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.
Indeed she will be missed. When I was president of SFWA, I had the good fortune of working with Peggy Rae on the Nebula Awards Weekend, and I can attest that she was one of the good ones. She knew what she was doing, and she made it look, if not easy (running conventions is not easy) then at least manageable. I do remember that at one point during my tenure as president I made the off-hand comment that after a certain date I would be turning my attention more to the Nebula Awards, and getting a polite but pointed note from Peggy Rae asking “what exactly does that mean?” To which I responded something along the lines of, “it means that I will do nothing to get in your way but will back you up when and if you need it.” Which appears to have been the right answer all the way around.
She ran Programming and Special Events for ConStellation, the 1983 Worldcon in Baltimore. She ran Exhibits, Registration, the Dealers’ Room, Information, Press Relations and the Newsletter (the “Second Floor Division”) with Fred Isaacs for Noreascon III in 1989 in Boston. She also conceptualized and managed the ConCourse for which Noreascon III was known. She served as Vice-Chairman for ConFrancisco, the 1993 Worldcon in San Francisco. Her many accomplishments in fandom were crowned by her serving as Chairman of Bucconeer, the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore. More recently she helped Japanese fandom bring the Worldcon to Japan in 2007 and served as their North American Agent.
Those are some excellent accomplishments for which anyone could be proud.
Finally, I’m happy to say I considered Peggy Rae a friend, and deeply admired her competence and her cheerfulness in being so. If Peggy Rae was running things, basically, I felt in safe hands.
All thoughts to her family and friends today. She’ll be remembered not only by them, but by all of science fiction fandom.