Not long ago, I was invited to be Guest of Honor at the TusCon Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror convention.
Um, okay. Gulp.
*Guest of Honor*. At a science fiction convention.
First off, I don't write science fiction. However, although I came to this whole writing gig from the mystery genre, apparently my Witchcraft Mysteries and Haunted Home Renovation series are paranormal enough to have garnered a certain amount of fantasy cred.
Either that, or they were desperate for someone who happened to be free that weekend.
But seriously, the TusCon gang treated me like royalty. I was wined and dined and provided with a big suite with a jacuzzi in the bedroom and a big pool right outside the door. I held forth on topics like: "Sympathize with the creature: what makes good monsters"; "21st Century Witches: Never trust a Blonde Named Galinda"; and "Asimov, Heinlein, and Bradbury: what is their legacy?"
As usual, when I don't know what I'm talking about I try my best to fake it. But the folks in the TusCon audience -- often dressed up as various Star Trek, Dr. Who, and Anime characters -- usually knew much more than I did about any given subject, and our panels quickly transformed into group discussions with the well-read and knowledgable audiences. I learned much more than they did from our interactions, I'm sure.
I mingled with monsters and aliens and cyborgs and drew on pathetically outdated references to shows like Night Gallery and Star Trek, which --to my delight-- are now considered "classics" in the field. In preparation for the literature panel, I revisited the amazing Fahrenheit 451and A Stranger in a Strange Land, two novels that blew my mind when I was fourteen, and were well worth rereading. I also took another look a Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, which I firmly believe is worth reading at least once a decade.
Also, while there I jotted down titles of a dozen or so influential films that have come out since the original Star Wars Trilogy, which was about the last time I spent much time watching science fiction movies -- though, as I learned at TusCon, there is some debate as to whether Star Wars actually qualifies as science fiction or if it's simply a story set in space.
Big difference. I could try to explain why, but I would be faking it. Instead, consider attending next year's TusCon, and find out from the experts. It's a blast.