I haven’t been spending a lot of time at SMOFcon, partly because I’m mainly in Toronto on business, and partly because I have better things to do with my life. This evening, however, saw the traditional highlight of the convention, the Fannish Inquisition, at which seated conventions and bids get to make presentations and answer questions. That I could not pass up. Here are the highlights.
Loncon3 announced that they are on track to have around 8,000 members. They are actually concerned about capacity and will be putting day memberships on sale in February as they may have to cap the number that they sell. The current record for Worldcon attendance is 8,365 at Los Angeles in 1984.
The 2014 NASFiC, Detcon 1, has also been busy. I wrote a couple of weeks ago about their plan to offer free memberships to local fans who could not otherwise afford to attend. The fund-raising drive for that is going well. Money to cover 10 free memberships has already been received, which triggers the matching donation promised by the convention. At least 20 local fans will therefore be getting free memberships.
Detcon 1’s chair, Tammy Coxon, also announced that the convention will be giving out awards for YA and Middle School fiction. These will be voted on by the membership. I don’t want to get the details wrong so I’m not going to rely on my memory of what Tammy said — I’m sure there will be a press release soon. What I should note is that Detcon 1 is a NASFiC, not a Worldcon, so these awards will not be Hugos, but they will be voted on in a way very similar to the Hugos, albeit by far fewer people. This will be an interesting trial.
The 2014 SMOFcon will be in Los Angeles. I voted for the rival Baffin Island bid as it was outside the USA, but I have to admit that I didn’t fancy their proposed Friday evening ice-breaker event of “build your own convention facilities, out of ice.”
Kansas City is still the only bid for the 2016 Worldcon, and judging from their presentation they have some excellent facilities. I’m sad that I can’t go.
The race for 2017 has now become even more complex with the announcement of a bid for Washington DC to add to the existing bids for Japan, Montréal and Helsinki. The Canadian bid looked fairly weak, but the Japanese and Finnish bids both appear to have considerable support. Judging from the questions asked, there was considerably annoyance that a US bid had jumped in to challenge a selection of interesting non-US bids. However, the Washington bid team has a huge amount of experience and, judging from the promotional materials they put out, a lot of money.
Looking further afield, San José (in the form of my colleagues and I at SFSFC) have announced we are looking at challenging New Orleans for 2018. If we do, and it is by no means certain, I hope it will be a very friendly contest like the one we ran against Seattle for 2002. I, of course, won’t be able to attend whoever wins, but I think both would be great conventions.
Dublin is the only announced bid for 2019.
New Zealand reported that they are starting to negotiate with facilities for 2020. They are looking at sites in both Auckland and Wellington.
Finally the forward calendar is starting to fill up with bids for Forth Worth in 2021 and Chicago in 2022. The Chicago bid will apparently be for new facilities, not the Hyatt Regency where previous Chicons have been held.
There has already been some discussion about what will happen with regards to the losing bids in 2017. The Finnish and Irish bids have a good relationship, and if the Finns were to lose again I can’t see them targeting anything before 2021. The Japanese committee stated that they would not want to run too close to New Zealand and would therefore not consider a new bid before 2023. I’ve no idea what Montréal will do. If Washington were to lose, I suspect that large number of older American SMOFs would faint with shock, and possibly even retire from the game. So I guess we’ll just have to make that happen.