It's been a while since I've posted for two reasons. 1) I was out of town all weekend again, and 2) I've been working overtime to finish edits on this SF novel so I can get it out already.
Anyway, back two weekends ago I was at Denvention, the first WorldCon I've been to in years. I used to go every year, starting with PhilCon and ending with TorCon. Had I stayed single and a full time attorney, I probably would have kept on going, but I traded my spare time and extra spending money in for a good marriage, definitely worth it.
And sadly, WorldCon seems to be shrinking. This one in Denver was notably smaller than any other I've seen. Some think that WorldCon is slowly being cannibalized by ComiCon, and that's definitely a possibility. Perhaps the saddest thing was how few of the Hugo nominees and winners came. The ceremony was dominated by other people reading acceptance speeches of little slips of paper.
What saddens me about all this isn't so much that Denvention wasn't the nonstop party that WorldCon usually is, though that too was a bummer. It's hard to watch the community dissipating. One of the most interesting things about SF, that I learned coming out of Clarion West, was how interconnected everyone was. I.e. Connie Willis tells a story about turning down an offer to cowrite with David Brin, getting chocolates from him, losing said chocolates, and having Bruce Sterling help her find them again. Connie Willis, David Brin, and Bruce Sterling write in rather different styles, yet they all knew each other socially and artistically.
SF has traditionally had this amazing dialogue between its writers as they bounce ideas off each other, respond to each others works, critique each others books, and stay up far too late at cons sharing stories and quips. Nowadays, I think that's lessening, and part of the reason is that we won. SF and fantasy are so widespread that they've become mainstream. Many of the bestselling speculative fiction authors now didn't start out networking at conventions, instead they just read a lot of speculative fiction and decided to try to break into writing it through the usual channels of finding an agent and then selling a book. J.K. Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, and Stephen King probably haven't spent much time sitting on a bed in some random hotel suite together joking about whether John Scalzi can pass for Paolo Bacigalupi (one of the activities at Denvention). These three probably don't know each other at all, nor will a lot of their successors.
Fortunately I still have Critical Mass, a little microcosm of classic SF workshopping, and the New Mexico writers community is still going strong. And, times change, I guess. I hope the era of the tight knit SF community isn't truly ending.