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theengineer

The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons


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theengineer

Ad Astra

Ad Astra was last weekend, and I had a lot of fun this year (I usually do, but this year just rocked for me). Got caught up with a bunch of people I haven't seen in a while, enjoyed the dance, enjoyed the room parties. There weren't as many room parties this year as usual, but I got smoked meat in the Montreal Worldcon party, and chocolate cake in the Kansas City party. Spent more in the dealers room this year than in the previous three Ad Astras. Lots of good stuff at Apogee Books, some guy was selling off his vast graphics novel collection (and they were in amazingly good condition), and I got the new Karl Schroeder (Sun of Suns) from Bakka. Thanks to Aaron for lending me some cash when I couldn't get the ATM on the lobby working.

I do think attendance was a little off, likely due to all the snow we got on Thursday. All the guests got in on time, but I think a few of them were short on luggage for most of the weekend.

Was talking some more with Cory Doctorow about how to get anime fans to start reading SF and fantasy. He thinks SF fandom should start sending missionaries to anime cons. It's a problem that a lot of other fandoms out there have sprung from the SF cons, but people aren't going back and SF cons are slowly dying out. I specifically patterned Anime North after the SF con model when I started it up (and I think this has been to the con's benefit) and I'd love to see anime fans start attending SF cons. But I myself don't have the free time to devote to making this happen. If anyone out there does, let me know.

And the end-of-con nitpicking session reminded me why we don't do that at Anime North. Not that feedback isn't good and necessary, but most of what people were complaining about in that room was really juvenile stuff. "It took an hour to get here on public transit! Why isn't the con somewhere closer?". "I actually had to pay for a snack in the con suite! All the food is free at American Cons! You're insulting people!" "Me me me me me me me!" The con com spent months making all this happen and were undoubtedly exhausted after the weekend, and then they had to put up with an hour of whining from people old enough to know a lot better.

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Not that feedback isn't good and necessary, but most of what people were complaining about in that room was really juvenile stuff. "It took an hour to get here on public transit! Why isn't the con somewhere closer?". "I actually had to pay for a snack in the con suite! All the food is free at American Cons! You're insulting people!" "Me me me me me me me!" The con com spent months making all this happen and were undoubtedly exhausted after the weekend, and then they had to put up with an hour of whining from people old enough to know a lot better.

The point isn't that I, personally, would be happier if there were Diet Coke in the con suite that was free included in the cost of membership (I can buy Diet Coke in the gift shop), or even that I believe that the point of a con suite is to have a place of hospitality in which to relax and meet interesting people, not a corner store. The point is that significant numbers of people choose not to attend Ad Astra because *they* believe it.

The decision makers can either care about issues that are important to people, or they can continue to believe that the way they do things is the only possible way that things can be done, and that anyone who complains is being unreasonable.

People who attend conventions *are* used to con suite snacks being included in their membership. It would be one thing to explain why that might not be possible, but dismissing people by telling them that it doesn't really happen and that they must have been imagining all those other con suites really doesn't go over well.

But the issue isn't whether pop is included in your membership or you have to pay $1; the issue is whether the con suite is a hospitality lounge or a corner store, and why the convention can't afford pop for its members but offers a free lavish bar in the green room (that's paid for by the same people who are also expected to pay for their own drinks and snacks).

And I say this as a member of concom--the fact that concom worked really hard for free to put on the event is important and should be acknowledged and appreciated, but doesn't mean that everything was perfect and that the complaints aren't valid.

In my not-so-humble opinion, a convention with a paid attendance of 300 or so, in a city of 3 million people, and within driving distance of most of the northeast US, is obviously doing something wrong. Maybe the concom should actually listen when people try to tell them what that is.

Yeah, the con costs sixty bucks and you have to pay for soda in the con suite? What's up with that? Oh, the free bar for guests. Well, I'm glad they have a good time.

Ad Astra had 300 paid memberships? That is... that's not a lot of people. I can get more people than that to yell "Dog bite, Dave!"

Ad Astra had 300 paid memberships?

That's a *very* rough estimate; I don't know the real numbers. But even if I'm completely off base and the real number is double that, that's still not much. I wouldn't compare Ad Astra to the anime cons, but we should be getting similar numbers to Arisia and Balticon.

I haven't gone to an SF con outside of Toronto for years now, so I'm pleased to hear they're still doing well elsewhere. Gotta stop being such a homebody.

What about V-Con in Vancouver?

CUFF needs a delegate.

End of October? I'll think about that.

Yes, you really should get out there. Conventions are fun, and there are bunches of them within driving distance.

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