I grew up in South Florida, not far from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, where Bob Collins launched ICFA in 1980. I knew about the conference from reports in Locus magazine and elsewhere, but I didn’t attend until 1987, when the conference was held in Houston. By that time, I had begun working for Fantasy Review magazine, which Bob published out of his FAU office, eventually working my way up to Reviews Editor.
In Houston, I met a host of folks who had done yeoman service for me as reviewers: Mike Levy, Brian Attebery, Bernadette Bosky, Nick Ruddick, Jan Bogstad, and many more-most of whom remained stalwart supporters of the conference when it returned to South Florida the following year. Indeed, that’s the way I tend to think of the event: as a place where you really get to know the people with whom you’ve only had professional interactions, a venue that puts a big smiling face on the otherwise faceless exchanges that tend to define academic discourse.
Even as the conference has grown and diversified, it still seems to me a very intimate event, a setting for warm conversations with friends and colleagues, a crucial link in the ongoing-intense, challenging, yet fundamentally decent-collaboration that makes our field so special. For two decades, ICFA has been a unique and beckoning oasis. Let’s keep the party Bob Collins started in 1980 going for another thirty years at least!