"Menace to Fandom" is used with permission of perhaps the most notorious menace to fandom of our day, Cheryl M. Morgan
And for those of you totally in the dark, here's the answer to the question that's been plaguing fankind for the ages:What the hell is Westercon?
Westercon is The West Coast Regional Science Fantasy Conference.
Yeah, that's a real good answer, but it's technically correct.
Westercon is the longest running traveling regional science fiction convention in the world. Started by The Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society
(LASFS, or "The LASFS" for Angelenos who must put a definite article before everything) in 1948, it was a rather successful attempt to bring Worldcon-like events to the west coast on a regular basis. It's run every year since then.
As it turns out, Westercon has drifted quite a bit from those roots. Worldcon has changed and so has Westercon. Westercon has really stretched the definition of "West Coast" to include much of western North America (including one year in El Paso, TX). It's also settled into a recent pattern of somewhere between 500-1000 attendees, depending on the host city (where Worldcon runs around 4000-6000 members these days).
That's enough history and demographics, though. Let's talk about what happens at Westercon.
Westercon is much like any other science fiction convention. It's got the same sorts of events, usually influenced by the hosting committee's local convention culture and ideally bringing aspects of other west-coast conventions and Worldcon to the table too. It's got guests, usually guests associated with and influenced by west-coast roots or current residence. It's got panel discussions. It's got a dealers' room, often providing a mix of dealers from across the west. It's got a masquerade, usually not as big as Worldcon's, but following the style of Worldcon. It's got hospitality and social events (sometimes really good hospitality and social events). And, of course, like any good convention, it's got parties, often running later than any official convention activity.
Then there are the fans. Westercon is a great place to meet conrunners from around the world ("SMOFS"). Many folks involved in running Worldcons go to Westercon, because it's a chance for them to just hang out and visit with friends, something they would have limited time for when they're working at Worldcon. It's also a great place to meet old-guard fans and get war stories about the old days, when, for example, Harlan Ellison hadn't yet mellowed out. If you want to meet folks writing for fanzines, the Westercon fanzine lounge one of the only places that even approaches the Worldcon fanzine lounge or Corflu, the convention of fanzine writers and publishers.You said something about "traveling?"
Yep, Westercon, like Worldcon, Eastercon (the British National Science Fiction Convention) and "niche" conventions like Costume-Con and Corflu, is held in a different city each year (and yes, it's against the rules to hold it in the same city two years in a row). It's operated by a different local convention committee each time, not by some for-profit corporation who just swoops in, brings in their paid staff, and sucks money out of the community. These committees are selected two years in advance in an election by the members of the current Westercon.Westercon 2007
, the 60th Westercon, is being held in San Mateo this year, and we are bidding to bring Westercon 2009 back to nature, by bringing it to the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite Valley. Remeber, make Ahwahneecon your #1 choice in site selection!