Legal Complications

My thanks to everyone who welcomed the ideas Kevin and I had for reforming Hugo Award administration. However, I regret to say that I no longer believe that solution is possible. Here’s why.

As I explained yesterday, individual Worldcons are incorporated. They have to be, because they as subject to enormous legal risks. But WSFS, famously, is not incorporated. If we were to create an Independent Hugo Award Administration Committee as part of WSFS, that would also not be incorporated. Anyone who was unhappy with the results of the Hugos in a particular year could then sue the members of that committee for damages. No one would serve on such a committee under such circumstances.

There are technical ways around this, but they’d require a lot more wording in the original motion. In particular there is an organisation called WorldCon Intellectual Property Inc. (WIP) that exists to own the WSFS service marks. That could be re-puposed to own the IHAAC. Ironically, WIP was created out of the ashes of the corporation that Kevin and I created to run the SF&F Translation Awards, so it was originally an award organisation. But the creation of WIP was hugely controversial within WSFS, with many people seeing it as creeping incorporation. And of course there are plenty of people within fandom who think it is wrong for WSFS to own the Hugo marks at all.

So we could re-craft the motion so that the IHAAC reports directly to WIP, and its members are therefore protected by WIP’s corporate shield. However, that would leave little for WSFS to actually do. It is incorporation by another name, and it would make much more sense to simply transform WIP into WSFS Inc.. And that, I’m afraid, will not fly.

I may be wrong, but my sense is that there are still way too many people within fandom, and in particular amongst those who run Worldcons, who will fight to their dying breath to oppose incorporation of WSFS. Indeed, I suspect that some old-time fans will be trying to rise from their graves to come and vote against it.

At this point I think WSFS is dead in the water. It can’t enforce its own constitution, and the social contract by which Worldcons agreed to adhere to the Constitution anyway has been broken. The only possible remedy is anathema to too many people in fandom. I’m not sure we can get out of this.

A Smoking Gun?

There has been talk for a few days that Chengdu gave notice in advance that Hugo Administration might be subject to local laws. I’ve been reluctant to support it without proof, but that has now come through (thanks Nibedita Sen on Blue Sky). In Progress Report #2 on page 5 it says the following:

Eligible members vote according to the “one person, one vote” rule to select Hugo Award works and individuals that comply with local laws and regulations. The Chengdu organizing committee will review the nominated works and validate the votes.

Emphasis mine there.

So I guess we were warned.

FWIW, I don’t think there needs to have been direct government interference here. Having lived in the UK through Section 28 (the original “Don’t say gay” law), I have seen first hand how ordinary people, often out of fear, willingly implement, and often go well beyond, censorship required by government. Pressure from sponsors may have played a role, and the Chengdu committee may simply have been afraid for their safety if they did not do this. From the way Dave McCarty is behaving, I suspect they are also afraid of admitting to having done it.

How Did We Get Here?

One of the more common questions I’m getting asked on social media is why WSFS is not incorporated, and why is there so much resistance to it being so. I’m not really the right person to answer that, because I only started going to Worldcons in 1995. The fannish war over incorporartion had been going on for some time by then and was deemed mostly settled against the idea, but I will give it a go.

In 1995, incorporation was clearly still a hot potato. Most people back then thought that the Business Meeting was a load of boring nonsense, but the one thing I was told was guaranteed to get everyone out of the program sessions and into the BM to vote was a cry of, “WSFS Inc.! To the Barricades!!!”

So why exactly does Worldcon fandom have this horror of incorporation? It has become clear to me over the years that many people involved in running Worldcons despise WSFS and would be much happier if it went away. Part of that is sheer selfishness. Once they have got control over the shiny toy for a year they want to be able to run it however they want, not be constained by some stupid old constitution. But there is also a very real fear among con-runners of mechanisms that might come back to bite them.

