My first sci-fi convention-what should I, as a non-sci-fi enthusiast expect

So this weekend I’m going with my S.O. to my first Sci-Fi Convention. Valley Con He’s big into Doctor Who, Xena, Farscape etc and I, well, I think I’ve seen Xena once. What can I expect from this event? Will it be fun for someone that isn’t a sci-fi nut? (I know fun is a relative term, but let’s keep in general).

Heh, heh, heh. I went to Dragon Con this year with DanielWithrow and his brother. I do like SF, but I’m not a gamer or a fanboy. I’m glad I went, though I wouldn’t go again.

The best part was the costumes. It was like a wonderful, grown-up version of Halloween. About 1/3 of the guests were in costume, and some were absolutely amazing. Expect to see lots of cleavage. I saw more corsets and metal bikinis than I thought possible.

There was also a fantasy art show. Apparently, there’s some rule that 90 percent of fantasy art must contain dragons, cats, cleavage (again), or some god-awful combination of the three. I was less than impressed.

You’ll probably have fun, especially if you’re the sort who grooves on people watching. However, it might not be a bad idea to bring a non-SF book and find a quiet corner when the Klingons and Stormtroopers get to be too much.

What you need to do is, right in the middle of the floor, bellow out “The Enterprise could take out a Star Destroyer with one warp nacelle tied behind its bow!” and then run like hell.

Loads of fun, I tells ya.

as long as you have a sense of humour you’ll be fine - although i wouldn’t recommend you make any derisory comments about science fiction whilst you are there.

to be honest there will probably be a few other normals around who are in exactly the same situation as you - keep an eye out for them.

You WILL bump into more “get a life” candiadtes than you ever will in real life. If you get into a conversation with one, listen politely and, when the opportunity presents itself, move away quietly. I encountered such a being at a Trek Con. If you believed this guy, he owned half the props ever used on the original show. Scary, lemme tell ya.

You should expect to be creeped out. I do not envy you.

[li]Bring money. They have this thing called a “huckster room”. All kinds of sci fi/fantasy stuff–but also t-shirts, jewelry, music CDs, stuffed animals, & much cool stuff you can’t find anyplace else.[/li][li]Be prepared to meet many Doper-quality intellects. The average sci-fi convention attendee has a measureably higher IQ than Joe Schmoe.[/li][li]Wear a bra. Women are scarece at cons. You will be drooled over, unless you are a bigger bow-wow than the Werewolf of London’s kid sister. [/li][li]Lots o’ beer.[/li][/list=1]

Have fun. :slight_smile:

I have only one word of advice for you: don’t tell anyone your real name. Mr. Blue Sky is right, unfortunately. Among the SF fans who go to cons are an unusually large number of weirdos (which is not to say all SF con-goers are weirdos, just that you run into more of the weird ones at cons.) Of the weird ones, there will be at least one who will try to engage you in after-con socializing, which you as a non-sci-fi enthusiast probably don’t want.

On the plus side, many con-goers use aliases at cons, whether they’re RPG/movie/TV show/book characters or just nicknames. so when you tell people your name is “Morthwaite, Dragonkeeper of East Diddlysquat” they will happily play along.

Take two cans of Right Guard and pray like Hell.

If this is a real fan-driven con, and not a commercial enterprise like those godawful “Creation” cons, it could be great. A good con will have:

1.) Lots of panel discussions. Religion in SF. What happens now, after 9/11. What are the new developments in Space?

2.) Readings of their own works by established authors and starting authors. Go to a reading by someone you never heard of – give an unknown author a break!

3.) The Movie room/suite – Usually at least one film or short you havn’t seen before.

4.) The afore-mentioned huckster room. Pick up that copy of The Anntated Alice or obscure Jules Verne novel. Buy a T-shirt. Buy buttons with insanely clever expressions.

5.) The Costume Show

6.) The Talk by the Guest of Honor and other such dignitaries.

7.) Filking

8.) Pick up literature of other cons or courses or activities.

Bring some mace and go postal on those mothers.

