Novel Completion Queries, Day Eight

Is the novel finished? NO

Today’s question: In honor of convention runner Peggy Rae Sapienza, who passed away yesterday: Name the first convention you went to. It can be a science fiction/comics/nerd-oriented convention (which I suspect is most typical for this crowd), but I’d also count conventions/shows for other enthusiasms as well — cars, video games, pets, etc. The convention should have been open to the public and have something more than just a sales floor — so panels, speakers, specialized interests rooms, etc. If you’ve never been to a convention, it’s okay to note that too.

My answer: Journalcon 2000, in Pittsburgh. It was a small gathering of folks who were writing blogs back in the day — so long ago they were called “online journals” or “online diaries” rather than “blogs” a word which was probably invented by then but didn’t have much currency. And it was a lovely time, and I met in the flesh a number of people who I am still friends with today, along with some others who, alas, have drifted off  — most of those online diaries from the turn of the century are not still active anymore. Here’s a picture of me singing karaoke at that convention. Oh, karaoke, you never let us down.

My first SF/F convention was Torcon 3 in Toronto, in 2003. It was where I first met many of the authors and SF/F folks who I count as very good friends today. Honestly, conventions have been pretty good to me, in terms of meeting people who have since become my friends, and have stayed so.

You?

135 thoughts on “Novel Completion Queries, Day Eight

  1. I went to the West Coast Computer Faire in 1979 or 1980. That’s where I saw the Passport Designs Soundchaser, an Apple ][-based synthesizer/sequencer. From that day I knew I had to be a computer music programmer. And, mostly, I have. In 1983 I got a job at a store called Computers & Music and wrote the first DOS-based MIDI librarian software which ended up being distributed by Passport Designs.

  2. Dragon*Con, the very first one. I think I was in 8th or 9th grade, a huge comic book nerd, and I had a great time. A friend of mine has heard about it, persuaded his dad to take him down for a day, and I went with him.

  3. My first convention was AggieCon, back in1980. I didn’t even know cons existed! That all of these people liked things that I liked! Books! Movies! It was marvelous. I joined the con committee and helped put on the following three years worth of cons.

  4. Star Trek Convention in Redding, California. It was 1977 and I was 13. In spite of none of the cast members being there (there were probably 40 people total) I was very excited, just to see other people who liked Star Trek and science fiction. We got to watch “The City on the Edge of Forever”.

  5. I think it was Capricon 2, in Chicago, 1982 with Gene Wolfe as GOH — great hotel for a con, with a real theater space and a King Arthur room for the dealers. Since become an Intercontinental, and the con moved out to the burbs.

  6. My first conference was called TakeDownCon, a hacker conference held to educate the good guys on what the bad guys are doing in order to generally improve security in the computer world!

  7. Never been to a one. Too busy with work and going to public events is not fun when you arrest people for a living. B

  8. Boskone 13, in Boston (of course) at the Sheraton. First time I’d even HEARD of a convention, two friends of my dad (Pat and Peggy Kennedy) volunteered to bring me there. I was a bit too much of an insular geek to know how to get the most out of the convention, but it was still a lot of fun — I saw movies I’d never seen before and saw them on a screen in reasonably high quality, and picked up some really interesting merchandise.

  9. SOLE (Society of Logistics Engineers) 1996. It was in Crystal City in August which I now know better. Also the keynote speaker bailed because — although she (Liddy Dole) was the head of the American Red Cross — she was taking a leave of absence because her husband was kicking his presidential campaign into high gear.

  10. 1977, A Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Convention in Los Angeles. It is also, coincidentally, the first con I ever volunteered at, as I had arrived very early in the morning and wound up pushing a cart with coffee and doughnuts around to the door dragons who had been watching doors all night. It was also where I learned to play D&D.

    The con itself was fairly typical of the time, it had panels, gaming, a film room. I remember being so bored during a screening of Zardoz that I unconsciously chewed through my wristband that cons used to hand out in those days instead of badges.

  11. A star Trek con in about 1996 in Texas. Leonard Nimoy was a featured speaker. It cost about five dollars to get in! (Compare that to the $40 i just dropped for one day of Fan Expo because Shatner.)

  12. Worldcon, in Brighton (England), in 1987 – Seacon. I’d really no idea what it was or what I was doing :) but I still enjoyed myself and have been to a few cons since.

  13. Chicago Star Trek convention in 1975. They had the entire bridge crew as guests, an enormous Dealers Room, and about 10,000 more attendees than they anticipated (thank you TicketMaster!). I was delighted, and began a life long enthusiasm for conventions and trade shows of many kinds.

  14. Sometime in the mid-80s, an Eastercon in the UK – maybe in Coventry? I think Iain Banks was GoH.

  15. Fourth Street Fantasy in 2008, the first year it returned after a 13 year hiatus. Elizabeth Bear was the guest of honor, and then most of the writers of Shadow Unit showed up, so it became something I was very interested in. I had a good time and went to a couple more of Fourth Street (including the year you were GoH) and one CONvergence when the MST3K folks were there.

    If I was a more social butterfly, maybe I’d keep going to a few more, but right now the timing of the local cons just doesn’t work with my life very well.

  16. My first convention was Balticon 10. Isaac Asimov was Guest of Honor, and I was there because I had won the short story contest. My prize consisted of a free membership to the con; $25, which I immediately blew in the dealer’s room; and a chance to meet the Guest of Honor, who was charming (I was inarticulate. No, really; I was.)

  17. A comic convention in London in 1974. I don’t remember the name. In fact, about all I remember was the auction, where a big, bearded guy presented the first item for sale, some EC-looking thing, where there was a girl wearing next to nothing tied to something, and the bearded guy said “… and there’s a bloke with an axe menacing her. Now, what are we to bid for this nasty piece of literature?” Which was the line the Guardian started with in their article the next day. WIsh I could find that Guardian article again.

