I only went for a day, but I'm still riding the high.
We caught a ride with Sal, who owns Off the Beaten Path books. She got us to march in the Founder's Fest Parade with her, so we ended up waking up at 8 to go shiver outside with a bunch of other steampunks until 10:30 when the damn thing actually started. We were in spot 66 behind the Pistons mascot. There was no spot 66. The street cleaner painted with a smiley face bore down on us the entire time.
I hadn't known about Detcon until two weeks ago, when it was far too late to take off work. So I only went on Saturday, but I got the impression that Saturday was the best day to go. We got there about 1, and we wandered around the Artist's Alley for a bit. I pitched a book to a publisher, who was really nice and said he might be interested (now I have to go write it). And I looked at an exhibition of Michigan area fandom history, and then a nice man wearing a Disaster Area shirt said that if I was interested in history, there was a panel going on right then. He showed me and Colleen up to the panel room, where Fred Prophet was just getting done with his spiel. We learned about the Wayne Third Foundation, Selden's Plan, the Slan Shack, Moopsball, how Detroit-area fandom dealt with Star Trek and Girls (or how Girls dealt with Fandom), ill-advised roadtrips, pulling off a Star Trek con by the skin of your teeth, and how Harlan Ellison screamed about his erections in a Greektown restaurant.
After that, Disaster Area pulled me over and introduced me to Fred Prophet and a couple of other elder people and said, "This young lady would like to hear your stories!" I got fluttery. The old people seemed kind of vague and tired, so I skipped off to chat with some slightly younger fans (like, 70 as opposed to 90), and they told me about how much more informal and wild fandom used to be in the day. Disaster Area explained that Howard DeVore would always hit on pretty girls, and he felt that the best way to maintain his legacy was to make sure that the younger women at the con had a nice time and got be to introduced to people. Then I went to Artist's Alley again to peruse old fanzines, catch up with a few people I knew, and buy some books. I got a big ol' bag of books for a dollar.
Then we went to Sal's Afrofuturism panel, which was fascinating--Sal said that she felt African mythology was becoming more of a thing people were interested in partially because of Neil Gaiman and Anansi boys, and some of the panelists discussed whether they felt the term "Afrofuturism" was ghettoizing or not. Everyone was really fascinating.
Then Colleen went to find coffee, and I found Disaster Area guy again. I was a bit nervous because I really wanted to hear some old fan stories from people, and we chatted a bit about social anxiety, and then I had to go find Colleen. We hung around the Volt bar for a while and were invited to photobomb, and we saw several ladies dressed as Princess Leia and one as Uhura--it wasn't a cosplay-heavy con, and I got the feeling that most of the cosplayers were cosplaying more for the sake of nostalgia than for the sake of cosplay. There were definitely a lot of older folks, and a few older people with their kids, but not that many young people just wandering around. There were also a lot of booths for other cons or putting in bids for other cities, and a big area with flyers for other cons--fuck, I had no idea there were so many--and a
"party board" that "Filthy Pierre" had put up. That was awesome. I noted that all of the parties were on the 68th and 69th floors.
I saw that the elder fen from the panel were hanging out in the bar, and I got really nervous for a while about approaching them. I cried. Finally Colleen said, "OK, let's just pretend like we are getting a drink and then say hi." And we actually chatted with the elder fen for a few minutes--one of them asked, "So, are you a relative of Howard's?" and we were like, "No, but maybe in spirit," and he asked how we heard about the Misfits, and I said that I hadn't before the panel but that I was really interested in old fandom. Fred said that he was pleased that there was a pretty girl interested in him, and the other dude said that it was cool for us to be interested in old sci-fi fandom and he talked about how Minneapolis lost out on a bid in 1973 so it was putting in a bid for 2073. I thought he was joking. Then Colleen said we had to go to a panel, so Fred said that he'd be at parties later, probably, and that if I wanted to hang out with elder fen and hear stories there was always ConFusion. Then I hugged him and, um, I kissed him on the forehead and ran off. Awkward.
The panel was OK. It was about writing workshops. The Ferrett was there. I didn't learn anything terribly new except that Clarion workshop is very expensive. I also exchanged information with a lady who said she wanted to be in a non-SF workshop.
Then we went to the Extravaganza. The costume contest was OK--I've seen much better. I did confirm with myself that I'm starting to dislike straight-up cosplay, because unless you know the character it's often just not very interesting. But there was a Dalek ballgown and also a King Henry Wallace the 8th, which Colleen enjoyed. Her butt was getting numb sitting so we went party-hopping--the 69th floor was all different city bids for the next Worldcons, so we chatted with people about DC and such, and then we hung out in THE SLAN SHACK. That was so cool. The real Slan Shack was a house in Battle Creek where a bunch of SF fans just shacked up with each other. I assume there were cockroach fights and bed-hopping. We talked a bit with some older fans who were Very Serious about Worldcon in Minneapolis in 2073, and then took some flyers for Minicon, which is also older fans and also where my aunt and uncle I want to hang out with more live.
After that, we went to a panel about genre mash-ups. It was very informal and there was audience participation, and the moderator was a dude from GLAHW, which I went to one meeting of and then didn't go to because it was boring and there wasn't a workshop or anything, just people taking minutes and trying to set up events. But the panel was cool. "Why aren't there more vampire astronauts?" Welp. One of the dudes who talked the most talked about how there was a Holmes/Dracula subgenre, and we talked a lot about fanfic, and this dude behind me bitched about Naomi Novik because even if women could bond with dragons they wouldn't be captains??? Or something. A great deal of fun was had, and afterwards I talked to an anthology editor who was very interested in Cthulhu chick lit and encouraged Colleen to write her gay Arthurian story. Networking!!! Then we talked to a lady who had hung out at Robert Frost's cabin and published her first novel at age 55.
Then MORE PARTYHOPPING. We found Barfleet and the Gaylaxians, and the Kansas City bid had a speakeasy and you had to say the word "Goat," and then we hopped over to the Penguicon people and talked about autism and hacking, and then we kind of settled down at the New Orleans party and got pretty drunk. I started yelling about Detroit, and we attracted Elwin, who had been the mod at the Afrofuturism panel. We talked about ICP, wrestling, and whether the panel had been a success, and I offered to let him sleep on my couch. He took me up on it.
We did pop down to the other floor to see if there were Olds there, but the Very Old People had all probably gone to sleep and it was mostly people around my parents' age. We did talk to a dude who wanted to go to the moon and he was full of fascinating facts about how the steam engine ended slavery. Anyway, Sal was going to pick us up, so we went to the ground floor of the Renaissance building and talked about how difficult and scary activism was and how hard it was to fight. Then he fell asleep in the car on the way there and he slept on my couch.
I am sad that I missed some of the fan history panels I wanted to go to and will have to miss them today because of work, but I did get to see most of the one I wanted to go to, I apparently made Fred Prophet's day by showing him that young people were interested in old stuff, I have a good line on where to go to hang out with elder fen and listen to their stories, I now actually know that Fred Prophet, Howard DeVore, and the Misfits existed (even though I didn't get to hear the stories), and the panels were also being videotaped so I can probably look them up on the Detcon website. Also, ConFusion is a thing I want to go to.