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Published:June 25th, 2012 09:50 EST

Whither ApolloCon 2012?

By Sean Stubblefield

I`ve been attending ApolloCon every year since 2008, and have always thoroughly enjoyed its programming.


What is ApolloCon? An annual science fiction convention based in Houston, Texas... primarily celebrating sci-fi literature.

Its programming consists of discussion panels in which sci-fi authors and fan guests converse about various genre topics, features author and artist tables, art exhibit and auction, dealer room, author readings, game room, video room and costume contest.   

A convention that, until 2012, has been stellar.

As long as I`ve gone to ApolloCon, their discussion panels have been mostly thoughtful, varied, informative and entertaining. And typically have included four particular author guests who are a favorite attraction of mine: Lee Thomas, Stina Leicht, Martha Wells and A. Lee Martinez. They always offer insightful and amusing commentary about storytelling and sci-fi that impresses me.

But this year, of those four, only Martinez appeared on a few panels; and only two of three panels that warranted my attention while there on Saturday.

Martha Wells was present, but unfortunately joined to no panels on the day I was there. Even worse, the panel topics offered this year were less diverse, less numerous, less interesting, and less organized than usual. Also, there were less indie authors and artists promoting their wares.

Furthermore, attendance this year was pitifully meager-- even less than last year, which had decreased from the year before.

I was very disappointed. If not for the several books I got, ApolloCon 2012 would have ultimately been a colossal waste of my time.

So what does this diminishing trend mean?

Why the increasing and gross lack of attention... from fandom AND the con organizers?

Are fewer people interested in public discussions of sci-fi?

Are less people interested in reading and celebrating and supporting science fiction?

Are physical paper books substantially losing their audience, to the point that no one cares about a convention?

Is ApolloCon doomed to cancellation within a few years?

Movies and TV shows get the majority of attention these days, but the majority of science fiction is-- and always has been--found in books.

Big Name authors get the public recognition and credit, but the small name authors are what sustain science fiction literature. The lesser or unknown authors are the bulk of contributors.

The Big Names are like parade floats hovering high in the air for all to see, but they are held aloft and tethered by the small names below them. ApolloCon is-- or should be-- an ideal venue for small name authors to get their books to a new audience.

If readers and writers are not bothering to show up for a con specifically designed for them, if authors can`t make money or gain readers at this con, then what is the point?

If you are not interested in science fiction books, then why would you go, and why are you there?

2013 will be the 10th anniversary of the con, and they`ve advertised that they intend to make it special. So maybe--hopefully-- next year they will schedule something exceptional, and return to their former glory.

If next year is not the best convention they`ve ever had, then they might as well resign themselves to THE  END.