Worldcon is a massive undertaking staffed entirely by volunteers. It is questionable as to why anyone would take on such a responsibility if they thought that there could be serious consequences for them if they got it wrong. Worldcons routinely take out insurance against being sued for various reasons, but having legal obligations to WSFS would be harder to avoid.

(Updating this because a couple of people read it in a way I didn’t intend. Individual Worldcons incorporate. They have to, and they have to do so under the laws of their host country. What Worldcons do not want is for WSFS to incorporate. Nor do they want to have to sign legal agreements with WSFS in exchange for the right to run Worldcon.)

Some of the responses to my suggestion for fixing the Hugos also cast light on the issue. Some people have responded that the Mark Protection Committee is the wrong body to take on the responsibility because the current members are all incompetent arseholes. Well, that’s an opinion, but that’s why I suggested that people might want to amend the motion to have them all stood down and new elections take place.

Heather Rose Jones has made some very good points about the dangers of having such a body, and she’s dead right. There are ways in which it could go bad. Democracy only works if we are constantly vigilant and prevent it being subverted.

But then there are people who say that it can never work because the wrong people will always get elected. That’s much more of a Libertarian viewpoint: all government is bad, because anyone who gets to be in government is bad.

That brings us back to the early years of Worldcon, and a time when many of the attendees were hard core Heinlein fans. Resistance to incorporation is, I think, at least in part driven by the idea that risking an occasional individual Worldcon going rogue is far preferable to creating an official body that might itself go rogue and then could not be stopped. If you agree with that assessment then you too should be against any proposal that creates an oversight body.

Up until now, of course, it has worked. Worldcons have mostly done the right things and followed the rules, even though they could not be forced to do so. Chengdu has changed all that. And I note that, when Kevin and I explain that there’s nothing that Glasgow can do about it under the Constitution, a common reaction is that they should just do it anyway. Going rogue can be infectious.

A Better Analogy for Worldcon

The social media drama about this year’s Hugos continues unabated. Kevin and I are still getting a fair amount of pushback to our attempts explain what can and can’t be done. A lot of this falls into two camps. Firstly there are the people who assume that we must be lying and are probably part of the conspiracy. And then there are people who quote bits of the WSFS Constitution at us as if this was some massive gotcha because of course we can’t possibly understand it ourselves. Neither of these groups are worth engaging with.

However, there are people who are prepared to listen. And one (thank you, Joseph), led me to what I think is a better explanation of how WSFS and Worldcon work.

Traditionally, people have compared Worldcon to the Olympics. Cities bid for the right to hold it. When one wins a bid, the local organising committee is largely responsible for running the event. But this analogy has two flaws. Firstly the International Olympic Committee actually exists. And secondly, they do have some limited power over how each year’s Olympics are run. In contrast, the “Hugo Board” does not exist, and no one has any power over a seated Worldcon.

A better analogy, I think, is that of a parliamentary election. We, the people (i.e. WSFS members), vote for a party to govern us. Once that party is elected, it may or may not do what is promised to do during the election. And it may do things that we definitely didn’t want it to. But, short of taking to the streets and protesting, there is little that we, as electors can do.

Of course a functioning democracy should have checks and balances on the power of the government. There might be a separately organised upper chamber, or a head of state, or a supreme court, or any combination of these. There may also be a written constitution. The only one of these that WSFS has is the constitution. But if the government acts against the constitution, what can be done? Typically you go to another branch of government to rein them in. However, WSFS does not have any other branch of government. In practical terms, the only thing preventing a Worldcon committee from acting against the WSFS Constitution is the shame that will befall them if they do so.

