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Worldcon in the news

You've probably seen news reports that the Hugo awards handed out last year at the world science fiction convention in Chengdu were rigged. For example: Science fiction awards held in China under fire for excluding authors.

The Guardian got bits of the background wrong, but what's undeniably true is that it's a huge mess. And the key point the press and most of the public miss is that they seem to think there's some sort of worldcon organization that can fix this.

Spoiler: there isn't.

(Caveat: what follows below the cut line is my brain dump, from 20km up, in lay terms, of what went wrong. I am not a convention runner and I haven't been following the Chengdu mess obsessively. If you want the inside baseball deets, read the File770 blog. If you want to see the rulebook, you can find it here (along with a bunch more stuff). I am on the outside of the fannish discourse and flame wars on this topic, and I may have misunderstood some of the details. I'm open to authoritative corrections and will update if necessary.)

SF conventions are generally fan-run (amateur) get-togethers, run on a non-profit/volunteer basis. There are some exceptions (the big Comiccons like SDCC, a couple of really large fan conventions that out-grew the scale volunteers can run them on so pay full-time staff) but generally they're very amateurish.

SF conventions arose organically out of SF fan clubs that began holding face to face meet-ups in the 1930s. Many of them are still run by local fan clubs and usually they stick to the same venue for decades: for example, the long-running Boskone series of conventions in Boston is run by NESFA, the New England SF Association; Novacon in the UK is run by the Birmingham SF Group. Both have been going for over 50 years now.

Others are less location-based. In the UK, there are the British Eastercons held over the easter (long) bank holiday weekend every year in a different city. It's a notionally national SF convention, although historically it's tended to be London-centric. They're loosely associated with the BSFA, which announces it's own SF awards (the BSFA awards) at the eastercon.

Because it's hard to run a convention when you live 500km from the venue, local SF societies or organizer teams talk to hotels and put together a bid for the privilege of working their butts off for a weekend. Then, a couple of years before the convention, there's a meeting and a vote at the preceding-but-one con in the series where the members vote on where to hold that year's convention.

Running a convention is not expense-free, so it's normal to charge for membership. (Nobody gets paid, but conventions host guests of honour—SF writers, actors, and so on—and they get their membership, hotel room, and travel expenses comped in the expectation that they'll stick around and give talks/sign books/shake hands with the members.)

What's less well-known outside the bubble is that it's also normal to offer "pre-supporting" memberships (to fund a bid) and "supporting" memberships (you can't make it to the convention that won the bidding war but you want to make a donation). Note that such partial memberships are upgradable later for the difference in cost if you decide to attend the event.

The world science fiction convention is the name of a long-running series of conventions (the 82nd one is in Glasgow this August) that are held annually. There is a rule book for running a worldcon. For starters, the venue is decided by a bidding war between sites (as above). For seconds, members of the convention are notionally buying membership, for one year, in the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS). The rule book for running a worldcon is the WSFS constitution, and it lays down the rules for:

  • Voting on where the next-but-one worldcon will be held ("site selection")
  • Holding a business meeting where motions to amend the WSFS constitution can be discussed and voted on (NB: to be carried a motion must be proposed and voted through at two consecutive worldcons)
  • Running the Hugo awards

The important thing to note is that the "worldcon" is *not a permanent organization. It's more like a virus that latches onto an SF convention, infects it with worldcon-itis, runs the Hugo awards and the WSFS business meeting, then selects a new convention to parasitize the year after next.

No worldcon binds the hands of the next worldcon, it just passes the baton over in the expectation that the next baton-holder will continue the process rather than, say, selling the baton off to be turned into matchsticks.

This process worked more or less fine for eighty years, until it ran into Chengdu.

Worldcons are volunteer, fan-organized, amateur conventions. They're pretty big: the largest hit roughly 14,000 members, and they average 4000-8000. (I know of folks who used "worked on a British eastercon committee" as their dissertation topic for degrees in Hospitality Management; you don't get to run a worldcon committee until you're way past that point.) But SF fandom is a growing community thing in China. And even a small regional SF convention in China is quite gigantic by most western (trivially, US/UK) standards.

My understanding is that a bunch of Chinese fans who ran a successful regional convention in Chengdu (population 21 million; slightly more than the New York metropolitan area, about 30% more than London and suburbs) heard about the worldcon and thought "wouldn't it be great if we could call ourselves the world science fiction convention?"

They put together a bid, then got a bunch of their regulars to cough up $50 each to buy a supporting membership in the 2021 worldcon and vote in site selection. It doesn't take that many people to "buy" a worldcon—I seem to recall it's on the order of 500-700 votes—so they bought themselves the right to run the worldcon in 2023. And that's when the fun and games started.

See, Chinese fandom is relatively isolated from western fandom. And the convention committee didn't realize that there was this thing called the WSFS Constitution which set out rules for stuff they had to do. I gather they didn't even realize they were responsible for organizing the nomination and voting process for the Hugo awards, commissioning the award design, and organizing an awards ceremony, until about 12 months before the convention (which is short notice for two rounds of voting. commissioning a competition between artists to design the Hugo award base for that year, and so on). So everything ran months too late, and they had to delay the convention, and most of the students who'd pitched in to buy those bids could no longer attend because of bad timing, and worse ... they began picking up an international buzz, which in turn drew the attention of the local Communist Party, in the middle of the authoritarian clamp-down that's been intensifying for the past couple of years. (Remember, it takes a decade to organize a successful worldcon from initial team-building to running the event. And who imagined our existing world of 2023 back in 2013?)

The organizers appear to have panicked.

First they arbitrarily disqualified a couple of very popular works by authors who they thought might offend the Party if they won and turned up to give an acceptance speech (including "Babel", by R. F. Kuang, which won the Nebula and Locus awards in 2023 and was a favourite to win the Hugo as well).

Then they dragged their heels on releasing the vote counts—the WSFS Constitution requires the raw figures to be released after the awards are handed out.

Then there were discrepancies in the count of votes cast, such that the raw numbers didn't add up.

The haphazard way they released the data suggests that the 911 call is coming from inside the house: the convention committee freaked out when they realized the convention had become a political hot potato, rigged the vote badly, and are now farting smoke signals as if to say "a secret policeman hinted that it could be very unfortunate if we didn't anticipate the Party's wishes".

My take-away:

The world science fiction convention coevolved with fan-run volunteer conventions in societies where there's a general expectation of the rule of law and most people abide by social norms irrespective of enforcement. The WSFS constitution isn't enforceable except insofar as normally fans see no reason not to abide by the rules. So it works okay in the USA, the UK, Canada, the Netherlands, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, and all the other western-style democracies it's been held in ... but broke badly when a group of enthusiasts living in an authoritarian state won the bid then realized too late that by doing so they'd come to the attention of Very Important People who didn't care about their society's rulebook.

Immediate consequences:

For the first fifty or so worldcons, worldcon was exclusively a North American phenomenon except for occasional sorties to the UK. Then it began to open up as cheap air travel became a thing. In the 21st century about 50% of worldcons are held outside North America, and until 2016 there was an expectation that it would become truly international.

But the Chengdu fubar has created shockwaves. There's no immediate way to fix this, any more than you'll be able to fix Donald Trump declaring himself dictator-for-life on the Ides of March in 2025 if he gets back into the White House with a majority in the House and Senate. It needs a WSFS constitutional amendment at least (so pay attention to the motions and voting in Glasgow, and then next year, in Seattle) just to stop it happening again. And nobody has ever tried to retroactively invalidate the Hugo awards. While there's a mechanism for running Hugo voting and handing out awards for a year in which there was no worldcon (the Retrospective Hugo awards—for example, the 1945 Hugo Awards were voted on in 2020—nobody considered the need to re-run the Hugos for a year in which the vote was rigged. So there's no mechanism.

The fallout from Chengdu has probably sunk several other future worldcon bids—and it's not as if there are a lot of teams competing for the privilege of working themselves to death: Glasgow and Seattle (2024 and 2025) both won their bidding by default because they had experienced, existing worldcon teams and nobody else could be bothered turning up. So the Ugandan worldcon bid has collapsed (and good riddance, many fans would vote NO WORLDCON in preference to a worldcon in a nation that recently passed a law making homosexuality a capital offense). The Saudi Arabian bid also withered on the vine, but took longer to finally die. They shifted their venue to Cairo in a desperate attempt to overcome Prince Bone-saw's negative PR optics, but it hit the buffers when the Egyptian authorities refused to give them the necessary permits. Then there's the Tel Aviv bid. Tel Aviv fans are lovely people, but I can't see an Israeli worldcon being possible in the foreseeable future (too many genocide cooties right now). Don't ask about Kiev (before February 2022 they were considering bidding for the Eurocon). And in the USA, the prognosis for successful Texas and Florida worldcon bids are poor (book banning does not go down well with SF fans).

Beyond Seattle in 2025, the sole bid standing for 2026 (now the Saudi bid has died) is Los Angeles. Tel Aviv is still bidding for 2027, but fat chance: Uganda is/was targeting 2028, and there was some talk of a Texas bid in 2029 (all these are speculative bids and highly unlikely to happen in my opinion). I am also aware of a bid for a second Dublin worldcon (they've got a shiny new conference centre), targeting 2029 or 2030. There may be another Glasgow or London bid in the mid-30s, too. But other than that? I'm too out of touch with current worldcon politics to say, other than, watch this space (but don't buy the popcorn from the concession stand, it's burned and bitter).

UPDATE

A commenter just drew my attention to this news item on China.org.cn, dated October 23rd, 2023, right after the worldcon. It begins:

Investment deals valued at approximately $1.09 billion were signed during the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in Chengdu, Sichuan province, last week at its inaugural industrial development summit, marking significant progress in the advancement of sci-fi development in China.

The deals included 21 sci-fi industry projects involving companies that produce films, parks, and immersive sci-fi experiences ..."

That's a metric fuckton of moolah in play, and it would totally account for the fan-run convention folks being discreetly elbowed out of the way and the entire event being stage-managed as a backdrop for a major industrial event to bootstrap creative industries (film, TV, and games) in Chengdu. And—looking for the most charitable interpretation here—the hapless western WSFS people being carried along for the ride to provide a veneer of worldcon-ness to what was basically Chinese venture capital hijacking the event and then sanitizing it politically.

Follow the money.

285 Comments

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1:

I am going to be at the Business meeting in Glasgow. And we will see what CAN be done.

I never knew that the CCP was someone unhappy (or potentially, if this is a case of self-censorship) with me, personally, but here we are.

2:

I'd be kind of happy if Helsinki had it the second time, as I missed the previous one for personal reasons. (Had the membership and all.)

I'm not sure the people who did it want to do it the second time and how many new people there would be to help, though. The people I know who worked on it were quite exhausted, obviously.

I hope the Chinese fans learned something from this. I'd be happy if also the Chinese government learned something good from this, but I doubt it.

3:

I have a slightly different view of the pre-con troubles which ailed the Chengdu Worldcon. Basically, I believe the bidders were fairly clued into the formal requirements of running a Worldcon. They also believed or were sure of some form of meaningful government support (and I posit you cannot run a Worldcon without such support in some way; this is not unique to China). What I think happened is that that support simply didn't materialise for the first year after selection. Then about half a year before the con, outside assistance simply flowed into the con: it was very well organised from what I've understood afterwards.

As for the Hugo (and Astounding (not a Hugo)) nomination irregularities, I'm not sure who to blame within the organisation. I believe they acted out of some misjudged self-censorship more than outside pressure. But I cannot see a way for Dave McCarty or Ben Yalow to ever be allowed near the Hugo award process in the future.

4:

I posit you cannot run a Worldcon without such support in some way; this is not unique to China

I am not aware of there ever having been official government support in the USA, UK, Ireland, Canada, Australia, or NZ, above the level of the local tourist board offering advice on hotels and conference centres. (The Dutch worldcon ... dunno, but probably not there, either.)

