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September 2, 2012

Regarding a Hugo Award category for YA fiction
Posted by Patrick at 06:30 AM * 405 comments

ATTENTION CONSERVATION NOTICE: Arcane arguments over science fiction award categories.

Here at Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, the business meeting—open to all attendees—entertained and narrowly voted down a proposal to create a Hugo category specifically for YA science fiction and fantasy. Works published as “YA” are already eligible in the existing categories, and in fact have won on occasion; the issue wasn’t whether YA fiction is eligible, but whether there should be a Hugo Award (or awards) specifically reserved for it.

I wasn’t present and didn’t vote. (I had other obligations.) But I have followed some of the discussion, both before and after the vote was taken, and this seems to me an argument where it’s entirely possible to come to either conclusion out of concern over the graying of traditional SF fandom and a sincere interest in attracting new readers and participants.

There were certainly people who opposed the proposal because they don’t care about YA fiction or young readers. But I was struck by the fact a number of those against it were people who care a great deal about both, but feel for one reason or another that a new Hugo category would be an ineffective or even counterproductive way to address the problems to hand. Some of them opposed the proposal because they’re proud of the fact that, even without a special category, a number of YA works have been finalists or winners right alongside everything else in the Hugo Awards. Others felt—and this is an argument that I think merits particular consideration—that the existing Hugo electorate (the membership of each year’s World Science Fiction Convention) is simply not well-enough versed in the burgeoning and diverse world of modern YA publishing to do a particularly good job nominating finalists and choosing winners for such an award. It’s possible, some have argued, that such a category would be dominated, not by the best and most innovative works of YA fantasy and SF, but by whatever works of YA fantasy and SF happened to be published that year by people better known for their adult fantasy and SF.

As I said, I didn’t attend the business meeting, and I don’t have a strong commitment to either side of this argument. What I do want to point out is that, contrary to some rather bitter commentary posted to Twitter last night, this isn’t a simple case of pigheaded old-guard science fiction people being blind to the importance and diversity of modern YA fantasy and SF, or being unable to grasp that the graying of SF institutions like the Worldcon is a problem. To repeat myself, this is an argument where smart people of good will can come to opposing conclusions from initially similar premises.

Which is why it seems to me that fulminating against the supposed “willful blindness of the old guard” is liable to be an ineffective approach, unless you really believe that the only way to win the argument is to abuse your opponents until they go away. I don’t know if I’m a member of this alleged “old guard,” but I’m entirely open to being convinced that the actually-existing-Worldcon could do a non-disastrous job administering a YA Hugo Award. When I say that I think the argument to the contrary merits consideration, I don’t mean I’m convinced by it, I mean that it merits consideration. In the other direction, I’m equally struck by author Cat Valente’s point, also posted on Twitter last night, that there may be a lot more actually-existing-Worldcon attendees who are genuinely knowledgeable about modern YA than we perhaps realize. What I am suggesting in this post is that there are more effective ways of arguing for a YA Hugo than implying (or flat-out asserting) that everyone arguing against it is stupid, reactionary, or evil.

Comments on Regarding a Hugo Award category for YA fiction:
#1 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 08:39 AM:

I'd suggest that they TRY a new category for the YA fiction and see how it goes. If it doesn't work out, then just put YA back in with the rest. Big deal.

#2 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 09:23 AM:

If feelings are running high over this, just imagine how people would react if the trial award was discontinued (or, as some would surely characterize it 'abolished').

#3 ::: praisegod barebones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 09:30 AM:

This issue is the paradigm of a fight in which I have no dog, or at most the tiniest chihuahua (insofar as I'm the father of an increasingly widely-read YA fan).

But is it too optimistic to think that this particular electorate might not react to the institution of a YA Hugo by choosing to get better informed and reading more off it?

(Also, is there any reason why YA works couldn't be eligible for both a standard Hugo and a YA award.)

#4 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 09:56 AM:

I was present for part of the business meeting debate, and can attest that some of the arguments against were explicitly contemptuous of YA. For example, the gray-bearded gentleman who said that, like everyone else in the room, he automatically walks past the YA section in bookstores without looking at it, and therefore the Hugo electorate is incapable of voting knowledgeably. I would suggest that anyone who thinks there aren't enough young fans to nominate open their eyes when walking the hallways. I'd think that fifty well-informed fans would be enough to produce a good slate, and anyone who thinks that less than 1% of the electorate cares deeply about YA is making what I would consider to be an extraordinary claim requiring extraordinary evidence.

Note that, like the recent comics Hugo, the YA Hugo would automatically expire after a few years if not explicitly re-ratified by the Business Meeting. You have to be pretty confident a category's not viable if you aren't even willing to put that belief to the test.

#5 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 10:55 AM:

I'll be interested in seeing how this turns out. Obviously I have a whole kennel of dogs in the fight, but since I, like you, can see both sides (how it can go wrong as well as right), I'm opting out.

#6 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 10:59 AM:

I was wondering how this would turn out. Obviously, I have an entire kennel of dogs in the fight, but I can (like you, PNH) see many sides, so didn't take an Official Stand.

#7 ::: sdn ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:01 AM:

(Sorry for double posting. Please ignore first post.)

#8 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:08 AM:

Steven desJardins @4: That does sound irritating. It's still best to assume good faith on the part of the people making the argument. Determining the motives and mindset of those people is a separate argument, and adding it to the mix is unlikely to clarify the YA Hugo discussion.

#9 ::: Becca Stareyes ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:45 AM:

I wonder if it was discussed how one would determine the elligibility for a YA award. Right now, all of the categories for literature Hugos are broken up by length. (And I assume there's other definitions for things like fanzine versus semi-prozine and whatnot; this is my first year as a voting member and I registered after nominations closed.)

I know John Scalzi discussed on his blog that, when Zoe's Tale came out, he wanted it marketed to a YA audience (as well?), but his publisher preferred to keep it with the other books in the series. So it either seems like you'd have to define by where/how it's published/marketed (which might vary by publisher?) or get even more subjective.

Granted, I suppose that the Hugo voting body itself determines things like 'is this work SFnal enough to be nominated for a Hugo?', so subjectivity isn't unheard of. But I can see folks arguing if the YA books can also win Best Novel that it counts as a double dip. (And arguments if they can't that it's either ghettoization or that it could split the nominations).

I wonder if it would be easier to give out something like the Campbell Award; a prize awarded at the Hugo Ceremony but somewhat separate. I don't see (as?) many complaints that some of the Hugo nominees are also up for Campbells, and sometimes offer the same work.

That seems like it would be harder to legislate, though, since a means to make trial categories exists, but this doesn't.

#10 ::: Lisa Spangenberg ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 12:14 PM:

This reminds me a bit about the discussions librarians and booksellers often have about shelving. Like PNH, I'm seeing sense and good will from both camps.

As odd as it may seem, YA is difficult for many people to categorize/define. I've heard multiple persuasive arguments about Podkayne of Mars, Ender's Game, Zoe's Tale, and many others as both YA and not YA.

I came to SF/F in part via YA, I'm delighted that YA is flourishing, not just in terms of the hardcover library market but in terms of direct sales to readers, and that there are a lot of Really Good YA SF books.

If such an award were created, I'd hope it would include both novels and anthologies.

#11 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 12:50 PM:

The Printz award, which is the American Library Association's award for best YA novels, says quite simply that it's YA if it's published as YA -- recognizing that YA books can have crossover appeal to adults, and adult books can have crossover appeal to teens, but any argument about whether something is YA "enough" or has enough teen appeal is likely to get bogged down very very fast... and could potentially shoulder out a book like Margo Lanagan's "Tender Morsels," which is a very dark and mature book but also gets right to the heart of some important questions about growing up, and deserved its Printz honor.

I'm glad that the Andre Norton award exists for YA fiction, and I think the committee has made some really good choices. I'm less sure of whether a Hugo for YA specifically would be the right thing.

#12 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 12:51 PM:

According to this con report from the 2000 Chicon, by Evelyn C Leeper, this same subject was under debate then: "But there had been a trial Hugo one year for children's and young adult fiction, and the nominating response was too low even to have it make the final ballot." So apparently this has previously been flown as a trial proposal, though I don't know when.

#13 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 12:53 PM:

praisegod barebones @3: there are an awful lot of people who think that no particular work should be eligible in two different categories, and that such dual eligibility would do a great deal to harm the awards.

Stephen desJardins @4: I wasn't at the BM (not being at Worldcon), and I'm kind of an old geezer myself, but I'm the opposite of that graybeard you mention: I read more YA SF than adult SF these days, because it's more interesting to me. There's a lot happening there. And I'm one of the people who think a YA category would be very difficult to administer, that there's no particular reason to create it because YA does compete and win in the standard categories, and because I think it creates a bit of a ghetto.

I understand the arguments of those who want it, and I don't agree with them. And I'm moderately well informed about modern YA SF/F.

PNH, OP -- there are obvious parallels with the way current political debate is managed in this country. To what extent do you think this trend is mirroring that debate, and to what extent is it just the same zeitgeist showing up in different places? Is it worth trying to winkle out the difference?

#14 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 01:44 PM:

My understanding was that the proposal did indeed define YA as something published as such. I think that this is virtually inevitable, for the reasons Emily H has given. Since Science Fiction is at least in part defined in terms of content, one can recognise a work - by Kurt Vonnegut, for instance - as SF even though it is not published as such; but trying to recognise a work as YA would have to be based on something much more intangible, leading to endless headaches.

This, though, does have a possibly unintended consequence. A lot of people in the SFF world (and possibly elsewhere as well, but it's in the SFF world that I've noticed it) tend to refer to all fiction whose primary audience is under 18 as YA. (I have seen Alice in Wonderland described as an example of YA.) But YA as a publishing category means something more precise; it is aimed at teenagers, and is distinct from the 9-12 category. (Precise borders vary, but I think the distinction between categories is pretty widespread.) Harry Potter is very often pointed to as an example of YA and its growing importance, but it was not actually published as YA. I wonder if the proposal, if it is ever implemented, may turn out to be more restrictive than its makers intended. It's interesting that the earlier proposal which Avram refers to said 'children's or YA', and I wonder why this proposal didn't say the same.

#15 ::: Walter Hawn ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 01:44 PM:

Seems to me that modern SF is built on a foundation of YA work. Heinlein and Asimov and Andre Norton and many others during the 50s and 60s wrote a lot of YA stuff. John Campbell published quite a lot of it in _Analog/Astounding and more appeared in places like _Boys Life_ and even _The Saturday Evening Post_.

YA (or 'juvenile', as it was called then), changed the course of SF from a heavily deterministic, gosh-wow, science-oriented thing to one that, however imperfectly, acknowledged character and motivation as drivers of story.

#16 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 02:04 PM:

I've seen _The Warrior's Apprentice_ shelved with YA. I came pretty close to asking the librarians if they knew what was in it, or opening the book to the Bothari Family Reunion scene and asking them to read and then reconsider categorization.

On the other hand, maybe they wouldn't have agreed that the subject matter should move it out of the YA category. Seems like hardly anyone can agree on how to define YA in the first place, which is only one of the many barriers to this idea.

Also: if YA has a separate award, wouldn't it be seen as a lesser award than the "real" one? Even if cross-eligibility is forbidden and a YA work *can't* win the real award no matter how good it is? That doesn't strike me as an especially good result.

#17 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 02:34 PM:

Praisegod Barebones @3:
But is it too optimistic to think that this particular electorate might not react to the institution of a YA Hugo by choosing to get better informed and reading more off it?

Given the controversies that arise every year over the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form and Best Graphic Story Hugos (what was decided about that one, by the way?), yes, I suspect it is too optimistic. And really, I'm not sure that it is reasonable to expect otherwise. Certainly I don't think Old Adults should refuse to read books because they are sold as YA - it's generally a good thing that people should jump over boundaries in search of what is best. But I'm rather sceptical of the idea, which I think is in circulation, that Old Adult SF fans positively ought to be reading more YA; this seems an odd idea to me, given that it is deliberately conceived and marketed with another audience in mind.

#18 ::: Tim Smith ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 02:42 PM:

"To repeat myself, this is an argument where smart people of good will can come to opposing conclusions from initially similar premises."

Imagine the consequences if we found ourselves in a similar situation with national politics!

#19 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 02:49 PM:

I'd also like to chip in that even though I am an adult, I still read "YA" and "Adult" fiction interchangeably. Why are we willing to assume that people are too ill-informed to judge a YA category, but sufficiently well-informed to judge YA fiction in the context of adult works?

Though, my real concern about a YA category is ghettoization - if YA books are already getting recognition on a level with adult fiction, I worry that having their own category will make people less likely to promote them in the (by logical extension) "adult" categories. I'm concerned that it could result in the entire category of YA getting less exposure and losing legitimacy (because after all, they "had to have their own category to even be able to compete, so they must not be very good").

I don't really have a problem judging books the same way I encountered them in the wild - as a comfortable mix-up of a wide range of things.

#20 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 03:22 PM:

Chris @ 16

I was once asked to report back to my High School librarian regarding the appropriateness of keeping Feist's "Faery Tale" on the shelves.

It occurred to me afterward that it was an extremely ironic question, given the visible popularity of V.C. Andrews in that same library.

There are so many really questionable books available to kids; I'd rather they were reading Bujold, with her relatively careful treatment of complex subjects, than a wide range of other, equally-available problematic books.

#21 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 03:40 PM:

If Worldcon has managed to pull in informed YA reading adults who can intelligently discuss YA and make reasonable arguments from all sides, I'm glad, because this is very different from the typical YA panel at a traditional SF con, where most of the panel can disappear simply explaining what modern YA is, why it's not about removing sex and violence, why it bears little resemblance to Heinlein and that's okay, and how the panelists can't answer questions about why teens no longer read genre because they in fact do read it, probably in greater quantity than most adults.

If this is changing, I'm glad to hear it and hope the change spreads outwards.

I think at this point traditional fandom needs younger readers far more than younger readers need them. A few hours at a regional comicon or an anime con or even just in the right online forum makes one realize that teens are gleefully enjoying genre in all it's forms, in greater numbers than ever, and have simply moved on to do so in places whose welcome of them is equal to their enthusiasm and interests. Teen readers will be just fine whatever traditional fandom does, but the reverse may not be true.

#22 ::: anotherdamnedmedievalist ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 03:45 PM:

I read a fair amount of YA, and since I came to SF/F through juvenile sf/f, I am not likely to disparage it. But ...

I don't see that creating an award specifically for YA would increase the numbers of younger people involved in traditional fandom. And honestly, I think that the fact that some people think creating an award that essentially marginalizes YA points to a more fundamental problem: traditional fandom wants to bring in new generations of "traditional" fans. Has anybody asked if we're selling something that they want?

My nephew and his friends, and an awful lot of my students, go to cons. There's usually a contingent from my campus that makes the really, really, really long drive to Dragoncon, for example. There's an active gaming club on my campus, the beginnings of a quidditch team, and many other signs of a population that has a ton of geekery in common with Boomers like me. All of my freshmen have read and/or seen the Hunger Games, and a good number of my colleagues have, too. In fact, because of HG, one colleague and I are thinking of putting together a course on the governments of dystopian sf novels and the historical circumstances at the time of their creation.

But even though my students and younger relatives and friends' kids have a lot of tastes in common with older fans, they engage in fandom differently. Actually, they just engage with the world and information differently. Most of them aren't big writers, for instance. So fanzines, if they are going to continue to exist, may not exist in the form we are used to.

I think people have their hearts in the right place, but am pretty sure that creating an award to be given out at a con that often happens when schools, colleges, and universities are in session, and which is always pretty expensive, even at reduced youth rates, is not going to help. I know people can subscribe and vote, but I think it's unlikely that a lot of actual young adults are going to pay just to do so -- and even fewer will read everything. More likely is that a specific YA award will bring out the rabid fans of Author X, who *will* think that this year's version of sparkly vampires are the Best.Thing.Evar. and will be crazy enough to push for their idol.

If people want to bring in younger fans, it might be time to start asking what younger fans want, and offering those things that bridge the generational gap. Some ways might be to try to add bursaries for young presenters, or younger attendees; even clearer policies that make Worldcon (or any con) safer for young people AND look safer (helicopter parents really are an issue); advertising on campuses for participants, and putting together panels directed at the entire YA audience that include both younger fans and older fans who will model good con/panel behavior... I'm very serious about that last one, especially. I would love to see a few panels where people the age of a book's characters are allowed to talk about why the books work for them or don't. I would love to have some YA author readings where younger fans were given priority and encouraged to participate.

What I am tired of seeing, in so many ways, is institutions that can see that an infusion of new blood (and often, more diverse blood) is needed, but that can't get past assuming that what they have on offer is what everybody else would want, if they only knew. What I'm tired of seeing these institutions try to bring people in, not by including them, but by offering them trinkets that the assume these other people will want.

One last note -- the idea of "a YA award will make us more attractive to younger fans" is really short-sighted. I hate to sound like the mission statement of every US institution of higher learning, but the goal shouldn't be to stop the greying by getting in young fans (even if the only people who read YA *were* young fans). The goal should be the fan equivalent of the 'lifelong learner.' A YA award is not going to engage people and get them to try new things. Keeping the YA books in the same categories is far more likely to encourage people who like a YA book nominated for a Hugo to then read the other books that are supposedly as good as her favorite.


#23 ::: Steven desJardins ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 03:59 PM:

I don't mean to suggest that everyone arguing against a YA Hugo has their head up their ass. I'm sure most of them are making sensible arguments from motives I approve of and sympathize with. But the existence of the head-up-ass contingent seems to be triggering people when they encounter the exact same arguments from sane, sensible folks, who in turn are getting turned off by what seems to be an inexplicable overreaction.

At a theoretical level I favor the skeptics' argument, but on a pragmatic level I think the new Hugo is likely to do some good, so on the whole I favor trying it out for a few years to see how it goes.

#24 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 04:41 PM:

praisegod barebones @ 2... imagine how people would react if the trial award was discontinued (or, as some would surely characterize it 'abolished').

True. Still, if something new comes along that *might* work, we should give it a chance. If it does not work, that's where Molly Ivins's Rule about Holes kicks in. Yes, I *am* a computer programmer, why do you ask? :-)

#25 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 05:03 PM:

Chris, #16: Some years back I was checking the Nashville Public Library card catalog for Star Trek fiction, and discovered that they had it all filed under "Children's books". Not even YA, but with the 12-and-under stuff! I went up there and pulled out one of the mainline novels which I had bought recently, and had a little talk with the children's librarian.

(This, incidentally, was when I discovered that there is no way in American English to say that a book is not intended for kids without implying that it's smut. Which the book in question wasn't; it was just not a kiddie book. But every single word or phrase that I came up with to express that turned out to be recognizably a euphemism for "smut". It was frustrating!)

Janni (or is it Janni Lee?), #21: I think at this point traditional fandom needs younger readers far more than younger readers need them.

THIS, in spades, and for exactly the reasons you give. Last year Reno offered a student discount rate, and there were more young people running around than I remember seeing at a Worldcon in the past 20 years... and some of the older fen were complaining about it. And it's no longer true that lit-cons are the only option the younger readers have for a place to go.

anotherdamnedmedievalist, #22: In fact, because of HG, one colleague and I are thinking of putting together a course on the governments of dystopian sf novels and the historical circumstances at the time of their creation.

I would love to take that course!

I would love to see a few panels where people the age of a book's characters are allowed to talk about why the books work for them or don't.

That's a terrific idea; I'll pitch it to the programming people for our local con. We have a number of teenage fans here, mostly the children of fannish parents, so I'm sure we could pull together a decent selection for a panel.

#26 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 05:34 PM:

anotherdamnedmedievalist @22: your comment here, and the other thread here on fanfic, makes me think that the Worldcon would be a lot more effective at attracting younger readers/writers if they implemented a fanfiction Hugo instead of a YA one.

I think that would get a lot more interest in younger fans, and I also think it would be (paradoxically) easier to administer.

#27 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Interesting debate. I'm not sure how you'd do a YA award voted upon by an electorate that, in large part, doesn't typically read the genre.

Mystery Writers of America has had a YA award for the Edgar Awards for years. In fact, I was chair of the YA committee a few years back. But the judging's done by a volunteer group that gets the books sent to them by the publishers.

I'd think that in order to have the membership vote on YA books, you'd have to have either a committee system, or maybe have a category of "youth member" who'd get the YA ballot, either of which might be too big a change for the membership to accept easily.

#28 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 05:41 PM:

The first SF I read was Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo, which I got for a birthday present when I was about 12. I never really thought of his juveniles as anything other than SF, and Have Space Suit -- Will Travel still holds up.

#29 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 05:47 PM:

#22 ::: anotherdamnedmedievalist:

In fact, because of HG, one colleague and I are thinking of putting together a course on the governments of dystopian sf novels and the historical circumstances at the time of their creation.

I'd be interested in anything you want to say about this. Reading list?

But even though my students and younger relatives and friends' kids have a lot of tastes in common with older fans, they engage in fandom differently. Actually, they just engage with the world and information differently. Most of them aren't big writers, for instance.

Is fanfic a generational thing? Or perhaps such a rare thing that your classes aren't that likely to turn up fanfic writers?

My impression (and it's a very vague impression) is that the default fanzine piece was a personal essay, and it's not exactly dead yet.

#30 ::: Ryan Viergutz ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 06:08 PM:

I'd love to see the list of books for that dystopian course!

#31 ::: Mark Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 07:03 PM:

It's a fascinating subject to me, partly because I want to stay aware of current genre authors, and partly because my older granddaughter is 13, and I want to get her books she'll read and enjoy. (Which doesn't necessarily mean the books I liked at that age. I attended a couple of generational panels at the Montreal Worldcon in 2009. The majority of the younger generation members said that they didn't much care for Heinlein, whose works had been pushed at them.)

I agree with Patrick that there are arguments to be made on both sides. Certainly, there will be a lot of hairsplitting about what is and isn't YA, and yes, some (many?) would regard it as a second-class award. These are powerful arguments.

But I'd love to see more information about what's out there. I was immensely pleased to discover Scott Westerfeld when he was GoH at ConFusion a few years ago. I bought and read all four books of his "Uglies" series, and passed them on to my granddaughter, then later gave her his "Leviathan". I glanced at the SF/Fantasy Bestseller list on Amazon the other day. The #1 book was (and still is) YA, "Divergent" by Veronica Roth. I'd never heard of the book or the author until I looked at that list, and that's a shame. Thanks to the ranking and reviews at Amazon, it'll very likely end up on my granddaughter's Hanukkah list.

#32 ::: Linkmeister ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 07:36 PM:

anotherdamnedmedievalist @ #22 writes "In fact, because of HG, one colleague and I are thinking of putting together a course on the governments of dystopian sf novels and the historical circumstances at the time of their creation."

Put that course online, will you? I'd love to take it.

#33 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 07:44 PM:

I'd think the course on dystopias and their times would be fascinating -- key texts would include Gulliver's Travels, Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Space Merchants, Ender's Game, The Hunger Games.... Possibly there should be utopias in there as well, since local political climes would affect those just as much.

#34 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 07:57 PM:

Lee @ 25

This, incidentally, was when I discovered that there is no way in American English to say that a book is not intended for kids without implying that it's smut.

Might your intent be conveyed by something like "younger readers are not the target audience for this book"?

#35 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:23 PM:

I think I'm on the side of not splitting out an award for two reasons, the first being the hazy line between YA and adult novels (which is, rightly IMO, sidestepped in some bookstores through dual shelving, or of dual publication with a YA version and an adult version.) The second is a vague feeling that keeping the number and type of awards down is a good idea. If there's too many categories, people start getting inspiration fatigue. (Though I *wish* I'd thought of getting folks to nominate the "Just a Minute" interlude of last year's Masquerade for Best Related Work. That was the funniest hour I've spent in years. And it's online.)

#36 ::: anotherdamnedmedievalist ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:41 PM:

@Tom, Nancy, and Linkmeister: We haven't got past, "ooh! maybe we could..." But since my colleague teaches political philosophy and ideologies, and we were thinking of things that might also be available as films (images and iconography in adaptation are important), I would lean towards more concentration on fewer works. But HG, obviously. 'V' for Vendetta, 1984, Brave New World are the other ones that need to be in there. The rest depends largely on which discipline/what level/what pre-reqs and, of course, departmental outcomes.

Personally, I'd love to use Blade Runner and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep; The Chrysalids, and I suppose The Handmaid's Tale should be on it, but I think it would be better to use some Sherri S. Tepper instead. Paul McAuley's Quiet War series would be good, but then Brin's Earth might also work. I'd also love to use Neuromancer or even Pattern Recognition. There are other classics out there as well. Also, it would be good to have more books by women on the list, but that may be something to look at - who writes what sorts of dystopias for what audiences and when?

@ Nancy -- re the fanfic, I'm not sure. Most of the people I know who are avid fanfic readers and writers are women in their 30s-50s, but that's largely for the fun of slashfic. I expect more than a few of my students do write fanfic, and probably read it as well, but that's different than reading the source fiction. I think a young fanfic award would be great -- or a youth fic award (as long as there's some way of making sure that that it doesn't end up going to someone whose mother ghostwrote!). But back to fanfic -- it's clearly part of fandom, but I think that for many, fanfic comes out of a particular fandom, rather than being a fan of sf/f. I think the aim is to expand sf/f fandom, rather than relying on fans who might cling to one or two fandoms (and not necessarily even one of two writers).

#37 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2012, 11:52 PM:

LeGuin's The Dispossessed had the subtitle "An Ambiguous Utopia" in its first edition -- and would be a really interesting book for comparing its external time and its internal politics. Between that and the Atwood, you've got better than token representation. I wonder whether any of Minister Faust's books would work well? Haven't read him, but keep hearing interesting things about him.

#38 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 12:05 AM:

chris: I've seen _The Warrior's Apprentice_ shelved with YA.

I can top this. My local library had one of the Philip Jose Farmer books written for Essex House (whose name I can't remember--Tom, help!) in YA, whose first chapter has a detective sent a silent short anonymously. He watches it and discovers it features a woman with iron dentures biting the genitalia off of a man. I pointed out that this wasn't really conventional for YA, but the librarian was adamant that since it had been bought with YA funds it had to have YA on the spine and be filed in YA.

#39 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 12:23 AM:

That would have been Image of the Beast, Bruce. And it does get even more explicit, in terms of its pornographic depictions. While many YA readers would probably be very pleased to find it, I doubt the library would be pleased if they did....

#40 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 12:28 AM:

Tom: and this was in a community where, when Allegro Non Troppo played in the local movie house, I saw parents dragging their kids up the aisle and out of the theater. One more example of not believing the rating listed on the poster because it was an animated film, I guess...

#41 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 12:30 AM:

Bruce E Durocher II @38, oh, man! A friend of mine found that book when we were in high school! (I can't remember the title either.)

#42 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 02:43 AM:

Bruce@38: Similarly: Because of the Xanth series, Piers Anthony used to get religiously shelved in YA by B&N (as far as I know, he still does). This included the "Tarot" series and "Bio of A Space Tyrant", both of which involve long chains of imaginative and varied sex acts.

Several times I attempted to bring this to the attention of the B&N staff, but they just shrugged and said that the book shelving was set by corporate, and there was no feedback system for corrections.

#43 ::: SamChevre ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 08:35 AM:

anotherdamnedmedievalist @ 36

A course on dystopias--I'd recommend including Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower; it's early modern in setting and the leading character is female.

Other things I think of: Vonnegut's Harrison Bergeron, Revelation 6-13, Erewhon, Heinlein's Methusaleh's Children.

#44 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 08:56 AM:

chris @16; Lee @25; Bruce E. Durocher II @38; Josh Berkus @42: Back when it first came out (in 1986!) the staff at a particular branch of Waterstones were shelving "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns" with the children's picture books. Because it was a picture book, so had to be a children's book. Three or four times I went to the trouble of finding a member of staff, showing them what was on the inside, briefly explaining the concept "graphic novel", noting that the book (a) was definitely NOT for young children and (b) would sell better if it was shelved with the SF. Each time the member of staff listened, agreed with me, and moved the books. The fourth or fifth time I went back in and found it back with the picture books, I gave up.

#45 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 08:59 AM:

Tom Whitmore@26: I like the idea of a fanfic Hugo (not sure whether it would appeal to younger readers as such, but it would certainly appeal to a large audience, which is not disjoint with traditional fandom, but not the same as it either). But there are unresolved legal issues surrounding fanfic, which might cause problems. And large parts of fanfic fandom lay a lot of emphasis on anonymity, which could make actually handing the award over difficult.

#46 ::: Hilary Hertzoff ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 09:54 AM:

YA librarian here. The YA collection at my library includes the aformentioned Bujold. Also Sandman, later Heinlein, Steven King and various manga rated 16+. We also have in the collection novels that were published as YA that have content that is at least as explicit. The lines aren't drawn as firmly as they once were, and there are some authors and publishers who push the envelope to the limit and beyond.

Our library technically serves a YA population of ages 11-18. Note that I say technically, because we have adults browsing the SF and Fantasy (they're just starting to develop the adult collection beyond what Library Journal recommends) and both adults and younger kids browsing the graphic novels. And everyone browses our eclectic collection of DVDs (rated everything from G-R).

That being said, even if we were limiting access to our collection to our stated age range, I would not have a problem handing a high school student any of those titles. We do remind younger kids and their parents of the upper age range of the room and that some of the content of the graphic novels might be inappropriate for younger kids. But in the end, they have the right to decide what is appropriate for their kids and we have the right not to limit our collection so that everything is appropriate for middle schoolers. Especially when the high schoolers who visit the department are asking us to place holds on Fifty Shades of Gray.

Forgive the rant. It's a very hot button topic with me.

#47 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 11:05 AM:

I was a bit snarky on Twitter on this subject, and this post makes a lot of sense to me. I think that some of the resistance to YA both as an award and as a genre in itself comes from people who don't read YA today and don't understand that today's YA did not exist as a genre when they were kids. "What I read when I was twelve" is not the whole of the definition of YA-- if that were true, Jean M Auel would be middle-grade today. Likewise, I have never seen a junior high or high school student reading VC Andrews, though a few of my over-thirty friends have a bit of familiarity with the books (I read the first two because my mother said they were great).

I am also reminded that younger fans aren't going to go to Worldcon unless their parents go to Worldcon; if smaller cons ignore YA, there's no reason to expect that spending a few hundred dollars on attending a con is going to get more discussion of books teenagers have read and gotten enthusiastic about. So a YA Hugo might not help that-- but my impression of a lot of YA writers is that they communicate with their fans more. "Hey, I'm up for a Hugo-- anyone going to this hugebig con?" could draw in fans of particular authors.

I think a YA Hugo could do a lot of interesting things-- but I'm also coming from a place where one of the two conventions I attend each year has steadfastly ignored almost the entire YA genre in favor of discussing, at best, "What I read when I was twelve," and the same Harry Potter panel every year.

#49 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 11:38 AM:

Hilary Hertzoff @46: That wasn't a rant! And it was interesting to hear from someone handling this section of the genre.

#50 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 11:47 AM:

I just realized --- we (or at least some of us) seem to be talking as if there's something wrong with shelving books that have sex scenes (even weird ones) in the YA section. But YA is aimed at 12-to-18-year-olds, the demographic that is most likely to be interested in sex scenes (even weird ones).

I know that I read Piers Anthony (including the "Tarot" series) when I was 12-18, and lost interest in him very quickly thereafter. And that Philip Jose Farmer porn book mentioned above, it was fascinating to us high school students.

#51 ::: Garrett ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 01:21 PM:


Curiously, the first thing I was struck by wasn't under-representation of women in that book list, but a more international under-representation. By my count, with the exception of Atwood, all authors mentioned are American or British. Is this maybe just a limitation of the course (not enough time) or just a representation of what you know best (which is not a bad thing--teaching to one's expertise has plenty of merit). I just found it curious.

I know that Zamyatin's We comes immediately to mind (Russia, 1921), and I've heard Achebe's Anthills of the Savannah (post-colonial Africa) mentioned in dystopic circles--both fascinating historical and political climes. Though the latter may not be very far on the SF scale at all.

#52 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 02:07 PM:

anotherdamnedmedievalist: Another interesting dystopia (though quintessentially male and American!) is Howard Chaykin's series American Flagg. I think some of these were collected in graphic novel format, but there's more in the whole series than would be easy to explicate. And the broadening of medium might help, though you do have V for Vendetta already.

#53 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 02:13 PM:

I can't see how you'd write a set of Hugo eligibility requirements that distinguished YA from adult fiction. The genre has always blurred that line into nonexistence. Almost all of the SF and fantasy works that have become school library standards were originally published for the adult market. That's a feature, not a bug. The genre has been a haven for smart kids, smuggling disturbing or unconventional ideas in innocuous-looking packages.

Obviously, you can't determine what's YA by length.

I'll also argue that you can't determine YA-ness by how the book is labeled, packaged, and sold. A title can move from the publisher's main catalogue in one season to their YA catalogue the next, or vice-versa, or simultaneously be issued in both catalogues, with or without different covers. I'm confident that if YA eligibility were defined by how the publisher packages and sells the book, it wouldn't take long before you'd get a case where a book that the Hugo voters felt was a prime example of YA fantasy or SF was packaged and marketed for the adult market.

Another reason not to tie eligibility to the way the publisher markets the book is that circumstances change. We break out YA now as a separate market because it sells, and because we can. The same was once true of mass-market paperbacks, which are now going the way of the pulp magazines. Length is an intrinsic characteristic of published fiction. Packaging and sales channels are not.

Defining a book as YA by its content is impossible. There are books we can identify as non-YA, but we can't derive and generalize workable rules for what makes them that way. The more we try to pin down such characteristics, the easier it becomes to finesse or write around them, or to insert them if that's the desired effect.

Here's another rule that doesn't work. One of the basic principles of the Hugo Awards is that, aside from length and a few other determinate characteristics, the voters decide what's eligible. It simplifies things. If enough voters decide unprompted that something is a related work, or a dramatic presentation, it goes on the ballot.

This very useful rule breaks down if you have books that can be nominated as novels or YA novels, depending on how the individual voter views that distinction. It's the same unimaginable hairball of a problem we'd have if we broke out SF and fantasy as separate categories.

Some first-order predictions are that some books wouldn't make the ballot because their nominations were split between categories, and authors who got nominated in two categories would be likely to withdraw the book from one category to bolster its chances in the other. IMO, a more troubling consequence would be that the focus of discourse would shift away from whether a book is good, to who its proper audience is, and why. There is just no way that can turn out well.

You'll note that nothing I've said has touched on the worthiness or importance of YA books. I don't consider either to be in question. This is not about whether a YA Hugo would be good or bad. It's about whether it's possible.

#54 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 02:21 PM:

Duane's Young Wizards books are labeled and marketed as YA, but they work fine for at least this adult to enjoy them.

#55 ::: Alter S. Reiss ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 02:38 PM:

I'm not strongly attached to my opinion here, but I think that a YA Hugo would be a bad idea. YA is a marketing category, or if you prefer, a genre, and I'm not sure that I want the Hugo administrators to have to make rulings as to whether or not a work falls into a specific genre.

If there was a lot of YA work that was being deprived of recognition because of the lack of a YA Hugo, I'd see the point, but it seems that YA stories do win Hugos.

Basically, I'm not sure why this is a better idea than having a separate Hugo for fantasy.

#56 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 03:27 PM:

TNH @53: all good and cogent points. Now, if we were to attempt to craft a fanfiction Hugo, would any of the same problems apply? I'd see necessary criteria for that being:

1. Generally available
2. Not published for commercial gain
3. Not restricted as to length
4. Published (first made generally available) in a specific time period
5. Related to SF/F (in the voter's mind)

Note that there's nothing there pointing to other people's universes, or any of a number of things that might happen to the work later. And it's possible for pseudonymity to be respected, if an individual wishes to appoint a designee to pick up the trophy. I'm beginning to think that such a category might be possible.

#57 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 03:27 PM:

@Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Defining a book as YA by its content is impossible. There are books we can identify as non-YA, but we can't derive and generalize workable rules for what makes them that way. The more we try to pin down such characteristics, the easier it becomes to finesse or write around them, or to insert them if that's the desired effect.

Again, offering a perspective from MWA: we discussed this a lot, and the only definition we could come up with that everyone could agree on was "has a youthful (which we defined as under 19) protagonist or POV character." And there were exceptions to even that.

#58 ::: J.D. Rhoades ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 03:27 PM:

@Teresa Nielsen Hayden: Defining a book as YA by its content is impossible. There are books we can identify as non-YA, but we can't derive and generalize workable rules for what makes them that way. The more we try to pin down such characteristics, the easier it becomes to finesse or write around them, or to insert them if that's the desired effect.

Again, offering a perspective from MWA: we discussed this a lot, and the only definition we could come up with that everyone could agree on was "has a youthful (which we defined as under 19) protagonist or POV character." And there were exceptions to even that.

#59 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 03:39 PM:

#29 ::: Nancy Lebovitz:

Actually, I wasn't thinking about the possibility of a fanfic Hugo, I was addressing the claim that younger people "aren't big writers".

If there were a fanfic Hugo, I'd want length categories. A novel and a short story aren't the same sort of thing.

If there were fanfic Hugos, would this cause more authors try to prevent fanfic?

#60 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 04:04 PM:

Tom Whitmore @56:

That's an interesting proposition. You might want to also specify that it's a finished work.

I need to think about this.

An immediate notion: this would generate some strange interactions with self-publishers.

#61 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 04:28 PM:

Tom Whitmore @56:

That's an interesting proposition. You might want to also specify that it's a finished work.

I need to think about this.

An immediate notion: this would generate some strange interactions with self-publishers.

#62 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 05:06 PM:

So I talked to the teenager in my home, and I have to say that the idea of a YA Hugo means nothing to her and would not attract her to attend a convention (especially an expensive convention like a Worldcon). She reads a fair amount of YA fiction, though at 16+ she's actually aging out of the genre and is less interested than before in stories about high school students (regardless of genre). But the Hugos mean nothing to her, at least in part because though she considers herself a science fiction fan, she doesn't identify as a science fiction fan--that's not how she defines herself and it's not how she defines her fandom. She's never bought a book because it's won a Hugo (or a Nebula or any other genre award).

She reads a _ton_ of fanfiction, but again, a Hugo for fanfic would not attract her to the convention. Not in and of itself, anyway.

I've dragged her to a bunch of conventions over the years, in a variety of genres. And she's asked to go to a couple, based on her areas of interest (we've been to a tiny Star Trek convention and next year will attend a tiny Sherlock convention). She's been to NYCC a whole bunch of times, to RT and RWA events, and to Dragon*Con.

From my limited perspective as her mother, what attracts her to a convention:
programming about tv shows and movies she's interested in
appearances by actors she knows or behind-the-scenes people (anyone from tech crew to directors to camera people to special effects folks) who have worked on shows/films she likes
appearances by authors whose work she has read (especially female writers)
programming about specific series/authors she has read (especially female writers)
exhibits of props/costumes related to films/tv shows or specific subgenres (like steampunk)
art exhibits and artists' alleys where relatively inexpensive items may be purchased and where it is possible to speak to artists who don't condescend to her because she is young--especially female artists.
cosplay/hallway costumes
opportunities for social interaction with other young people--one of her great frustrations with Dragon*Con last year was that there weren't a lot of teenagers at the dance(s), perhaps because they were quite late at night?
shopping opportunities--and mostly not for books but for "stuff": toys, action figures, t-shirts, posters, jewelry, clothing and accessories. Cost is definitely a factor, especially because my kid at least likes to bring home presents for her fannish friends. Free or inexpensive autographs are also a plus.