  18. Star Trek Con in NYC in the ’70s. I forget what year, but both Nimoy and Shatner were there. Got a great pic of Shatner’s ear as he went by. (I was in a crowd and just held the camera up as high as I could.). Didn’t get their autographs but I did get those of some of the other bridge crew actors.

  19. I staffed an exhibit at the National Federation of the Blind, Louisville KY, 1985. I presented on SGML and Braille at the SGML 89 con in Atlanta. My first WisCon was Wiscon 20, with outstanding GoH speeches from Ursula K LeGuin and Judith Merril, as well as many interesting panels.

  20. Between geographic distances and work demands, I didn’t attend my first con until I was in my early 40s. LoneStarCon in San Antonio, Texas in 1997 was the first one I experienced. I don’t recall who the Guests of Honor were, but it was definitely a fun event.

    Spouse and I took our two offspring (ages 12 and 14 at the time) with us, which made for some interesting moments.

    Shortly after we picked up our badges and as we were wandering through the crowds, our younger kid leaned over and whispered “ok, Mom, now I believe you; you and Dad are NOT actually the weirdest people in the world.” Coming from him at that point, that was a major concession, and that alone made the price of admission worthwhile.

    Our elder kid is a very tall, long-legged and extremely buxom young lady, and the folks at the chainmail stand in the Huckster Hall tried their darnedest to convince her to walk around the con modeling one of their chainmail bikinis. She was not interested, fortunately, though highly amused to be asked.

    My convention attendance since then has been limited to one local SF con that we’ve gone to annually for the past about decade or so, and a few WorldCons. They’re generally interesting and entertaining events, but a little con-going goes a long way for me. I don’t care for crowds, and I don’t like spending money, and both appear to be mandatory if one wishes to attend conventions.

  21. I’m sorry to hear about Peggy Rae Sapienza – who we never met, but a number of our SF friends are bereft over.

    Tammy’s and I’s first con was Boskone in 1997, I think – back when it was still being held in a castle-like Sheraton in Framingham, MA. Josepha Sherman and Eleanor Friesner more or less dragged Tammy there, who was uncertain of her welcome given most of her experiences with the “hard SF” community had been belittling ones, given she writes YA fantasy. I came along to give moral support – which proved to be largely unnecessary, as she met a lot of people there who not only knew her, but were delighted to finally meet her!

    I, of course, had my long-dormant love of SF (having ran into the same snobbish SF fans Tammy had!) rekindled – I remember Tammy looking at me at some point during the weekend and groaning, “Oh, Gods – you’re such a SF fan, aren’t you…?” (This after twelve years of marriage!) That’s also where Tammy first met Bruce Coville, who’s become one of our closest friends in the years since….

  22. I’ve only been to physics conventions. The first must have been an APS (American Physics Society) March meeting. (Mostly solid state physics) Some time in the early 90’s.

  23. A Creation Con in Boston, early 1980’s.I saw Dave Cockrum present his Futurians graphic novel, and some rock/metal band featuring a lead singer who styled himself as Thor, and inflated a hot water bottle using sheer chest power to demonstrate his strength. Unfortunately, I had to leave before the Star Trek guest (I believe Jimmy Doohan) arrived.

    I went to another Creation Con a year or two later – more of the same – and then nothing until the Heinlein Centennial in 2007. Took my daughter to some kind of anime con in Cambridge a few years ago. That’s been it. They were all fun, but the costs of today’s cons mixed with my unwillingness to expose myself to con crud means I’m not likely to attend any others. Ah well.

  24. It was a commercial cooking equipment in Chicago, early 90’s i think. (HVA/CR tech so it was work related) Never been to an actual science fiction, fantasy or fan fic convention at all, no real desire to go to one either, not into crowds.

  25. Midwest Furfest, 2005. I wanted to go the prior year but my brother’s deer hunting took precedence.

    That said, I attended my 20th convention a few weeks ago, so I certainly enjoy the con scene. :)

  26. I’ve only ever been to librarian conventions. My first was Michigan Library Association in 1999. My favorite conventions are the Public Library Association conventions which are big enough to get good guests but small enough not to be overwhelming. At one convention, I got to hear Lois McMaster Bujold speak, which was a thrill for me.

  27. VCon 1980. Already a grown-up, I only went to the banquet to hear Roger Zelazny speak. Enjoyed it but didn’t attend another con until 1994 when I had my first novel out. So no fannish credits for me.

  28. I met the grooviest chick (with dyed hair!) in college ad I went to…PsiCon? SciCon? I don’t even remember the name…in Norfolk, VA, with her and like 4-8 other people, I forget. We shared a hotel room with people sleeping in beds, on chairs, and on floors. I got a chair! Heh. My next con was not for some years. ;-) But I still remember it fondly. Mostly the inability to sleep well in a chair….

  29. Strictly speaking, my first con(s) were the first couple of Denver Star Trek cons (’77, 78?). But I date my real entrance into Fandom from Iguanacon, the ’78 Worldcom. “My people! I’ve found you!”

  30. I jumped into the deep end four years ago at Comic Con in San Diego. Talk about trial by fire! Friends bought me the full four day pass with preview night (making it 4 1/2 days) and I fully expected to spend most of the weekend bored and reading a book while sitting against one of the outer walls. After all, I wasn’t into much in the way of geekdom. Man, was I ever wrong! Had complete blast, met a lot of really great people and have gone every year since, including this coming summer.