As we are seeing in real democracies, shame is no longer an effective check on elective dictatorship. The UK is a good example. The King is effectively powerless. The House of Lords is being subverted by the Tories by the simple expedient of given lots of their corrupt buddies peerages. (This is helped by their rapid turnover of Prime Ministers, as each one gets to have a Resignation Honours List.) As for the Supreme Court, when they tried to rein in Boris Johnson, he and his allies in the media branded them “enemies of the people”. The current big issue in Parliament is the government ramming through laws that say that the UK has the power to ignore international law, specifically over the policy of deporting asylum seekers to Rwanda. Rishi Sunak insists that he is doing this to protect “the will of the people”, despite opinon polls consistently showing that the people actually oppose this policy.

The Tories, at least, do have to worry about the next election. But Worldcon is an exhausting thing to run, and usually no one fan group will bid more than once every 10 years. By that time there will probably have been substantial turnover in the people involved, and fannish memories are short.

That, I’m afraid, is where we are with WSFS. Once seated, a Worldcon can pretty much do whatever it wants. There is no effective sanction on its behaviour. It is possible, and that is a separate discussion, that Chengdu had very good reasons to do at least some of what they did. But now that they have shown an apparent willingness to flout the Hugo rules, I expect future Worldcons to feel empowered to do so with no reason other than that they want to. I am, I hope obviously, very unhappy about this.

My BristolCon Schedule

BristolCon is this weekend. Things will be happening.

Most importantly, Juliet’s book launch for The Green Man’s Quarry is FRIDAY NIGHT. I can’t see anything on the convention website that makes this clear. Juliet will not be at the convention on the Saturday, so if you want to see her, or want a personalised signing, you need to be there on Friday night.

Signed books will, of course, be available in the Dealers’ Room on Saturday. I’ll be there most of the day.

However, at 13:00 I will be in Panel Room 2 for this:

How to make AI socialist?

AI and machine learning are set to transform the knowledge economy in the same way automation changed the manual labour economy. How can society learn from the mistakes of the past in not disempowering the workforce and putting lots of people out of work?

With peter sutton, Stephen Oram, Roz Clarke and Piotr Swietlik (M)

In a Business Meeting Far, Far Away

Worldcon is due to start in just a couple of days time. Kevin is on his way to China to keep some of the wheels of WSFS turning. Part of that, of course, involves the Business Meeting, which will have a very different flavour this year as the majority of attendees will probably be Chinese.

Chinese fandom has taken the whole thing very seriously. There are a whole load of new motions listed in the Agenda, many of which have been proposed by Chinese fans. Some of them are good ideas. For example, I’m very much in favour of adding a specific clause to note that works are eligible for the Hugos regardless of language. This has always been the case, but so many people refuse to believe it, and even firmly assert that it is not true, that we could do with some specific langauge.

It is also a good idea to have a specific rule about converting word counts into something that works in non-Western languages.

With several of the other proposals, I suspect that people will suddenly decide that the rule that changes to the WSFS Constitution must be passed by two successive Business Meetings is a good idea after all. But there is only one that I am actively worried about. That motion proposed deleting section 3.4.2 of the Constitution, which reads as follows:

3.4.2: Works originally published outside the United States of America and first published in the United States of America in the previous calendar year shall also be eligible for Hugo Awards.

The commentary on the motion reads:

The original clause reveals a tendency towards regional arrogance and a possibility of discrimination. We strongly recommend a revision to remove it, for impartiality.

I can quite see why the proposers of the motion should feel that way. It certainly seems odd that a particular part of the world is singled out in that way. It also looks like the rule favours American fans, because it gives them two opporunities to vote on a favourite book. However, that’s not what the rule is there for. The Hugo rules don’t, for the most part, care about fairness to fans. They do care about fairness to creators who might be eligible for awards.

The reason that 3.4.2 exists is because it is acknowledged that every year (possibly until now) the majority of voters in the Hugos are Americans. If a work in English is published in the USA, fine, no problem. The voters will have access to it. But if a book is published in the UK, in Australia, Nigeria, India, or any other country with a substantial English-language publishing industry, there is no guarantee that it will be published in the USA in the same year. If the book is successful in its home country, it may then be picked up by a US publisher in a later year, but by that time it will have burned its Hugo initial eligibility. No matter how much US fans like the book, they wouldn’t be able to vote for it if not for 3.4.2. And thanks to 3.4.2 it will have a much better chance of winning than it would the first time around.