But the plain truth is that she won't go to a Worldcon unless she knows Worldcon exists. And if it wasn't for me, she wouldn't.

She'd heard of Dragon*Con before I took her, through social media. But Worldcon? It's invisible to her. Unless the convention can a) include things appealing to her (and while I know she is a pretty specific example, she's not unique in her social circle--she and several friends are planning a group trip to Dragon*Con as soon as they turn 18 and can rent a hotel room by themselves) and b) promote itself to her, she's not going to be interested in attending.

Cost is an important factor as well, especially in the current economy, where not all teens have jobs.

fwiw, ymmv, etc.

#63 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 05:33 PM:

What's interesting to me is, when I hear the "the line between adult and YA is so blurry" argument, it almost always seems (to me) to come from the adult side. This may make sense: in cases where adult SF/fantasy imprints have later begun publishing YA under the aegis of that imprint the line does feel a little blurry.

But among YA writers, it feels like the line is no more blurry than that between SF and mystery, or fantasy and romance: yes, there will always be the occasional confusing crossover book, but that's rare and really, basically, you can tell these genres apart. From within YA it makes more sense to say "I can't tell a YA fantasy novel from a YA contemporary novel," or "I can't tell a YA paranormal romance from a YA magical adventure story," because those lines do blur from an in-YA-genre perspective, and YA readers are known for reading across those lines.

SF-focused adult imprints that also publish YA aside, I can say that it's pretty unusual for a title to move from a publisher's adult catalog to their YA one or vice versa. If an editor works for one of the YA/children's imprints of, say, Harper or S&S or Random House, they may be working with the editors of the other YA/children's imprints at that house, but they're working pretty independently from the adult side with all its imprints, and I don't get the impression there's much contact at all. I think it would take serious work and collaboration and a really strong incentive to decide to do crossover marketing. It can happen, but not easily or lightly. When I've seen it, it's been with highly successful books for which there's a financial impetus to do so.

I have no idea whether all of this is an argument for or against a separate YA Hugo.

#64 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 05:43 PM:

Melissa, #62: FWIW, I've never bought a book because it was a Hugo (or any other award) winner either. Having that on the cover might make me more likely to pick it up and take a look, but it still has to pass my "does this look interesting?" test before I'll buy it. Sometimes hearing the buzz that gets generated about award-winners contributes to this, but it's not the award itself that matters, it's what the people who are discussing the book say about the story.

#65 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 05:47 PM:

Lee @64: But the Hugo mention on the cover sometimes makes you pick it up to take a look, right? Not my kid. It literally means nothing to her. Neither does the Nebula.

I agree, however, that I used too simplistic a formulation in my original post.

#66 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 06:49 PM:

Janni Lee Simner @63: I don't know whether that's true now or not, but historically what you say about publishing doesn't fit my experience. The McElderry/Argo line from Atheneum is a prime example of books that were generally published in hardback as YA and pb as adult (think the second and third Earthsea books, or Patricia McKillip). Yes, there have always been clear cases; but there have also always been a lot of edge cases. And that makes the potential award much harder to manage.

#67 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 07:21 PM:

I actually did attend the meeting, and for what it's worth, while I think that reasonable people can definitely disagree on the topic, I also think some of the ire coming out of the meeting was justified. At least one speaker was inflammatory in a rather ponderous I-have-no-idea-I'm-offending-people way, and you could certainly hear the gnashing of teeth where I was sitting. (His arguments included that YA didn't exist when HE was a kid, ergo it wouldn't be around in a few years anyway, so there was no point in making a Hugo for a doomed category.)

The argument that the fandom can't accurately judge YA is one that may have much to recommend it--sadly, this particular suggestion was proposed by said speaker, and was almost word-for-word the same argument he had advanced ten minutes prior to argue that graphic story should be killed, because nobody in fandom knew enough about comics. I expect people who stayed for the full show may have been slightly out of charity with this argument the second time it was trotted out, however it might stand on its own in another setting. (Qualifier and admission of bias: I had a very big toothy dog in THAT particular fight.)

My boyfriend, who was grinding his teeth next to me, brought up an interesting bias that I might have missed on my own. Some of the arguments against seemed to hinge on "Well, I was a precocious reader, and I read adult stuff at twelve, therefore..." And that sort of thing can go without a blink in fandom, because a vast majority of us undoubtedly were precocious readers and just assume that's the normal origin of the geek.

Boyfriend's kids, however, are not precocious readers. At eleven, they would no more read the Hobbit than War & Peace. They are Not Interested. But YA get some traction there. The oldest will devour a YA series, but he is definitely not hanging out in the adult sci-fi section, plowing through Asimov. His geek origin stories involve Star Wars legos, not Heinlein.

People of goodwill can disagree, but I don't think the ranting on twitter arose entirely out of the blue--we did see some Old Guard Bias, and some of it was pretty obnoxious stuff.

#68 ::: Diatryma ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 07:39 PM:

Tom Whitmore, I think I would have to see current books being cross-marketed. For me, Earthsea has never been YA. McKillip has never been YA. When I first read them, YA did not exist. That's the difference for me between YA and 'books I read when I was twelve'. YA came on the scene when I was in high school.

When I graduated three years ago, I stopped reading almost all fantasy and science fiction except YA. If the two were the same except for the age of the protagonists, I would have stopped reading in the genre altogether.

#69 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 07:40 PM:

UrsulaV: and I assume we get to congratulate your big toothy dog on her shiny new rocket ship?

I don't think the "Fandom can't judge that" argument holds any water on any award category. I might disagree with the judgment in any particular case, but there's no way to say fans can't judge something that's publicly available. They may not judge it according to some criteria someone else might like, but they are perfectly capable of judging. Do it all the time, just like any other group of people. The Hugos are a popular award, unlike (say) the Nebulas or the Oscars, and don't pretend to be anything else.

Same with Graphic Novels. We are perfectly capable of judging them. The question is, do we want to? And if we do, can we define them well enough to be able to say whether something is one or not? And can we make a category that they'll belong in unambiguously? An edge case worth looking at: would Understanding Comics fit more properly in Graphic Story, or Related Work? It more easily competes with other non-fiction than with fiction in terms of what it's trying to do, but many people don't seem to look past its combination of words-and-pictures. I know where I'd want to see it, but is this unambiguous enough?

I personally hope you'll hang around and comment more!

#70 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 07:53 PM:

#63 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: What's interesting to me is, when I hear the "the line between adult and YA is so blurry" argument, it almost always seems (to me) to come from the adult side. ...
But among YA writers, it feels like the line is no more blurry than that between SF and mystery, or fantasy and romance: yes, there will always be the occasional confusing crossover book, but that's rare and really, basically, you can tell these genres apart.

Reading this prompted two reactions in me:

1) "When I was in the YA target age range, I wasn't conscious of seeking out YA novels -- I sought out novels about 'people like me,' which may have meant 'my age' or 'my gender' or 'writers' or just 'people who share my concerns' depending on what was going through my head at any given moment. So I'm not sure if the lines were blurry; I wasn't looking at them."

2) "Oh, wait, the post said 'YA writers.' OK, well, seems like I heard several people this weekend say that they don't distinguish between their adult novels and their YA novels while writing them; they just write books they'd like to read. Then the publisher markets them one way or another. Again, maybe the line is pretty precise, but it sounds like some writers aren't looking at the line when they write."

I have no idea where these reactions fit into the conversation.

#71 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 09:17 PM:

The arguments that can move me are whether or not a YA Hugo would promote YA science fiction and fantasy—that's what book awards are for. Whether it would help to promote the Worldcon to younger fans seems to me a lesser consideration.

#72 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 09:34 PM:

Do libraries factor Hugos into their buying decisions?

#73 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 10:27 PM:

I am a (YA) librarian but not a librarian who's responsible for ordering books.

At my large public library, orders are based on reviews (Library Journal, Kirkus, etc.) and on patron demand. So, typically, by the time the Hugos have been awarded, we've already ordered a certain number of copies based on reviews and popularity of the author, and we don't order additional copies unless there's a big spike in demand and we have more requests for the book than we can fulfill in a reasonable amount of time.

We do order additional copies of Newbery and Caldecott and Printz winners, but those are American Library Association awards; librarians pay attention to those more than they pay attention to Hugos. We actually have very few copies of the last few years of Hugo winners, considering we're a large (60 branches) library sytem; the exceptions are The Yiddish Policemen's Union (by an author who's popular outside of genre science fiction) and The Graveyard Book (which won a Newbery.)

#74 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 10:30 PM:

I should add, we're a large enough library system that we order at least a handful of copies of almost everything that comes out from a major press and gets decent reviews, and a lot of books that don't. We would never not order a China Mieville book or a Connie Willis book -- it's just a question of how many copies. I'm sure the math is different for smaller, lower-budget libraries.

#75 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 10:53 PM:

The rest of the world may not care about the Hugo, but *we* do. Just saying.

#76 ::: B. Durbin got gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Tom Whitmore got there first, UrsulaV. So let me also congratulate your big toothy dog on her shiny rocketship.

#77 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2012, 11:12 PM:

Hugo Awards are more likely to affect the next book from an author than the current one, in terms of sales; which affects the sales to libraries down the line.

#78 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 12:13 AM:

Tom (#66): In a way, that's my point: historically the lines were blurred, but now is no longer then (Earthsea and The Changeling Sea, both of which I adore, btw, were ages ago in publishing time), and things are vastly different now, and adult genre readers often seem unaware of this, and want to apply their memories to the present instead of looking at YA as it is and has been for a decade or three, which is a much more distinct thing.

Nicole (#70): Oh, I just write books I like to read, too! It's just that I'm also aware of where those books might fit, which doesn't affect the writing but does affect both the marketing and which readers both find and appreciate the work when it's through.

Which includes not only teen readers but the sort of adults who appreciate the sorts of stories YA genre books tend to tell. Because YA is a genre, with a feel and a sensibility and concerns that overall are different from adult. It's a thing of its own ... but it doesn't, apparently, look nearly as distinct to the adult genre world (which seems to still want to own it, in some ways) ... in much the way SF and fantasy look much the same to mainstream readers, yet as actual sf/fantasy readers we gnash our teeth because we know they're so different even as we flail to explain where the line is.

#79 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 12:38 AM:

I`m trying to remember what attracted me to cons when i was 16 to see if a useful metric can be derived.

I know I went to the local con the first time because Mercedes lackey was scheduled to be there (And had to cancel). I stayed in spite of that disappointment in my apparent first motivation because of:
- friendly people who didn`t condescend
- art show - as a viewer, as a purchaser (or at least bidder) and as a potential future participant.
- other interesting activities (Panels, yes, but much more things like the SCA dance demo, the masquerade and following dance party, and signings)
- a dealer`s room with stuff I actually wanted (In my case this mostly meant things like music and books - the score I remember most fondly even now was a cassette by a band I`d heard of via other fandom stuff, and which the dealer let me listen to ahead of time)
- cosplay. I`m a middling participant (Often walking around in SCA garb but rarely in more complex stuff), but I miss seeing it at World Fantasy even though I don`t miss most of the other fan-side things that are missing.
- Good consuites including decent food, decent atmosphere, and more of the -
- Friendly people. I can`t emphasize this enough. Authors, dealers, fellow congoers, demo-runners, I never felt anyone turned up their nose at my presence. If they did, they hid it well enough.
- I`d have stayed even if one of those friendly people didn`t end up dating me, but I can`t say it wasn`t a perk.
- Never feeling sexually threatened or approached too indecently (not, alas, something the con has managed to maintain for everyone.)

I almost didn`t go to the Worldcon in Winnipeg a couple years after because it didn`t sound like that much more cool stuff and the price was so much higher. I bought a day pass for the Sunday on discovering that Charles de Lint was there, and that led to the other big thing that interested me in Cons, and brings me back:

- I discovered filking. OMG, I discovered filking. Best thing EVAR.

Nowadays I have a lot more appreciation for what the sheer size of a Worldcon can present versus a local thing, plus the worth of voting for the awards (I`m afraid the ceremony was middling at best in its appeal, but I`m not so big on the awards ceremony thing in general. I`m sure I`d say differently if I were up for one.) But as a teen, that was my thinking. Too much cost, and I have a regular con i can go to...

Where I see Worldcon falling down even in this discussion is in the friendly people area. Being obviously condescended to or sneered at for my age even by a single person, were they someone important enough (Meaning even someone running a suite, or an author, or even a dealer) might have turned me off the con more than a similarly single incident of sexual harassment, just to give perspective.

(When the latter did finally happen, I was disgusted by him, not the con, since he was removed by the con.)

As for a YA category, i think the arguments presented seem to me to be good for not having one. And yet, on that other hand, I think Serge has a point; if it`s worth discussing this much, it might be worth considering attempting for a year or two.

(Apologies for backwards apostrophes; my keyboard reverted to French on me and I haven`t yet reset it. Canadian problem no. 179...)

#80 ::: Lenora Rose Gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 12:39 AM:

Gnomed. No food, alas, to offer.

#81 ::: Mary Frances ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 12:56 AM:

anotherdamnedmedievalist@22 and Lee@25: FWIW, the last time I moderated "the" YA panel at a regional con, we had two teenagers in the audience. Both were obviously hoping to have a chance to talk about books they cared about, so I invited both of them up to join the panel, and it took off. I won't say it was the best panel I've ever been on, but it certainly was noisy and excited--and I suspect we may have at least encouraged future con attendance by any younger fans who heard about it later . . .

#82 ::: Josh Berkus ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 01:38 AM:

Avram @50: I'm not saying that teens aren't interested in reading thinly-disguised (or possibly entirely undisguised) SF porn novels. On the contrary, I'm sure they're very interested; I sure was! (although there's a lot more of that online than in print, these days...) I'm just saying that such books are not written *for* the teen or younger audience, and shouldn't be shelved with Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and Duane's Young Wizards. Especially in preference to shelving them with the "adult" SF.

#83 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 08:11 AM:

Lenora Rose's points about friendly people who did not condescend and no sexual harassment are important for both male and female teenagers.

Also, Mary Frances's point about including younger fans in programming is a good one. It helps them feel that they "count" and that their opinions are worthy of being listened to--that they are not being dismissed because they are younger.

Programming specifically geared to younger fans--with some panelists recruited from the fandoms, perhaps--would be nice too.

#84 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:52 AM:

UrsulaV @67:

I actually did attend the meeting, and for what it's worth, while I think that reasonable people can definitely disagree on the topic, I also think some of the ire coming out of the meeting was justified. At least one speaker was inflammatory in a rather ponderous I-have-no-idea-I'm-offending-people way, and you could certainly hear the gnashing of teeth where I was sitting. (His arguments included that YA didn't exist when HE was a kid, ergo it wouldn't be around in a few years anyway, so there was no point in making a Hugo for a doomed category.)

People of goodwill can disagree, but I don't think the ranting on twitter arose entirely out of the blue--we did see some Old Guard Bias, and some of it was pretty obnoxious stuff.

Advice from a veteran of way too many fan feuds: Don't raise up your own opposition. You can weld together hitherto unaligned people by accidentally including them in broad denunciations. This guy sounds like he put his foot in it in some seriously irritating ways. If you identify him by name, rather than referring to an "old guard bias", you'll pare down the number of people who potentially think you're quarreling with them.

Janni Lee Simner: Maybe the authors can distinguish category YA. The question is whether the voters can.

Let's assume for the moment that YA has become so sharply speciated that the category of a given book is not in doubt. In that case, the question is whether the Hugo voters read that category.

#85 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:15 AM:

Lee #25: Would "for grown-ups" work as a substitute? Since "adult" has come to mean "contains sexual/erotic material" rather than "content may be too complex or difficult for children to understand".

#86 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:20 AM:

Janni Lee Simmer@78: What you say harmonises with what I've been feeling for a while. The curious thing is that often the polarity of the discussion is reversed: old-guard people say 'What is this new YA stuff? I don't understand it,' and people who are defending YA say 'What d'you mean, new? YA has existed for hundreds of years. What about Alice in Wonderland, and Narnia, and...?'. Many of the books mentioned in this context are actually, as I mentioned earlier, children's books. But it's true, of course, that there have always been books aimed at teenagers. What there hasn't been until recently is a genre, with, as you say, a feel and a sensibility and concerns.

But I do wonder whether it's a good idea to dedicate an award to a genre defined in this way (rather than, as SF and fantasy typically are, by subject-matter). It looks as if we are dedicating an award to a specific movement, to a community of writers - and that seems an odd thing to do. (For a Hugo. There are awards that are specifically so dedicated, of course.)

#87 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 11:00 AM:

A question which occurs to me: if there were YA categories, which would this year's Best Novel winner go in? Its first person protagonist is fifteen years old.

(I personally think that it does in fact have "the YA-nature", whatever exactly that may be; its author disagrees, and possibly so does its editor. The novel does seem to have done just fine published as a book for adults.)

#88 ::: UrsulaV ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 01:20 PM:

@TNH Heh! I'll be honest with you, it wasn't an attempt to protect the guilty--I haven't got a clue what his name was! I am one of the worst rememberer of names on earth, and I fear a physical description would narrow it down not at all. But the advice is well-taken nonetheless.

Having never attended one of these meetings before, seeing the sausage actually made was....well, heckuva thing.

And thanks, guys.

#89 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 01:39 PM:

Nancy Lebovitz @29: Is fanfic a generational thing? Or perhaps such a rare thing that your classes aren't that likely to turn up fanfic writers?

::cough:: ::COUGH:: hack *wheeze*

Um. Ahem.

Oh yeah, and: YOMANKB

#90 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 03:59 PM:

@79: Yeah, I think the obvious social aspects for new-ish people often gets ignored at a con. (I managed to get a speech from a 50-ish regular once that boiled down to "Yeah, it was the same in my day, but once I came back for four or five years things were different." Four or five years of being snubbed -- hell, two or three years of being snubbed -- means I'm never coming back.)

One point that may not get discussed enough is policies about alcohol consumption. When alcohol is only available behind closed doors, new people get excluded. When alcohol is only available at bars, people under 21 often get excluded. (Sometimes for legal reasons, IIRC.) Fears about liability only makes this worse. It's all good and well to point to the alcohol-free consuite, but a lot more people are going to head for the Place of Beer. I don't know how this can be addressed, but it's a subject that should *really* be discussed more.

Re: fanfiction Hugos -- Given that fanworks is already a Hugo category, I think we've been halfway there for awhile. That being said, there's some major ethical issues that would need to be hashed out. For example, Le Guin (IIRC) has explicitly said she disapproves of fanfiction. I've often seen people fairly respectful of authors' opinions, but if I wrote an awesome Earthsea fanfiction, would that be acceptable? What if I wrote it after she died? Copyright law means that her works may very well never be public domain -- should that make my piece permanently fanfiction ineligible?

#91 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:08 PM:

By my reading of the official rules governing the Hugos, there's nothing to keep a fanfic story from being nominated in the appropriate-length prose category. There's still the matter of figuring out who gets the award in the case of work published under a private pseudonym, but it's not unimaginable that the same issue might one day similarly complicate matters for a traditionally-published work.

In any event, should Eliezer Yudkowsky ever get around to finishing Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality (some of our younger readers may live to see that day), I wouldn't be surprised to see it nominated for the Best Novel Hugo.

#92 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:09 PM:

Ursula @88
My one exposure to SFWA sausage left me disappointed. I had expected better (or at least different) from the group, not the same old politicking and bickering I'd seen in Mundania.

PNH, UrsulaV @67 & Tom Whitmore @69 (and others)
This is regarding the observations about "the graying of traditional SF fandom" and "the graying of SF institutions like the Worldcon is a problem" and why no one sees/feels/wants to judge/include the YA and Graphic Novel categories. And why young people don't know/care about the Hugos/Nebulas)

As I see it, the problem is that today's young adult readers aren't interested in their parents' and grandparents' version of SF/F fiction and culture. If I want to know what's going on in the lives of my young adult relatives, I go to Facebook. I would go to Twitter, but none of my young relatives are on that social network. Better yet, I ask them directly. I also ask them what they're reading and usually borrow it when they're done. Only then do I get the same amount of interest from them in what I'm reading or what I'm doing.

Culture is a quid-pro-quo thing. Of the traditional convention culture I've experienced since finding it in my 30's... There's been very little interest from the old(er) fans about the things the young(er) fans like. "Traditional Fandom" is a lot like the rural towns* I grew up in. Friendly and very social with the people and things they know, but resistant to change and not seeing the need to change how things have always been done. In the meantime, technology has made their efforts obsolete and/or unnecessary so the youth go to wherever it is they and their ideas are wanted.

As for the run-of-the-mill fannish teen, they Facebook, Twitter and hang out in on-line forums created around the shows/movies/books they like. If the Hugo committee wants to get young adults to nominate YA authors in the SF/F genre, start a twitter survey, and set it up to bleed over into Facebook. Or do what NPR did for their top 100 lists, except target on-line social networking sites popular with teens.

Also, a large and still growing number of young adults fall into Mark Bernstein's comment at #31 "The majority of the younger generation members said that they didn't much care for Heinlein, whose works had been pushed at them." I'm by no means a YA, but I don't like Heinlein, either. So I sympathize with the teen who gets a book shoved in their face and told "Here, you'll like it. I did when I was your age," only to find out they hate the book. This method of introducing old books to young readers has always struck me as the literate geek version of the "When I was your age..." cliche. Only the quavering voice is replaced by a bombastic one as noted by UrsulaV in #67. It makes reading SF/F seem like the at-home version of English Lit -- and I still remember how 99% of my high school classmates felt about English Lit. (It got so bad that the teacher refused to call on me because I was the only one holding up my hand to respond. I still remember the tone of Mrs. Graham's voice when she said "Someone other than Victoria.")

As for the graphic novel category... The fans are there. The culture is both mature and thriving. It just doesn't mix well with the SF/F Literary culture that has formed around both the Hugo and the Nebula awards.

This is a hot button for me, even though I don't have a dog in the fight.

* I stopped in a town Labor Day weekend where the city park is a quarter of a mile outside the town's current city limits. Once upon a time the town of Green was big enough and the inhabitants proactive enough to get a WPA project in 1938. Now the town is three blocks wide and nine blocks long. The city park that was important enough to rate a grand gate and various amenities that some modern parks don't have is turning back into prairie dotted here and there with ruins. The town itsself is being plowed under, literally, by the farmers who live there.

In a way, it was like visiting Weathertop.

#93 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:11 PM:

I just got gnomed. Fascinating.

#94 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:21 PM:

LMM @ #90

@79: Yeah, I think the obvious social aspects for new-ish people often gets ignored at a con. (I managed to get a speech from a 50-ish regular once that boiled down to "Yeah, it was the same in my day, but once I came back for four or five years things were different." Four or five years of being snubbed -- hell, two or three years of being snubbed -- means I'm never coming back.)

It's worse for the very enthusiastic who not only show up but also volunteer to help. I know a lot of volunteers both in fandom and out of it who get snubbed and walk away after the first time, never to return. I've learned that the more enthusiastic the volunteer, the louder they bitch when snubbed and the farther it travels because they use examples of why they won't return.

Unfortunately, most people aren't like your 50-ish example.

#95 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:39 PM:

UrsulaV, #88: Heh right back atcha -- when you said that, I immediately thought of at least 3 people it might have been. But I am not going to name names, because I wasn't there and it would be entirely speculation and possibly incorrect.

LMM, #90: I have sometimes advised people to go to a couple more cons if they feel left-out at their first one, because it can be a bit overwhelming to be in a crowd of people who all seem to know each other and you don't know anyone; also, if I know it's someone's first con, I'll make a point of introducing them around to some of my friends. It's like going to any sort of group activity for the first time -- sometimes it takes a few times for you to start recognizing people and them to start recognizing you. But if it's not happening after 2 or 3 times, then maybe this activity isn't a good match for you.

WRT alcohol, I'm not sure what you mean by "only available behind closed doors". Most of the cons I go to have room parties, and many of the parties do serve alcohol, but there are also soft drinks available and there's no age restriction on who can come in and hang out -- they just need ID if they actually want booze. In recent years I've seen a few parties that were 21-and-up-only, but I avoid them; I'm not interested in a "party" whose sole purpose appears to be how fast can they get how many people how drunk.

On the topic of "reasonable people can disagree," I'm reminded of a discussion I had some 20 years ago with a costumer about the relative amount of respect for filk vs. costuming at cons; each of us thought the other got more respect, because we were looking at different things. What he saw was that some cons were starting to bring in filk guests, but not costuming guests*; what I saw was that every rinky-dink con had a masquerade on the program, while filking was often relegated to somebody's private room or the hotel lobby.

* This has now changed, and some cons do have costuming guests; the more of a costuming or steampunk emphasis in the con, the more likely they are to have a costuming guest. I consider that a Good Thing.

#96 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 05:50 PM:

Victoria @94 - huh. My own experience as a relative newcomer to fandom is that when I volunteer at a con because I don't know anyone, I look for those tasks that everyone else hates (like washing dishes for the con suite) -- I've never been met with anything but wild enthusiasm. It hadn't quite occurred to me that someone seeking to volunteer would be met with snubbing, because that's so very much not been my own experience.

But then, perhaps there's also an intersection here with Teresa's observed Fruit Punch Czar phenomenon, both in terms of newcomers feeling snubbed by old-timers at cons and by "established" fandom, but also with regard to Hugo categories and nominations?

#97 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Years ago, when a Pagan organization I was in was wrestling with the question of what to do about minors who wanted to join (or wanted to join member covens etc.) despite parental disapproval, one man said they should just read and wait, and said that he spent years doing just that, and learning to practice on his own and so forth.

"But you're a remarkable individual," I said. "I really think expecting everyone to be as thoughtful and determined as you were is setting the bar too high." He had nothing to say to that, though I suspect he was enough of an elitist that it didn't seem like a problem to him.

If we want people to join us (people of whatever kind), it behooves us to make it easy for them. Yes, many of us here read adult SF at tender ages (I didn't know what to make of a book called IIRC The Man in the Maze when I was sure had plenty of explicit sex scenes, which was a first for me). But if that's where we set the bar, there are a lot of good people who we'll never pry away from their X-Boxes. Or X-Boxen. Or whatever.

Has anyone ever proposed a Hugo for Best Game? I would not be surprised to see it in my lifetime. In fact, I'll be surprised if a game isn't nominated as Best Dramatic Presentation within the next 20 years.

#98 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 07:53 PM:

It seems to me that we need to tease out different kinds of younger fans before we can usefully talk about why they're not coming to conventions.

a) Interested in science fiction/fantasy movies, TV, video games, maybe fanfiction or maybe even tie-in novels, but not interested in original written SF.

b) Interested in written SF, but primarily or only written SF published for YAs.

c) Interested in written SF for adults, but not aware of convention-going fandom as a Thing.

d) Aware of convention-going fandom as a Thing, but not feeling any particular need to go, because the internet fills their quota of book-related socializing.

e) Interested in going to conventions, but lacking money/transportation/parental permission.

I didn't go to SF conventions as a teenager, though I went to a couple of anime ones. (This is because I had friends in anime fandom, but not SF fandom; also, there was an anime convention in my city, but not an SF convention.) I went to my first SF convention at the age of 21 because in 2003 WorldCon was held in Toronto, where my aunt lived, and it wasn't far on the train. But still, the membership cost was a lot of money for me back then.

So I guess it seems backwards to change the Hugos in order to bring more young people to WorldCon. If you want to bring more young people to convention-going science fiction fandom, I think that outreach has to happen at smaller local cons that don't represent a huge investment of time and money to attend. (And yes, that can involve YA books, and anime, and video games...) *Then* people can get excited about the Hugos, and maybe going to WorldCon if one pops up that's close enough to swing around to...

#99 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 08:18 PM:

@95: Cons are a *massive* time and money sink compared to other group events. My first SCA event (for example) was a small-scale local affair; it lasted all of Saturday, and it cost me about $20 plus gas money. I had attended a few local socials, so I knew several people going into it, and they introduced me to others there. 'Local' cons here are almost certainly going to be an hour or so out of town; given that they don't wind up until fairly late, that almost certainly means I'm staying overnight. There are also no local sf groups, which means that I'm going to be walking into any con without knowing a soul.

And that's worked for me a few times. Minicon, for example, I had a great time with. I didn't know anyone walking in, but I have fond memories of chopping vegetables in the consuite and taking a shot in honor of some long-dead local fan.

It's also failed miserably. Readercon -- well, apart from the obvious disaster, the regulars are incredibly click-ish. (It is, perhaps not coincidentally, my case study in alcohol policy fail.) I pointed this out to a few people; the typical victim-blaming responses I got were to point me to a few local cons that I should have attended instead. (This is, of course, information that came a few hundred dollars and a vacation day too late.) I also can't shake the suspicion that, should I attend said alternative cons, I will be pointed to *other* cons I should have attended instead of them.

Basically, the thing about cons is that they're expensive. They're a major investment both financially and time-wise; they're also a pretty solid psychological investment. Parties, one attends for a few hours and then goes home. Hell, if they suck, one can walk out the door earlier. Cons, unless you're lucky enough to live in a major city, one attends for at least a day, if not more. It's a higher investment, and that means that it damn well better pass a higher bar in terms of accessibility.

Don't get me wrong. I *like* fandom. Fandom is my kind of people. I just suspect that fandom doesn't like me back.

#100 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 08:53 PM:

MacAllister @96

No, my experience was/is pretty much the direct opposite of Teresa's Fruit Punch Czar parable. I never wanted power or control, turned it down a couple of times, but wound up with it anyway. When I started volunteering at conventions, I chose to work registration because I figured it would be the best place to meet people. I, too was welcomed and appreciated for my work. I'm also a painfully shy introvert who learned how to be a friendly extrovert. Oddly enough, a class in social anthropology showed me how: first you observe...

That first convention was like jumping into the deep end of the pool when I didn't know how to swim because I went to the convention totally alone. Up until then, I had been working on being comfortable with new people in one-on-one situations or dealing with the stress of being in small groups where I might know one other person beforehand.

I faked social eptness well enough that someone asked me how many conventions I'd been to. After admitting that it was my first one, he merely said, "It doesn't show" and went on to another conversation and leaving me out in the cold so to speak. (It wasn't until recently that I figured out the "doesn't show" was a compliment and not an excuse to be rude.) Everyone else at the room parties would look at me, smile back and ignore me in favor of someone they already knew. No effort was expended on getting to know the new face. I tried all of my proven-to-be-successful methods to connect with strangers. Nothing worked.

So my first lesson of convention culture was they want my help, but not much else. Therefore, when it came time to do the official welcoming of first timers, I was wary enough of the population that I kept my mouth shut. The Party Floor Welcoming Ceremony sounded like a bit of hazing in disguise. All I knew was that "smoothing the newbies" involved drinking, and the old-timers (who had ignored my overtures) were very enthusiastic about it. I was too afraid to ask what "smoothing" was for fear of being dragged into it whether I wanted to participate or not. And yes, it was totally innocuous, but the not knowing beforehand was scary as hell when surrounded by indifferent strangers.

Please keep that in mind when I say that after four or five years of volunteering and a couple of instances of doing the work that no one else wanted to do, I made a suggestion for changing something that wasn't working any more. I got slapped down hard by an elder of the tribe. I'm stubborn, so getting told off happened a few more times. I hear "con babies" complain about getting the same treatment. That solidified my first impression. Experiencing volunteer abuse at another convention only reinforced my beliefs.

I'd say I was just unlucky but these days I see the eager 20-somethings and young 30-somethings come along and volunteer. Because they're not shy, they want to make changes right off the bat. They see the value in the group, but also see there's not much there that interest them. Because they want to see more people like them come to the convention they suggest changes, things that will bring more, younger people in. The older members of the concom, or the most hide bound, either ignore them or tell them it won't work without having tried it. So the 20-somethings and the young 30-somethings leave. Often with prejudice at the way they were told "No, you can't." The kindest epithet I've heard recently is that "traditional" convention-based fandom is "clique-ish." And as con chair, I get all the new people asking "Is there a reason why we can't do _____?" Because someone else told the volunteer "we've never done that" when telling them to cease and desist.

That is why this is such a hot button topic for me. I see "con babies" demeaned by their elders and newbies alienated by a lot of the same people who moan that "fandom is graying" or "fandom is dying off". Fandom, from what I've observed, has changed from what it was 10, 15, and 20 or more years ago. It's gone mainstream. The "Traditional Convention" subculture is getting invaded by mundanes and muggles, who then run screaming, or at least swearing, into the night because the indoctrination that used to work doesn't any more.

#101 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:01 PM:

Xopher, I have a nephew who just got his PhD in Film Studies. A number of his published papers are on games. So a Dramatic Presentation nomination for a game isn't that strange an idea to me.

#102 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:19 PM:

LMM, #99: Cons are a *massive* time and money sink compared to other group events.

WRT money, no argument there. I didn't really get into cons until I was out of college and working, because SCA events were so much cheaper. Even if they were out of town, typically the membership was 1/4 that of the average con, and accommodations were at a state park group camp or in the locals' living rooms, not a hotel. I could tell you my story of attending Suncon (Worldcon 1977) on a shoestring, but that was very much the exception and not a typical case (and would be impossible to replicate at any Worldcon of the last 15 years anyhow). I was fortunate enough to have a home-town con when I was just getting started, which I could attend without having to have a hotel room, and that helped.

OTOH, I don't see a con as being any more of a time-sink than an SCA event; typically, they both last a weekend. So perhaps doing SCA stuff prepared me to spend the same relative amount of time doing con stuff.

#103 ::: Victoria ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:20 PM:

LMM @99

Thank you for that concise summary. I feel exactly the same way. Only I was thinking "I have found my tribe! My tribe sucks."

I see everything that makes the "we welcome everyone" belief into a lie, and it drives me nuts. Since I'm a believer of the "put up and shut up or do something about it" faith, I'm trying to change the convention culture I'm a part of. My parents always insisted that if you want a community to survive, you have to give back as much as you take. The corollary to this is that you have to let others give and take as well. My parents practiced what they preached, too. I've been doing the same. That's why I've allowed myself the earlier rants. Normally, I just bite my tongue when stuff like this comes up.

A fellow concom member called me a rebel. I told him that I was actually an instigator. I guess what I really am is a reformer.

#104 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:46 PM:

Hmm. At Pagan gatherings when I was going to them, they had a Newcomers' Orientation. It was just a brief session explaining what various things were, when to show up for what...and explaining that the "everyone here knows everyone else except me" thing is an illusion.

We also had Listener badges (just a button with a big L that actually kinda looked like a slug) so that people who needed to talk could go up to someone wearing one and have a conversation about whatever, usually a problem with the culture shock of a Pagan gathering. This gathering also had a place called Ground Central Station, where you could go and have a cookie and get grounded (brought back to everyday reality from a more spaced-out state).

Limited applicability. But perhaps it's not too much to have a Worldcon (which after all is huge) have a space where someone will talk to you. Or label either people who are willing to talk to total strangers (and you know what? when we weren't in the mood we took off the L button) or newcomers (with a separate button that they can take off if they don't feel like being labeled).

Labeling newcomers would have some problems that I can see right now. But maybe the Listener button idea is transferable. The Newcomers' Orientation would have to be optional, though I seem to remember seeing that happen at a con or two. One thing, though: can't be Thursday morning. Newcomers are more likely to be poor and/or kids, and not be able to take a lot of time off from work or school.

Wow, I'd totally volunteer to do this if I thought I'd make another Worldcon or NASFiC before like 2016. Rats.

#105 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 09:51 PM:

The above is intended as "hmm, clearly fandom needs to do better at welcoming new people" and "here are some ideas for doing that," not as a complaint or worse, a chutney.

#106 ::: Xopher HalfTongue has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:04 PM:

And this time I have no Earthly idea why.

#107 ::: Persephone ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:13 PM:

#104 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: I love the idea of both the newcomer's orientation and the Listener buttons. I sold jewelry in the dealer's rooms at several different cons for a number of years, and everyone assumed that because I was a dealer I already knew everyone. I wanted to hang out and have fun and meet people, but I'm terribly introverted and never made a single acquaintance or stayed for any after-dealer-hours events. I'd have been much more likely to get involved and actually talk to people if I'd had a safe (in the social sense) way to get started.

#108 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:18 PM:

Emily H: It seems to me that the young persons I know do not divide neatly into categories. Many of them read YA sf/f or YA paranormal/urban fantasy and also love sf/f film. Others read both YA and non-YA stuff.

Others read a lot of fanfic, which doesn't seem to label stuff as YA or not-YA, as well as watch film/tv.

It's rare ime to run into a young person who only has the film/tv orientation; they all seem to read. But most of the teens I know are girls, and things may differ for boys. That said, I do know a couple of younger proto-fan boys (rising middle schoolers), and they read books in addition to being action film fans.

#109 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:22 PM:

This was my first Worldcon, and I suppose I may as well offer up my data points. I haven't totally caught up on sleep so this will be a trifle short on analysis.

- I am 31 and felt very much like one of the "young people" everyone was bemoaning the lack of. I met a handful of lovely folks my age or younger, but half or more of them were pros of one stripe or another. This wasn't a problem, exactly, but there was a very different feel for me than at cons where I am among my agemates, or even one of the old folks.

- It was startling to check Twitter and see all of my friends talking about a con - but not the con I was at. All of my friends were at PAX, except the ones who were at Dragoncon. I suspect this scheduling was not exactly helping the age balance. (And, as an aside, if you want to look at ways to attract younger people from a con structure point of view rather than a programming point of view, PAX is, I think, the best-run and most accurately targeted of all the cons I've attended.)

- I went to a couple of parties - the first night, because I had gotten flyers at the very first panel I was on (and met a handful of interns and other younguns talking video games, which was a conversation I felt confident in attaching myself to, rather than the also-fascinating conversation of the attitudes of the various Manhattan Project scientists about the early nuclear tests.) The second night I just dropped by one that happened to be on the floor I was on, hung out for a bit, saw no one willing to make eye contact with me, and wandered right out again. I didn't bother to hit up the parties after that. The age disparity was so striking at those parties that I assumed that the pros were all at cooler parties (which turned out to be true.)

- On a completely irrelevant note, I had made a point of bringing slacks and a button-down to wear to the Hugos. I would have felt overdressed in the crowd except any number of photographers obviously assumed I was a pro of some sort and took my picture. Not a reaction I have gotten anywhere, ever.

I had a lot of fun overall, and I intend to go next year as well, but it was an odd sort of vibe. I suspect if I didn't have years of experience both being at big huge cons and at chatting up random strangers, it would have been a lot less pleasant for me. I don't have any thoughts about how to change that, yet. Maybe tomorrow.

#110 ::: Brendan Podger ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:27 PM:

I have been loving the conversation here and as someone who is thinking of joining my local Con committee it is fascinating stuff, but to me all the talk has been on what to me are side issues relating to the awarding of a Hugo(or any award for that matter).

Isn't the primary reason we give an award is simply to recognise people or contributions to SF that we find to be particularly valuable? There may be people more suited to awarding an art prize or a graphic story prize but we acknowledge that these are valuable to us as a community.

So for me the only question really is "Do we value Juvenile/YA SF writing?"

