Forthcoming Worldcons

As most of you are probably aware by now, the London Worldcon is now a real thing. Loncon 3 will take place from Thursday 14 to Monday 18 August 2014. They have a very fine list of Guests of Honour, and you can buy a membership here. According to co-chair Steve Cooper, they have well over 1000 members already.

Before that, however, there will be a Worldcon in San Antonio. I have been listening to Kevin’s recordings of the Business Meeting in Chicago and was delighted to hear co-chairs Bill Parker and Laura Domitz state that the con will have a full track of Spanish language programming (just over 30 minutes in on this video). Texas has a large Spanish-speaking population, and I’m very pleased to see them embracing this. I hope that Spanish-speaking fans from all around the world will support this and help make it a success.

There are still plans for another Japanese Worldcon, but they are hampered by the fact that the Yokohama convention lost a bucketload of money. I understand that existing immediate debts are in excess of US$85,000 and the total losses are even higher. Past Worldcons are helping out, and Kevin tells me that Montréal has already donated CA$5000.

The next site selection vote is for 2015, and that is looking very interesting. There are three current contenders: Spokane, Orlando and Helsinki.

The Spokane bid ought to be in pole position, as it is run by people well known to the SMOF community, but they keep shooting themselves in the foot. Bid co-chair Alex von Thorn managed to make a complete idiot of himself on Cat Valente’s blog earlier in the year. He won’t be chairing the con, but one of the proposed con co-chairs is Bobbie DuFault who ran programming in Chicago. That’s the area of the convention that I have seen most complaints about. Pro tip: if you want to run a Worldcon, don’t screw up the scheduling for the WSFS Business Meeting.

Orlando’s bid touts itself as “revolutionary”, and is staffed mainly by people not well known to SMOFdom. That’s usually a recipe for disaster. However, the Orlando people sound very competent, and have lots of con-running experience. Also their ideas seem to have sprung fully-formed from the Cheryl Morgan manifesto for improving Worldcon. You can read their manifesto here. Also take a look at their presentation in Chicago, which starts after about 36 minutes in this video.

I’ve heard two main non-SMOF complaints about Orlando. The first is that it is at a Disney property, and people don’t like The Mouse. There’s not a lot you can say to that, other than that the use of the Disney property is key to keeping the costs down. And talking of costs, there is a story going around the author community that room rates in Orlando will be in excess of $200. This is not true. If you listen to the video you’ll hear the Orlando rep state categorically that room rates will be $139/room, and rooms sleep up to 4 people.

Then there is Helsinki. Goodness only knows what Eemeli thinks he is doing. He did, however, give a very good presentation. I guess he’s thinking that Helsinki will be the second choice for most of the Orlando voters, and if he can come in ahead of Orlando he might just beat Spokane. I can’t see it though. There’s very little time, and I doubt that the Finns can afford to send people to lots of US cons this year. It isn’t even clear whether the bid has the backing of Finnish fandom. What the bid is doing, however, is raising interest, giving the Finns practice, and getting money in the bank. I don’t see Helsinki winning for 2015, but I do expect them to immediately roll over to 2016. If I were on the Kansas City bid I would be very afraid. There’s also the option of rescuing 2017 if the Japanese are unable to solve their financial problems.

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38 Responses to Forthcoming Worldcons

  1. Montreal has already moved to 2017. The Japanese 2017 bid was asked about the debt at the Fannish Inquisition, and their answer was (1) their finances are completely separate from the 2007 convention; (2) they now have some real data to work on when planning a second convention; (3) they’ve brought in Vince Docherty to be the head of their financial division.

    There’s also the NYC bid, which at last report was still planning to begin active campaigning in 2013. So 2017 is pretty crowded already.

    The at-con buzz about the Orlando bid was mainly “they want to run an anime convention with a few bits of Worldcon bolted on” (which, though I’m rooting for Spokane, I think is an unfair assessment) and speculation about the wisdom of running it the same weekend as Dragon*Con and then trying to go for the exact same demographic.

    • Cheryl says:

      Ah, I remember the days when we were being assured that the end of the zone system would mean no more contested bids, ever.

      I’d certainly love to see Japan happen. I’m just not banking on it right now.

      It is sadly typical of SMOFdom that as soon as someone comes along and says they want to increase membership the cry goes up, “They’ll bring in people who are Not Like Us!”

  2. Amy Sisson says:

    I have one other non-SMOF complaint about Orlando — August/September is the absolute height of hurricane season there in hurricane country. While it’s unlikely to actually endanger anyone related to the convention, getting there and back could easily be problematic — although to be fair, it’s quite possible there will be no hurricanes anywhere near Florida at that time. Having been unwillingly introduced to hurricane reality upon moving to Houston, however, I like to minimize potential exposure.