Dictatorships rely on self-censorship to grease the wheels: I had some enlightening conversations with an East German SF author and sometime editor of the GDR's SF magazine (pre-1989) about how things ran. It was always easier for him to buy German translations of stories previously published in a Soviet SF magazine because the East German censor would rubber-stamp them, on the assumption that the Soviet censors had okayed the story already: anything else was more effort. Water flows downhill, and so does censorship.

5:

Just a niggle. The USA or UK equivalent of the Chinese government includes a lot of privatised and even 'private' organisations, which maintain their position by implementing government policy. I doubt very much that any of them were involved, either, given the attitude to SF in our governments, but it's important to compare like with like.

In particular, the USA and UK also rely on self-censorship to grease the wheels, though not to the extent of China. Again, the chances of that affecting an SF convention are piffling(*), largely because of total lack of interest, but I can assure you that it does affect conventions nearer to the government's agenda.

(*) Unless it wanted a guest of honour from Palestine or Iran.

6:

I might have a bit of expansive view of government support here, but here are some examples:

  • Having a local tourist board to help wrangle and coordinate convention centers and hotels is a hugely important and valuable service.
  • Glasgow 2005 had some important monetary kickbacks based on how many hotel beds they managed to fill.
  • Having higher-up people saying "this is important" is a wonderful way to grease the wheels. Dublin 2017 had a welcome from the president of Ireland. Helsinki had an opening reception for staff and select guests in the Helsinki city hall. Or the Beefeaters at Loncon 2014.

The Dublin financial report (to the 2020 WSFS business meeting) also lists significant grants to the con. But I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the support didn't appear during the bidding phase.

7:

In 6: The last sentence should have read:

But I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of the support mainly appeared during the bidding phase.

8:
  • Poznan, for example, puts on an annual volunteer-run convention that's roughly ten times the size of contemporary Worldcons. I've recently learned of Comiket in Japan, which is fan-run, twice annually, and has attendance in the range of half a million people — two orders of magnitude larger than Worldcon. So Worldcons are biggish, but nowhere near biggest.

(Although that in itself suggests a fix for some of what ails Worldcon: a hybrid LargeCon X/Worldcon Y is probably a viable model, especially now that 2021–23 have shown that Worldcon's schedule is more flexible than previous tradition would have suggested.)

  • Is the Uganda bid dead? I can't tell from just checking online.

  • Uncontested Worldcon bids have been more the rule than the exception over the last 15 years or so, I think. That points toward some long-standing challenges for the larger community.

  • This post from Ada Palm on censorship and self-censorship in the last few centuries is quite good. Takeaway: "The majority of censorship is self-censorship, but the majority of self-censorship is intentionally cultivated by an outside power." https://www.exurbe.com/tools-for-thinking-about-censorship/

9:

Poznan, for example, puts on an annual volunteer-run convention that's roughly ten times the size of contemporary Worldcons.

Yes, I've been a guest of honour at Pyrkon in Poznan and it was a trip. "Small regional convention" my ass! But also: it was more gaming and cosplay than written SF (although the written stream was huge in its own right), and they did stuff you won't find at a US or UK convention, like turning one of the halls in the international conference centre over for use by folks with sleeping bags who'd hitch-hiked in from all over Eastern Europe.

On the hybrid con model: DragonCon in Atlanta would definitely be on the right scale to host a worldcon as a side-quest some time.

10:

I hope the Chinese fans learned something from this. I'd be happy if also the Chinese government learned something good from this, but I doubt it.

I bet a memo/directive went out about how the local party leaders should more closely monitor clubs and such and when to report their activities "up the ladder".

Plus some new and/or updated directives for clubs to follow.

11:

and are now farting smoke signals as if to say "a secret policeman hinted that it could be very unfortunate if we didn't anticipate the Party's wishes".

I would buy this if Dave McCarty were currently in China or were a Chinese citizen or were dropping hints to the effect of "yes, I can't say more but you're asking the right questions." But he's not and he's not and by all accounts he's upset that people are all upset? At him? If you're signalling for help, being a jerk to the rescuers is a non-obvious strategy.

But I don't know the guy. Ben Yalow at least I remember from Usenet.

DragonCon in Atlanta would definitely be on the right scale to host a worldcon as a side-quest some time.

People keep mentioning this, but DragonCon is a for-profit con with its own award turmoil. I can't see Worldcon fans going anywhere near it.

SDCC is a better example, being a non-profit. (Which I didn't know until this morning.)

12:

They've had a comic con here in Raleigh and I don't know if you had to have a membership, but you could pay for admission at the door.

I don't think those who paid to get in got to vote on anything, but they did get to attend the panel discussions & meet the celebrities (those who were willing to meet & sign autographs.

Do the WorldCons work this way? Do they have paid admissions for non-members?

13:

They might learn that they should get someone competent to rig the results?

It really isn't hard to manipulate such data enough that people might be suspicious, but it is plausible and very hard to prove to be forged. It does need a fair amount of statistical and related nous, but I am damn sure that China has plenty of such people.

14:

As bad as the vote rigging in, the aftermath may well be worse, because it points to systemic problems rather than a one-off. There are way too many WSFS people who seem to be reacting by refusing to consider there's even a problem or that there could be a fix, out of what seems to be a reflexive and toxic reaction by the old guard / SMOFs to change or the thought of being wrong. I've seen a lot of other organizations, like service clubs and veterans halls, where elderly members keep a death grip on power, refuse to listen to The Youth (anyone under 60), and take the org into the grave with them. I've seen folks saying over on File770 that things like tabulating nominations are far too complicated for mere non-fen to comprehend and that there's no reason why each WorldCon should use the same software to count the final vote rather than coming up with their own solution. A lot of it seems to come down to the WSFS being run for decades by folks with a guiding principle of "you're not the boss of me."

And then there's the critical legal vulnerabilities that people like Mike Dunford and Rahaeli on Bluesky have discovered, things that need to change immediately, not in three years after two successive business meetings. Between Kevin Stanlee and the MPC doing their best to post the trademark out of existence, a complete lack of basic corporate protections like D&O insurance or even expert legal advice, and sloshing tens of thousands of dollars around between different nonprofits, often across borders, it would be very easy to see the WSFS and many of its current and former officers get absolutely obliterated by a lawsuit. (You do not want a lawyer to describe your situation as "I didn't think that it was possible to accidentally RICO, and yet-") As it stands it seems like there's nothing to stop someone from just declaring that a hypothetical AvignCon is the real WorldCon other than popularity.

Sadly, WSFS may just be completely incapable of dealing with these problems between its structure and the people involved.

15:

SDCC is a better example, being a non-profit. (Which I didn't know until this morning.)

SDCC, however, is so huge that worldcon would be invisible inside it.

SDCC is capped around the 135,000 attendee mark because San Diego isn't big enough to hold more convention goers. Adding worldcon on top is good for and extra 5-10% on that headcount, so a bit of a challenge to accommodate without building several extra hotels. And SD's traffic/transit infrastructure has huge problems with comicon as it is (or did a decade ago, when a publisher sent me there).

16:

I've seen a lot of other organizations, like service clubs and veterans halls, where elderly members keep a death grip on power, refuse to listen to The Youth (anyone under 60), and take the org into the grave with them.

An alternative explanation: COVID19 ran through the USA with fire and the sword, worldcon runners tend to be older, and COVID19 causes dementia. "Mild: hospitalized but not on a vent" cases have been shown to experience cognitive impairment equivalent to 20 years of ageing. So you have a slightly ossified group trying to deal with a legal mess while suffering from just-barely-sub-clinical brain damage.

17:

An alternative explanation:

And more. Computer clubs / user groups where huge. Now they are geriatric get togethers of mostly retired people. It could be that SciFi conventions are in the early stages of this. But once the decline starts it can be swift.

I'm involved in one. Once I and a few others got to asked "take over" we discovered years/decades of not filing required government paperwork by people who have left. Legally we don't exit. But we do have a moderate pile of cash. More than a nice dinner. Less than a decent car. So we're taking the bank account and forming a new organization. And plan to ask forgiveness if some agency gets upset.

And there is a local Real Estate Investors group where I was on the mailing list. They put on interesting workshops about things such as how best to overhaul a 50 year old HVAC system. Their emails got sort of off kilter and odd then it blew up. Apparently there were two competing factions wanting to run the group. With accusations of stealing the bank account and such. Then COVID hit and I basically walked away.

18:

Charlie @ 4
IIRC, the Dutch tourist people (VVV?) got very close to the Hague Con - to everyone's benefit.
The hotel we stayed at tried to shaft us for the extra day(s) after the con was over ... we complained, politely to VVV - who came back & said: "don't worry" - you don't owe the hotel ANYTHING, now, glad you enjoyed the rest, come again soon!"

19:

Several things about what OGH started this thread with:
1. Personally, I don't consider comicons as sf cons. What I refer to as Real sf cons cover everything[1]. Real sf cons are all 100% fan VOLUNTEER run. The top guests get transportation, food, and room covered, period. No "honoraria" or anything else - no one gets paid.
2. You can get a refund of your membership if you volunteer enough hours (and that amount of volunteering usually includes you get crash space with a bunch of others in a suite, and you get fed. But we're talking over 10 hours, and membership over 15 or so hours.
3. Charlie, I don't know about the 14k. The largest Worldcon I'm aware of was the only off-American one I went to, which was London in 2014, and they claimed 10k, including one-days.
4. I and a number of others were extremely aggravated at the new membership rules. As far as I'm concerned, they're bass-ackward. For those who don't know, you used to pay for a supporting or attending, and you could always upgrade $$$ from supporting to attending.
5. JohnS, this is a Big One: you do not buy a ticket to a real sf con. You are not an audience, to be entertained. You are a member, and part of it. And yes, this is a BIG DEAL to most of us. But yes, you can walk up and buy a one-day at the door (expensive).

20:

Oh, the vote on Chengdu was something like somewhere between 700 and 900 for Winnipeg, and over 1900 for Chengdu. There were complaints, since it's been "what is your street address?" and many Chinese did not provide that.

21:

One more thing: it appeared to me (I am an antiSMOF, so, from outside) as though a Chinese corporation came in to take over the running. That was when, suddenly, with zero warning, the date was changed by months (and many students were suddenly looking at Worldcon or their major exams). And to a new venue that wasn't even completely built. How much control the government had over that organization is unclear.

22:

The largest Worldcon I'm aware of was the only off-American one I went to, which was London in 2014, and they claimed 10k, including one-days.

I understand the 1997 LA con ran to 6700-odd attending members: Loncon 3 in 2014 hit just short of 8000. The last two Glasgow worldcons were around the 4000 mark, but as of last summer membership sales were exceeding the same period in the run-up to Loncon 3, putting it on course to be the largest non-American worldcon ever.

23:

Oh, and just to poke at OGH, the first even to call itself a con (well, conference) was Philcon, in 1936. It paused for several years during WWII, but... cons have been running a long, long time.

This will annoy OGH because fans in Leeds organized an official con in 1937, whereas Philly was half a dozen fen taking the train frmo NYC to Philly, and spending a day visiting and talking SF (and visiting a bookstore) in '36, and deciding afterwards to call it a con, and it's kept going since)

(Whoops this was supposed to be the footnote on my first post on this thread) One reason I'm very snotty about Real SF cons: right after lockdown, a FB group called "ConCellation: the con that's always cancelled before it starts" was created. I was in it for about a year, then quit. Maybe a month before I quit, someone posted, and I'm not making this up, asking "will everyone hate me if I jump fandoms?" That told me that they, and those they knew, were not sf fans, but franchise fans (aka "guaranteed studio revenue stream). Such a question would make no sense in normal sf fandom.