Of course we could just leave this in the too hard basket and leave YA to the SFWA(?) and their Andre Norton prize.

#111 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 10:45 PM:

Brendan, that's actually not the main issue at all. You seem to have missed Teresa's comment explaining the difficulties of such an award, and how it might actually be detrimental to the cause of honoring high-quality YA writing with a Hugo.

#112 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 11:08 PM:

Jeremy Preacher @ 309... I am 31 and felt very much like one of the "young people"

Darn whippersnapper!
Good to see you at the Gathering of Light.

About parties... I seldom go to one unless I'm likely to already know someone there. Otherwise, why make myself into the wallpaper of a crowded room where everybody already knows everybody else? That pretty much is why I prefer worldcons to small cons. They have so much going on that I can forget when I'm on my own.

#113 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 11:57 PM:

As one of those "young people in fandom" (which, as far as I can tell, is most of Gen X and all of the Millennials), I have a few opinions on these topics. (ok, I have lots of opinions.)

Re: YA Hugo - Given the nominations in recent years for some books that could easily be considered YA, I don't think it is necessary, esp given the other issues that people have brought up. I love my YA books, have kept tabs out on the authors I have loved who introduced me to the genre and still read their books. In fact, YA books tend to be the ones I still buy in hardback. I'd say I have a fairly good grasp of the YA side of the genre, and I'm certainly "aged out" and a Hugo voter, and if something strikes me as being worth nomination, I'll do it. I also have this thing about nominating authors/artists who aren't as established but are writing fabulous works - Neil Gaiman has a fanbase the size of Texas and will probably (justifiably) win something most times he has eligibility. I see the awards process as a chance to highlight works that aren't by Big Names. This includes YA fiction in appropriate categories. It's still a novel/novelette/form of SFF.

re: the Greying of Fandom - my no-longer-local con has addressed younger fans in a couple ways. Minneapolis/St Paul has 4 major cons in a year, and the anime con shares a lot of staff with one of the generealist cons. We learned a lot. Near the consuite is a con coffee shop. It's always full, often of teenagers escaping their parents. There's quite a bit of crossover in between the cons in terms of fans as well, as people at the anime con realize there is another one that is like it but not is two months later. Young people are in fandom, but we need to construct safe spaces for them to come out of the closet, My home con did that, and accepted me, and became family. my new local con does not, and it's sad to watch it die, esp I would like to be on concom. But I'm too young and too new and obviously unrealistic in my expectations, which is such a different attitude than at my home con that I was floored when I moved here. Much of my home con is under 30 - I'd say at least 1/3rd. The local one exemplified the concept of greying out of fandom. And it makes me sad.

#114 ::: MacAllister ::: (view all by) ::: September 04, 2012, 11:59 PM:

Victoria @100 - I very much hope I didn't sound as if I was doubting your experiences. That was absolutely not my intention. I fear I've been insensitive and a bit obtuse (like I said, I'm a relative newcomer to fandom, and most of the wrangling, politicking, and behind-the-scenes parts of con-running are an utter mystery to me).

I admittedly didn't realize that this was quite *such* a hot-button issue for you, or I'd have tried to tread more carefully.

Thank you for taking the time to respond in more detail and depth -- it helps me understand much more effectively the parts of the conversation dealing with events and dynamics that are outside my own personal experiences.

#115 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:06 AM:

Lee @ #95 :::
Anecdote is not the singular of data. However, I now only serve alcohol behind closed doors. I had a close call on a party where I allowed in a friend's teenaged daughter. Behind my back she dumped a large portion of my vodka supply into her drink. Nothing bad happened to me or to her, but it was a wake up call for me about having open parties where teens could wander in.

That and the expense/trouble lead me to only serving friends at closed parties. I also, as host, usually did not end up making new friends. I am sure that people had a great time with their friends and making new friends, but I did not. So for me I only host people I already know or meet at the con and invite personally.

If I had a crew of people to help me with the party and controlling the alcohol supply I could see hosting an open party again... but not otherwise.

#116 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:26 AM:

LMM @#99
Cons are a *massive* time and money sink compared to other group events. My first SCA event (for example) was a small-scale local affair; it lasted all of Saturday, and it cost me about $20 plus gas money. I had attended a few local socials, so I knew several people going into it, and they introduced me to others there. 'Local' cons here are almost certainly going to be an hour or so out of town; given that they don't wind up until fairly late, that almost certainly means I'm staying overnight. There are also no local sf groups, which means that I'm going to be walking into any con without knowing a soul.

I have occasionally thought of doing a presentation called "Conventions for the Cheap". Maybe something on YouTube since at the convention itself seems somewhat pointless.

I do not know how you did an SCA even on $20 and gas. I certainly never managed anything like that, but then I always had to buy things to get ready and being a crazy person about food I would always overspend.

When younger and crazier I managed to do conventions on $45 a day, less if I commuted to the convention. Now that I am older it costs me much more, but a large portion of that is having to take time off from work and liking my comfort of not sleeping two to a bed and suchlike.

#117 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:45 AM:

A follow-on, especially after reading some of the other stories of greying fandom and newcomers:

- Lest you think it an oasis, my local con did hit a crisis point due to ceasing to be all the things it was when I first went, including welcoming to people not already in the group. It alienated not only newcomers but a number of regulars, and the local SCA group. The panel selection stagnated - there was one memorable year when there was one thing in the course of two days and four rooms I wanted to see. And a significant chunk of the people in charge were digging in their heels about it. It got over it enough that I started going again (About the time one of the people who toughed it out was telling me it was getting better, I also happened to have more new art to sell as I hadn`t for a time between, and thought it a good test market).

- LMM hit the nail on the head for the cost-benefit issue of SF cons, and the reason I haven`t made it to any of the annual ones that are out of town but `close`. (Where close means I have and would again go to SCA events that far away.) The membership fees are higher than event fees tend to be, and event fees almost always include a minimum of one square meal.

- another consideration against Worldcon when I was a teen - I am a bit of an introvert, so the phrase `Way more people!` isn`t exactly an invitation that appeals. The corresponding, `No, really, the panels and possibly demos are miles better, in variety and quantity, the art show and masquerades are to die for, and the dealer`s room is full of wows` didn`t register until too late. More people is a worry for many, not a perk.

- the local SCA group gets into this same fight between opening itself to new people and the old guard digging in over and over. (I was lucky. I joined it via friends, and after some of the group had seen me via the SF con and another source. And I still had moments and individuals who made me feel unwelcome at times.) It`s like fighting a hydra. it`s not a question that can be answered once and be done.

- I LOVE Xopher`s `listener` badges. As a partial introvert, I hate approaching random people, as either greeter or newbie. But if newbies came to me, I`m pretty decent at answering questions and showing enthusiasm about getting to know them. I do like people.

- Parties are a source of frustration. I remember at my first Worldcon (other than the one day in Winnipeg) wanting to hang around with some of the writers I knew from the Rumour Mill and all, but hating the stuffy overfull room atmosphere where they went, and Wanting to be on the dance floor downstairs. I compromised and did a bit of both. The only room party I remember actually enjoying (even though I enjoyed conversations and moments at others) was for Strange Horizons magazine.

- I`ve never felt especially encouraged to volunteer at an SF convention outside SCA demos (I`d do panels but I`ve not yet felt I have enough to say to make an interesting voice). To me, it takes me away from the places things are happening, and doesn`t reward me for it in any reasonable way. I`ve been spoiled by my regular volunteer stints (Folk Festival and Fringe Festival), which, while I grant it`s an apples and oranges comparison based on sheer size of the audience, still gives me an impression how volunteers should be treated that conventions have a hard time matching (And also don`t often seem to feel they want to bother with). If this is supposed to be a way to hook new people in and help them meet people, maybe that`s a consideration.

#118 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 01:02 AM:

MacAllister @ 96

There's also the problem of matching interests and skills to necessary tasks. I have a wide range of useful skills, abilities and experience. I don't have to start as leadership, and I'm happy to also do what is needful, but I want to spend as much time as possible doing things that are interesting to me and enjoyably challenging.

Saying "you have to spend several years as a drudge doing what we want you to do before you might (or might not ever) get to do anything interesting, even under supervision or as part of a team" is a total nonstarter for me. I want at least a reasonable promise of opportunity to do more interesting things, within a reasonably limited timespan, if I prove I'm reasonably bright and reliable.

If the only use you have for me is scutwork, you are not (1) interested in what I have to offer, (2) effectively using my time, or (3) adding to my life-value. Of course people leave. Why should they stay?

#119 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 01:11 AM:

TNH (#84): I actually think YA readers/fans can tell the difference, too, but agree that isn't the point, because Worldcon isn't where YA's fandom hangs out.

This conversations, and others like it, actually have me beginning to swing from "yes, we should have a YA award because a huge number of genre novels being published these days are YA" to "yes, YA is worthy and wonderful, but Hugo voters aren't YA fans and therefore are the wrong voters to vote on an award for same."

#120 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 01:39 AM:

Xopher HalfTongue @97: I seem to recall that there was a "Best Game" instituted one year but was abolished for lack of nominations. I might be wrong.

#121 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:40 AM:

Avram @91: Yes, there is nothing preventing fanfic from winning a Hugo. Unlike YA material, it hasn't. And hasn't even been nominated. This is an indication that it isn't competing in the same field, and why I thought it might be interesting to discuss a separate Hugo for it (in the same way that we have separate Hugos for semi-prozine and fanzine, or pro and fan artists.).

#122 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:46 AM:

I liked Scalzi's suggestion during the Hugo Ceremony that one of the stages of the nomination process should be like the Hunger Gamess.

#123 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:59 AM:

Mishalak, #115: That's an entirely different situation, and your response is appropriate. The room parties at the cons I attend are generally PR parties for other cons, or sometimes for local clubs that want to attract new members. They do have multiple people running the party, and the alcohol is strictly supervised -- usually behind the information-and-signup table where memberships are processed.

My partner says that the "parties only behind closed doors" thing used to be the custom at Armadillocon, which is one of the two Texas cons that are more than 10 years old. The other long-running Texas con is Aggiecon, which can't have room parties at all because it's on the A&M campus; for many years those were the only active SF cons in Texas, and Armadillocon was seen as unfriendly to newcomers because of it. However, that's changed with the advent of several newer cons that use the PR-parties model, and now there are open room parties at all of them but Aggiecon.

I am now being reminded of something that happened a couple of years ago at my local con. Sunday was slow, and around noon I went up to the consuite and got into a conversation with a newbie. She was mildly miffed at what she perceived as a lack of information about con culture -- she'd been told about the con by a co-worker, but he didn't tell her much about what to expect, and she felt that she'd been sort of flailing around all weekend. She thought DeepSouthCon was about antebellum Southern culture! I offered an abbreviated History of Fandom 101 talk, and I think she was reassured. But that shouldn't have happened, and while some of it was certainly her co-worker's fault, there should also have been someone who could have given her that orientation before Sunday afternoon. IMO a "So This is Your First Con" panel should be a standard programming feature, either late Friday or on Saturday morning, for cons that want to attract and keep newbies.

#124 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:12 AM:

@ a few people re: SCA events and costs: This was my first event (if it justifies that?). Fighting, a few booths, a bit of ceremony. No feast, just a dayboard, and it opened at 10 am and closed at 7 pm. Borrowed garb from an acquaintance. I left around 8 am (helped to set up the food) and was home in my own bed by midnight.

IOW, a minimal investment. If it sucked, I could have sat in a corner and played Angry Birds for a bit or just left. All I'd have lost is a few hours of my life. And I knew people there already. Win-win situation all around.

SF fandom doesn't have that around here, unless I'm willing to spend 3+ hours taking Metro North round-trip into NYC. (1) If you want new people at cons, you need to come up with a new social model, because it's very hard to break into a new group of people.

And one major issue here is that for me (and, I think, for an increasing (?) number of young-ish people), it's not just about money. A few hundred for a guaranteed good time, I can budget for a few times a year. But taking a few days off of work? Between the two, that's the harder one to justify. (I've gotten a handful of "back in my day, we slept six to a hotel room" stories. Were you splitting a single vacation day six ways, too?)

And I am *really* uncomfortable with the standard "volunteer and change the culture!" solutions offered by most people. I get that you're invested in your particular community and that *you* think your community cares about [major issue x]. But when *I* don't see them as caring about issue x -- whether it's the (terrible, we've had this conversation) panels at Convergence or the clique-ish community at Readercon (2) -- it's really hard to see myself, as a newbie, making much of an impact on the situation.

Also, I totally suggested the badges approach at Readercon. (Step one to addressing socially awkward non-offensive situations is to make explicit what is currently only implicit.) A few positive responses, at least one person mocking me under his breath, and then the board melted down.

(1) For social events which are usually held in the evening. An afternoon in NYC is totally feasible. Any plan which involves me at Grand Central Terminal past, say, midnight is not.

(2) Which, FWIW, appears to be really open to people who are new provided they're already involved in East Coast fandom. Chicken-and-egg situation.

#125 ::: Brendan Podger ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:16 AM:

Xopher @111

I did read Teresa's comment but was trying to say that if the need for an award is important enough we will work through the questions and get a result.

If we allow ourself to get bogged down in the details so much that we can't make a decision, we may as well give up.

#126 ::: Kevin Riggle ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:16 AM:

Oh my, I just got off the plane from Chicago, and this post brings up All The Thoughts. In no particular order:

This post which I wrote last year after my first Worldcon still holds after my second, and I think it echoes Lenora Rose and Victoria and LMM and Emily H.'s comments. I'm not sure I'd frame the issue in quite the terms I used, a year later, but I haven't been off the plane long enough to have more coherent thoughts than that.

Xopher @104: The Listener badges are brilliant! They seem to fill the same space as the XKCD "Not anti-social, just shy. You can talk to me!" T-shirts, which are tailor-made for conventions, and which for some reason I've never owned. Such more overt signalling devices seem a more introvert-acceptable way to solve the problem which I as a marginal extrovert tend to approach as "just *talk* to people, dammit" -- because there's no way for me to tell the difference between someone who's happy being a wallflower and someone who's not, besides engaging them in conversation and seeing if it draws them out or not.

Both Renovation and Chicon had some kind of "Surviving Worldcon" panel as I recall. I've never attended one, although I've often thought I should as a way to meet other unattached people. Scheduling is sometimes an issue for me -- even noon is perhaps a bit too early -- but the deeper problem is that they're usually presented as too basic. I've been going to cons for years. I know 5-2-1 (from the pages of this very blog!), I know I can't see everything, I know how not to starve -- but I still don't know how to get something I find deeply satisfying from a Worldcon in particular. And, more broadly, if one needs to attend one specific panel in order to enjoy a Worldcon, that's maybe a bit narrow a strait to expect everyone to pass through.

That said, having a young fen meet-and-greet a couple of the days in the mid-afternoon might go over really well, as a place to go and be more likely to find community.

Jeremy Preacher @109: I'm curious, where did you spend your time after the first couple of nights? I find the parties the one reliable place to meet people and get to know them, although I often end up cruising all of them, sometimes multiple times a night, looking for unattached people to strike up a conversation with. Like you, it's only the con-experience and the willingness to chat up random strangers which gets me through, but it's a slog, and I spent most of Monday holed up in my hotel room in a deep-funk sort of con-crash.

I met a number of people in Chicago who mentioned this was their second Worldcon, who I hadn't run into in Reno. I wonder if (part of) the problem isn't that we aren't there, but that we don't have good ways to find each other.

Mary Frances @81: anotherdamnedmedievalist@22 and Lee@25: FWIW, the last time I moderated "the" YA panel at a regional con, we had two teenagers in the audience. Both were obviously hoping to have a chance to talk about books they cared about, so I invited both of them up to join the panel, and it took off. I won't say it was the best panel I've ever been on, but it certainly was noisy and excited--and I suspect we may have at least encouraged future con attendance by any younger fans who heard about it later . . .

Oh, bravo for you! If we were entirely about serious, proper, professional panels, it wouldn't be a fan convention.

I suspect that at 27 I was either the youngest person involved in programming this year or damn close, and even more likely the youngest non-pro. It occurred to me very late in the process this year that perhaps the reason I wasn't feeling represented was because no one representative was volunteering, so I put my name in on that basis, and I'm thankful to the Chicon programming committee for taking me up on my offer. I did a certain amount of unsolicited outreach to others on that basis ("you too can be on panels!"), which they seemed to find interesting, so I hope future programming committees are similarly open-minded. More official outreach might be one way to get a wider diversity of voices.

I was really happy that the smaller panel rooms at Chicon were the right size and the audiences engaged enough that we got a good discussion going among the panelists and the audience on a couple of the panels that I sat on. (One of the things I liked about DEF CON, of all the cons, was that they had separate rooms after the talks where people could meet in a more intimate setting and continue the discussions started by the talks, meet other people, make dinner plans, etc. It was one of the more effective things I've seen at enabling and perpetuating the Long Conversation.)

TNH @84: Advice from a veteran of way too many fan feuds:

This is good advice and true. Without the tonal context of voice, and especially in the context of this discussion, for me its framing carries with it the whiff of an older fan and pro putting a younger fan and pro in her place. I don't think that you intended this reading, but I was sad to read it coming from someone whom I deeply respect.

Returning all too briefly to the original topic, because I am up too late and have work in the morning, I was sad to hear that the YA category hadn't been ratified. I think I personally would feel more comfortable voting in it than in many of the existing categories where I don't feel I have read enough to make a meaningful contribution. I know I'm not representative, but I think if the Hugos can manage to be relevant in many of the smaller categories, they can manage to be relevant in YA.

I think it would be a trade-off -- raising the visibility of YA SF within the community at the cost of partially ghettoizing it. But I think that having the community talking about five books, every year, would outweigh getting to say something like, "The Graveyard Book won the Hugo for Best Novel!" every few years.

#127 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:40 AM:

After getting fed up (as one of the 51 in favor of the category in a meeting of 125 people at a convention I am told had over five thousand attendees) of seeing tweets about how Chicon 7 was simultaneously wondering why it couldn't attract new blood and voting down the YA award, I noted that anyone at WorldCon could go to the WSFS Business Meeting the next time this came up. To my surprise, the person I was directly responding to hadn't realized this and was delighted to learn it.

#128 ::: Lisa Padol ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:45 AM:

As for the arguments against the YA Award, some of them did have merit and should be addressed seriously. Snark gets applause from one's own side, but I'm not convinced it ever converts someone from the other side.

#129 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:50 AM:

#124 ::: LMM

That's intriguing. Would might a one day lightweight sf event look like?

#130 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 07:27 AM:

@129: Rather like a local sf club meeting might look like, maybe, if a bit on steroids. A meet-and-greet over coffee, a book discussion, maybe a film or two. Add in a nearby pro if you can find one who's willing to come in for a few hours....

... and, to come around full circle, I think we've just answered the young people in fandom thing. To whit:

Q. Why are younger people willing to attend Gencon and Dragoncon but not Worldcon?
A. Because they've met people who are attending the first two.
Q. Where did they meet those attendees?
A. At regional gaming events.
Q. Why did they attend the regional gaming events?
A. Because members of their local gaming group told them about them.

SF fandom, I think, still assumes a structure in which newcomers will have had ways to meet regulars prior to a con. Without local clubs, that's impossible. Hence, things become insular, and those who *do* attend cons don't come back.

Hm. And how much of "cons are being attended by mundanes" is due to the fact that there's no early access point into fandom?

Either way, we're at a point where a lot of the discussion fails to see the forest for the trees. Most policies make perfect sense; it's only when you look at their cumulative impact that you see the damage they've done.

#131 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 08:28 AM:

taking a few days off of work

I thought most cons deliberately scheduled to accommodate people who set off for the con Saturday morning (perhaps not arriving until after noon, depending on how far they are coming) and would have to leave sometime Sunday afternoon to get back to work on Monday. Or is that just most cons I have attended (a very small and not necessarily representative subset)?

IOW, you need not take even one day off work, unless the con is a full day's travel away from you, or your job is one that frequently requires working weekends. (Which would very likely make con attendance more difficult, but the con can't really do anything about it.)

Sure, if you're the con chair, you're expected to be there for opening ceremonies. J. Random Attendee, not so much. Maybe the fact that it's OK to wander in and out as your own schedule permits is not made sufficiently clear to con newbies?

#132 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 10:07 AM:

Kevin Riggle @126, I spent a little time in the bar the second couple of evenings and Sunday night I just crashed in my room after the Hugos. I don't feel like the extra sleep time was wasted in any way, though. The morning Strolls with the Stars were great, and I would have missed them if I hadn't made it to bed by midnight

Those and the kaffeeklatches may have been my favorite types of activity. I made a point of signing up for several of the latter, got a seat at all of them, and thought they were all super entertaining. The panels were much more mixed (usually depending on whether or not there was a moderator at all.)

#133 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 10:39 AM:

LMM @130 makes some good points about entry-level access to fandom/conventions, which are not limited to gaming fans.

My teenager is a member of several fandoms, some of which meet irl every once in a while. There are Sherlock meetups and Nerdfighter gatherings; some of her friends go to Quidditch matches. These tend not to be regular, every month occurrences, though.

In between, most of their fanactivity takes place online, often on tumblr, which is shot through with fandoms of all shapes and sizes.

It occurs to me that one of the advantages of Dragon*Con as opposed to Worldcon is that it's in the same place all the time. So people can plan for Atlanta, knowing that the convention will be there next year or in two years or whenever they can get the money together.

While Worldcon moves around from year to year--and for good reasons--and is run by different concoms (again, for good reasons). Therefore it doesn't, in my mind, have the ability to build that year-to-year familiarity and communication with the fanbase.

Communication is important. I buy NYCC tickets every year and every year I get weekly emails from NYCC talking about the convention that just passed and the one that's in the planning stages for next year. As the convention gets closer, the emails become more frequent. My teenager gets the same emails and she and I both use them to plan the fan parts of our NYCC visits.

We also both "liked" the DragonCon page on Fb, even though we only went last year and I'm not sure when we'll go again. But it's fun to see the updates and the photos and stuff like that. I don't know if DragonCon has a tumblr, but they probably should (heck, Barack Obama has one and it's really funny--not long ago, it was full of Darren Criss .gifs; it's aimed well enough at the tumblr audience that my 16-yo is reblogging stuff from there).

Is there a Worldcon equivalent of these things? I'm asking because I honestly don't know--I haven't been to a Worldcon in a very long time and really don't keep track anymore.

#134 ::: Jen Birren ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 10:49 AM:

I went to one "First time at a con?" panel, and it basically made me run away from the con and not go back...

(I didn't know anyone, and was planning to just attend panels that looked interesting, see if I got talking to anyone I was sitting next to or queuing for food with or wherever, and read a book if not. Hopefully I would meet people, but if not, I'd have been to some fun panels. The people doing the newbies panel were nice, and most of what they said was perfectly sensible, but they managed to give one kindly-meant bit of advice in a way that really worked badly for me, of the "You have to make an effort! Don't just skulk in corners!" kind; it made me feel wretchedly self-conscious about being on my own or reading, and also like I was supposed to barge up to people catching up with old friends and butt in to their conversations, and I wandered about in a daze of Oh God I Can't Cope With This for a while and then went home.)

Ahem. Sorry, old wounds!

I know of one professional conference that has a red dot on the badge of first-time attenders, so they can find each other, and I believe that works well.

#135 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 11:14 AM:

Chris @ 131 - Most of the cons that I've attended start with panels on Friday, the art show starts on Thursday night (set up)/Friday, dealers, artist's alley, gaming, etc. start no later than about 11 am on Friday, often before opening ceremonies. And if that's when they schedule my panel or my game, then I either drop that obligation or miss work. For CVG, everything set up wise starts Wednesday and the show gets rolling Thursday. On a con weekend, I'm going to miss work, because I'm a volunteer. On an SCA weekend, I may have to miss part of Friday afternoon as driving time or set-up time, but even when I've run a major kingdom event, I'm still working at noon or so. Cons are pretty much set up so most people will need to take at least part of Friday off - I'm self-employed, so I can do it, but between membership, hotel room (even split!) and con food, it's an expensive weekend where I may not make any money. SCA events are much much cheaper overall.
LMM@130 has a point - why do people attend Pennsic? Because their friends, who they met at regional events, are going to Pennsic. And they met those friends at small, local meetings, and the entrance cost is going to be minimal the first couple of times (my old chateliane had a policy of your first event, he paid the site fee. Come drink the kool-aid.)

I would think that many places have meetup groups that are SFnal in nature, and if they don't, might as well start one, targeting the SF that's new and going after the in-college and young professional demographic. Share the crack. First taste is free...and it gives you the opportunity to meet someone to share that hotel room with, and the gas costs, and someone with whom to geek about BIG NAME IS COMING, and all the things that those of us who are established in fandom have a community for. In my copious spare time, of course.

#136 ::: OtterB ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Re ways to make cons more welcoming for newbies - I think it was the Grace Hopper Celebration of Women in Computing, but might have been another computing event, ran a "speed networking" session. Participants had a few minutes with each other and then moved on to the next. This would give you time to talk to a variety of people to the level of "What do you like to read/watch/play?" Some would be misses, but those at least would be time-limited and no hard feelings when you moved on to talk to the next person. And it seems like the odds are good you would come out of it with at least a nodding acquaintance with some people who shared your interests.

#137 ::: Theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:13 PM:

As I mentioned above, I've been a devoted reader of SF for sixty years or so, and I've only been to one con, a Disclave here in DC more than thirty years ago. Reading is my schtick.

#138 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:31 PM:

My usual con is WisCon, and I think they do a bunch of things right that make it easier for new people.

-One of my issues as a WorldCon newbie was that I felt dreadfully poorly read. It's only years later that I discovered that nearly everyone is dreadfully poorly read in some ways, and us young people have fewer reading years behind us. I like that while WisCon is a pretty literature-focused convention, there's also programming on anime and media and fanfiction and social justice issues, so I never spend the whole con feeling like an illiterate who has only read half a Heinlein book.

-There is a group dinner on Friday night for new people. Which is clearly more feasible for a 1000-person convention than a convention the size of WorldCon, but I thought it worked better than a panel for new people -- a chance to say hello, rather than a lecture.

It's a bit inevitable that at a convention, the people who've been a couple of times already are focused on seeing their old friends rather than making new ones, so giving newbies a way to connect with one another is useful, I think.

#139 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 12:44 PM:

@133: I do think we (as a society) have a disturbing tendancy to see online fandoms as much more of a positive action than it actually is. Things are in part online because they're able to be much more selective - they're also online because our cities sprawl badly enough that it's really hard to get a critical mass in one area. That goes ten times so for teens, who are less likely to have reliable access to cars, particularly today.

I am, however, a dedicated New Urbanist, so read that as you will. - And I think you have a VERY good point about Worldcon's mobility. I can't see myself affording a cross-country flight and a multi-hundred dollar membership for ... awhile, and we're back to vacation days as well.

As for sf groups ... AFAICT, my current city HAD one up through the '80s. These days, it'd be at least a 45 minute drive ... feasible if not for my current car-less-ness, but not really that local.

#140 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 01:05 PM:

I have a standing policy for dealing with younger fans: get into conversations with them, take their reading recommendations seriously, invite them along on expeditions when possible, and make sure they know they're invited to parties.

Fandom is an interpersonal connection.

Young fans aren't a separate species. They're fans who are younger than I am. My fandom is a place where a person attending their first convention can wander into a conversation and wind up chatting with Robert Silverberg or Tom Whitmore or Jo Walton. My fannish elders never told me I was too young to talk to. If some of them weren't interested in me, I just figured it was personal.

#141 ::: Heather Rose Jones ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:08 PM:

Lee @ 123

she'd been told about the con by a co-worker, but he didn't tell her much about what to expect, and she felt that she'd been sort of flailing around all weekend

Oh yes, I've had that happen with pretty much every social group I've joined. Not quite so badly at my first convention (which was quite small and I knew at least a half dozen of the attendees already). But the friend who convinced me to go to my first SCA event, a 12th night coronation, supplied me with so little information that I arrived thinking that we were coming in costume to see a Shakespeare performance. It's not just geek communities though. Just in the past couple weeks I've had the same experience with the dragon boat racing club I've started practicing with. After showing up at several practices I'm suddenly being grilled for commitment details regarding an upcoming race where I didn't even know what the questions meant. And it wasn't until several people deep in the communication chain that someone said, "You know, most of this information has been sent out through the Yahoo group." Me: "There's a Yahoo group?" (I noticed just yesterday that the club equipment locker now sports an envelope of flyers with information on joining the Yahoo group.)

It's a bit odd to keep fighting the same social struggles that I've been dealing with all my life. I've been going to cons for over 30 years now (almost 40 if you count the tiny one I went to in high school) and just this year I've still found myself wandering alone in between panels hopefully pausing outside clustered conversations and failing to find a way into them. Or actively striking up conversations with people I knew slightly and being left floundering. But there are the occasional victories, like the random "stranger" who turned to me in the con suite and said, "Hey, you were my linguistics TA!" with whom I had a delightful conversation.

But I guess what I'm trying to say with regards to welcoming con newcomers is that, in my experience, cons are neither better nor worse than the world at large, and that it doesn't necessarily get better with time. When I stopped buying into the myth that fandom was one big happy welcoming family, I was better able to find strategies to extract enjoyment from it.

#142 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 02:52 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @104: Being the attention sink that I am, I would love to wander around a convention with an "L" button, and have random people come up and talk to me.

#143 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 03:41 PM:

Brendan 125: The problem is that creating a YA Hugo is a bad idea, not that there are problems with the implementation. You're assuming it's a good idea "if the need for an award is important enough." And as for "bogged down in the details so much that we can't make a decision," you're assuming the decision is yes, create an award, whereas Teresa, whose post you claim you read, is saying that creating a YA category is not a good idea because it would cause more problems than it would solve.

#144 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 03:48 PM:

LMM: I think my main point about online fandom, which I know is not clear, is that online fans follow each other around IRL as well.

My teen and I are going to a tiny Sherlock convention in the spring which was started by people she ran into online and which other people she knows online are also attending (I am going primarily because I am the wallet and she is a minor).

A number (maybe half?) of the irl events my teen has attended in the last year are things she first heard of online, or from people she knew online. And when she goes to these things, she seeks out the people she knows from online first and then talks to people she doesn't already know (at least, that's what she tells me she does).

There is not, afaik, an sf convention--even a 1-day affair--in NYC. Potential entry-level events would require train travel and possibly an overnight stay, depending on location. If she were in college, those things _might_ be possible, but would be dependent on class schedule and budget.

Her high school does not have an SF club. Neither does the giant high school near our home, though I think it has an anime club. The store near us that hosted RPG gaming on the weekends went out of business; the local comic-book store still hosts card gaming once a week but is (alas) not friendly to girls in several ways.

So for my kid--who lives in NYC, which is probably full of fans--online fandom is the way she's made most of her first forays into fandom, and online communication is the way she finds out about around half of her fannish activities. And some of the rest she finds out about because of me, but not every kid has a fan for a parent.

In contrast, when I was a teen, I went to one or two cons a year in NYC, usually smallish one-day comic-book conventions that were basically a dealer's room with some programming attached (Phil Seuling's cons, for those old enough to remember) but also a big Star Trek convention in the mid-70s. By the time I was my daughter's age I'd been to 5 or 6 conventions without a parent in tow.

#145 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:05 PM:

I wonder if some of what we're seeing here is the inevitable process of "each generation finds its own ways of doing things". The generation prior to mine was All About Fanzines, and I'm old enough to remember grumblings about how people who didn't do fanzines but just went to cons weren't Real Fans at all. My generation seems to have been All About Lit-cons, and that feels normal to me because I was part of it. The upcoming generation seems to be much more about media-cons (not surprising, when you stop to think about it) and gatherings which, although they happen in meatspace, are arranged and coordinated online.

For all that I perceive Worldcon as having some serious attitude flaws (many of which have been discussed in this thread), I enjoy being there. I was especially sorry to have to miss Chicon, because a lot of my old friends from when I lived in Nashville were going, and I don't get to see them very often any more because I'm no longer on the same con circuit. But... those are my friends, people I already know; I'm part of the culture, and it's a culture I got into when I was the age of the younger people we're talking about here. The people who are currently the age I was then are making their own culture.

#146 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:10 PM:

Melissa, from what you've said about your daughter, it's not outside the realm of possibility that she could start an SF the high school if she has SF fannish friends there, or through her online friends if not. She sounds like a natural leader.

#147 ::: Xopher HalfTongue has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:12 PM:

Nope, no idea why.

#148 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:14 PM:

Kevin Riggle @126: This post which I wrote last year after my first Worldcon still holds after my second

Very interesting post. I had been out of circulation for quite a while when I went to Denvention in '08, and I remember having a heck of a time connecting with people, and I'm one of those Old Pharts. I had assumed it was just me. Wasn't until Sunday that I actually started having success chatting up random strangers in the hall.

Occurs to me, in light of this, that my experience of the next con I go to might be improved by my being much more aggressive about being talkable-to.

#149 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:56 PM:

This is tangential, but it is related and it's something I want to talk about. Take a look at the Hugo breakout statistics for this year's awards. In particular, note the line on the very first page that says "1,922 valid Final Ballots were cast."

This is the most prestigious award in science fiction -- and the winners were chosen by fewer than 2,000 people. That's fucking ridiculous. That's not even the 1% of fandom -- it's more like the 1% of the 1%! And a large part of the problem is that it costs a minimum of $50 (the price of a supporting membership) to cast a vote. There's got to be a way to make voting more accessible to the average fan.

This also relates to Lisa Padol's comment @127 -- as one of the 51 in favor of the category in a meeting of 125 people at a convention I am told had over five thousand attendees. You can only vote on convention issues if you attend the WSFS business meeting, which suffers from the same "too many things I want to see going on at the same time" problem as every other panel at a Worldcon. This is a problem which could be fixed easily. Instead of making people physically attend ONE specific panel, set up a table with actual ballots and let any member of the con come by and vote, at any time up thru Sunday (so that votes could be tabulated and decisions announced on Monday). For that matter, I would bet there's a way to write a voting function into the con's smartphone app. Better yet, have a WSFS voting form on the con website, similar to the Hugo voting form; this would open it up to anyone with a supporting membership, rather than forcing those with an interest to spend $500 or more to physically attend the con.

I've been grousing for a long time that Worldcons have priced themselves out of the reach of the average reader of science fiction, but this is the first time I've actually put all the pieces together. Worldcon is the 1% -- the rich elite -- and the people who made it that way don't want to let go of that power. Small wonder that the 99% are going somewhere else.

#150 ::: Lee has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 04:57 PM:

Would Their Lownesses care for some orange-vanilla iced tea?

#151 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 05:12 PM:

Xopher: she's toyed with the idea, but her school doesn't have a big "club" culture, and it's a really small school--only 800 students. The few clubs I've seen promoted on campus are things like the Greek club (for students who are Greek) and the GSA (which actually doesn't have a lot of members because the school is so thoroughly LGBT-friendly that there doesn't seem much point to a GSA, so people don't bother to go to meetings).

She thinks she knows every single Sherlock fan in the school (not counting entering freshman whom she hasn't met yet, since school starts tomorrow) and there are fewer than 10 of them. A lot of the kids are so focused on their artform that they don't have (visible) hobbies.

#152 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 06:33 PM:

Melissa #151: 10 people is a perfectly respectable number for starting a club.

#153 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 07:24 PM:

@144: No, not cons: the point was, any sort of smaller-than-con gathering is probably not going to be closer than NYC -- which means they're all but unfeasible.

@138: The problem with newbie dinners is that they're an open admission that the system is broken. When you're telling people, "older people aren't going to want to talk to you -- here, find your own crowd" where your 'own crowd' is a group of people who are also unconnected, I don't think it's any surprise when new people don't stick around. Sitting at the periphery talking with people my age about how alienated I feel is something I had expected to get over after graduating from high school; it's not an experience I want to revisit in my late twenties at places I am *voluntarily* choosing to attend. And it's definitely not a consolation prize I want to be handed because I wasn't able to be born a decade or two earlier.

Basically, if cons are going to function like an alumni reunion, that's fine. But -- given that the groups for which this serves as a reunion are nearly dead -- I think that means that the conrunners and the organizations need to admit what they're doing. If Worldcon and Readercon and the other established big-name cons want to function in ways that regulars love but newcomers feel are exclusionary, that's fine. But they ought to openly say that. I don't want to show up at a con and then find out that, if you manage to be in the same area for the next half-decade, you'll be in the in-crowd and know people. I don't want to be pointed to a media con or an anime con and told that "this is the con you want to be attending."

#154 ::: emilly ::: (view all by) ::: September 05, 2012, 10:28 PM:

LMM at 153:

I just instigated a newbie dinner (actually a lunch) at the most recent iteration of our 10 years running con. I didn't think of it as a "older people aren't going to want to talk to you -- here, find your own crowd", but more of a "hey if you don't know anyone you should come here for lunch!" and that's almost the exact words we used to advertise it.

We knew we'd be getting a whole bunch of new folk this year, and we wanted to set up some ways to make sure they were welcome. I think it worked? but then of course selection bias means I wouldn't see any of the people who were annoyed by the idea of it! About 15 of the 220 members came on Saturday and 20 on the Sunday.

Swancon (in Perth, Australia) has something like the Listener badges - I forget exactly what they're called, but a bunch of people have smiley face badges, and they're explicitly called out as "happy to talk to new people/explain things".

(also Hi Brendan!)

#155 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 12:51 AM:

LMM @ 130

I have trouble with the idea that there aren't already channels into fandom. I mean, if one problem is that kids aren't attending lit-cons, isn't the flip problem that the people who attend lit-cons aren't terribly interested in the stuff kids are doing at their local genrecons? By logical extension of your theory, if kids were getting exposed to people they knew from their genrecons saying "hey, this is awesome, too," they'd be more likely to cross over when/if they can afford it.

The events my husband and I go to are mostly if not entirely about where we can expect to run into our friends doing neat things (especially if they're working a con, or extravagantly costuming, or whatever), or where we are planning to do neat things. For the most part, we could care less about how broad or narrow the theme is. It's all geek to me...

#156 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:50 AM:

Brendan Podger, it sounds like you are already of the opinion that a YA Hugo Award should and must happen if we value YA, in a sort of IF P THEN Q logic. IF we value YA works, THEN we'll figure our way past the problems and finally succeed at creating a Hugo award for it.

The problem there is, one negates IF P THEN Q with NOT Q, ERGO NOT P. That is to say, you come across as saying that continuing lack of a Hugo Award for YA proves that SFWA/fandom doesn't value YA. Which is an accusation I doubt anyone in the conversation is fond of. Thus the miffed reactions from folks who've been saying all along (and feel you haven't given them credit for it) "Damn straight we value YA! But there are other considerations to creating a new category of award, especially this one."

(Still, Xopher, can we allow that he's not lying when he says he's read TNH's post, and assume good faith, like maybe he got something different out of it than you would have him get, or that he simply disagrees with some things the post presents as givens? Phrases like "the post you've claimed to read" don't point the conversation in many useful directions.)

Anyway... by disentangling "valuing YA" from "awarding a YA-specific Hugo," or at least rewinding the conversation to where we make our points arguing for/against the connection between the two, I think we'll have a conversation that might shed more light and get fewer people's backs up.

#157 ::: Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:59 AM:

Re: Channels into fandom...

