379. Westercon

You know that I write these posts in advance, and it’s a good thing because today I am leaving for Tempe, Arizona and Westercon 70.

Westercon is a western US regional science fiction and fantasy convention. It has been around since 1948, when the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society organized it for those who could not travel to the east coast where most Worldcons were held at that time.

This will be my third Westercon. I attended Westercon 33 in Los Angeles the year Zelazny was the guest of honor. I stepped out for air during the afternoon and a lovely young woman told me I looked lonely (I wasn’t), told me she was a wannabe actress – actually she said “I’m just an LA nobody” – and told me the story of her life. I know what you’re thinking. There is no romantic ending, no money changed hands, and she didn’t steal my wallet. I think she was just exactly what she said she was.

Later that night I was cornered at a party by a guy who wanted to tell me about his screenplay. He wouldn’t take the hint that I wasn’t interested, or that I was in no position to further his career. The screenplay turned out to be for a space opera about a ray gun shooting femme fatale. He whipped out a copy of Playboy and showed me a beautiful naked black girl on the centerfold. He said she was the one he had in mind to play the part.

I don’t remember his name (a high functioning forgettery is a very useful tool) but he is probably living in a big house in Hollywood today. The plot was just dumb enough to sell.

I don’t think most Westercons are that weird, costumes notwithstanding. I think it was just LA.

The next year Westercon 34 was in Sacramento. It was a bit more sedate and I gave the paper “How to Build a Culture”. There was a good turnout; as best I can remember a couple of hundred attendees in a small auditorium. I had prepared a piece of mat board with a hand-drawn circle, divided into four pie-slices with the words environment, technology, world view, and biological structure hand written in the quadrants. It was makeshift because my first computer was still five years in the future.

When I said, “Which brings me to my visual aid”, I stood it up and, to cover it’s crudity, added “We have spared no expense!”

The joke got the small chuckle it deserved, but the sound died instantly. A young man in the middle of the auditorium was saying, in a conversational voice, “He is showing a chart. It’s circular, divided into quadrants . . .” We all realized that he was describing the chart to a blind companion, and for the length of time it took him to give his description, you could have heard a feather drop in the room. The respectful silence from crowd made me proud to be a part of the moment.

Last year I wanted to go to Westercon 69 in Portland. I hadn’t gone during all the years of my dry spell; it just didn’t seem like it would be fun under the circumstances. Then Cyan’s release was delayed again, so I skipped Portland. Now that Cyan is out, I am off to Tempe.

It will be good to be back.

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