  31. The first I remember is Disclave 1997 (aka Discwave). I had long been a SFF fan, but knew nothing of cons at 30+; the con where thousands of gallons of water flooded the hotel due to idiots and a failure in design was certainly memorable..

  32. My first was Genrecon, in Sarnia, Ontario. Their first one. Just a one-day thing with a bunch of writers from different genres speaking and then a sales floor. Otherwise, Magna-cum-Murder in Muncie.

  33. I attended the last day of the 1972 Westercon in Long Beach, CA. I’d spent the rest of the weekend in San Francisco seeing Dodger-Giant games at Candlestick Park. By the next year my priorities had changed by and I went to San Francisco for the 1973 Westercon. (Note — Westercon moves around the West Coast.)

  34. My first con was Marcon, in 1992. I went with a bunch of high school friends, and had a great time, but didn’t really meet anyone new The first con I volunteered at was Minicon, a couple years later. I went with a bunch of folks from college, but I also met a lot of new people. volunteering is really good for that.

  35. I don’t recall the specific name; it was 1976. It was named something like the Tucson Convention of SF, Horror, and Fantasy, or some such, run by Bob Nudleman (sp?) and known to one and all at the time as “Noodlecon.” He had TONS of people there: I remember Johnny Weissmuller (who I’m still sorry I didn’t get an autograph from) and Maureen O’Sullivan, Clarence Nash (the voice of Donald Duck), Heinlein, and tons and tons of other people from SF and movies.

    It was a very badly run convention, but it was GREAT fun! :)

    I went to a bunch of SpaceCons–Star Trek conventions–in 1976-1978 (g/f was helping produce them), and after I moved to Seattle, I started going to Norwescon and many other area cons in 1978.

    Silly part of my life and I’m damn glad I did/do it. Something I have to thank my ex for is getting me into the con scene.

  36. VikingCon 15 1994.

    Got to meet both Connie Willis and George R. R. Martin (knowing him only through the Windhaven stories)

    Spent 20 minutes discussing the relative merits of Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire with Connie Willis (She had just finished Remake). Good times. Have met her many times since and she is always nice as can be.

    The week before I had gone to a book signing where a very popular Mystery Writer had refused to sign anything but freshly bought Hardback Novels, announcing this just as the signing started. A rush to buy her newest novel at this bookstore then ensued. She seemed petty, but somewhat understandable, from a money standpoint, to me. Haven’t bought much of what she has written since. Thank you Libraries.

    Stood in line at VikingCon to get a book signed by Connie Willis. The woman ahead of me had gone to the local used book store and bought one of everything by Connie that they had. (So Mrs. Willis earned nary a dime from these purchases) Connie Willis treated her like she was the greatest fan on earth, honored that the woman liked what she had written. Signed and personalized each and every book. For a short period made that woman feel like the center of the universe.

    I learned that day how a real class act of a writer acted toward the fans. Since that day I have bought everything Connie Willis has put out.

    (Truth be told when I met John Scalzi at the WorldCon in 2006 he struck me the same way. Was not even bothered when I told him that while I voted him best new writer, I voted “Spin” as the best novel. (Although I have to admit I have since used his books as gateway drugs to get non science fiction reading friends interested in Science Fiction, something “Spin” would not have been good for.) I also have bought everything he has written since that day. I guess not liking an author will not necessarily stop me from buying a book, but admiring an author as a person insures that I will be getting whatever they put out. Haven’t been disappointed by either one in all these years)

  37. Shucks, now that I’m thinking about it, there was also OctoCon I in Santa Rosa in 1977, which was really delicious. ~sigh~ The Good Ol’ Bad Ol’ Days.

  38. First and only con: The January 1975 Star Trek convention at the Americana hotel, New York City. It was great but I was a college sophomore then and haven’t felt the need to repeat.

    Saw several notables there, including Harlan Ellison with a pipe and shoulder-length hair. Shook the hand of James Doohan and was surprised at the absolute absence of any accent. Examined, but was not tempted by, a fancy bound copy of Walter Koenig’s script for an animated episode. I did buy a few “Phaser Equipped / Warp Drive Powered” bumper stickers, though. Several episodes were shown in 35mm, which was great; I particularly remember “Mirror, Mirror.”

    I am sometimes tempted by the thought of temporarily abandoning my family and going to a Worldcon – I sure would like to meet Robert Silverberg.

  39. Boskone 24 in 1987. I’d love to say I recall the panels & events I attended, but what I mostly remember are the fire alarms that never stopped, the elevators that never emptied, and getting dumped by the guy I was dating at the time.

  40. My first convention was Armadillo Con in 1994. I was 16 and felt so professional taking notes like a mad person on staying out of the slush pile and other writerly topics. I traveled 4 hours and stayed in the con hotel alone. My first “grown up” working con. ;)

    My first non-work related con was A-kon (anime convention) in Dallas the year after that. Now that con season has started, I have 1-2 every month from here until October, thought the majority of that are working (writing) cons for me.

  41. Hmm. Latecomer to the con scene – last year or the year before, Ottawa Comiccon, followed by Fan Expo in Toronto the same year. It was fun! I went to Ottawa’s convention with a friend of mine who thought it would be neat and spent her time whispering “Who’s THAT? ooh, look at that costume. Who’s that supposed to be?” We wandered around, admiring costumes, bought some stuff in artists alley, and went to a couple of panels.

  42. First Con was Midwestcon in 1968; First Worldcon was Torcon 2 in 1973; and (still doing it since) most recent con was Millenicon 29 this past weekend.

  43. My first convention was the Origins gaming convention back in 1982, when it was held at UMBC. I’d just graduated from high school and was set to enter the US Army in about 2 months. I’ve been a tabletop gamer starting with Avalon Hill and SPI wargames in the mid-70s, and was a big Squad Leader fan. One of the high points was being the third person in the country to buy a copy of the last expansion for original Squad Leader, right behind one of my friends and a guy who bought 20 copies at $30 a piece.

