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It seems like there are a disproportionate amount of science fiction conventions in the state of California compared to the rest of the United States. Comic-Con, Wonder-Con and the Anime Expo are always there. The American Star Wars Celebration has been there twice. The D-23 Expo, which has a large amount of sci-fi content, is also always there. There are also all these smaller ones.

Why are there so many? Wouldn't the market become over-saturated, especially since there are so many major conventions? Does California have a disproportionate amount of sci-fi fans?

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One might also ask why there are so many rodeos in cattle producing states. The science fiction industry makes billions in revenue and employs many, many thousands of Californians. Would you not find it surprising if there were lots of rodeos in LA and lots of science fiction conventions in Calgary? – Eric Lippert Mar 14 at 6:44
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There are so many reasons. The weather is great, the spaciousness, being a geek magnet with sillicon valley, Hollywood is in there and most of the actor agencies are there... So many parameters for an equations. – apollo Mar 14 at 8:59
    
Because the people out west are crazy. scnr – user1129682 Mar 14 at 14:21
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Forty million people live in California. – Oldcat Mar 14 at 19:01
up vote 8 down vote accepted

California has a large population and multiple dense population centers, so there are a lot of people already nearby. It has a mild climate, which makes it a more popular spot for travelers coming from a significant distance than, say, Bismark. Finally, the bulk of the U.S. entertainment industry is located in southern California, which makes it easier to get good guests and demos there than elsewhere.

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I am not sure it is really the case that conventions are disproportionately common in California. There are many conventions in small cities throughout the US (for example, Radcon is in the semiurban middle of Washington). But those tend to target a mostly local audience. So there is a selection bias - you mostly hear about the huge conventions, and those tend to be in the largest cities because that is where the most people are. California is the most populous state in the nation.

In addition to that, conventions with a focus on television, film, or interactive sci-fi tend to be near Los Angeles because most of the production happens here and it's easier to get actors and creatives to come to the cons.

addendum: There are also some logistical benefits to doing cons in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego specifically - there's a lot of large convention centers and hotels, etc. Most cities can't easily absorb 15,000 visitors all arriving at once.

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@RogueJedi There are also some logistical benefits to doing cons in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San Diego specifically - there's a lot of large convention centers and hotels, etc. Most cities can't easily absorb 15,000 visitors all arriving at once. – Crashworks Mar 14 at 0:27
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@Crashworks I think the point about pre-existing convention centers etc. is very valid, and would be worth including in the body of the answer. – Angew Mar 14 at 8:14
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@DevSolar: Actually, Vegas has lots of convention space, probably more than any city in California (except maybe L.A., not sure), but of course it mostly attracts the casino crowd. – Darrel Hoffman Mar 14 at 13:19
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@DarrelHoffman: Not an American, and never been anywhere near the west coast. But I can readily picture the conversation: "Hey Mom, Todd and me want to go to that SciFi con over the weekend. Can we go? Pleeeeaaase?" -- "Well, where is it?" -- "Vegas." -- "..." ;-) – DevSolar Mar 14 at 13:23
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@ToddWilcox The World Science Fiction Convention (the oldest big convention, dating back to 1939) was in Spokane, WA last year, and I'm not sure that's so very unlike Fargo, ND. – Mike Scott Mar 14 at 20:35

New York used to be the big SF hub. However, around the 70s you had some fundamental changes in Fandom. Remember that many of the magazines were published in New York and by New Yorkers. In the late 60's/early 70's however, Cons grew in popularity. At the same time there was a population shift moving across the country. New York fandom simultaneously was growing in worse odor for a variety of reasons that I don't feel comfortable discussing here (but it wasn't entirely unjustified). By the time the dust settled, many of the SF authors lived in Cali, most of the magazines had shut down, there were far fewer fans in New York while many had migrated to California from all over the country. There weren't that many Fans left in large enough concentration outside of Cali to organize cons, let alone the ability, inclination. First Fandom was mostly dead or retired somewhere warm, the Baby Boomers were in their 40s and 50s and too busy trying to survive. Meanwhile Silicon Valley meant there was a large influx of wealth in California and many of the folks here had grown up on the stories that inspired them and wanted to meet their heroes.

In recent years as crypto fans have begun to come out into the sun, more and more conventions are being found everywhere with each year, and all are growing larger. So while there are still many in California as there have been for many years, the disproportion is beginning to delocalize.

To summarize: there was a SF diaspora that mostly ended up in the rich fertile fan-soil of California. That's beginning to change.

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The weather is great

I would say that a more accurate statement is that the convention scene is focused upon California and Las Vegas, Nevada, rather than just California. For instance, the absolutely massive annual official Star Trek convention, run by Creation Entertainment, has its main gathering in Las Vegas.

Southern California is the center of the US entertainment and film industry, as others have pointed out, and Las Vegas has a dizzying array of hotels, convention centres, and other amenities (in particular, gambling).

But most of all, the weather is great.

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I don't see how California conventions follow from the claim that the weather is great (not that it is, in most of the flatland parts), since Las Vegas is a major convention center despite possibly the worst weather in the US. – jamesqf Mar 14 at 5:28
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+1 I just loved this answer so much... – apollo Mar 14 at 9:00
    
@jamesqf : Las Vegas makes up for itself in other ways, as explained in the answer. :-) – Praxis Mar 14 at 12:02
    
I'm confused. So in California, your conventions are all held outside? Or your convention centers don't have roofs? – T.E.D. Mar 14 at 13:42
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@T.E.D. : Right, like people don't explore the immediate vicinity and go out at night. :-P – Praxis Mar 14 at 13:44

In addition to other great answers, I'd like to say that Silicon Valley is in California, I would certainly not be surprised if this has led to a greater interest in science fiction in the state.

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Why did this get downvoted? It's just adding another reasonable speculation to other answers that have been largely repetitive. I'm upvoting to offset the downvote. – iMerchant Mar 14 at 13:21
    
@iMerchant : As one of the other answerers, I also don't see the need for the downvote. +1 – Praxis Mar 14 at 16:05

The correlation with the industry that creates thoe whole hollistic content and product base is simply geographically conveniently close + (echoing @praxis - the weather is great.) All the studios, the marketing masterminds behind the merchandise are usually located there, let's be honest it's contemporary Rome, until it'll switch to Dhaka, Bangalore or Shenzhen/Zhongguancun in the (hopefully near) future.

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This could turn into an answer if cleaned-up. The way it's currently stated it looks all cluttered and messy. Good answers are easy to read. – Mast Mar 14 at 11:18
    
Sure, why not :) – Erez.Matrix Mar 14 at 11:45

I think you're really asking why there are so many large cons in California. As others have pointed out, there are many cons scattered across the country (and really, the world).

But how do new, small cons grow into large cons? Partly by having guests and panelists that people want to come and see. California is where the movie stars are. If you and I both started new cons, me in Arkansas and you in Los Angeles, which of us would have a harder time getting celebrities (any celebrities) to come? And over time, those celebrities add incentive for more people to come to your con, which adds incentive for more celebrities and so it grows.

There are some really large cons in other places. DragonCon is in Atlanta and has estimated crowds of 50-75,000 (depending on which source you read). And many celebrities attend annually. PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) in Seattle and PAX East in Boston both draw huge crowds. So California is not alone in having large cons, but they have a natural resource in celebrities that few other cons have, which gives them an advantage.

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