No one really likes this rule. It would be much better if all books were published internationally at the same time. But that isn’t going to happen. Indeed, publishing seems to have got more insular of late, not less. So we are kind of stuck with it.

What I’m wondering is whether the same might apply to Chinese-language books. Suppose there was a science fiction small press in somewhere like Vancouver that has a large Chinese population, and it chose to publish a book in Mandarin. The book would sell very few copies in Canada, but it might be picked up by someone who took it back to China and showed it to a publishing house there, resulting in publication in China a year later. Chinese fans would find that they could not vote for it. If we are going to have a significant number of Chinese fans participating in the Hugos in years to come, the right thing to do might be to amend 3.4.2 to be about English language works published in the USA or Chinese language(s) works published in China. Longer term we might want to identify major markets for works in, for example, Spanish and Russian as well.

My hope is that, even if the motion passes in Chengdu, it will be kicked out in Glasgow. After all, Ken MacLeod is someone who has benefitted from 3.4.2. However, given the tendency of British fans to assume that the Hugos are rigged in favour of Americans, it would not surprise me to see the argument being put forward by the Chinese gain traction in the UK too. It would be ironic if a UK Worldcon did something that actively damaged the chances of UK authors winning Hugos, but it could happen.

My FantasyCon Schedule

FantasyCon is only a week and a bit away now. I will be there, but I will not have a dealer table as I still don’t have a car capable to transporting books to a con, and the car hire cost would not be economic. So…

If you want a book from Wizard’s Tower, let me know so I can bring it with me. Usual convention discounts will apply, so paperbacks are mostly £10.

If you are wanting the new Green Man book, that’s not ready yet, but I may have e-ARCs and the book should be at BristolCon.

And now, my panel schedule.

Building Your Writer Website- Saturday 10.00am (Panel Room 1)
E.M. Faulds (Moderator) Steve Morgan, George Penney, Ryan Cahill, Cheryl Morgan.

Designing and maintaining your own space on the internet is part and parcel of being a writer these days. Our panel will go through some of the ways you can set up your website and offer advice on the dos and don’ts.

Fantasy: Where Are The People Like Me? – Saturday 2.30pm (Panel Room 3)
Cheryl Morgan (Moderator), Lindz Mcleod, Omar Kooheji, C. L. McCartney.

A panel that looks at how different readers can see themselves in the fantasy worlds of authors. This is a consideration of identity and formative inspiration.

I’m currently also listed on The Great British Monster Off, but that appears to clash with the banquet so I’m waiting to hear back from the con on that one.

Pemmi-Con – Day 4

I was hoping to see a bit more of Winnipeg yesterday, but the timing of various events didn’t give me a decent-sized time slot so I spent time writing and doing a bit of Day Job instead.

My final panel was about AI. I had two excellent co-panellists. Helen Umberger works for a company that tries to monitor AIs for accuracy and lobbies for proper regulation of the industry. Having been involved in industry regulation for energy markets and commondities trading, I wish her the best of luck. Shalya Elizabeth is a Winnipeg local and a member of the Indigenous Writers’ Collective of Manitoba. Her perspective was invaluable.

I attended the Closing Ceremonies because it was an opportunity to catch up with Kevin, and I was hoping for another performance from the First Nations drummer. Both expectations were fulfilled. We also had a bagpiper, apparently in recognition of the Mansfields’ Scottish ancestry. Linda is a Ross, after all, and that’s a very fine Scottish name.

