Capricon 41: creating the present we wanted

Inspired by this poem by Ross Gay: “To the Fig Tree on 9th and Christian.”

Capricon is a Chicago science fiction convention. We come together for four days in February at a hotel convention center, and we call ourselves family, except that this year we did not come.

We met alone together, hundreds of us, with cameras and keyboards, and we recreated what we could. Art, games, panels, films, freebies, kids activities, the guy in the goat costume, other people in costumes, music, and parties, some including DJs, and of course the commemorative tee-shirt. It depicted a goat wearing a face mask.

At a science fiction convention, fans and authors, scientists and singers, costumers and gamers are the same, energized by ideas and expression. We gather to share our love for our mutual passions. It’s a tradition. This the forty-first annual Capricon.

With the freedom of non-meatspace we could welcome people from Vietnam and Brazil and Jamaica and Puerto Rico and thirty-eight states, not just Chicago and those who could travel. No hugs, but we enjoyed a wider horizon and intentional inclusion. We had special early hours so distant fans could share their dinner with our breakfast. Two hundred things were offered to do over a four-day weekend, including bartenders to help you mix your own drinks at home at the evening parties. The box fort got built. Bar Fleet had its discotheque, this time not crowded to sweaty capacity.

At a Zoom panel I ran, discussing the power of the short story, a viewer in the chat box told us a three-word story when we wondered how short a short story could be. He wrote, “Hindsight is 2020.” There’s a lot to unpack in that, but I just laughed, glad to be looking back.

Our convention had a theme: “Creating the Future We Want.” We talked about the future, about how it was made, both by intention and opportunity. We considered various futures after global warming. With or without police. With or without forgiveness. With enough room for a few grudges to hold their distance. With enough closeness to fill the space with thanks.

We tried so hard to have fun, to give each other fun, to be the family again.

Next year, our theme will be music and we plan to meet at a hotel already reserved, brick and mortar, flesh and blood. Next February, we will have the future we are working now to create. Sing us in, 2022.

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