A couple of people I know have expressed some curiosity about the 4th Street Fantasy convention
, and whether they'd be interested in going. I'd say yes, provided that you a) are a writer, or at least not averse to participating in lots of moderately technical discussion about writing and b) the highlights of your convention experiences are usually the random conversations you end up in at parties or in the consuite.
4th Street is a pretty simple setup. There's a single track of programming; a dealer's room selling books, jewelry by Elise Matthesen, and other necessities of life; and a consuite stocked with snacks and drinks. There's a communal brunch on Sunday morning, and if you stick around until Monday, a vast group expedition for sushi and good ice cream. (I think other cons, especially small ones, ought to consider adopting this idea of arranging more group meals. I find it a great low-stress way to meet people.)
Probably the most though-provoking panel I attended was "Fantasy vs. Progress", featuring Sarah Monette, Marissa Lingen, Adam Stemple, and Patrick Nielsen Hayden. It kind of went all over the place, because I think there were several related-but-distinct questions being addressed at various times, including: Why do so many fantasy writers choose to write in worlds in which technological, social, and historical progress seem not to happen? Why are many fantasy writers reluctant to think through or explore the consequences of the technological level they've chosen for their society? Why do so many fantasy writers choose to write books set in a quasi-medieval world of swords and castles instead of writing about cool stuff like steam trains? Why do so many fantasy novels seem to be determined to treat technological, political, or social progress as if it's a bad thing (with a digression into exactly how anti-technological Tolkien really was)? But if a good panel is defined as "a panel that keeps you talking and thinking about the issues it raised long after the panel is over", it was a really good panel.
Also fun were "Point of View: How not to suck" (Jo Walton, Steve Brust, Sarah Monette) and "The new cliches" (Teresa Nielsen-Hayden and Tom Whitmore).
If all goes well, I'll see if I can pull together some more organized post from my panel notes, or at least post some good quotes. But since I only have about a 50% success rate at creating detailed con reports even when I haven't just moved house, I thought I should at least post some preliminary thoughts while they're still fresh.
So, there you have it. 4th Street. A most congenial little con, and I commend it to your attention.