I should have reported yesterday that Buffalo won the right to hold the NASFiC next year, when Worldcon is in Glasgow. Obviously I can’t attend, so I have not been paying much attention. However, I’m delighted to see a Black man chairing an official WSFS convention. Congratulations to Wayne Brown and his team. The full view of the Business Meeting at which his convention was officially seated is below, and you can find him around 9 minutes in, after Kevin has finished with the official stuff and Sharon Sbarsky has announced the results of the voting.

I’m now all packed and ready to head off to the airport. Thanks are due to my room-mate, Heather Rose Jones, for saving me a lot of money and providing companionship. And of course to the Pemmi-Con committee who did a good job under difficult circumstances.

Pemmi-Con – Day 3


I didn’t see much of the convention on Saturday. In the morning I took myself off to the Human Rights Museum, which is something you don’t get in every city you visit. It is, in various ways, amazing, heart-rending and disappointing. Certainly worth a visit, but equally a measure of who is deemed to have a legitimate human rights struggle and who isn’t.

The afternoon was spent taking care of some WSFS stuff with Kevin. If he gets a visa for China, he probably won’t be able to update the Hugo Awards website from Chengdu. I will be at BristolCon. Somehow we will get it done, though it will probably be behind places like Tor.com and Locus.

The evening saw the Pemmi-Con masquerade, which I went along to because my good friend, Sandy Manning, was running it. It was small, but very well done. I almost ended up on the judging panel, but thankfully Sandy found someone better qualified in time. They had four novices who had never been on stage before, including one young lad who had used a 3D printer to make parts of his costume. The journeyman category had a topically revived Barbie costume that had last been in competition in 1999. There were three master level entries. It is not often that you will see the Pettingers place third in a field of three, which should tell you a lot about the quality of the entries. The clear winner, by audience acclamation as well as by the jury, Best in Show in both Presentation and Workmanship, was the Baba Yaga’s Hut costume pictured above.

Today’s job, other than one panel, is to find the names to go with the photos I have taken so I can do a fuller write-up in Salon Futura.

Pemmi-Con – Day 2

Yesterday I was scheduled to give my talk on the Pre-History of Robotics. As per yesterday’s report, it had to be moved because I’d been put in a room with no screen or projector. I ended up in York 2 in the 5:30pm program slot.

This was progress in that I knew that room did have the necessary kit, but that’s only half the problem. Should I be sending my slides to someone, or could I use my own laptop? And what about the online part of the convention? I figured I should check the room out early. It turned out that the tech kit in the room was an Apple laptop that didn’t have PowerPoint, so I’d have to use my own machine. To do that I needed to be able to log in to Zoom as a panelist. I should have an email with a link, right? Er, no.

Apparently the links for the day were not send out until 1:00pm. Once I had the email, it all went fairly smoothly at my end. Sadly the same was not true for the online participants who had problems with the sound throughout. I don’t blame the tech guy in the room for this. Like many of the con staff, he was a very late recruit. And having to do set-up on a different machine for each program item is far from ideal, especially with only 15 minutes between panels. The Eastercon system of allowing 30 minutes between panels because the tech for a hybrid con needs that much time is sounding more and more sensible.

Anyway, I had a reasonable-sized audience and they seemed to enjoy the talk. My apologies again to the online audience.

The rest of my day was taken up with being photographed. There’s a Bay Area fan photographer called Richard Man who has a project to take high quality photos of prominent people in the field using a lovely old camera. It is one of those things where you have to slide a plate in for each shot, which puts a tremendous amount of pressure on getting each take right. My official photo was taken by Lou Abercrombie using a digital camera and she must have taken at least 300 shots. Richard told me he can only afford two per subject.

As it turned out, I ended up being done twice. Richard, having not been involved with Bay Area fandom when I lived there, hadn’t been entirely sure who I was. After the initial shot he did a bit more research as asked me if I’d come back for a photo using a Hugo trophy. There are three on display in the Exhibits area, one of which is Kevin’s which he got for being co-chair of ConJosé so there was no problem borrowing one.

