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Save Our Con: on Continuum Speculative Fiction Convention and its uncertain future

I’m aware my recent posts have displayed a certain, um… patchiness. Part of that has been down to the simple fact that the last few weeks have been a frenzy of looking for, applying for, and then abruptly moving everything we own into, a new home. Ah, rental life.

The other big part of my recent distraction has been the ramping up of preparations for Continuum Speculative Fiction Convention in June.

If you don’t know what Continuum is, read on. But if you’re already familiar with Melbourne’s own spec fic convention, I have an even more important message for you.

What’s this Continuum business all about, then?

Continuum is Melbourne’s annual fan-run convention, and has been a big part of my life since it’s inception. I first joined the organising committee for Continuum 4 and stayed on until Continuum 10, and I’ve never stopped attending or volunteering my time and brain. This year sees me back on committee for Continuum 15.

What’s a fan-run convention, you ask? It’s a con run by, and for, the fans – a celebration of everything spec fic from the ground level up: the readers and the viewers, and the creators at all levels, whether they be enthusiastic amateurs, emerging authors/artists, podcasters, crafters, costume makers, even highly successful local authors/artists who, wouldn’t you know it, are also fans themselves.

There are talks and panel discussions – and anyone can be on a panel, whether their knowledge of the subject comes from personal experience, professional expertise, academic interest, or sheer enthusiasm.* There are workshops for writers and makers. There’s a costume parade, an art show, a short story competition, a dance party, karaoke, a craft market – not to mention the presentation of the Ditmar awards for excellence in Australian speculative fiction.

It’s a chance for everyone to come together, meet like-minded folk, celebrate the fiction they love, and revel in a long weekend of unashamed fandom. And I do mean everyone: Continuum has a long history of commitment to creating a space that welcomes and encourages fans of colour, queer fans, disabled fans, financially-disadvantaged fans, and anyone else who has a less than perfect history of inclusion in fannish spaces.

But for how much longer?

This will be my last year on committee for Continuum. I’ve said that once before, mind you. I got talked back aboard because I’m a sucker for this convention I love, but one year back on committee has been enough to convince me that I just don’t have the space in my life for it anymore.

And, as we’ve just announced, unless we can get an influx of new committee members this will also be Continuum’s last year for the foreseeable future. As it stands, we just don’t have enough willing hands to share the work of keeping it going.

It would break my heart to see my favourite con disappear. But I have to accept that there are limits to my time, my energy, and my ability to handle the kind of responsibility that my brain weasels love to chew on.

So why I am telling you all this?

Firstly, because the next months may continue to see a shaky posting schedule from me and this, among other factors, is why.

Secondly, because Continuum is a wonderful, fun, inclusive event and, if you’re a spec fic fan and can get to Melbourne in June, you should absolutely check it out.

And third and most important, because I want to see the word spread far and wide among those who already know and love this convention: Continuum needs committee members.

What’s it like to be on Continuum committee?

I won’t lie: being on committee can be a decently large time commitment, especially in the months leading directly up to the con when everyone is working hard to pull everything together.

But being on committee also means being part of a team of dedicated people working together to bring something exciting and worthwhile to life. It means learning how to put on a multi-day event for two hundred people from existing committee who’ve done it before. It means throwing around ideas and finding ways to put your own stamp on the convention and make something you love even better.

What topics have you always wanted to see explored? What guests of honour have you always wanted to see attend (and would you like to be the one to meet them at the airport and hang out with them before the con)?

Being on committee can be an amazing adventure. And right now, it could be your chance to keep Continuum alive. If Continuum has ever made you smile, made you laugh, made you learn something new, or made you new friends, I hope you will consider giving it some love in return.

 

*Although there are certain topics for which personal experience outweighs the other options – which is as it should be, when matters of racial and other minority politics are being discussed. Return to main text.

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