AmazingCon II: Thoughts, Plans, Madness

We (by we I mean not only the traditional Amazing Stories crew but also the adjacent folks who helped – especially the ones who didn’t have to) received a lot of praise from both attendees and participants for our efforts:

…just wanted to say again and personally how much I enjoyed the convention, and how grateful I am to all the work you did to make it happen. I am only a LITTLE disappointed that I didn’t have to deal with any trolls in my sessions… that’s mostly said tongue-in-cheek…

AmazingCon was great. I enjoyed it very much. Thanks

I hope Amazing will do this again. It was a wonderful con, geared exactly as I would want, toward the writing of speculative fiction. And if there will be one in 2021 I really liked having it on Zoom. If it had been live only I never would have been able to attend and benefit.

Congratulations to you and the team for a successful AmazingCon. I took in a half-dozen of the panel discussions and enjoyed them

First off, it was a pleasure getting to know you a little via the convention.  A splendid time was had by all, I believe. I know that I really enjoyed that art panel more than pretty much any panel I’ve ever been on.

I just want to let…you, and everyone else involved in bringing AmazingCon into existence, what a great job you’ve done. The events I participated in were a lot of fun, and I’d happily do it again. You all deserve a hearty round of applause for a job well done.

I want to echo those words and add my own:  thank you to everyone who participated – attendee, presenter, behind the scenes toiler – without you and your efforts, this first time convention would never have happened, let alone become something that we are looking forward to repeating and improving on next year.

Speaking of which:  Yes.  We’re currently planning and have staked out the weekend of March 12-14 of 2021 for AmazingCon II

Why isn’t our second convention being held a year after our first as is traditional?  The short answer is…well, let me tell you the long answer first, then we’ll summarize.

Our first AmazingCon was not intended to be a “convention”.  Folks were moving online with various and sundry fannish activities and, given the low cost of entry, we thought, why not try something…perhaps a series of readings by some of our contributors…test the waters with something pretty simple, see how things gelled, learn more about Zoom…

That test event was scheduled for early May.  We all agreed to give it a shot, I agreed to organize things as other key folks were working on various editing and publishing projects full time already.  I sent out an email to our contributors, querying their willingness to do an online reading….

I got back a trickle of acceptances…and then a flood.  We went from a half dozen interested authors to what ultimately became FIFTY authors reading selections from their works, everything from poetry to excerpts from upcoming novel releases.

At that point I said “we need a little more time” and something that probably sounded quite similar to “in for a reading, in for a convention” or some such.  We pushed the date back to June to give me more time to organize and off to the rocket races we went.

Part of our decision-making process was wanting to secure a relatively short term date in the future during which it was reasonable to assume that pandemic lockdown was still in progress.  If some miracle cure had been discovered, everyone was innoculated and things returned to normal (well, at least insofar as people going back to work and not having to stay at home), we felt that there’d be a stampede returning to live conventions and that the desire for and acceptability of online conventions would be severely diminished.  In other words a crass and calculated case of go while the going is good.

You can’t call it profiteering – we didn’t charge anything, opting instead to accept donations (which were extremely generous, thank you all).

Fortunately, the event was well received.  We’d gotten the name out there, put some meat on the bones, learned a lot of valuable lessons and decided that we should do it again.

But when?  The anniversary weekend a year hence?

No, not when the 95th (!) anniversary of the introduction of Amazing Stories was just around the corner.

Ninety-five years ago, SCIENCE FICTION, as not just a genre of fiction, but as the concept of a tool that could be used to influence the future, was conceived.  The birth of Science Fiction is synonymous with the birth of Amazing Stories magazine.

Now, while the cover date on the very first issue of Amazing Stories magazine was April, 1926, reknowned scholars of both science fiction and pulp magazines in general have informed us that the cover date on magazines distributed to newsstands and shops across this nation in those ancient times was not a display of the month of publication.  It was meant to be the removal date for that issue.

In other words, once April has passed, any surviving copies of that issue are to be remaindered and returned to the publisher.  This is also why in times past “future” issues of various magazines were frequently seen on the stands;  the next issue of the magazine had arrived mid-month (as was common), so there you are in the middle of April, staring at the cover of the May issue of Amazing Stories.  Time Travel was, given the subject matter, a distinct possibility.  Unfortunately that’s not the case, just the mundane practices of magazine publishers and distributors.

Further research by those same previously mentioned scholars provides at least circumstantial evidence that the first issue of Amazing Stories was in fact distributed to newsstands on March 15th or 16th of 1926.

Which makes that 48 hour period of time the Birthday of not just Amazing Stories, but of Science Fiction as well.

National Science Fiction Day has previously been established (Asimov’s birthday) as January 2nd.  But that day of commemoration is not the birth day of the genre.  Historically, that day was most likely Monday, March 15th, 1926, the day of the week when most periodicals were delivered to newsstands.

Therefore, official or not, recognized by governmental bodies or not, we are declaring that March 15th is the Birthday of Science Fiction and we’ll be hosting a Birthday Party – the 95th – at AmazingCon II, March 12-14 (the closest weekend) in 2021.

(I think we can skip the short explanation at this point, yes?)

We’re already in the planning stage (and the way things are going now, we may have to expand the event to five days…);  we’re planning an Art Show, a Dealer’s Room, many, many, many readings (I think the readings are going to become the Big Item), panels, Film Programming, programming devoted exclusively to Fandom and its history;  we’ll have a grabbag (maybe even some physical items!), badges, t-shirts and our famous Green Room hangout/Permanent Floating Dead Dog Party.  And a birthday cake.

I don’t know if we can fit 95 candles onto that cake, but I think we’e going to try.

We hope you’ll join us.

And maybe you’ll want to join us as a volunteer member of our staff.  We’ve got plenty of openings for experienced con-runners at every level and area of interest.  We’re also looking for folks experienced with Zoom room management to help produce the event.  If you have any interest in participating as a volunteer, please email Steve.

We are also doing outreach to minority Fan communities:  we’re looking for POC, Asian, LGBTQI, Indigeneous Peoples, neuro-diverse, differently abled, differently cultured, differently languaged, to both read, participate on panels (come up with panel subjects) and work on the convention.  We really want this convention, this gathering, to be a celebration of the wide ranging impact Science Fiction has had, and what better way than to have representation and participation from everyone the genre has touched?

Get ready to sing Happy Birthday to Amazing Stories and Happy Birthday to Science Fiction (and we don’t care if you’re off-key.  It’s the thought that counts!).



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