1) I was in my mid-20s before I attended my first con. Until that time, I wasn't aware of such things as, well, things. I wound up at World Horror Con 2002 because I was following Neil Gaiman's news & blog, and I saw he'd be a guest of honor there, so I decided to go. It was only there that I began to hear about other cons, via "hey! have you been to X con? You'd enjoy it!"

(That WHC is really, really small might have helped me start to meet people, such that when I finally attended my first World Con, Denvention 3, I wasn't so lost and alone. Also, my online social spots were saying "Let's meet up at World Con!" so I went to their gatherings.)

2) The assumption that a lifelong fan of SF/F/H isn't really "part of fandom" unless they go to cons is one I encounter here and there, or infer from the way people use the word (there are instances in this thread); and it's one I will fight against tooth and nail forever. Fandom is vast and contains multitudes, many of them not face-to-face with each other because of time/money/work/school issues, or, if face-to-face, the group is small and local and comprises "folks I know from work/school/camp who also think books by X author are awesome."

I was in fandom for a good decade before I heard of cons*. I was not in con-going fandom yet, but I was damn straight in fandom.

*(Or at least was aware that cons were being mentioned. I suspect mentions of cons got trapped on the outside of the filter that distinguishes "options I have" from "options I do not have." When a Thing switches sides of that filter, it can really shake the foundations. See also the epiphany of "Oh, I could learn to fly planes!")

#158 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:05 AM:

Lee @149: Worldcon is the 1% -- the rich elite -- and the people who made it that way don't want to let go of that power.

Lee, that's kinda ridiculous.

Only "kinda", because you're right that Worldcon is expensive. I couldn't afford to attend this year, but I'm broke enough that I can't afford small regional cons like Arisia either.

But back when I was going to Worldcons regularly, my annual income was right around the mean of the middle US income quintile. Very few Worldcon attendees are one-percenters.

The reasons for Worldcon being so expensive have nothing to do with rich bastards holding onto power, and a whole lot to do with the fact that attendance in the range of 2000-6000 is a really awkward size for a convention. A small regional con, with a few hundred attendees, can just use a hotel, and keep their costs reasonable that way. A massive convention, like NY Comic Con or PAX, can use a convention center and amortize the costs over tens of thousands of members. Worldcon's large enough to need a convention center, but not large enough to spread those costs out.

#159 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:27 AM:

Nicole @157, there are two different meanings to the word "fandom".

In one sense, it refers to a network of people who came to know each other through the latter columns of early scientifiction magazines, and then through fanzines and conventions, and in some cases through membership in clubs. In this sense, as I understand it, "fandom" is the community, and it makes no sense to use the word to describe people who haven't connected with the community in some way. A fan is justified by fanac, and not by squee alone, but note that con-going is not the only form of fanac.

The more recent sense seems to refer to people who like certain kinds of fiction, regardless of whether they've contacted the broader community of fans. This is justification by squee alone. Possibly it makes more sense in the Internet era.

#160 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:44 AM:

Nicole 156: continuing lack of a Hugo Award for YA proves that SFWA/fandom doesn't value YA

I'm sure you know that WSFS, not SFWA, awards the Hugos and decides what their categories will be, and that SFWA has that relationship to the Nebulas. Posting this because the way you phrased it might be confusing.

#161 ::: Josh Jasper ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 04:39 AM:

Publishers Weekly seems to have no problem determining what is and isn't YA, and the publishers who send it to them seem to have no problem determining who to send books to.

Other than that, what were the obections to the category?

#162 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 08:26 AM:

I don't know what was said at the meeting, but some objections that have been made are:

1. It prevents YA books being nominated for or winning the Best Novel (or I guess Best Novella) awards (as they have been a few times in recent years), or, if they are allowed to be nominated in both categories, risks splitting the vote and reducing their chances of success.

2. The current Hugo voters - while perfectly capable of appreciating individual YA works, as those recent results show - are not the best placed people to make an informed judgement of the whole field. (I think it unlikely that one new award will very seriously change the composition of the body of voters, and - in view of repeated criticism of the Best Dramatic Presentation Short Form and Best Graphic Story results - unlikely that it will induce voters seriously to change their reading habits.}

These two are widespread. I would add two others.

3. I totally agree that there is a reasonably well-defined YA genre, and that the publishers know what belongs to it: but that genre, not being a matter of subject-matter but of tone and approach, depends very much on the author's and publisher's intention. To assign an award to it is to assign an award to a particular movement, a particular community: and that is something I think people might reasonably be uncomfortable doing. (Note that the voters do not let the publishers decide what is SF or fantasy; they have given awards to books not published as such. One can do that with SF, since it is defined at least in the first instance by subject-matter; I don't think one can do it with YA.)

4. To assign an award to YA as defined by the publisher unfairly excludes children's/middle-grade/9-12 books, which also often find an audience among (old) adults, and which people are often in practice talking about when they speak of the rise of YA. (Though perhaps this is cancelled out by point 1 above: if they're excluded from the YA category they are more likely to win the general awards.)

#163 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 09:48 AM:

Avram, #158: Please to allow for a certain amount of hyperbole re the money angle -- and perhaps my viewpoint is skewed by knowing an awful lot of fans who are on disability or in low-paying service-industry jobs, and for whom being able to go to Worldcon is about as likely as being able to go to the moon. We can afford to go, sometimes, but part of the reason for that is that we're dealers and can therefore deduct our table, travel, food, and lodging as business expenses. This does not, however, mean that something as expensive as Worldcon isn't a pretty big nut to crack -- and in particular, anytime it's held outside of the US / Canada, it might as well be on the moon for us too.

The reasons for Worldcon being so expensive have nothing to do with rich bastards holding onto power, and a whole lot to do with the fact that attendance in the range of 2000-6000 is a really awkward size for a convention.

Doesn't that suggest that one way to bring the costs down would be to increase the membership of the con? But every time we bring this up in a discussion with people who are closely associated with Worldcon, the idea is promptly and vigorously rejected. They like being the elite.

And that brings us back to the number of people who determine the Hugo awards, which as I said above is ridiculously small. It's no wonder that people in the age group of Melissa's daughter don't consider a "Hugo winner" blurb on a book cover anything to make one look twice and perhaps pick it up. They don't have any stake in the process, and it's been made extremely difficult for that to change. In that sense, describing Worldcon-going fans (including us) as "the 1% of fandom" is dead accurate.

And @159: A fan is justified by fanac, and not by squee alone, but note that con-going is not the only form of fanac.

I submit that writing and posting fanfic is definitely a form of fanac, and there's also a case to be made that seeking out and reading fanfic is as well. Also, you've missed a third usage of "fandom" that's sprung up in the fanfic communities: the specific works for which one reads and/or writes fanfic. So, for example, you can ask someone, "What are your fandoms?" and get back a response of "Sherlock, Ghostbusters, and CSI."

#164 ::: JFW Richards ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:25 AM:

Josh jasper :161 Publishers Weekly seems to have no problem determining what is and isn't YA

So do we limit the category to titles that have been listed as such in Publishers Weekly?

#165 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:45 AM:

#163 ::: Lee

The worldcon is run by volunteers, and they get run pretty ragged doing it. They may feel they don't have the resources to run a bigger convention, and this isn't elitism.

They may be mistaken-- perhaps they could be more efficient (I might owe another keyboard at this point), or perhaps they should be doing a better job of recruiting.

However, not having a bigger worldcon might not especially be a matter of elitism.

Also, the cost of the membership is substantial, but it's far from the largest part of going to worldcon if it isn't local for you.

#166 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:47 AM:

Lee @ 149 - I think this is partially correct. I think that some people aren't going to bother to vote no matter what. I also think that having the discussion in an open forum like the meeting will bring up some of the same discussions that we're having here, and then people can make a more informed vote. OTOH, I like the idea of putting it along side the hugo ballot, then the discussions will happen in places like Making Light and Whatever and a few other communities around the net.

Avram @ 158 - it is the elite. Not necessarily the "rich" elite, but definitely the dedicated fan. I couldn't afford to drop $200 + hotel + transportation, and certainly not after doing Convergence (at $45 + hotel + transportation for 5 days) and Pennsic (at $130 + transportation, for 2 weeks.) The excuse that a 2000-6000 person con has to be that expensive to accommodate site issues doesn't really hold with my experience. Site issues, yes - CVG at 4500 is outgrowing our hotel, but not enough to move the site. But it's a 4+ day con, and I'm still only paying $100 at the door (and $50 if I pre-reg). The sheer costs associated with going to WorldCon make it a challenge even if I'm sharing a hotel room, and even if transportation costs are minimal, because early pre-reg is always more than twice the cost of my large regional con. It's an event, and so it's limited to people for whom it's the only con in that part of the year and they save up for it, or people who can afford to drop that kind of money (including the vacation days!) on a weekend's vacation, unless that is their annual summer vacation. That's not me, and that's not a large portion of con-going fandom.

#167 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 12:20 PM:

LMM @153: Sitting at the periphery talking with people my age about how alienated I feel

You know, I was thinking about my experience at Denvention, and I realized that one of the things that contributed to my feeling alienated was that I had a sense that younger people weren't interested in talking to me. The only "younger person" I can think of that I met and who seemed open to being chatted with at all that I didn't already know was Sqwid.

So it's not impossible that the exclusion works both ways. (Though I think the onus is on the indigenous population to be more "open.")*

And cliquishness is not a new problem in fandom: I remember there being very distinct clique boundaries during the time I spent in Minneapolis fandom back in the early 80s.

* One of the lessons I learned early in life (that I tend to forget) is that if I'm feeling excluded, I tend to put out an off-putting air. "You're snubbing me? Well—I snub you first. So there."

#168 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 12:47 PM:

Various comments here have me flashing back on the panel title that puzzled me mightily at Iguanacon: "FIAWOL, FIJAGDH, FIJAGDWOL, and You." Wasn't until some while later, when I got the Secret Decoder Ring, that it finally made sense to me.

#169 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 12:58 PM:

Jacque @168:

Any chance of an explanation to those of us who still don't have the Secret Decoder Ring? Because secret codes on a thread about exclusion are...umm...yeah.

#170 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:09 PM:

Fandom Is A Way Of Life, Fandom Is Just A Ghoddam Hobby, Fandom Is Just A Ghoddam Way Of Life (and add FIJASOI, Fandom Is Just A Source Of Income). There are still people who haven't figured out that Niven's curse-word tanj is acronymese for "there ain't no justice", I suspect.

#171 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:16 PM:

abi: Because secret codes on a thread about exclusion are...umm...yeah.

Yes. Exactly. Particularly, the codes in question.

#172 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:18 PM:

Tom @170:

Jacque @171:
So why did you post them without glossing them, then? What was the logic in making more people feel more excluded?

I'm baffled. It's not like you to rub salt in wounds like that.

#173 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 01:54 PM:

abi: I want to give a thoughtful response; be back in a bit.

#174 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:07 PM:

abi: Joke-FAIL?

I pondered putting the expansion in a footnote, but that felt too, um, "obvious"?

The implied request for a straightline, "[____], Gracie?" was clearly too obscured.

Maybe the way to have done to have the proper effect would have to put the expansion, upside down, below the fold:

ǝɟıן ɟo ʎɐʍ ɯɐppoɥb ɐ ʇsnظ sı ɯopuɐɟ 'ʎqqoɥ ɯɐppoɥb ɐ ʇsnظ sı ɯopuɐɟ 'ǝɟıן ɟo ʎɐʍ ɐ sı ɯopuɐɟ

Shorter me: sorry, didn't mean to rub salt.

#175 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:07 PM:

Actually, one issue that does need to be defined if we create a YA Hugo in the future is whether this is a Hugo for YA (teen books) only or for YA and middle grade (pre-teen) fiction. In the context of traditional fandom, which often means middle grade when it says YA, it makes more sense to me to just include both rather than adding another distinction.

#176 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:25 PM:

Those acronyms Google very easily, so they're not so very secret at this point!

#177 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:28 PM:

This is not a thread about "exclusion." This is a thread about arcane arguments over science fiction award categories.

BTW, does anyone feel we need to gloss "YA" and "SF" every time we use them? IMHO, no.

#178 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:36 PM:

Jim: But the sub-thread about exclusion did arise logically out of the reactions to and implications of the presence or absence of a YA Hugo (an YA Hugo?).

#179 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:37 PM:

Janni Lee Simmer: Yes! Yes! Exactly!

My understanding is that the proposal defined YA as something published as such, and, since publishers use YA in the narrower sense, that would, if applied strictly, limit it to the narrower sense. But I don't know whether the proposers intended this, or whether they hadn't spotted the ambiguity.

On the one hand, I think that we are having this debate largely because of the emergence of YA in the narrower sense as a large and cohesive genre. On the other hand, I would find it odd if there were an award specifically for that genre and not for pre-teen fiction (which is, and has been for a long time, an important part of the world of SFF, broadly defined).

My suspicion is that if there were an award for young people's fiction generally, it would go more often than not to pre-teen fiction, and some YA fans would be disappointed by this.

By the way - you've said that there is now a clear distinction between adult and YA fiction; would you say there is an equally clear distinction between YA and pre-teen fiction? I know that one of my local bookshops shelves Cat Valente's The Girl Who... as YA and another shelves it as 9-12, so I'm thinking there may be a fuzziness there.

#180 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:39 PM:

There is a subthread about exclusion. Shall I call out comment numbers where it's been a major theme?

And those acronyms are a couple of orders of magnitude more obscure than YA.

#181 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Nevertheless, use of unglossed acronyms is not out-of-place in this thread.

Or anywhere else.

While there may be a sub-thread about "exclusion," "exclusion" is not the topic, main discussion, or a necessary part of this thread.

#182 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:46 PM:

It occurs to me that if YA does, in fact, qualify as a "genre," then I wonder if the "genre" of YA is a set that's orthogonally intersecting with SFF, which would mean that a YA award would be non-parallel to the Hugo anyway, no?

#183 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 02:49 PM:

I would disagree. A number of commenters have discussed the ways in which they feel excluded from fannish culture.

Unlike "YA" and "SF", the acronyms Jacque used were much more fannish. And the use of them emphasized the insider/outsider distinction.

I brought the matter up because many participants in this thread have felt excluded by that subset of fannish culture which goes to Worldcons, votes on Hugos, and uses fannish acronyms.

The comment certainly made me want to take one elbow in the opposite hand and stand in a corner like the last kid not dancing at the prom. It felt like a flourishing of in-group membership at people who are not in-group members, and that's certainly been a matter of much discussion here.

#184 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:11 PM:

abi, #180: I'm with you here. Those acronyms are transparent to me, because I'm of the fannish generation in which they arose*. They are not necessarily transparent to anyone lacking that history -- unlike YA or SF, which are mainstream.

I suspect that part of what Jacque was driving at was that the panel title itself made her feel excluded. However, I doubt very much that this was the intention of the people who titled the panel.

Why? Because IME there are two common reactions to "cryptic advertising" (which I think is what that title was supposed to be). The first reaction, and the one that too many marketing types think is universal, is curiosity -- "Oh, what's that? I want to find out!" The second, the one that I have and Jacque appears to have had, is dismissal: "Okay, fine, they don't want MY business." If I'd been titling that panel, I would have had an explicit subhead along the lines of, "Confused? Come on in and find out what we're talking about!"

* I will note, furthermore, that the FIAWOL/FIJAGH divide was one of those things which sometimes produced epic fan-feuds. The irony of someone fanatically defending the proposition that "it's just a hobby!" probably does not need to be underlined.

#185 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:12 PM:

@182 -- Well, YA *is* a genre/marketing category that's orthogonally intersecting with SFF, but if it makes sense to have a YA Hugo at all it seems like it should be limited to YA SFF; I can't think of any reason to give a realistic teen novel, no matter how excellent, a Hugo.

My gut says that's not what Hugos are for; my brain says that it would be weird to have a number of excellent realistic teen novels that are technically eligible, but don't get nominated or awarded because the number of Hugo voters who read realistic teen novels is so small.

#186 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Jim@177: Well (and I realise this is totally orthogonal to the point you were actually making), I have seen it suggested in places that YA stands for 'Young Audience', so perhaps it should be glossed. As both Janni Lee Simmer and I have mentioned, there is some ambiguity over just what YA is.

(There are also people who think SF stands for Speculative Fiction, but that's probably not relevant to this discussion.)

#187 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:26 PM:

@155: I'm a little confused about why you're phrasing your statement as if it's disproving my theory. Yes, if young adults were meeting other young adults who were going to lit cons, they'd be going to lit cons as well. But they're not, and so they're not.

(FWIW, the one "youth-centered" con I've attended -- Convergence -- was miserable, IMHO. Too big, too little interesting programming, too much emphasis on parties that involved moving from room to room, taking a drink and oohing at the decor, then moving on.)

Basically, my central thesis is that the greying of fandom is happening because of fail on several levels. On the lowest level, the dearth of local sf groups in most areas means that it's much harder to meet a group of people in a non-con context; this means that intergenerational contacts before a con are difficult. Cons are also -- like you explicitly said -- focused on people seeing old friends, which makes it harder to meet people *at* the con. And if people aren't going to lit cons, then they're unlikely to attend the Worldcon, etc., unless it's a one-time splurge for a place in a nearby city.

Again, compare this to the SCA (which has its own issues, but at least has its infrastructure in place), which has (almost by necessity) local meet-ups and demos, and various *very* small-scale regional events. By the time one hits Pennsic, one presumably knows a group of people to attend with.

Or, compare this to a culture which *is* thriving -- gaming cons. Again, like the SCA, they scale up really well. One has a local gaming group. One goes (with friends from said group) to the regional cons. And I have *plenty* of friends who go to Gencon, because they know other people who are going there as well.

Some of the decline in lit cons may be due to young people not being interested. But what's coming out on this thread is that those of us who are new and are interested in attending lit cons (and, quite possibly, have no interest in attending anime cons, etc. -- *waves hand*) often feel alienated and out-of-place. This isn't true for all cons (again, Minicon was incredibly welcoming), but it's apparently a common experience among people around here. And *that*, in part, is due to the absence of the sorts of local infrastructure that might allow newcomers to meet regulars before spending a weekend at an event that happens once a year.

Again, Readercon. The people I met who were under, say, thirty-five and felt connected were exceptions that proved the rule: either they were pros at some level, or they had been involved in the regional fandom beforehand. (*) Telling people to come back for a few years and then they'll fit in just isn't a good solution, because, generally speaking, most people won't.

(*) Same guy who gave me the walking-barefoot-both-ways speech: "Well, are you published?" Yes, actually, I am -- twice in the past year, in fact. It's just not science fiction. We can't all be Mieville, unfortunately.

#188 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:30 PM:

Lee: Actually, my memory of the reaction I had at the time was simply "buh-wha...?" I'm probably not an effective test-case for this question because, at that time, being excluded was my default experience. At Iggy, I experienced "belonging" for the first time in my life.

What that panel title did do was trigger my jargon-kink. Rather than a dismissal, I experienced it as puzzle to be solved, and a token to be claimed for membership. Which is why I was startled by abi's reaction to my @168.

It's only now looking back that I see that it could be experienced as an in-group/out-group distinctor, and particularly ironic, given its meta nature.

#189 ::: wonderer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:30 PM:

At the risk of raising the ire of the esteemed Mr. Macdonald, I'd like to put in another data point about cons and exclusion. (Also, hi! Lurker here.)

I've been to a number of cons, both of the small literary kind and the media kind (Star Trek cons back in the day, then a huge movie/TV/anime con). But I have yet to feel like a member of the community; my experience is much like what Kevin@126 describes on his blog. I'm sure a big part of that is my in-person lurker tendencies – joining conversations in progress is almost impossible for me, while striking up conversations with people not currently engaged in them is only a little less so. Having a "newbie" badge and long-time members who are willing to look out for newbies and strike up conversations, or some other form of facilitated introductions, would go a long way.

Another part is the barrier to entry[1] that's been mentioned up-thread by LMM@130 and others. I know plenty of people online who are into SF/F and part of online SF/F communities, but no-one who is local to me and involved in local fandom (in Avram@159's first sense). Many of them are younger than me at 33. Many are into movies/TV/anime (and associated fandoms, in Lee@153's sense[2]), so that generational divide in terms of media is definitely there IME. They happily go to the big media cons. However, many are also into written SF/F – Bujold, Butcher, Gaiman, Martin, Willis, and also YA. They don't necessarily go to the literary cons. But I bet they would (and I would) go to a con that catered to both sides.

IMO, the absence of a YA Hugo is a much less important factor in the "graying of fandom" than the ones I've mentioned. It's almost a separate discussion.

Side note – for better or worse, I will be at World Fantasy Con, since it's local to me this year. Any tips?

[1] Also, the scarcity of vacation days – very much yes.

[2] In addition to fanfic, I would identify this kind of "fandom" as people who cosplay (or enjoy taking in other people's cosplay efforts), share gifs on tumblr, and participate in general Internet squee.

#190 ::: Jim Macdonald ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 03:50 PM:

Jacque: Since it's obvious that you aren't going to get an apology from Abi, allow me to apologize to you instead.

Your use of acronyms was entirely appropriate and should not have been called-out.

#191 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 04:10 PM:

Thanks, Jim. I appreciate the support. I can also see abi's point and, in fact, wondered about it when I posted that comment. So 'sall good.

#192 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 04:17 PM:

wonderer @189: My congoing experiences are somewhat out of date, but I would say, to the extent that you feel comfortable doing so, don't be bashful about striking up conversations with random fellow congoers.

The algorithm I've found most effective for doing so is the Five Word Rule. It's been my experience that one has about five or six words of free attention from any random stranger. If one can pique the other person's interest within that window, one can often prompt a fun and interesting conversation. "Excuse me, your book looks interesting...?" (Go longer than that with your initial ping, and barriers often start to come up. Allow variation for local culture, YMMV, void where etc.)

This is obviously easier for extroverts (of which I am one) than introverts.

#193 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 04:56 PM:

Jacque @168:

Various comments here have me flashing back on the panel title that puzzled me mightily at Iguanacon: "FIAWOL, FIJAGDH, FIJAGDWOL, and You." Wasn't until some while later, when I got the Secret Decoder Ring, that it finally made sense to me.
I'm not sure who wrote the first version of that panel title -- might have been Jim Corrick, might have been Patrick -- but I think I gave it its final form when I was editing-while-typesetting the program book and pocket program. The previous version was equally mysterious, just more awkward about it.

I didn't know much about writing panel titles. AYKB, it was my first worldcon. These days I'd add a subtitle saying it was about fans and their relationship to fandom. Down with cute panel titles, up with clear ones.

(A further historical note: I was on that panel. It was my first. It was also the first panel of the worldcon. Other panelists included terrifying BNF Moshe Feder, and the unthinkably terrifying Terry Carr. I didn't say much.)

Josh Jasper @161:

Publishers Weekly seems to have no problem determining what is and isn't YA, and the publishers who send it to them seem to have no problem determining who to send books to.

Other than that, what were the obections to the category?

Though brevity is very nearly the foremost concern of the historian, presenting such facts to the reader as may increase the accuracy of their understanding is more important still, and therefore we must take the liberty of bringing to the attention of the other honorable Fluorospherians a datum of which they are no doubt already aware, which is that your Significant Other is PW's SF review editor.

PW has its own criteria for YA, as does Locus, and presumably Kirkus and Library Journal as well. To the extent that these sets of criteria are specific to their publications, we don't know them, and neither do the rest of the Hugo voters. Their purpose is to categorize books to be reviewed this month, rather than to serve as hard-to-change Hugo rules for the use of a largely nonprofessional voting population. If we should by some chance get to see any of these sets of criteria, I would be surprised if they turned out to be suitable for our use.

To the extent that these criteria consist of picking up the publishers' classifications of their own books, it seems to me we're left with the same problems I discussed in #53.


On Exclusion:

Over the years, I've spent many hours and many words trying to persuade fans who feel snubbed and excluded by the SF community, or some fraction thereof, that whatever happened to them wasn't the intended effect. This is occasionally varied by conversations where they recall in detail some hurtful thing that someone said to them, while I try to figure out who said it to them and in what context, which they seldom remember at all.

This seldom results in them feeling better. Perhaps I'm not very good at it.

I sometimes wonder whether our tribe has a knack for feeling excluded. I'm not pointing a finger at anyone. I'm saying it's remarkably easy to prompt that reaction in just about all of us.

#194 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:20 PM:

TNH: Well, that panel title was certainly remarkable to me for being A) absolutely indecipherable upon first exposure AND B) sufficiently distinctive and memorable that I i) retained it intact so that I could ii) fully comprehend it when I finally obtained the relevant referents.

it was my first worldcon

Ah, those were the days!

I sometimes wonder whether our tribe has a knack for feeling excluded. I'm not pointing a finger at anyone. I'm saying it's remarkably easy to prompt that reaction in just about all of us.

That would certainly be the way I would bet, given fans and fandom's historical relationship to mainstream culture (plus a liberal salting of spectrumite experience).

OTOH, I'm willing to bet that the population in general has a knack for feeling excluded. It's just that, for various reasons, it's more obvious with "us."

#195 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:24 PM:

Further note:

Anyone who's been following me and/or Patrick on Twitter the last couple of days knows why I'm stressed and sleep-deprived. Brain, more than slightly fuzzy.

If I've said anything clueless or offensive, I beg pardon in advance. Let me know what it was. I may still not understand what's up with the pizza man and the babysitter, but talking is a good place to start.

#196 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:25 PM:

Lee @163: I submit that writing and posting fanfic is definitely a form of fanac

Certainly! Back in the day, fanfic was published in fanzines, so when I mentioned fanzines in that context, I didn't think it necessary to call out fanfic explicitly. But yeah, even in the modern Internet context, fanfic is classic fanac.

and there's also a case to be made that seeking out and reading fanfic is as well.

I dunno about this. You're clearly not convinced of it either, since you stuck that "case to be made" disclaimer in there rather than asserting it outright. I'm thinking fanac ("fan activity") needs to be active in some way. Criticism of, and commentary on, fanfic might count, but I don't know about just reading the stuff.

(That's an old saying: "I'm not really a fan; I just read the stuff." But I seem to remember it being said in a sort of humorous self-deprecating tone, so there are probably subtleties and implications I've missed. I could be wrong here.)

#197 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:27 PM:

I'm finding it interesting to follow this discussion, because I haven't been to acon since college, but I go to several academic conferences per year. (Though for me, crypto was just a goddamn hobby until it became a way of life[1].) I've given a variant of the con advice to younger friends/colleagues coming to Crypto or Eurocrypt for the first time. (Make sure you get 4 hours of sleep, 2 meals, and a shower in every 24 hour period.) Those conferences are single-track and you can attend all the talks, but some important secondary advice is "don't be too upset if you don't understand anything past the introduction for a lot of the talks/papers."

One thing that helped my mental health a great deal at crypto conferences was realizing that I'm someone who needs a certain amount of time to recharge by being away from other people, each day. So I'll often go back to my room during a break or a session I don't find interesting, close the door, and set my phone to beep at me in an hour. An hour of quiet after a couple days of overstimulation is a huge win.

[1] Weirdly, I'd seen those acronyms in some SF book, but I'm not 100% sure which one. _Fallen Angels_, maybe? Or Lifehouse? Something else?

#198 ::: albatross ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:32 PM:

At a guess, tired, overstimulated people in a rush to drink as much as they can from a firehose are probably especially good at seeming brusque and uninterested in talking to newcomers.

#199 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:43 PM:

I think there are at least three senses of 'fandom':

1. The long standing community of SFF fans who go to cons, take part in the production of fanzines etc.
2. The community of active fans of a particular work - the Doctor Who fandom, the Buffy fandom, the Harry Potter fandom etc.
3. The community (the community) of writers and active readers/reviewers of fanfic.

The sense I get, though I may be wrong about this, is that in the earlier days of media fandom it tended to break up into distinct fandoms (sense 2), but more recently - and I suspect largely because of the internet - the fanfic-writing wings of these fandoms have come together into something that is once again called just 'fandom' (sense 3). Those used to the older sense may be taken aback when they read that fandom consists mostly of women, that in fandom the preservation of anonymity is very important, and so on.

There is a fourth sense of 'fan', which is indeed the original and basic sense, an enthusiast - whether part of a community and involved in fannish activity, or not. But I'm not used to seeing 'fandom' in connection with that sense.

#200 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:44 PM:

TNH @193: Over the years, I've spent many hours and many words trying to persuade fans who feel snubbed and excluded by the SF community, or some fraction thereof, that whatever happened to them wasn't the intended effect. This is occasionally varied by conversations where they recall in detail some hurtful thing that someone said to them, while I try to figure out who said it to them and in what context, which they seldom remember at all.

Speaking of such, I am formally giving up, retiring, and being done with the thing that a certain person said to me twenty-five years ago, on the grounds that hey, it's far past time to get over that, and also that it was self-evidently Not True.

This seldom results in them feeling better. Perhaps I'm not very good at it.

Well, it helped me. So thank you. And this post helped me get done with it entirely. (Now I can move on to other housecleaning. Progress is good.)

Jacque @194: OTOH, I'm willing to bet that the population in general has a knack for feeling excluded. It's just that, for various reasons, it's more obvious with "us."

Well, "we" do tend to talk about it more on the net, that's for sure. And in fanzines. And wherever. I agree with you that it might indeed be a human thing in general.

There should be a word for "inventing fun things that bring people in and make them glad to be there." That's a human thing too.

#201 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Andrew (@179): Actually, my sense is that YA SF/fantasy writers and readers are well accustomed to being grouped in with middle grade writers--because the kidlit community encompasses both in the same way the adult genre community encompasses both SF and fantasy--and wouldn't be at all uneasy if the two genres were put together for an award, so long as this were made clear. YA and MG writers/readers are well accustomed to being
fellow travelers.

It's actually only in the past decade or so that YA got separated out from middle grade for the Newbery award, and technically even now a YA can technically win the Newbery--just like a picture book can technically win it--but in practice this is rare because both those genres are also eligible for other awards.

Anyway, unlike YA and adult SF/fantasy, YA and middle grade books of all sorts are generally published by the same imprints, and so the lines between them can more easily blur, cross-marketing can more easily happen, and so on.

The Norton Award, for the record, covers both YA and middle grade. (I can't remember now if this is explicit in the rules are by general agreement as an interpretation of same.)

I think a YA Hugo would pretty much have to include both YA and middle grade, because I think too few adult SF/fantasy readers know there's a distinction, partly because they see the genre through the lens of their own childhoods, when the distinction--and the YA genre--didn't really exist yet.

#202 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:48 PM:

Regarding the definition of fan:

I considered myself an sf/f fan from about the age of 10--long before I knew anything about conventions, fanzines, fanac, or anything like that. "All" I did was read the stuff--in great quantities, as much as I could get my hands on, and both contemporary fiction and things which had been published long before I was born.

The closest I got to fanac was that in high school I regularly taught a mini-course on comics. This was very small scale; I rarely had more than 15 students. We had no comics or sf club at school.

I should note that I did not define or think of this as fanac; if someone at a convention had asked me about fannish activity, I would have said I didn't do any.

Other than the comics and Trek cons I mentioned previously, I attended no other conventions until I began working in publishing. I knew about conventions by then from reading about the history of the field; I had no idea they were still going on.

Yet I considered myself a fan, as did most of my friends who read a lot of sf/f/comics. Almost none of us went to conventions until we were out of college and/or working.

And that was just about our only fanac--attending conventions. We didn't create fanzines, didn't write articles or make art. One of us wrote fiction and one of us once made a costume.

Does it really help to say people are only fans if they do some kind of fanac? Why isn't reading enough? Or am I misunderstanding that subthread?

#203 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 05:57 PM:

Also, Teresa, you cracked me up when you went into Paarfi mode with "Though brevity is very nearly the foremost concern of the historian,". Just sayin'.

(A bit of information about Paarfi is at the link above, under the section headed "Historical fiction." A bit of not-very-informative data is at this link, but it's much more a joke that one gets after reading Paarfi's own inimitable prose than an explanation, or, ghod help us, an introduction. A proper introduction, of course, is only available by reading the novels of SKZ Brust Fabled In Story And Song. Sorry, that's pretty much his whole name around these parts, some days. Anyhow, Paarfi's bits there were ghost-written by a number of people, Neil and Mike among others.)

#204 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:01 PM:

TNH: With all due respect, you haven't been on the other side for a very long time -- and it's pretty clear a lot has changed since then.

I'm *certain* that what's going on isn't intentional. No one starts out trying to alienate newbies; no one starts out trying to discount their opinions or to ignore them. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't (passively) happen. Most charitably, it's what happens when you have a bunch of socially awkward people in a situation where many of them all know each other and other people ... don't. Throw in a very clear social hierarchy and approaching a big name pro becomes very intimidating, even if that person would be open to conversation.

I am honestly thinking that a widespread, multi-con badge system might be a decent first step towards a solution (or, at least, a better resolution). Something like a new person badge plus some sort of "you can approach me!" badge for regulars -- when it's genuinely worn when the person *is* approachable -- might be a good way of starting to connect people. (*)

All I know is, I don't think of going to cons as the type of place where I go back to my room at night because I have nothing better to do. And I definitely don't think of cons as the type of place where I walk back to my room in tears because I realize that these are my people and I *still* don't fit in.

None of that's intentional. I'm sure that every single person in that situation was a great person who would have been great to talk to if I had known how to, if I had known them already. But I didn't and I didn't, and it seems like other people are having similar experiences.

That's no one's fault, necessarily. But if lit-cons want to keep getting new blood, then they need to do something to address it.

(*) Again, the difference between newbie-meets-newbie and newbie-meets-regular: the regular knows other people.

#205 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:03 PM:

elise @200: There should be a word for "inventing fun things that bring people in and make them glad to be there." That's a human thing too.

Evangelism? No, wait....

#206 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:10 PM:

Janni Lee Simner (apologies for getting your name wrong) @201:

I think a YA Hugo would pretty much have to include both YA and middle grade, because I think too few adult SF/fantasy readers know there's a distinction, partly because they see the genre through the lens of their own childhoods, when the distinction--and the YA genre--didn't really exist yet.

I would be much more comfortable with that. (It may be, of course, that this was meant all along, but it wasn't clear.) It would remove the discrimination problem; it would remove my worries about an award dedicated to works of a particular approach and feel; it would at least bring it closer to areas that the voters are familiar with (though I think that might still lead to results that look a bit skewed from a YA fan's point of view). The exclusion/split vote worry would still exist, though.

#207 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:15 PM:

Andrew 186: (There are also people who think SF stands for Speculative Fiction, but that's probably not relevant to this discussion.)

It's completely relevant to this discussion! Using the term 'speculative fiction' (or 'spec fic' or 'SFF' for Science Fiction/Fantasy) is an attempt to avoid the entire argument about whether something is science fiction or fantasy. I think the distinction is useful, but not useful enough to justify the amount of argument and exclusion it causes. There are people who think that fantasy has no place at the World Science Fiction Convention, and certainly should not be eligible for Hugos.

I think that's a repellent, narrow-minded, snobbish position myself.

Do we need to have separate awards for Best Novel and Best Fantasy Novel? I don't think so, in fact I think that's absurd.

Likewise, I'd rather not ghettoize YA fiction. Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is a YA novel. It was nominated for a Hugo. IMO YA isn't inferior in terms of quality (certainly LB was not!) or different in any way that justifies a separate award. We* split Best Semi-Prozine from Best Fanzine because Best Fanzine had almost become the property of Locus magazine (now it wins Semi-Prozine almost every year instead, but fanzine fanzines have an award they can win). We split Dramatic Presentation because short work had no shot against big Hollywood blockbusters. We created Best Fancast because webcasts and podcasts were a genuinely new medium.

I don't think YA fiction is separate in any of those ways. It isn't a periodical form (it's not a form at all), so it doesn't have the Locus problem; it clearly has a shot against non-YA fiction (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire won in 2001); it's certainly not a new medium.

Those aren't the only considerations, of course, but something comparably significant would have to be true to make me think adding a YA category (or YA categories, unless we're assuming that only Novel would be split) would be a good idea. I don't see that as being true.

Melissa 202: Does it really help to say people are only fans if they do some kind of fanac? Why isn't reading enough?

Data point: a button saying "I'm not a fan; I just read the stuff." Saw that at a convention, of course, so it was probably meant ironically!

But for example my dad read all kinds of science fiction. He took a whole box of Ace Doubles from a friend who was moving, and read them (though only I was still willing to read them after the water damage, and boy were some of them tah-RASH). He introduced me to The Lord of the Rings, explaining that it was a book about "a magic ring that makes you invisible, but slowly turns you evil" (simplistic, but I was a child, and he certainly intended me to read the book). When the movie of The Illustrated Man came out in 1969, he took me to see it (it was rated R and I was 9) and agreed with me afterwards that it wasn't as good as the book.

But he wasn't a fan.

What do I mean by that? I mean he would have found fanzines a complete waste of time, and conventions alternately boring and annoying. He could have given talks on brain science at a level comparable to anyone giving science talks at Worldcons**, but wouldn't have wanted to.

Maybe I misjudged him. But he wasn't like my fannish friends, even the ones a generation older than me. Nothing wrong with that; but just being an avid reader of SFF doesn't, IMO, make you a fan. (Also, there are people who fit right into fandom but don't read the stuff, though that's rarer.)

LMM 204: Something like a new person badge plus some sort of "you can approach me!" badge for regulars -- when it's genuinely worn when the person *is* approachable -- might be a good way of starting to connect people.

I think there's an obvious problem with newbie badges: those of use who want to be friendly to the newbies are often perceived as creepazoids by them, and I for one am so concerned to avoid giving that impression that I hesitate to strike up a conversation with an apparent newbie even if the newbie is in obvious distress. Add to that the fact that genuine creepazoids (even predators) might well use the newbie badges as prey identification, and I'm left with the strong feeling that the L badges are the better of the two ideas. And yes, at those Pagan gatherings we took off the L badge when we weren't feeling up to doing the listener function. That's part of the responsibility of acquiring one.

Of course, wearing an L badge also means you risk being cornered by a bore. That's the risk you take.

May I also say that reading your posts about your negative experiences trying to enter fandom make my heart hurt? Some bits of them have brought tears to my eyes. I'm so sorry we didn't do better by you. This kind of stuff matters and I hope we can do better in the future.

*I mean "we" the fannish community, not that I personally have ever made a WSFS business meeting!

**Well, except the Nobel laureates.

#208 ::: Xopher HalfTongue is gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:17 PM:

Long but not linky comment. Maybe just the sheer size?

#209 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:24 PM:

THN @#193: Making Light has been fundamental to how I experience fandom. My first SFF con was Fourth Street 2008, but I went into it already fluoro-knowing Patrick, you, Elise, and a few others, and I came out of it knowing a bunch more people and getting involved in a group writing and art project with some of them, which we collaborated on online over several months, and which got me to actually finish a couple of stories for the first time in forever.

Without Making Light I would never have had the nerve to go all the way up to Minneapolis to hang out with people I had never seen in person who already knew each other - I would not have been certain I could find a gap in the wall that I could fit through.

You can't make everyone feel included, but you're hosting an excellent year-round room party here, and I think it definitely creates a portal into fandom for a lot of people who otherwise wouldn't be able to find a way in. And that's in addition to everything you do at actual cons and that whole helping-people-to-write thing you do.

#210 ::: Mark Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:28 PM:

Lee@163 and Nancy@165: The size of Worldcon (which actually varies considerably year to year based on location and, I think, the economy) has been an issue for a very long time, and a rather thorny one.

