Swancon and Horror in WA

This is going to get me into trouble, but what the hey.

The Swancon draft program has been released. Well, not the program, but the draft panels. Before I go on, I’ll acknowledge that Swancon organisers have very useful forms to suggest new panel items, but it’s the first impression I want to discuss.

At a glance, there are about 90 panels/program items on the draft list. Of these, at a rough count, there are just over 20 fannish/fan-related/con-related/in-joke-related panels. Nearly a quarter of the panel program (as it stands).

Fair enough, perhaps, given that Swancon has been going for thirty-odd years. The draft program caters to a group of long-term fans who use the convention as the high point of the social calendar. But it’s very inward focussed, to me. As something of an outsider (to fandom, anyway), it appears to me that this doesn’t seem like a viable strategy to grow attendances for future Swancons. Is this something organisers even consider from year to year?

Anyway, I raise two further points:

1. Given that it’s the national SF convention this year, shouldn’t there be a higher proportion of panels addressing broader science fiction and fantasy topics (and a bit more writing/publishing stuff)?

2. (and most importantly) Horror – it’s supposed to be part of the speculative fiction umbrella, right? There were exactly 0 panels on horror and horror-related activities. The closest thing I could find was a panel on Charles Stross, and that’s a stretch.

Before you jump in and hit me over the head with the ‘suggest a panel, then!’ line, allow me to remind you that it’s first impressions I’m discussing. Whether it’s intentional or not, this omission speaks volumes.

Many of the finest Australian horror short story writers live in Western Australia (Dedman, Battersby, Livings, even Simon Haynes won an Aurealis Award for horror a few years back!). We have at least three independent publishers who produce horror to various degrees (Brimstone Press, Ticonderoga Publications, and Equilibrium Books). But we don’t have horror fans in WA? Certainly, it seems, none that will be going to Swancon.

Here are my questions to you, dear reader:
1. If you have an active interest in horror, will you be going to Swancon this year? (and why/why not?)
2. Is there an underbelly of horror fans in Perth who are not being catered for by events such as Swancon? If so, where are they? I’d like to meet them!

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