24:

And one last post for now: people are infuriated at McCarty because when asked why certain authors were excluded, "they railed due to the rules, because they failed due to the rules". No explanation of what rules precisely.

25:

We are coming to Glasgow. It may be our last trip off-continent ever (well, unless my upcoming novel hits the NYT best seller list).

Which leads to a question: do I need to get a SIM card when we get in for my phone? I know it used to be the case that you couldn't use a US SIM....

26:

Depends. If your phone does 4G/5G, it should be fine in the UK. 2G (GSM) is being switched off, with 3G following this year. You won't be able to use an old Verizon CDMA phone -- those only work in the USA and South Korea (and parts of Iraq). Note that not all 4G and 5G phones support all wavelengths, as different frequencies were allocated in different countries, so you may have iffy service. Check your phone's manual to find out which frequencies it operates on.

Cheap pre-paid SIMs are readily available in the UK (in supermarkets and newsagents/corner shops). And you may be able to convince your US phone provider to give you international roaming (at a price). Wifi is fairly common and the hotels will provide it.

In general data is faster and cheaper in the UK than in the USA (unless you live in a handful of very well provisioned cities).

27:

On a related note.

I was tempted to attend this year in Glasgow. But I tend to look at many of the big events that I might otherwise attend in the light of widepsread complacency over COVID and say, nope! Likewise a couple of game related events that I might otherwise be tempted by (FanFest for EVE Online and Tennocon for Warframe).

I understand that Charlie will be going because as a writer it's a more or less a professional requirement. But how will you be dealing with risk mitigation?

28:

I certainly don't have Worldcon-specific knowledge. But as a general matter, when you need to host a worldwide event in a nation that won't threaten the hosts or the guests, but you don't want to over-rely on the Anglosphere, you turn to the EU. My guess, from the other comments, is that in the short term there needs to be something to incentivize Poznan and/or Helsinki to take on one of the next few years, and then in the long term there needs to be a way to bring all the other EU nations' sci fi clubs up to the level where they could run a competent convention. (Of course, given how informal Worldcon is, I wouldn't know who to call to get a "draft the EU" movement off the ground.)

29:

Dunno 'bout anyone else, but we will be masking.

30:

Like with all things Worldcon related I think the flow of events was slightly more complex that this - as others have said, the original team bidding knew what they were getting into but then having won the started working on the structure which is when it seems to get murky.

Chinese cons have tended to function with sponsorship (or so I am told), local government and commercial - and I'm led to believe 2 things happened - firstly, the local government saw an opportunity for a new convention site and secondly, a large publication saw another opportunity. This led to a switch up in running it and the huge delay - it also led to the publication sponsoring to have some people involved.

Somewhere around that point the 'floating' Worldcon committee parachuted in to help out. To be honest, I think at that point they thought all was going to be going well and while it wouldn't be a worldcon most would recognize it would be something new and amazing in a place with a younger and very energized fan base.

Reading the translated Chinese comments there was a local impression the publisher was trying to stack the deck on the Hugo Awards rather than it being overt party interference (which I suspect also was happening but in the more traditional covert nothing is said but people know what not to even think of doing way).

Arguably when the change in control happened and it was clear something was amiss the right thing to do would have been to reconsider the whole thing there and then but the WSFS constitution is designed to only do that at conventions and the window had passed - ironically two of the people who have been VERY aggressive about keeping things that way have been mentioned in this thread as those that then tried to steady the Chendu ship.

I fear the right thing to do then would have been for Dave and Ben to resign immediately and deal with that fall out rather than do what they could.

The real problem is the WSFS system and constitution has a lot of failings in common with the US one where it only really works because you assume everybody knows what they are doing and isn't going to break the unwritten rules.

As one of the Chinese commentators has said, if this had happened in 2007 it probably wouldn't have mattered as much because the Hugo Awards mattered less, the problem is over the last 15+ years they have become a thing outside of the convention.

To echo our host's position the problem is this: Worldcon fandom sees worldcon as a convention that hosts an Award ceremony as part of the process. The rest of the world sees worldcon as a weird, not terribly good or well run convention badly glued onto an Award Ceremony.

I am still not sure how we fix that :(

31:

Worldcons are generally pretty good at risk mitigation, requesting attendees to remain masked in most public spaces (bars/restaurants excluded). Previous worldcons in the COVID19 era have done pretty well, all things considered. However, it's obviously not something one can predict in advance.

Also, it's a hybrid convention: some events will be webcast or stream via Zoom. If things break bad there may be a sudden shift to a lot of online programming that folks who feel worried about cramming into small rooms can participate in from a hotel bedroom or from home.

(I think you'll be at greater risk transiting airports en route to the venue or eating in restaurants than at the convention itself, but who knows what new strain might emerge over the next 8 months? As it is, I'm prepared to kiss my budget goodbye and stay home if the perceived risk begins to escalate alarmingly.)

32:

sigh I have a t-shirt from the mid-eighties... "A Worldcon in Yugoslavia?" bid for Zagreb.

33:

Well, no. Most Worldcons are run reasonably well (we'll exclude Constellation, Baltimore, 1983, chapter 13 bankruptcy). Over the decades, fandom has built a large base of knowledgeably people, and certainly cons that have been around for a while often have a better idea on how to run them, and the contracts, than some hotel people

34:

Or Japan?

Anyhoo, I wasn't using 'well run' like that but more in the meta sense of working as a convention without seeming, well, not to be indelicate, a bit cheap feeling and a bit crap?

I've encouraged friends and family who have attended other conventions, not just for profit ones, to come to Worldcons and while they agreed it had a certain charm, they assured me it wasn't terribly well organized - stuff like not sorting out room access and getting taken by surprise by the numbers who turned up. Badly set up rooms that you couldn't get into with no decent mechanism for queuing. Buggy membership systems and registration. Random hotel stuff. The list of things they informed me Worldcon does badly was pretty long even if some of the programming and social stuff was amazing.

The State of the Art of convention running outside of Worldcon and more 'trad' cons has, I am told, moved on and it's why younger family will come with me, especially if Uncle Dave is paying, they're not rushing to get invoved.

35:

Perhaps, but we're not a professional con. It's of the fans, by the fans, and for the fans. And the pros are there, and you don't have to pay to talk to them. And they're fans, too.

I remember a Chicago con - damn it, I was working the con suite and had to run out so I missed them, but half the cast of B5, when it was on the air and huge, called the con, told them they were in for a commercial con, but realized there was a real con in town the same time, and could they come by for a bit, and they did. As did Sir Pterry at a Capclave about 10 or so years ago.

36:

And that sort of thing is why I love them, but I do have to say, that the reality of the 2020s is that sort of thing just doesn't happen like it used to.

I remember bumping into a slightly bemused George RR Martin in Reno and chatting about the first season of GoT - that isn't really going to happen now - as others have opined elseweb the problem is this is all mainstream and the mainstream has expectations that we are going to struggle to fulfill the way we want to.

As I said, reading the Chinese commentary, they nailed it with their 2008 comment. Prior to about then nobody would have really cared, but now people really care about the Hugo Awards and they are becoming a thing that exists outside of the Worldcon where the Worldcon, by and large, is peripheral to the Hugo Awards.

The fact that after the Maskerade I find the Hugo Award Ceremony one of the duller things to do at a Worldcon puts me firmly in a minority in the wider Science Fiction fan world who feel the same about the con.

37:

People might be surprised at how disorganised a 'professional' conference can be! My wife's ones (think: drug company money) were pretty slick, but mine (think: academic IT) varied from the surprisingly slick down to the "never, EVER, again!"

38:

Well quite, I have been to both professionally, but I think things have generally improved now.

I'm thinking more of the reaction of 20somethings in my family and their experience of other fan run events in fields they are more interested in. Worldcon had MUCH better and fascinating programming, but the actual operation they felt was just weird and hard to follow with terrible communication that seemed to rely on you knowing what to do when and where.

Which I think is a fair cop.

39:

if Dave McCarty were currently in China or were a Chinese citizen

It's possible he has decided that the price for doing that is too high compared to the benefit. Right now most people appear to be convinced that there's something very, very odd going on, so the benefit of him speaking up would be small. But the cost to anyone he likes who is in China could be high. He may just fear that, or he may know that, either way he's likely to be looking at the benefit side very carefully. The "warrant canary" here is the mathematical impossibilities, that should be all that is necessary.

This is also the sort of difficulty that could encourage China to further restrict speculative fiction. Both imports from outside, and production of it inside. Just push the line a little further towards "must be clearly imaginary"...

It's also worth noting that like other countries China has a record of acting against people outside its border who annoy it. From the "explained death" of Osama Bin Laden to the "unexplained deaths" of various defectors (example) right down the scale to people who get roughed up at entirely lawful protests against foreign governments, usually by people who local police are strangely unable to investigate. Dave might reasonably fear that while he wont fall out a window he or his employer (or family) might be unable to sell to Chinese businesses in future.

40:

It's also worth noting that like other countries China has a record of acting against people outside its border who annoy it.

A minor scandal in the US just now is that the FBI and other law enforcement has stated that China is operating small groups in the US (organized as businesses) in various cities who go after Chinese with relatives back in the home country and making strong suggestions about how they should act while in the US or maybe even return home. With veiled threats about relatives back home.

If they are doing this in the US I suspect they are doing it in many other countries.

41:

People might be surprised at how disorganised a 'professional' conference can be!

[eyeroll]

There were two major tech conferences I attended in the previous decade. One was commercial, the other a side gig done by a major university. 500 people give or take.

There were two kinds of attendees. Those who were there for the information sharing and learning and knew it was a hassle to organize such an event. And just dealt with things as they came up.

And those who apparently thought they bought a tour/cruise package with some lectures on the side.

The later were always unhappy. And thankfully a distinctly small minority.

42:

I got the impression there was a weird overlap between the fans organizing the Chengdu Worldcon, local publishers, the local tech startup scene, and the local Party. Look for news releases and promotional material from Chengdu about branding and "cultural innovation". There is lots of it. I think the dynamic is that ordinary Chinese fans don't have a lot of money, but there is lots of money in China, and fans can tap into some of it if they present things right. The Chinese fans are hacking the system and getting the suits to pay for the convention hall. All good fun. But it runs into trouble when the suits, who think it is their marketing event, want more control over the messaging.

This is not at all like the model we are used to with American and British and European conventions. Even when most fans were young and pretty much penniless, if everyone bought a membership that was enough money to rent a hall. I was mystified when Chengdu won the bid and announced that everyone who voted got a full attending membership. The voting fees and upgrades to attending are usually the single largest source of funds for a Worldcon. How was Chengdu going to run their Worldcon without money? It turned out it was sponsorships and deals. They expected to get a convention center for free. Then their deal fell through, and they had to delay the convention until there was another facility available that they could use for free.

The Chengdu Worldcon is weird enough that it could be an unpublished Charlie Stross and Cory Doctorow collaboration about fans hacking the system with consequences that maybe should have been better expected.

43:

The release of the nomination stats revealed two horrible problems with the 2023 Hugos:

  • Arbitrary and unexplained disqualification of certain people/works

  • Numbers that are clearly manipulated if not plain made up

  • I was thinking that these were two distinct issues, until someone pointed out to me that some of the disqualifications could be a desperate effort to cover up messes with the collection & handling of the nominations. Like, that some of the data was lost partway through, and someone desperately tried to duplicate it.

    In any event, it looks as though both Chinese internal politics and massive incompetence was involved.

    I attribute none of Dave McCarty's behavior to good motives. He's acted like an asshole to anyone having the effrontery to ask for actual explanations, and I've seen scuttlebutt to the effect that this is not a new look for him. My guess is that his Chinese contacts gave him no more explanation than he's given us, and he's too arrogant and fundamentally uncaring to press for details.