    Despite being a lifelong science fiction and fantasy fan, I’ve only attended one SF con – Balticon in 2009 or 2010, the year Howard Tayler was the artist guest of honor. My kids and I are Schlock Mercenary fans and they really wanted to meet him (as did I). I kick myself for not going the years Lois McMaster Bujold and Walter Jon Williams, two of my favorite authors, were in attendance.

    Speaking of cons, this weekend I’m headed to Lake Geneva, WI, for Gary Con VII. The Gygax kids (mainly Luke) with a host of helpers put this on to honor their dad, Gary Gygax, by playing games – lots of the original TSR staff attend. It’s one of the best-run conventions of any size I’ve ever attended. The focus is almost entirely on gaming, especially older games; there’s a group called the Dead Gamers Society which resurrect all those odd-ball flash-in-the-pan games from the late 1970s and early 80s, often from licensed properties. Did you know there was an official Love Boat RPG, based on the series? The GM for that one actually had a cutaway model of a cruise ship and dressed as Captain Stubing, complete with fake bald head. (For the KISS RPG the next night he was dressed as Ace Freely, IIRC.)

  44. Last year I took my daughter to Playlist Live in NJ It’s like VidCon Jr.–YouTube personalities and teen/tweens. My daughter loved it. It was family friendly and the “talent” we met were astonishingly kind and accommodating.

  45. That would be a gaming convention whose name I forget in Reading (UK) on the first weekend in April, 1982, which is (gulp) thirty-three years ago. I can date it exactly, because my country went to war that weekend, and I didn’t notice until I got home on Monday.

  46. I think I was at one or two local cons previously but the one I remember as being my first was the Westercon in Vancouver — I think it was 44? It was in 1991. I haven’t really been to many since then.

  47. UKCAC 1990, I think – it was a lot of fun, and I was pleased with the reception my Zenith costume got, but I didn’t keep up with the con scene at all so it didn’t have a lasting impact.

    My first con in the modern era was OSCON 2005.

  48. First con was Archon 16 (… I think?) in 1992. I was fifteen, and somehow managed to convince my father to let me spend a weekend in a hotel with friends I’d just met a month earlier. I was enchanted, and it was all downhill from there.

  49. Noreascon, 1989.

    And yes, I was at Louis Wu’s birthday party. But only briefly, and I did not witness The Incident. So don’t ask.

  50. World Fantasy Convention 2003. Got to know her best after heading up the Peggy Raes House hoax Worldcon bid and parties in Denver. The look on her face at Capclave when I wore a bright yellow shirt detailing the top ten reasons to vote for her house was priceless. I lived to tell about it. The cake was good too. I was her liaison at Chicon when she was fan GOH. The things we do for friends…

  51. My first convention of any kind would be SIGGRAPH ’97 in Los Angeles, the big computer graphics conference.

    My first SFF convention was the AnticipationSF WorldCon in 2009 in Montreal. Where I was among the lucky early adopters to contract H1N1 swine flu, back when everyone was in hysterics about it and I had to self-quarantine.

  52. Chicago Comicon, August 6-8, 1976 at the Playboy Towers Hotel. I was spending the weekend with my aunt and uncle who lived only a few blocks away and they figured it would be a fun thing to do with me.

    I began attending GenCon in 1981 when it was still in Kenosha. Stopped going after its second year in Milwaukee.

    My first science fiction convention was Windycon 13 in 1986.

    My first Worldcon was Bucconeer in 1998, chaired by Peggy Rae Sapienza.

  53. My first was the first Vul-con in New Orleans in 1973 at the old Jung Hotel. It was Star Trek oriented, of course, and I was in heaven. My people! This is where I belong! My most memorable experience was getting into an elevator and realizing Gene Roddenberry and Majel Barrett were already in there. I was too star struck to say anything!

    Hey Doug at 12:30, did you know CoastCon is still going on? I probably went to the same one you did and I went this past weekend to help publicize our con, CONtraflow in New Orleans.

  54. My first con was one of the early Gen Cons, when it was still in Lake Geneva, probably 1975 (the longer I go the hazier dates become). At the time the major emphasis of Gen Con was still military board games & historical miniatures. RPG games were there, but they were far overshadowed by the war gamers. Anyway, it was the last time they had events in Horticulture Hall. Most of them were at the Playboy Club Resort. We stuck with Gen Con into the MECCA days, but by the time we bailed, our wargaming group was one of a handful that still offered military miniature gaming.

  55. Mine was Vul-Con III (New Orleans) in 1976. Lotsa fun! Kelly Freas and Grace Lee Whitney were the big-name guests; both very nice people.

  56. It’s sadly ironic that my first con was one long associated with Peggy Rae; Disclave back in 1986. Any of you aware of the motto “I mowed Peggy Rae’s lawn” will understand how possibly my favorite fan moment was having her work for me when I was a con chair. Was well aware she that her prognosis was not very good but was hoping that there’d be more time.

  57. In the late 90s some friends and I heard GWAR was going to be performing in Atlanta so we got tickets. It turned out they were performing in one of the venues as part of that year’s Dragon*Con and the concert tickets also allowed us to tour the convention that day. It was my first convention experience and a real eye-opener. It was fun but I didn’t think about going back until they opened the Skeptic/Science track in the mid-2000s. Then I started getting back into science fiction, listening to Geek & Sundry and enjoying the convention more each year. Last year my daughter turned eleven and I thought she was old enough to handle that much walking around and knew there were a few things she might get into so I took her. I’ve never seen someone that genuinely happy for that long of a time. She LOVED it. The cosplay, the talks, the comics, the occasional Mythbuster, everything. Even Joseph Scrimshaw teaching her the word “motherfucker.” (Not on purpose, it was my fault for not remembering his act). So yes, I got two tickets for the upcoming one and we’ll probably make it our yearly father-daughter bonding weekend.

