Page Created: 06/13/10. Last Update: 02/17/17. SFABC at Lunacon
Science Fiction Conventions
Science Fiction conventions can be a fun way to meet other people who share your interests, as well as the writers, actors, and other people who create the works you enjoy. Conventions may focus on one or more aspects of the science fiction / fantasy / horror genres including (but not limited to) literature, television, film, comics, gaming, anime, and more.
An Introduction to Science Fiction Conventions serves as a quick overview of what to expect at different types of science fiction conventions. It appears further down on this page.
Convention Reports about conventions attended by members and people associated with the S F A B C appear after the Introduction to Science Fiction Conventions. Taras Wolansky and Evelyn and Mark Leeper focus on literary science fiction conventions. Hiroshi Konoya reports are usually about media conventions.
New Jersey Conventions provides links to conventions and shows held in New Jersey or close by.
..........International Costumer's Guild Mega Convention List: http://www.costume.org/conventions.html
..........Locus Conventions: http://www.locusmag.com/Resources/Conventions.html
Introduction to Science Fiction Conventions
There are two basic varieties of science fiction conventions: Literary and Media. Both of these titles are a bit misleading, but they are the ones in general usage, so we'll stick with these terms.
General Note: Every year there are hundreds of science fiction conventions. These are rule of thumb descriptions. There are certainly exceptions to the general rule and blends of the two types of conventions.
We will start with Media Conventions because more people have heard of them.
The first Media conventions were organized by the fans of the original STAR TREK television series. They began as amateur productions to honor the original series. The organizers were delighted and shocked by the number of people who wanted to attend the shows.
These conventions soon became a business which organized these events on a recurring basis in a number of major cities in the country. Other television series and movie series--STAR WARS, BUFFY, THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, STAR WARS, and more--were able to support conventions. So did other aspects of the larger science fiction universe like horror, comic books, and anime.
The focus of a Media Convention is to allow members of the general public the opportunity to see, and possibly meet, celebrities. A secondary feature is to allow the fans to buy merchandise associated with these and other celebrities. Three areas of the convention space define the event.
The first is the auditorium(s), where an actor(s) will talk about his experiences with the show and answer questions. The second is that autograph area where the celebrities will autograph and pose with members of the public (there are often fees required for this). The third is the Dealers Room, where merchandise of various sorts is available for purchase.
Most convention attendees are there for only one day of a three day weekend. They are there to hear/meet a star and purchase merchandise.
It is not unusual for a Media Convention to have guests like Wrestlers and Beauty Queens also in present in addition to those genre guests. A Media Convention is a for profit business. Celebrities drive the event, and booking celebrities of this sort is good for the bottom line.
Media Conventions in the greater New York area include the STAR TREK etc shows put on by Creation Entertainment, as well as Chiller Theater, New York ComiCon, and the Big Apple Convention.
Literary Conventions are held annually in or around most major cities in the country and in many other lands as well. In many cases, the term literary is a misnomer. A Literary Convention's primary focus may be on science fiction literature, but there are usually numerous events devoted to art, games, movies, television, anime, manga, other media.
The first American science fiction convention occurred in the mid 1930s when some New York science fiction fans travelled as a group to visit a batch of science fiction fans in Philadelphia. This led to a series gatherings which culminated in the first World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon) a few years later. There has been an annual World Science Fiction Convention ever since, except for a couple of years during World War II.
The celebrities of Literary Conventions are writers and other people associated with the publishing industry: editors, literary agents, bookcover artists, and the like. One of the important differences between Literary and Media Conventions is the degree of accessibility to the literary celebrities. It is usually possible to chat for a few minutes and swap email addresses with a writer before or after a talk, signing, reading, or in the hotel bar or at a party at the hotel. This is rarely the case with television/movie celebrities at a Media Convention.
Most Literary Conventions are organized by a local science fiction club associated with a particular city or geographic area. The convention sponsor (club) is a non profit corporation. The people running them are unpaid volunteers. Unlike the Media Convention, the Literary Convention itself is planned as a three day event, with distinct activities happening each day, although there are a number of one day attendees as well.
Most Literary Conventions have one or more Guests of Honor. The GOH is normally someone with an established following who lives outside the geographic area of the convention local. There is normally an Author Guest of Honor. There may be additional GOHs including (but not limited to) Artist GOH, Fan GOH, Special Guest, and/or Toastmaster.
A decent sized Literary Con normally has several events occuring at the same time. One room may feature a talk with Q & A by a writer. An artist may be giving a slide show of their art in the next room. A third room may have a discussion of a television series. Another room may be showing a movie. There may be a talk by a science expert in another area, as well as an autographing area and a space where writers read from their work.
There may also be rooms set aside for one or more of the following events: viewing anime, playing fantasy games (D&D, Warhammer, etc), a dealers room for books, videos and other materials, an art show with displays of professional and amatuer works of art for sale.
There are also Literary Conventions which are not bound to a geographic area. The World Science Fiction Convention, The World Fantasy Convention, and the World Horror Convention are held at different cities each year. There are also fan run conventions which specialize in aspects of the larger science fiction universe. Readercon, for example, focuses solely on books and magazines.
Reports by Dale L. Skran, Jr.
.....Boskone 50 (2013)
Reports by Hiroshi Konoya
Reports by Taras Wolansky
Reports by Evelyn C. Leeper and/or Mark R. Leeper:
Boskone (Boston/New England) Science Fiction Conventions:
World Science Fiction Conventions:
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