Not being able to secure a room at the hotel (my fault), I’ve been forced into commuting to the con, which has really eaten into my available hours this weekend.
There will be no news features this week as a result.
However, I did want to put down a couple of quick notes and remarks on a few things that I’ve noticed at the convention already:
first, the number of POCs attending this year’s con, including, seemingly, many for whom it is their first Boskone, has visibly increased since last year.
I don’t want to give the impression that there is anything like near-parity with white attendees. On the other hand, it is a change large enough for those paying attention to notice and, should this trend continue over the next couple of years, the convention will at least be somewhere close to representational parity.
Note for those with questions: this IS a Good Thing. I’ve met several new convention friends as a result, at least one of whom Amazing Stories will be interviewing.
second: panelists and audience members are much less reticent to voice their objections to statements of privilege, discrimination and bigotry. I’m not talking about loud, obnoxious statements from panelists nor shouted protests. I’m talking about panelists making assumptions or coming to conclusions that others notice come from privilege, or ignore stereotyping, and others politely pointing out, which then becomes a subject for the panel to address.
Perhaps its best to use an example: on a panel devoted to books that engendered an interest in SF and following a listing of approximately 40 authors and titles that had influenced the panel members, an audience member pointed out that no female authors had been mentioned. Another audience member responded that yes, some had and named a couple and then the panel and the audience discussed why so few female authors had been mentioned (a number of possible reasons), and all of the panelists and some audience members thanked their fellow for having made the point, as it was an important one.
Personally, I want to thank the panelists for having received this objection the way it should have been: rather than engaging in defensive behaviors, they addressed the issue head on, accepted the criticism, apologized for any possible offense and dove into discussing reasons.
This is how conventions work at aligning themselves with their community and I am proud to be a part of a convention that is taking such active measures.
I’ll have more to say on these subjects in the coming days.