  58. First for me was The International Horn Society convention back in ’95 I think. A far more nerdy crowd than the more traditionally nerdy Blizcon I attended in 07 Not sure why I waited 12 years to go to a second convention…

  59. I was lucky enough to attend GenCon (before it moved from Milwaukee) in 1993 — to see the release of this little game called Magic: the Gathering. It was a fun time!

  60. My absolute first was a Shore Leave in Hunt Valley MD. (Star Trek.) I went to a few of those in my teens and I still have my copy of “Star Trek Lives” signed by George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, several others. I got to see the notorious Blooper Reels and listen to Gene Roddenberry badmouth religion (as an escaping Catholic, I very much enjoyed this). Not a bad start for a young fan.

    My first general sf con was a “Unicon,” put on by the Potomac River Science Fiction Society in Annapolis. David Brin was the GOH.

    My very first Readercon will be this year!

  61. Have only been to one genre ‘convention’ and all that was was sales floor and a cosplay contest.

  62. My first was an American Chemical Society national meeting, either in New York or in Atlantic City, somewhere between 1965 and 1968. I was a grad student at Princeton.
    At that time, only three venues had.enough convention space for the meeting, the third being either Boston or Chicago if I recall correctly. Hard to check now because the ACS web site doesn’t have info that far back. Highlights included Robert Burns Woodward and Albert Eschenmoser giving connected talks on their collaborative synthesis of Vitamin B12.

    My first, and so far only, SF convention was Disclave in DC in 1979. Memories of that are pretty dim; I recall an amusingly obscene flasher costume, but had forgotten that Zelazny was GoH.

  63. My first convention was the STARWEST software testing conference in San Jose in 2000, which barely but does technically fall under “open to the public” insofar as if you paid you could attend. It was a fantastic time, not the least reasons being that (1) I was not presenting any talks and (2) a generous per diem for dining.

    My first sf/f convention was NASFIC 2010. Somehow I spent the first 22 years of my life in Indiana and never went to GenCon. (My sister and brother frequently go now, but Indianapolis was a “far piece” for my trusty ’89 Sunbird.)

  64. I used to go to Boskone regularly when it was held in Framingham. I don’t go since they moved it to Boston (I’m west of Boston, and frankly it’s a pain in the ass to get there).

  65. The 1976 Star Trek con in Chicago. Went on a press pass to assist a friend who worked at the U of C radio station. Harlan Ellison trashed our microphone–he was one paranoid little dude. Made it hard to tape Leslie Fish’s filk session.

  66. I went to some sf/fantasy/horror/etc. convention in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. I was 11 or 12 and I am amazed that my parents were willing to drop me off at the Bonaventure Hotel all alone with a pocket full of (some) money. Walter Koenig was the speaker at the banquet so I spent most of my money on a ticket, and ended up sitting at his table. He was very cute and I was tongue-tied.

    A few years later, when I was 18 or 19, I went to my first San Diego Comic-Con. It was at the OLD convention center and the whole dealer’s room didn’t quite fill up the main hall. I think I paid to get in, but my soon-to-be-first-husband had published his first comic book and sent me a copy and I showed that around to anyone who would look. I hung around with some APA friends and bought a copy of an extra-large-size first issue of an amusing book called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles from a nice young man at a card table. (I think they ran out of official dealer tables and set it up just for him and his friend.) I remember thinking that the art was muddy but the material was pretty fun. No idea what happened to that copy. I went to many, many comic book conventions after that, including San Diego for about fifteen years in a row, as a publisher and later as a nonprofit organization exhibitor. I worked hard, made many friends and had a lot of fun.

    I didn’t go to a con of any sort for a long time, but in the past couple of years I took my kid to his first comic book convention, a Wondercon in Anaheim. I picked up a few new things and saw some old friends, one of whom signed my son’s copies of Bone. It was cool time traveling into the future of conventions.

  67. A Star Trek convention in Detroit, probably around 1972 or 1973. Saw James Doohan, George Takei, and Walter Koenig, but what I remember most vividly was the chili dog and chocolate pie at the place where my Dad and I went to lunch. Oh, and during the Q&A, someone asked Doohan to say “Cap’n! This jurry-riggin’ will nae hold out much longer!”

  68. My first convention of any sort was the Episcopal General Convention in 1976 as an observer; I was present for the laity vote that set the seal on the ordination of women to the priesthood. That was the same convention where the new Prayer Book was accepted, displacing the 1928 Prayer Book I’d grown up with.

    My first con-con was this past year; I escorted my teenaged daughter to Wizard World in Austin. I’ve never done a WorldCon, although it’s been just down I-35 in San Antonio more than once, and never been to ArmadilloCon (local to me) in all its years of existence. I may escort Daughter to HavenCon I next week, if I’m enough recovered from surgery on Friday.

  69. Timecon 1986. At the tender age of 16, I was dragooned into taking pictures for the Hall Costume contest and driving a couple of guests to/from the airport, technically a “staff job” and not some random gofer or volunteer thing. Upon arrival at the main entrance the first day I discovered to my horror that A) there were no programs or schedule yet, they were still being written up, and B) there was no information booth and we were about to let more than ten thousand people in the door without any idea what was happening when and nobody to tell them that. I literally grabbed a table, butcher paper, pens, and gopher and created the information booth directly in front of the doors on the fly to tell people “We don’t have the schedule or program yet, we’re sorry. Please check back every half hour!” over and over and over again. About an hour in the guy running the con came by to find out who I was and what I was doing, I explained, he went “Uh, oh, ok. Can I get you anything?” “More gophers.” and I got a staff. About half an hour later we had programs and schedules.

