Over at Tor.com John Klima has raised some discussion of World Fantasy Convention. He refers to the estimable Chris Roberson’s comment that “World Fantasy is the hub around which my year turns.” John talks about developing projects, making contacts and so on, and there’s no doubt that’s part of the event (and I’ve certainly done all of those things). But, it made me wonder why World Fantasy is my absolute no-fooling hands-down favorite convention in the world. I attended my first World Fantasy in Washington DC in 2003, then Madison in 2005, Saratoga in 2007, and now Calgary in 2008. I loved them all, and will definitely be in San Jose next year and in Columbus too, if I can. Why?
It’s tricky. I know people who prefer fan-oriented conventions prefer WorldCon (Jo Walton says as much on Tor.com and it was said to me in Calgary by a couple people). I can certainly respect that. I find WorldCon too big. I can’t find people when I want to and spend time rattling around at loose ends. I find I can’t travel to the other side of the world to rattle around – I’d rather go to Swancon or Conflux for the fan experience. At World Fantasy I can get the pro experience. Not networking, which I’ve lost interest in. Not working on projects. Not making sales. I see my agent for an hour maybe (we’re on opposite sides of the world so an annual catch up is worthwhile), but otherwise just see friends for dinner, hit the bar, and hang out. The pro experience I crave, and that makes World Fantasy so wonderful for me is that there’s a conversation I can have there that I can’t have anywhere else in the world. At each WFC I’ve attended I’ve had, for example, occasions to sit down and talk with various people who do exactly what I do; to share experiences and learn from people who know more. Now that I edit anthologies, having the chance to talk about them with Gardner Dozois, Ellen Datlow, David Hartwell or whomever as colleagues is wonderful, enormously valuable. All the rest of it is fun, and I’d go to WFC just for that, but that kind of thing is something I can’t get anywhere else. So, WFC is always on my agenda.