This afternoon, we wrapped up our three-day attendance at Loscon, the annual science fiction convention of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the oldest science fiction club in the world. Although we've attended many Loscons in the past, the 37th one was marked by Amy's local debut as a dealer in the dealer's room. She ran a table for her embroidery company, Heart of the Star. She set up one of her computerized embroidery sewing machines at the table, along with a laptop and monitor so folks could see the designs take shape on the screen. She also sold patches and pieces of lace. Most important, she gave out business cards inviting people to give her commissions. And a lot of people showed interest in the prospect.
Naturally, I helped set up and break down the table, and worked the table along with her. Working a convention as a dealer solo pretty much guarantees you won't be able to see any of the convention's daytime events, so a partner is invaluable. You must still pick and choose the events you will attend, since only one of you can attend at a time. That meant about one panel per day for each of us.
The success of a convention depends largely on the caliber of the guests. This con had excellent luck in that department. The themes for this year's Loscon were steampunk, urban fantasy, and SF Noir. Writer Guest of Honor Emma Bull covered the urban fantasy ("War for the Oaks") and SF Noir ("Bone Dance") categories, while art guest of honor Phil Foglio ("Girl Genius") handled the honors for steampunk. Ms. Bull's services as a GOH came with a bonus, since her husband, writer Will Shetterly, came too and appeared on several panels. Further, the programmers did not repeat the mistakes of past Loscons, which did not know what to do with their art guests. Aided by Foglio's talent as a writer and entertainer along with his artistic skill, the programmers put him on multiple panels.
The convention themes were also well-chosen. Due in part to LASFS's venerable status, the convention attendees tend to skew older. (A telling comment from one participant to another during a first-day panel: "Will I be as bitter as you when I get old?") But since steampunk is au currant with younger fans, the theme brought in some fresh blood as folks who never attend Loscons descended on a dealer's room stuffed with top hats, goggles, pocket watches and gears.
The conventions I enjoy most are those at which I can talk to people. At this con, I had the chance to hobnob with folks that span the multiple decades I've spent attending California conventions. That's particularly nice when spending a lot of the convention behind a dealer's table.
We've reserved a table for next year, so we'll be doing it again in 2011.