It will be a while before I see the results as the plates need to be developed, but you can see some of Richard’s work here, and there is more available in this year’s Hugo packet as he is a finalist for Best Fan Artist. Y’all should vote for him ‘cos he’s lovely.

Pemmi-Con Program Update

My talk on the Prehistory of Robotics is now taking place at 5:30pm in York 2, so I should have a screen and projector.

Also I am on “How technology treats minorities and women differently” at 1:00pm on Sunday in York 3. For some reason that doesn’t show up on list view or tile view on the online schedule, but it is on the grid view.

I’d suggest trying the Speakers page to get a list of my panels, but I’m not listed as a speaker.

As a software professional, I’m a little aghast that it is possible for these things to be wrong in Grenadine.

Pemmi-Con – Day 1

I am in Canada, by the skin of my teeth. I am getting too old for travel nightmares.

When I booked this trip I was due to have a Noon flight from Heathrow on Tuesday, spend Wednesday morning with clients, and be on a 6:00pm flight to Winnipeg. That so did not happen.

On Monday morning I got a text from Air Canada saying that my flight from Heathrow was cancelled and they were trying to find me an alternative flight. I was due to see Roz Kaveney who is in hospital recovering from a hip operation, so I put the flight to the back of my mind and went on with my day. But while I was in the hospital I got another text saying that no alternative flights were available and promising a refund. Of course that would only be a refund from the London-Toronto, not the Toronto-Winnipeg. Plus no convention.

Once I’d handed over visitor duties to Roz’s partner, I went on to my hotel at Heathrow (which I had already paid for) and set about trying to fix things. I had been in the queue to speak to Air Canada for about 5 minutes when a new text came through. They had found me a flight to Toronto. It was leaving at around the same time, but from Zurich. So would I please get myself to Heathrow in time to catch the 6:00am Swiss Air flight to get me out there. That meant getting up at 2:30am. It is a good job that I had an airport hotel.

Anyway, I made it, and I got to see Zurich, if only from the air. I got to my Toronto airport hotel around 5:00pm local and went to bed at around 8:00pm as I needed to be up at 5:00am to get to my client’s offices. Somehow I managed to deliver a training course without falling asleep.

Some weeks back the 6:00pm Winnipeg flight had been changed to 6:30pm, which was fine. I was just leaving the client’s offices when a new text came in. The Winnipeg flight would be 7:45pm. We had two gate changes between my arriving at Pearson and the flight starting to board. Boarding began at around 7:40pm, but by 8:00pm we were all on board. And then we sat there, for over an hour. Waiting for I know not what. The pilot blamed it on the ground crew being slow loading the baggage, but it shouldn’t take over an hour to get that done. It was almost midnight by the time I got to bed.

Goodness only knows what will happen on the trip home. I expect to be stranded in Toronto on Monday night.

But before then I have a convention. Today I have watched online talks at the universities of Bristol and Glasgow, which were much more interesting than the programing here. Then I did a panel on diversity in SF&F in past times. I was looking forward to that because I’ve met no end of 20-something fans who are convinced that there were no PoC or queer folks in SF&F before about 2010. But, as it turned out, I’m actually in the younger half of attendees here. Many of the audience were older than me, and they knew a lot about old books, stories and writers. Anyway, I got to rant about Heinlein. My thanks to Nisi Shawl and Sandra Bond for being great co-panelists.

Tomorrow I am giving a talk on the Pre-History of Robotics. I can’t tell you where, but it probably won’t be in York 3 as advertised because that room has no screen or projector.

I get the impression that the concom here are doing sterling work with far too little money and ever fewer volunteers.

However, it has all been worth it because I got to see the First Nations woman perform at openening ceremonies. It was just her voice and a tympanum-like drum, but she was amazing. The wolf song was particularly impressive, you could really feel the drama of the pack chasing down its prey.

Winnipeg Ho!