On the one hand, it's far easier to say that Worldcon should be bigger than it is to make it happen. Various ideas have been proposed over the decades, and a number of them have even been tried, with very mixed success. At a guess, part of this is the expense issue others have raised, part of it is a general lack of awareness that Worldcon even exists, and part of it has to do with what I would consider the fundamental nature of a general SF con. It's my perception, admittedly based on limited information, that the cons that have grown into the tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands like San Diego ComicCon, are primarily commercial enterprises that emphasize lots and lots of Big Name Guests, chosen to draw crowds, while a Worldcon has a limited number of guests who are chosen because the committee believes they deserve the honor.

On the other hand, yes, it's true that there are people who are dismissive of any change. I mentioned, far earlier in this thread, that I attended a pair of generation panels at the Montreal Worldcon. For me, the moment that sticks with me from the older generation panel was when Fred Levy Haskell(1) said (not an exact quote, but a close paraphrase), "We could do more to bring in the media fans, and the gamers, and the anime fans, but then it wouldn't be our Worldcon any more." My own opinion of that sentiment may not be fit for polite company. While there are many older fen who do try to be open to change and welcoming of newcomers (and I hope I'm one of them), I do think anyone who wants to see changes in how Worldcon is done needs to be prepared and willing to confront and deal with that attitude when it pops up, because it does.

(1) I include Fred's name not out of any personal animus, but because I agree with Teresa that it's better to be specific than to invoke (even by implication) some hazy conspiracy of Old Pharts.

#211 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:39 PM:

me @#209: uh, TNH not THN, whoops.

#212 ::: Mark Bernstein ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:41 PM:

Two notes:

To those who've noted the lack of local clubs, thank you! There is one in my area (the Stilyagi Air Corps in Ann Arbor, MI), and you've prompted me to email the club's mailing list to raise the question of what's being done to attract new members.

My own "home" community these days is filk, which is also dealing with the question of attracting and retaining new blood. We do now have a version of the "Listener" button - it says "Filk Gardener", and it does seem to help.

#213 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:58 PM:

Mary Dell @209 - I agree with you that Making Light is an excellent portal into fandom. In addition to just giving me a bunch of names that sounded familiar and an idea, over the years, of what Worldcons are generally about, the Making Light dinner was very helpful to put faces to the names that then became a couple of much-needed familiar faces in the Vast Sea. (Although I spent so much time zipping from one place to another that I didn't actually get to talk to any of you nearly enough!)

#214 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 06:59 PM:

Mark Bernstein @212: Oh, "Filk Gardener" is a SPLENDID thing. What a good idea!

(I took my courage and my ukulele downstairs at Worldcon, very late one night, to a filk circle, and played for the first time in front of a circle of people that Liavek song to which Mike [John M. Ford] wrote the words and for which I wrote the music under his direction. It went OK. I was shaky and exhilarated! Bless Brenda Sutton and all the other good ones who were there and who were encouraging.)

#215 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:12 PM:

Mark Bernstein@210

I'd also argue that a megacon (e.g. SD Comic-Con)is LESS conducive to socializing. At least if you're talking about opportunities to meet and talk to people you don't already know.

Worldcon is small enough that you can have things like room parties and Kaffeeklatches. It's a lot harder to have these sorts of not-too-large gatherings at a megacon. Sheer numbers are going to tend to overwhelm you.

#216 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:22 PM:

Whitmore @170: Hadn't heard FIJASOI before. *snerch* The dealers' room person in me greets the former bookstore owner in you. ;-) (Though never "just a," you know? More like "Fandom Unexpectedly Became Somewhere I Work, Too; Go Figure, Eh?")

#217 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:30 PM:

Say what?

If you are a newbie fan at your first convention, we are the most approachable bunch you've ever met in your life, with the possible exception of people who want to give you religious pamphlets or personality tests.

If you don't know anyone, volunteer to help. Or go to programming and strike up conversations afterward. Find out where some parties are and go hang out there.

I do not recall this being difficult.

#218 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:33 PM:

I am hopelessly behind on this thread, but LMM's #204 is a pretty good demonstration of the general rule of thumb that states that 82.493% of all uses of the phrase "with all due respect" actually mean "I am about to explain that you are full of shit."

That said, I want to quote one later paragraph in LMM's comment:

All I know is, I don't think of going to cons as the type of place where I go back to my room at night because I have nothing better to do. And I definitely don't think of cons as the type of place where I walk back to my room in tears because I realize that these are my people and I *still* don't fit in.
With all due respect, that's pretty much how I experience a lot of cons. Save only for replacing "tears" with "grinding anxiety and depression" because, you know, I'm obliged to be a guy.

I am seriously unclear about why we have a special obligation to make SF conventions less shot through with the uncertainties, horror, embarrassment, and alienation that attend all interactions between all human beings in the entire history of human beings ever.

More to the point -- see above -- I was in fandom -- and I continue to be (to some extent) "in fandom" -- because I care about particular people. And about the people they care about. Not because I care about the abstract idea of "fandom," disconnected from all particularity. And not because I feel some need to evangelize some idea of "fandom" disconnected from any of the particular people who, for me, comprise it.

For this reason, the idea of wearing a badge saying "I'm Approachable!" strikes me as not just false but morally wrong -- wrong for me, and wrong for anyone. Because none of us are universally "approachable." We all draw the line somewhere. To claim that we don't is to subscribe to a model of "fandom" that is unparticular, metaphysical, and fraudulent. It's to make a promise that humans cannot make.

My suggestion is that we should all simply strive to be kind. Remarkably, this plan works just as well outside fandom as inside of it, and requires no special badges or other office supplies.

#219 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:43 PM:

Between TNH's #217 and my #218, I see a point emerging.

Which is this: Newcomers to fandom sometimes feel anxiety about being left out, not fitting in, et cetera.

Also this: People who have been hanging around this subculture for 37 years sometimes feel anxiety about being left out, not fitting in, et cetera.

In fact, human beings in all situations sometimes feel anxiety about being left out, not fitting in, et cetera.

If you don't get this, or think I'm being dismissive or reductionist, I hear you, but we don't live in the same world.

You may think I'm bullshitting you. But to look back to the last SF con where I hid in my room because I ran out of the ability to deal with people who seemed to me ever-so-much-more socially-with-it than I am...I don't even have to turn the calendar to before 2012.

So perhaps you can understand why I am really out of patience with some threads in this discussion.

#220 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:45 PM:

The idea of the Listener buttons seems to have drifted, or there's a separate idea out there of announcing broad-spectrum approachability.

The Listener-button idea, specifically, is that that's a person to go to if you need to talk to someone briefly. It doesn't mean "I'll be your friend" or "I'm signing up to be your fulltime guide to Worldcon." It's more of a crisis-intervention and/or mobile information desk kind of thing. That's the way we did it back in the day, anyway, and I think it might be helpful.

That said, Patrick's right. Striving to be kind is always correct.

#221 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 07:46 PM:

Going back to the subject of the Hugos... Who else noticed that Besty Wollheim, by winning this year's award for the long-form editor, was the first woman to do so in all those decades? As for how she wound up on the ballot, she blames her writers, whom she described to me as 'sneaky'.

#222 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 08:01 PM:

elise @216 -- I believe it was coined by Bruce Pelz, than whom it is possible to find few people more fannish.

I miss Bruce. He'd have found this an interesting conversation.

#223 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 08:40 PM:

Mary Dell @209: I had to go to my first few conventions on faith alone, but thereafter fanzine fandom did the same thing for me that the fluorosphere did for you.

"Fandom" is a generalized term for the people I know and care about, and a statement of hope that there are more of them I just haven't found yet.

#224 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 09:18 PM:

*NH @216-7: Well, perhaps then the chief conclusion to be drawn from the exclusion subthread is: "I'm not alone." And this is no small thing.

#225 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 09:44 PM:

I think my comment may have come off as the opposite of what I intended, which is not to say that fandom is excluding; rather that for some of us who are inclined to self-exclude, ML and you guys have opened a door of welcome, and I'm grateful for that. The wall I refer to is the wall that is around any group of humans, if you are fearful of groups of humans. I used to be afraid of groups of strangers - cripplingly so, for a couple of years, and then less so with therapy and lots of practice - all of which is ironic since I'm the world's own extrovert. Making Light gave me a set of human connections that made it worth taking a leap into the scarier interactions of real life, even with a 10 hour drive into the wilds of Minnesota thrown in.

I don't talk about it in most conversations here, but I have PTSD, GAD, angst, and weldtschmertz. My own psyche excludes me from much fannish activity, but I feel entirely included because of this particular iteration that you guys have built. And I know there are other people with similar challenges who have also found their open doorway here.

#226 ::: Mary Dell has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 09:47 PM:

Here, gnomes, I made you some cheese doodles...

#227 ::: chris ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 09:57 PM:

I am hopelessly behind on this thread, but LMM's #204 is a pretty good demonstration of the general rule of thumb that states that 82.493% of all uses of the phrase "with all due respect" actually mean "I am about to explain that you are full of shit."

Well, you wouldn't need to say that you still respected the person unless you intended to say something that might otherwise give the opposite impression.

And since each and every one of us is, from time to time, full of shit, aren't we all better off if the people who respect us have the ability to explain that to us without abandoning their respect for us or forfeiting our own for them?

Or as Sagan put it: Valid criticism does you a favor. (Even if you're not necessarily in a mood to appreciate that immediately.)

For this reason, the idea of wearing a badge saying "I'm Approachable!" strikes me as not just false but morally wrong -- wrong for me, and wrong for anyone. Because none of us are universally "approachable." We all draw the line somewhere. To claim that we don't is to subscribe to a model of "fandom" that is unparticular, metaphysical, and fraudulent. It's to make a promise that humans cannot make.

With all due respect, IMO, if you can take the badge off and know that you can take it off, then it really means "I'm in a mood to be approachable", which is a statement that human beings *can* honestly make, if they're careful to monitor their own moods for when they need to stop for a bit.

Maybe our language is slightly hampered here by not having different verbs for "to be (permanently)" and "to be (temporarily)". Because your point that nobody is permanently or always approachable is quite true, but it seems to miss the point of the buttons.

#228 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:07 PM:

One of my favorite moments of this worldcon... Me sitting in the fan lounge, reading an ARC a writer had given me not long before, until Joan Saberhagen walked by and sat down to chat with me.

#229 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Another great memory... Bringing "The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairland" to its author, who proceeded to say I have a lovely name.

#230 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:10 PM: she autographed the book.

#231 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:14 PM:

Everyone in this conversation has my sympathy.

I run events full of geeks, specifically open source software outreach and coding events, and try to make new people feel welcome at those events. (Per OtterB's observation at #136 I should probably steal that "speed networking" idea for events that I run!) I am pretty extroverted, but sometimes I feel tired and need to retreat to my hotel room, or take a nap, or just go talk with people I already know and like. And I think I need that more, the older I get and the more responsibility I accrue.

I now have to recognize that, while I have this job and have to organize or attend lots of conferences for work, I basically can't go to SF cons for fun anymore. It doesn't work; they use up the same juice. (This summer, for the first time in years, I didn't go to WisCon. Instead I had a long hiking trip with one friend. It was really nice.) My sympathies go out especially to people who have to go to conferences, conventions, and cons for their jobs but whose temperaments aren't really suited to it.

I also have the responsibility of structuring and publicizing events to get more participation, and more diverse participation. Experimenting is worthwhile but sometimes costly. When, if ever, should we charge an entrance fee? Should we concentrate on teaching and cooperation, or go for teams and prizes? What if we fly senior developers to an event to train newbies, but the newbies don't show up? Should we invest in people and equipment to enable simultaneous remote participation, or just concentrate on the in-person experience? And I don't have to work with decades of tradition when I want to tweak something to appeal to a fresh audience! So, my sympathies to everyone who's working on structuring the Hugo Awards.

This comment on the difficulty of initiating conversations with strangers also got to me. We cannot control everyone else's experience, and sometimes we don't even have insight into our own. But we can try to listen to each other's experiences, especially when designing social infrastructures. So thanks, everyone, for sharing yours.

#232 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:14 PM:

I need to pick up a copy of that. I won the sweepstakes for a copy of the sequel (the notification email got spam-filtered, but they very nicely allowed my reply to stand even though it was slightly after the deadline: thanks,!) but I don't want to read the sequel without reading the original first.

#233 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:16 PM:

I like the idea of the buttons but, as a woman wary of the infrequent but endemic issues at cons around boundary-setting, I would be very hesitant to wear one. I would love to hear experiences from cons that use them - what's the gender split like? What's the percentage of people who use them again after their first con?

Patrick @219, I totally agree with you that this is endemic to at least cons if not the human experience. This was my first Worldcon, but by no means my first big con (I have been to many of the major gaming/media cons, most more than once) and the weird con dynamics and/or general overwhelmingness have never gone away for me. And I am reasonably skilled, at this point, at being sociable in groups of strangers.

So my question is, here, what concrete actions can we, and con committees, take to make this easier? As I mentioned above, I think the kaffeeklatches were great, as were the Strolls with the Stars. Both of those seemed particularly useful to break down the perceived pro/fan barrier, insofar as I saw one. Did other people find them so?

Are there other things that could be scheduled or publicized that would help? Did anyone go to a room party that seemed particularly good at mixing up new people and old friends? Did anyone have more success in the hotel bar than I did? (I was a little surprised that no one told me their life story in the bar. Normally I cannot order two drinks in succession anywhere in the Union without at least one person pouring their heart out to me.)

I live close enough to San Antonio that I'm considering volunteering or otherwise getting involved next year, so these are not rhetorical questions at all. I want to drag a horde of my friends down, and I want them all to have a good time.

#234 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:39 PM:

Well, some people have a harder time with it than others. And some things are worse when you're not used to them. I know I generally have a bout of lonely depression partway through a Worldcon, and Chicon was no exception; but now I expect it and ride it out instead of collapsing in tears.

#235 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 10:50 PM:

Avram, #196: The reason I say "a case to be made" is that I view the finding and reading of fanfic as requiring rather more effort than the reading of books; you have to know it's out there, and figure out where to look for it. You can find and read SF books just by walking into the bookstore, but to read fanfic you pretty much have to have some connection to the fannish community to begin with. More briefly: I'm convinced, but I don't necessarily expect you to be, because it's a fuzzier situation.

Xopher, #207: Tangent alert! On the topic of splitting things out, I would dearly love to see a Best Fanvid category split out of Dramatic Presentation. A fanvid isn't a webcast/podcast, and it suffers the same disadvantage against TV show episodes that the latter do against movies. And while a lot of fanvids are just collections of clips set against a popular song, some of them (such as "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury", which did get a nomination) are very fine original works. I really wanted to see Roll a D6 on the ballot this year, but I suspect I was the only one who nominated it. End of tangent.

Jeremy, #213: Since I note that you're planning to attend LoneStarCon 3 next year, I look forward to meeting you there.

Patrick, #218/219: I submit that there is a qualitative difference between you feeling worn out by hanging around and socializing with people many of whom you already know, and LMM's feeling that she(?) can't find anyone who seems to be interested in knowing her. Please note that my personal experience of fandom has been much more like Teresa's than like LMM's, but at least when the latter is telling me what she's experienced I'm not brushing it off, either with "then YOU need to make more of an effort" or with "but that happens to men Trufen too!"

Damn, my pattern-matching is kicking in again...

#236 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 06, 2012, 11:34 PM:

Hmm. Reading through this, I'm thinking that even as a sociable extrovert, I still don't feel quite like I belong at Worldcon... but I barely notice, because I don't feel as though I belong in most of my life*. And I'm the sort of person that works my way into things whether or not I feel as though I belong.

*I won't get into details here. The quick and dirty version is that I am very very jealous of folks who have friendships dating back to grade school.

#237 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 12:18 AM:

Just to note that even though I've been going to conventions since '72, I still have periods of wandering around, hoping to find someone to talk with, and sometimes it gets to me.

Still, people aren't going to go to the (frequently considerable) cost and effort of attending conventions unless the conventions are enough fun.

IIRC, the SCA has an official position for making newbies welcome-- I don't remember the name, but I think it begins with 'c'. Do I remember correctly, and if so, how well does it seem to work?

#238 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 01:19 AM:

Three years into living in Puget Ridge Cohousing (a form of communal living, more info if you ask) someone mentioned not feeling they were part of the inner circle. I was facilitating that particular meeting, and I asked everyone in the discussion if s/he thought there was an inner circle, and if s/he was in it.

Everyone thought there was such a circle, and nobody thought s/he was part of it.

And this was people who had been working together on building a community, who lived in the same small set of buildings and regularly had meals together, three years after the housing got built.

Yeah, I do think feeling excluded is part of the human condition, and I think we can each try to be kind around recognizing that.

#239 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 01:57 AM:

I find it interesting that after more than 200 messages, many of which are about awards for YA books, nobody at all has mentioned the Golden Duck awards. Yes, Super-Con-Duck-Tivity is much, much smaller than WSFS, but it still makes me wonder. Has anyone else here even heard of the Golden Duck awards? Or the current winners?

#240 ::: Mishalak ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 02:11 AM:

LMM @ #142
And one major issue here is that for me (and, I think, for an increasing (?) number of young-ish people), it's not just about money. A few hundred for a guaranteed good time, I can budget for a few times a year. But taking a few days off of work? Between the two, that's the harder one to justify. (I've gotten a handful of "back in my day, we slept six to a hotel room" stories. Were you splitting a single vacation day six ways, too?)

Sorry, sorry, sorry, I did not mean to come off as lecture-y. Though I am not terribly old, just middle aged. For almost full disclosure I turned 21 just before the turn of the millennium. (Vague, yet precise. I think that is how I will describe my age from now on.)

My own job situation is not terribly good either. I get zero vacation days. (My job also does not have insurance or sick days, but that is a rant for another day.) Strictly a working class guy here despite what people may assume from how I dress at conventions and in my own time. Most years I go to two local conventions for a full weekend, Friday night to Sunday afternoon, and sometimes will do a day commute or pop in at parties for other conventions, but Denver is a moderately major city so we do have the SF con, a comic convention, an anime con, three or four gaming conventions, and partridge in a pear tree. Plus the conventions in Colorado Springs and even a micro-SF-convention that is in Idaho Springs (Karval Kon).

For me getting to a convention involves a fair amount of budgeting of time and money, or at lest the money side since mostly time off is available if I ask far enough in advance (I usually ask in March for my August trip to Albuquerque), I just will not be paid for it. Also I still get two days a week off (luxury!) and so, provided this year's boss likes me, I can often get things switched so I am only taking two days off without pay. Then it is time for a roadtrip to a convention out of state (Friday out, Monday back). For my other local con I can squeeze it into just two days off, but often I will take the third so I am not too crazed trying to get ready on Friday.

I am doing well, relatively, so I do not wish to make this seem like, "Oh pity me" or even worse "You whippersnappers do not understand thrift". After all I will have to stop wearing leather pants if I start shouting the fannish equivalent of juveniles needing to vacate my manicured green sward. (It is a rule, and a very good one, that people who yell angrily at clouds or children on lawns are not allowed to wear tight leather pants. But when I get to that age I will gladly take up my cane and shake it, while wearing a chic velvet vest with a pinstripe suit, just not yet.) I am just saying that you might be trying to do it perfectly rather than "good enough and what I can afford" (which is a mental trap I fall in to at, so maybe I am projecting).

I think that you have it backwards about conventions though. Like with SCA events the way to attend is to get hooked in with a network of local friends and then attend with them rather than going alone to find friends at the convention. Though actually I tried doing it the going to the convention to find friends way myself. It never worked for me until I met with a guy while volunteering at the art show of a gaming con. He directed me to the local SF club and I joined it in March of 1999, I was not yet 21 then. So I met a friend at the local group who wanted to go to Bubonicon in Albuquerque (we both live in Denver) and we have been going down together ever since. The years when I have not been able to go due to illness or conflicting stuff she has flown down alone rather than road tripping it, but she has a slightly better job than I do and does not mind flying.

Due to the aging issue with the local group I am always trying to recruit new members and think of fun (inexpensive) things to do. Like have people over to my house where we can enjoy the mead I brewed. I am also involved in other groups that are quite vibrant.

So, point is that I think you need a local group. Either to find or generate one. To reach out to make friends to meet either as a club or just informally over iced tea or some other non-date beverage. In my opinion. Since that worked for me.

Perhaps I should write about this. The travails of trying to start a group or network of SF fans... Since I have tried twice before and I am trying again now. (One with more drinking and leather pants than the local SF club. I like leather pants, so sue me.)


#241 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:18 AM:

LMM @ 187

"I'm a little confused about why you're phrasing your statement as if it's disproving my theory. Yes, if young adults were meeting other young adults who were going to lit cons, they'd be going to lit cons as well. But they're not, and so they're not."

Because that's not really what I was getting at, although my intent wasn't to disprove, so much as to suggest that there are two sides to that problem. Let me see if I can explain my thoughts more clearly.

My main point is not about young adults needing to talk to other young adults. It is about how older adults, if they want young adults to be involved in their activities, needing to go where young adults are, to engage with those young adults on a respectful, mutual basis, such that everyone gets their needs met.

Young adults are not going to spontaneously discover a previously waning con and show up en masse for no reason. People who want young adults at their con are going to have to demonstrate that they can connect and offer things that will be equally or more interesting to those young adults than what they are already doing.

Statements like "FWIW, the one "youth-centered" con I've attended -- Convergence -- was miserable, IMHO. Too big, too little interesting programming, too much emphasis on parties that involved moving from room to room, taking a drink and oohing at the decor, then moving on." really aptly encapsulate the problem, I think.

If this is how people feel about how young adults choose to express their fandom, and if older fans run their cons accordingly, and avoid all of the young adult-focused cons because they're "miserable," then of course fandom (defined most narrowly as "people who experience fandom the way we do") is greying. Why would anyone spend money to be around people who hold their expression of fandom in dismay, when there are other venues that celebrate it?

From my perspective, there may be a slight dearth of local sf book clubs (other than the one my friend started, though I haven't really checked), but in my experience, there are hella book signings, local cons, gaming clubs, meet-ups and house parties on various sub-fandoms, workshops, faires, online venues, concerts, and other forms of formal and informal gathering that draw in people of widely-differing ages who are interested in SF.

Put simply, I don't think recruitment has to be linear. I don't think feeder activities necessarily have to be anything like the nature of the con you're trying to promote. I think that's part of what's cool about going to new-to-me conventions.

Since you brought it up, let's take the example of gaming cons, because that's something I can actually speak to, as an avid gamer. I game because (1) it's awesome, and (2) a lot of gamers also share multiple other geektrests with me, including interest in the same kinds of stories and genres I like to read and tell.

At the same time, I couldn't care less about gaming cons - I think they're terribly awkward adaptations of something that is fantastic in the wild; they translate excruciatingly poorly for me, different strokes, it's mellow, glad other people enjoy.

But when my gamer friends have suggested other interesting cons, I sometimes go, even when it's on the periphery of my interests or knowledge. Just because, cool, I get to learn something about them and play with new stuff. So, for instance, I track the conversations here, and I ask myself: is this a thing that might be kind of cool? And I think "hm, there are definite potentials. I wonder how many of my existing troupe I could drag in, too, or if it would be better to scout ahead individually. Maybe it would be more fun as an entirely new and separate adventure. I'm a little curious about how different that experience would be." But I only think that, because I'm in an ongoing dialogue with people with whom I share other interests, who treat me with respect in those other discussions, and who seem like the kind of people whose enjoyment of a thing might indicate that it could be fun for me too. Absent this community and those relationships, it would never cross my radar screen, and I would probably never even really consider it. But I don't think most people here intend to actively use these conversations as recruiting tools (and I wish they wouldn't, if they do).

Nobody should feel like they have to do anything they don't enjoy - I mean, it would really not be cool for anyone to expect that. But ... I don't know. I think my personal approach to addressing greying would be trying to figure out how to build diverse (including intergenerational) friendships and acquaintanceships that allow everyone to exchange cool ideas and experiences and build on one another's passions, because that sort of stuff cascades in awesome ways. And it's my thought that a good starting place is likely with not expecting young adults to be the ones doing all the changing and conforming to expectations, which is what conversations like this sometimes sound like to me. "How can I make them want to do what I want to do?" It can feel very one-sided.

#242 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:56 AM:

LMM @187: (FWIW, the one "youth-centered" con I've attended -- Convergence -- was miserable, IMHO. Too big, too little interesting programming, too much emphasis on parties that involved moving from room to room, taking a drink and oohing at the decor, then moving on.)

I am very sorry your Convergence was lousy.

Convergence, this past year, gave me back a sensawunda (sense of wonder) about fandom. It won my heart. Yes, it was big (six thousand people, from what I heard) and busy and full of parties in the evenings and too crowded to move quickly through the party areas sometimes, and the line at the free rice-with-stuff-on-top-of-it food room was very long sometimes, but people were making amazing things and giving them to each other for the love of it. (Some of those amazing things were the room decor at the parties. The Hogwarts room in particular was splendid, particularly the people being moving portraits on the balcony. The oohing and aahing I did was in thanks and wonder.)

It's also one of the conventions that's been good to me about accessibility. (Hearing-impairments. Some mobility impairments.) Can't speak to how good they are about everything, but they did so well by me that they made me weep for joy, a few years back.

Next years guests of honor include a couple of people who just won Hugos. (Charlie Jane Anders and John Picacio.)

I wandered around late one night with Sharyn November, who was one of this past year's guests of honor, and somewhere between the room full of stuff that fluoresced and the Toast Room my sensawunda got a full recharge.

There. A random data point from a Lioness who really should be asleep already. I am really sorry your Convergence wasn't any fun. I didn't expect mine to be as much fun as it was, because there were other stresses, but it turned out to be amazing. And not because of who I knew there, though I did spend time with one friend. It was just... I dunno, the energy of people building a whole bunch of cool weird stuff, I guess, and sharing it with each other. Even though I didn't know them, I loved them for doing that, and it was cool to watch.

Next time I am gonna ask questions about anime, I think. I'm curious about it.

#243 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 05:37 AM:

I know it's been brought up before but before this thread I had no idea there was something called "fandom" that meant basically only lit con going people. That does explain the greying of fandom talk I'd seen I guess.

Im used to the fanfic sphere use of fandom, where it's either used as an umbrella for everything fannish pretty much or for the which fandoms are you reading in? or.. aww we're going to get a new baby fandom from this show, please everyone share the joy so that it will get bigger! :D

And from what I've observed there's a very healthy influx of young fans and no greying problem at all.

I've been to a few cons but tend to go to media or small fan conventions rather than lit cons, just how my social circle and interests skew I guess.

I think a large part though is just that we have the internet now and people can do so much without going to cons that a bunch just never do and it is expensive and time consuming (also a lot of fun obviously, but so are many other things)

What Im trying to say is that there are a million different ways of being fannish and there is definitely no lack of young fannish people who are connecting with each other and almost certainly organising meet ups and con-like things to do (I've even observed that in the wild when fans of a fashion label started connecting up in facebook groups and then quickly started organising meet ups, and even have basically conventions where people from the fashion label are the guest of honour complete with sneak peaks, Q&A panels etc. It's a full fannish activity and response just directed at clothes rather than stories)

But in terms of trying to get the young people to go to lit cons, I don't know. Maybe it's a lost cause, things do change over time but actual fandom as in people connecting over shared love of things and squee isn't going anywhere

#244 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 06:59 AM:

I do a bunch of cons (3-5 a year, two of which now require switching coasts), though I have embarrassingly never been to one of the more literature-focused ones. I had very serious, completely fleshed-out plans to go to the Worldcon where Pratchett was GoH, but they were scuttled by an annoying, terrible boss declaring a vacation blackout on those dates, so I had to cancel... and then, on the day of the con, he announced that the schedule had changed, blackout days were cancelled, and he was going on vacation. I was five states away and at that point it was impossible for me to go, of course. It's still my greatest convention-related regret.

For me conventioneering started as a solo event, when I was really into anime and just barely old enough to wander around a strange city mostly on my own recognizance. It very quickly became about hanging out with friends and, these days, is largely about a combination of seeing friends and doing charity work. More on that later.

By the way, if you ever doubt that you will have anything in common with anime fans, watch this.

I'm not even going to explain what it is. I just think you should watch it, and stick with it all the way through. It's the piece of art I feel most directly captures what it is like to be a fan of... pretty much everything. If you're intrigued, next summer in Baltimore, Otakon is having its 20th anniversary.

Otakon is the first convention I ever attended, and I still go to it almost every year. I don't have the time to keep up with current anime and the anime community at large seems to have the memory of a goldfish ("What anime do you like?" "Oh, the last thing I really liked was Princess Jellyfish, I guess." "When did that come out?" "I don't know, 2009? But it just came out on DVD here last January." "Oh, so it's old."). As someone who was an anime fan in the mid 90s, I'm practically an old fogey. I frequently feel the very strong desire to order those damn kids to get off my lawn. So my anime-con experience is more focused on tangentially-related subcultures that exist on the fringes of the anime subculture: steampunk, My Little Pony, american cartoons, etc.

The cosplay at anime cons still routinely amazes me. I have still never seen a higher cosplay density than at a large anime con. Comicon has competitive quality and a very slightly broader variety, but the density is far, far lower. Anime cons have an amazing, carnivalistic "we're all the fun kind of immature here!" vibe that still resonates with me. A matsuri kibun, so to speak. Because of that, I feel much more at home at an anime con if I dress up. The outfit doesn't have to be anime-related - steampunk, ghostbusters, the Spanish Inquisition, it's all cool... but the very wearing of a costume confirms that you're on board, so to speak.

I actually just got back from the other main con I go to: PAX, the Penny Arcade Expo. It's a video-and-tabletop-games-centric convention in Seattle, though my favorite panels are the canadian sketch comedians Loading Ready Run, Wil Wheaton, and the live D&D game played by webcomic celebrities. PAX is pretty good if you like any kind of games, even/especially board games or tabletop dice games. The average attendee age is somewhere in the 28-30 range. This year I rode up on the PAX train - a group of 20-60 people schedule to take the same train from LA to Seattle, a 34 hour ride for those of us starting at the bottom. I played D&D for six hours in what was essentially the basement rec-room of an old sleeper train's club car. It was amazing.

I took to PAX more quickly than to any other convention. Within PAX, there's a charity called the Cookie Brigade. It operates exclusively within PAX and PAX East, existing only to prepare for and take part in those cons, then going back to sleep until the next con approaches. Bakers bake thousands of cookies, and distributers wander the halls of the convention, handing out free cookies and collecting donations for Child's Play, a charity that buys toys and games for kids in hospitals.

I fell in with the Cookie crowd my second PAX, and it has effectively and completely eliminated that period of time I used to dread, but that was basically inevitable any time I went to a convention solo... that moment when you can't find anything to do or anyone to talk to. If I find myself feeling lost and lonely, I go pick up another sack of cookies and start handing them out. It's a great conversation starter, and turning over $300 for a good cause in a little under an hour feels amazing.

Now, it's a gaming convention... but Wil Wheaton packs a several-hundred-seat theater completely full for his short fiction reading/storytelling/Q&A sessions. There's a hunger for words and books there. These people are readers.

I mean, I can rattle off the writer names that would get folks my age to come through the door in droves, but I doubt the list would be all that helpful. Gaiman, of course. John Hodgman, Wil Wheaton, Scalzi and/or Rothfuss. George R.R. Martin, without a doubt. There are a bunch of comics-related writers that I could easily add to that list. But you'd have to get the word out to the right people. You'd have to light the geeksignal. Maybe see if you can get them to throw a W00tstock in town on the same weekend.

I think one of the problems is the idea of a "single-issue" con, so to speak. There were five of us in my room at PAX this year (my personal record for people in one non-suite room? ELEVEN. Beat that!), and if you asked each of us to describe what we did and saw, you would have thought we were at three or four different cons. I did tabletop gaming and went to panels about narrative creation in D&D games, charity work, and sketch comedy. Another pair of people wandered the show floor collecting swag and playing game demos. A third guy bought model kits and went drinking every night.

I don't know. We're out there, and we're reading books, and those slightly younger than us are reading books too. Tons of them, obviously. But I think part of it has to do with reading being a solitary event for most people today. You stay at home to read by yourself, you go out with friends to play games. Does that make sense? I also think some of the more literary-focused cons give out more of a focused, serious vibe. They give the impression that they're for grown-ups. I know that isn't strictly the case, but I also have exactly two good friends who have been to conventions centered purely on books, and they're both 8-10 years older than me. Kids my age who are just as nerdy and read just as much as I do somehow end up at comic, gaming, or anime cons... or at other pop culture cons. At one point, I attended a convention for Gargoyles, the animated series, and I thought "oh, this is where book nerds of my generation end up." It was all kids my age who loved Shakespeare, mythology, science fiction, and fantasy... bookish and way too smart. Young would-be librarians with candy-colored hair. So why were we all at the Gathering of the Gargoyles rather than Worldcon? That, I can't answer.

Arg. I feel like I'm really close to achieving some great epiphany, but I'm also really close to falling asleep. Time to post this and see if I can defeat insomnia tonight.

#245 ::: LMM ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:07 AM:

Honestly, I have not the time, energy, nor social skills to organize my own local group of fandom, even if there were the social capital here to exploit it. And if I wanted to experience the negative sides of the human condition, I could do it from my own bedroom, without paying money to go do it.

Again, I've seen places where the environment works. But if it doesn't, and the general response is that, cons, ur doing it wrong? (Wrong con, wrong order, wrong group of friends, wrong group of people sitting together talking about how isolated we feel from anyone more regular than us?)

No, I don't think I'll bother to try to go again to a place that makes me realize precisely how isolated I am, regardless of how accessible the people there find themselves to be.

And that's fine. What isn't fine is when those involved then wonder why there's a declining population of young people at their kind of events and then dismiss any reasons that might be cultural rather than personal.

Again, I am a young adult who doesn't like media cons. At all. I get that others do (they're large enough), but I find them overstimulating and focused on things I couldn't care less about. (Cosplay? Nice costume. Now could I get out of the way of your wings and go have a conversation with someone that doesn't involve shouting?) But when, at lit cons, the response to me not being able to access any circle at all is that I'm doing something wrong --

Well, it's just not an environment I find worthwhile, that's all.

And that's all I'll say on the issue, because it's not a conversation worth pursuing.

#246 ::: LMM's lovely flounce has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:12 AM:

If a flounce is held up by gnomes, does it make a sound?

Also, lenth or WoP? Curious minds want to know.

[Word of Power. Specifically, "ur" as a word. -- Norso Ricquart, Duty Gnome]

#247 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:12 AM:

LMM @204:

I'm *certain* that what's going on isn't intentional. No one starts out --
Let's say "No one intends." It's not as though there's a progression from innocently ignoring them to deliberately oppressing them.
-- trying to alienate newbies; no one starts out trying to discount their opinions or to ignore them. But that doesn't mean that it doesn't (passively) happen.
Yes. It was happening to newbies when I was a newbie. It happened to me sometimes. I don't know whether you've read old fanzines, but I have. Reading between the lines, it sure looked to me like the same thing was going on when Tucker was young.

Conventions are never long enough. Attention isn't infinite. Sometimes we're happily talking to old friends, or are deep in a conversation. Sometimes newbies say things we can't connect with. Sometimes we're completely focused on some event we're getting ready for. I really don't see any way around that.

So yes, we're a very open social continuum, but newbies sometimes get ignored or left out anyway, and it makes them sad. What I don't understand is why this constitutes a debt that I (or anyone else here) owes to you, or how it is that you're entitled to collect on it.

Most charitably,
I hope you're not implying that you have grounds to view it any other way.
it's what happens when you have a bunch of socially awkward people in a situation where many of them all know each other and other people ... don't.
Yes. We treat people we know like they're people we know. This is normal behavior for our species. How do they do it on your planet?
Throw in a very clear social hierarchy --
Oh, no you don't. There is no such thing.

SF has dozens of hazy intercollated pseudo-hierarchies, almost all of which can be discarded in a moment if something shiny and interesting floats by. This is the reason why Worldcongoing is so emphatic about the difficulty of gauging the social position of someone you've just met: there is no clear social hierarchy. What there are are innumerable interpersonal connections.

I'm getting the impression that you have an odd relationship with fandom. You talk like you're not a part of it, but I see no evidence that it has rejected you.

-- and approaching a big name pro becomes very intimidating, even if that person would be open to conversation.
I can vouch for that. When I was a neo, I was so nervous about pros that I couldn't stay in the same room with them, even if they were being friendly and talking to me. That was hardly their fault.
I am honestly thinking that a widespread, multi-con badge system might be a decent first step towards a solution (or, at least, a better resolution).
Have you considered joining the N3F?

My own policies concerning newbies remain unchanged. I'm not interested in newbies in the aggregate. I'm interested in people. I'll continue getting into conversations with them and making their acquaintance.

At this worldcon, I got to meet Jeremy Preacher. That was cool. I wish we'd had more time to talk.

Something like a new person badge plus some sort of "you can approach me!" badge for regulars -- when it's genuinely worn when the person *is* approachable -- might be a good way of starting to connect people.
There is no "starting to connect." Fandom is all connections. It will go on making more.

Now: if you think there's a problem, what are you planning to do about it?

#248 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:14 AM:

He can't flounce, I was just responding to him.

#249 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:47 AM:

Great googly mooglies, you should see how much spam we're getting. This is insane.

I'll de-gnome LMM as soon as I can find him in the underbrush.

#250 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 09:31 AM:

Regarding 'fan': I had always read 'I'm not a fan: I just read the stuff' as to some degree ironic. 'Given what "fan" seems to mean round here, I'm not a fan....'. I don't think it can be taken as authoritative for what the word means.

As to what it does mean: I think it's just ambiguous. For some people it means 'enthusisast', and for others it means 'person involved in fanac'. A person for whom it means 'enthusiast', when told that if you aren't involved in fanac you aren't a fan, may well think they are being told that if you aren't involved in fanac you aren't a real enthusiast - which can be hurtful. But the person saying it doesn't mean that - it's just that they are using the word differently. I became aware of this when I saw someone saying that they couldn't see why non-fandom people would be offended by being told they aren't fans, because they wouldn't know the word. If your main context for 'fan' is organised fandom, you may be genuinely unaware of its ordinary meaning. It's just one of the misunderstandings of which life is full.

Regarding cons: the sense I'm getting is that cons are, of their nature and not because of anyone's fault, not a good way of drawing people in; they work best of meetings of people who already know each other (not, of course, in the sense that every attendee knows every other attendee, but in that there are overlapping networks of acquaintance in place). I think this is probably true of enormous meetings quite generally - cons of all sorts, academic conferences (considered as social occasions), and so on. As I understand, the history of the thing fits this; fandom was already going, through more local activities, before cons got started. What seems to be happening, on the basis of what some people have said above, is that local structures are to an extent fading away, and this may be leaving cons carrying a weight which they can't really bear.

#251 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 10:48 AM:

Sumana Harihareswara @231: I now have to recognize that, while I have this job and have to organize or attend lots of conferences for work, I basically can't go to SF cons for fun anymore. It doesn't work; they use up the same juice.

I have been to exactly one (1) business-related conference. It blew absolutely every single circuit breaker I have: inviolable home–safe haven >||< work/boss/censorious/FAIL. I will never ever ever do that again.

