The Return of Con Season

The year is 2023. The place is Boston, MA.

For the first time since 2020, BOTH of our winter conventions (Arisia and Boskone) have happened in person.

I expected to feel ambivalent. I expected to feel somewhat cheated of a normal con experience. I expected to feel stressed out and anxious about the COVID risks. To my surprise and delight, none of that came to pass.

A white author in a tweed cap reads from a book, whose title is obscured
That’s me, at the Broad Universe reading. Photo by Randee Dawn

Arisia was an absolute delight. I helped run the Broad Universe table in the dealer’s room! I was on a panel! I ran a fiber arts circle! I participated in the Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading! It’s always such a joy to hear snippets of everyone else’s writing. I loved being able to spend time with my fellow Broads again. That has long been the highlight of my convention experiences, and it felt so good to sink back into community.

Beyond all of that, this Arisia was very special to me – it’s the first convention where I’ve had books to sell! When Cat Ladies of the Apocalypse came out in April 2020, I couldn’t wait to get to Readercon in July to show off my very first publication in a physical anthology. But we all know how 2020 went – my wait turned out to be a teensy bit longer than expected. By the time that Broad Universe was able to to host a table again, I had a second story out, in Modern Magic.

Having physical books to sell at the convention was every bit as gratifying as I had imagined.

Boskone was much more low-key for me. I wasn’t able to attend the whole weekend, so I went for a single day, just as a participant. But that single day was lovely. I brought along a friend who had never been to the con before, and very much enjoyed showing her around, and I still managed to hang out with the Broads, even though I wasn’t officially at the table.

Overall, I am very pleased with how well Boston’s winter conventions have bounced back. Arisia was smaller and quieter than in past years, but that was okay. After being isolated for so long, I don’t know that I would have been able to cope with the level of chaos from past years! And Boskone felt normal to me.

I have missed community so much these last few years, and getting back to these conventions filled a well that had been drained almost dry. I am so very, very grateful to the organizers and volunteers who made these events possible. And next year, I’ll definitely plan ahead to fully attend both! In the meantime, I’ll be counting down the days until Readercon.