missing cover would render it more useful than pen on the problems!
          I still didn’t complain to Amazon about it. I paid less than half the new price for the book, after all.

            1. Yeah, I personally post most of our online books, and I’m as honest and straightforward as I can be. I will mention every little flaw, and won’t even bother posting a book that’s in actual Bad shape.
              It;’s how I know the books returned for damage is a crock.
              But what can you do? We sell through Amazon, who doesn’t let you block a customer.

        2. We’ve started getting similar refund demands at the bookstore. And when I need to list a book for Trillion.books that has six or so competing copies on line, the condition of most or all of the others says “good” and “May have writing and highlighting, may be without dustjacket or CD or DVD or map or poster or whatever may have been included with the book originally.” That same spiel on every book they sell.

  26. Williamson’s website drives me nuts because I WILL NOT USE FACEBOOK and it keeps demanding I log in on FB to comment. So on the off chance Lisa Evans reads or lurks here:

    Lisa Evans: The idea that the foundation of science fiction is anti-fascist is just silly. Many of the founding names of science fiction were barking commies in their youth; for reference on this see Damon Knight’s “The Futurians”, Fred Pohl’s “The Way the Future Was” and Charlie Platt’s two volumes of interviews with SF and fantasy authors “The Dream Makers”. Fascism and communism did not part their ways until the Great Falling Out Among Thieves between Hitler and Stalin in WWII.

    Even without that, a reading of the fiction of the period would make that clear. Although John Clute mistakenly describes it as “fascist”, look at E.E. Smith’s seminal Lensman series, which is statist, technocratic and frankly eugenicist to its core.

    When you talk about how silly the old school writers were to complain about Harlan Ellison, et al, and their self-appointed New Wave, well…on the subject of “literary” science fiction. Show of hands. When was the last time anyone felt an urge to go back and read “Dhalgren”? Or “A World Between.” When was the last time anyone asked themselves what Elric of Melniboné or Jerry Cornelius was up to these days?

    “Literary” science fiction, like “literary” mainstream fiction, is a parlor trick of its time. It’s a stunt by a small clique to get themselves an in, not unlike John Scalzi’s own ballot-packing. It’s fine until someone else claims the same privilege.

    1. Create a Nom De Guerre on Facebook and only use it to comment.

      Fq the rules.

      1. You know, people talk about that rule, but there are over half a billion people on Facebook. I’d bet they only worry about enforcing it if someone complains about someone who is obviously using a false name.

        1. I had a Seth suddenly turn up in my feed, and was confused until I remembered that my friend [pseudonym] had a “real” name that NOBODY USED IN HIS LIFE. But Facebook apparently thought that was no good, so now I have a Seth in my feed whose real name is [pseudonym]. I also have a friend whose real last name is not accepted by Facebook as being his last name, so he had to go by something else.

          It does happen, and not always with complaints.

          1. Ooh — I knew a guy named Sued O. Nym back in the day. He married a lovely Cambodian girl named Pho. Lovely couple.

            Hey! Does that one have bells on it?????

  27. I have posted this elsewhere, but it bears repeating here:

    Last month I attended a presentation by J.A Jance, a writer of murder
    mysteries. She recounted that after she had several published and
    successful books, she called the local University and offered her services
    as a writer-in-residence for their creative writing program. She got the
    response “Oh. We only do literary fiction here. We don’t do genre
    fiction.” [Boom. The villain in her next murder mystery was a professor of
    creative writing]. I have seen a similar complaint uttered by various
    other authors of Science Fiction. These claim that academia is dominated by
    cognoscenti who utterly disdain genre fiction: SF, Fantasy, romance,
    mystery, etc. I tasted a bit of that attitude myself when I attempted a
    class in creative writing. As one audience member put it, the type of
    literary fiction esteemed in academia is stuff in which nothing much
    happens to characters you don’t like anyway. It also doesn’t sell.

