Conbust Brings Geek Culture to Smith
Published: Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2012 07:03
This year marks the 10th anniversary of ConBust, the science fiction, anime and gaming event held each spring by the Smith Science Fiction and Fantasy Society (SSFFS). The event draws in well-known guests, local artists and dealers of all “geekdom.” However, perhaps more important, ConBust aims to showcase the advances made by women in these normally male-dominated genres.
SSFFS first started ConBust 10 years ago. “It was a pretty low-key event, inspired by OurCon that used to be held at UMass, Vericon in Harvard and other college-based conventions,” said Elizabeth Hillis ’12, one of the co-chairs of the ConBust organizational committee. “But we’ve expanded a ton.”
Now, SSFFS and its yearly tradition are still going strong, consistently outdoing itself every year. Past convention guests included Tamora Pierce, a feminist young adult fantasy author, Randall Munroe, creator of the Web comic xkcd, and Zach Weinersmith, creator of Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Less popular activities, such as weaving workshops, have been phased out over time, building the convention and its success.
This year, convention goers can expect to see novelist Stephanie Dray, fantasy writer Genevieve Iseult Eldredge (known to some by her pseudonym, Kierstin Cherry), editorial director for Firebird Books Sharyn November and authors Jane Yolen and Tamora Pierce. Male guests include video game composer Matthew Myers and “anime anthropologist” Charles Dunbar.
Additionally this year, “we’ve added a concert portion…and our most popular event would be our Saturday dance. We provide free glow sticks and awesome, geeky music,” says Hillis ’12.
Smith students from many different backgrounds seem to enjoy ConBust if not for personal love of fantasy or sci-fi, then for an appreciation of equality in many different realms. Even students who may find themselves on the fence about anime or Web comics may find themselves attracted to ConBust as an expansion of interests: students of years past find themselves drawn to the different guests and activities.
“I’m so glad that SSFFS has come up with the idea to hold a convention right here at Smith,” says Danielle Trice ’14. “I didn’t go last year, but I might check it out; it isn’t every day that you see Tamora Pierce. Besides, it’s very interesting to see how many feminist fantasy authors exist. I don’t think I would have gotten that impression without ConBust to show me otherwise.”
Hillis urges anyone who might be torn about going to ConBust to come and see what events might interest them. “After all, that’s why we’re all here, to celebrate our love of the unusual, our passion for fiction, and our hopes to become one of the women (or men) who work in awesome, nerdy industries,” she says.
SSFFS has not commented on whether or not the tenth anniversary of ConBust will hold something special. “We might sing happy birthday at the dance. Other than that, the last day of the convention is April 1st, so you never know what sort of surprises might pop up,” says Hillis ’12.
ConBust will be held in Seelye Hall, from March 30 to April 1. Smith students can pay five dollars per day, or buy a ticket for all three days for fifteen dollars. General admission varies per day, though a weekend pass will cost 30 dollars. For more information, including a full guest list and a complete schedule of events, please visit the ConBust page at http://sophia.smith.edu/ConBust/index.html.