I don't usually review cons -- in fact, I don't recall ever having done so -- but I just finished two weeks of cons, and had to tell someone...
First, I was at Readercon last week, and it was its customary masterpiece. I've never been to a science fiction convention with a greater number of enthusiastic, knowledgeable readers as well as authors. My favorite readers were the wonderful folks whom I think of as Lois Powers' Toadstool group -- no author could ask for more than these readers at a reading, a Kaffeeklatsch, a conversation in the hall... My favorite authors were ... well, that too is part of Readercon's charm: there wasn't a panel I attended, including my own, when almost half of me didn't wish I was at a competing panel.
Confluence, held in Pittsburgh just this past weekend, is much smaller. I attended for the first last year, and had a fine time. It is in a way like a mini-Readercon, peopled by readers with a zest for science fiction novels and stories, and authors that I could talk to for days.
This year, Confluence held two unique sf treats for me.
One was finding myself at an autograph session with Phyllis Gotlieb, whose first story was published in 1959. I later had dinner with Phyllis and her husband Kelly (who worked with Marshall McLuhan, but that's another fascinating story). Rob Sawyer, Carolyn Clink, Bud Sparhawk, Wen Spencer, and C. Dale Brittain were among the other writers at our table -- what a table!
The second was just a fleeting moment, but I'll never forget it. Phil Klass had just finished reading a marvelous story -- one he had written in the late 1960s, but hadn't published until the 1980s. Hal Clement, who had been sitting in the front row, went up to talk to Phil.
So here were these two guys, between them more than a century of science fiction writing, talking with passion and appreciation late in the evening. And here I was, a kid when I first read the words of these two, now sitting in the back of the room, just watching them talk. I'm sure a part of me will never leave that room -- the same part that's been there since the 1950s. (David Hartwell, sitting next to me, took a picture.)
Thank you Confluence, for opening that door...
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http://trfn.clpgh.org/parsec/conflu/review2.html -- Revised: 1 June 2002
Copyright © 2002 Kevin A. Geiselman