This was my second World Fantasy, and it has definitely become my favorite convention.Â I waited a few days to let the experience sink in a bit.Â A few observations:
The awards are administered differently than the Hugos.Â It’s partly a voted choice, but mostly a long slog through almost everything “Fantasy” written all year.Â The result is that the awards often end up going to works based more on merit and uniqueness than on commercial success or having a wide readership.Â Â Kudos to the judges, who clearly did a lot of work.
I am loosely associated with Patrick Swenson’s Fairwood Press as the secretary of his Board of Directors (which means I take minutes once a year, not that I’m directly involved with the books).Â I worked the table for him a few times at this convention.Â That was a lesson.Â Over half the dealers were booksellers, and my guess is half of the booksellers are “small” presses of various sizes.Â They work.Â Behind a table is a great place to be (I saw a lot of people I would have otherwise missed and collected and traded out many hugs and greetings), but those sales come hard.Â They came one or two or three books an hour in that venue.Â The small presses are pretty agile, and they’re all doing well with the Internet and social media, which is more than I can say for some New York publishers (although, finally, almost everyone gets it).Â Anyway – lots of action and experimentation, but in the end, the sales are book by book by book.Â By the way – why is a small press a “press” and a New York outfit a “publisher?”
Jay Lake did a great job as Toastmaster.Â I’ve only seen him do that for small conventions before, and I must say he scaled well.
Pretty much everyone is there.Â This time, I ponied up for the next two on the spot.Â This is a good party not to miss.Â It has replaced Worldcon at the top of my affections for conventions.Â There is time to get into long conversations, the programming is great, and it’s less of a “how many panels can you get on” game.Â The mass signing is run very well.