SPOTLIGHT: An Interview with Tim Powers

What was your first experience at a science fiction/fantasy con like?

My first convention was a Westercon in San Francisco in 1971, when I was nineteen -- I went with long-time L.A.-area fan Roy A. Squires. I was already an omnivorous reader of science fiction and fantasy, and I had got my first rejection slip (from F&SF)  four years earlier, and I was ... just dazzled! There in person were E. Hoffman Price, Fritz Leiber, Randall Garrett, Poul Anderson ... Norman Spinrad, Larry Niven, Robert Silverberg ... I went to a dozen parties and drank gallons of beer and bought as many books as I could afford. And if I hadn't by then already decided that writing fantasy and science fiction was the only career worth pursuing, I certainly decided it there.

What makes a convention special to you, and what makes you want to go back?

The people, mostly. What I mainly remember is who I met, or met again, and what we talked endlessly about. Then there's the dealer's room -- I love digging among stacks of old books and magazines and worrying about how many I can afford or fit into the luggage.

When you go, do you prefer being an audience member, a panelist, a moderator, or something else?

I suppose it's egotistical, but I prefer being a panelist, whether I'm moderator or not. It's fun to be in a fairly organized hour-long discussion of something worth talking about.

Any tips for first time con attendees and/or shy fans?

Hang out in the dealer's room and/or the bar, and agree with something somebody says (sooner or later somebody's got to say something you agree with). Ask questions -- everybody there has SF and fantasy in common with you. Find an author whose work you like and tell him or her that you like his or her work; they are not tired of hearing this. Go with a friend if you can, so you can compare notes.

What is special about genre fiction readers & writers?

Well, in science fiction and fantasy, at least, they overlap a good deal; in fact nearly all of the writers are fans too. So we all meet with this enormous interest in common, whatever peripheral differences we may have, and there's plenty to talk about and find out about. And I think you have to be a bit smarter than average to appreciate this stuff, so it's a bright crowd.

What projects are you excited to share with FOGcon fans and participants?

I'm working on a novel, but I don't really want to say too much about it!

Who would be on your dream panel & what would you talk about?

I figure "dream panel" can be sort of outside of time, so I'd have Lester del Rey, Frederik Pohl and H. P. Lovecraft discussing what makes our genre worth reading.

Tim Powers
Tim Powers

Tim Powers is an Honored Guest at FOGcon 2014.