    And Orlando is also hot, humid, and muggy. August is the last time of year I want to visit Florida just based on their everyday weather.

    • Cheryl says:

      Understood. On the other hand, Orlando is cheap and easy to get to from Europe, whereas Spokane requires changing planes in Seattle.

    • Eva Whitley says:

      And hurricanes have hit Orlando in what years…? By that logic, we should never let Washington, DC have a Worldcon since just in the past 10 years, it’s been hit by two hurricanes (Isabelle, Sept. 2003, Ivan in 2011).

      And Orlando is no hotter or muggier than Washington DC in late August/early September.

      Disclaimer: I am on the Orlando committee but my opinions are my own, and I also work for the National Weather Service, and my comments are based on research I’ve done on http://www.weather.gov.

  3. Martha says:

    On the other hand, both Finnair and SAS have good schedules and prices to Northern Europe. I would rather hope that Helsinki doesn’t get 2015. If we’re going to do it, we need to do it right and that is going to require more that 2 years of planning and preparation.. 2016 is a pretty number.

  4. Farah Mendlesohn says:

    Eemeli’s decision was a response to the total lack of buzz around the current bids. It was really noticeable that there was a serious “meh” about both. Orlando almost convinced me until I realised that one would be utterly trapped. Also, Orlando in August. Ironically I might be more willing to do that with a conventional conference centre.

    Japan’s budget may be “utterly separate” but the faces behind it are identical.

    Montreal: I believe the con chair is Terry Fong so I won’t be voting for them.

  5. Brian Dolton says:

    I have to say I really don’t think I’d want to go to Orlando in August, and nor would most sane people (which means it’ll probably be super-popular with Brits 😀 ). San Antonio next year is likely to be bad enough on the hut-and-humid stakes.

    I’m hoping to do San Antonio and Brighton next year, so London 2014 is questionable (cost of transatlantic flights will be the big decider, I suspect – they seem way higher than when I used to hop back and forth once or twice a year). An excuse to have another Japan vacation would be great.

    • Cheryl says:

      The Brits will be happy if they can whinge about the weather.

      San Antonio shouldn’t be too bad. They have extended the Riverwalk so you can get all the way from the hotel to the convention center without leaving the river. Temperatures there tend to be about 10F lower than out in the open. Having been there in ’97, I’d be much more worried about freezing to death in their overly aggressive air conditioning.

      Orlando’s facility is built around a lake, so it may have a similar effect. Also, being Disney, you can send for a free golf cart to ferry you around if you need one. The downside, as Farah noted, is that you are a prisoner of the Mouse for the duration.

      While I am sympathetic to people’s weather concerns, one of the main criticisms leveled at Worldcon by outsiders is that sites are chosen by rich, old people based on where they want to go on vacation rather than on where would be cheap.

      • Daveon says:

        Spokane would be cheaper. But as it’s affectionatly, or not, jokingly referred to around here as the Meth capital of Eastern Washington, and is either a 6-7 hour drive, a flight on a turbo-prop puddle jumper or a train ride from Seatac, it’s a challenge.

      • Judy Bemis says:

        My husband notes that there are actually city buses that go into Disney (to get employees to and from work) but the bus stops are in non-obvious locations to the Disney guests. We live in the greater Orlando area, and he has used LYNX to pick up rental cars, so I trust his knowledge of this.

        • Judy Bemis says:

          LYNX bus routes 303 and 305 seem to have a stop at the Coronado resort.

          there is a LYNX Disney west side transfer Center that a lot of Lynx buses have a stop at at Downtown Disney.

  6. Judy Bemis says:

    A hotel liaison/contracts specialist I talked to over Chicon 7 noted that in their previous contracts with Disney, Disney followed the letter of the contract once signed. Worldcons have been easier to run and come out with fewer problems and a better feel when the hotel/convention Center followed the spirit of the contract rather than the letter. Also, while the letter of agreement says that the room rate will be $135 flat and costumes allowed within the Coronado hotel and conference center, when it comes time to write the contract, Disney may have other things that they require to be in the contract that convention management may find difficult to deal with.

  7. Bob H says:

    Seriously?

    Is Orlando going to be worse weather than Chicago in August? Barring hurricanes of course. Just like San Antonio could get.

    Travel problems? There were some heck-all problems getting people out of Chicago last night, my twitterfeed says. Like 20ish hour delays. And Spokane doesn’t have anything on Orlando in regards travel. Let alone London and the annual August airline strike.