    One point that has just started to be rumbled about but is sure to gather steam: Ben Yalow needs to step down from all official association with the Hugo Awards and WSFS, and that break has to be permanent, no backsies. Yalow and McCarty were the leads coordinating with Chengdu to help them run the Hugo Awards, and the result was the greatest catastrophe in WSFS history. Removing them from any involvement going forward is a critical first step in recovering institutional trust.

    And whaddaya know, as I was writing this I checked, and Ben Yalow's name has disappeared from Glasgow's site, though it was there on Jan. 20th.

    44:

    But it runs into trouble when the suits, who think it is their marketing event, want more control over the messaging.

    That kind of thing happens over here, at least in the field of education.

    45:

    David L @ 40
    It's known that the PRC are doing that here, too.
    IIRC our own security services & police are "unimpressed" shall we say?

    46:

    There were very few of the latter at any of the conferences I went to. Some, yes. But that wasn't my point.

    Many of those (including standards organisations and an IBM user group) were pretty competent, but sometimes a bit rudimentary. The most common shambles in the 1970s and 1980s was IT support, including my failed attempt to demonstrate remote working (over acoustic coupler) in 1979(*). But it wasn't the only area that could be shambolic. Few had more than a thousand attendees.

    The worst when I was asked to speak at a one-day conference at another nameless UK university. I had to ring up 72 hours ahead to say "I haven't had a confirmation; am I still expected, and exactly when and where do I need to be?" And, then, when I turned up, there were two speakers and three attendees, but locked doors and no organisers. One was eventually found, but we had to set up the room, and started an hour late. Yes, there was a valid excuse for the main organiser's absence, but no valid one for relying solely on that person.

    (*) That wasn't my choice; the director volunteered me.

    47:

    People might be surprised at how disorganised a 'professional' conference can be!

    And some might not. I still have unpleasant dreams about a Board conference in the late 90s my team had to set up comms for, at which the CEO threatened to downgrade our annual reports because we couldn't provide the internet he wanted.

    Pointing out that his insisting the conference be hosted at a stately home in the middle of nowhere (which just happened to host his favourite 18-hole golf course AND WE NEVER MENTION THAT HARRY OKAY?) did not go down well.

    48:

    They're definitely doing that in the UK as well.

    49:

    Part of the problem is that, if the lawyers currently attacking Worldcon are correct, there is no way to run Worldcon with the sort of informal controls that have been used in the past without huge exposure to liability. The business meeting crowd has resisted incorporation for decades,

    So who knows? Worldcon in some form has been around for 80 years and the Hugos for about 70. It would be a shame to lose them but that seems possible; the sharks are circling.

    Assuming Worldcon survives this, the centralized organization that may be required will become a target for just all kinds of greedy, power-hungry asses. The current structure limits the damage any convention that goes off the rails can do to one year. That's not going to be the case with a centralized organization.

    50:

    The Raven
    The current structure limits the damage any convention that goes off the rails can do to one year. That's not going to be the case with a centralized organization.
    Oh dear ...
    Like this do you mean? An apparent - & I stress "apparent" attack on a previously respected-&-trusted organisation, that somebody thought might be a good idea to subvert ... to everyone's loss & zero gain, maybe?

    51:

    @Pyrkon,

    At least in some years (for example:2014, I mention this specific year simply because I have data handy), Pyrkon was partly financed with money from BOTH city (Poznań) budget and the Poland government (Ministry of Culture).

    52:

    That one's no mystery. That's the Israeli government up to its normal propaganda tricks.

    53:

    (Some UNRWA staff in Gaza are alleged to have helped militants, but even if they did it is not proportionate or reasonable for the US, UK and other Israeli allies to cut off funding to the UNRWA)

    54:

    For 95 in Glasgow the local council offered us a grant to help with the convention that was almost exactly the amount needed to hire the convention center, which is run by the same council.

    Re Chengdu: They expected to get a convention center for free. Then their deal fell through, and they had to delay the convention until there was another facility available that they could use for free

    I'm not sure how the first venue fell through but the result was that a complete venue was built for them within the year! and this building is probably the most beautiful SF oriented building in the world. That took a lot of money and a lot of government clout.

    The reason is rumoured to be that a high profile of SF in Chengdu will enable them to recruit technically qualified staff to the region

    55:

    As it stands it seems like there's nothing to stop someone from just declaring that a hypothetical AvignCon is the real WorldCon other than popularity.

    "WorldCon" is a registered trademark and the Trademark Protection Committee is about the only parts of WSFS with permanence and an actual budget to protect that trademark and a few others like "Hugo Award". Occasionally they have to get out the legal forms and send cease-and-desist notices to businesses and organisations that intend to use the term, usually for something that isn't SF related. Folks in the SF business know what WorldCon is, others don't.

    WSFS is recreated, phoenix-like every year at each Worldcon. A lot of non-insiders have a hard time grasping that concept. Kevin Standlee can be very ascerbic when describing folks who think there's some sort of permanent WSFS committee with office holders, a billion-dollar budget, dictatorial powers etc. and who can fix problems with a stroke of the pen or overrule Worldcon committees on a whim.

    56:

    I don't usually follow the blog or post on weekends, but... there's a post on File 770 from a Chinese fan. The fans were unmitigatedly, unashamedly screwed over. I feel so sorry for them, and China's not going to get a Worldcon for a long, long time after this. https://file770.com/zimozi-natsuco-guest-post-the-hugo-awards-evil-fall-is-a-watered-down-affair-and-certain-issues-to-watch-out-for/comment-page-1/#comment-1602734

    57:

    Footnote: the problem is, international trademark protection is thorny and it is looking like members of the Worldcon trademark committee have fucked up big time (going by the popcorn-munching commentary by no-shit trademark lawyers on Bluesky and the SFWA Discord). Fucked up badly enough they need specialist liability insurance as of several months ago, and possibly a lawyer.

    I'm not covering that because it is 100% outside my realm of competence (having a lay author's understanding of copyright issues is bad enough without adding trademarks into the mix) but it's a shit-show.

    58:

    AFAIK the Mark Protection Committee is just that, they're not lawyers. Mostly they observe and note the possible use of "Worldcon" by other organisations and send letters and notifications before lawyers get involved. If they have to engage legal help they do so. It costs money at that point so they try not to get to that point.

    I recall one case several years back where an international tech conference with no SFnal involvement was planning to call itself WorldCon. The MPC notified the organisers about the trademark and AFAIK that case never got to the point of legal professionals getting involved. If they ever got into a real legal fight trying to protect the marks, including the Hugo Awards and the shape of the trophy, then it could be costly and they might lose.

    59:

    So, the story according to Standlee is that WSFS arises like Brigadoon, phoenix-like, at each Worldcon, and has no tangible form or existence in times in between -- except for its Mark Protection Committee, currently chaired by Standlee himself, which is empowered to act on its behalf, well... whenever, acting on behalf of a larger organization which claims, most of the time, not to exist.

    It's things like this, along with such other features of the process as the conventions for passing along funds from Worldcon to Worldcon, and the typically overlapping membership of their boards, that has lawyers fretting about poor controls, self-dealing, and potentially unlimited liability for the people involved.

    It's not clear that, even under present strained circumstances, anyone actually wants to sue -- but if someone ever did, this would get ugly fast.

    (BTW, this story is, I think, what Standlee has said about these things in the past. For the moment, per the 1/26 Pixel Scroll at File770, someone appears to have persuaded him that it would be very unwise right now to say anything at all.)

    60:

    It's things like this, along with such other features of the process as the conventions for passing along funds from Worldcon to Worldcon, and the typically overlapping membership of their boards, that has lawyers fretting about poor controls, self-dealing, and potentially unlimited liability for the people involved.

    Ick, thanks for explaining that!

    So what you're saying is that WorldCon would do best as something like a trust that owns the trademarks and 2-3 corporations. Each corporation exists to run one WorldCon for one year, elect the board of directors and write the articles of incorporation for the next corporation, elect some trustees, and do necessary stuff to keep the trustees from going to the dark side. Oh, and raise money, pay taxes, and unwind its business gracefully by passing assets through the trust to its successor corporation. Without the suits getting all the money.

    The corporations likely will be for-profit (faster to set up than a non-profit, at least in California), which will likely cause problems of their own, the least of which will be the mandatory hours-long discussions of "why the frack do we have to do it this way," "can't we be a nonprofit," "this is stupid, the old way worked better," and a popular breakout session on the topic of "I'm bored, let's...instead" at every WorldCon meeting.

    IANAL, that's just me wildly guessing. But yeah. Wow.

    It's actually amazing that WorldCon's run as a combination civilized Rainbow Family Gathering and trademark protection group as long as it has. Kudos to all the people who ran it this way!

    61:

    If you want some really scathing lawyer comments, go over to Popehat where IP lawyers who are not fans are saying "WTF were they thinking???"

    And the lawyers don't have it in for Worldcon. They don't care about Worldcon. They do care about ignorance and misrepresentation of what IP laws mean.

    62:

    So what you're saying is that WorldCon would do best as something like a trust that owns the trademarks and 2-3 corporations.

    There are some SF related orgs that operate that way. SFWA, the Science Fiction Writers' Association, which also runs the Nebula Awards, reestablished itself a couple of years ago as a 501(c) non-profit in California.

    But it'd be harder for worldcon, precisely because of the world in its name. British company and non-profit law differs significantly from American law, for example.

    Now, it might be possible to set up a non-profit in each nation that hosts worldcons, and leave it in mostly suspended animation between events. The UK gets a worldcon roughly once a decade (1987, 1995, 2005, 2014, 2024 ...). Dublin had one in 2019 and may host another before 2030. And so on. But it's a headache. And I don't think "let's set up a multinational corporation to run worldcon" is going to be productive for anyone (except the lawyers or accountants involved).

    63:

    *Now, it might be possible to set up a non-profit in each nation that hosts worldcons, and leave it in mostly suspended animation between events. *

    I worked for a couple of 501(c)3s. AIUI, it takes years to get that status, and you have to run as a for-profit corporation for tax purposes while demonstrating to the IRS that you are in fact a non-profit before you get credentialed as a non-profit. Or you can work as a spinoff of an existing nonprofit, which often happens.

    Remember, for profit and nonprofit are AFAIK about taxes, where nonprofits pay lower taxes for doing public good things. Posing as a nonprofit t shield profits from taxes is an obvious scam, so a nonprofit really does have to keep its nose clean.

    I’m not sure that here in California you can hold a nonprofit in suspended animation between worldcons held years apart in different cities and keep nonprofit status. Conversely, I think it’s easier to spin up and dissolve for-profit corporations. That’s why I suggested that each Worldcon be run by a corporation created for that sole purpose in that country. The overarching trust would license the Worldcon IP to that convention under the conditions that they abided by local laws and the Worldcon constitution. Failure to abide by those conditions would lead t withdrawal of IP. The trust provides continuity and policy enforcement to some degree, each corporation is on the hook for each convention. That way, if a convention goes bankrupt, they can’t sell off the Worldcon IP because they’re licensing it, because they don’t own t.

    Again, IANAL, I’m just guessing about how an international convention could be run by an organization whose reason for existence is running the convention.

    64:

    AIUI, it takes years to get that status, and you have to run as a for-profit corporation for tax purposes while demonstrating to the IRS that you are in fact a non-profit before you get credentialed as a non-profit.

    Definitely not that. I helped set up a small nonprofit from scratch in 2016. We just needed some volunteers to call themselves "president," "treasurer", and "secretary", plus a lawyer to hammer out the paperwork. Looks like it took us about six months from initial idea to filing our incorporation, and then another two months before the IRS certified our non-profit status.

    (We could have compressed that timeline, but we all had jobs and stuff so paperwork dragged on.)

    (Three years later we ran our first small conference. Success! Yes, there were non-profit activities before the conference, but that was our first in-person event.)

