July 08, 2013

North American Discworld Con: The Good

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Ohh, fandom. You are vastly amusing, at all times.

Still trying to process four days of ... crazybright, colorful, randomized flashes of input. My brain is just a blur of sights and sounds and my own opinions, and I'm thrashing about to find some meaning from it. Stay tuned! Meanwhile...

Here is a joy, which remains unalloyed: fandoms create, and there is value in this creation. The Author pens the words, and the fandom breathes the words to life. Cons affirm the value of creating your own world, and living in it fearlessly, regardless of what hundreds of other hotel-residents who are there for the merely mundane, like family reunions and weddings and such might think. This is the pure glee of going to a Con. Costumes and a long-running in-joke.

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Here is a wish: that we would have our long-running jokes, but that we might share. Who was it that said the difference between geeks and nerds is that geekery is acquisitive and nerdom shares? That's vastly oversimplified, yes, but it revealed itself as a truth.

We arrived early for the Con, on the 4th to enjoy the fireworks on the waterfront, and there were a massive group of people at the hotel to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. We were in an elevator when a group asked us who we were, and what our con was about, and Tech Boy attempted to explain. "Well, it's mainly a literature conference," he began. "Fantasy literature, by Sir Terry Pratchett. He wrote twenty-eight books -- "

"Thirty-two," someone interjected from the back.

"No, twenty-nine," someone else had to say.

"Um, well, anyway," Tech Boy went on desperately, "He's a British author, and --"

"If you count RAISING STEAM, that'll make it thirty," someone was insisting.

And, just that fast, we lost the moment to share and devolved into Miss Know It All Knows More-dom. I was both amused and embarrassed for the pissing match that followed. Shall we count ALL Pratchett books? At a Discworld Con, shall we count only Discworld books, including the one rumored to be coming out in October, even though it's not out yet? Shall we maybe answer the question of the man who actually knows nothing about Pratchett, wants to know who we are, and why we're there, and then maybe send him off to his library to start the series???? Fandom FAIL. Le sigh.

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Here's another wish: that people of color would discover - rediscover? - fandom.

Dear People of Color: Missed you at Con. No, really. We MISSED YOU. Baltimore is a diverse city in many ways, but the Con attendees were, by and large, not really from the area. Of our number, which we are told numbered into the eight hundreds, there were TEN people of color that I saw on my frequent perambulations. And that's being generous - erring on the side of "maybe you're biracial, and we're counting you, too." Three Asian women and one man, possibly two, three African American women, counting myself, possibly one South Asian, and one biracial woman. And that was it.

Granted: a Con is bloody expensive. A Con in which you dress up, attend Maskerades and Gala Dinners, in which you take time off of work - the price adds up. Who has time or impetus to go all the way to Baltimore, spend money on a posh hotel and food and parking (bloody parking, Catherine Asaro parked for five hours and paid $26 for the privilege - sheesh, Marriott!), not to mention the blandishments of the Dealer Room where swag might be purchased? Not a lot of people, and that's just the truth. And maybe some people of color would prefer to take their fantasy leanings and share them at The House of Mouse or other summertime destinations where dressing up is equated with childhood, and not as embarrassing, instead of at a homegrown fan-based book con. But, I think there are just as many nonwhite fantasy book nerds out there as there are dominant culture fans, and I was really disappointed that they weren't in attendance.

This is a problem at more than this particular Con. Every year, I look at Lissa's pictures from ComicCon and the Gratz family's pictures from DragonCon and the like, I still see a dearth of folk. I want to encourage non-white fans to get out there and make a place for themselves. See, the thing is this: FANTASY FICTION IS ALL IMAGINATION: the Discworld - and all worlds - are only as big as we imagine. Please, put yourself in the picture, and let us imagine you, too.

(I know. I remember the whole stupid thing in the Hunger Games fandom over Rue. Not gonna lie; some people in fantasy fandoms don't want people of color to be part of the fandom imagination in any way, because it threatens the world they've imagined. Their issue; don't let it be yours. You just be you.)

< /rant >

Costuming, filking, artworking, rubbernecking, chatting, crafting, and basically dreeing one's weird; these were all Con activities... and The Panel! Meeting Sheila from Wands & Worlds IN PERSON for the first time! General squealishness and bookisnness! Stay tuned for the rehash, with alllll the links. ☺

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And, feel free to check out more completely random Con pictures.

1 comment:

Sarah Stevenson said...

I love that d20 hairpin!

(Finally catching up on some blog posts...SIGH SIGH SIGH)

I noticed the same lack of diversity at the Dr. Who con we went to a couple of years back. At least, though, it seems like there isn't the same gender disparity any more in fandom--it's OK to be a fangirl now. There were definitely plenty of female fans at the Doctor Who con, and families, and kids and and...I really liked that aspect of it, the idea that it could be a family activity and everyone could find something to enjoy. That's the great part of cons.