    There are those (including myself) who believe that SF&F has been infected
    by the same type of attitude. Over the past 20 years or so, the segment of
    fandom that votes on the Hugo awards has become increasingly elitist and
    favors works that are socially edgy, bleak and dystopian, weak on
    story-telling merit, or otherwise unpalatable to a large segment of fans. I
    have seen multiple claims by casual readers of SF that the declining
    general appeal of Hugo award winners has driven them away from the field.

    I might add, with respect to cons, if the prejudices of the trufen lead them to, for instance, schedule speakers and panels that ignores, or even worse, is openly disdainful of the popular SF that the younger generation knows and likes, then certainly the wrongfen won’t have much fun and will stay away in droves.

    1. But of course they are headed Literary. That is the mark of Social Status among their peers.

  28. ” I’m a couple weeks shy of 57 so that tells you something right there.”

    I’m over twenty years younger than you, and I have trouble picking up college chicks, so you have no room to complain. 😉

    1. Who was complaining, I was simply demonstrating that I wasn’t some kid who saw a wrinkle and thought ancient. And college chicks are easy, too dumb to know a line when they hear it. The younger ones I mean. Problem is, getting them to leave when you are done with them

      1. I realixed I was a case of early onset geezerhood when, in my late thirties, I was working in a mall and realized that my reaction to the nubile teenboppers rippling past was “Yeah. But they’d want to talk afterwards, and they have nothing to say.”

        1. I thought it would have been the problem of getting their diapers back on. [Running As If Heck Was After Me]

          1. No diapers on those firm butts. Lots of writing, though. Sweetie, if you don’t want me to stare at it, don’t print on it, kay? That goes doible for your mamiform development. I’ve had a girl (I won’t call the little twit a woman, she wasn’t an adult, by any measure but years) berate me for reading her chest. She had HAMLET’S SOLILOQUY printed on her shirt!

            1. I once deliberately printed a T-shirt that had a comic about looking at chests printed so that the comic went right across my chest. It was pretty hilarious to see the stammering apologies from guys who suddenly realized they were staring at my chest, but I told them that’s what the joke was.

              1. At least you GET it! These days I just ask “Can I read your shirt?” (Buttons,,whatever). Most people are a little startled to be reminded they turned themselves into billboards.

                1. That was also the convention that I brought fabric pens and had authors sign my shirts. I hadn’t realized how oddly most of the male authors would take it—the female authors all reacted the way I’d expected, which was “Cool! We’re rock stars now!” but the men all seemed to be scared of touching my back. (One even said, “This is the most erotic thing I’ve ever done at a con.” Oh-kay…)

                  1. Men’s sexuality is very primal. It can be triggered by visuals, by touch, and certainly by smell. We try to keep it in check, and have mixed success. Not a lot we can really do about it. Women aren’t as hard triggered, according to my reading. Makes sense; they’re going to have to live with the consequences, their brains ought to be working.

                    So, entering your personal space, close enough to catch your scent, and touching you long enough to sing your person (even on a shirt)? Pretty sensual, to a guy.

                    Have pity on us. We try to be good.

  29. In retrospect, “New Wave” was an attempt to hijack an existing audience that the purveyors couldn’t naturally attract by pressuring them into buying stuff they claimed was more respectable. Instead, the audience shrank away. The PC/SJW crowd is analogous, I think, but more deadly.

  30. I actually didn’t become a regular con-goer until the late ’90s early ’00s.

    There’s a con called RadCon in the Pasco/Tri-Cities part of Washington state. About 2000 attendees each year, constant influx of new younguns… Been going on for about two decades now.

    My real aging fun moment is going to anime cons and trying to figure out what percentage of the folks there weren’t born when I went to A-Kon III in ’92…

  31. I find it strange that the left keeps telling us SF/F has no women writers. You just recommended 11 writers. i believe 3 of them are male, but women are under represented in the field

    1. The richest, most successful authors in spec fic are all women. Rowling. Meyer. Collins. Oh, but, their spec fic doesn’t count, and men just dominate the spec fic that isn’t as popular.

      Rolls eyes.

