Geeks are fucking cool.
I’ve been to something like 6-7 conventions in the past year, all over the US, but ConnectiCon was the first all-genre convention I’ve attended, and was by far and away the largest. Mostly I’ve been to steampunk conventions, and this was something totally different.
I’ve never spent much time around fandom before. The word itself I only learned maybe a year ago… the culture of people who go beyond simply being isolated fans of pop culture (genre fiction, anime, video games, etc.) by having actually created their own community. Geekdom in its highest form, perhaps. People stopped by my table and spouted off acronyms I’ve never heard before, unique to their own subsection of geekery, like fan-fiction, DIY tabletop RPGs, web comics, internet forums, anime, or fiction. Most of the guests were voice actors for anime and video games (and some of the nicest people I’ve met, for what it’s worth). Jim Cummings was there, who voiced characters in basically every cartoon I grew up watching.
And then there was me. I was invited to the convention as a literary guest of honor, and I did a reading of What Lies Beneath the Clock Tower to one of the largest and most enthusiastic audiences yet. Alongside the rest of Combustion Books, I presented A Steampunk’s Guide to the Apocalypse (finally available in English as a paperback!) and from our upcoming book, A Steampunk’s Guide to Sex. Someone recorded that last panel (NSFW language) and put it up on YouTube. If you feel like spending an hour of your life learning about the crazy sex lives of Victoriania, I’ve embedded the videos at the end of the article.
I shared something like 5 or 6 panels with my fellow literary guest, Michele Lang. She’s awesome, and I can’t wait to start reading her books… she writes a series called Lady Lazarus that sets WWII in an urban fantasy world, set in eastern Europe. Both of Michele’s parents are holocaust survivors, so there’s something personal to the writing most urban fantasy can’t claim.
The convention staff, all volunteer, was amazing. They were incredibly hardworking and committed, and despite the chaos of handling 10,000 people (mostly costumed teenagers), the convention was probably the smoothest-running of any I’ve attended. Everyone I saw was having an amazing time or quite good at faking it. And lord, the costumes. An incredible expanse of DIY. Thank god my brother was there to help us table: he actually recognized what people were dressed up as.
Combustion Books set up in the Artist’s Gallery, pulled out a card table, and started hustling people. At zero risk, of course. We taught people (schooled them at, really) Bunco and Pike, though no one dared to play Professor Calamity at three-card monte. And we set up our Hess Machine and cured people of various ailments such as “I haven’t just been zapped with a 1920 tesla coil quack medicine device.”
And did I mention they hold it at a union venue? I wish more conventions could say that.