I’m back from CONvergence, the largest of our local science fiction/fantasy conventions. I haven’t heard official attendance records for this year, but on Friday, the con was saying they’d handed out 5,085 badges, and no doubt there were at-the-door registrations through the weekend. Rumors fly. One person heard from a con volunteer that attendance had topped 6,000; someone else heard it had passed 7,000. After a certain point, it was simply an endless mass of humanity.
The theme for this year’s con was “British Invasion,” but I think “Year of the Line” would’ve worked as well. The masterpiece was the line for people to pick up their badges. With a new system in place this year, and the con starting on the 4th of July for the first time since it went to 4 days, there was, ah, more of a line than in previous years. Registration was located in one of the hotel’s restaurants. At its peak, this line wound through the restaurant, stretched down the hall for half the length of the hotel, turned a corner, was condensed into a small back-and-forth area in the hotel’s plaza area, doubled back and went back down the length of the plaza area, jumped to the second floor, went back down half the length of the hotel to an area roughly over the restaurant, and zigzagged back and forth again to fill the available space. I hear it took people 3½ to 4½ hours to work their way through the entire thing.* There was an Expedited line for people with disabilities, volunteers, guests of honor, and so on; even that could take half an hour to pass through. While that was the most memorable line, there were others: lines for the elevators, lines for food in ConSuite, lines for drinks in CoF2E2, lines for popular events, lines, lines, lines!
Again this year, I don’t have a lot of photos. I’m best at taking pictures of things that patiently wait for me to get everything set up for the photo, like my knitting projects. People are more of a challenge. For instance, several times over the weekend, I saw people wearing fantastic Weeping Angel costumes. When I first saw them, I was talking to my friend on one floor and they were down in the plaza area. To catch up with them, I would have had to abandon my friend (rude) and dash down to the first floor, and it was too crowded to dash anywhere. Several hours later, I saw two of the Angels posing for photos only a few feet away from me. But I’d been in the elevator line for a while at that point and had just made it to the front of the line. I couldn’t bring myself to drop out and start all over again. The next day, I saw one at ConSuite, but at that point, she was in line for food. Repeat this for almost everything of photographic interest. Gah.
The delay in getting my badge meant that I didn’t get to any panels I was interested in on Thursday. I made a fresh start on Friday, knitting my way through “Young Adult Books That Are Too Good to Miss” and “Heroines in Young Adult Literature” and coming away with lists of more books to track down (which I desperately need, of course, because I never have anything to read). I don’t have a particular interest in YA literature, but year after year there are great YA panels at this con and I enjoy them even when I haven’t read anything the panelists are discussing. As one of the small percentage who can be up and functional by 9:30 AM, I made it to Saturday’s “Fiber Arts in Fandom” panel to see my fellow knitters/crocheters/embroiderers/crafters-of-crafts-I-cannot-identify.** It’s been years since I’ve seen Emma Bull (author) at a con, and I didn’t expect to see her at this one, but now I have a nice membership card for “The Madame Defarge Literary Criticism and Fiber Arts Society.”*** She was in the next panel as well, “E-Readers: Better Than Paper or Not?” (verdict: for some things, yes, for others, no—pretty much what I’d figured out on my own). Punctuate all this with time-out periods in the hotel room (peace and quiet!), runs on ConSuite, meals, visits to the Dealers Room and Art Auction, and occasionally, sleep.
Other random notes:
- The con continues to take safety seriously. We saw several “safe spaces” where people could go if they were being harassed, where there were other people around who could summon help. Yay!
- The elevators didn’t break down this year. Wow.
- No one fandom ruled costuming. I thought there was a slight predominance of Star Trek uniforms, probably because of the recent release of Star Trek: Into Darkness, but it wasn’t as overwhelming as, say, Jedi outfits the year Phantom Menace came out.
- I have finally seen Vilification Tennis. I am amazed that I stayed awake for it, but that may have something to do with the fact that I was standing in ConSuite for the whole thing. Or because I fell asleep while watching the Masquerade earlier that evening, and was refreshed by the time VT started. Or because managing to doze off during VT would be quite an accomplishment in its own right, and probably dangerous as well.
*We stood in line for about 5 minutes before my friend suggested we go have an early dinner and try again afterwards. At that point, although the end of the line was still on the second floor, the line was noticeably shorter and it only took us 1½ hours to get our badges.
**Overheard behind me: “I have found my people!”
***After I got the card, I learned this really is a group on Ravelry. So now I have a membership to go with the card.