We love Miscon.
Alright, alright. Those of you who haven’t been are sitting there thinking “What’s Miscon? Where’s that?” Well, let’s start with this: it’s in Missoula. And it’s one of the best small cons there is.
Yes, Missoula. Deal with it.
I have a theory of why this convention is so awesome. You see, Missoula is a college town; the University of Montana makes its home there (go Grizzlies). Colleges are, of course, hotbeds of nerdism. There’s a correllation between higher education levels and deep, deep love for speculative fiction of some form, and the area directly around a college tends to be full of grad students, professors, and people who interact with the above on a number of scales. Therefore, the number of nerds in a town like Missoula is actually kind of high.
But wait, there’s more. Because, you see, there’s a twist; unlike super-high nerd areas like Seattle or Portland, there is nothing else nerdy for these people to do. Take Norwescon, for instance. If you’re from the Seattle area, you have your choice of nerdy events. There’s ECCC, there’s PAX. Hell, Sakuracon happens at the same time as Norwescon. My point here is that Norwescon is not, for a Seattle nerd, the be-all-and-end-all of nerdy things they can do. A Seattle nerd can head down to Cafe Mox at any point in time and nerd out for an evening with very little difficulty.
A Missoula nerd? They have one shot. 361 days out of the year, there is nothing within a hundred and fifty miles that’s even remotely nerd-focused. They’re in the middle of Montana, and nobody around them gives two wet farts about obscure science fiction references. For those 361 days, they walk around in a state of mild repression, expressing themselves only privately to friends, or perhaps making pilgrimages to outside events. For 361 days out of the year, they are in a nerd desert. That reaction you had, right in the beginning of my post, when I said “Missoula” and you said “Why would I go to Missoula there’s nothing nerdy about that bumpkin-filled town in the middle of the wasteland we call Montana?” That reaction is well-founded, but miscalculated. Missoula may be a bumpkin-oriented town, but it has many nerds. And those nerds have been bottling themselves all year. Pressure has been backbuilding under the cork like a champagne bottle in a microwave. That sense of repression builds all year, until they get to the one event in Missoula that really lets them off the handle.
And then Miscon starts.
It’s like pulling the cork off the champagne bottle. All that pressure comes flying out in a wild fugue of geekdom. You’ve never seen beauty until you’ve seen the your first Montana nerd who’s never been to a convention before suddenly realize she doesn’t have to hide in the basement anymore. That there are other people in the world who love these things, and who want to love these things with her. For the first time in her entire life, she is free to be herself among others, and no ridicule will ensue. She will, instead, be celebrated, for she is among friends.
These people glow.
And they come back. They come back like addicts, craving this four-day release of their inner selves. They know they won’t have another chance to be in an environment like this for a year, and they are going to make the most of it.
This gives Miscon a frenetic sort of energy, because everyone around Miscon is driven to make Miscon as awesome an experience as they can. If it’s going to have to last all year, then they had better let it all hang out. A Miscon nerd leaves nothing on the table. They err on the side of doing the thing, whatever the thing may be. The games are intense. The boffing is hardcore and consistent. The Quidditch tournament is unreserved, and the panels are all slammed, because these people are going to live their lives in the brief, moth-like moment that they can. It is brief, it is fleeting, and its very transience makes it all the more beautiful.
The con-com always seems organized, because they know that having Miscon is far more important than any internal drama. That’s a lesson for the bigger cons; be willing to put things aside for the good of the organization. The dealer-room is well-positioned, and as a result of this frenetic pace we had our best convention of sales ever. Of all time. Better than Worldcon, Orycon, Westercon, or Norwescon. Miscon was so great to us, in fact, that we tripled the gross receipts of any one of those other cons.
We brought a table minion with us, as well. Some of you know Katherine from private life, some of you will remember her from the convention as the awesome Starbuck cosplay (pictured left). We’d been to Miscon before (but without setting up a table), and we already knew it was one of our favorite cons. We told her about it, and she gave us that screwed-up facial expression that said “Yeah, Okay. I’m not going to call you idiots because you’re my friends, but really…Missoula?”
Post-Miscon, here’s what she had to say:
MisCon was magical in more ways than I ever could have imagined and I made a lot of RIDICULOUSLY cool friends. I was skeptical when my friends told me their favorite con is in Missoula, MT, but it has become my favorite too on my first visit. Nerd friends, especially those of you who are writers looking to improve your craft or big speculative fiction readers, give MisCon a shot next year.
Allow us to add our voice to hers.
Miscon is the greatest little con in the world. It brings the nerd harder per capita than any other con I’ve been at. It punches well above its weight class in terms of guests, of fans, and of general con experience. It is a heady, magical place, and I look forward to being back next year.