What is a science fiction convention?
Science fiction conventions are gatherings of the community of fans (called science fiction fandom) of various forms of speculative fiction including science fiction and fantasy. Historically the focus has been on the written form rather than audiovisual media representations, but this has broadened to include all forms of storytelling. People in attendance at a science fiction convention are traditionally known as members of the convention; invited celebrities including authors are commonly known as guests of the convention, though many professionals including authors will simply attend as members.
History of science fiction conventions
The precise time and place of the first science fiction convention is a matter of some dispute. Sometime in 1936, a group of British fans made plans to have an organized get-together, with a planned program of events, in a public function space, in early 1937. On October 22, 1936, however, a group of six or seven fans from New York City, including David Kyle and Frederik Pohl, travelled by train down to Philadelphia, where they visited for several hours with a similar number of local fans at the house of Milton A Rothman, declaring the event the first science fiction convention.
On January 3, 1937, the British fans held their long-planned event at the Theosophical Hall in Leeds. Around twenty fans, including Eric Frank Russell and Arthur C. Clarke, were in attendance. To this day, many fan historians — especially those in the United Kingdom — complain that the Philadelphia meeting was a convention in name only; while other fan historians point out that many similar gatherings since then have been called “conventions” without eliciting any disagreement.
Nevertheless, by 1939, American fans had organized sufficiently to hold, in conjunction with the 1939 World’s Fair, the first “World Science Fiction Convention,” in New York City. Subsequent conventions were held in Chicago in 1940 and Denver in 1941. Like many cultural events, it was suspended during World War II. Conventions resumed in 1946 with the hosting of the World Science Fiction Convention in Los Angeles, California. The first Worldcon held outside the United States was Torcon I in Toronto in 1948; since then, Worldcons have been held in Britain, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia, and in 2007, Japan, although the majority of Worldcons are still held within the United States.
Types of conventions
Since the first conventions in the late 1930s, such as the first Worldcon, hundreds of local and regional science fiction conventions have sprung up around the world either as one-time or annual events. At these conventions, fans of science fiction come together with the professional writers, artists, and filmmakers in the genre to discuss its many aspects. Some cities have a number of science fiction conventions, as well as a number of special interest conventions for anime, media, or other related groups. Some conventions move from city to city, serving a particular country, region, or special interest across. Nearly every weekend of the year now has at least one convention somewhere and some conventions are held on holiday weekends where four or more days can be devoted to events.
World Science Fiction Convention,
Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 (except for the years 1942 through 1945, during World War II). It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (or WSFS). The members of each Worldcon are the members of WSFS and vote both to select the site of the Worldcon two years later and to select the winners of the Hugo Awards, which are presented at the convention.
Eurocon is an annual science fiction convention held in Europe. The organising committee of each Eurocon is selected by vote of the participants of the two years previous event. The procedure is coordinated by the European Science Fiction Society. The first Eurocon was held in Trieste, Italy, in 1972.