    That’s why I suggested that each Worldcon be run by a corporation created for that sole purpose in that country.

    Sometimes a Worldcon is hosted by an organization which is already a nonprofit. (Boskone, Philcon, etc.) For other cases, that makes sense. I'm not sure you even need a corporation, but ask a lawyer about that.

    The other obvious thing for the hypothetical Worldcon 501(c)3 to do is count Hugo and site-selection votes. That doesn't have to be done outside the US, and we've just run through all the obvious reasons why doing it abroad can fail.

    65:

    Definitely not that. I helped set up a small nonprofit from scratch in 2016. We just needed some volunteers to call themselves "president," "treasurer", and "secretary", plus a lawyer to hammer out the paperwork. Looks like it took us about six months from initial idea to filing our incorporation, and then another two months before the IRS certified our non-profit status.

    I'll happily yield to your experience. Thanks! Mine was working in an established nonprofit that sometimes served as an incubator for other nonprofits, and that took years, for whatever reason.

    As for why a corporation, the reason is personal liability. Corporations are legally people, meaning they can get sued, make contracts, and pay bills and taxes as if they were people. If there's no corporation, all of that has to be done by actual humans, who are then on the hook. If a corporation runs a con that loses money or gets sued, only the corporation's assets are vulnerable to bankruptcy or liability. If it's individual people, all their personal assets are vulnerable. Also, if a corporation runs the con, it doesn't matter if the contract signer quits halfway through, but it does matter if they quits after signing contracts as an individual.

    Having an umbrella corporation or trust that owns the WorldCon IP makes sense to keep the IP away from convention problems. Thinking about it more, it might have to be a non-profit corporation, because I'm not sure who those assets would be held in trust for. Again, I'm not a lawyer, and this isn't my problem. I'm just guessing how it might all work.

    66:

    Please can people remember that we've now done this many times in several countries.

    In each of those countries, in combination with local accountants and lawyers, the committee determined the best structure for financially and legally running the Worldcon. The actual finances of the con were audited by tax (and where applicable charitable regulators) and no problems were found.

    In 95 the best solution was to incorporate as an ordinary company. Because of the UK tax system being based around Value Added Tax you effectively become a non profit just by not making a profit. Your tax payments get returned to you, although admittedly after much wailing and gnashing of teeth.

    If you watch Mike Dunford's video he gives a reasonable bill of health to WSFS lawyers which consist of an American counsel, a British Counsel and a German counsel.

    If I see one more social media post along the lines of "These idiots should have got professional advice I will not be responsible for my actions"

    67:

    One thing Fannish fans maybe forget is that WorldCons aren't all that big. Or rather, other SF related cons have got very big indeed. The London WorldCon, which was a great success, was maybe the third biggest SF related convention in the ExCel that year.

    68:

    If a corporation runs a con that loses money or gets sued, only the corporation's assets are vulnerable to bankruptcy or liability. If it's individual people, all their personal assets are vulnerable. Also, if a corporation runs the con, it doesn't matter if the contract signer quits halfway through, but it does matter if they quits after signing contracts as an individual.

    The 1987 Worldcon in Brighton made a loss after the dust had settled. It was, IIRC, a limited company so it could effectively declare bankruptcy if necessary but some of the committee were directors and senior officers of other companies and they were facing disbarment from holding directorships and the like if they did declare bankruptcy. At least one member of the committee resigned just before the convention to specifically avoid this, IIRC.

    In the end there were efforts made by the worldwide SF community to bail out the convention, with both financial donations from other conventions as well as fund-raising via auctions and the like. I particularly remember several SF artists donating artwork for this purpose. After a few years all the bills were paid. This also helped future conventions since they didn't have a trail of dodgy-looking predecessors to make excuses for when they went to negotiate exhibition space, hotel rooms, equipment rentals etc.

    US commentators should remember that Worldcons ARE Worldcons and a 501(c)3 means nothing outside the borders of the US. The trademarks for WorldCon etc. are registered in a few countries but if someone in Azerbaijan chose to label an event "WorldCon" then the Mark Protection Committee's only recourse would be a letter explaining the situation and asking them to choose another name, please.

    69:

    The first Pyrkon in Poznań was indeed a "small regional con" of about 500 people, held in a primary school in Poznań, as many small cons in Poland were apt to be (with the sports hall usually given over to people with sleeping bags who stay at the convention :-)), I've been there, when it became humongous I stopped going.

    Nowadays it's mostly a comicon with a "real SF con" attached to it like a vestigial organ and is actually semi-profesional - the main coordinators are paid and they work year round: the moment one Pyrkon ends, they start on preparing the next one.

    The volunteers are doing stuff like carrying chairs and making sure rooms are not occupied above fire safety limits, and a lot of volunteers work on the programme (I did a few events myself at Pyrkon years ago) in return for free membership, but the main people are paid and everything is done by a non-profit association registered in Poland.

    70:

    There's a big gaming convention held at the National Exhibiion Centre in Birmingham every Easter. The hotel we use sometimes for an Eastercon is on the same site. There are shops and the like over in the Centre and visiting there I noticed one of the exhibition halls is given over to camping, complete with tents, for those who are looking for cheap accomodation and/or want to indulge in some of the 24-hour gaming events.

    71:

    hmmm... how about from now on WorldCon only occurring in countries w/o: censorship by publishers, human rights abuses, book bans, infringement upon women's bodily autonomy, voter suppression, ...

    uh oh

    that would exclude not just China, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, North Korea...

    ...the USA as well

    ( I'm living on the wrong timeline )

    72:

    Now, it might be possible to set up a non-profit in each nation that hosts worldcons, and leave it in mostly suspended animation between events.

    I bet that setup would run into the issue my local club did when I and a few other took over as the previous people gave up retired.

    The previous previous people had not filed the proper paper work needed (some annually, some every few years), and we officially no longer exist. And to your other point the process and paper work needed to keep such a thing "idling" for a few years is likely very different in different countries.

    73:

    US commentators should remember that Worldcons ARE Worldcons and a 501(c)3 means nothing outside the borders of the US. The trademarks for WorldCon etc. are registered in a few countries but if someone in Azerbaijan chose to label an event "WorldCon" then the Mark Protection Committee's only recourse would be a letter explaining the situation and asking them to choose another name, please.

    Completely agreed. The point of the 501(c)3 example was that it's conceivable that creating a nonprofit, especially a national nonprofit that goes dormant between cons, might not be that useful a model, and that every Worldcon host should have the freedom to pick the best legal structure to hold the con.

    I'd still emphasize that some durable legal entity should own the Worldcon IP, rather than an individual human or the ad hoc organization running the con each year. As an outsider looking in, it seems that the current Worldcon system works like American democracy used to work, running on norms more than laws. The reason Trump is such a menace is that he ignores the norms and profits thereby. Because norms are less enforceable than laws, being a norm-based organization is problematic at a time when less scrupulous people may want to try copycatting Trump.

    74:

    I worked for a couple of 501(c)3s. AIUI, it takes years to get that status, and you have to run as a for-profit corporation for tax purposes while demonstrating to the IRS that you are in fact a non-profit before you get credentialed as a non-profit.

    This is down to a month or so based on people who have done it of late. And the controls and checks are looser than in the past. Which leads to other issues of criminal actions, knowingly and unknowingly. (USA here.)

    75:

    Re: '... amazing that WorldCon's run as a combination civilized Rainbow Family Gathering and trademark protection group as long as it has. Kudos to all the people who ran it this way!'

    I'd been to a few biz and professional conferences before ever attending a WorldCon or Boskone. Overall, my impression was/is that every industry has its own quirks including in how they congregate. I've no problem - in fact, I like seeing what types of mix-ups happen at these types of events because it gives you another perspective on what these people are actually like.

    IMO, the SF cons had more interesting guest lists and not just the expected within-industry folk like SF authors and publishers - they had a Nobel laureate (chatting with Charlie), NASA engineers, Vatican astronomer, distinguished scientists, etc.

    Another big difference vs. trade shows is the merchandise (apart from books, a wide variety of arts) and the chance to actually sit down at a table with your favorite author plus a few fellow fans at a kaffee klatch. Great stuff!

    I was going to ask whether there's any chance that WorldCon could get some help from any of the academic folk since SF has been big among universities (students and academics) for a long while. Lots of unis have near empty buildings (including arenas) during summer break - why not rent them out for this type of event? Betcha quite a few faculty would love to also participate in the panels.

    Re: China competition

    Hadn't even known that the WorldCon was held there. Apart from the Olympics, the only close-to international event that I've ever heard of (watched on YT) that was held in China was a singing competition.

    For the singing competition, the vote counting was done by hand and the voting results seemed pretty consistent with what I saw in terms of performances and audience reactions. However - a few months later I read that there had been some very serious editing done to delete one particular contestant so that the on-air show never had any hint of this person ever, ever being anywhere near that stage/audience.

    So, overall, yeah - whoever is in charge of the public-facing result has the most power over there --- even after the show is over in real time. Editing/rewriting the past - who'd thunk it!

    FYI - The show was 'I Am a Singer' (2017) which essentially vaulted Dimash onto the world stage. I watched all the episodes on YT - lots of talent, wide variety of musical styles. My intro to contemporary Asian music/singers.

    76:

    In Straya "idling" isn't really a thing AFAIK, although the minimum possible set of actions is quite small. At one stage I was involved in winding up a charitable group because I was sick of being the one that did the paperwork and chased the other "officers of the association" to get them to sign stuff every year. Biggest hurdle turned out to be disposing of the contents of the bank account in a way that didn't offend the other officers but also complied with the law (had to go to a charity but half the point of our one was that we didn't like the other charities in our field... in the end we picked a vaguely related environment group)

    But for an SF fan group it'd presumably be relatively easy to tack that onto the side of an existing one. The AFOL groups I know of do something similar with the "official convention" that is a commercial entity because it's embarassingly profitable. But it's more or less volunteer run and there's a bank account labelled "if things go to hell one year it doesn't matter", because any exhibition type event runs a real risk that you pay for the venue, advertising, security etc and then covid hits and ah well never mind. When that happens to "a bunch of us loaned the org a few thousand dollars each to pay for venue hire" it's ugly. By "embarassing" I mean the fan group now own a small building because when you have $1M in the slush fund what else are you supposed to do?

    OTOH isn't worldcon in a good position to jurisdiction shop for the basic operation? They could justify being a Panama/Seychelles/Irish/Ukranian incorporation holding all the IP and trust accounts, then licensing to the local instance as required. That would also allow various fan groups around the world to have delegates on the board without too much risk that certain countries might have hissy fits about certain other countries and now any organisation "linked to" Russia, Taiwan, Palestine or whatever is now frozen while they and their members are thoroughly investigated (meanwhile the US continues to supply Russia with electronics for their munitions)

    77:

    They could justify being a Panama/Seychelles/Irish/Ukranian incorporation holding all the IP and trust accounts, then licensing to the local instance as required.

    That requires a group of hard hard hard core volunteers to operate and some money to be paid annually to a lawyer/accountant or few just to keep it idling.

    The problem I've seen with various clubs (mine included) is everyone is all for for the plan. But when you start recruit "volunteers" the room seems to empty in seconds. Especially when the details of what they have to do is made clear. For YEARS at a time. You ran into this yourself.

    In the US it is $5/mo to just rent a PO box. Only $60/yr. But you need multiple people on the rental who are committed to paying the bill and not moving away without telling the others. And checking to see what's there every few weeks. (Multiple people to deal with "Hit by a Bus" situation.) This is one place were my club fell down. They set up things using home addresses years ago and just didn't bother to pass information on or doing change of addresses / contacts when they moved or just decided to quit.

    78:

    So we have an explanation.

