So, the Helsinki Worldcon is now a reality. The vote tally was officially confirmed at the WSFS Business Meeting yesterday, and the newly seated convention has launched its website.
Very quickly long-time Worldcon attendees noticed something different about it. The name of the convention is Worldcon 75. That’s it. No silly fannish name. No local focus. Just Worldcon. I love it.
Partly that’s because Worldcon has a long history of conventions that have seem themselves as far more important than the fact that they are Worldcons. It is, in a way, an artifact of the resolutely anti-authoritarian stance of WSFS, but it is also a result of jingoism by committees (and not just nationalist jingoism either, city and state pride comes into it too). Helsinki has, in effect, made a statement that it sees being a Worldcon as important, not as an annoying inconvenience. However, they also put out this tweet:
— Worldcon 75 (@worldcon75) August 24, 2015
That made me really happy. Looking at what went on in Spokane on Saturday night, and much of the reaction on social media afterwards, I got a very strong impression of a community drawing in on itself. That’s a very natural reaction of a community that is under attack, which it very much was, but it is also a lost opportunity. Thanks to our Morose Mongrel “friends”, we have had an explosion of interest in the Hugo Awards and Worldcon this year. (Over 48 Gb of web traffic yesterday, over 81,000 visitors to the website, lots of interest from mainstream media outlets.) This is a golden opportunity to reach out to new people and welcome them in, not a time for bristling against anyone seen as “not part of our community”. Helsinki appears to be determined to try to grasp that opportunity.
Finally, look at their Guests of Honor:
- John-Henri Holmberg – Swedish, male; fan and publisher
- Nalo Hopkinson – Jamaican, queer female; author
- Johanna Sinisalo – Finnish, female; author
- Claire Wendling – French, female; comics artist
- Walter Jon Williams – White male American writer of thrilling space adventures, with Finnish ancestry
They could so easily have had a mostly-Finnish or mostly-Nordic guest list, and I do hope that the convention will also make a big fuss of the likes of Petri Hiltunen, Toni Jerrman and Irma Hirsjärvi. But that is a brilliant set of Guests of Honor. Someone thought very hard about those choices. Well done, Helsinki. Let’s continue putting the world in Worldcon.