I’ll be leaving for Winnipeg and Pemmi-Con early on Monday. Pretty much any overseas trip from Wales takes a couple of days. Also I’m spending a day in Toronto along the way to visit some clients. I should arrive in Winnipeg on Wednesday evening.

With the convention less than a week away, I’d assumed that I had not been allocated any programming. This isn’t a problem. I’ve not been to Winnipeg before and am looking forward to seeing the city. Also I haven’t seen Kevin since December. But in my email this morning was a message from the programming team. The schedule isn’t finalised yet, but I am doing at least two program items.

Knowing the Roots: Representation in the Genre before (provisionally Thursday 14:30 – 15:45, in York 2, Convention Center)

Modern SF is often considered to be inclusive. But when did the genre begin to include representatives of BIPOC and/or LGBTQ communities? Our panellists point out hidden examples of early SF that treat these communities with respect.

The Prehistory of Robotics (Friday 16:00 – 17:15, Charleswood B, Delta Hotel)

If you were at the Dublin Worldcon, or the Finncon I did it for, you will have seen this. But I’m guessing that most of the Pemmi-Con attendees will not have seen it. Hopefully they will come along and learn about ancient robots.

I will update this when I get a final schedule.

Kiitos Jyväskylä

This year’s Finncon took place in Tampere last weekend. At the closing ceremony they handed over to next year’s convention, which will be in Jyväskylä. A key part of the ceremony is the announcement of the Guests of Honour. Those will be Ursula Vernon (who needs no introduction); Tiina Raevaara, a fine Finnish writer; Jyrki Korpua, a respected academic who has shared the ToC with me in some of the Academia Lunare books; Tero Ykspetäjä, who has been a mainstay of Finnish conrunning for many years; and me.

That’s really incredibly kind of them. It is getting like Peadar O’Guilin being a permanent GoH at LuxCon, though for me it only happens when Finncon is in Jyväskylä because the con-runners there are sweet and lovely people who seem to like me rather a lot. (I should also note that it will cost them almost nothing as I pay for my own travel and will probably stay with friends while I’m there.)

Anyway, it will be fabulous. I’m particularly pleased for Tero. For context, if he was British, he would certainly have won the Doc Weir Award by now. Hopefully I will see some of you in Jyväskylä next year.

Introducing Archipelacon 2

Updated with correct year and Guests of Honour.

I’ve had a very busy day in Uppsala. Two panels went well. Martha Wells was on one and she’s as smart and lovely as I expected. But the main reason for this post is that our Finnish friends have confirmed that Archipelacon 2 will be a real thing. The dates are June 26-29, 2025. It is a Eurocon as well. I hope to see lots of you there. There’s not a lot on the website yet, but here it is.

What is now on the website is the list of Guests of Honour. They are:

  • Jeff VanderMeer
  • Ann VanderMeer
  • Mats Strandberg
  • Emmi Itäranta

Those are all very fine people. Please do not read Mats’ horror novel set on a Baltic sea ferry before travelling to Åland.

Hello from Uppsala

I’m here, and the convention is underway. The travel was very smooth, despite the train line being closed for repair. The bus was fine. If you are coming through Arlanda tomorrow, buy a ticket from the info desk, or one of the newsagents (it is 99 kr) and then follow the signs to the bus stops. You want stop 1 which is at the far end as you exit the terminal buildings. I have done my first panel, which I thought went very well. So far, so good.

Also Uppsala looks like a lovely town. There are plenty of places to eat, a lovely river, a splendid cathedral, and of course the university where the convention is being held and which dates back to around 1600.

In other news, yesterday’s experiment worked well with Mastdon, but not with Farcebook because apparently you can only cross-post to a Farcebook page, not to your main account. It is not called Farcebook for nothing.

Test Post

The main reason for this post is that WordPress finally has an official cross-posting facility for Mastodon. Previous I have been using a special plugin, which worked, but is not an ideal solution. Hopefully the official system will also work.

