For The Love Of A Con

For The Love Of A Con:

By the time you read this, I will be at Radcon 5A in Pasco, Washington.  In the weird and geeky math of the organizers that makes it the 18th year of Radcon.   I was going to write about the cultural significance of a con –  Science Fiction/Fantasy Convention – to the SF/F community for the Bookview Cafe Blog.

Then I was asked to present the John W Dalmas Award for service to the Radcon family during the opening ceremonies Friday night, February 13, 2009.  The speech I planned for the  ceremony includes much of what I wanted to say.

This photo is a bit confused, but it’s supposed to represent some of the fun and serious parts of a con, movies, books, parties, and strange creatures…


So here it is:  As a writer of Science Fiction and Fantasy I find going to cons the most fun part of my job.  Radcon is one of the best.

It takes a lot of people to put on a con.  You have to have a dedicated Con Com (organizing committee), and you have to have a ton of volunteers to make things appear to work smoothly, from registration, to hotel space, to the hospitality suite, to panel discussion, to setting up the chairs you are sitting on, to the Toxic Waste Party ®.  Those volunteers do this for the love of a con.  We should thank them all.

The John W Dalmas award for service to the Radcon Community is about another aspect of the con.  Four of the first five years the John W Dalmas Award went to writers who had supported the con and helped it grow.  Two years ago I was honored to receive it.

Some people come to cons for the gaming.  Well they probably aren’t at Opening Ceremonies, they’re all seriously involved in the games.  Then there are the costumers who get to display their considerable handiwork and pretend to be a whole new character represented by that costume.

Have you checked out the amateur film festival?  They embody some of the best SF/F traditions.

Then there are the books.  And the people who write and edit them.   A con is a celebration of  books as well as the other parts of the SF/F community.  Going back to Mary Shelley, Jules Verne, and even Mrs. Radcliffe who wrote “The Mysteries of Udolfo” mentioned in “Northanger Abbey” by Jane Austen, books are the core of modern SF/F.  Most of the writers come here on their own dime to meet their readers, network with other writers, and buddy up to the editors.  We come because we love a con.

Radcon is special because of the featured presence of Small Press publishers.  Small presses go where major marketing reps fear to go. They trust the unique and sometimes weird vision of new writers and give their works life.  They mentor the early careers of some of the next generation of superstars.  Some of those rising stars are sitting here tonight.

But this award is not about Jay Lake and Ken Scholes this year.  It’s about the man behind Talebones Magazine and Fairwood Press.  The man who anchors the small press presence here, he keeps the small press room going, helps with the writer workshops, sits on panels, and helps make Radcon unique and special every year.

This year the John W Dalmas award goes to Patrick Swenson, a man who richly deserves the honor.


About Phyllis Irene Radford

Irene Radford has been writing stories ever since she figured out what a pencil was for. A member of an endangered species—a native Oregonian who lives in Oregon—she and her husband make their home in Welches, Oregon where deer, bears, coyotes, hawks, owls, and woodpeckers feed regularly on their back deck. A museum trained historian, Irene has spent many hours prowling pioneer cemeteries deepening her connections to the past. Raised in a military family she grew up all over the US and learned early on that books are friends that don’t get left behind with a move. Her interests and reading range from ancient history, to spiritual meditations, to space stations, and a whole lot in between. Mostly Irene writes fantasy and historical fantasy including the best-selling Dragon Nimbus Series and the masterwork Merlin’s Descendants series. In other lifetimes she writes urban fantasy as P.R. Frost or Phyllis Ames, and space opera as C.F. Bentley. Later this year she ventures into Steampunk as someone else. If you wish information on the latest releases from Ms Radford, under any of her pen names, you can subscribe to her newsletter: Promises of no spam, merely occasional updates and news of personal appearances.

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