Convention Review

Loscon 48

Heath Row reviews the event
at the Marriott Los Angeles Airport Hotel
Los Angeles, USA 25th - 27th November 2022.


A couple of years after I moved to Los Angeles from Brooklyn in 2009, one of my first major steps into local fandom was at the clubhouse of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society (LASFS), then in Van Nuys. I had previously met LASFS fan (LASFSan) John Hertz (Vanamonde) at a Lunacon SF convention in New York and visited the club to meet Marty Cantor, then official collator of the apae (the plural of APA -- Amateur Press Association) APA-L and LASFAPA, whom I’d corresponded with while compiling the apae directory Blue Moon Special. That experience – and my first foray into fannish apae outside of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (I’d previously been active in mundane (non-SF) apae.) – was entirely positive and the group very attractive in terms of fanac (fan activity). The LASFS is the world’s oldest continuously active science fiction and fantasy club, meeting weekly since the club's founding in October 1934.

As a newcomer to Los Angeles, I just couldn’t make the commute to the weekly meetings work with my family and work responsibilities. Traffic in LA is a very real thing. I wasn’t really able to join and begin participating in the weekly meetings until during the pandemic, when the group started meeting via Zoom – maintaining its run of uninterrupted weekly meetings. Regardless, I occasionally attended the annual LASFS convention Loscon and recognised friendly fan faces there.

Panelists: Ashish Mahabal, David Brin, Gregory Benford and Larry Niven. (Photograph courtesy Mahabal.)

Last autumn’s Loscon 48, perhaps only my fifth Loscon, was not the first Loscon since the CoVID-19 pandemic – it was the second. It was also the first con at which I volunteered, in three capacities. I spent time supporting Hospitality, mostly working in the Con Suite and helping to unload the truck to set up the con; I took a turn at staffing the club’s book sales table in the Dealer’s Room; and I helped run the Fanzine Corner with the long-time faned (fan editor) Hertz, at which we offered a display of recent fanzines, hosted a local faned gathering – attracting mostly APA-L participants and alumnae – and encouraged con members to contribute to a conzine written and drawn on site during Loscon 48. That resulted in Losconzine #48 (, a 36-page fanzine containing con member artwork and writing. (I and another LASFSan, Krystal Rains, have since repeated that experiment at the 2023 AnaCon in Anaheim, California resulting in AnaConzine 2023, available at

“The Importance of Diversity in Writing” panel L. K. Ingino, Steven Barnes & Joelle Sellner.
(Photograph courtesy Kent Hastings.)

Loscon’s 48th year – maintaining its status as LA’s longest-running fan convention – included a variety of panel discussions, presentations, readings, book discussion groups, a film festival, an impressive art show and auction, music, shopping, and other activities. Participants included area authors such as Steven Barnes, David Gerrold, and Larry Niven, who considers Loscon his home convention. Loscon 48 also recognised and celebrated a number of notable participants in the fields of SF, fantasy, horror, and fandom. Canadian fantasy author Tanya Huff was the Writer Guest of Honour. Her most recent release at the time, Into the Broken Lands, had been published in August 2022. She is perhaps best known for her 'Blood Books' series, which served as the basis for the television series Blood Ties. The Artist Guest of Honour was Dave Kellett, creator of the Web comic series Sheldon and Drive . He had recently published the book Anatomy of Dinosaurs. “Faerie tale minstrel and storyteller of myth and magic” Alexander James Adams served as the Musical Guest of Honour. And Fan Guests of Honour included Susan Fox and Gene Turnbow, the founders of, an excellent, fannish online radio station.

Chris Marble and Fan Guest of Honour Gene Turnbow serve ice cream at the social (Photograph courtesy of Kent Hastings)

While Loscon programming has occasionally been organised along explicit, dedicated tracks, this year, “there was a lot of experimenting going on,” said con chair Nick Smith. The programme schedule included numerous events representing multiple themes including filk music; a film series offering an ongoing programme of shorts and films; and panel discussions focusing on SF literature, science and space exploration, writing and editing, costuming and cosplay, films and television shows such as Star Trek, acting, myths and legends, sound design, illustration, speculative poetry, the future of humanity, and other topics. Other events and activities included a drum circle, an ice cream social (which is always a highlight), an art show and auction, a Regency dance, a blood drive, robotics demonstrations, readings, and midnight screenings of The Rocky Horror Picture Show – one of the two screenings a costumed sing-along – and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which was also, naturally, a sing-along. There were also a number of lively parties on the 17th floor of the hotel.

