I went to the World Fantasy Convention in Baltimore at the beginning of the month. Overall, I’d have to say that I was underwhelmed.
This convention is only for fantasy literature. There were no people in costume, games, or movie stars. I don’t typically get into that stuff, so I thought this would work well for me, but there actually wasn’t much programming compared to other conventions I’ve attended. This is one of those conventions where you’re supposed to mingle and meet industry insiders (Yeah, that’s where I excel).
I used the term fantasy literature intentionally because this convention reminded me of some of the writing conventions I’ve attended where people look down their noses at genre fiction writers. Of course, this was a genre fiction writing convention, so I had a hard time figuring out what we were looking down our noses at until I realized we were looking down our noses at the history of our genre.
This really didn’t hit me until I sat in on “The Future of Fantasy” panel. This panel consisted of all women who basically stated that you should only read fantasy stories from women, persons of color, and other “underrepresented” groups. When a lady from the back of the audience spoke up and said she only cared if it is a quality story, she was quickly shut down. Apparently, the genre has been dominated by white men for too long.
I’m not disagreeing with the concept, but I’m a middle of the road kind of guy. Instead of swinging the pendulum all the way in the opposite direction, why not include everyone in the future of our genre? Fantasy is pretty main-stream in our culture compared to a couple of decades ago. I’m thinking there’s enough room for everyone who wants to write a quality story.
This did not seem to be the prevailing opinion. I’m assuming I won’t be in the running for any World Fantasy Awards, but that’s okay.
On a happy note, I did get to meet a writer friend who I’ve worked with over the internet in the past. Also, I sat in on the best reading ever—If you ever get a chance to hear Andy Duncan read one of his stories aloud, you will thoroughly enjoy it. Also, the art show was pretty cool.
All-in-all, I’m glad I went for the experience, but I won’t spend the money on this one again anytime soon.