  70. Thought Bubble comic convention in 2013 – though I only spent a couple of hours there and mostly just wandered around the halls. First one I really count is Loncon3 last year, I went for the full thing.

  71. First conventions would have been Thespians, Typo Collectors (that used to be a thing for some nerdy kids), or one of those Yoof of Tomorra Leadership Thingies they used to do.

    First science fiction convention, Cleveland, sometime in high school (early 1970s), Harlan Ellison was guest. Would have had a crappy time except that when I was sitting in the coffee shop at 2 am feeling very alone and sorry for myself (we were all sleeping in a van and I’d gotten crowded into a freezing cold position against the van wall where I couldn’t sleep), Harlan Ellison sat down next to me, talked to me about the general suckage that is adolescence in Ohio, and sprinkled pixie dust over the whole occasion.

    Have gafiated at least 3x for periods of several years in my life. Most recent con where I spent any significant time was Denver Worldcon because my agent couldn’t make it and asked me to host the agency events; I spent about 3 hours at MileHiCon last fall, in a complicated sort of side deal from having had to skip Bubonicon at the last moment the summer before. Still considering whether I want to try any of that again this year. Probably not, but one should never say never again.

    I generally like meeting fans, old and new and previously online only, but find I’m always getting trapped by writers despite my best intentions. At MileHiCon I had a couple of astute and wonderful local fans I’ve known for years basically run interference so that I stayed mostly among fans, and had a considerably better time. I am considering whether this experience could be replicated on a larger scale.

    The odd thing is I can remember being much more gregarious but can no longer remember why.

  72. Balticon in … 1999. I went with a bunch of friends from school, had no idea who the big names were, and played my first (and thus far last) game of D&D. And I passed up on buying some original Mercedes Lackey music. D’oh!

  73. Steve Davidson: I was there, too. January 1972 at the Statler Hilton Hotel in New York, the very first Star Trek Con, entirely fan-run. Crowded beyond all understanding, and a lot of fun.

  74. X-Con in Milwaukee in 1982. I had known about SF cons, but only after the fact. I picked up an issue of Analog and found out there was a con in an hours drive in the next few days and planned to head there. I was ignorant enough that I arrived mid afternoon and had to leave before evening, but I found out about Chicon IV in Chicago a few weeks later and made plans for that. I had a whole hotel room to myself. (People I met later had 17 people in the same small sized room). We were days away from a move to Ohio, and I found out about Marcon in Columbus and attended that. Two years later I was on the Marcon concom.

  75. Oh sheesh. Jan 1972 was my first SF con; my first con ever was a Mensa Annual Gathering, in 1971, if I recall correctly.

  76. Mudcon 1, at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Still got the t-shirt around here somewhere. Mostly recall the filking.

  77. Aggiecon, in, what, 1993? Something like that. I did it as a day trip on Saturday with friends. I think I drove. I usually drove – I had the biggest car, so I could drive, or two other people could drive. We had fun, then went back to Austin, probably stopping for pizza somewhere. I think the next year, I convinced my husband to go, and we’ve been attending as many SF cons in Texas as we can every year since.

  78. A small Star Trek convention in Feb? March? 1977. Grace Lee Whitney was the guest. My mom dropped me and my biology lab partner off and gave me twenty whole dollars for the day. We heard about this movie coming out a couple of months later, called “Star Wars”.

    For some reason, although I really enjoyed myself, I didn’t go to another con until Denvention, Worldcon 1981. Which of course blew my mind. Been going ever since.

  79. First convention I ever attended was the International Convention of the Christian Churches (Disciples of Christ) in Toronto in 1955. However, the first convention I attended because I wanted to go to it, and not because my parents took me and my brother to it whether we wanted to or not, was the Worldcon in Oakland in 1964.

  80. Huh. Far as I can tell I went to an SF convention before anyone else who’s posted here. I should also mention that I met Peggy Rae, who at the time was still McKnight, in the mid-’60s in LA, though I can’t say we knew each other well enough to be friends. Friendly acquaintances, though.

  81. Oddest con I ever attended: when I lived in Missoula, Montana, Miscon had a perfectly happy history with an old Quality Inn on the edge of town. A newfangled conference-center hotel had just opened on the riverfront. The management of the new hotel happily offered enough to “steal” Miscon into the new location. However, that perfectly great new management got sacked a couple months later for not booking enough high-revenue conventions. A new manager came in. He bluntly refused to believe that Miscon was the size it was, or would book that many rooms, or indeed would happen at all, and booked a postal workers convention on top of it.

    Then all those people really did show up.

    Suddenly he had partying geeks all over his hotel and a lobby full of angry postal workers and contracts that said he couldn’t give the programming space he’d already sold to the postal workers to them … so he stormed into the registration lobby, found teenagers being loud and SCOTCH TAPE ON THE WALLPAPER, declared Miscon in violation, and threw everyone out at about 9 pm Friday night.

    Everyone went to Ron Martino’s house for a big “now what” party, out of towners went and crashed in in-towner houses, and very nearly all the convention events were held at people’s houses and apartments, with all the big ones being in Ron’s back yard. (The costume contest sort of looked like the strangest cheap wedding reception you’d ever been to).

    Hence the much-coveted and scarce T-shirts sold afterward as a fundraiser:

    RON’S LAWN CON I

  82. My first ‘Con was Swancon 18, back in ’93. I hadn’t even heard of SF/F fan conventions, and there I was with a whole bunch of other weirdos, with the guests of honour being Terry Pratchett and Robert Jordan.

