I attended my first science fiction convention as a guest this weekend. Not my first con, but my first on the other side of the panel table. OryCon is the annual Portland convention, now in its 35th year. It brings together fans of the myriad interests lumped under ‘science fiction.’ So, you’ve got your klingons, your gamers, your costume makers, anime buffs, etc. I’ve attended about a dozen of these over the years, not with any particular focus, but simply as a reader of speculative fiction in general. It allowed me a chance to meet some of the authors of books I’ve enjoyed and to hear the authors discuss various topics at panels.
I was a trifle concerned about the transition from panel audience member to panel participant. But you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Essentially I merely engaged in discussions with a table of friendly, intelligent people concerning topics that interested me. That the discussion occurred in a room full of spectators who occasionally chimed in or tossed out a question threw a bit of wrinkle into it. But it was fun. Assuming the convention organizers invite me back next year – having failed to achieve a collective moment of clarity – I’d be happy to do it again.
I knew only a couple of people there. But by the time I returned home after the third day I’d met several people that I hope to see again next year. Writing is a solitary exercise. It is a pleasure to be able to discuss the process and the results with other writers or with engaged readers. I’m not the most gregarious sort normally, but hand me a bottle of beer in a room party and I open up like a steamed clam.
If you make it to OryCon 36 next November look me up.