Worldcon Wrap

I’m not going to do a full-blown report on this year’s Worldcon. I didn’t have the time to do all of the investigative journalist stuff, and anyway I’m sure that the angry white men of UK fandom will be busily telling us what a utter disaster the event was any day now. I wouldn’t want to confuse them with actual facts. However, a few brief comments and thanks are in order.

Registration – we know how to do this, Worldcons should not be messing up that badly on such a basic function.

Programme – by far the most interesting programme of any Worldcon I can remember. Some of the room assignments went badly wrong, but that’s really hard to get right.

Dealers – everyone I spoke to was very happy. I know I sold 9 of the 10 copies of Airship Shape that I brought, so I am really pleased.

Exhibits – this was magnificent. I’m sure much of it was down to Farah’s energy and enthusiasm, but I suspect it also shows that having someone in charge who has a high profile and respectable academic job makes a huge difference to the willingness of people to be involved.

Art Show – it looked good to me. I was pleased to see many artists from all over Europe.

Masquerade – I missed it, but I have heard good things about it and am eagerly awaiting the video.

Hugos – went very smoothly for the most part, and some excellent winners. I was so very relieved.

Fan Village – a highlight of the event for me. It was so much better than room parties. However, I note that being able to do something like this is dependent on having a venue prepared to allow it. I have no idea how a convention center in another country would react to a request to allow fan groups to serve alcohol independently of the official bars.

The venue – I got a lot of exercise, and ate surprisingly well. Special thanks are due to Mint Leaves for being open so long. The one thing that was an issue was the fact that the professionals tended to socialize at the Fox while the fans tended to socialize in the Fan Village, which resulted in far more separation than I’m used to at Worldcon. Special thanks are due to Mary Robinette Kowal for taking her Hugo straight to the Fan Village after the ceremony, and encouraging others to do the same.

The people – another highlight. There was a much more diverse membership this year than any Worldcon I can remember. (I note that I did not attend the Japanese event).

It makes me very happy to see lots of other folk going on about how diverse the membership was, but I have a feeling that it would have been even more diverse, and much younger, had Nine Worlds not lured a lot of people away.

I also note that next year will be very different. Even many of my American friends are saying that they won’t go to Spokane. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they get more than 3500 attendees. Most of those people will be older Americans. So if you want the Hugo winners to be as good as this year, and in particular if you want another magnificently international Worldcon in Helsinki in 2017, you need to buy a supporting membership and vote in site selection. All of the good things about Loncon 3 could so easily be lost.

11 thoughts on “Worldcon Wrap

  1. I’ve got mixed feelings about the Fan Village. I think it was a brilliant concept and Eemeli and Alison and the whole hospitality team executed it as well as possible. But the constraints of working with convention center catering made for fewer parties than was ideal. It made what was already an expensive proposition even more expensive…

    1. I certainly understand the issue of party expense. I am still scarred by the horror of trying to run parties in Melbourne in 1999. But I don’t think parties as such were necessary in the Fan Village. It was enough to be there in an entertaining way. And that saves us all money, doesn’t it?

  2. I can echo the point about the dealers doing well… the table I was on sold out of some of the latest issues of their science fiction magazines, and still people were coming along for more!

  3. As this was my first Worldcon, I’ve not seen how registration has been handled more effectively elsewhere. What were the main problems in London, and how have they been handled at other cons? (I do agree it took rather long to queue on Thursday, but at the time I didn’t know if it was better or worse than other Worldcons.)

    1. I didn’t see what was happening when there were big queues, so I can’t say for certain what the issues were. It may have been an issue with queue management, it could have been the time to look up memberships, it could have been not having membership packs assembled ready to hand over, or it could simply have been not having enough staff to handle the demand. There are also things you need to do when queues develop, such as pulling out and prioritizing people who have trouble standing for long periods, or people who are program participants who need to get to their panels. L3 appears to have done these things, based on reports I have heard.

      1. Yes, there were at least people minding the queues, and pulling out programme participants (within the next hour or so). I assume the same applied for people not able to stand for long periods of time, but I didn’t notice any.

        The one thing I did see was that guests in the queue didn’t always notice an available staff member at the registration desk, especially with those positions that were a bit to the rear, but that alone wouldn’t have slowed things down all that much. I think membership packs weren’t fully assembled beforehand, but am not sure about that.

      2. It was my first WorldCon but my guess is that six desks was simply not enough. I’ve done registration at Discworld cons with the same number of desks (albeit a slightly different set up) and we have a tenth of the members! I’m curious if it was planned that way or if they were short of volunteers, which was apparently a problem for all departments throughout the con.

        A friend did a lot of hours on registration and he said that some people didn’t have the computer skills to look up memberships quite as fast as was optimal. But he didn’t think that would’ve saved a huge amount of time.

        I didn’t see anyone being advanced up the queue and I was keeping half an ear out because we had a four year old with us. It took over an hour and a half to get to registration and then we discovered we had to queue for the info desk to find out where childcare was located. It was an off-putting experience, altogether.

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