    It was a life changing experience, that’s for sure. Since then, I’ve only missed one Swancon, and I’m really looking forward to seeing Our Gracious Host at this year’s version.

  83. Botcon ’99. I think? The one in St. Paul, the 15th anniversary. Botcon is a Transformers fan convention. It was fun, I got Scott McNeil’s autograph AND got to make him laugh. The man is a class act.

  84. Dragon*Con IV, in 1990, was my first convention, during my freshman year at college. The first thing I discovered after I entered the hotel was the Dealer’s Room… and I spent all three days I attended doing nothing but wandering around looking at all the merch. I honestly had no idea that there was anything else to the convention and I still considered my badge price to be money well spent. :D

  85. Oh gosh…I had to go check, because it has been so long! It was the 1973 Star Trek Live! Convention in New York City. I actually had to go look it up, because the name and date were not in my memory banks. I remember how much fun I had, and that Isaac Asimov was there, although I did not get to see him. Leonard Nimoy was there, but William Shatner was not. George Takei was there, and was very kind to us fans.

    I was with a bunch of poor college students, who ate in the deli across the street, because we couldn’t afford to eat in the hotel. Sunday morning, I was eating all alone at the counter, when much to my surprise, George sat down next to me, and asked if I was going to the convention. We had as much of a chat as he could hold up on his own, because I could barely answer yes or no questions.

    My second con was SunCon, the 1977 WorldCon in Miami. My first ‘general’ SF con. That was.. interesting to say the least.

  86. My first convention was Arisia in 2004. I’d heard about it for a couple of years prior, but didn’t have any clue what I was getting myself into. Thank the gods I went.

    I was first formally introduced to Peggy Rae at a Boskone in 2012, but knew of her prior to that, as that was about the time I started being seriously involved in con-running outside of just Arisia.

  87. SWFA weekend in 2012, where we met Peggy Rae, a fine lady who will be sorely missed. We had an interesting field trip with the Haldemans to the Library of Congress.

    …Oh, and also met a little-known coke-zero swilling author, whose last name escapes me.

  88. A fantasy football conference in Chicago, late summer 2000. Back when fantasy sports were barely commercialized and businesses were wondering if people would *really* pay good money to participate in something that gave you nothing tangible in return. Some companies – including mine – were working on software that would make doing the stats online easy. Things such as comparing individual stats; calcuating weekly scores for a person, a team, or a league; figuring out who won. Things that were hard then but trivial now.

  89. Couleecon 1978 or 79, not sure which, in LA Crosse, Wisconsin. GOH was Fred Pohl, just after the Hugo for Gateway, and we also has a drop-in from a promising newcomer named George R.R. Martin. I think I’d just discovered The Sandkings, which is still to this day one of the scariest stories I’ve ever read

  90. Swancon 2004. Guests were Tim Powers and Shaun Tan. I was absolutely new to all things to do with SF/F/H, with the idea of fans, or indeed with the idea of meeting up with other writers. I met my editor in person there for the first time. So many firsts! People were so welcoming that I’ve never looked back…

  91. First con was a really small Doctor Who con in San Jose, CA in the early ’80s. Peter Davison was the GoH.

  92. I was trying to decided if we were talking about just fan conventions or the other sort. Of the other sort, I went to a NSTM (National Society for Teachers of Mathematics) convention in about 1990 or so. I went to a Star Trek Fan Con in about 1994 or so. How long have people been holding fan cons? Seems that the oldest in this thread is like 1974. Is that because there weren’t any before then or because nobody reading this is much older than 50 or so?

  93. First con was GenCon 1989. Since then, a few more gaming conventions (GenCons up to 1993 (where I managed to completely miss any sign of Magic: The Gathering), one DexCon in 1997 (I think), and a couple of a local con in the early ’90s), a few comic conventions (one in about ’91 that I have no idea of the name of and the second and third New York Comic Cons), and the only occurrence of Anime Expo New York in 2002, but no general SF/F cons.

  94. They don’t have conventions down at the bottom of the world. There’s one in Auckland and then PAX Australia exists, but I’m rather far from both of those places … and even further from anywhere else.

  95. My first con was LonCon3 (and no, I’m no spring chicken) and I never met Peggy Rae, but it sounds like I wish I should. I’m very sorry for the loss of such an important person to Fandom. My condolences to you and to her family. May she steer her successors to success from wherever she is now.

  96. Bouchercon 2005, in Chicago. (Bouchercon’s the biggest and most important mystery/detective/thriller writers and fans convention. The question everybody in the genre asks each other this time of year is, “so, you going to B’con?”) Some of the people I met in those days are still great friends. One’s my publisher.

  97. Star Trek convention, mid-seventies. Got stuck in an elevator with a very large, bearded man for 45 minutes and we got into a discussion about what kind of political system would allow Star Fleet captains the type of autonomy Captain Kirk seemed to have. I held out for the British Captain Cook et al model. He told me I was dead wrong and spun some fantasy about utopian ideals. I disagreed.

    When they finally got the elevator moving and we got to the conference room, one of the show handlers came over and said “Gene, where the hell have you been?” Mr. Roddenberry turned around winked at me, and said “Told you I was right.”

    I still don’t agree with him…

  98. Not sure if was my first, but it is the one I remember most fondly. In the mid 90’s, it was a Star Trek Mini-con put on by our fan club and held at our local branch of the county library in Pembroke Pines, FL. The guest speaker was Bjo Trimble, whom my sister and I had the honor of hosting in our apartment for the duration of her stay.

