Some final thoughts on LonCon3

It is still very weird to me, that I have finally met so many people in person whom I have known or encountered on the internet… and having the conversations in person feel like a completely natural extension of our previous conversations. A mental/intellectual/emotional comfort level translated really smoothly into a physical comfort level: I was hugging people left, right, and centre, because it felt perfectly appropriate. (If it wasn’t, I apologise.)

To be fair, by Sunday my general level of excitement/apprehension/overstimulation/lack-of-sleep turned into a sort of semi-drunken giddiness, without need for any alcohol. So my grasp of the appropriate may have suffered accordingly.

I should mention that I was able to attend the convention because of the generous support of the Dublin 2019 Worldcon bid towards my flights, as an Irish person up for a science fiction award and thus Promoting Science Fiction And Ireland. Think kindly of them: they did me a damned decent favour.

There have been a couple of posts floating around about the “generation gap” between LonCon3 and Nine Worlds, and drawing various different conclusions over which was “better.” For me, I was only at Nine Worlds for one day, and for that day very sleep-deprived, but my observations suggest that there were just more people at LonCon3 overall. I mean, sure, a majority were probably in the 40-60 age bracket, because that’s a demographic group with high odds of disposable income, independent mobility, and spare time, with a long tail off to the octogenarians and a more scattered spread of people from 0 years to 40 years – but that’s pretty much par for the course when you’re talking about doing anything. I saw an awful lot of family groups and quite a few college-aged people, and it was far more diverse than I’d been expecting – my previous experience being with attending a couple of Irish conventions, at which I mostly had far less fun that I have had at academic conferences, Worldcon in Glasgow 2005 (which I almost abandoned in tears because of existential alienation) and World Fantasy in Calgary in 2008 (which I attended as an experiment in trying to figure out how the professional writing/editing world worked when it was talking to itself, and which did drive me to tears of alienated loneliness).

Which is not to say it was a magnificent triumph of social justice and diversity. Just that clearly a lot of people did a shitload of work to reach out, and failed while trying to do better, rather than failing by not trying. This is my impression, anyway.

(And mad props to Programming, for the sheer amount of work that went into having a programme with so many different things going on. The Programme Guide terrified me with All The Things it contained, but also was pretty exciting.)

There’s one difference between the two London conventions that stands out to me, though. What startled me about Nine Worlds was the impression of affluence I got from the majority of people I saw, panellists aside – rightly or wrongly: maybe people were just wearing their Sunday best, I don’t know. But at LonCon3, I felt more comfortable because a lot of the people I encountered were either there to work or because it was their One Big Chance to meet everyone they knew and/or admired from their work.

(And a few Rich Old Entitled White Americans, but shit, you get those playing tourist all over Dublin all the time anyway.)

I’m a working-class sod with middle-class pretensions. The smell of Money makes me uneasy. And LonCon3 had less ritzy surroundings (seriously, the Radisson is always going to stink of the rentier classes, leaching the lifeblood of the working people) and it seemed more people who were there to Do A Thing, rather than Be Entertained.

(This distinction probably explains why I’ve always been more comfortable at academic conferences, where everyone is usually there to Do A Thing.)

Anyway. I don’t have an argument. I had fun. Have a cat picture.

Vladimir says hello.

Vladimir says hello.

2 thoughts on “Some final thoughts on LonCon3

  1. “LonCon3 … seemed more people who were there to Do A Thing, rather than Be Entertained.”

    One of the small but telling differences between Loncon 3 and Nine Worlds is that Loncon sold ‘memberships’ whereas Nine Worlds sold ‘tickets’. The former has connotations of joining something that you are involved in, the latter more of attending as a spectator.

    Now in practice the difference was less stark than that (I didn’t attend Nine Worlds this year, but I did go to the first one last year, and I’ve heard from plenty of friends who were at Nine Worlds and Loncon). But my impression is that Nine Worlds is coming more from a perspective of presenting a programme to its attendees, with rather more in the way of external guest participants on the programme, whereas with a few exceptions almost everyone on the Loncon 3 programmer was drawn from the convention membership. That being said, I know that Nine Worlds had an extremely active fanfic and transformative works strand, which almost be definition comes from people attending the event.

  2. I keep hoping that I’ll have that “online connections translate into in-person friendships” thing work for me. I started out with most of my online connections being people I already has some sort of relationship with, and I’m really only just getting back into attending conventions where I don’t already know most of the people I’m likely to meet (after a long hiatus that was triggered by grad school finances over a decade ago). At the moment, I tend to be hyper-conscious of the asymmetrical nature especially of twitter (where most of my new-and-online-only connections are happening) and the fact that I have a small number of people (like you) who Know Who I Am but who in turn connect with a much larger number of people who Probably Don’t Know Who I Am but who I’m “listening in on”. (And especially when that second set of people seem to be the Very Popular Kids On Twitter.) It’s very hard not to get all tied up in knots over it. Somehow even knowing that other people get tied up in knots over it and are pleasantly surprised doesn’t help. (Sorry for angsting all over your comments thread.)

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