Why Westercon?

Before long, says Tom Becker, all issues of the Westercon 66 daily newzine Tardum Flumen will be online. Til then here’s an appetizer from the final issue, #7, an interview with John Hertz conducted by Randy Byers:

John Hertz has been attending Westercon regularly since the 1970s. I asked him why, and here’s what he said.

Westercon is bigger in scope than a local convention, and smaller than a continental or Worldcon. That’s nourishing for me.

To me Westercon is 2,500 people, but that was the 80s. However, it’s interesting that the people coming to these 600-, 800-, 900-person Westercons are the knowledgeable fans. These are people who go to Worldcon. They’re very involved. A lot of bidders come to Westercon because there is an unusual proportion of Worldcon voters here.

There’s also something that a general-interest convention has to offer which a special-interest convention hasn’t, and that’s cross-fertilization. At a general-interest convention you can meet people you didn’t know you wanted to meet. Your chances are better at a regional than at a local.

“Better to promote the good than to rail against the ill.” That’s Tennyson. The poetry fellow. Another way to put it is a version of the 80-20 rule. We should put 80% of our resources – time, money, energy, creativity – into strengthening what’s going right, as far as the person looking at the situation is concerned; 20% to curing what we think is going wrong. There’s plenty of diversity because you and I will have different ideas about the things which need strengthening.

That’s one reason I do these Classics of Science Fiction talks. Not that we should write those books now; we’re not living then. But I think we should stand on their shoulders. We should try to do as well in our way as they did in theirs. Let’s spot what that is and turn it to our own purposes.