  99. My first convention was ICON 4 in Coralville, Iowa in 1979, and featured guests included Gene Wolfe, Rusty Hevelin, Joe Haldeman, and James Van Allen. I had fun as a volunteer too, as I recall through an empty glass, darkly… ;^)

  100. Game-a-Thon, this little, done-in-an-empty-backroom gaming convention done every year by our college gaming club (Concordia College in Moorhead MN). Very bare bones, attended by pretty much just those of us in the club and some alumni members. We did a Star Wars LARP where I got to play Lando Calrissian. It was a great time and I still have a lot of friends from that time.

  101. In answer to mister ‘Mark Lasater’: According to the old war stories from the aging geeks at the comic shop I used to work at, most of the fan conventions got their start in the late 60’s, although I’ve heard tales around the camp fires of proto-cons earlier in the decade where amateur comics makers (AmaComics as they were called at the time) would gather to trade their wares…

  102. Dragon*Con 2007. My best friend at the time paid for everything (c con tickets, hotel, air fare). It was such a blast. I remember thinking I would so very star struck getting autographed but I was as cool as a cucumber. And I even have a picture of myself with the amazing and delightful Paul McGillion.

    My husband paid for me to go back in ’09. I stayed with a friend. I participated in two fan panels (one on fan fiction with some of my favorite writers ever. So awesome.) Got my picture with Felicia Day (who is also amazing and delightful).

    Wish I could back so bad, but alas money is very much an issue.

  103. In answer to “Mark Lasater” and “kakubjaya”, science fiction conventions go way, way back. The first fan run one in the US was in 1936, the first World Science Fiction Convention was in 1939. And all SF cons used to be fan run; it’s only in the last few decades that for-profit cons have sprung up.

  104. ConCept, in Montreal…. I think the first year I actually went was 2007? I had no idea what to expect.

    I also went to the Montreal Comic Con that year, free – one of the organizers gave me a ‘media’ pass. But that one was more of a sales con, that year. (Since then, it’s blown up huge.)

  105. My wife (-to-be, at that time) introduced me to Minicon, in Minneapolis, but I don’t remember what year. Next weekend is Minicon 50 — hooray!

  106. Creation Con, Philadelphia 1984, where Tom Baker kissed excruciatingly gawky, glasses-wearing, 12-year-old me — which at the time I thought was just about the best thing that could ever possibly happen in my life. ;)

  107. A CopperCon in Phoenix in 1985 or 1986. I had gotten involved with a Doctor Who club and was introduced to SF/F cons that way. 1992 was when I got fully involved with major committee positions with the WesterCon, PhringeCon and CopperCon.

  108. The first Discworld Convention, Manchester 1996. Met face-to-face many of the people I already knew from alt.fan.pratchett.

  109. I”m getting a bit senile, and too lazy to look things up, but my first Con was the Los Angeles area WesterCon following the 1958 WorldCon. (I’d been in contact with Fandom before the latter, but didn’t quite understand that I was qualified to attend it.) By then (1960?) I’d become active in Fanzine Fandom and was at least acquainted with about 90% of the people there (even though I’d never actually _seen_ many of them, and none of the whole crew who had driven from NYC) and it may have been the most Marvelous experience of my life. (Vying with the time that, as a member of the Occupation Troops in Japan, I realized that I was both fitting-in and having a lot of fun with a bunch of Aliens despite the fact that we didn’t understand one-anothers’ languages). [Mind you, I now sometimes wonder if I’ve ever understood anyone else’s language, or they mine, but I guess thoughts like that pop up when one approaches the age of ninety.]

    .

  110. First convention was the first annual sci-fi convention in Norfolk VA, back in 1983 (or maybe spring 1984).
    I remember the 2 major guests were George Takei and Robert Asprin (and wife)

  111. I can’t decide if I went to the Master Gardening Symposium, The Aquatic Gardening Association Convention, or the Philadelphia Flower Show first but since they are thematically on par I suppose it doesn’t matter. None of them had karaoke. Boo.

    Nice job engaging the audience in your comments feed while you work on the novel! Our joie de vivre, sense of nostalgia, and “healthy” narcissism thanks you. ;)

  112. First con: Second (and I think last) Annual Victoria International Cartoon Festival in Victoria, B.C., April 1986. Sergio Aragones was there; I think Mark Evanier was as well. (At least there were more than enough copies of DNAgents sitting around.) Yes, I’ve been con-hopping for quite some time.

    First more traditional SF con: Contradiction 7, Niagara Falls, October 1987. Anne McCaffrey was GoH. I still remember the look of joy on her face as she lifted the GoH necklace gift she’d been given out of the box and exclaimed happily, “It’s not a dragon!”

    And hey, I was at Torcon 3 as well, that being my first Worldcon. Ended up missing part of the masquerade as myself and a friend of mine got into a conversation with one of the older historians and his collection of pulp magazines. We’d been running one of the fan group tables there, and did the same thing for Anticipation in Montreal a few years later.

  113. My first con was Kubla Khan III, way back in 1976. It was the local Nashville con (there have been at least 2 others by the same name since), and I had just recently gotten involved with the Nashville Science Fiction Club, which put it on. I honestly don’t remember much about it, except that I had a wonderful time and I knew this was something I was going to continue doing for a very long time. And indeed I have.

  114. I honestly don’t know, because I was two or three years old at the time! :) I’m not even sure what the first one I remember is. The first one I can *name* without researching the history of conventions is the ’68 Worldcon in Berkeley, when I was about 8 myself. I was a runner-up at the masquerade, falling just short of becoming the youngest person to win an award, and John Brunner stayed with us for several days after the convention, and taught me origami. :)

    But I’d been a regular at Westercon for several years before that.

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