I got back from Necon a few days ago, and now that my brain has recovered to 17% of its normal functioning power, I can write a recap blog.
Necon, which takes place every July in Bristol, Rhode Island, really isn’t like any other convention I’ve attended. It resembles them on a superficial level, with panel discussions, a mass booksigning, etc. but the vibe is completely different. As many people have said, it’s more like a family reunion than a convention, except that none of the relatives suck and newcomers are embraced.
Attendance is capped at 200 people, so it’s always small. There’s only one track of programming. Very often, everybody is in the same place. Once the official programming is over, a huge group of people gather in the courtyard, their numbers gradually thinning until the sun rises. I’m a total loser who goes to bed early by Necon standards, and by 2:00 AM the courtyard is still well populated.
Thursday and Saturday night, everybody has saugies (New England hot dogs). People compete for medals in “Olympic events” like miniature golf, bowling, foosball, and darts, though few of the athletic performances are those of human bodies in prime condition. Nobody is in hardcore self-promotion mode; it’s just a bunch of like-minded individuals having a great time for a weekend.
The level of silliness is extreme. Even the Rick Hautala memorial was filled with jokes. This year’s roast victim was Bram Stoker award-winning poet Linda Addison, who came on stage thinking that she was a roastER, until the fake victim said “I’m sorry, I can’t do this,” and stormed off, leaving Linda with a “What the hell just happened?” expression until hosts Christopher Golden and Nick Kaufmann said “Well, we’ve got to roast somebody!” and the dark, cruel truth dawned upon her.
The premise of my bit was that Linda’s editors don’t get enough credit for their guidance. To demonstrate this, I read the first stanza of Linda’s poem “How To Recognize a Demon Has Become Your Friend” as published, and then in the “original” version, which was exactly like the published version except that the last line was “By the way, the Holocaust never happened.” I continued to compare the published version with her original vision, with lines like “I gargle my own vomit and the vomit of others” and “Monkey poo is the best kind of poo, but all have their individual merits.” I also dropped two f-bombs. You will hear many f-bombs at Necon.
I moderated the panel “How Explicit Is Too Explicit?” with Jack Ketchum, Hal Bodner, Sephera Giron, and Robert Devereaux. In a rare twist for a Necon panel, it turned into a very deep discussion about how the real taboos in fiction are about social issues instead of graphic content. Some audience members told me afterward that it was one of the best panels they’ve ever seen at a convention, although I can’t take any credit because I just moderated the discussion and let everybody else say smart things.
Necon 2014. Be there.