I’m pleased to be able to report that the general consensus amongst the assembled Old Pharts was that Denvention 3 had dodged a bullet and would be solvent. There are had been considerable worry pre-con, partly because the convention’s finances appeared to be somewhat in disarray, and partly because of an unusually high number of cancellations. However, the convention committee appears to have adopted a fairly prudent policy of “if you don’t know how much money you have, don’t spend any”. At con this resulted in a number of areas appearing to be underfunded (signage being an obvious example). However, it also avoided a potential disaster. There are one or two outstanding issues that I don’t want to speculate on, so I can’t be 100% certain that the con is OK, but right now things are looking good.
One story that does appear to be coming up again and again is lack of communication. Programming and Tech appear to have had an unhappy relationship, and lots of things appear to have fallen through the cracks. The Old Pharts party almost didn’t happen, and even so the room number printed on the invitations was incorrect. I might never have got to the party had I not run into Geri Sullivan pushing a cart load of food and wine on my way there. Another example is specialty ribbons. There were apparently ribbons saying “Past Hugo winner”. Some people got them in their program packs, others (including me) didn’t. Mike Glyer got his from program ops, but their office wasn’t where the pocket program said it should be (in the convention center) and was in the Sheraton, so I never had time to go there. Similar problems happened with things like the “Past Worldcon Chair” ribbon.
Another issue that people have been talking about is the low attendance – generally estimated at around 3,500, or half the number of people who attended this year’s Finncon. Most of the suggestions as to why this happened have centered around the poor state of the economy, and/or laziness/incompetence on behalf of the convention committee. However, this evening I spoke to a local Colorado fan who had a very different explanation. He noted that most American Worldcons take place in cities with huge local populations. For cities like Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles there are thousands of fans who live within a couple of hours driving distance of the convention. Denver is a smaller and more isolated city, so the proportion of locals to traveling fans has probably been much lower. And the poor state of the US economy will be a much bigger problem for traveling fans than for locals.
When I get time I shall read around reactions in the blogosphere and write up a full con report. Tomorrow, however, I get to go shopping in Denver, and fly home to California.