SF Cons are great. Don’t think that the ‘Creation Cons’ are SF conventions, they are media circuses without much in the way of soul. And alas, are what most people think of when they hear SF Convention, because that is all the media focuses on.

The odor thing alas can be real, some forget that party hearty for three days straight doesn’t mean forget to shower.

CalMeacham touched on some of the reasons to go. Most conventions have something for everyone. I’ve made ceramics at conventions, heard discussions on marine biology, rockets, culture clashes, and pretner everything at a con.

They are great, but a lot of work. The fan run cons always want volunteers, and its a good start to be a gopher. I’ve gophered at a few cons, and was head of gaming at ConJose for a little while before I moved out of state. One housemate was Co-Chair of ConJose, so I got some very interesting views of the difficulties of running a con. I do not ever want that kind of stress, it is not my thing.

Oh, one other thing SF cons are good for, finding other people with similar interests, if you are into SF can always locate the local SF associations at a Con.

It depend on the con. What you are going to is a “media con”; the guests are all media related. This is pretty high on the geekiness scale. What you’ll probably see:

  1. Lots of dealers. Most of the time you will be visiting the dealers. There will be very little programming (one track at most, if that) and no art show.

  2. The guests are paid for their appearence. Most likely, they will be there only for two hours – one hour presenting, and another hour signing autographs.

  3. Lots of hall costumes. A large number of people dress up as their favorite TV/movie character, often with off-the-rack costumes.

  4. The main purpose of the con is to make money for the promoters.

Now this may be your thing. However, if this doesn’t work out, try going to a REAL, fan-run con. In that:

  1. The dealer’s room will be off to the side and you won’t get the impression that the main idea is to sell you things.

  2. Guest will be there all weekend. They will be easily approachable. Most will be writers. All except for the Guests of Honor will be paying their own expenses (other than getting a free membership). They’re there because they want to be, not because they want to make a buck.

  3. Two, three, or four tracks of programming. It will run from about ten in the morning to midnight or after on Saturday.

  4. An art show.

  5. Ultimately, a three-day party that never stops.

  6. Costumes limited to the masquerade, where they are usually hand made.

  7. No one’s trying to make a buck running the thing. If they break even, they’re happy. If they make a profit, it goes to pay for the next year’s con.

Personally, I think media cons are a pale imitation of the real thing. It’s like going to Las Vegas to see what the Empire State Building looks like.

It depends.

I’m a non-SFer who used to help run Minicon here in the Twin Cities. I have lots of friends who now run Convergence in the Twin Cities.

There is what Minicon used to be. A huge party (4,000-5,000 people when I did it) - lots of drunks - a lot of people who knew nothing about SF - and some Klingons. Panels that are attended by some and not by others. My understanding is that Convergence is also like this.

There is what 4th St. Fantasy used to be. A couple hundred people, most who know each other well - a “Relax-a-con”

There are the media cons run by corporations.

All the cons I’ve been to were both lots of fun and could turn on you in a second. One finally turned too sharp for me (or maybe I grew up and wasn’t willing to put up with it anymore) so I don’t do them anymore. (A friend was barely rescued from a date rape, I was propositioned rudely one too many times, we (since I was involved in running the thing) were doing some stuff I didn’t consider ethical, etc.)

I always hated the out of town ones - I was stuck. At least with the in town ones I could go home if I wanted. Are you staying in the hotel where the con is? You can always hide with a book.

“cleavage” You got that right. I have never seen more mis-packaged goods assembled in one place. Don’t these women look in the mirror before leaving the house? And the piercings. Looks like they fell down the stairs with a tackle box.

If you have never been to one before, you may have trouble distinguishing the people dressed as aliens from the actual aliens, so it is best to be polite to everyone and everything you meet, and to bring a towel.

Wow, that’s an image I so didn’t need.

If the fangeeks get to be too much for you, just take a moment and compare them in your head to sports fans. Both groups can spout endless trivia about something of questionable significance, but at least the geeks (unlike jocks) didin’t beat up other kids in high scool and the geeks rarely riot, flip cars and loot stores when their favourite movie wins an Oscar, as opposed to sports fans when their team wins a trophy.