WordPress no longer cross-posts to Twitter because the Musk Rat is an arsehole and doesn’t understand how social media ecosystems work. Given that it doesn’t, and that not enough of you are on Mastodon, I have reluctantly re-connected Farcebook. So this is a test for that as well.

Finally, because I shouldn’t do a post with no news, I am writing this from a hotel at Heathrow because I have an early flight to Stockholm tomorrow. If all goes well, by this time tomorrow I will be in Uppsala and will have done my first panel.

My Eurocon Schedule

Updated because I missed one.

In just over a week I will be in Uppsala, Sweden for this year’s Eurocon. I will be on panels. Here’s what I’m doing.

Thursday, 8 June 2023: 18:00 CST
Using Speculative Fiction as Your Research Ground — Speculative fiction is the fertile soil from which we’ve grown a thousand ideas, while simultaneously acting as the lens through which we study those very same ideas and theories. But what does research in this field imply? Is there opportunity, funding, and support? Or is the trajectory of the research marred by the long-term stereotypes concerning the genre itself — that sff just isn’t “good enough”? — with Anna Bark Persson, Niels Dalgaard, Karolina Fedyk & Merja Polvinen.

Friday, 9 June 2023: 13:00 CST
Alternate History — Alternate History is a fictional subgenre telling history the way it could have been. What if de Gaulle was killed in that attack? What if humans landed on the moon much earlier than the 1960’s? There are many intriguing books to read! This panel talks about Alternate History books and discusses them. What is your favorite? Is it Fantastic literature or just cool? — with Jean Bürlesk, Rasmus Häggblom, Jukka Halme & Martha Wells.

Friday, 9 June 2023: 15:00 CST
The Emperor’s new book — Sometimes a book just doesn’t live up to the hype. Our panellists share their unpopular opinions about books they feel have been praised without actually being worthy. Are we missing something, or are some popular books just bad? — with Jukka Halme, Stefan Högberg, John-Henri Holmberg & Gunilla Rydbeck.

Saturday, 10 June 2023: 12:00 CST
Families of the future — The nuclear family is a relatively recent invention. Going into the future, families may be something very different. In science fiction there are many descriptions of unconventional family structures. How do we imagine the families of the future today? How have these been explored within the SF genre? — with Saga Bolund, Eva Holmquist, Jane Mondrup & Nina Niskanen.

The full programme schedule can be found here.

Health Update

Still sick, still testing positive for COVID. Not the best way to spend a birthday, but at least I am able to have a fairly quiet day, which I very much need.

Looking forward, a few things are becoming obvious.

Firstly, attending any mass event such as a convention is going to require accepting a very high likelihood of contracting COVID. People have given up taking precautions, we have very little reliable public data, it is hard to protect yourself if you go.

Having said that, COVID no longer seems deadly. I’ve not had any difficulty breathing. My senses of taste and smell have been unaffected. Judging from the puzzle games I play regularly, I don’t seem to have suffered any congnitive impairment. Obviously things might be different if I had one of any number of high risk conditions, but I’m lucky.

But, and this is a big but, if you are going to risk getting COVID, you have to allow for at least two weeks, possibly three, of recovery time, and that creates scheduling issues.

Clearly my plan to go to LuxCon immediately after Eastercon was a recipe for disaster. I might make it to HistFest at the end of April, but I’m not certain.

May is just the Tolkien lecture, and there’s plenty of time to recover before Eurocon. I was going to see a couple of talks at Hay at the end of the month, but I doubt that I’ll have a new car by then.

Finncon and Pemmi-Con being close together is another potential disaster. I trust the Finns to run a safe con, but I’d be travelling through Heathrow to get there and that’s likely to be an infection hot-spot.

FantasyCon and BristolCon are sufficiently far apart to both be possible. But if I have no car I can’t bring books to sell, and that reduces the attraction of going.

All of which, I guess, will be good for my carbon footprint.