    ​Investment deals valued at approximately 8 billion yuan ($1.09 billion) were signed during the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) held in Chengdu, Sichuan province, last week at its inaugural industrial development summit, marking significant progress in the advancement of sci-fi development in China. -- $1.1B deals signed at Worldcon's 1st industrial development summit

    The [Tianwen] project was unveiled by Alai, Vice Chairman of the Chinese Writers Association, Hiroshi Osawa, Chairman of the Japan Science Fiction Writers Association, and Dave McCarty, head of the Hugo Award Selection Committee. - Tianwen: Unveiling China’s Diverse Science Fiction to the World

    So it's simple. Apparently some faction of the CCP has decided that science fiction is important to China's future, and McCarty has accepted a job offer from them, via the Tianwen project. All these people who are blaming WSFS can just STFU now; there aren't many organizations which could resist this sort of well-funded assault, and a more centralized organization might have been taken over entirely.

    79:

    Notice the following from you link:

    "The “Tianwen” plan includes the establishment of the Tianwen Global Science Fiction Literature Prize, which will be awarded annually from 2024. This prize aims to encourage new and young writers, focusing on their innovative literary works and expression of new cultural fields. It will serve as an important supplement to the prestigious Hugo Awards and contribute to the diversity of the Hugo culture."

    The implications of this plan are super-ugly. They've already damaged the Hugos (on top of the Sad Puppies debacle) so is the plan to try and ditch the Hugo awards in favor of the 'Tianwen Global Science Fiction Literature Prize?' There's probably no way some dude living in California can prove this one way or another, but I don't like the look of it!

    80:

    previously respected-&-trusted organisation

    UNRWA? LOL.

    81:

    The Campbell/Astounding Award and the Lodestar Award are presented alongside the Hugos and, IIRC, voted on using the same qualifications as Hugo voters (WSFS membership). There have been other awards handed out at the Hugo ceremonies in the past although the voting wasn't open to WSFS members (the Seiun, for example). Today there are so many more Hugo categories than before it's difficult to shoehorn in any slipstream awards without the ceremony running way over its time budget -- I think it was the 2005 Hugos where the presenters made a race of it, trying to get the whole thing done and dusted in less than an hour.

    If you read the quotation, what they're talking about with the Tianwen is a single-category award to "new and young writers". At best it may overlap the Campbell/Astounding award. It doesn't seem to have any impact on the multiple-category Hugos.

    82:

    If you want some really scathing lawyer comments, go over to Popehat

    Has Popehat moved again? The last thing I see on the substack site is an administrative announcement dated 12 January saying "moving to a new platform later this month" but no indication of where it will be.

    83:

    Lots of unis have near empty buildings (including arenas) during summer break - why not rent them out for this type of event?

    University SF conventions have been a thing for many decades. In general the facilities are too small and too austere for a worldcon, and there are other obstacles. (Many US campuses are "dry" because of insane local drinking age laws, and they also seem to have resident police forces -- which won't go play well with a group of mostly older and mostly non-neurotypical people.)

    84:

    Thanks, I've added that to the main article above because it would explain everything.

    (That's a metric fuckton of moolah in play, and it would account for the fan-run convention folks being discreetly elbowed out of the way and the entire event being stage-managed as a backdrop for a major industrial event to bootstrap creative industries (film, TV, and games) in Chengdu. And—looking for the most charitable interpretation here—the hapless western WSFS people were carried along for the ride to provide a veneer of worldcon-ness to what was basically Chinese venture capital hijacking the event and then sanitizing it politically.)

    85:

    I was a Bid Chair for Loncon 3, the 2014 Worldcon in London, and ran Facilities on the convention committee. We received no meaningful support from any level of government, or from any quasi-government organisation such as Visit London. Worldcons in western countries are perfectly possible without government support, though I’m sure it’s a big help for a first-time Worldcon in a smaller country like Finland or Ireland. .

    86:

    In general the facilities are too small and too austere for a worldcon, and there are other obstacles.

    Many others. One of the tech conferences I've been attending for 10+ years started at a major university. With the first 2 years at under 100 people, it fit in the business college. But there were all kinds of limitations. No where for 100+ people to eat except in the halls. No good AV setups to deal with larger crowds. No rooms set up for 200+ people. Places to sleep being a mile or more away in the "dorms". And so on.

    So they went from $100 to now $100. But they can handle over 500 people at the next to camplus conference center. Which has an attached hotel, a dining hall that can handle 600 with hot food, AV facilities in each room to allow recording of sessions, rooms that can handle 50 up to 200 with ease, and overflow rooms that work due to the AV setup. And so on.

    But even then there is no single on campus facility that can handle a crowd in the multiple 1000s. And this is a campus that typically has over 30K students when classes are in full swing. Which is why convention centers are used.

    Oh, yeah. On campus nearly all buildings were having classes in the summer except for a few single weeks during the summer. So while most classrooms were empty, the occupied ones were all over campus. And getting the summer business classes to use the engineering building across campus would be hard. Especially as the staff and prof offices would still be in the business college building(s).

    87:

    So they went from $100 to now $100

    Oops. $1000.

    89:

    Also worth noting is the timing angle: IIRC American worldcons always run over the Labor Day holiday weekend, because Americans get so little vacation that getting an extra day off work for free makes a big difference to many fans' ability to block out time for a convention trip.

    90:

    Labor Day holiday

    Yep. Most higher ed starts classes just before or immediately after that weekend. And no university would host such a thing that weekend.

    91:

    You're welcome. I hope things aren't as dire as they appear.

    BTW, thanks for providing Markdown support. Maybe Mastodon mainline will eventually adopt it, too.

    92:

    American Worldcons used to run over Labor Day, but then Dragoncon grabbed that weekend. As best I can determine, the last US Worldcon on that weekend was L.A.con IV in 2006, though it ran Wednesday through Sunday and so didn't actually coincide with Labor Day.

    93:

    But note that things have changed since 1995 -- I think company law is UK-wide and isn't different in Scotland. There's a new legal status of "community interest company", which is basically the UK version of a non-profit. It gets you no benefits other than being able to call yourself a community interest company, and imposes additional reporting requirements.

    94:

    The CIC rules are (sightly, not much) extra to a regular company but less onerous than registering as a charity. There's no charity commission oversight, nothing required about proving that you're worthy to be regarded as a charity. The main stricture is that you're sharply limited as to how much the owners are able to remove from the company in terms of profit or asset stripping.

    95:

    Thanks.

    No RSS or Atom feed, unfortunately. I do not need yet more emails clogging my inbox.

    96:

    But note that things have changed since 1995 -- I think company law is UK-wide and isn't different in Scotland.

    I am no expert, but there are differences in company law in Scotland (mostly as a side-effect of there being a different legal system that has been flying loosely in formation with English/Welsh law since 1707 but has some grandfathered-in differences). For example, unless I'm mistaken Scottish limited liability partnerships don't have an English equivalent. (Disclaimer: the friend of mine who made a living selling Scottish shell companies through the back pages of Private Eye died in 2020. There may have been changes since then.)

    97:

    71 - UK, Ireland, until recently South Africa...

    76 - We sort of have the opposite problem in Scotland. I used to know the treasurer of a series of more or less annual cons back in the 1980s (Faircons and Albacons if you know Glasgow cons; treasurer's name omitted for their privacy) and they reported having a series of bank accounts from these cons with small credit balances, and no way of closing the accounts.

    98:

    Re: 'Many US campuses are "dry" because of insane local drinking age laws, and they also seem to have resident police forces --'

    Yeah - lack of certain I'm-on-a-holiday type amenities would be a problem.

    Recently read a few articles about how shopping malls in the US are in decline. Okay, several of these articles went on to say that such structures could be converted to mixed use - housing plus some retail. Rational for convention usage is that typical suburban malls have a lot of (free) parking space available and my guess is that the large majority of SFcon attendees tend to be locals.

    My point is that we should get used to considering alternative strategies.

    99:

    Popehat is hanging out on Bluesky these days. I don't know if he has a new website or not.

    100:

    And I see now that he does. (Or that it's the one I've been accessing.)

    101:

    Re: legal personality and non-profits.

    People, especially when crossing between countries where the terminology of these things is very different, tend to get confused between these two concepts. They are different but related.

    There are various legal forms that an organisation can take, which give them legal personality (ie the right to sue and be sued and to make contracts). There are also unincorporated associations which do not have legal personality. Some legal forms are required to be "for profit" (e.g. a C-corp in the US or a public limited company in the UK) and so cannot take on non-profit status.

    There are two meanings to non-profit. One is a legal person that cannot pay out surplus as profit to any private ownership, but must reinvest it in its goals. The other is a legal status granted by government which comes with various tax exemptions.

    Most nonprofits in the sense of tax exemption are also legal persons that cannot pay out profit, though some are unincorporated associations (which lack legal personality) or trusts (which also lack legal personality). Note that a trust must have a list of trustees that you can sue; an unincorporated association has to be sued in the name of one of its officers, which can get complicated if they replace the officer during the court case. Also you may have to study the structure of the unincorporated association to work out who to sue.

    In the US, nonprofits in the tax sense are covered by one of the 29 subsections of 501(c). The vast majority of the ones you've heard of are 501(c)(3). In the UK, the equivalent status is that of a registered charity. As a result, the usual meaning of a "non-profit" in the UK is the legal personality - usually either a company limited by guarantee or an industrial and provident society. The equivalent of the US meaning of "non-profit" is "charity".

    For Worldcon, it's relevant that "running a worldcon" has been accepted by the IRS as falling into the category of "literary purposes" that is a legitimate purpose for a 501(c)(3). In the UK, "running a worldcon" has not been accepted by the Charity Commision as falling into the category of "the advancement of the arts, culture, heritage or science" that is a legitimate purpose for a registered charity, so UK worldcons can adopt a non-profit legal personality, but cannot obtain the benefits of nonprofit status, so they normally just register as a normal limited company ("a company limited by shares") or operate as an unincorporated association, rather than becoming a company limited by guarantee, which is the usual legal form for a charity that is not a trust (trusts must either be for profit or charitable by law; most new charities are established as a CLG because the CLG can survive if the Charity Commission denies the request for charitable status, the trust would collapse, resulting in a legal mess).

    TLDR: "non-profit" means different things in the US and the UK; the equivalent of a US "non-profit" is a UK "charity" and Worldcons can be a "non-profit" in the US, but the law is different in the UK and they can't be a "charity" here. They could be a (UK meaning) "non-profit", but there are no tax benefits to doing so, so they generally don't bother with the hassle.

    102:

    US commentators should remember that Worldcons ARE Worldcons and a 501(c)3 means nothing outside the borders of the US

    As they say in Independence Day "That's not entirely accurate". Even though we were not a US organisation we had to abide by the rules of a 501(C)3 organisation as far as possible so that US Worldcons could pass along funds to us

    103:

    my guess is that the large majority of SFcon attendees tend to be locals.

    Not at worldcons! There's a hard core of 1000-2000 American fans who will fly to wherever there's a worldcon, and probably another 1000-odd non-US fans who will ditto, before you get to the locals.

    And don't assume the non-local worldcon attendees can drive at all. Public transport is a must.

    104:

    I have no opinion nor information about any worldcons, never having been to a single sf con.

    I have spent many, many years running or helping to run various volunteer organizations. All I can say when I look at something like a worldcon is 'Fuck no, one would have to be completely insane'.

    I am very aware of the stunning amount of effort that goes into organizing something like a youth sports league that runs for 4 months each spring, where everyone knows the rules, there are larger provincial or regional organizations and structures, and we know what, where and how everything has to happen.

    All to invariably have a round of vociferous complaints by people (invariably who have contributed zero), bizarre conflicts, financial complexities. The list goes on.

    A couple of years ago my youngest informed me he no longer wanted to play that sport. JOY! Since then my volunteering is strictly front line service provision stuff. No organizing thank you very much.