    And between free parking and available buses and taxis, the “trap” is going to be worse than any other convention center?

    In sum, I don’t see any of those things as any different than any other worldcon site, as least in general terms.

    For _World_con reasons I’d love to see Helsinki win. Two in a row outside North America would be very cool, especially with one not in an English speaking country. It would be a big step toward showing it is Worldcon.

    • Amy Sisson says:

      Oh heck, yes, Orlando weather is likely to be much worse than Chicago in August! My husband and I live in Houston (equivalent to Orlando for all intents and purposes) and we found Chicago weather quite pleasant for the most part just now.

      I do agree with you that two Worldcons in a row outside of North America would be nice. I think it’s improving slowly, but I too would like to see more “world” in Worldcon.

    • CD Covington says:

      I live in North Carolina, and I can fairly safely say YES, Orlando will be worse than Chicago. I typically go to Dragon*Con, and that’s bad enough over Labor Day.

      The thing that pushes me toward Spokane (other than one of my favorite authors who never leaves the west coast guaranteed to be there) is the food situation. Coronado Springs has 2 not very vegetarian-friendly restaurants on site and requires either a car or a non-obvious bus system, which I didn’t even know about until I read comments here, to leave the property. Also, you’re apparently not allowed to bring food in, but we’ll see how the contract looks, I guess.

      I completely agree with the Orlando guys that WorldCons should be cheaper and more inclusive for younger fans. I want to support them. I’m just not sold on Coronado Springs.

  8. Martha says:

    Finland is not really a non-English speaking country. Most Finns under 50 speak and read English as well as the Brits and better than many ‘mericans.

  9. Martha says:

    Oh, and he weather in August is usually gorgeous. Warm-ish days and cool crisp nights with daylight until 2.00 or 3.00.

  10. Val says:

    I am firmly gaffiated from fanac and SMOFfing for the foreseeable future, but this post goaded me into action to at least offer Helsinki to help with convention tabling coverage in the States and to connect the organisers to coverage in Canada (I can only guarantee to cover one con in Canada myself at the moment, and I am not sure the audience there, which is well-nigh entirely francophone, is interested in Worldcon).

    Eemeli got me to a Finncon, starting a long history of me and Finns, and although I’m worried about there being enough people, if fans from nearby countries cooperate with Finns to organise a Helsinki Worldcon, with how young and vibrant (if somewhat overcommitted) Finnish fandom seems to be . . . I’m nervous but hopeful.

    It’s all about delegation and recruitment. The will may be the way.
    As for me, I’m considering London, but I’ve decided not to attend Worldcons in the States.

    • Martha says:

      I was also thinking about that. If Finland gets the nod, it will be necessary to mobilise fans from Sweden, Estonia (where I live) and at least Latvia. What a wonderful opportunity to bring the whole regions’ fans closer together.

    • Cheryl says:

      This is another good reason for not bidding for 2015. A large number of people from Nordic fandom are likely to be working on the London convention, as are British, Irish and Dutch fans whom the Finns might want to call on for help. Those people need time off.

  11. Val says:

    although I admit the Hispanophone programme at LoneStarCon almost gets me interested in going : D

  12. Facts about Orlando that are facts:

    the weather in August is not like the Amazonian rain forest. It regularly (almost like clockwork) rains/drizzles/sun-showers daily in the afternoon, usually for between 20 and 40 mintues and that tremendously cools things down. (I lived there for ten years.)

    there is this technological advancement known as “Air Conditioning”. Despite the name, what this tech actually does is cool the air – demonstrably. Fortunately, all Disney properties, keeping current with the latest amenities, have this so-called air conditioning.

    the walk from the FARTHEST rooms to the CONVENTION CENTER is a few minutes. The entire walk can be made under the cover of trees (surprisingly and strategically planted just for that reason) around the central lake.

    you can wait for or call for an extended golfcart shuttle if the walk is too much for you.

    if you are attending the convention to attend the convention, you will be spending the vast majority of your time inside a climate controlled convention center; you will be able to stay inside when you walk from the dealer’s room,. to the art show, to the panels, to childcare, to the First Fandom hospitality room, to the special exhibits and to the on-site restaurants and other on-site amenities.

    if you are so-inclined, put your shorts and t-shirt in a plastic ziploc bag and SWIM from your rooms to the convention center.

    The manifesto – most of which was written by yours truly – is about as far away as you can get from “they want to bring in new people and bolt on some old stuff to make it sound like Worldcon”.

