In a continuing journey into a writing world, I attended Boskone 49 this past weekend. It was my second convention ever, after last year’s successful “dip my toe in the water” attendance at Capclave, here in the DC area. I had a great time, met some old friends and made several new acquaintances, attended some interesting panels, and learned a lot. Here to sum up –
The Top 10 Things I Learned at Boskone.
1. It’s Bos-cone (rhymes with pwn), not Bos-con (rhymes with faun). Yes, modern American English is complicated.
2. There’s usually some fruit and enough carbs to choke a horse available in the con suite, but finding enough vegetables to eat at a con is the modern fan’s grail quest.
3. Apparently, “SMOF” is a good thing. For those not in the know, it means “Secret Masters of Fandom” and refers to that group of semi-professional fans that help keep cons up and running.
4. Also apparently, Heinlen’s protagonists used their genius for douchery.
5. Kate Baker, Genevieve Valentine and the aforementioned Catherynne Valente, reading for the Clarkesworld 5th Anniversary panel, all have great reading voices. I could listen to all three of them for a long time.
6. An interesting panel insight:
All effective stories in speculative fiction end with the opening up of a new paradigm or new beginning. This makes them inherently progressive genres, or perhaps better said, genres open to new ideas, form and content. Mystery, thriller and (to some degree) romance are more about restoring the established social order at the end of the story, a fact which makes them more inherently conservative than other genre forms.
8. Middle books (in a trilogy) are for breaking stuff.
9. Another interesting panel insight, duly noted for the record as a gross oversimplification:
Genre protagonists have agency; they save the prince, escape the dragon, take that apparently death defying Kessel Run, and generally take action, moving themselves through the story. A lot of mainstream lit fic characters lack agency and the story moves around them, sweeping them up in its own events, to which the protag reacts. Part of the reason we identify with genre protags is that, in a world that often sweeps us off our feet, we all deeply crave that degree of agency in our lives.
10. It takes an amazing artist to paint a quick, yet accurate portrait of someone while that person is, essentially, holding a press conference. Oh yea, and a couple hundred fans watch over your shoulder and your model keeps moving. Dan Dos Santos, you are the man.
All in all, a really satisfying con experience. I haven’t decided which con I’ll be attending next – maybe Readercon in July – but I’ve definitely got the con bug now.