Welcome to World Fantasy, Speak Friend and Enter!

- by Elaine Isaak

So here I am in Columbus for the 36th annual World Fantasy Convention, one of the highlights of my writing year.  It’s this big gathering of professional writers, editors, agents and dedicated fans of the fantasy genre, with panels about fantasy topics, readings by authors, and plenty of reunions with friends both on- and off-line.

I was hanging out in the bar last night with fellow Novelists, Inc member C. L. Wilson, attending for her first time.  Cheryl is a cross-over romance writer, who was noticing the differences between this convention and those of the romance genre.  I tried to explain the sense of the tribe–the bonding that occurs between people who are not just readers of a genre, but fans.  Fans feel invested.  They are a part of the movement and conversation of fantasy and science fiction literature, rather than just consumers thereof.  When we attend a convention, it’s a coming together of this wide-spread tribe to share thoughts, arguments, fan-girl/boy moments.  It’s nice if there are authors and editors, but most science fiction and fantasy conventions are about the fans, and most of the industry professionals here started out as fans as well.

One reason I keep coming back is to share in moments of connection that can be found in no other place.  We have our tribal rituals, of course, but the best ones are those that arise spontaneously from the synergy of like minds sharing in the same weekend-long conversation.  Last night, I attended the opening event for the con, a packed room in which the guests of honor would be introduced, greetings given, vital information perhaps bestowed about the hospitality suite or other large communal occasions.  But one of the guests of honor, artist Darrell Sweet, was running a bit late.

Not to worry, Tor Senior Editor and World Fantasy founder David Hartwell, another of the guests, rose up and lead us all in a moving rendition of “Teen Angel.”  And you just can’t get that experience anyplace else. . .


  1. Teen Angel! I love it. You’re right, I’ve not seen that type of spontaneity elsewhere.

  2. Thanks to the Guest of Honor interview, I have been able to learn more!

    Apparently, David used to enjoy singing “Teen Angel” with some friends many years ago at conventions, just for fun. Then people started to request it, which was okay for a while, but he hadn’t really intended to do this all the time. So he announced he would sing it only once per con, only at 3 am, wherever he was. Only to have, as he says “about 120 Japanese fans show up with cameras” at a party where he was about to begin. Enough was enough, and he retired–but he still knows all the verses. . .