  32. Late on this, on a real computer with a real keyboard so hopefully no more bandages…

    It seems to me that Bubonicon has a lot of younger people attending. I know that a lot of my volunteers were young. A lot were old, too, but a lot were young. There seems to be a pretty active core of young teenagers to mid-twenties who are very much into costumes, some anime types but also steam punk is big. Often enough I’ll see the same people in both on alternate days. I tend not to go to the costume contest, but there seems to be a lot of entries. The last few years we’ve had one longish block of children’s programming (crafts, generally). Sometimes there will be something crafty for kids in the art room. Gaming, of a table top type, seems to be growing fast and the kids hang out there. This is not something I understand, I’m just reporting, but the local DM’s and board gamers have had to get expanded floor space and have been moved up front a bit. And that’s where my teenagers end up if I actually pay their way.

    There are Comic-Cons in town that are enormous, even after just three years and Bubonicon isn’t all that big, last year was small for reasons, but I’d put average paid memberships at 800ish and inching up… enough so that we had to move hotels again. The Stormtroopers and the Browncoats show up. I don’t remember any furries a few years ago, but now I see them. The local Comic Guild (yes, ABQ has an organized Comic artist Guild) is always there. So is Q-labs, (“Maker” community type thing) or at least the members that overlap with sci-fi. There’s fan programming slots for those groups if they want to host something.

    Formal programming is limited to three tracks, but often there are just two. I’m not involved in that decision at all, but I’ll say that I think it’s a good one. It’s hard to arrange interesting panels and people still get choices but it’s not diluted and the rooms are big enough.

    Oh, also new… paranormal romance panels. Well attended.

    The thing of it is… again, sure, I’ve been on the ConCom, this year I’m just “staff” because my friend is heading up Gofers and I switched to “assistant”… I’ve never been the one making decisions or deciding how things should go related to programming or operations but *my impression* is that the chairs rule with a soft hand… if someone *wants* something they’re likely to get a fan programming slot and told to do it themselves. Someone *wants* to do children’s programming so it’s not “we’ve got to have this who can be forced to do it”. The young people get to cosplay and have a costuming workshop (been talk about seeing if the local film industry related costuming guild (yes, Albuquerque has an organized costuming guild) might want to be involved, but I haven’t heard anything more about that.) The table top and board gaming and artists demos… someone has been doing a mini painting demo last few years… they get space and are told “tell Julie if you need Gofers”.

    Maybe there’s something about Albuquerque that means we get more young people (old people too) but my theory is that when someone is excited about something they think of neat things to do to share that interest and if they’re told “Okay, do that.” there is always going to be something fun to do for everyone. The Storm Troopers did some game with the kids last year… the only reason I knew about it at all was because I saw kids running around giving notes to Storm Troopers. And someone always does a Zombie game. A bunch of the authors put on a fancy hats and gloves “tea” with fancy tea and scones and a prize for the best hat and glove combo every year. The game guys are almost entirely independent. And I think that might be the key… let different people bring what they like to the party… they’ll probably bring their kids, too.

    1. I agree with Synova. Bubonicon is my “home” con, and It has a younger feel than what Sanford describes. Granted 1) there’s a lot of non-lit tracks, 2) you have the U of NM kinda close (in same city) and 3) the heavy support from the Star Wars and other action groups probably helps bunches. And, well, there’s a reason to call the city Quirky ‘Burque [pronounced “quirky birky”]. 🙂 It’s starting to make the New Agers and greying hippies in Santa Fe and Taos look staid and square.

      1. *sigh*… it’s your home con. Woman! If you do not introduce yourself this year I’m going to find out where you live!

        1. I’m probably not going to be able to attend this year because of school duties, but if things change I’ll ping you.

  33. Mike Glyer has a bit up on this too, here:

    I’ll just steal my own comment from there, with a couple addendums:
    Very interesting, but a few points I think were under-examined:

    The world has 3 times the population it did when these clubs were formed. If membership has not grown apace, it follows that the clubs have only 1/3rd the appeal they did in their clubly youth. If interest was approximately steady in the population at large, active club participation should be around 3x what it was in the Olden Daze.