    Even the thought of trying to contribute to organizing something like a Worldcon as a volunteer gives me a creeping sense of dread. Dear FSM in Colander, why would anyone?

    105:

    Re: '... the model we are used to with American and British and European conventions'

    Although I've been to a couple of WorldCons I hadn't read its Constitution. The below caught my eye ... haven't finished reading the whole document yet.

    https://www.wsfs.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/11/WSFS-Constitution-as-of-October-23_2023B.docx

    'Section 2.7: Membership Pass-along. Within ninety (90) days after a Worldcon, the administering Committee shall, except where prohibited by local law, forward to the Committee of the next Worldcon its best information as to the names and contact information of all of its Worldcon members who have given permission for that data transfer and only for the purposes for which permission to use that data transfer and only for the purposes for which permission to use that data was given.'

    Wonder what the local definitions of 'permission' are.

    The reason I decided to read this Constitution was to see what the must-do's and must-not's were (if any) because given what happened where (i.e., China) it might not be just legal-financial matters ... which seems to be the focus of most comments so far. Personal info is serious stuff - lots of legislation being passed to prevent its illegal access/transfer/sale.

    Back to legal-financial ...

    What's been the reaction of the publishers? A Hugo means increased book sales/revenue for both the publisher and the author and since publishers typically have legal staff, my guess is that they'd be quite motivated to dig into this.

    106:

    "For-orofit"? So, you feel like being beaten to a pulp and dropped in the (non-existent) oceans of Venus?

    What part of "fan" do you not understand? As I noted much earlier, "Real sf cons" do not sell tickets, you buy into it, you buy a membership. The 300,000 people comicons are for-profit, and pay handsomely. Oh, and want a signature from an author? That'll be $25, please. Want this or that? Pay more. AND what happens one day is the same as the other days. Real sf cons no day's programming is identical.

    We are not a freakin' industry. No "for-profit" here.

    107:

    Been discussed in places like File 770. Right now, Texas and Florida have -1 chance of getting a Worldcon.

    108:

    Come on - Chicon VIII, last year, was Labor Day weekend.

    I should also add, to some of the other questions/suggestions. Now, I am NOT a SMOF (I consider myself an anti-SMOF), but I've been in fandom a long, long time. Worldcons are run by organizations spun up for that explicit purpose. The organization is normally created by a local club(s), but is separate. The Baltimore Worldcon in '83 went bankrupt, and without a separate organization, the local club(s) would have been wiped out.

    There are Worldcon-running organizations that run on for many years, first to build up, sign contracts, etc, for Worldcon, then to close the books and deal with much else. I know there's one in Texas, while here in the DC metro area is BWAWA (the Baltimore Washington Area Worldcon Assn). It's not bidding in the near future, but it keeps going, because might as well.

    109:

    Registering for the con, as you're buying your membership, check box: May we pass along your information to next year's Worldcon.

    Is that simple and clear enough?

    110:

    Oh, and the "surplus" that the con made (as a non-profit, you don't make profits, you make surplus, hopefully), the organization that ran the worldcon may take years, but it donates the "surplus" to local clubs that helped run it, and to future Worldcons, to help them come up with the up-front money.

    And there's a lot of money involved. Cons... my late wife and I used to go to Aggiecon, at Texas A&M Univ. Register early, and you could get a room in the student center that was also a hotel that was also where the con was held.

    Few hotels anymore can handle a Worldcon. The hotel DC was hoping to use, but was yanked out from under us by bankruptcy, could (it held the 1974 Worldcon). Chicon, last year, that hotel could handle it, but even so, needed more space.

    Few conventions have our requirements: three very large spaces, suitable for hundreds or thousands of people. One for "main tent" (programming, like the Masquerade or the Hugo Awards), one for the dealers' room, and one for the art show. Each takes up a very large amount of space. Then there's the other programming. I, personally, think cons these days are over-programmed - not enough time to socialize, to be with other fans - but Balticon, a major regional, that used to run 1400-1800 attendees, has something like six tracks of programming, running simultaneously. And the rooms need to be large enough to accommodate the expected audience. (One of my daughters, who went to Helsinki, noted that was a problem there. There were lines to get into the panels of most interest.)

    111:

    Is there such a thing as a do-it-all con?

    Something that combines comics-sci fi-board games-videogames?

    112:

    BTW, do the various fandoms get along?

    Do SF fans look down their noses at comic book fans or embrace them as family. Do steam punkers like board gamers? Does anyone like furries?

    Funny video of a Venn diagram presentation explaining the difference between nerds, geeks and dorks:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZZ1OWQTgqQ

    113:

    A Hugo means increased book sales/revenue for both the publisher and the author

    Ha ha nope!

    Some time circa 2005-2010 I asked my then-editor at Ace, Ginjer Buchanan (who has now retired), what the most useful SF/F literary awards were.

    She chuckled, then replied to the effect that none of them were worth a bucket of warm spit except for (a) the Philip K. Dick and Arthur C. Clarke awards (because they came with a cheque for the winner) and the Prometheus Award (which comes with a plaque bearing a 1 Troy ounce 23 carat gold coin), and (b) the Hugo for best novel (and only best novel), which doesn't sell more copies, but Hugo-winning novels tend to stay in print longer.

    "Stay in print longer" is, however, no longer a Thing, because if you're trad-published through a Big Five imprint since roughly 2005 your books do not ever go out of print availability via the ebook distribution channels. You can only go out of print if your publisher fucked up and you or your agent can find a loophole in the contract to force reversion of rights.

    With the exception of indie/small press titles, all my books remain in print, right back to 2003. Including the non-Hugo nominated ones.

    114:

    Is there such a thing as a do-it-all con?

    Something that combines comics-sci fi-board games-videogames?

    Yes: worldcon. Although some of those are relegated to smaller/sparser program streams. (I notice you missed out cosplay despite mentioning furries in your next comment. Worldcon does costuming too, although it's not primarily a costuming or furry convention.)

    The whole point of worldcon is that there's a multi-headed monsoon shower of different SF/F related hobbies spraying you from all directions.

    115:
    • "For-orofit"? So, you feel like being beaten to a pulp and dropped in the (non-existent) oceans of Venus?*

    Read what I wrote , please. I made it excruciatingly clear that this was about the legal timeline for forming the legal entity that produced the con, not about how the money was to be handled. The only reason to go for-profit when setting up a con is if it is legally difficult to become or remain a nonprofit while doing so.

    People who know what they are doing have made it quite clear that this is a non issue, and I appreciate their clarification.

    116:

    And the rooms need to be large enough to accommodate the expected audience. (One of my daughters, who went to Helsinki, noted that was a problem there. There were lines to get into the panels of most interest.)

    Ropecon, an analog gaming convention (RPGs, LARPs, board games, miniature games, lots of talk about them, and all kinds of assorted related nerd things), which has about 6000 visitors each year, and has been held for years in the same venue as the Helsinki Worldcon, also has lately had the same kind of issues with rooms. There have been queues to the popular programs and sometimes not everybody can fit in.

    That's 6000 for a Friday to Saturday con and I think they calculate each day visit as one, so '6000 day visits' is probably the best description. The venue is pretty configurable, and I don't know how the Worldcon was configured, but I know there were same people doing both cons. It's the only venue in Helsinki that can accommodate that many people - it used to be in Otaniemi, at the Aalto University campus, but some of the buildings were renovated and aren't conference centres anymore. It was growing too big for that anyway.

    There is also a big hall reserved for sleeping space. Not everybody can afford a hotel room and many people spend the whole weekend there. There are a lot of students and other young people from all around Finland there and it's nice to have a place to sleep. I've slept in those accommodations mny times when I just had to spend the whole time at the venue (and the previous place did not have good hotels, and I was poor).

    117:

    As a denizen of San Diego, I am sharing space with Comic-Con for four days out of the year. During that time I stay as far away from the convention center as I can. The point is that a big enough convention creates its own holiday, and you don’t have to piggyback on an existing holiday.

    As far as alternative locations for cons, there’s always Las Vegas, Indian casinos, and under used mega churches. Conversely, convention centers often get turned into homeless shelters in bad weather and relief centers after disasters. Even if Texas and Florida weren’t full of MAGAtry, picking a safe time for a con in hurricane reason a year or more in advance is getting difficult.

    Hey, Ohio is pretty safe, climate-wise. How big is that church Scalzi bought?

    118:

    You called it, Charlie.

    Robert J Sawyer, who was at the Tianwen (gods, I've learned to spell it) Program kick-off event, weighs in:

    I had zero -- absolutely zero, none whatsoever, nada, zilch, nil -- involvement with the planning, development, or any other aspect of the Tianwen Program or the proposed Global Science Fiction Literature Award.

    I hadn't even heard of either of them until the specific programming event at Chengdu Worldcon referred to in the press release. Nor have I heard of either of them again since the convention until today; I was involved in no way before or after Chengdu Worldcon with them -- not in any way at all -- and have had absolutely no discussions or correspondence with anyone anywhere about them ever.

    You can take this part of the press release literally: "Those who pressed the release button together were …," followed by a long list of names. Seeing no documents whatsoever in advance, I was brought by my handler/interpreter to the appropriate hall, ushered on stage, and asked, along with the others mentioned in the release, to jointly "press the release button," which was a bit of pure theatrics involving pushing a giant on-screen button (as you can see in the photograph; that's me at the far right). -- Robert J Sawyer on Facebook

    This is like something out of the old Soviet Union. It seems some of the Western participants in the Chengdu Worldcon have been, in Muenzenberg's lovely phrase, useful idiots.

    Someone is going to rue this heah pahticulah day.

    119:
    Which leads to a question: do I need to get a SIM card when we get in for my phone? I know it used to be the case that you couldn't use a US SIM....

    The question isn't whether you can use it (you probably can; just make sure international roaming/calling isn't blocked on your account), but whether you'll get shafted by your carrier. T-Mobile and Google Fi have free but reduced-speed international roaming (paid full-speed is available), but last I checked Verizon and AT&T require you to buy day/week passes in advance to avoid a massive screwing.

    If the latter matches your carrier, make sure your phone is unlocked (they will unlock it if it's not currently on a carrier-financed installment plan, and some will unlock earlier), research your options, and buy an eSIM online before you leave or a physical SIM from a vending machine at the airport when you arrive.

    120:

    What I'm trying to understand is if any of this really matters.

    I am not a convention person, so I'm looking at this purely as a mostly uninterested lay person that likes Charlie's books.

    The awards were messed up and we assume the wrong authors received awards, either because of external influence or scared organisers. If, as Charlie says, that doesn't really have an impact on sales, then does it really matter?

    It sounds like the convention is attended by ~2000 die hard fans and a vaguely similar number of locals. Even allowing for hefty multipliers, it's the kind of numbers that show up weekly for very small sports teams.

    So even if it all falls apart, I would assume that the same die hard fans remake it with proper governance, a new name, and a different name on the award. The same people would still attend, authors would still get awards that mean something to fans but little else.

    Am I missing something, or is this all a big storm in a very small teacup?

    121:

    "Real" sf cons are. Let's see, Capclave (local) doesn't have an art show - it's more focused on reading, and is a small con. Balticon (Baltiomre), Philcon (Philly), Windycon (Chicago), and that's just the ones I know well and attend - have sf, writing, art, science video, film, game rooms costuming tracks. All of them.

    As I mentioned recently, I quit the FB group "ConCellation" when I realized that it had been overrun by franchise fans after I saw a post "will everyone hate me if I jump fandoms?". In real sf fandom, that question makes no sense. We're there for all of it.

    122:

    Good to know!

    "the main coordinators are paid and they work year round: the moment one Pyrkon ends, they start on preparing the next one."

    Also good to know!

    "but the main people are paid and everything is done by a non-profit association registered in Poland."

    Makes sense that above a certain threshold full-time people are necessary.