    The crew on the bid committee has so much experience running MUCH LARGER CONVENTIONS than worldcon its almost laughable to hear critiques of their experience. In fact, their job at running Worldcon is going to be far easier than what they normally do – which is to deal with the younger set, many of whom have not yet learned how to handle themselves in public, many of whom have not yet matured to the “fully responsible” (or nearly fully responsible) level – whereas (recent events notwithstanding) most of “graying old fandom” requires little if any shepherding.

    The manifesto? Please allow me to remind you ALL that it consists of the implementation of many of the ideas, concepts and necessities first promulgated here on Cheryl’s blog, during discussions concerning the future survival of Worldcon – with mucho input from other long-time Worldcon runners like Kevin Standlee. There are many other long-time con-runners – names eminently familiar to you all – who have silently endorsed Orlando’s concepts, all of them essentially saying the same thing: (Neither Cheryl nor Kevin are, to my knowledge, members of that silent majority.)

    Worldcon needs to figure out how to accommodate and attract the next generation of fans (AND TURN THEM INTO OUR KIND OF FANS) or FANDOM will continue to both age and events increase in cost until there is literally no one left alive who cares enough anymore.

    The politics of Worldcon being what they are, many, many, many of Orlando’s silent supporters do not feel comfortable in publicly acknowledging that support; they are in the uncomfortable position of knowing that their public support would virtually guarantee a win for Orlando – something they want because they themselves are committed to incremental change, committed to the survival of Worldcon – but can’t because they feel that association with such a “radical bid” would reflect badly upon their own efforts along these lines. Catch-22 for Orlando.

    If they didn’t respect confidences, didn’t honor their commitments, there would be no question as to when and where the 2015 con would be: it would be at an excellent, four-star quality facility, in the middle of a national playground, paying rates for everything FAR LOWER than anything that has gone on before, establishing a relationship with a multi-national entertainment corporation that sees itself as being aligned with fandom and would like to broaden, strengthen and lengthen that relationship; they would be attending a convention in which the layout of events has been carefully designed to give old pharts exactly the kind of con they have come to expect over the past 50 years, will conduct meaningful outreach to that next generation of fans by providing things they find attractive AND PUTTING IN PLACE PROGRAM ITEMS DESIGNED TO TURN THEM INTO OLD PHARTS, a dealer show and art exhibit that is accessible to the public – offering dealers and artists a real chance at running a profitable con.

    But it might not happen because so many of you would rather blather on and on about the rumors you’ve been hearing (many of which are believed to be entirely politically based in nature), turning your noses up at the first hint of newness and playing the tried, true and guaranteed-to-fail game of “non-invented-here”.

    How many of you looked at the names of the Orlando bid committee, said “don’t know anyone, no experience” and dismissed it out of hand, without reminding yourselves that the bid committee is NOT the con committee?

    How many current Worldcons have been run – physically run on the ground – without bringing on board the recognized experts in each and every department? What’s that? None you say? So why do you automatically assume that this won’t be the case with Orlando? Go look at the list again – there’s a recent convention CHAIRPERSON on the bid committee. What more do you people want?

    Oh, yes. The time machine that will allow you to return to 1939. (I want that too!)

    Folks – the CLOSEST you’re going to ever come to that desire is Orlando in 2015.

    Please: Read the manifesto, look at the names, ask questions instead of assuming blindly – of ALL THREE bids – and make an informed decision, not an emotionally hidebound one.

    • CD Covington says:

      I read the bid committee list and didn’t recognize any names–but I also only recognized a couple on Spokane’s (beyond the authors). I’m not local enough to Orlando/Florida fandom to recognize any names, and I didn’t see any links to biographical information for the top comrades. It isn’t obvious from the text on your website that any of you have experience running conventions.

      So where the Spokane bid has short biographical blurbs for everyone, yours just has names. Put that out there; advertise it. Otherwise, people from outside Florida will think, “hm, do these people have any idea how to run a con?” Even if the bid committee isn’t going to 100% be the con com, it’s probably safe to assume there’ll be overlap.

      (I have to say, your bid is designed to appeal fully to my Marxist nature, and I agree with your ideals. I’m just not sold on Coronado Springs.)

    • Farah says:

      Someone has just mentioned that one cannot bring food on to the site: is this correct? It would be a deal breaker for me as my disability is food/allergy related.

  13. Adam Beaton says:

    CD, can you email me (redshoesrock@gmail.com), and give me all your concerns about the facilities? I’m hoping I can alleviate them to the point you’ll support Orlando.

    Real quick – you can *always* bring food with you to any Disney resort – it’s extremely common. Check out this official answer from Disney regarding bringing in food to the theme parks (http://disneyworldforum.disney.go.com/questions.aspx?sort=&page=&qid=66450&pid=43&cid=60). Bottom line – if you can bring it into the theme parks, you *absolutely* can bring food and drink to the hotel. The parties will be stellar!