#252 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:21 AM:

Nancy 237: Chatelaine.

Teresa 247: You're right, and thank you. I guess I was being a little too bleeding-heart about this.

I remain open to the L button idea though.

#253 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Teresa @ 247... SF has dozens of hazy intercollated pseudo-hierarchies

One local pro has called me a pillar of the neighborhood's SF community. Besides that, he and his collaborator are planning to tuckerize me in their next book and it sounds like I'll suffer a horrible death.

#254 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Teresa @ 247... SF has dozens of hazy intercollated pseudo-hierarchies

One local pro has called me a pillar of the neighborhood's SF community. Besides that, he and his collaborator are planning to tuckerize me in their next book and it sounds like I'll suffer a horrible death.

#255 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:27 AM:

Cursed doubleposting!

#256 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:35 AM:

TNH @247, it was delightful meeting you, and I agree. I'll be in NYC in October - I'll drop you a line when my schedule firms up. I'd love to take you to lunch or coffee or something.

#257 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:44 AM:

Leah Miller @244: I guess, then, I have almost nothing in common with anime fans. Which I had suspected, but if that clip was supposed to make me feel a sense of commonality -- what I got from it was that this was very much some one's sense of wonder. But not mine. There were a few pretty images, but over all it was somewhere between boring and annoying to me. Please, please understand me. I am not saying that it was bad, worthless, or anything derogatory at all. It is quite simply not my cuppa.

I have all sorts of conflicting feelings about the "including the younger generation" conflict. It is as old as fandom (near as I can tell) and has yet to have a clean resolution. I was very intimately involved with the Minicon kerfluffle of, um, fifteen years ago. It was brutal and awful, and I am still hurting from it. So, I suspect, are an awful lot of people, on both sides. When people start rattling on about the necessity of including new fen, the question I always find myself wanting to ask is "Why?"

There is often a feeling that it is either an unmitigatedly good thing or bad thing, to include the "new fen," whoever the heck they are. It is nothing like that simple, in my opinion. If the only reason old guard (and I guess I am, now, the old guard) want to include new people is because we're getting old and we'd like someone to continue to run our conventions exactly the same as the way we've been running them, well, that's really not ok. It's a form of exploitation, in my opinion. You do not ask people to labor in love for your love without including their own. It is not possible to include newer fen without changing who and what we are. And change can be good. There are things that I've come to love that I used to being one of them. (No, really, I used to _hate_ television.) So, new fen are going to bring new passions and new sensibilities with them, and where that creates new connections, new synergies, that is a good thing. But, but, but.

Community is always about us-and-not-them. This does not mean that "them" is necessarily a bad thing, though too often we cast it that way. But, really, if you wanted to socialize with just anyone at all, you could go to the local mall and be happy. But we don't. Because we want our people. People who have a similar bent of mind, a similar history, some commonality that we care about. And because there is always an us-them component to any community, there is always the nagging fear, "Am I them? Am I not-us?" This built-in fear is as much a part of community as anything else.

Including new people means change. It is not inherently a bad thing to look at the possible ways that this will change our community and try to figure out if it will be a good change or a bad change. Not all changes are beneficial. Minicon went through a period of including absolutely everybody it could. The upshot of it was that the people who owned the convention, Mnstf, the people who made money off the convention, were progressively more sidelined. We did a lot of partying in closed room parties, and hiding away from the big Minicon. We turned the running of our convention over to people who were passionate about it, but who didn't know or care who we were. In my opinion, it was exploitative on both sides. Mnstf was making a ton of dough off of people who were working their asses off doing things that we didn't like. And they were encroaching on our name, and the convention that we had built. It was ultimately unsustainable. The kerfluffle that eventually resolved this is a text-book case in how not to handle the problem, probably, but even all these years later, I think that something had to be done. Because we didn't manage the change well, because we tried to be extra-inclusive, we ended up in a place where we were unhappy, and ended up sharing that unhappiness with thousands of people. It was ugly. Note to self: never do this again.

I totally understand Fred Levy Haskell's comment that including a bunch of things would cause the Worldcon not be be what he cared about anymore. This happened to him with Minicon. Happened to me. Happened to a bunch of my friends. It sucked a bunch. And in the end, Convergence exists, and that is a good thing, and Minicon barely exists, and that is a bad thing, but better than no thing. If all that had happened is that Minicon had morphed into Convergence, and Minicon as I remember it was all gone, then that would be a worse outcome than the one we've got.

There's nothing easy or obvious about any of this. The anime example totally not my cuppa. But you know, I can't judge from that if anime people are not my cuppa. I don't actually know. As it happens, not many of my friends are anime people. I'm pretty sure anime conventions are not my thing. Too much focus on something I don't care about. But maybe there's a bunch of overlap. Maybe they'd like to come to the conventions I love. And maybe we should have some anime in the programming. But again, maybe not. I have no way to judge. But there's this: if someone who loves anime but doesn't love written sf wants to attend my convention, I'm cool with it, but I"m back to asking "Why?" What is it that they are getting out of this transaction? Maybe they're making connections and having fun and that's all good. But if they're feeling like they want to remake my lit con into an anime con, I'm feeling a little hostile. I don't want to remake their con, why should they remake mine? On the gripping hand, maybe there are synergies that I don't see that would happen. But how do you judge before it's too late if it's a synergistic relationship, or one where one side takes over the other?

tl;dr: People. Complicated. Damn it.

#258 ::: Lydy Nickerson has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:46 AM:

Alas, I know not why. Would the gnomes like a breakfast burrito? The coffee shop close to here makes a particularly good one.

#259 ::: Andrew Plotkin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:52 AM:

B. Durbin @ 236: "Reading through this, I'm thinking that even as a sociable extrovert, I still don't feel quite like I belong at Worldcon... but I barely notice, because I don't feel as though I belong in most of my life*. And I'm the sort of person that works my way into things whether or not I feel as though I belong."

And speaking up for (more of) the introverts (well-represented in this thread already): I also feel like I don't belong in most of my life, and I'm the sort of person who hovers on the outside whether or not I feel as though I belong. I have been to many conventions (ranging in size from 50 to 20000), and I always feel some degree of isolated. And *none* of them have been any good for me meeting people, or having any social interaction with strangers beyond a board game or a brief, one-off conversation.

This is not a situation I am entirely at peace with -- there's a lot of bad tape involved, to borrow a metaphor from a different thread. *But*, and this is the point, it is entirely clear that the common factor is *me*, not fannish society.

(To be clear: I am not soliciting suggestions at this time.)

#260 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 12:17 PM:

At #250, Andrew M said:

Regarding cons: the sense I'm getting is that cons are, of their nature and not because of anyone's fault, not a good way of drawing people in; they work best of meetings of people who already know each other (not, of course, in the sense that every attendee knows every other attendee, but in that there are overlapping networks of acquaintance in place). I think this is probably true of enormous meetings quite generally - cons of all sorts, academic conferences (considered as social occasions), and so on.

I hear ya. Yeah. In my open source community, I think I can reliably structure and run good inreach events, where people strengthen existing bonds. But outreach events, creating durable bonds, are (for me) a much tougher proposition. The Wikimedia outreach best practices and case studies include a lot of tips on building relationships with existing communities and institutions, and strategically making and using events where that makes sense.

#261 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 01:37 PM:

I am, perhaps, an anomaly. I'm middle-aged, and have been going to conventions since I was 14; my first convention was Boskone XXI, and I went because my best friend -- a girl who I met because I quoted a line from Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy to snark on a film being shown in class, and she quoted the next line back to me was already in the habit of going, because her mother was a fan, and she said "you'll love this." And I did.

I don't go to as many conventions as I used to, because of time and finances, but there was a period in the 90s where I considered the entire Boston-Washington corridor my home ground for conventions. These days it's mostly Arisia.

Also, for whatever reason, my fannish obsessions have shifted -- I'd say Age of Sail is my primary fandom, with SF as a secondary interest. I can totally blame Steven Brust for it, too. I went to a con in Pittsburgh in 1997 very specifically to meet him, because he was my absolutely favorite author at the time, and over dinner he asked me if I read Patrick O'Brian, and when I confessed ignorance, he described it as a combination of C.S. Forester and Jane Austen, and quoted me the immortal line, "Jack! You have debauched my sloth!" and I was intrigued enough to start reading, and, well, you can figure it out from there.

The thing is, I have a lot of younger fannish friends, as well as ones my own age. And, besides Age of Sail, they love Doctor Who, and Sherlock (which I love as well, both of those) and Game of Thrones (which does nothing for me) and a lot of other stuff.

Where I meet these fans? Tumblr.

Tumblr has a lot of what TNH has described as "the Id Vortex" about it. There's a great deal of enthusiastic squee. On the other hand, it's mixed with a great deal of thoughtful meta. Mind you, the uncritical-squee Doctor Who fans and the feminist-criticism Doctor Who fans kinda eye each other suspiciously from opposite corners... but as the critical ones say, we wouldn't criticize it so hard if we didn't love it and want it to be better.

As far as I can tell, the young fans go to Gallifrey and to Dragon*Con more than Worldcon. Also to the assorted Comicons.

And instead of having geographically local book clubs, we have fannishly-local internet-hosted events; you find other fans of similar stripe by tracking the tags for your favorite stuff on tumblr, and liking and reblogging their posts, and people will schedule livestream-watchalongs of material of interest to the fandom and tag the post appropriately, and as livestream has a chat feature, it's the internet version of a movie night in someone's living room, popcorn optional.

And here is another thing about tags: in my small fandoms, we welcome new people. I don't mean that abstractly -- I mean we actually have welcoming rituals, as it were. When a new person posts a fannish statement tagged with one of our interests, s/he'll most likely get that post reblogged with the addition of animated gifs saying "one of us!" Also "I love this post" and "I'll drink to that" show up too. And the images carrying those words are of the subject we love. It's pretty gleeful.

And tag overlap can get you into fannish crowds you didn't seek out. I started out tracking Hornblower. Tumblr Hornblower fandom contains a significant number of Paul McGann fans, who are quite naturally also fans of the Eighth Doctor -- so the first time I watched the Eighth Doctor movie was on a livestream with a bunch of fans, and it was a treat, even though the movie was ridiculous.

And sometimes people care enough to set up a permanent chat channel that's not related to livestreams, and people will hang out there after a movie event... and THAT is how I wound up meeting one of my internet friends in person, because I found out very last-minute about the Constitution sailing on Guerriere Day, and I mentioned it in the chat, and her reaction "I want to go!" led to my "So do I, and I'm in between you and it and I have a couch," and an impromptu road trip happened.

This is what fanac looks like now. It doesn't work the same way it did when I was a teen, but it's alive and vibrant and forging connections between people the way it did for me when I was younger.

Bless the Internet.

#262 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 01:54 PM:

Lydy @#257:

I found Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics to be invaluable in making manga accessible for me. It explains, in comic book form, how comics work - US comics like Batman, Euro/Bande Dessinee comics like Tintin, and Manga comics. McCloud goes into detail about how panel transitions are done in each style, why they have different degrees of realism, etc.

It didn't make me love manga but it made it so I can read it without screaming at the pacing of the panel transitions, and I have found a couple of stories that I like. I still prefer US comic style or BD, and I still don't watch a lot of anime, but it all makes much better sense to me now.

#263 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 02:22 PM:

Mary Dell @ 262:

The thing about comics for me is I can't handle the pictures and words at the same time. I get a weird sort of overload. I use one part of my head to parse the written word, and a different part of my head to parse pictures. And the two parts of my head don't play well together. I can't integrate the two experiences usefully. Also, I totally privilege the words, which is not a useful way to read comics. I do best with short things, like the standard 4 frame daily comic. I loved Calvin and Hobbes, for instance. But any length, there just aren't enough words, and the pictures go from being interesting to irritating in remarkably short period of time. It's like trying to derive meaning in the middle of a pitched battle. Short form: I'm weird.

#264 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 02:38 PM:

Sica, #243: What are you defining as "small fan conventions" in this context? Asking because to me, it sounds like the distinction between a fan-run con and a commercial con, but I don't think that's what you mean by it.

WRT fashion cons, that's interesting! I know that BPAL fandom has organized a few cons, none of which have been close enough to be practical for me to attend, but I'd like to.

Leah, #244: Out of all the types of cons I've been to (and as a dealer, I end up attending a lot of cons that I wouldn't go to on my own), anime-cons are the ones where I feel least at home. Visually, these people look as though they should be "my tribe", but they aren't; I feel lost and alien. Note, please, that I do not consider this to be their fault. The problem is that I just don't care about anime -- it does nothing for me at all, and I've tried, but I still don't get the appeal -- and I get the vibe that I'm expected to immediately recognize any costume, even of the most obscure secondary character from the most obscure show, and because I don't, I have no point of connection.

Now, I also have to say that I don't get that feel from Anime Boston; it doesn't seem to have the laser-like focus on "all anime all the time" that I've observed at other anime-cons, and there are a lot of people with superhero costumes and steampunk costumes, and it's more like being at a comic-con with anime added to the mix.

I do agree with you about the costume density at anime-cons! Midway thru my first one, I bought a pair of clip-on catgirl ears as basic camouflage. :-) And I enjoy seeing the costumes, even the ones I don't recognize. But when the dealer room closes at an anime-con, I don't hang around for the evening activities the way I do at other cons.

Lydy, #257: What I think I was supposed to get out of that clip was, "Oh, they like stormtroopers and superheroes too." Which I know, but it's not always obvious at an anime-con -- see above about the laser-like focus.

Also, my observation has been that adding anime programming to an existing con that is not an anime-con won't bring in any new people from the anime community. What it will do (and IMO this is a good enough reason to consider it) is give the people who already come and who are interested in anime one more reason to attend -- one more thing for them to like about your con, and one more reason for them to encourage their friends to come.

#265 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 02:43 PM:

Lee @#264: Yes, that is exactly the right reason to run an anime programming item ( or six, or whatever). It is, after all, why we have music events and science events and occasional panels on Age of Sail or Romance. 'Cause fans like lots and lots of things. The desire to run items which will "broaden appeal" always worries me, but you know, it's not always bad, either. As I think I said, I"m conflicted about a lot of this.

#266 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 02:57 PM:

I wonder if a "finding good fanfic" or "Tumblr: gifs for fun and profit" -type panels would make good or interesting worldcon programming with some crossover appeal.

#267 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:14 PM:

I've been on quite a few anime panels at a convention -- WisCon -- that is not an anime convention. It's a feminist science fiction convention. And why not? Sailor Moon looks like feminist science fiction to me (if we consider superheroes to be science fictional.) San from Princess Mononoke and Nausicaa are some of the most interesting heroines in SF/fantasy film.

I don't know. I totally understand that there are some people who just don't like anime, or who don't have any reason to mine through a lot of samey-samey cheesecakey stuff to find the bits they would enjoy. (No one can be as cynical about anime as an old-school anime fan, I'll tell you what.)

It doesn't make sense for science fiction conventions to add all-day anime video rooms like they have at Otakon, but I think it wouldn't be out of place to have the occasional panel acknowledging that for a lot of us animated science fiction is just another kind of science fiction.

#268 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:33 PM:

Rikibeth @261: (Or anyone else). What's Tumblr? - I'm serious, and please excuse my ignorance. Okay, I've heard of it before, probably on ML, and I just Googled and got a website with some pictures on, but from what you say, it's more than that? (No I don't know how to Tweet either (although I'm thinking about learning), and I'm not tooching Facebook with a bargepole. I do have a Flickr account now).

#269 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:33 PM:

All this anime discussion is reminding me to re-watch Read or Die, an amazingly silly book-oriented anime series.

#270 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 03:38 PM:

dcb @268 - Tumblr is a sort of a blogging platform focused on mostly image and video sharing (you can do text on it, but that seems less common) and is socially linked so that you get facebook-style "likes" and "shares". So it's a great place to have memes whip around a community, and it's easy to use even if you generate no content yourself - you just follow a bunch of other people's Tumblrs and share on your own page the stuff you particularly like.

(I may be getting some or all of this wrong - I follow a couple of tumblrs but only have my own account for convenience. I have never actually posted anything.)

#271 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 04:03 PM:

dcb, #268: The definition that has made the most sense to me is "Twitter for visually-oriented people". But also, please note that while I have at least a half-assed understanding of how Twitter works, Tumblr is completely opaque to me. I have a Twitter account on which I tweet... about once every 2 or 3 months. I have a Tumblr account that I've never figured out how to do anything at all with, and which I found brain-meltingly non-intuitive to set up -- I had to ask for help here at every stage of the process.

#272 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 04:25 PM:

dcb: What Jeremy Preacher said. A blogging platform that's designed for image sharing, although it can be used for text -- and in fact, there are options for text, photo, video, audio, and link sharing.

And there are no "comment" options for posts, but you can reblog them and add commentary, so the thing grows as it circulates around.

You also have, if you wish, an inbox to receive messages from other bloggers.

Fannish nonsense on tumblr can look like this:

#273 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 04:30 PM:

Lydy @#263: Then you definitely won't like manga because the words-to-pictures ratio is really borked. Manga will show different panels to indicate multiple facets of a single action - a gun in a hand, the aggressor's face, the victim's face, then a word baloon that says "sto--" and another that says "--P!" with a picture of the gun muzzle flashing, etc etc. I have to be in the right mood to put up with the pacing.

As for weird, eh. All of us bipedal monkey people are, I think.

#274 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 04:39 PM:

Tumblr is heavily visual, but many people use it for text posting (at least in my daughter's social circle), though they don't write the kind of long blog entries that many of us think of when we think of blogs.

What's interesting about tumblr is that other people can share your content: if they "follow" you, tour posts show up on their "dash." They can then "reblog" whatever you posted on their own blog and add whatever comment or additional visuals they like. A "comment string" does not impose on your own blog, but on the various blogs of people who reblog your content, though you can keep track of who is reposting your stuff and see what they've added. (What's interesting is that if someone says something nasty about something you've posted, that only appears on their blog--you only see it if you go looking for it.)

What's exciting for my daughter is seeing things she creates come back--posted by people whose blogs she follows (not everyone you follow follows you), some of whom have many more followers than she does (number of followers equates to popularity of your blog).

Some things are sort of Fb-like--there are memes of various kinds, questions posted for people to answer, etc.

My daughter and some of her friends use an app called "missing e" to make Tumblr easier to use.

The NYTimes ran a profile of tumblr's founder last month, which explains a bit about how the site works.

Some corners of tumblr are not as savory and friendly as others; there are complaints about pro-ana (anorexia) websites, lots of sexy images being posted, etc. And there are copyright issues all over the place, as many visuals are pirated or screen captures. But there is a lot of original work being created and posted on tumblr.

Different people's blogs can look really different because there are lots of different themes to use (akin to plenty of blogging sites).

There's also a lot of tumblr-specific (or possibly certain kinds of fandom-specific) lingo, like "feels" and "I can't."

A few totally random tumblr blogs that I have never seen before (two fannish, one hedgehogs):

#275 ::: Melissa Singer is visitng the gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 04:40 PM:

for info regarding tumblr (and possibly URLs)

#277 ::: dcb ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 05:14 PM:

Thanks everyone for the info. I've read what's on here and I'll try to follow up some of the suggested links tomorrow - but it's after 10 pm here and I have my usual Saturday morning early start to get everything ready for my parkrun*, so I'm off to bed!

*( - I'm the Event Drector for one near me)

#278 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 05:19 PM:

@Lydy Nickerson
Swing and a miss on my part, then. Heh, if anything, I apologize for foisting it forward so breathlessly... I was feeling sentimental and insomniac, and that particular piece of media has often served as a bridge between all that I know and the monster movie/SF fans who are a decade or two older than me. I should have given a few caveats.

That video does have an interesting cultural history, at least. It's the fan-produced film played at the opening ceremonies of the 1983 Japan SF Convention in Osaka - the same convention umbrella under which the 2007 Worldcon fell. The team that did it had little-to-no animation experience at the time, but then went on to found one of Japan's most prominent animation houses.

My original assessment may be accurate: if you don't identify with the kinetic-but-well-coordinated chaos of the whole thing, you're not likely to enjoy an anime con. I could probably recommend a half-dozen or so actual specific anime to you that you might enjoy, but I've been to a bunch of different anime cons, and they are all very much about the matsuri kibun. I realized the aptness of that phrase when a friend of mine who lived in Japan for a very long time used it to describe the teeming of nerds outside of PAX. It translates to "festival feeling" or "festival atmosphere;" and anime cons seem to be very much about seeing the sights and visiting shops and doing the traditionally associated merrymaking activities with your friends - much like the atmosphere of a seasonal festival in Japan. While I've definitely had some great conversations at anime cons, that is not what I'm going there looking for. I don't go to an anime con thinking I'll make friends, I go to either be a tourist, hear interesting speakers and panels, or hang out with people I already know.

Still, I love that video. For me, it is full of sensawunda that is composed primarily of references that I do not get. There are huge sections that are not directed at my my interests, presented in a format that makes me want to be interested in them. Then there's the bit that IS for me, where a girl with superpowers is riding Soulbringer over a hex grid, which then cuts to a montage of illustrations from Conan, LotR, Pern, and Narnia. But if you're a person for whom chaos and a cavalcade of quickly shifting images causes a sensory overload, I can entirely understand why the thing would look like a complete mess.

As for the question of why an anime fan who didn't like written SF would want to go to a convention focused exclusively on written SF... most of them wouldn't. But most kids today are medium-agnostic: they don't see written SF as necessarily a materially different thing than comics, TV, games, movies, animation, audiobooks, or any other way to convey a story. So if an anime fan saw an ad for a SF convention, they might think "yesss, I want to talk about spaceships and go to the artists' alley and dress up like a character from a science fiction series!" Something like Worldcon, where the Hugos specifically have categories for art, graphical fiction, and dramatic presentations, could easily appeal to them.

That's not to say you shouldn't have cons focused on books that stays focused on books and books alone... but today's fans just tend to be broader, and any con that strongly puts out a "BOOKS ONLY. NOTHING ELSE" vibe would seem scary. If you say "I really like this thing in Old Man's War" there's a good chance a modern nerd-kid will say "Oh yeah, I love that book. It reminded me of a thing in Mass Effect!" If a person feels that wanting to talk games and books as if they were the same thing is inappropriate, they might hesitate to go. Of course, there are also anime people who put out "ANIME, MANGA, AND JAPANESE GAMES ONLY, NOTHING ELSE!" vibes. With anime cons, that is hugely diluted the larger the con gets, which is part of why I stopped going to small anime cons.

Still, among my close friends, there isn't a single person who reads SF books and isn't heavily into some other thing, like BBC television, video games, comics, or anime.

I spend more of my free time reading fiction and doing fanac related to books and games than any of my other numerous hobbies, but I've never been to a con focused on the books, only to one focused on the games. In part, it might be due to the feeling that I have a lot of fan breadth, but insufficient depth in prose fiction. I feel that way, and I've read hundreds of books, more than almost anyone I know. Right now the fanac I'm most involved in is discussion of the literary merits and failings of Mass Effect 3. I belong to a community that spontaneously formed around an argument that the ending of the game was "thematically revolting." People in the discussion are constantly referencing written SF and the classics. The guy who coined the term that started the community is a literary professor. We talk about books as much or more than we talk about games... but I don't think any of us has ever been to a fannish lit con.

It might have something to do with "breadth fans" feeling out of place at "depth cons". Which is also why a lot of fans might feel alienated at one of the more focused anime cons: it's a "depth con" for a field you're not "deep" in. On a ten scale, I used to have an anime fan-depth of 8 or 9. Now I have a depth of like 3-4, so I can still relate, but I can also understand potential feelings of alienation.

Sometimes I feel like it's literally impossible for me to read the amount that I would need to read to have the background knowledge required to participate ably in a literary science fiction con. I don't know why, but I get the impression that you'd have to have a depth of at least "7" on my arbitrary scale to get a lot out of it. I had that depth when I was just out of college and not working 50-60 hours a week, but I don't have it any more. Right now I'm lucky if my schedule allows me to read three books a month. I've also been so busy this year, I've only played like four video games, total.

A "depth" of 3 in board games, 4 in video games, and 3 in webcomics is plenty to fit in at PAX. I'd argue that a depth of 3 in any one of those things might be enough, just by itself. A friend of mine entertained themselves for the whole of PAX doing nothing but playing board games. So while playing four games a year feels like enough for me to be able to fit in at a PAX, I don't feel the same about my meager reading time and a lit con.

#279 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 05:20 PM:

Nancy @ 237 -the office is called Chatelaine or Hospitiller, depending on region. And when it works, it works really well. There is a point person, who has volunteered for the job of explaining all this really strange stuff to newbies, and connecting them to people who do those things that they express an interest in. It tends to break down in certain circumstances - 1) the person in the office is the person who was out of the room getting pizza when the vote was taken. 2) When dealing with people who are new-to-area, not new-to-SCA (there seems to emerge an attitude of "well, you know what you're doing! I don't have to introduce you!") 3) when dealing with people who are 'old farts' or 'gaffiated' who re-emerge from the shadows, and all/most of the people who they knew are gone and many, many things have changed. However, in a large enough local group, there will be more than one of us with the appropriate temperament, and who default into that type of helping even without the official office. Also when you have multiple people, discussions of fail states and who is best at dealing with those fail states as they start to happen.

I like the original idea of the L-button, and I think it would work much like a chatelaine's key: someone safe to walk up to and say, "Ok, what was that cool/strange/fannish thing? What is going on in this room?"

LMM @ 187 I have a request. You and I have had the discussion of why you do not feel your needs were met at Convergence, and your opinions are held strongly enough that I know there is nothing I can say or do to see if we can't make it a better experience for you. On the other hand, can you please refrain from publicly, repeatedly slamming something that gives joy to other people, including me? I would also contest that CVG is not a "youth-centered con" but more of a youth-open con. Given it's origins and originators (in the Minicon mess, and in the fact that some had/have children they want/ed to raise in fandom), I think that was somewhat inevitable. I do not see it as a problem. And I know that the specific party culture has nothing to do with "youth." The one (only) party room this last year that I *know* was going to be run by someone under 40 cancelled at the last minute. The parties are the particular culture of this particular con, and they're the one part that I actively avoid. My home con is not perfect. It has flaws, some of which I probably don't even notice. But it is my home, and I would appreciate not repeatedly being told it's a horrible place.

Re: Definitions of fandom - For many years, I thought of the delineation as fan v. fen. One is a noun, one is an adjective. I was a fan - I read books, lots of them, followed authors' careers, read a lot of fanfiction, wrote sff, wanted to become a writer. Fen described those people who went to cons, and were active in the larger fannish community. I think in the back of my head, those are still the definitions that I use. I have been a fan for a long time. I think of myself as having been fen for a small portion of that.

#280 ::: Leah Miller gets gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 05:24 PM:

Probably because of some kind of weird punctuation typo, I'm guessing? I don't know, that post was rather hastily edited.

#281 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:38 PM:

Andrew (@206): I don't think it would look skewed from a YA reader's POV. YA books actually already share some other awards (the Newbery until 10 years ago and technically even now; the Norton currently) with middle grade novels.

#282 ::: Sumana Harihareswara ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:44 PM:

Tom @238: Thank you for that anecdote. Totally makes sense. I wonder how many in-groups I am presumed to be in yet don't viscerally feel in them.

I've often felt uncomfortable about the inherent exclusion in high context cultures, but then again, there's also just an inherent tension between discoverability and high-speed manipulation of abstractions... as earlier folks have said, people! difficult! argh!

Another tiny bit of related anecdata, from the most recent WorldCon, going the other way: assuming that everyone's in the in-group -- perhaps not even conceiving of it as an in-group -- and thus making an in-joke that goes awry.

Cally @239, no, I hadn't heard of that award! Thanks for the heads-up.

#283 ::: Sumana Harihareswara, a-gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:44 PM:

(My office is having its Friday drinks -- would the gnomes like a sazerac?)

#284 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:52 PM:

Actually, I don't know that we are the most approachable bunch you'll ever meet in your life.

I returned to SF/fantasy cons around the same time I started going to IABC business communicator networking events. The thing about networking events is, for all that they sound like the worst thing in the world for someone who's socially insecure ... everyone is explicitly there to meet new people. If you walk up to someone, make eye contact, hold out your hand, and introduce yourself, they pretty much will talk to you, because that's what you're all there for.

But at an SF con, if you walk up to a stranger, make eye contact, and hold out your hand, and introduce yourself, you're as likely as not to get a lot of "who are you and why are you talking to me?" looks.

Different convention and conference cultures turn out to have very different how-to-meet-people protocols. I actually had to work out consciously that at an SF con, you don't just introduce yourself to strangers like you do at a more mainstream gathering. You have to find a subject of shared geekiness (a funny T-shirt, a book someone's holding, that jewelry in the dealer's room, whatever) and start or join a conversation about it.

Direct introductions and/or small talk just don't really work at cons, or not in the same way they do other places, or not the same sort of small talk, and it can take a while for newcomers to work out what does work.

#285 ::: John M. Burt ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 07:55 PM:

I just started Tumbling myself. It's interesting.
I set up one for just "What John M. Burt Likes"
and another for the Christmas Truce of 1914
There used to be a web site which simply loaded whatever anyone was loading to their Tumblr feeds, in real time. It was mesmerizing to watch. But that site isn't there anymore, alas.

#286 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:01 PM:

Sumana Harihareswara @282, I came across that particular joke room/panel track, actually checked it out (it was on my way from point a to point b, insofar as that was possible given the hotel layout) and proceeded to disillusion people about it for the rest of the weekend in the hopes that it would save people some time. I appreciated the funny panel ideas, but didn't particularly appreciate putting a fake room on the map - that took it to a level of plausibility that made it more of a pain in the ass than a joke. I have no problem imagining it really ruining some people's afternoons if they spent their all-too-precious inter-panel time trying to find a room that didn't exist.

#287 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:24 PM:

Leah, #278: [A]nime cons seem to be very much about seeing the sights and visiting shops and doing the traditionally associated merrymaking activities with your friends - much like the atmosphere of a seasonal festival in Japan. While I've definitely had some great conversations at anime cons, that is not what I'm going there looking for. I don't go to an anime con thinking I'll make friends, I go to either be a tourist, hear interesting speakers and panels, or hang out with people I already know.

Now that's helpful to me. The SF cons I like best are the ones where I can do a lot of socializing. But if "being a tourist" is an accepted mode for anime-cons, I can do that too, without feeling quite so much like an alien.

But if you're a person for whom chaos and a cavalcade of quickly shifting images causes a sensory overload, I can entirely understand why the thing would look like a complete mess.

For me, it's not sensory overload so much as it is that my mental reaction time -- my ability to parse and process visual images -- isn't fast enough to keep up. I have the same problem with a lot of movies and TV shows; DVDs are a godsend, because I can back up and go thru the scene again now that I've figured out what piece of it I need to be paying attention to. My understanding is that I could improve this by becoming a video-game player, but that's a case of "cure worse than disease". :-)

Sumana, #282: Thank you for bringing up that last link. I read it yesterday, was appalled, and didn't know how to even broach the topic over here. The reason I was appalled was not so much the joke itself, but the reaction of the conchair when someone said, "Hey, this was NOT COOL to pull on people with mobility issues." It reminded me uncomfortably of the people who shrug off "Democrats are supposed to vote on Wednesday" shenanigans by saying that anyone dumb enough to fall for it is too stupid to vote.

#288 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 08:41 PM:

Various posts here (actually, it was dcb's question about Tumblr that really sparked it, for some reason) have made me suddenly wonder whether an Asterisk Panel would be useful. For those who haven't been to one (and there haven't been many of them, so that's probably most people), an Asterisk Panel is an experiment in requesting real-time footnotes. Everybody who comes in is given a sheet of paper with a huge asterisk on it. The panelists start talking about something. As soon as they mention something unfamiliar to you, you hold up your asterisk, they ask you what you want explained, and then they explain it for you. Then they go on. Done well, it can be a lot of fun and quite educational.

We did it at some convention or other (most likely Minicon) and began with some fannish anecdotes. I think Jon Singer was on the panel, and TNH, and Mike, though I can't remember for sure who was all there.

The other thing that might be cool is a Lucky Ten Thousand panel, or maybe even room party. I love love love xkcd's lucky ten thousand strip so much. (The mouseover text is true true true: "Saying 'what kind of idiot doesn't know about the Yellowstone supervolcano' is so much more boring than telling someone about the Yellowstone supervolcano for the first time.")

Heck, I personally might like a Lucky Ten Thousand panel where other people geeked out about their unknown-to-me fandom and I got a peek at what they loved about it. Panel, or party, or tumblr, or something. Lots of ways it could be done. (Hmm! And now I'm thinking strongly about a party where people each bring something cool from a not-well-known fandom.)

#289 ::: Leah Miller ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 09:50 PM:

A side note on welcoming atmospheres.

The most welcoming atmosphere I ever encountered at a convention was also with the most focused convention I ever attended. It was the Gathering of the Gargoyles, a con devoted entirely to the 90s animated series and its creator, Greg Weisman. On the first day, I woke up early and went down to the registration booth, because there were going to be signups for an open-table, 5-7 person discussion with the creator and I really, really wanted to get to do that. As I sat alone on a couch in the lobby, a group of veterans of that particular con were chatting nearby. Seeing me, they immediately introduced themselves and warmly invited me to come over, introduce myself, and join their klatch. It was amazing. And that didn't end all weekend - people were all friendly, compassionate, inviting, and smart. It was also already decided that this would be the last Gathering, the end of a convention that had been held annually for a decade. At the closing ceremonies, pretty much everyone was crying.

But, even at this most welcoming of cons, there were things that could be identified as cliques. There was a group of people who had been running a con together for a decade, who dearly loved each other, and once the con closed down, that core group of runners were going to go off, drink, and reminisce... and they didn't necessarily want random tagalongs. That was the only time the entire con where I was in proximity to a group departing to do something and I was not invited to join. It's always a little disappointing when that happens, partially because there are other times when the opposite happens, and you're instantly welcomed into the conversation group/table/drinking party of someone you deeply admire. The more welcoming and friendly a con is in general, the more vulnerable some of us are to feeling hurt when a group we'd like to hang out with splits off to have some well-earned not-having-to-deal-with-strangers-anymore time.

The only solution to that problem is to develop the awareness that allows you to be friendly to people you admire with the hope that doing so might result in more interaction, but without the expectation that it will.

I'm not saying that this is why anyone here might have difficulties with certain cons, but I was just thinking about the most welcoming con experience I ever had, and I realized that it had strange side effects when it came to my expectations of inclusion.

PAX is the second most welcoming con I've attended. Upon arriving in Seattle for my first PAX my hotel roomate, who I had never met before, asked me to come out drinking with her. At the bar, I met a bunch of people who adopted me and took me on their pub crawl. Also, the community associated with the convention has an active forum, which you can use to sign up for dozens of open parties and activities outside the con itself. There's a group that designs and trades custom buttons. There's a group that does a tourism-tour of Seattle the day before the con. There are girls' meetups, afterparties, beer tastings, and an underground secret improv organization devoted to improv-everywhere-style yearly good-natured pranks.

There are a few things they could improve upon: while you can typically go up to any table in the gaming spaces and ask "are there any open spaces in your game?" and most of the time you'll find people who want to play with you really quickly, I always still feel a bit like I'm intruding, so I've asked before that they maybe designate a "looking for group" table, and possibly some "Looking for more" signs that you can grab and set up next to you. But other than that minor quibble, I've found PAX to be remarkable when it comes to making me feel like I belong pretty much instantly.

Though once again, that ability to find camaraderie on demand makes you more vulnerable to disappointment. There's an entertainer I really like, and several years ago, at one con, her friends tweeted to get people to show up at her birthday party at a local bar. About 20 people showed up, and it was really awesome. That entertainer has become much, much more successful and popular in the intervening years. As such, they can no longer really just send out a tweet that says "hey, everybody come hang out!" without getting overwhelmed. That first time was magical, and I've never been able to capture that kind of ease and sense of "we're all just fans" around that particular entertainer again. But this year, for the first time, I finally fully internalized that that particular kind of experience is one that should be hoped for, but not actively sought. After her event last year, a group of fans were hanging out and talking with her. After about twenty minutes, she peeled off with her entourage to go somewhere to drink. I was still a little bit disappointed that she didn't invite any of the people hanging out to come along, which is natural, but I struggled mightily and managed to not feel "left out."

Still, I am very prone to feeling that way, or worrying that people might like me. Recently, an essay written by a webcomic writer I really like alerted me to the fact that this paranoia may actually be medical. Despite being an incredibly popular and beloved figure, he talked about how at cons he'd constantly feel like a fraud who had no right to be there. When he went on Lexapro, that paranoia, self-doubt, and those feelings of being left out went away, or at least became manageable. I'm still able to cope with my own silly little worries, but sometimes I do consider the possibility of seeing whether anti-anxiety meds would cut down on how often I walk down the street after meeting someone, cursing myself for the "bad impression" I have convinced myself that I've made.

A relevant anecdote:

At one con I attended this year, I met one of the showrunners in the lobby of the hotel. I was friendly, and he asked how my group was doing this year. I said "good, but we got kicked out of our setup area by security. Otherwise, though, everything's been great." he got a sad look on his face, and went into his elevator. "I am an idiot. " I thought, "I gave him a useless guilt trip, and made him sad at his own con."

A few hours later, another member of our group said "hey, the showrunner fixed the security thing, we can go back to our setup area again!" So I had been worried and full of self-doubt for no reason. Answering his question honestly had been the right thing to do.

#290 ::: Mary Dell ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 09:58 PM:

elise @#288: Your comment intersected with my & Lydy's comics comments in such a way that I went "oh, I would love to go to an Asterisk panel!" and then realized that you're not talking an Asterix panel. Your thing sounds good too, of course, but now I want an Asterix panel! Tintin, too.

#291 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 10:22 PM:

I am one of those people who weren't even really aware cons existed, and when they did first come to my attention, it was gaming and comic cons I heard about. That said, I'm not aware of much going on around me!

I was aware of the existence of awards, and I liked seeing "Hugo Award Winner" and the like on the covers of books. It sometimes helped tip me over into reading the blurb. But I rather presumed the awards were given out by a committee or some such, and Normal People (like me) didn't have anything to do with it. Cue discovering the existence of Worldcon and the Hugos being attached to them... and it confirmed that Special/Official People voted on the awards, not people like me.

I still haven't been to a con of any sort. I don't know if I will. They sound like scary places, but then, every place is scary to me and that hasn't stopped me entirely yet. I would love to be able to be vote in the Hugos, but obviously that isn't an option because it's for the Official People.

As for YA, I'm one of those that can't tell the difference and read it all indiscriminately. I'm no longer a teenager, to be sure, but I'm fairly young (young enough to bemoan that I think I'm getting old!). I guess if teens can tell the difference and adults can't that I'm definitely an adult though. The only difference I'm able to discern is my sister-in-law can read YA but tends not to be able to read adult fantasy. This is because she isn't a huge reader, and a lot of fantasy presumes some basic knowledge of the genre, even without realising it - I'm talking as simple as saying 'vampire', then only explaining differences from the accepted idea of vampire. Sister-in-law doesn't know the accepted idea so that doesn't work for her. YA seems to explain more.

I'm not sure how relevant any of these thoughts are, but they have been beating about my head, so...

