Conventions are a the highlight of the typical year. The panels! The book recommendations! The community! Of course, all that changed early in 2020. I know a lot of conventions have gone virtual, but I’ve been hesitant to try that out. I wish the cons all the best – truly! – but I thought I would find the experience more draining than fulfilling. So I abstained.
Until Boskone this past weekend. I don’t know if it was because Boskone 2020 was my last in-person event (of any kind!) before the pandemic struck, or if it was hearing my friends in Broad Universe talk about the Rapid Fire Reading they were planning, but I decided to finally dive in and try a virtual convention. (I realize that I am absurdly late to the party here, and that everyone else has already swum in these waters for close to a year now)
How did it go, you ask?
It was okay. I want to emphasize that the Boskone volunteers and organizers did an AMAZING job. There were remarkably few Zoom snafus, the website worked exactly as intended, and they put together a solid collection of panels and readings. But I missed seeing people in person. I missed running into someone in the hall, and striking up a conversation after an interesting panel. I think all of that is inevitable.
But there are silver linings. The ability to record panels means that I am able to go back and catch some of the ones that I missed, and that’s nice. I had to miss the end of a really fantastic discussion in order to get to the Broad Universe RFR, and I’m thrilled that I was able to jump back in the next morning!
Highlights of the weekend:
- Mur Lafferty interviewed NESFA press guest Ursula Vernon. I enjoy both of these authors, and their repartie (they are besties) was an absolute delight.
- Self-Defining Success as a Creator with D.B. Jackson, Karen Heuler, Zig Zag Claybourne, and Scott Edelman was wonderfully raw. It was powerful to hear authors talk about their insecurities and disappointments so candidly. It made the advice that they offered all the more poignant, because I knew that it was hard-won.
- (Sub)Urban Fantasy, with Brenda Clough, Fran Wilde, Karen Heuler, Brad Abraham, and Gillian Redfearn was a balm to my soul, talking about about a lot of themes and trends close to my heart. It also gave me some new thoughts about my current WIP that have been quite helpful in rounding out the themes!
- The Representation of LGBTQ+ in Popular Culture, with Julia Rios, John Chu, Gillian Daniels, Jennifer Williams, and Sara Megibow was a fantastic way to end the week-end, and let me add some great new titles to my TBR list
Broad Universe’s Rapid Fire Reading was, of course, delightful. Broad Universe is my home base at local conventions. I love working at the table, helping to sell my friend’s books, even when I didn’t have anything of my own to sell. And the Rapid Fire Reading is always a highlight – a group of Broads each get to read for about five minutes. It was the closest I came to embracing my community at Boskone this year, and I am deeply grateful for that experience.
Will I go to any other virtual cons?
I don’t know. I suspect I’m going to have to play it by ear. This weekend left me feeling more drained that renewed, but it was still good to get a sip of what I’ve been missing, even if I wanted a deeper draught.