March 14th, 2013


my Lunacon 56 schedule

Here's my schedule for Lunacon 56 this weekend in Rye Brook, New York. EDITED TO ADD: A couple of adjustments have been made....

8.30-9.30pm: "The Biggest Mistakes New Authors Make" (Elijah Budd), w/Danielle Ackley-McPhail, D.L. Carter, Roy Mauritsen, Alex Shvartsman, and Hildy Silverman

11am-noon: autographing (Westchester Assembly), w/Esther M. Friesner and Carole Ann Moleti
2-3pm: "Yesterday is Tomorrow: Time Travel on Star Trek" (Elijah Budd), w/Paul Calhoun, Maria Daggett-Eskinazi, Russell Handelman, Theodore Krulik, and Dan Persons
11pm-midnight: Eye of Argon reading (Westchester A1), w/Hildy Silverman and Michael Ventrella

11am-noon: "Filing Off the Serial Numbers" (William Odelle), w/Will Frank, Roberta Rogow, and James Daniel Ross
12-1pm: "50 Years of Doctor Who" (Westchester Ballroom A2), w/Toni Lay, André Lieven, Jennifer Pelland, and Hildy Silverman
1.30-2pm: reading (Bartell)
  • Current Music
    "Riu" by Clannad

I never could get the hang of Thursdays

So the last two nights have been grueling. Tuesday was the last fighting class before the promotion, and we did twenty rounds. (A normal fighting class is 8-12 rounds.) Then I went to the Wednesday night class, and it was a particularly intense review with Senpai Gustavo. Four of the five people going for promotion were there last night, including me, so that was a nice review for us. (All five of us were there Tuesday.)

The promotion itself is a week from tonight. I'm less nervous than I was when Shihan sent the e-mail last week, and now that I've filled out the form and stuff I'm feeling even more philosophical about it. Shihan wouldn't have invited me if I wasn't ready. In fact, he was going to invite me last fall, but the promotion fell on the same weekend as Albacon, where I was a Guest of Honor, and I couldn't really back out of that. So I had to wait until this spring, which worked out for the best, I think. For one thing, one of the people going up now is Senpai Cliff, who has been one of my mentors and role models in karate from the beginning. He wasn't among those who went up last fall, so if I had gone up then, I would have been promoted ahead of him, which would've just felt wrong to me.

But this promotion includes Cliff, as well as two other first-degree black belts (Jorge and Charles; all three of them have been in the dojo far longer than me, but their promotion track has been lengthened for various and sundry real-life reasons) and Rey, an advanced brown belt. All four of the others going up with me are dear friends as well as being fellow karateka, and it's an honor to be going up with them.

Anyhow, I'm pretty much as ready as I'm going to be for the promotion next week -- which is good, as there won't be much training between now and then. Tonight, Wrenn and I are joining two of the Forebearance for a Glen Velez concert, and then Friday, Saturday, and Sunday is Lunacon. I may go to class on Monday or Tuesday.

Speaking of Lunacon, I'm not holding out much hope for this convention to not suck. The con has been in a downward spiral toward irrelevance the last few years. It's following the same pattern as Philcon, another once-great convention that has been stuck in the mud.

In both cases, the reasons are twofold: alienation of the pro community and a spectacular inability to attract new (read: younger) people to the con. By contrast two other east-coast cons, Balticon and Arisia, have continued to thrive, and the reason is due to a level of flexibility that Lunacon and Philcon have not shown. Arisia and Balticon have embraced multiple media, including comics, anime, podcasting, and so on, where Lunacon and Philcon are still insisting on being literary-only cons -- but more fundamental than that, they're the same kind of literary-only cons they were 20 years ago. You look at the panel listings, and it's like the last two decades never even happened.

On top of that, Lunacon has become irrelevant as a literary convention because it does nothing to attract anyone from publishing, nor have they done enough to take advantage of the very large genre writing community in New York City. Most of the people who do go, do so via inertia, and newer writers aren't even aware of the damn thing. On top of that, programming has consistently been disorganized over the past decade, leaving a bad taste in many pros' mouths (including mine). This year, we didn't find out our schedule until this morning, the day before the con, and then only because the schedule happened to go up on the password-protected pro registration web site and somebody noticed. I have yet to receive an actual communication from the convention with regards to my schedule.

None of these things inspire confidence in the continued ability of the con to function. (On top of that, their Guest of Honor had to cancel due to health reasons, which isn't the con's fault at all, but still....)

I'm looking forward to going to see people, and I'll be happy if I actually sell a book or three, but I'm going in with no expectations professionally, which is not the way I should be going to a 56-year-old science fiction convention with Lunacon's grand history.
  • Current Music
    "Jacob's Ladder" by Bruce Springsteen

well, gawrsh....

There's a panel at Lunacon this weekend called "Where are the Fen?" The description is:
Bringing SF readers to cons seems harder than ever... how do we reach them? How does a generalist con continue to attract an audience when their interests are no longer stigmatized, the Internet allows them to connect to other fen year round, and specialized events dig deeper into individual fannish interests?


Just -- wow.

Okay, first of all, I have to disclose that the people who've been in charge of running Lunacon the past few years are friends of mine, and I appreciate the crapshit situation they inherited.

Having said that....

SF is more mainstream and SF fans can communicate better with each other, and you think that makes it harder to attract people to your con? Really?

Conventions in general seem to be doing quite well. On the large scale, San Diego Comic-Con, Dragon*Con, Fan Expo, and New York Comic-Con keep growing every year. On a smaller scale, Arisia, MarsCon, and MystiCon have all outgrown their hotels in recent years (and Arisia's in danger of outgrowing the current one), Balticon is still pootling along nicely, Geek Media Expo is growing, and so on. All of those that I just listed are "generalist" conventions (as opposed to, say, Farpoint, Polaris, and Shore Leave, which are also doing well attendance wise, but are really media cons).

So, no, it isn't "harder than ever" to attract fans. And the fact that this question is being asked is a pretty scathing indictment..........
  • Current Music
    "Love of the Common People" by Bruce Springsteen