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Title: CONfusion
Creator: M.J. Fisher
Date(s): October 1975
Medium: print
Fandom: Star Trek: TOS
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CONfusion is a 1975 essay by M.J. Fisher.

It was printed in Spectrum #20.

Some Topics Discussed

  • Star Trek fandom is so large, and their fans are attending many more cons; this is something that's wrecking things up for other people
  • some proposals for controlling fans

The Essay

Two fans in a small suburb of Topeka find word of a great new convention in Sacremento, California. Their dream of the summer is to go to the con, and as a birthday present to one of the girls their parents give them a hundred and fifty dollars in addition to their savings. They journey out to the big west coast city in their first jet trip and arrive at the hotel in a fit of excitement, then, they are told the con is closed and they cannot attend...period. They fly home after having wasted almost $200 in plane fare and food.

The preceding paragraph was only fiction; however, it might have been true. More and more Star Trek and science fiction cons are facing increasing mobs of people at the doors. The problem lies with coping with all of the thousands of people. Not only is it difficult to try to program for ten thousand people, but there are many other problems that mount exponentially with the number of people involved. In some cases the hotels cannot even accommodate that many people, even in the largest cities.

In the last few years we have seen more and more fans enter fandom. Star Trek's popularity hangs on and the revival program finally meets success, and as a result we are flooded with many more neofans. Although these new fans are a marvelous and inspiring addition to fandom, they are a problem to the cons, as more fans flock to the cons in almost every city holding them.

The fact that there are more cons in more cities doesn't do anything to help the fact. It might drain away the first-time con goers out to the smaller cons but fans always have a tendency to get hooked on their first cons. The next con a fan might attend will likely be one of the bigger ones. The larger cons also have a tendency to advertise more, so more fans usually get a chance to see word of the larger cons be fore they figure out which zines and which information sources cover the smaller cons.

In the future there may well be more restricted cons. This topic is covered very well in the MidAmeriCon progress report #2. Since it is just too hard to handle more than a few thousand people the program may be directed to be of interest to a select few. MidAmericon is restricting all Star Trek, comix, horror, witchcraft & sorcery and other specialty groups to limit membership; and Th Star Trek Con will have an absolute maximum of 6,000 people. Other cons may accept only advance registration with the additional benefits of keeping away all of the very young people who flock in for one day only from the general vicinity of the con site. By restricting the membership of the con, there is less crowding and programming is more likely to work out as planned. The budgets can be worked out more exactly and many more benefits can be met to make a con turn out most exactly as planned as possible.

More cons will be developed in the future for a specific purpose. Such cons will have little or no advance advertising. Word of mouth will be enough to pass along the information, especially among the fans who are avid letter writers. A specific con will not cater to all of the Star Trek and related fans that might want to just walk in; although few cons have ever restricted off-the-street memberships since the $$ provides extra margin for safety. The specialty cons will be more intimate, and that is something that's been missing from most ST cons for a long time, because so many fans have been attending cons.

These cons of the future will tend to weed out the neofans and the people who just don't get the necessary information. It will be harder to get into cons and harder to find out about them, and might, one of these days, come down to waiting lists!