As a volunteer with several commitments, I was hard pressed to participate in much of the programming, but I was impressed by what I was able to attend. Tom Safer’s Film Room offered a stellar programme of films focusing on travel of all sorts – including a 120th anniversary screening of A Trip to the Moon. Hertz hosted several book discussion groups concentrating on Charles Harness’ The Paradox Men, Robert A. Heinlein’s Time for the Stars, and C. L. Moore’s Doomsday Morning. And the “SF Films by Quarters” panel discussion explored films originally released in quarter-of-century anniversaries: 1922, 1947, 1972, 1997, and 2022. The Fanzine Corner was a delightful success, and I was frequently surprised and impressed by the member submissions in the in basket, sometimes contributed over night. Con members hung out at the Fanzine Corner to utilize our art supplies, drawing, and writing paper, leading to wonderful company and interesting conversations. And I found a number of wonderful books and magazines in the Dealer’s Room.

The “Goal Setting for Writers” panel with: David Avallone, Denise Dumars, Matthew Arnold Sturn,
Wendy Van Camp & Anne Toole. (Photograph courtesy Eric J. Guignard.)

One downside to the con was that we were unable to offer a gaming room because its volunteers contracted the flu – not CoVID-19 – just before the event. Participant feedback was largely positive. Con goer Ashish Mahabal, who appeared on several panels, including “The Three Flaws of Robotics: Artificial vs. Organic Intelligence,” posted that he “[h]ad a blast at Loscon 48,” on Facebook. Brian Fitzpatrick, a first-time participant, commented that he “loved the experience. … I found the conversations invigorating and educational. … Loscon is hands down the friendliest con I have ever attended, and I am already looking forward to next year.” Linda Robinett remarked that the filk programming was well integrated with other programming, offering daytime activities – and that she was impressed by the hall costumes. And Michelle Deborah Weisblat-Dane, who has been participating in Loscon since she was 14 years old, indicated that it remains her favourite con.

Elayne Pelz, who served as Treasurer and led registration for Loscon 48, reported that the con did relatively well financially. With 576 members – 437 paid – Loscon 48 passed on more money than other Loscons in the past, but not as much as in 2021 when it was combined with Westercon. Membership was consistent with other Loscons in the past five years or so. And the Dealer’s Room offered wares from 20 vendors.

Vendors in the Dealers’ Room (Photograph courtesy Krystal Rains and the LASFS)

The LASFS blood drive hosted by Dennis and Kristine Cherry during Loscon 48 was also a success. Held in conjunction with the American Red Cross, this year’s blood drive was named the Karl B. Lembke Memorial Blood Drive in memory of a LASFS member – and frequent blood donor – who died May 15, 2022. Lembke served as chairman of the LASFS board of directors for 20 years. Having joined the club in 1985, he served as scribe for many years, received the Evans-Freehafer Award for service to the LASFS in 2010, and was named a patron saint for donations to the organisation. He was also an active participant in APA-L. For Loscon, Lembke ran Hospitality for a number of years and always donated blood during the con’s blood drive. In fact, he donated blood every other week – including at Loscon – donating platelets a total of 997 times, inspiring others to give blood, as well. Loscon 48’s blood drive collected 25 units. 24 of those were donated by registered donors, and there was one first-time donor.

At the time of this writing, plans are well underway for Loscon 49 (, scheduled to be held 24th-26th November 2023, at the Los Angeles Airport Marriott. With the cancellation of Westercon 75, Loscon 49 will also serve as the 2023 Westercon, fulfilling its official functions. We can perhaps expect a bit of a membership boost because of that combination!

Heath Row


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