Today was the first day of World (SF) Con 2016. The World con moves around from year to year. This year, it’s being held in Kansas City and is called MidAmeriCon 2. (Kansas City held its first World Con – MidAmeriCon – back in the ‘70s.)
The cheapest time to buy a membership is right after the vote that determines where the World con will be held TWO years from now. The votes happen at World con, so the members of this year’s convention get to decide what city will host the convention in 2 years. Of course, their choices are limited to those cities who have figured out how and where they would have the convention.
Worldcon 2017 will be in Helsinki. We didn’t buy memberships to that one, because we seldom follow the con outside the US. When the worldcon is held somewhere other than North America, there is a North AmeriCon held that year. That location for 2017 will be chosen at this worldcon. We might go to that, depending where it is. The choices are San Jose and New Orleans.
World cons last for 5 days. They used to be held over Labor Day weekend, but that made it difficult for parents to attend, because the school year was just beginning. So they have migrated to mid-August. North Americons are typically 4 days long.
Worldcons generally have a few thousand people. When they are held in large cities – like LA – they might have 8,000 attendees. So much larger than the 200 attendees at the first, held in New York in 1939.
Other conventions are larger; Dragoncon in Atlanta, Nebcon in Omaha are just 2. But worldcons are big enough to be daunting, especially to shy or introverted people. The dealer’s room is large, the art show amazing, the costume contest can be over the top. And the panels! LOTS of panels, on all sorts of subjects. As usual, I find 2-3 panels I want to attend, all at the same time, and probably at opposite ends of the convention center. It can be tough to choose which one I will actually go to.
Sooner or later, we run across friends at worldcon. Some are people we know from smaller conventions. Others we only run across at worldcon (or North AmeriCon). In either case, we take some time to chat and catch up.
If you’ve never been to a worldcon, a description really can’t do them justice. I suggest you save up your money - tickets can be $250 for 5 days at the door, and the surrounding hotels are high-end brands. If the WorldCon is close enough for you to drive, you could save some money finding a cheaper hotel further away. But you will have to pay to park somewhere near the convention each day. And don’t forget to have money on hand for food; WorldCons provide snacks (chips, veggies, crackers) and soda at certain times of the day, but not anything that could be considered ‘real food.’
Despite the expense, they can be fun and informative. However, they are not a comicon, an anime con, or a media con. They are a literary convention. They are aimed mostly at science fiction & fantasy readers. When we walked through the dealer’s room today, we saw 4-5 tables selling t-shirts, and at least twice that many selling books.
So if you don’t read, this probably isn’t the convention for you.