    Computer user gropes, er, groups, have the same issue: 1) an aging membership (the average age of members for those general PC user groups I’ve been associated with is, believe it or not, around 70!!) and 2) the fact that it’s no longer a distinct and identifiable phenomenon. Computers are now everywhere, ubiquitous as toasters, and as the president of our PCUG said of the problem of attracting new members (in the past decade we’ve shrunk from 50 regulars to fewer than 10) … “No one wants to join the toaster club.”

    Woodturner clubs are growing (somewhat propelled by the growing market for usable handcrafts), but there again the average age of membership is “Retired or older”. In our local group, I think there are only two members (out of about 65 people) who are under 60. [I lied; there’s three.]

    It seems to me that with all the opportunity for “belonging” afforded by the internet, there’s no longer that desire to belong to a local group that used to drive many of these specialty-function clubs. When you can find like-minded people via internet the world over, there’s far less drive to find and join a local club, and that drive remains primarily the province of people whose social habits matured before the internet changed how we interact.

    Signed, a 60 year old, 24-year LASFS member now living in another state. [I lied, I’m a 31-year member.]

    I will add that the ever-increasing cost/fun ratio has made congoing seem like a poor use of my limited funds. Also, I’ve found I really don’t enjoy the big cons. More than about 1000 attendees and it’s like being lost in the sea; I can’t even =find= my friends, let alone figure out what I want to do. I’d like to see more small, inexpensive, *local* cons, but the current cost of renting a facility probably nixes that pretty much everywhere.

    1. I agree with you to some extent. However I do not agree with the idea that cons, which is the topic not clubs, are going away. Membership in mixed media cons is huge, witness Dragoncon or damn near any of the Comicons. Literary cons are where any issue is. Yes clubs are dying, or rather being replaced by informal on-line groups, some not so informal. Parties, which is how cons are reacted to emotionally, are not readily replaced by the net.

      1. Yeah, that’s what I meant to refer to, the greyhair, er, I mean literary cons that came before media cons. (You remember when Creation Cons were new and widely panned by literary-con folks, don’t you? Of course you do.) I suspect their viability as literary cons will parallel club viability. Whether they’ll survive and how they’ll change should a younger guard arise, that’s another question.

  34. Ok, another generic post on what is going on-

    Many of us turned to what people call ‘geek culture’ because our love for sci fi/fantasy/comics/role-playing games/etc made us outcasts among the ;mundanes’ and got us pushed out of the ‘normal’ social groups as far back as middle school.

    We moved into fan circles and did fannish things and kept our mouths shut about our political opinions, just like when we were talking to ‘mundanes’ we had to not talk sci-fi.

    Now we’re being shunned and pushed out of fannish circles just like most of the people in the fannish circles got pushed out of ‘mundane’ circles. Even George R.R. Martin is telling us we should just do our own thing and not dare mess with the Hugo.

    Nuh uh. Sorry. They told us at the door that fandom was ‘inclusive’ and now they want us to get out after they took our money for 20 years.

    Ask me again why i don’t go to any SF litcons- when people shrink away from me when i say i was in the Army and think it was a positive experience despite messing up my legs permanently. God forbid I let slip that i own firearms…

    It also why I’ve left behind many fandom groups i was in, besides the awkward semi-pro space i am in. One mailing list for a local SF group, several people had kittens when my roomate proposed a range trip. Lets just say its astonishing how many ‘Firelfy fans’ act more like fine upstanding Alliance citizens than the Browncoats they claim to be.

    1. If you are on Fail Book look up the group Sarah’s diner. Ask for admittance letting the mods know who you are. Like minded folks. Yes it is an on-line group , but these days I’d rather hang out on the net than drag my sorry carcass down to the meeting spot anyway

    2. I am minded of my first experience with SF/F Fandom, upon attending a college with an SF Club. Having had friends in High School with whom I could freely share and discuss SF I was eager to find a ready-made group with whom I could continue to discuss my favorite genre.

      Upon attending the first (publicly announced) meeting of the year I entered the room, found myself doing a quick headcount and determining that the ratio of lives to people was not 1:1, turned about and left, having better ways to waste my time.

