Wednesday, October 08, 2008

My Fandom History: Part 1

This is the first part in an autobiographical series about my involvement in science fiction and fantasy fandom. Follow me down the rabbit hole, will you?

I don't know where my enjoyment of science fiction literature and films started, but come high school I was elbow deep in it. But it was a solitary hobby, as there was no obvious SF&F fandom community to be a part of. This was pre-internet and there was no dedicated comic book shop in my small town. I had heard of "conventions" were fans would gather, but these were far away in large cities, and were clearly for other people.

Fast-forward to the turn of the millennium. The internet made for all sorts of connections between fans, I had moved to the big city of Calgary, and the domestication of the dog continued unabated. I still heard of conventions, but they were still in other cities, where I would never travel. I thought a few fan message boards were enough to satiate my fandom needs, until I heard about ConVersion. Some friends had returned from the local convention, and it sounded like a lot of fun. I was shocked that such a thing existed in Calgary. Why had I not heard about it sooner? Why wasn't I at this event?

I waited the year for the next ConVersion to come around. Having no clue what these events were like, and having a wife that wasn't really that interested, I only attended the Saturday. We did the best we could for first timers. We looked through the art show, we attended a panel, was subjected to filk, walked through the dealers room, and watched the costume contest. This endeavour had two equal and opposite reactions.

1) Both my wife and I were underwhelmed by the offerings of the event
2) Having seen the costume contest, I wanted to participate in it

Seeing various costumers online was one thing, but seeing talented, educated adults make and present elaborate science fiction costumes was enough to make me want to come back. I figured part of our disappointment in the event steamed from the fact that we attended, observed, but didn't fully participate. Yes, we spoke up in the panel, but that was about all the interaction I can remember.

Through the meagre offerings, I could see that that there was fun to be had, if I reached for it. I knew NEXT year would be the big year. I would do more, see more, and participate more. As luck would have it the next year was not ConVersion, a local convention, but Westercon 58, a travelling regional convention.

This is the subject for the next instalment.

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