#292 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:10 PM:

Lee 287 rt Sumana, #282: Wow, read this after your comment, Lee. This is appalling all right. There is only one response to:

And finally, as much pushback as I know Access has gotten from within the committee over its mission, at least none of WisCon’s concom (that I know of) has ever seriously suggested developing an entire track of programming that doesn’t exist, located in a room that doesn’t exist, and then put the damn thing in the pocket program book, the online program and everywhere else. Evidently, someone in the WorldCon committee finds it immensely amusing to think of a convention member with no cartilage left in his hips struggling painfully down multiple escalators, across the tunnel, up more escalators, then searching through a maze of corridors for a program event, only to find a sign that essentially says “Ha, ha, gotcha, Sucker!” The con chair heard from me on that topic as well, by the way. His response? “Well, I’m sorry you don’t see the humor in it.”
...and that is to say "Fck y, Dv McCrty, nd th hrs y rd n n."

It's all very well to do that at a small local con where everything is a two-minute walk from everything else. I spent a lot of time being frustrated and confused trying to get to programming at Chicon, and I'm completely able-bodied—but I remember NOT being TAB when my hip was bad, though I can only imagine what a wheelchair user must have gone through.

I think one conclusion is that Chicago just doesn't have facilities suitable for hosting a Worldcon, not with modern standards of accessibility.* And at least the most recent attempt apparently has a callous, heartless chair who believes in playing cruel practical jokes on people with disabilities or challenges. I wonder if he also thinks it's funny to move the furniture around in a blind person's room?

Of course, he didn't intend that at the beginning, though what he did intend is stupid enough, given the non-Euclidean geometry of that appalling hotel. But when told what he had done, his reaction was "no sense of humor, huh?" Yeah, other people's physical pain is just so, so funny. What an sshl.

*or modern standards of sanity. The Hyatt is transplanted from dark Rl'yeh, and all who use it go mad.

#293 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2012, 11:54 PM:

Tamlyn: They're working on the Hugo voting thing. The current practice (original brilliant idea by Mr. Scalzi, brought to complete fruition in the last couple of years) is to send a "voter's packet" to every membership—attending or supporting—in electronic form. This includes every piece of writing that they've got permissions for (and the last two years have managed to get every nominee down through the novelette, because the publishers have caught on that this is a good idea.) This last year, it also included a complete CD that was on the "related works" ballot.

The *nice* thing about this is that it becomes a nifty justification for paying for that supporting membership. Paying $50 for voting privileges seems a bit much, but paying $50 for five novels, five novelas, five novelettes, five short stories, and another five novels (for the Campbell Award) looks like a mighty nice deal, if you don't mind reading things in electronic format. (You don't have to do this, but I thought I'd mention the alternate justification for the supporting membership.) (Oh, and I don't feel as though the world is divided into Official People and not. You are an Official Person™. *wand sparkles*)

#294 ::: Sisuile ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:44 AM:

Tamlyn @ 281 Please do not feel that cons are all scary places! A blogger I admire wrote earlier this week about a related problem that was making a friend of his think that all cons were scary places. As he was saying, part of the reason you hear these discussions is because they tend to be the exceptions rather than the rule, and fandom wants to talk these problems out in order to find better solutions. It's about trying to be honest with ourselves, to point out the flaws with assumptions about accessibility and in-groups and conversational ability, and attempt to find a way to come to a consensus about how to deal with the consequences of those assumptions.

My first con, I had a lovely time. There was enough crossover between the local SCA group and the con-going crew that I knew people, and I did what I learned to do in the SCA - I volunteered, I asked about nifty things people were doing. I went to that con because Making Light introduced me to enough local fen that I felt obligated/honored to attend the memorial service for Mike Ford. I'd met & talked to Elise several times before then in the company of mutual friends, (though it'd taken me a bit to connect the two Elises!) and I wanted to go for her. Going to that wake introduced me to more local fen as a fan, not just a scadian, and then they induced me to go to SuperCon because it was a) small b) low key and c) these nifty people would be there. I had a fabulous time, and I'm mostly an introvert.

The point is, the fact that I'm a con-goer is due in large part to this community. It gave me names, personalities. I wanted to talk to some of them in person...and I trusted that if I got in over my head, one of the people I actually had gotten to know IRL because of this blog would be willing to explain, patiently, to the newbie. That's my experience of this community, and if you're at all local to me, I'll happily continue that and be your WTF person at a con...

#295 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 02:45 AM:

elise @288: It was Minicon 36, in 2001. The panel was TNH, Jo, Graydon, and Mike -- I don't think Jon Singer was on it, though he was at the convention. (Indeed, that convention was where I met him for the first time.) You moderated. I had the honor of being the first person to use the asterisk, in response to Graydon's statement introducing himself: "My name is Graydon. I'm meek and harmless."

There have been some other panels in that format, but none I've seen have worked quite so well as the first one.

#296 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 04:27 AM:

I have never remotely considered attending a convention of any kind that was not required in my line of work. (Yes, I get to attend the West Coast Anti-Money-Laundering conference each year. And yes, it's exactly as thrilling as you might imagine. If hearing FBI agents describing fraudulent mortgage schemes is your cuppa, come join us in Irvine next week.) Nothing anyone has posted here has suggested any reason to reconsider. Tears? Exhaustion? A sense of isolation and rejection? Jeez. At least after a day at the AML conference, my only problem is boredom.

And Patrick's and Teresa's defensive and patronizing responses to LMM certainly don't help.

#297 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 05:16 AM:

Also, I love to read. I've been reading SF since I discovered the anthology Tomorrow's Children in my jr. high library when I was twelve. (It included Heinlein's The Menace from Earth, and Azimov's The Ugly Little Boy, and a Telzey Amberdon story, and a truly horrifying tale about a little girl on Venus whose classmates keep her from seeing the sun, and I'm remembering all of this, like, forty years later). I still have my copy of The Left Hand of Darkness that I bought when I was thirteen or fourteen. I am now 52, and I had no idea until last year that the Hugo was an award voted on by people who attended some convention of fans, or fen, or whatever. I'm not sure what I think of that now.

I don't know that I consider myself a fan in any of the senses that have been forwarded here. I like to read, and I like to read certain kinds of books (including science fiction and fantasy and YA), and I like to discuss them with other people who like to read. But I certainly don't want to expose myself to feeling snubbed or excluded or looked down upon, either on-line or in person. I can see why Patrick and Teresa and other professionals might find it worth their while to pay their dues and push through the unpleasantness, but when devoted amateurs like Xopher (I apologize if I'm getting the facts wrong, but that is what I gather from my reading here) talk about being in tears and retiring to their rooms feeling awful, I just don't see how anyone can expect young adults and other newbies to go through that. We're talking about people spending their limited resources, in terms of both money and vacation time, on what seems to me to be a very poor value, compared to, say, taking your kid to the zoo. And it's not helpful, or even relevant, that nobody intended you to be miserable. I'm sure the people who made "Percy Jackson and the Olympians" didn't intend to make a horrible movie, but that doesn't mean I don't want my money back.

#298 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 05:31 AM:

And on the YA issue: I keep seeing people saying YA wasn't a category 30 years ago. What, then, were The Outsiders, and The Pigman, and The Beethoven Medal? Were The Sherwood Ring and The Perilous Gard and The Mark of the Horse Lord considered children's literature? They seem distinctly YA to me.

#299 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 06:40 AM:

etv13: that horrifying tale set on Venus is by Ray Bradbury, "All Summer in a Day." I read it in eighth grade and have never forgotten it.

#300 ::: Dave Luckett ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 06:40 AM:

etv, possible those titles seem YA to you now because there is such a thing now. But back then they were children's titles. Other texts went the other way. Le Guin's "Earthsea" trilogy was first marketed for adults, for instance. If "Huckleberry Finn" were written now, it would be considered a YA, most likely. Then, it was simply a novel.

As to the difficulty of SFF conventions, I believe you are mistaken because you have misunderstood their nature, and this because you have fixed in your mind the conventions that you have attended.

SFF cons are not in any sense professional conferences. They are not attended for the purpose of professional improvement. They are overwhelmingly social events. Knowledge certainly might be shared, but the social interaction is the most vital and intense part, and that very intensity can be painful. Large groups deeply involved in strongly felt shared emotional experience can be of their very nature off-putting to those yet outside them. This problem simply doesn't occur at professional meetings; it is an aspect of social interaction outside their nature. Yet intense emotional reaction is what all literature is expected to produce.

There are cliques and circles, yes, and geeks and nerds and special interest groups. There are fans whom I intensely dislike, and those (a slightly different group) who intensely dislike me. It's not a business relationship, and attempting to compare it to one is not useful. Yes, I've had a few painful experiences at SFF conventions, and I've had none at others. But I have also had many wonderful experiences at SFF conventions, but none at others - an assessment you apparently agree with, from your description of the professional conferences that you attend.

Nobody expects newbies to push through any kind of a pain barrier at Cons. There are no rites de passage, no scarification. The subthread is about making conventions more accessible, more welcoming and more open to anyone. But I'm afraid that if a person thinks that an SFF con is something you attend as a professional development opportunity, nothing whatsoever is going to prepare them for the reality. That will come to them, no doubt, as a shock. Personally, I found it a delight, if not an unalloyed one. But, YMMV.

#301 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 07:47 AM:


My impression is that when people say YA (or anything else) "wasn't a category" during (time period), they tend to mean something along the lines of it wasn't a distinct marketing category during (time period).

#302 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:09 AM:

David Goldfarb @295: Thanks! I don't know why my memory insisted that Jon Singer was on it. Perhaps it's that he's very nearly a walking asterisk panel his ownself. In all the best ways, of course.

etv13 @297: I can see why Patrick and Teresa and other professionals might find it worth their while to pay their dues and push through the unpleasantness, but when devoted amateurs like Xopher (I apologize if I'm getting the facts wrong, but that is what I gather from my reading here) talk about being in tears and retiring to their rooms feeling awful, I just don't see how anyone can expect young adults and other newbies to go through that.

Given that Patrick and Teresa started in fandom when they were teenagers (I think -- is that accurate, you guys?), the idea of them doing so as professionals suggests an alternate history novel where the publishing industry secretly goes out and shapes people's lives a decade or two before they get involved with that industry.

Also, the line between amateur and professional (or as it's usually put in the fandom that I most often mean when I say 'fandom', the line between pro and fan) is not so much a line as an ombre effect involving the entire canvas and making it very difficult to tell the difference (and sometimes completely irrelevant).

Seriously. It's not what I think you're thinking. (Though I understand it may have been changing a bit lately, as someone said something about more of the younger authors coming in as pros rather than starting as fans like many people used to. Is that so?)

#303 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:18 AM:

Dave Luckett @300 -- No, LeGuin's Earthsea was marketed as children's literature at the beginning, in the hardbacks (originally from Parnassus Press, a small Berkeley publisher, for Wizard and Atheneum for Tombs and Farthest). The hardback of Wizard was in the kids' book section at the Los Altos Public Library, which is where I first read it. From Tehanu forward, though, they were treated as more adult books. Which is completely appropriate!

Ender's Game by Card is an example of a book that has gone the other way (originally published as SF by Tor in hardback, picked up as YA much later).

#304 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:32 AM:

LMM, Sisuile

Once upon a time the "Big Bad" Boskones and icoms tries to be all things SF/Fish to all peope SF/Fish. They flamed out crashing and burning in the case ot Boskone, or sort-of-splintered in the case of Minicon, painfully. Both conventions still exist, however, at a fraction of the size they were in the 1980s when Boskone high 4500 people paid and ?? ratpacks of drunken teens unpaid, and Minicon which got even larger I think, trying to downsize/downscope imploding somewhat later and without having an external crisi of hotel saying "Go away!" involved. The archives for Making Light should somewhere have soem long involved thread bout the topic....

There is a tension between growth to a size and atmosphere and level of stress on the committee and staff where the event becomes unpleasant for the people putting it on to run and where it becomes "too large," and having something become sttist and inbred and perceived as unwelcoming to "outsiders" who de facto incude newcomers.

Without fresh blood/new people, a groupd and an event stagnate and eventually ge off and die, on the other hand, if something grows beyond the ability/interest of the people running it, it blows up--or mutates into something that may be unwelcoming nd uncongenial to the pepe who used to go to it.

I don't know how Dragoncon and SDCC and Icon on Long Island etc. got past the boundary in size where Boskone and Minicon hit the wall, but all of Boskone, Minicon, Philcon, and Lunacon used to be a lot larger than they re--Philcon and Lunacon never hit the 4000+ mark, the maxed out at a lower point and things like program books not showing up until sometime on Saturday and people on the program not getting schedules or sometimes even finding out they were on the progrm until the convention started, are large dissuaders to people from coming back--or people hearing hat other people have to say bout experiencing such things, decide that since their friends and associates and people they want to see otherwise won't be there, they're not going to go, either....

Regarding the proposed YA Hugo, I'm against it. I do some YA reading, less than 15+ years ago. paranormal romance/urban fantasy stories which re teen romance or teen high school stories in which characters happen to be vampires/witches/fey/shapeshifters but the stories are essentially otherwise mundane world tropes, don;t work for me.. and present tense is almost an automatic story-killer for me.

And yes, YA HA been around for decades, Godstalk and Dark of the Moon by P C Hodgell were orignally published by a YA imprint of Atheneum Books, Godstalk way back in 1979 or 1980 or so... Robin McKinley's books back in the same time frame were published as YA, Jane Yolen's books were YA or children's books, Ace/Berkeley (which ws not part of Penguin as the time)had YA imprints... there were books of Diane Duane's pubished as YA, Diana Wynne Jones' books were published as YA or children's books by YA/children's imprints.. there was even an outright "Jane Yolen BOoks" imprint of one of the major imprints for YA/childrens' SF/F....

#305 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:37 AM:

Pointer, pointer, I've been ignomoned!

#306 ::: Fade Manley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:48 AM:

Dave Luckett @300: SFF cons are not in any sense professional conferences. They are not attended for the purpose of professional improvement. They are overwhelmingly social events. Knowledge certainly might be shared, but the social interaction is the most vital and intense part, and that very intensity can be painful. Large groups deeply involved in strongly felt shared emotional experience can be of their very nature off-putting to those yet outside them. This problem simply doesn't occur at professional meetings; it is an aspect of social interaction outside their nature. Yet intense emotional reaction is what all literature is expected to produce.

Ah! This clarifies a lot for me, and thank you. Not quite in the sense of revelation of something new, but in putting into useful words something I hadn't been able to articulate yet.

When I go to conventions, even the best of conventions that I enjoy the most, there are times when I end up huddling in my room twitching. Or crying discreetly. Which, if this were a comment on a professional conference, would indeed suggest something had gone horribly awry. Or that I was presenting a paper, which is a different matter.

But... when I go home to visit my family for the week? Same thing. When I went to Viable Paradise, and had the most amazing week ever of writing instruction? Same thing. Hell, when I go to a friend's party beyond a certain size, I often need to dodge to a bathroom for some deep, calming breaths at some point.

The issue isn't "conventions are unwelcoming!", at least for me. The issue is that there's a ginormous group of potentially fascinating people being intensely social, and especially for an introvert like me, that's overwhelming. At Fourth Street, I would spend six hours straight having an absolutely marvelous time, and then have to go barricade myself in my room and sob for a while before I was up to dealing with all those marvelous people again.

It's the social equivalent of... I don't know, rock climbing. I love rock climbing! It's one of my absolutely favorite things to do! And every time I go out and climb rocks, I end up coming home with new bruises (and sometimes scrapes), and sore muscles, and skin torn up on my hands over the places where my calluses aren't quite grown in yet.

I don't get that from a leisurely walk around the neighborhood, because it's much lower intensity. And I would not want to try to climb rocks 24/7; it'd stop being fun, to engage in that intensity for that long at a time. But I love climbing rocks. It is totally worth the pain.

To stretch the metaphor a bit too far... Some people just aren't going to get into rock climbing, and that's okay. But it's still worth having a conversation about things like... are people new to it receiving enough instruction, whether personally or with posted signs at the rock gym, that they don't injure themselves severely or in unnecessary ways? Everyone got the proper equipment? What are we doing to let people know that this awesome rock gym down the way is a lot of fun, and here's a good time to show where you won't be overwhelmed or crowded out by the regulars?

Lots of really amazing things have rough bits around the edges. And I think it's a good thing in fandom to keep examining those rough bits and considering what's inherent to the activity and what can be smoothed down. Pretending the rough bits aren't there doesn't help, and neither does treating them like they ought to outweigh the whole activity for every new person giving it a try.

#307 ::: Janni Lee Simner ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 11:38 AM:

A lot of the books being cited as early YA were, I believe, lumped in with children's, or what we'd now call
middle grade. (L'Engle, LeGuin, etc)

I don't know how The Outsiders was shelved in the early days, but I do know it's widely considered one of the very first YA novels, a thing the genre grew out of rather than part of an established genre. The Outsiders is very much a YA ur-text.

I don't quite feel up for taking on the condescension, upstream a few comments, of being against a YA Hugo because one doesn't personally enjoy contemporary YA fantasy. But I do feel compelled to at least note it.

#308 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:23 PM:

On the other hand, when The Wizard of Earthsea came out in paperback, it was an Ace Special (sf for adults) and as I recall, not marked in any way as especially for younger people.

#309 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 12:55 PM:

#144 Melissa
Economic factors impede there being a "traditional' SF/F convention in New york City. The facilities costs are too high for the bottom-feeding noncommercial "bottom-feeder" limited funds traditional SF/F convention-running model. Things like PAX and NYCC have very definite "one percenter" corporate parents involved and commercial interests with the cash to get facilities and bring guests in and be big profitable gateshows full of paying-handsomely-for-the-privilege vendors paying to get the traffic of tens of thousands of potential customers and eyeballs for new products, and the ateendees pay for ticket prices commensurate with what the traffic will bear for attracting the hordes in the numbers the event runners want to have present... the price can;t be too high or the hordes will balk, on the other hand the corporate parent wants its nice fat high profit margins... Reed has NEVER been known for low conference fees.

#149 Lee
It;s not yet the season for it, but... I got kicked out of an online forum for objecting to campaigning for "vote early, vote often, in basketball-tournament-competition-style online polls for books pitting Book A against book B, Book C against Book D, and the winner of A/B against C/D...." there is probably a high level of same people voting multiple times, in a lot of those polls... There are other types of less rankling to me online polls for SF/F which do not hve the binary trees,, and Ghost Ship by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, which was not on the Hugo final ballot, was the winner of one such poll.

#161 Josh

PW goes by the imprint which publishes the book. If Harlequin Teen publishes it, it's YA. IF HQN publishes it, it's adult. If Harlequin Teen publishes it in 2012 and HQN reprints it in 2013, it's YA in 2012 and adult in 2013 for the purposes of PW...

#187 LMM
Readercon was founded as an elitist exclusionary event, actually, intended strictly for literary SF/F and to a small degree conversation about rock/rock criticism's intersection with SF. There is no art show, no costuming, and the only video stuff shown has been tied into the literary--a film/fvideo tied to one of the GoHs some years back, and some interstitial arts stuff. The dealer's room, except for the Tiptree Bake sale, is essentially printed matter only.

#310 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 02:52 PM:

etv13, #296: Cons of the type we're discussing are not even remotely like professional conventions. They are primarily social events, like a weekend-long party. (There are a few cons which are professional events, most notably World Fantasy Con, but they are a different category from what's under discussion here.) Add in the fact that an awful lot of SF fans are either introverts or shy or both, and it's not surprising that sometimes people are overwhelmed. Does it make sense to you that hundreds or thousands of ordinary fans would go to something where they weren't overall having a good time? And do so over and over again?

Paula, #304: One significant difference for Dragon*Con and SDCC is that they have permanent, paid staff whose job it is to run the con. When a con gets that big, it's very difficult to leave all the work to volunteers who may at any point get swamped by their day jobs.

#311 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 03:42 PM:

264 Lee - I meant small fan run conventions, where the focus is explicitly on fans arranging panels and talking to each other and some they don't actually have any guests per se at the convention.

#312 ::: Bill Stewart ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 08:12 PM:

My take on how you can tell if a novel is YA enough for the purposes of a Hugo award would be to announce a Hugo YA novel category and if somebody nominates a novel for it, then it's YA enough. The overlap with the graying-of-fandom problem is that if enough of us gray-haired people aren't reading enough YA to vote in the category*, then it won't get crowded out by the votes on the main Hugo novel category. It's not problem-free, because the categories obviously overlap, but it would probably work.

B.Durbin@293 - I really appreciate the electronic download of Hugo nominees as part of the membership package (if only I'd gotten organized this year and not missed the deadline; we didn't get to the con itself this year.) I did that the previous year, which let me read enough of the shorter-form work in time to vote on it* (not the novels, unfortunately), and I felt much more involved in the process, and exposed to a number of authors I might not have read. It did mean that there were some books I didn't end up buying, but also meant that there were some other books by those authors that I've since bought.

Serge@253 - "Horrible death in my next novel" has been a favorite Interfilk auction item at my local filk con.

* I generally don't feel right about voting on a Hugo if I haven't read all the nominees in that category.

#313 ::: Bill Stewart offers the gnomes some cider ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 08:20 PM:

The cider's finished fermenting, been bottled, and a few bottles are chilled in the icebox for when you drop by. Plums are gone, though.

Hope you didn't mind having two "*"s pointing to the same footnote - it was on purpose. (Actually I'm guessing it was a spacing variability, or some magic words or something.)

#314 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 09:12 PM:

Bill Stewart @ 312... In my case, there was no auction. I think they tuckerized for one or two possible reasons: (1) to thank me for participating in what turned out the best photo ever of the daughter of one of the authors, (2) possibly because they like me.

#315 ::: Melissa Singer ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 10:09 PM:

Paula, I understand the economics, but I think it's a shame that in NYC, in order to attend a science fiction convention, someone my daughter's age must have a willing parent and be able to afford to leave town for a couple of days.

#316 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2012, 11:43 PM:

Bill Stewart: I voted for the Hugos for the first time last year. I'd had full memberships to two prior Worldcons, ConJose and Denvention 3. I didn't vote in those because I feel, as you do, that a decent knowledge of the category is only fair. And while Denvention 3 had the first voter's packet, I also had an infant and an art show panel, and I didn't have the time.

On that note, Google Images was an excellent resource for voting on the Professional Artist category. You can get an overview of an artist's work so quickly...

#317 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 05:50 AM:

Lee @ 310: Of course most of the repeat convention-goers must be getting (or at least, hoping to get) some pleasure out of it that outweighs the painful moments that have been described by numerous people in this comment thread. That doesn't mean anyone is entitled to be dismissive when someone like LMM says, "I had a horrible experience and I'm not going back." And while it's understandable that experienced convention-goers who, on balance, find the pleasures are worth the pain, want to defend their experiences, it's hardly fair to suggest there's something wrong with people for whom the balance tips the other way. Some of the commenters here have said, in response to LMM, "I sympathize; I've had similar experiences, but I find on balance it's worthwhile because X." Others, though, seem to me to be saying, "Toughen up kid; I paid my dues, and now it's your turn." I can't say I find the latter kind of response very appealing.

Dave Luckett @ 300 (and Lee, still): I never meant to suggest that SF conventions are closely equivalent to professional conferences. Indeed, my point was, I can think of two major distinctions straight off: the professional conferences aren't emotionally painful (for me, at least), and I don't have to go to them on my own nickel. Indeed, I get paid to attend them. The AML ones are kind of boring, but at least they're in my home town, and I get to cut my normal 45-mile commute down to 2 or 3 miles. Some of the others are more interesting and useful, and I get to stay in a nice hotel and walk on the beach, or go sight-seeing in San Francisco, when the daily events are over. So, not completely thrilling, but on balance "worthwhile because X."

I've never attended an SF convention, and I probably never will -- and not because, for good or ill, I equate it with a professional development opportunity. I might well enjoy the panels, but a big party has no appeal for me, largely because I am deaf in one ear and can't really follow conversations in a noisy environment. I understand that most people don't have that problem, and for them there's a good shot at "on balance, worthwhile because X." That's great for them, but again, it doesn't entitle them to dismiss the feelings of people whose accounts balance differently, for whatever reason.

Elise @ 302: And Patrick and Teresa were teenagers how long ago? How is it relevant that they were non-professional teenagers then, when they've been adult professionals for, what, 30 years? This just seems like another version of "I paid my dues, kid, and now it's your turn." It's lovely that you want to stick up for your friends and defend an experience that you find enjoyable, but when people are wondering, "What's with this graying fandom problem?" and a young person does them the favor of explaining why they were turned off when they showed up, it's not helpful to say, in effect, "My friends and I stuck to it and walked barefoot to school seven miles each way in the snow when they were even younger than you, and now we're entitled to socialize with our friends and if you feel left out, not our problem." Yes, you are entitled to socialize with your friends, and you don't have to welcome newbies, but when you don't, and they feel rejected and in turn reject you, you have no reason to complain.

#318 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 06:02 AM:

Leah Miller @#278: I like the story of how the vid came to be. That is awesome. I think part of what's going on is that I don't have a particularly strong visual sense. So I don't really _care_ what things look like. The various visual homages were, well, visual, and that's not what I care about. (Although, the super-girl in a playboy bunny suit did annoy me.) The frenetic kinetic piece of it certainly didn't help. But in the end, using _images_ of things I care about doesn't really speak to me. I key more off words and ideas. There wasn't enough _story_ there to really ping me. On the other hand, it's certainly interesting to compare notes like this.

etv13: I think that the very thing that we love so much about sf cons is the same damn thing that drives so many of us to our rooms to weep for a moment. It's that sense of having found our people. An intense, emotional connection. Which is, quite frankly, occasionally overwhelming. And which, people being people, doesn't work 100% of the time. So sometimes when you're expecting to make connections with people you fail in one way or another, and that hurts more than you expect because these are your people. But you know, maybe they're having a bad day, or connecting with someone else, and you feel left out. But when it works...I truly love fandom. It doesn't always work for me. And there are vast regions of it that annoy or reject me. But in the end, they're still my people. There's a bent of mind, a style of interaction, an aesthetic, that matters to me. People that get me better than any other group. It's not failsafe. It's not simple. It doesn't always work. But it works better than any other social group I've ever been a part of. Yeah, occasions of hiding in my room and crying. But far more occasions of having mind-blowing conversations, feeling utterly connected, purely massively happy than ever happen in the outside world. When it doesn't work, it hurts a little bit extra because I know how wonderful it can be. But for me, it remains worth the risk.

#319 ::: Lydy Nickerson gnomed again ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 06:05 AM:

I'm drinking a gin & tonic. Would the gnomes like some?

#320 ::: Lydy Nickerson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 06:31 AM:

etv13 @#317: I think you're completely misreading Patrick and Teresa here. What I hear them saying is that even though they've been in fandom since they were teenagers, and even though they have become, by most standards, Big Name Fans, they still have the experience of feeling alienated, alone, rejected, not getting to go to the cool parties, etc, which most people assume is the hallmark of being a new fan and not having paid their dues. Patrick and Teresa have totally paid their dues, and they still sometimes feel left out. The suggestion there, I think, is that feeling rejected and uncool is a _human_ experience. It's something that happens to all of us. And if it happens to you, maybe it's not because you're not good enough, or haven't paid enough dues, or whatever, maybe it's because you're, you know, human. As I said, part of the whole belonging to a community thing is being aware that there are other people who don't belong. And it is typical, normal, and human to have moments of thinking that "I'm the one who doesn't belong."

#321 ::: Tamlyn ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 08:02 AM:

etv13 @317

I think Elise brought it up because you said it was worth Patrick and Teresa going to cons because they were professionals, but they weren't professionals as teenagers, just amateurs, as you put it, even if it was 30 years ago. Entering the publishing industry doesn't retroactively change their past fanness (or whatever the correct word might be - I'm afraid I don't know the terms relating to fandom). I don't think the teenage comment in particular had anything to do with paying dues, but simply to do with the quoted portion of your post.

(apologies if I'm stepping on your toes, Elise!)

#322 ::: Tamlyn is gnomified ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 08:04 AM:

I can offer water or, well, water.

#323 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 11:54 AM:

Teresa @ 193:

On Exclusion:

Over the years, I've spent many hours and many words trying to persuade fans who feel snubbed and excluded by the SF community, or some fraction thereof, that whatever happened to them wasn't the intended effect. This is occasionally varied by conversations where they recall in detail some hurtful thing that someone said to them, while I try to figure out who said it to them and in what context, which they seldom remember at all.

This seldom results in them feeling better. Perhaps I'm not very good at it.

I've been reading about congregational change lately. One of the points being made, over and over again, is that when people are in an emotional state of conversation, purely logical responses are, at best, ineffective and, at worst, destructive. What such people tend to want, I'm reading, is to be heard. Even when they don't get what they want, being heard helps.

#324 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 12:30 PM:

etv13 @317: I might well enjoy the panels, but a big party has no appeal for me, largely because I am deaf in one ear and can't really follow conversations in a noisy environment. I understand that most people don't have that problem, and for them there's a good shot at "on balance, worthwhile because X." That's great for them, but again, it doesn't entitle them to dismiss the feelings of people whose accounts balance differently, for whatever reason.

As a significantly hearing-impaired person, I know what you mean. For me, the "going to my room to decompress and probably to cry for a while" happens because lipreading a lot of unfamiliar people (or even sometimes familiar people) is incredibly stressful. When I am working the dealers' room, and therefore have to be "on" almost the entire day, sometimes I am so emotionally exhausted and out of cope that I either eat dinner alone with a book just so I don't have to lipread one more person, or skip any evening socializing, or both. It's a little less stressful if I'm not in the dealers' room, but only a little. Having a room to retreat to is very important -- and I'm definitely aware that being able to afford a place to retreat to is not everybody's situation. Anyhow, I get what you mean, on the way that hearing people are experiencing parties that you and I and Peer Dudda and Dave Langford and a whole bunch of people who are deaf or hearing-impaired experience very differently.

My strategy for parties is specifically built around both the hearing impairment and the fluctuating mobility impairment: I go early enough to snag a chair under good light. If I can't do that, chances approach 100% that I don't go at all. Once I get my chair, I stay in it. I tend to leave early. (I say all this for context, not to suggest you try my strategy.)

Elise @ 302: And Patrick and Teresa were teenagers how long ago? How is it relevant that they were non-professional teenagers then, when they've been adult professionals for, what, 30 years? This just seems like another version of "I paid my dues, kid, and now it's your turn."

I'm very sorry I gave you that impression. It's not what I meant to convey at all.

There's a whole history of arguing about misconceptions about who's a fan and who's a pro, and it's a very painful history. Not your fault. You didn't know what you were stepping on there. But I wasn't saying "pay your dues, kid." It was meant as nearly as total opposite to that as it could be. I'm sorry I can't say it right. (Tamlyn in 321 got it.)

It's lovely that you want to stick up for your friends and defend an experience that you find enjoyable, but when people are wondering, "What's with this graying fandom problem?" and a young person does them the favor of explaining why they were turned off when they showed up, it's not helpful to say, in effect, "My friends and I stuck to it and walked barefoot to school seven miles each way in the snow when they were even younger than you, and now we're entitled to socialize with our friends and if you feel left out, not our problem."

You're right that I fell prey to the impulse to defend a thing that I (sometimes) love (and sometimes loathe -- life is complicated). It looks like I should have been listening to you instead reacting so quickly. I'm sorry.

Yes, you are entitled to socialize with your friends, and you don't have to welcome newbies, but when you don't, and they feel rejected and in turn reject you, you have no reason to complain.

For particular historical reasons, saying that to me is more ironic than I could ever begin to explain, but there's no way you could have known that. (As Lydy said, "It was brutal and awful, and I am still hurting from it. So, I suspect, are an awful lot of people, on both sides.")

So. Listening now.

#325 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 01:48 PM:

etv@298, and sequels: Whatever the truth about those particular books, teenage fiction (possibly not called YA) did exist more than thirty years ago: Penguin had a teenage line, Peacock, in the 70's, which was distinct from their children's line, Puffin. (Garner's The Owl Service was published in it.) This may have been quite new then, but there were some books - though I think not that many - specifically aimed at teenagers before then.

What I think has happened since then is YA as a Thing - a large and cohesive genre, with a community of readers and a community of writers, and a high public profile. And it is true that some things that would have been children's books have crossed over. (Not Harry Potter, which is published as 9-12. But, for instance, Jasper Fforde's The Last Dragonslayer is sold as YA in at least some places - I guess on the basis of the heroine's age - though I think it comes from the children's tradition and would have worked perfectly well as children's fiction a while ago.)

And yes, in the UK Earthsea was definitely a children's (not teenage) series when it started out - published by Puffin.

#326 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 02:20 PM:

Paula, #309: I don't see how what you said in response to me connects to anything I've been talking about -- it appears to be a complete non-sequitur. Could you unpack it a bit?

etv13, #317: I agree that things like saying "We're the most approachable bunch you'll ever meet" in the teeth of someone's direct statement to the contrary are Not Helpful. What I was responding to was your saying that you had never been to a con and because of the negative comments here, now you had no intention of ever going to one, and my reaction to that is, "If you think cons are that horrible, how is it that they both survive and thrive?"

This is not, sadly, an unusual thing to have happen. Every single time that some convention has a Major Fail that gets a lot of discussion, I get to hear a bunch of people who have never attended a con pontificating on how This Proves They Were Right All Along. But one reason that Major Fails get a lot of discussion is that most regular con-going fans are appalled by them too -- that's not our experience of cons, and we don't want it to be someone else's.

elise, #324: When I am working the dealers' room, and therefore have to be "on" almost the entire day, sometimes I am so emotionally exhausted and out of cope that I either eat dinner alone with a book just so I don't have to lipread one more person, or skip any evening socializing, or both.

I get that feeling after having to be "on" all day behind the table too, and I'm just an introvert*, not hearing-impaired. I can only imagine how stressful it is for you.

LMM: Last night, just out of curiosity, I went back thru the archives looking for last year's post-Worldcon discussion (it's in Open Thread 163). I noticed that you posted there as well, and that something appears to have changed for the worse since then in your personal evaluation of cons. Would you object to elaborating on this?

* Yes, really. Those of you who have met me might not notice it on first glance, because I've learned to fake extroversion reasonably well; also, I'm fortunate in that hanging out with a few people I know well is almost as good as alone time for recharge purposes, so I can de-stress over dinner with friends.

#327 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 03:01 PM:

LMM at #204:
A badge marking you as a newbie?

In Japan, if you just recently got your driver's license, you have to put a new-driver sticker on your car for a few months. It has a budding-green-leaf icon on it.

But then such a badge wouldn't do me much good. I've been a con-goer for about ten years and I'm still a bit n00b-ish.

#328 ::: Erik Nelson ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 03:47 PM:

Just one more time
I'll be interested in fandom
Though I sometimes have a feeling it's not interested in me
Though the days are long
And inclusion's kind of random
There's sometimes no other place I'd rather be

(to the tune of Northwest Passage. I have the feeling it will eventually have more verses)

#329 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 04:08 PM:

Lee, I pegged you for an introvert as soon as I met you. It surprised me only because of your online persona.

But then I'm an extrovert (maybe an XXXtrovert†) and most of my friends are introverts, so I'm used to reading the clues and acting accordingly. (Yeah, I find being alone exhausting.) That's why I find the idea of newbie badges so appealing. I can really see having a great time going up to newbies and saying "Hi! First Worldcon, right? What books do you like to read? Hey, let me introduce you to this cool person. Are you going to the [party name] party? I'm going to the [panel topic] panel; want to come?"

But newbie badges are a bad idea. One word: predators.

† The intended reference is to shirt sizes, not pornography.

#330 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 04:36 PM:

Charlotte and I were talking today on the way to the bead show, and while we were joking we came up with the idea of a table near registration where you could check out a Handy Guide Person, much like checking out a book -- though use of a Handy Guide Person would probably be limited to a half hour or an hour or two, depending on the particular Handy Guide Person's schedule. The idea was that anybody who felt like being a Handy Guide Person could go there and help out, in case somebody wanted to ask them questions or have them go with them to find some panel or the art show or whatever. We were mostly joking around, but it got to sounding like fun, actually.

The Fluorosphere Dinner was sort of like having some Handy Guide Persons around, come to think of it. Or at least some friendly ilk. Thanks again to Elliott for organizing it, and to everybody who came for being there.

#331 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 04:46 PM:

Xopher @ 329... Lee, I pegged you for an introvert (...) I'm an extrovert

I think of myself as an extrovert who eventually learned to tune it down because the rest of the world found it annoying, but others may peg me otherwise.

#332 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 06:41 PM:

It strikes me that A Wizard of Earthsea came out before adult fantasy was a Thing (that is, a cohesive genre with an audience of its own). It existed, of course, in the corners of both the mainstream and the SF worlds, and Tolkien was widely recognised, but seen as rather a one-off; it was still widely accepted that children's fiction was the natural place for fantasy.

#333 ::: Jennifer Barber ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 07:07 PM:

The Fluorosphere Dinner was sort of like having some Handy Guide Persons around, come to think of it.

It really was! One of the times later in the con that I ran into Mary Aileen she explained to me where to find the Kaffeeklatches. I'm fairly sure I would've been wandering around for hours with no luck otherwise; the day before I'd managed to find the dealers' room yet somehow completely missed that giant hole in the wall.

(Incidentally, the main thing I'm getting from this thread seems to be "Cons: I'm Doing It Wrong". Not that I haven't enjoyed the few I've been able to attend--aside from DragonCon, which was just a nightmare on so many levels--but because it would never occur to me to think of parties as an important part of them. This, even though I used to work with someone who goes to DragonCon every year just for the parties and never attends any actual programming. But then, I'm on the extreme end of the introvert scale, and find the idea of enjoying parties baffling to begin with. If my first exposure to the idea of cons was as a place to socialize, I'd never even have considered attending one.)

#334 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 07:19 PM:

Andrew M @332: In a very limited historical sense that might be thought true, but a moment of recognizing the large amount of fantasy that was being published in the 1920s through 50s (with best sellers Thorne Smith and James Branch Cabell leading the pack, but not at all alone) indicates that it's not really true. Adult fantasy was well recognized then, but lost some recognition in the 50s and 60s (about the time SF was going through its first major rise in being noticed, oddly enough). And that doesn't even begin to look at the 19th C SF/fantasy boom!

There are a lot of genre fads. We don't really have enough history yet to say that YA-as-a-genre will have "legs".

#335 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 08:06 PM:

Hugo award rebroadcast (this time in full) started a couple minutes ago:

If memory serves from being in the audience, actual Hugo presentations start in approx. an hour, but Scalzi is amusing regardless

#336 ::: Matt Austern ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 08:28 PM:

There were a lot of books published in the late 19th and early 20th century that we now recognize as fantasy, but was there such a thing as fantasy then? Would James Branch Cabell and George MacDonald and William Morris and E. Nesbit and Lord Dunsany and E. R. Eddison have recognized themselves as writing in a genre, as having more in common with each other than they did with non-genre writers? That's a more complicated question. Probably fair to say that a fantasy genre existed from the mid 20s on, since Weird Tales was a genre fantasy pulp, but I'm not so sure about earlier.

This is a little bit like the discussion above, asking how long YA has existed as a genre. I'm also reminded of a fact I learned from a book I just finished: the Disney Princess, as a category, was invented in 2000 – shockingly recent considering how pervasive it is now. This is not contradicted by the fact that Snow White dates to 1937.