      It is my impression that it is those people who went on to become “TrueFen” and who are a big part of why I never attend more than a con or two a year, and those only close by. I will (and have) traveled what I consider absurd distances to see an author/friend but that is for the pleasure of seeing a friend, not attending a con. Most cons (and authors) … I might cross the street to attend but then again I might not.

    3. A lot of the clubs are also organized for the easiest use of the leadership– not the members. You’ve hit the political aspect, I’ll hit the timing aspect.

      If you want young members, you need to make sure they can actually show up. This means that, no matter if it’s a great price and really easy for all the officers to reach, 10:30 AM on a Tuesday at a place that won’t work for folks with children is not a good idea.

      If you can get kids to have some kind of an association– “It’s the second Thursday of the month, that means ____!”– then you’ve got a good chance of keeping them when they’re older. If you have that habit in young adults, and make it possible when they have kids, they’ll stick to it and you don’t have to try to win them back against all the things they’ve been doing in the meantime. Potluck is the easiest way to make it work, although just making it possible for families to bring a pizza will work, too.

      I’m getting rather annoyed with all the places that claim they want “young couples” to join, and whine about how their teen groups are empty, but don’t want to bother with making it possible for folks with small kids to even be involved.

      1. Oh, yes, this times a thousand. Or a million. And it’s everywhere. I’ve spent the last two years trying to hammer this point through older heads at Church. (We have two types of younger-than-sixty-five adults: working full time plus and home schooling. Meet at ten-thirty Thursday morning with no child care and you just excluded EVERYONE from your group, congratulations!)

        1. One church we went to my kids were one of the only bunch of kids for a while and the interim pastor asked if I’d be willing to work in the nursery. I don’t remember exactly how I explained it but I said that, if I was going to end up watching my kids it was much much easier to just do that at home. He hired a paid daycare worker, bless him.

          The old ladies tend to figure that they did their time, they should get to be done with it. They’ve got a point. But if they spent their Sundays in the nursery when they had little kids, that was wrong. And it’s wrong to expect young parents to do it now.

          When the kids were little and I was under a lot of stress there was more that one time that I loaded us all up and got halfway to church before having a complete mental breakdown and turning around and going home again because I KNEW that when I brought my kids to the nursery someone would ask me if I was willing to help out there. I was not *capable* of facing that particular social interaction. Instead of facing the trial of having to say “no” to a social expectation, where I’d start to wonder if I was being judged for it, I stayed home instead of attending services where I might have received some grace and strength.

          One church we attended had home bible studies. Four groups. The groups rotated to the church one bible study day a month to watch kids so that everyone could drop their kids off there before going for adult spiritual growth time. It was wonderful.

          1. If you’re in the nursery, what’s the point of being at church?

            We’ve got a crying room, but that’s an “if the kids are out of control” option. (and it worked much better when the speakers in there weren’t broken, so you could actually hear the Mass)

      2. We once formed a writers’ group — a friend and I — because all the groups in our age had things like “we go out to dinner afterwards.” Young couples (Well, we were) with kids could afford neither going out to eat every week, nor even babysitting every week. So we started our own group and the kids played in the back room, in our houses, while we met in front. ONE babysitter, and that not even needed as the kids got older.

        1. When my mom was a kid, it was Friday Bridge. Same thing– everybody brought their kids, everybody brought enough food for themselves, and there was usually at least one adult that was not interested enough in bridge (or a grandma was there) to keep the kids intact.

          I actually built my observation off of blood drives, of all things. The VFW in my dad’s home town made it so that it was fun to go with your parents when they donated, and they worked with other clubs so that everyone could be involved. The main damage done was when health regulations made it so they had to stop offering a shot of whiskey when you were done, and I think they were “supposed” to make sure that kids couldn’t stand by mommy and daddy. (Which is horrible– my kids think that a blood draw is the coolest thing ever, in part because I’ve acted like it’s neat every time they’ve seen it.)

          Result? I’ve got an emotional investment in giving blood that can only be overcome by our area making it so you can’t give blood without a babysitter!

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