This flyer, and some subsequent behavior, pissed rather a lot of us off. You can see some of that going on in the comments of that post, so I do recommend that you read. And then read this and this.
What I said at Diesel yesterday, to roozle (herself the mother of some kickass younger fen): "I don't want my father's Readercon. I want my daughter's Readercon."
I don't want SF/F cons to shrink in on themselves and wither and stagnate. I want them to grow. I don't want to be part of an exclusive snotty club. I want to share what I love.
And you guys, I want new conversations, and much as I do truly love next year's memorial guests of honor (Philip K. Dick and Ted Sturgeon), that's not where the new conversations are. That's not where the growth is. I want to talk about stuff that's going on now. I want to speculate about what the future of SF/F will look and feel like.
I want my con. And my daughter's con. And I think a lot of us want that. Because dude. Writers. If you're not reaching out to younger fans, how are you going to maintain a career?
So what I want to look at is not just what alienates younger fans - because I think we already have a textbook case of that in the Readercon flyer issue and subsequent comments by the head of programming there. I want to look at how to welcome younger fans. To show them that this is their place, too. To make a space for them at the table.
Because they're not just our future. They're our present.
My daughter is 14. She's been a panelist at Arisia and Pi-Con. She's participated in fandom charity auctions (she made a piece based on catvalente's Orphan's Tales books). She writes and draws - she and her friends have a fantasy shared-universe comic/story. She reads broadly, and not just YA. She's passionate and articulate and hella smart, and SF/F fandom is a big part of her world - all her friends are geeks! And I feel like she'll be excluded at next year's Readercon, due solely to her age (note: she attended and enjoyed it last year).
So let's talk about how to welcome younger fans. I'll throw this out there for ideas and opinions. Elayna's at Explo through Friday night, but when she returns, I plan to interview her and some of her friends about this. If you know any teen fans, I encourage you to discuss this with them. Because it shouldn't be about us deciding what Kids These Days want. It should be about what they genuinely want.
EDIT: For reference, the infamous Boskone letter that this is reminding Boston congoers of. (This is why there's an Arisia. I'll leave it to people who were there to give more history on that.)