I just spent three fascinating days at 4th Street Fantasy, a small convention held in the Twin Cities. It was my first time, it was real, and it was spectacular. Mostly writers, mostly of the delightfully quirky/nerdy/exceedingly smart variety, and all very friendly in that endearingly socially awkward way that SFF folk have raised to an art form. (It seems appropriate to overuse adjectives and adverbs in this connection.) The programming was single track and writing oriented. There were no capes, no vendors, and no overt self-promotion by the authors.
It was great. The organizers—Elizabeth Bear, Steven Brust, Janet Grouchy, Brad Roberts, and Tom Whitmore—did a fabulous job of creating a friendly, accessible, and above all informative con. But mostly it was the collective mass of attendees that made 4th Street rock. Hats off to all. Except for Brust—he gets to leave his hat on.