This news broke late yesterday in the US so it is all over teh intrawebs by now, but not all of you will be tuned in to fannish blogs so it probably bears repeating.
As per this announcement on their web site, the Seattle in 2011 Worldcon Bid has been forced to withdraw from the race. The official reason is inability to conclude a firm deal with their convention center. Reading between the lines, it sounds like they were gazzumped – another group with a lot more money wanted the facilities for the same date and muscled them out of the way.
I’d like to express my deepest sympathy to the members of the Seattle bid. Having been involved in Worldcon bids before, I know how much time and effort is required. This must be heartbreaking for them. It isn’t just that they have spend all that effort for nothing, you also have to factor in that some of them will have been involved in the 2002 bid that folded in similar circumstances. And then there’s the fact that one of the bid committee died in a car crash on the way to a convention to promote the bid. Things like that can’t just be shrugged off.
Inevitably, however, the fannish blogosphere wants to know “what this means”. The immediate knee jerk reaction has been for a whole bunch of people to say that Worldcon should have stuck to three year lead times rather than go to two years. I think that’s silly. Obviously I don’t have inside information, but I think there is a very good chance that this could have happened with a three-year lead time, or indeed with a five-year lead time. The basic problem is that Worldcon is not a big-money event, so at any time we are vulnerable to being pushed out of the way by other groups.
A more sensible reaction would be to point out the dangers of trying to hold Worldcon in a top-class venue like Seattle. It is, after all, exactly the sort of place we are likely to pushed out of. The same would have happened to us (SFSFC) in 2002 had we not been able to switch from San Francisco to San Jose. So people will be arguing for Worldcon to be held at smaller, out of the way venues such as Reno.
I can see the point, but to me it seems like giving up. I don’t want to move to a situation where the World Science Fiction Convention is an expensive week-long relaxacon held for the benefit of a few hundred old, rich and predominantly white fans who can afford to attend. I want Worldcon to bring science fiction to the people. And that means holding it in places where there is a large local population that doesn’t have to spend a fortune on air fares and hotel bills in order to attend. If we want Worldcon to continue to be relevant we have to keep trying to do that.
Anyway, the reason this news broke yesterday is that yesterday was the filing deadline for 2011 bids. The Seattle folks were obviously trying right up until the last minute to find a deal that would rescue their bid. But they didn’t get one, and now it is too late. I believe I am correct in saying that Reno is the only bid to have officially filed, so they have won by default. Congratulations to them. Knowing many of the people behind the Reno bid, I’m sure they will do an absolutely wonderful job.
And now, because the 2011 race has suddenly become rather boring, we need a good hoax bid. Where are those Xerps people when you need them?