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 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.