    Disney is also very sensitive to people’s dietary needs – here’s a great page that lays out what Disney does for vegetarians, vegans, gluten-free, kosher, halal, diabetics, anything you can think of (http://allears.net/din/special.htm). If you let Disney know ahead of time, they’ll make sure what you need is available for you or anyone else. (And we’re letting Disney know on our end also).

    • Cheryl says:

      I think you may need a myth debunking page for your website. You could title it, “Is is true that…?”

    • CD Covington says:

      I’ve been to WDW recently, and at the parks, there were…varying levels of food I could eat that I also wanted to eat. (We were hampered somewhat by the fact that my in-laws opted for the dining plan, so we couldn’t pick the grab-and-go stuff in some cases, and I’d have preferred those sometimes.) One of my friends is a former cast member, and also a vegetarian, and she gave me a list when we were planning our Christmas trip a couple years ago. The option at some of the places was kind of dire, but it was edible.

      When I went back up to my room in Chicago, with the respective 2015 fliers, and told my friend the Orlando bid was at Coronado Springs, he said, “ugh, f–k that s–t.” He went to a trade show there and found the on-site vegetarian options rather lacking. (“I hope you like cheese pizza” was his comment.) Reading the official site doesn’t really assuage my concerns, either. (Also, man, food is expensive.)

      So, while WDW as a whole has a good variety of food options, they seem to be in the parks or at the other resorts, which aren’t very close to CS–certainly not walkable or “well, I have a gap between panels I want to go to, so I’ve got about an hour to go out and get food and get back, and I’m sick of cheese pizza.” That was one of my biggest problems this year in Chicago–the very closest things were closed half the time, and I didn’t often have an hour to trek down somewhere else & get food (15-20 minute walk each way, plus ordering & service time).

      I like a lot of things about your bid (my comparison post is going live Monday at 11 EDT, so look for it), and I hope that if you lose, you’ll try again. I agree that WorldCons should be cheaper so that younger fans can attend. You’re a heck of a lot closer to me (just outside my driving limit, though).

      It’s a tough call. I gotta be honest, though. I really want to see CJ Cherryh, and she doesn’t leave the west coast (except occasionally driving to Texas). I won’t go to Spokane for SpoCon, but I’d go for a WorldCon.

  14. Susan says:

    Bid co-chair Alex von Thorn managed to make a complete idiot of himself on Cat Valente’s blog earlier in the year.

    I’ve gone back to December 23rd 2011 on her blog and can’t find what you’re referring to. Do you by any chance have a link?

    • Cheryl says:

      Sorry, should have hunted it down myself earlier. It is here. Alex is Avt_Tor.

      • Martha says:

        Just read that – Whole lot of dumb-ass mansplaining going on….

        Would like to add that regardless of which year Helsinki gets, the city is small and intimate enough and has a wide range of good restaurants and excellent public transportation, so that getting something satisfying to eat will not be a problem.

  15. Gerry M. Allen says:

    I stopped going to cons in the early nineties due to my exasperation with the anointed Fans who dominated the cons. God forbid you should be just a reader of science fiction and have the temerity to take up space at a convention, introduce yourself to a GoH or take part in a panel. It grew too effortful and exhausting to attend.
    I was considering attending Loncon 3 until chancing upon this discussion. Now, I won’t. The in-fighting, back-biting , “We want the right kind of fan” nonsense official Fandom indulges in still dominates these interchanges and continues to make Worldcons thoroughly unpleasant. No, thanks.

    • Cheryl says:

      Have you ever been to a Worldcon? They are way bigger than most of what we see in the UK, and it is relatively easy to avoid the idiots if you want to.

    • Farah Mendlesohn says:

      Loncon 3 would love to have you. In UK fandom you will find the authors in the bar happily chatting with the fans, because most of them were fans and still are. A regular route to chat to the GoHs is offer them a drink: Banks likes whisky, Clute and Edwards prefer red wine. I’m not sure what the others like.

      The programme team, headed by James Bacon, Liz Batty and Ian Stockdale, are actively looking for new people who read, watch, make, and do interesting things.

      • Gerry M. Allen says:

        I was hasty and just a bit overtired when I posted this comment. The kind, generous response convinced my wife and I to re-consider. We will be going to Loncon 3, taking a short-let in Holland Park and staying a month. The folks in the UK have always been a treat to visit; I bet the con will be a treat as well. Thank you for your responses.

        • Farah Mendlesohn says:

          We will look forward to seeing you.

          I’m head of exhibits by the way. Let me know if you have any cool ideas.

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