My First Con
Yesterday I braved Odyssey Con in the badlands outside of Heathrow. A strange landscape to traverse– part of it appears/disappears in The Desperate Ones. My partner who was good enough to accompany me said, “Don’t you want to change all the H’s to D’s so it reads Deathrow?” Yeah, kinda.
The venue was small, labyrinthine and much too hot. (What was with all the under-filled “water-interest” decor about the place? Those glass fish beached at the bar?) One is forced to realize, yet again, that some of fandom remain pretty divorced from their bodies and simple care thereof. But I digress. I was impressed with the cheerfulness of the volunteers and the packed dealers hall was full of book vendors. But what was most striking was how underrepresented women are in the selection, and women of colour in particular. There wasn’t s single copy of Octavia Butler or Nalo Hopkinson that I could see in the entire dealer hall. It was wonderful to browse old mass markets– their covers made me nostalgic for days when I curled up with Madeleine L’Engle or Piers Anthony and what respite reading gave me as a kid, particularly fantasy novels.
This was not my first con, though it felt as if it were. My first con was 26 years ago– GenCon 1983. At the time I was an avid D&D player (Elven Thief, Chaotic Good– not much has changed!) but found myself overwhelmed at GenCon and totally out of place as an overdeveloped little girl in a (suddenly!) woman’s body in a sea full of boys.
Not much has changed. Yesterday I was right back there– was it looking at all those loved books from the 80s? Was it that particular stale boy-scent that brought me back? Except this time I was going back as a writer, something my child self never would have imagined.
I probably should have gone to the Con today, as Saturday is costume day. I really go in for that carnavalesque aspect of fandom– admiring it from afar anyway. But one day was enough. As I knew no one there, I wandered, in Jeff Vandermeer’s words, “lonely as a cloud.” Highlights of the day included seeing two drag kings dressed as Captain Jack and Dr. Who (Tennant manifestation) and the robot baby dinosaur being raffled off. It purred & blinked when you scratched its chin.