#337 ::: Avram ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 09:57 PM:

Andrew M @332, I'd say that A Wizard of Earthsea came out just as adult fantasy was starting to become a thing. It predates (1968) the official start of Lin Carter's Adult Fantasy series for Ballentine (1969), but that line was started as a recognition that fantasy for adults was becoming more popular. Ballentine published Tolkien's Middle Earth books, and over a dozen other adult fantasy novels (many of them reprints of older works), between 1965 and 1969.

#338 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 10:15 PM:

Is the "cons, you're doing it wrong" maybe an internet inflection thing?

Because the way I do cons is actually, as far as I can tell, completely different from most of the people speaking up on this thread (I don't have a con-based social group; I have a social group that occasionally benignly invades cons and other geekvents). But what I perceive in this thread is a lot of "this is how I engage, in order to obtain this set of experiences." So, if those aren't the experiences you're looking for, you'd engage differently, and that would be all right, too.

I think I've seen more than one person call out the "cons, you're doing it wrong" interpretation, and I'm not dismissing that; but is there another way that people acting in good faith could frame things to communicate a more charitable intent? (I suppose the flip question is whether there is some cue I'm not picking up that causes people to read things that way.)

#339 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 10:37 PM:

Matt Austern @336 - I'd be pretty sure that Nesbit (who was generally writing for children) and MacDonald (ditto) would have seen themselves as doing the same kind of thing, and being "in conversation" about it; add in Kingsley's The Water Babies and Kipling's children's books to that list. Similarly, I'm pretty sure Dunsany, Morris and Eddison would have considered themselves in a conversation (and Eddison was a friend and correspondent of Kipling's, IRRC, as definitely was Haggard, so there's clearly some connection there). And there's a lot of indication that critics thought of them as being related, though probably not as separate as we do now from general fiction.

But does the idea of "genre" even exist at the point we're talking about, in the way it's now used? I'm quite sure the 19th C subdivisions of SF (lost race, interplanetary, Verne-like travelogue, utopia, end-of-the-world for starters) weren't thought of as genres as we now see them, but just as novels.

#340 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 11:38 PM:

KayTei, #338: It occurs to me that I've been making one major unexpressed assumption. I talk about going to cons to socialize, but why specifically do I socialize at cons? Well, a large part of the reason is that, by going to my local con, I met and made friends with people who lived in different cities. It's not so easy to get together and hang out with people who live several hours away from you, and the easiest way to do so is... at other cons. With very little effort, this becomes a self-perpetuating cycle, because by going to more cons you end up meeting more and more people who don't live near you, and with whom the easiest mode of social interaction is attending cons.

Note that this generalizes to any social activity with regular gatherings that draw in people from out of town -- gaming, SCA, and contradancing are other examples.

#341 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2012, 11:45 PM:

The other thing Charlotte and I were discussing in the car on the way to the bead wholesale show was whether particular flavors of geekitude were advantages in dealing with established groups of people with strong traditions (i.e. certain conventions that had been around for a while and definitely had their own ways of doing things). I suspect that if one's flavor of geekitude is anthropology or a few similar flavors, one might be particularly well-suited to going "Ah! An established subculture! With its own jargon, yet! Cool! I want to learn ALL THE NUANCES! Whee!"

Jennifer Barber @333: I didn't even figure out that conventions had parties for a while. I read them for the articles -- I mean, I attended for the programming. Still do, for the most part; the whole reason I have party-going strategies is that parties do not come naturally to me at all.

#342 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 01:37 AM:

Whereas for me, it took me a while to realize that the PANELS at conventions had interesting stuff. My best friend brought me and immediately introduced me to her circle of geeky friends -- I didn't go to her school as we met in Hebrew school, and her friends wer mostly from a previous school anyway, and then there were ones from farther away they'd first met at conventions -- and we went straight into the geeky conversations. I went to a bardic circle filk and was greeted warmly when I sang "Rocket Man." (And had my first sip of Tullamore Dew from someone's flask. I still love it.) I watched movies in the ballroom, where they had them running 24/7. I went to the Regency ball -- I'd seen it in the pre-con material and I'd brought a nightgown that was shaped like a Regency gown, and my mother's old gloves, and pink slippers, and it was entirely magical. I went to the cartoon Breakfast Serials. And I went to parties. And I Met A Boy, which was also magical. I went to the dealers' room, and bought a new slipcased set of LOTR (still have it) to replace my parents' Ballantine editions with the psychedelic covers that I'd read until they fell apart, and a necklace with a faceted blue crystal that I pretended was a matrix crystal. Panels? I might have gone to one. I don't remember it, if I did. But I had the glorious sense, at 14, of finally feeling like I'd found My People.

Eventually I started going to panels. But they weren't the first things I found.

#343 ::: KayTei ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 01:51 AM:

Lee @ 340

Yeah. I just know from experience that it takes people a long time to get past their perception of my reserve, even when I'm working hard to be accessible and friendly. It means I'm unlikely to strike up random acquaintances at a convention, so I go in with a backup plan (people I already know who will be there at the same time, or a full schedule of things to do, or both).

#344 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:50 AM:

elise @324: Now that you're listening, I'm not sure that I have much left to say, except that yours was a very gracious and thoughtful response. It sounds like I unwittingly reminded you of painful episodes best forgotten, and I apologize for that.

Lydy Nickerson @319, Tamlyn @ 321: Well, Teresa said at 217 "I do not recall this [being a newbie fan at your first convention and getting involved in things] being difficult." I grant you, that does sound more like "What is wrong with you?" than "Toughen up, kid." I don't think it's any better, though. And Patrick @ 218, just after saying that "with all due respect" usually means "you are full of shit," very pointedly began his next remark addressed to LMM with "With all due respect." That doesn't sound very emphathetic to me. And then just to ice the cake, Teresa at 247 began rewriting LMM's comment at 204 to better express her own view that nobody intends to cause pain, period. Rewriting other peoples' comments, as in the "fixed that for you" trope (or do I mean meme?) you see in places like Crooked Timber comment threads, is one of those things that really annoys me, and even Teresa's milder version pushed my hot button. Other people can judge for themselves whether the overall tone of that comment 247 was a good one to adopt in dealing with someone discussing why they felt excluded. I am not a young person, or a dissatisfied convention-goer, and it set up my hackles.

Teresa herself observed in an earlier comment in this thread that, in her experience, trying to convince people who felt excluded that nobody intended to hurt them only makes matters worse. Yet she continued to do it. I think long-distance arm-chair psychologizing about people you don't know is even more obnoxious than "fixed that for you," so I won't venture an opinion as to why.

#345 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 03:07 AM:

Regarding YA as a category: I just took a look at the Rosemary Sutcliffs on my shelf, and The Eagle of the Ninth, The Silver Branch, and The Lantern Bearers, all of which I bought in 1980, are Puffins. My copy of Knight's Fee says on the spine, "Oxford Children's Library." None of those, in particular The Lantern Bearers, strike me as childrens' books, but obviously they were published as such. I'm wondering about the role of librarians, and what kind of information was circulated to them. The Earthsea books were in my jr. high library; The Sherwood Ring was in the libraries of my elementary school, jr. high and high school; The Eagle of the Ninth was in my high school library (it may have been in the others, too, but that's where I encountered it). Librarians -- especially school librarians where the schools are broken up by age groups -- must have had some notion of what was suitable for teenagers versus elementary school children. How did that information circulate? Did it have anything to do with the emergence of YA as a category?

#346 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:08 AM:

Librarians have their own book review magazine called Booklist; the reviews in them will say things like children's fiction or young adult fiction. Booklist has been been around for more than a hundred years. Obviously the phrasing for the age ranges will have changed somewhere in that time. There are other ways that individual librarians decide how to classify books, but that sort of information plays into it.

#347 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:55 AM:

Is it true that Le Guin's "The Lathe of Heaven" was originally published as its day's equivalent of the YA?

#348 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 09:12 AM:

Avram@337, et al: I think I'm using 'Thing' in a more specific sense than you are. It's now universally recognised that there is a genre, or subgenre, of fantasy, and there are widespread expectations (often subverted, of course) of what works of fantasy will contain. Whereas in the 60's I don't think that was so. There were lot of individual works, and some were popular, but they didn't hang together in the same way. And it was still having to fight for recognition - the very title 'Adult Fantasy' shows that the idea that fantasy could be for adults, though not a new idea, was still something that had to be said. It's generally true, I think, that books of a certain kind exist before a coherent genre of them comes into existence - it's equally true of science fiction, detection, and indeed YA.

I'm inclined to agree with Tom Whitmore that genres as we know them are a relatively new thing anyway - and certainly so if we mean genres as marked by shelving, cover design and so on, as opposed to just genres that a critic might recognise. Detective fiction was, I think, the first to emerge. Penguin, founded in 1935, had just two colours for fiction, orange for general fiction and green for detection. (SF must have existed as a genre by then, but I guess it was mostly in magazines. Don't know about romance - I would welcome enlightenment.) So although adult fantasy may have had more recognition in the past, it still wouldn't have been a Thing in quite the way it is now.

I'm not suggesting LeGuin wrote Wizard as children's fiction because she had to. According to Wikipedia (yes, I know....) her editor asked her to write a book for older kids. (Whether 'older kids' means teenagers or 9-12 I'm not sure.) But as the field of secondary world fantasy grew, it may have come to seem that Earthsea has more in common with that than with children's fantasy in the tradition of Nesbit, etc., and that may have helped it to make the leap. (Though I must say I had no idea before coming across this discussion that Earthsea was now seen as adult.)

#349 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 09:31 AM:

etv13 @344:

It might be useful in this conversation (as it is in many others) to try to extend to your interlocutors the same kinds of patience and tolerance that you would like them to extend to you. There has been a good deal of vexation and frustration expressed on many sides.

As it happens, questions of who is in-group and who is out-group, how much one enjoys a convention in comparison to the Spherical Fan of Uniform Density, and whether one's relationship to fandom is sufficiently...well, anything...have been long and painfully argued in the fannish community many times in the past. This is not to say that the matters are then solved, but these discussions leave their marks on the participants. Like you and the "fixed that for you " twitch, many of the people in this thread have buttons which this conversation is pressing very hard.

I'd also mention a couple of specific pieces of information which not everyone in the conversation may be aware of, but which might be useful in reading several of the contributions to it:
1) Since worldcons are enormous energy drains, many people who have been to them are at some level of physical and/or psychological exhaustion afterwards.
2) Conventions are gatherings of people from all over, crowded together and sharing facilities. Not everyone's immune system is quite up to that; many people who have just been to a con come down with "con crud" and feel lousy for a few days to a week afterward. The exhaustion in (1) above doesn't help.
3) Patrick and Teresa's journey home from Chicago was an unmitigated disaster. They spent a night in O'Hare, having twice boarded planes that failed to depart. Their airline's attitude toward customer service added significant emotional strain to the physical wretchedness of the night in the terminal. As their Twitter streams indicate, they were Not Happy Bunnies afterward.

It might be better, given the above, to continue to focus on the YA subthread of the conversation, or to at least carefully consider the particular context in which this one is taking place.

#350 ::: Emily H. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 10:41 AM:

The usual resources for librarians are the trade journals that do book reviews -- Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist, School Library Journal, Horn Book, and others. I don't have institutional access to the old issues of all of those, but I have School Library Journal going back to 1974, and they had divided middle grade fiction and "Junior High up." They also have quite granular age recommendations for each group, like "Gr. 3-5" or "Gr. 4-7."

(The databases don't go back far enough for me to figure out where how The Lathe of Heaven was marketed when it came out...)

#351 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 10:47 AM:

Serge Broom @347 -- in a word, no. Scribner's adult hardback, Avon adult pb.

Andrew M. @348: The later Earthseas (Tehanu forward) are significantly more adult than the first three. Wizard was a crossover book, as many books were in its time. The first three are still generally seen as YA, though the pbs on all of them were published with somewhat more adult covers than the children's books of the time; they may be a good test case for figuring out about when YA started speciating.

#352 ::: Kelly McCullough ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 11:56 AM:

@342 Rikibeth That's much like my experience of cons. I went to my first Minicon at 15 in 1984. I went to hang out with friends from all over the region, and loved it from the first moment I arrived. That was my pattern for a decade or so. I didn't actually discover panels until I returned to congoing as an aspiring pro in the late 90s after a couple of year hiatus while my wife started grad school.

#353 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 12:52 PM:

To add to what abi said, for Patrick and Teresa Worldcon is WORK. They get a little time to relax, but not nearly as much as they would at home. It's easy to forget that when you're on vacation yourself.

#354 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 01:34 PM:

Xopher HalfTongue @234: I know I generally have a bout of lonely depression partway through a Worldcon, and Chicon was no exception; but now I expect it and ride it out instead of collapsing in tears.

Heh. It's interesting how much of camping experience applies to conventions. My mother once pointed out that there's always one point during a camping trip when you're exhausted, mosquito-bit, miserable, and you find yourself wondering why the HELL are you doing this, and "I wanna go home!" And then you get over it an you're fine for the rest of the trip.

I try to remember this when I hit my nadir at a convention.

#355 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 01:48 PM:

Mishalak @240: Denver

You're Denver? So why the heck didn't we see you at our mini-GoL a few weeks back? :-(

#356 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:21 PM:

#193 Teresa

Down with cute panel titles, up with clear ones. I vehemently agree.

#300 Dave
The Heinlein books shelved in the high school or junior high school (or was it a unified setion?) section of the library in the small city I grew up in, were emphatically not in the children's section in another area, and that wa s long long ago...

World Fantasy Convention DOES have a high "professional conference" contingent, and the Worldcon, a LOT of business gets done at.

#357 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:25 PM:

Tom Whitmore @ 351... I stand corrected.

#358 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:50 PM:

# lee

No, it is NOT a complete non-sequitor, though you see it that way. You were complaining about "a tiny percentage of people control the Hugoes". My point is that people who -care- or feel like voting , are the ones who "control" it. Most polls which are voluntary, have very low rates of people voting in them--send out 1000 random ballots, and good luck getting even 100 back!

The Worldcon Business Meeting is open to anyone at the convention to go to. Those who feel strongly about something, go out of their way to attend, and specify if e.g. on the program, to not be scheduled against it. Few program items are things which belong to "won't get another opportunity to see that person talk at the convention" and PARTICULARLY not at 10 AM, when a lot of people request to not be put on the program before 11 AM at the earliest.

#359 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:53 PM:

"The Millennium Philcon"

I just now got it—the name. Finally. (Okay, so I'm a little slow on the uptake....)

#360 ::: Paula Lieberman Gnomd Again e ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 02:55 PM:

Gnomed again.

#361 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 03:12 PM:

Rikibeth @272: so-peeps-keep-asking-me-about-the-fore-and-aft-debate

To go galloping off on a completely orthogonal tangent, I'd be willing to bet that the fore&aft vs amidships is associated with a formal signalling convention.

Evidently, there was a similar usage with the "brush" atop Roman helmets, which the commanders of certain units used as a visual signal to their troops. </wanton speculation>

#362 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 03:51 PM:

Tamlyn @291: I would love to be able to be vote in the Hugos, but obviously that isn't an option because it's for the Official People.

Here, let me help with that: *pling!*

You are now Officially a Person. Add a(n at least) supporting membership,* and you may now vote for the Hugos.

* I think...?

#363 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 04:34 PM:

Jacque @361: AFAICT (and there are probably people in this thread who could correct me or elaborate), originally the regulation way to wear the hats was athwartships for everyone, except Cochrane didn't like it and turned his fore-and-aft, and it became enough of a fashion trend that the Admiralty went and changed the regulations to allow both so they wouldn't have to keep handing out detentions (flippant phrasing on my part, but you get what I mean). Admirals were still required to wear theirs athwartships, and the sartorially conservative and admirers of Nelson kept to athwartships even when permitted to do otherwise. Jack Aubrey stayed with athwartships.

Judging from the visual evidence in the Hornblower movies -- and John Mollo was paying attention to this sort of thing -- the change in regulations set in sometime between 1797 and 1800. I never looked it up, mostly because I never had reason to describe the hats in my fiction. I just sponsor silly battles on the internet over which style is more flattering to handsome actors.

Texanne, are you out there and can you add anything? I know you're Team Athwartships.

#364 ::: Jacque ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 04:40 PM:

elise @330: a table near registration where you could check out a Handy Guide Person

And, of course, I am immediately possessed by a (probably inappropriate) image of a person wearing the traditional fannish propeller-beanie and a guide harness, the handle of which you hold while they Guide you around the convention.

#365 ::: etv13 ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 05:01 PM:

abi @ 349: I like to argue (I do it for a living), but not to fight, and as I'm in danger of getting into a fight (if I haven't already), I will back away slowly, with apologies to anyone for whom I may have reopened old wounds, or exacerbated new ones.

So, I have this vague idea that thinking about the way movies are categorized and marketed as to genres, and then there's this overlapping age-based rating system, might lead to interesting thoughts about YA as a print category, but so far my ponderings haven't led me very far. Does this idea inspire anybody else, or is it just a non-starter?

Rikibeth @ 363: In the movie, as I recall, Tom Pullings wore his hat fore-and-aft (and looked very attractive doing it -- which is amazing, 'cause really, those are some silly-looking hats).

#366 ::: Rikibeth ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 05:57 PM:

etv13: yes, Tom Pullings wore his hat fore-and-aft, while Jack wore his athwartships -- it was after the regulations had changed but Jack was old-fashioned.

I'm of the cohort that thinks fore-and-aft looks better on just about anyone. I have a large folder of pictures on my hard drive that support this claim. Mind you, it doesn't hurt that the hats are being worn by Jamie Bamber, James D'Arcy, Ioan Gruffudd, and Paul McGann, and one could argue that they're all good-looking enough to make even sillier-looking hats look good -- but there's pictures of Jamie and Ioan with the hats turned athwartships, and it's distinctly less flattering.

#367 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:02 PM:

Jacque @362 (and Tamlyn @291): Yes, a supporting membership. You can purchase one at the website for next year's Worldcon. Current price is $60, for which you get the right to nominate for next year's awards and vote on them. (And, quite likely, it gets you electronic versions of most of the nominees.)

So you don't need to be an Official Person of any kind; all you need is the interest and $60 to spare.

#368 ::: David Goldfarb has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:02 PM:

I helpfully tried to link to LoneStarCon 3's membership page, and the gnomes helpfully held my post for review.

#369 ::: Cassy B. ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:18 PM:

David Goldfarb @367: Do you (or anyone else) happen to know if there will be a Hugo Packet from LoneStarCon? Because I'd totally spend $60 for a supporting membership, even though I can't go, if I got the nominated works in return....

#370 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 07:31 PM:

Cassy B. @369: I'm sure they plan to do one. Exactly what will be in it -- that's up to the nominees and their publishers. Until the con knows who those are, they won't know what they can include. Recent years, it's varied. The cost of a supporting membership is unlikely to go up (it usually doesn't), so it's possible to wait. On the other hand, the convention can always use early money more than late money (though with supporting memberships, it's less critical than full memberships, which is why the price for full membership goes up over time).

#371 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: September 10, 2012, 09:15 PM:

David Goldfarb @ 367... Thanks for the link.

#372 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 12, 2012, 12:46 AM:

There have been two years in a row of most of the nominees being included (after a two year gap from Denver; those two conventions were also outside the US, even if only *just* in 2009.) If LoneStarCon does it, that will be three years in a row, hence Tradition. And that's a tradition I can fully support, particularly for the short fiction nominees. You can almost always find the novels, but the short fiction pieces are a bear to find outside their month of publication.

#373 ::: jennygadget ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2012, 08:14 AM:

Regarding the whole "when did YA start" discussion:

(What I learned in my YA focused Library Science classes is this:)

The first Golden Age of YA literature began with The Outsiders in 1967. For a variety of reasons, but in no small part due to The Outsiders popularity and groundbreaking nature, there were a lot of new teen imprints in the 1970's, the number and quality of titles marketed to teens skyrocketed, teen fiction began to be seen as both proper literature and a genre, and the stories themselves became grittier and more realistic. Before that there were books marketed to teens, yes. But Literature for teens was listed as either as Juvenile or Adult Literature, depending on a variety of factors. Books for teens tended to be dime store novels about romance and/or careers.

In the 1980's there was a shrinking of YA as a genre and the trend of groundbreaking novels and topics of the decade before transformed into a trend of often preachy and overly serious problem novels.

"Young Adult", as a term, has been around longer than "teenager." It's been used in library services for ages (turn of last century, at least) and actually originally referred not to teens only but to, well, younger adults. Which included usually 14 (but sometimes 12) up to mid twenties. The initial focus was not on literature specifically but more often vocational assistance and moral improvement.

Now, I'm not saying that none up this is up for debate. I just wanted to clarify what some of the commonly accepted dates for certain things are, because it seems like there may be some confusion about that. Thirty years ago, for example, (ie 1982) isn't really a benchmark for anything, as far as YA lit goes. Also, one would expect to see lots of teen imprints during the 1970's - that doesn't say much about what the 1960's were like. And Young Adult as a concept has existed for a very long time - it just hasn't necessarily been used as a marketing category until the 1970's.

Also, this shift in the 1970's is going to be harder to see if you are only considering skiffy titles, for the reason other people have mentioned: skiffy itself was not seen as an adult genre. The scifi portion of skiffy especially also wasn't seen as proper and appropriate children's literature until about the time that A Wrinkle in Time won the Newbery in the early 1960's. Consequently, there were some weird things going on with marketing and shelving.

Also, which imprint published a book in the 1980's doesn't necessarily mean much for how YA literature was defined by librarians or even marketed to teens. I'd imagine some of the imprints that began in the 1970's went under, but that the larger house continued to publish more YA titles than they had before the 1970's, leading to an increase of teen books under juvie imprints by some publishers. (until the 1990's, when the number of teen imprints began dramatically increasing again)

#374 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 14, 2012, 12:34 PM:

jennygadget @373 -- file the dates off and that looks a lot like the history of SF and fantasy as genres!

#375 ::: Chris M. Barkley ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 06:51 PM:

After witnessing to harsh critical reaction to the idea of trying out category a Young Adult Hugo Award at the Chicon 7 Business meeting, I came away feeling quite certain that sf fandom has reached a tipping point.

While Dragoncon and Comicon have grown exponentially in attendance and cultural influence, Worldcons are as marginalized as they have ever been.

The portion of fandom that runs Worldcons and administer the Hugos need to face it; either they can adjust their attitudes and goals or there will be no Worldcons or Hugos in ten years.

#376 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 17, 2012, 09:48 PM:

Oh, really, Chris? Did you read this thread, or is this just a drive-by? Do you realize that one of the major reasons some of us oppose the YA Hugo is because we don't want YA lit to be ghettoized?

And do you actually know anything about the growth of the big stationary commercial cons vs. the non-growth of the different-city-every-year, sometimes-outside-the-US, volunteer-run Worldcon, or are you just arguing correlation == causation?

It looks to me like you just saw this topic and came to post what you always say, without paying any attention to what was said before.

(Is "[some group of people] need to face it" on the Bingo card? Probably should be.)

#377 ::: jennygadget ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 03:19 AM:

Tom Whitmore

heh. That is generally how genres are created, true.

Xopher HalfTongue

" of the major reasons some of us oppose the YA Hugo is because we don't want YA lit to be ghettoized..."

My feelings on a YA Hugo are vastly more complicated that y/n, but...

I am rather curious about this argument, because it seems to me that it already is ghettoized. I can see that adding a YA Hugo wouldn't necessarily un-ghettoize it, but I don't see how it could make it more so.

#378 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:20 AM:

jennygadget (377): The argument is that a YA-specific Hugo would prevent YA from being nominated for best novel (or other appropriate category). Since a few YA books have already won best-novel Hugos, this would be a step backwards.

#379 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 10:51 AM:

Mary Aileen put it perfectly.

#380 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 11:01 AM:

And beautifully succinctly, too.

#381 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 18, 2012, 02:26 PM:

Absolutely. That was part of what made it so perfect.

#382 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 24, 2012, 05:40 PM:

Something I heard over the weekend at FenCon... apparently much of the lack of signage at Chicon 7 was directly due to a problem in the hotel contract. Namely, that no one from the con was allowed to put up a sign anywhere -- not even on a free-standing easel -- by themselves; it had to be done by a hotel union employee. I don't recall that being the case at Chicon V; I have no idea whether it happened at Chicon 2000. But apparently that's what happened this year, and it explains a great deal.

#383 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 25, 2012, 06:56 PM:

Lee, next time Chicago bids they're going to have to answer some close questions about what has improved about the hotel, their relationship with it, etc. If they don't know or can't guarantee things are going to be better, we shouldn't vote for them.

Actually I think that hotel is just a rotten, rotten setup for a Worldcon, even leaving aside the wacky signage issue and other problems with the unions. They don't have an auditorium big enough for the Hugos, for one thing. And the two separate towers...but you've heard all these rants.

Maybe we can get Helsinki to bid against them next time...oops. Well, someone.

#384 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 11:23 AM:

Xopher -- Columbus, Ohio had a bid against Chicago, we have better hotels that are joined to the convention center...we lost.

I don't understand it -- several of our overflow hotels have skywalks to the convention center (the main hotel is joined to it) and there were others that were less than 5 minutes walk from the con.

I don't know if the SF community here in Central Ohio will be inclined to bid for another Worldcon. The lost bid for this year left the potential concom with no funds and probably no will to mount another...

#385 ::: Xopher HalfTongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 12:17 PM:

I have to say that Chicago is a great city with a justified reputation as such. Columbus lacks that reputation (I don't know enough to know how interesting it is in reality). So people who vote on the "city I want to visit" issue would pick Chicago. I have to admit it's a factor in my voting, but I hope less of one than for many.

I think for a city to win against Chicago, people would have to remember how awful the Chicon hotel was. I think the Site Selection electorate doesn't have that long a memory.

#386 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:30 PM:

Xopher, no argument from me. I remember being annoyed at the "can't get there from here" factor myself (hence the button) -- and my partner and I both voted for Columbus.

I suspect that another significant factor is "whose friends are running the bid" -- IOW, cliquishness. The Chicago area has a high percentage of BNFs by comparison to anything except the East Coast or Los Angeles, and that could easily skew the vote in its favor.

#387 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 01:46 PM:

I suspect that a lot of people* understood Chicago's "everything's in one hotel!" as being a lot more compact and easier to negotiate than it actually was. Two-hotels-plus-convention-center sounds a lot more complicated, no matter what the reality is.

*okay, at least one--me

#388 ::: Lori Coulson ::: (view all by) ::: September 26, 2012, 04:03 PM:

Spilled milk, I guess -- when I was able to attend Worldcons every couple of years, I learned that I rarely got out to see the "other attractions" unless I budgeted extra time to attend, something I really couldn't afford in those days. I was more likely to vote for a site within 1-2 days drive, rather than a "destination."

I just feel bad for the folks* who worked so hard on the bid.

*I wasn't one of them -- C'85 was the last time I worked for a bid.

#389 ::: Chris M. Barkley ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 12:23 PM:

To Xopher HalfTongue:

I was doing some research on the continuing battle for a YA Hugo when I came across a comment you made in response to me last year:

" Oh, really, Chris? Did you read this thread, or is this just a drive-by? Do you realize that one of the major reasons some of us oppose the YA Hugo is because we don't want YA lit to be ghettoized?

And do you actually know anything about the growth of the big stationary commercial cons vs. the non-growth of the different-city-every-year, sometimes-outside-the-US, volunteer-run Worldcon, or are you just arguing correlation == causation?

It looks to me like you just saw this topic and came to post what you always say, without paying any attention to what was said before."

Well, better late than never I suppose...

A) No, that was not a "drive by comment", I followed most of the meandering conversations and felt my comment was needed at that point.

B) I happen to know little about conventions; I've been a fan since 1976, having attended SEVERAL HUNDRED including 27 Worldcons. I am not trying to "ghettoize" YA genre fiction, I'm trying to honor it every calender year with a Hugo Award. Any arugment over the of correlation between sizes, populations and types of conventions is, in a word, ridiculous. All I'm talking about are the people who care enough to pay to nominate and vote for the Hugos.

C) I am often irked by people who make snarky remarks behind goofy monikers like, well, Xopher HalfTongue for example. You don't know me and I don't know you. And i propbably don't care to know you at this point. But you may be interested in knowing that I was the originator behind the idea of a YA Hugo Award. And The Best Dramatic Presentation Long Form-Short Form. And the Best Editor Split. And the Best Graphic Story and a co-sponsor of the Best Podcast category.

Your condesending attitude toward me is so typical of people who comment on genre issues online just to puff up their own point of view (or their egos) at the expense of others. The thought of civil discourse never enters your mind. What you do does not inspire intelligent discussions.And that's just pathetic.

Chris M. Barkley
Cincinnati, OH

#390 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 08:31 PM:

Chris M. Barkley #389:
A) You dropped your only comment ever here, and couldn't be bothered to check for replies for a year. Dude, that's a drive-by.
B) Being an old-time fan could have earned you some pecking order here, if you hadn't immediately descended into dismissiveness...
C) .. and mockery. Seriously, you drop in to someone else's forum and tell a regular there that his handle is "goofy", and brag about being the "originator" of a bunch of award ideas? And then you have the nerve to call him condescending and uncivil?

#391 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 09:09 PM:

Chris Barkley, #389: First, what David said -- you came by to drop in a rude comment, never having commented here before, and then disappeared for a year and only came back by chance. Dude, that's a drive-by by any reasonable definition.

Second, Xopher is a regular of long standing, while you (as noted above) are a drive-by; the first part of his use-name is what he goes by everywhere, and the second part refers to his brush with oral cancer. Wanna apologize for that "goofy" crack and for putting YOUR foot in your mouth all the way up to the hipbone? (If you're smart, you'll take the opportunity.)

Third... those who know me here also know that I don't play the longevity card as a status game. However, I do make an exception when somebody else does it first -- and if you've really been around that long and been to that many cons, I'm rather surprised that I don't have any idea who you are. My first con was in 1975, my first Worldcon in 1977, and I have also been to SEVERAL HUNDRED cons (about 24 per year for the last 10 years, roughly half that rate for the 20 years preceding) including more Worldcons than I can remember without actually looking them up. And as far as I can tell, I've never encountered you. You're not as important or memorable as you like to pretend you are.

Your condesending (sic) attitude toward me is so typical of people who comment on genre issues online just to puff up their own point of view (or their egos) at the expense of others.

Said the pot to the kettle, how sadly grimy and sooty is your arse!

TL, DR: Not. Impressed.

#392 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 08, 2013, 10:24 PM:

Chris 389: Well, reading my comment now, it sure seems...not quite rude, but harsh and snarky.

Reading the comment that prompted it, however, it seems fully justified. Your comment didn't address any of the discussion in the thread, which you had not taken part in. Instead, it seemed (and, now, seems) like a canned comment that you were posting in every discussion of the matter. I was angry and I had good reason to be, because you were being jerky. And your comment was absolutely a drive-by; and I really expect this one will be too. Just because you drove by twice (a year apart!) doesn't make it less of a drive-by.

As for the rest of what you have to say...I could engage with it, I suppose, especially the part in B. I never said you were trying to ghettoize YA genre fiction, nor did I think anyone in favor of a YA Hugo was attempting any such thing. In fact I think they have the very best intentions, and are partly right—good YA genre fiction deserves recognition. I think the ghettoization would be the result of creating such an award, and in fact YA fiction has won Hugos in the past, so the YA Hugo would solve a non-problem, while causing problems that didn't exist before.

But of course, that would be to ignore your part C, where you descend into a more bluntly fuggheaded mode of discourse. So there isn't much point in engaging you on the actual issue, since you probably won't be back and are really not worth bothering with. Even if I believed you really originated all those ideas, which I frankly do not, the fact that you've come up with good ideas in the past doesn't mean all your ideas are good. Nikola Tesla was brilliant, but he also believed that an anodized aluminum plate under his pillow would transfer information into his aura via tachyons.

In general I'd recommend to you that sudden immersion of your entire body in lake water may be beneficial...not to you, but to us. (Moderators please note: this is substituting for another suggestion which was, among other things, anatomically unlikely.)

Dave 390: This. All of it. Thank you.

Lee 391: Thank you. All this too. BTW Googling him gets only Charles Barkley. Guess he's not as significant as he thinks he is.

#393 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 12:08 AM:

I've known Chris for a while -- he's indeed been around and connected with Worldcon business meetings. I think the bee in his bonnet around this particular issue is unfortunate, and I think he's gotten himself into a mode where he's reflexively defensive. He can be quite pleasant to talk with, but he hasn't shown it here.

And, what Dave Harmon said.

And I'll thank Chris for one thing -- I hadn't realized before that "Halftongue" was a near-homophone for Xopher's actual last name. I'm sometimes slow that way....

#394 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:30 AM:

I didn't realize people had begun to post in this thread again. Hi, Chris Barkley. Hi, Xopher. Xopher, Chris is in fact the guy who started up the movement to split the editor hugo into two Hugos, long-form and short-form, so arguably he's partly responsible for me now having three rocket-shaped trophies in my living room. Chris, Xopher is a friend of TNH's and mine going back nearly thirty years. Both of yuz: be less irritable. Okay then.

Since people seem engaged with the issue, I should mention that I'm on the committee established by the Worldcon Business Meeting to hash out the issue of a YA Hugo or other Worldcon-connected award. The committee hasn't really begun talking among itself yet--I expect a lot of people are still in Worldcon recovery mode. I do want to note that the Business Meeting does not generally refer issues to a committee in order to bury them; rather, it does so when the issue is clearly important to a lot of people and there are a lot of different points of view.

My own opinion has changed over the last year. I would say that I'm now moderately in favor of some sort of YA (or YA-plus-children's) fiction award, a Hugo or otherwise, voted on by the Hugo electorate. Until recently, I had serious doubts that the Hugo electorate was knowledgeable enough about what's published in these categories to make such an award viable. I've come to realize, however, that the overwhelming majority of Hugo voters under 30, these days, are certainly as well-informed about this as the average Hugo voter is about SF and fantasy overall. It really is a generational distinction.

My remaining major issue is that I don't want to create a Hugo system in which some works will be eligible in multiple categories, and I also don't want to create a system that requires constant judgment calls by the administrator about what category something belongs in. The current system may be rickety, but in general, the only judgment calls required of administrators are pretty straightforward and quantifiable. It's not that I don't trust the administrators; it's just that I don't think you could get many people to volunteer to run the awards if they were going to have to regularly make the kind of calls that will make half of fandom hate them. Many advocates of a Hugo for best YA novel, distinct from Best Novel (in which, historically, YA works have been nominated and even won), claim that it's easy to tell from a book's colophon and imprint if it's been published as YA, and that there really won't be a significant number of edge cases. I think this claim is just plain wrong. So that's my big issue. I'm open to suggestions.

Bottom line: I think we probably need to do something, because people keep asking for it and the issue doesn't go away. I don't expect the creation of a YA award is, by itself, going to cause a thousand more younger fans to suddenly start attending the Worldcon, but I do think it'll do good things for Worldcon's general image with broader fandom. I also think the Hugo electorate as it stands is probably as competent to make decent YA choices as it is competent to make choices in any of the existing categories. What I'm left with are procedural concerns, and I expect other people will have interesting suggestions for how to address those. (I've heard a couple.)

#395 ::: John A Arkansawyer ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 07:31 AM:

I've been reading a bit about the greying of Worldcon, and it occurs to me just now that establishing a Best YA Novel might end up ghettoizing the mainstream novels, not the other way around.

#396 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 01:47 PM:

Out of interest, could I ask exactly what YA represents? Whatever else I am, I'm not young, but I have a number of books on my shelves which were either marketed as YA or else described by other people as YA after I'd bought them. I enjoyed them just as much as any of my other books (in the case of Diane Duane's The Book of Night with Moon, possibly more so), and I didn't see how they could be said to be aimed at any particular age group.

I'm also (and this probably really is my age showing) confused about the terminology. When I was growing up, you were a child until you reached the legal age of maturity, and it was still common to be addressed as "child" by patronising older people well into your twenties. If you were in your teens, though, you could be called a teenager and generally insisted on it. "Young people", if it was used at all, meant about 18-25, and you never heard "young adults".

I'm pretty certain this has shifted. I've had eyebrows raised at me for referring to teenage hooligans as "children", which used to be pretty standard; it seems that the maximum age at which "child" applies has been steadily dropping. These days it appears to be correct to refer to anyone over about 11 as a "young person", but I'm not clear exactly where the boundaries of "young adult" fall.

I don't want to derail the thread or anything, but if by some miracle I manage to get the money to go to LonCon next year, and if by that time there is a YA category, I'd like to have its intended audience in the back of my mind.

#397 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 02:00 PM:

Mongoose (396): That's part of the problem. Library definitions for YA range anywhere from 11-15 to 15-20. My personal definition is roughly 13-18, essentially equivalent to 'teen'. I don't know what the publishing industry is using; I suspect that varies, too. And some of it seems to be based on what imprint first accepted a book for publication. I've seen 'YA' books that wouldn't have been at all surprising from an adult imprint, and vice versa.

#398 ::: Andrew M ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 02:20 PM:

Mongoose: I think there is a real issue here which will have to be addressed, because (as I mentioned earlier in this thread, in the remote past) SFF people frequently use 'YA' to mean all books whose intended audience is under 18; while publishers use the term for a specific age range, distinct from children, even if it's a bit unclear just what that range is. There's a lot of fluidity over what counts as children's and what counts as YA, but some works are definitely one or the other.

I think a lot of the proponents of this idea are really just thinking of a Hugo for the whole range of young people's fiction; indeed the proposal at the latest WorldCon, though everyone constantly called it a YA proposal, was in fact a proposal for a Youth Book Hugo, covering the whole range. However, I sometimes get the sense that some of the pressure for a YA Hugo is coming from fans of the specific YA range, who want their genre to get more recognition.

My own feeling is that there may be a case for an award recognising the whole field of young people's fiction, but it would be very odd to create an award for one specific range, while leaving children still sharing an award with the adults.

#399 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 02:54 PM:

FWIW, Isaac Asimov used to say that the only real difference between a YA book (they were called "juveniles" back then) and a regular novel was the age of the protagonist. If your protagonist was a teenager and part of the plot was a coming-of-age angle, it was YA.

#400 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:43 PM:

Thanks for clearing that one up! So, basically, I should be thinking "teenagers", not any kind of adult at all. I have to say the terminology is confusing.

#401 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 03:47 PM:

Mongoose (400): There's a bit of a push at the moment for a new 'New Adult' publishing category, which would be your 18-25. Not sure if that's going to last or not.

And yes, the terminology is very confusing.

#402 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Tom 393: I hadn't realized before that "Halftongue" was a near-homophone for Xopher's actual last name.

Oh, no, really? That's what makes it a pun. Oh, well.

#403 ::: Mongoose ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:30 PM:

Xopher @ 402: my mother, who is a tough old bird, has survived bowel cancer, but she had to have some of her digestive tract removed. We now have a standing family joke about her semicolon.

#404 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 05:42 PM:

I have to admit that I hadn't gotten the pun either.

#405 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 09, 2013, 08:47 PM:

Yes, Xopher, that is indeed what makes it a pun. I'd only thought it was a reference, which means it would have needed two puns instead of one. (Which is a reference in itself that very few people would remember -- Don Fitch might!)

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