    Note that the German Protestant churches do something that's like a Worldcon in that it wanders among German cities (held every other year) and is largely run by volunteers for fans, as it were. The scale, though: attendance generally in the range of 100,000; literally thousands of bits of programming; opening events whose attendance can be upwards of 300,000. Legally, there's an overarching non-profit, and each host city spins up its own non-profit for a given incarnation of the Kirchentag, which is then wound down afterward.

    The larger point being that there are models for what Worldcon is, and what it aspires to be. There are large, volunteer-run events. There are events that wander. Most of the problems have already been solved. People just need to get out a bit more.

    123:

    Re: 'Registering ... buying your membership, check box: May we pass along your information to next year's Worldcon. Clear ...?'

    Yes - clear to me because I'm expecting the same-old-same-old NoAm/Western style of PII compliance regardless of where the WorldCon happens because I hadn't read the Constitution before buying the membership. What's also not clear is what the folks running the 2023 WorldCon did with that data.

    Where I was heading is basically what Raven @118 posted/commented on: it's hard to verify if all's per usual/expected when you don't understand the language, there's considerable polite* (smiley) pressure to do something NOW and you have no way of verifying if what you just did was something that you would have agreed to do if you had been informed in advance and had time to think it over.

    The conference version of a hard-sell scam tactic.

    *Robert Sawyer is Canadian, so per stereotype, he'd be polite, respectful of others and unlikely to make/cause a scene.

    124:

    I've always found Sawyer polite and respectful, even when dealing with less than polite people.

    I've also been roped into participating as a prop in someone else's theatrical PR performance. Happens a lot in education, when the people making the decisions don't bother asking teachers and students if they want to participate… Same thing often happens in churches.

    Hell, even happened when I worked as an engineer and marketing decided to put on a show for a potential customer. Sometimes they asked for volunteers, sometimes they just issued orders…

    125:

    I have spent many, many years running or helping to run various volunteer organizations. All I can say when I look at something like a worldcon is 'Fuck no, one would have to be completely insane'.

    My wife has been involved in three now: 2014 in London, 2019 in Dublin, and the current 2024 in Glasgow, with the weekend just gone devoted to the latest committee meeting for the last. But she's not had a huge workload, and she is retired, so it works for her.

    What did get insane was back in the early days of this century, where she was deputy chair of two Discworld Conventions in a row, in both cases where the chair went missing (the first being swamped by their work job, the second getting cancer), so she was acting chair. For that second one, she was also treasurer and membership secretary for reasons that seemed good at the time. After that, she swore blind she'd never get involved in any again, not beyond making the membership badges. And yet, here she is today, on the committees of two conventions to be held this year.

    As you thought, insane.

    126:

    Am I missing something, or is this all a big storm in a very small teacup?

    Yes: you're missing reputational damage and brand-building.

    Awards don't sell books directly to the public, but they do build an author's reputation -- once you're visible on the Hugo shortlists, let alone winning, it becomes much easier for your agent to negotiate a good book deal with the major publishers, because the editors will happily use the awards your name is attached to to sell you internally to the marketing department.

    And if the award is discredited in the public mind, so is anyone who ever won it. Even if the damage is a one-time event, like the Chengdu worldcon rigging the Hugos, it calls into question all the previous ones.

    127:

    There is also the loss of community. Worldcon is uniquely the world convention of, at least, English-using fans and writers of science fiction. Nothing else holds quite the same place.

    If Worldcon and the Hugos can survive at all, I think the reputation can be rebuilt; the literature Nobels have outlasted worse.

    Historically, the Hugo awards have actually done very very well; I look at the controversies that have come out of juried literary awards and think that the Hugos are special, a hybrid of a juried award and a fan award, with few of the sort of controversies that mar juried awards. I hope they survive.

    128:

    Charlie Stross @ 103:

    "my guess is that the large majority of SFcon attendees tend to be locals."

    "Not at worldcons! There's a hard core of 1000-2000 American fans who will fly to wherever there's a worldcon, and probably another 1000-odd non-US fans who will ditto, before you get to the locals."

    And don't assume the non-local worldcon attendees can drive at all. Public transport is a must.

    Can "locals" come to a worldcon if it's happening in their locale? Do they have to buy memberships or is there something like daily admission?

    129:

    Can "locals" come to a worldcon if it's happening in their locale? Do they have to buy memberships or is there something like daily admission?

    Yes. You can buy a one-day pass on the door, cost is usually 20% of the full attending membership fee (it's a five day event).

    130:

    What Charlie said. I've been pushing my upcoming book, Becoming Terran, hard, esp. since my editor has been saying "Hugo, Neblula"... and it's really hard for someone from a small press to get enough notice to get in the running. I'd be over the moon if I was nominated - that is, a finalist. For that matter, it would be a huge thing for my publisher, because it would get other books by them looked at.

    131:

    Pretty shocked to hear "awards don't sell". Hugo and Nebula in particular, depressing oscar/golden globe etc bait is depressing bait.

    I'm pretty sure I've been checking Hugo and Nebula awards and nominees every time I was out of stuff to read for at least 20 years. I'd say it has been worth it for me about 80% of the time.

    Maybe they're not showing in the sales figures immediately? Because I'll either buy a book on launch if i was following the author (cough Transreal) or get it years later if i have to find out about it from somewhere. Getting an award means I get it "years since initial publishing".

    132:

    Maybe they're not showing in the sales figures immediately?

    Correct!

    What the awards do is build awareness among in-genre readers that other folks think this author is worth following. It's a long term marketing win.

    It also (as I noted) helps the acquiring editor convince other people in marketing and management at a big publisher to take a punt on the author. "The Atrocity Archives" was a one book small press thing until it won a Hugo (for the second part): then the small press commissioned book 2 and my main SF publishers suddenly sat up and acquired the paperback rights.

    133:

    Can "locals" come to a worldcon if it's happening in their locale? Do they have to buy memberships or is there something like daily admission

    Scottish residents will get a fairly substantial discount on Glasgow membership - currently it's £70 cheaper for the whole weekend for a full adult membership, £35 cheaper for a young adult. There probably will be day tickets, but if they are going to have them, the prices have yet to be released.

    134:

    Which reminds me ... I'm awaiting the release of hotel booking-availability, as I will certainly looking for the absolute cheapest-but-also .. close-to-the con accomo I can find.
    Same as the microsecond that return train tickets in advance appear, I will be booking myself on.
    HINT: second full-weekend in March, there is a railtour knocking off the two largest chunks of track I need in "Alba" - namely Helensburgh Jn - Oban AND Mallaig .. all in one go! KGX -> EDB £26,| I kid you not.

    135:

    Worldcon hotel bookings opened a week or two ago, I think?

    136:

    Re: 'I've been checking Hugo and Nebula awards and nominees every time I was out of stuff to read for at least 20 years.'

    Same here!

    A Hugo or Nebula also helps with your local library - much easier to request and get new books by winning authors. I've even seen SF-themed displays at the library - good way to get young readers.

    Then there's the back catalog: an unfamiliar author wins one of these awards, people decided to try that book, decide they like it and proceed to buy all of that author's previous books.

    137:

    Thinking it over, this isn't even a particularly Chinese problem, though the opacity of the Chinese system contributed. Any sufficiently well-heeled organization could have attempted this – it's just that for 80 years no-one tried.

    138:

    Oh, crap. They had accessability booking open a month ago. We just booked a room - and I had all kinds of issues, their website doesn't like firefox - and got one 1.9 mi away. I complained to the booking agency... and that Lovely woman got us into one on campus.

    If you can't find anything talk to them. They can get things we can't.

    139:

    And this just appeared, from File 770: Worldcon Intellectual Property Announces Censure of McCarty, Chen Shi and Yalow; McCarty Resigns; Eastlake Succeeds Standlee as Chair of B.O.D. https://file770.com/worldcon-intellectual-property-announces-censure-of-mccarty-chen-shi-and-yalow-mccarty-resigns-eastlake-is-new-chair/

    140:

    Charlie
    I watch my worldcon emails - I have seen nothing of this! I'll enquire - THANKS. ....
    whitroth @ 138 ... Oops!
    I must enquire - a.s.a.p. .. ( 5 minutes later - enquiry email sent ... )

    141:

    PHEW!

    Thank you everybody Now booked in Wed-Monday

    See y'all there! GT

    142:

    The sharks have tasted blood, now, and will want more. Whether this is sufficient to spike legal action against the Marks Committee I don't know.

    143:

    There is no money in the Marks Committee, so anyone suing will be doing so for reasons other than profit and will have to pay all their own legal bills. Unless they plan to go after former executives and try to have them held personally liable for ... what, exactly? It's a bit of a reach.

    144:

    I hope you're right. I've interacted with some of those people and they've got big axes they want to grind. I was and am astonished by the hostility WSFS and the Hugos arouse.

    I think this may also further entrench the resistance to change upon the part of the business meeting crowd. That is exactly the wrong reaction.

    145:

    Greg, wildly off-topic, but there is no such thing as "Helensburgh Junction". The junction is called "Craigendoran". There is a railway station (called Craigendoran) near the junction, but it's on the line to Helensburgh Central, not the West Highland Line that you actually want to travel. Helensburgh Upper is on the West Highland, but is 1km uphill from Helensburgh Central.

    The rump of the old Callendar and Oban Railway divides from the West Highland Line at Crianlarach, some 45 rail miles from Glasgow Queen Street where trains for both Mallaig and Oban depart. It is possible to get to Oban on the early train, back to Crianlarach and then on to Mallaig in a day, but make sure you have accommodation booked in Mallaig if doing this since you'll be on the last train there. (and torturing a speel chucker)

    146:

    paws I think I may have had brain-fade there! ( About Junction names )
    And, no, it's a BLS "Special" ... B'oness .. etc - EDB ( where I get on ) - Fort William / FWE - Craigendoran - Oban - Craigendoran - Fort W / FW - Mallaig - FW - Dalmuir (where I get off ) - obscure routes, including a Wemyss Bay reversal - back to B'oness.
    Two overnights in FW ...

    147:

    Greg, wildly off-topic, but there is no such thing as "Helensburgh Junction". The junction is called "Craigendoran".

    More precisely, the junction is "Craigendoran Junction" (TIPLOC CRGDRNJ) while the station is just "Craigendoran" (TIPLOC CRGDRN, CRS code CGD).

    148:

    ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE

    If you want to talk about trains, feel free to use "The Coming Storm" (previous but one topic).

    Worldcon news is still happening daily and this topic is active and still young.

    149:

    Re: '... big axes ... to grind ... hostility WSFS and the Hugos arouse ... resistance to change ... exactly the wrong reaction.'

    Okay - I get that folks are upset.

    What I don't get is:

    Is this all only about the China fiasco or are there other (specific) issues? (What else specifically?)

    What changes are being resisted - why?

    Who's being particularly hostile toward WSFS/Hugos - why?

    I typically take out a membership when I plan on attending that conference that year so I'm definitely not up on WSFS current issues.

    150:

    Late thoughts: one of the criticisms of the Marks Committee is fundamentally anti-democratic. The Marks Committee may not overrule the site selection voters.

    It also strikes me that this is less a "Worldcon goes to China" problem then a "company with a metric fuckton of moola gets involved in the Hugos" problem. The problem would not be less if it were a US or UK convention and a large media company was involved, though perhaps it would have been caught earlier.

    151:

    one of the criticisms of the Marks Committee is fundamentally anti-democratic. The Marks Committee may not overrule the site selection voters.

    Ummm, I don't get it. The Mark Protection Committee (the "Marks"?) has buggerall to do with bidding for, winning and/or running a Worldcon. Do real people really believe that the MPC has any actual power or control over Worldcons? The only thing it can do is send a cease-and-desist letter to someone who wants to run something called a Worldcon if they're not a bidding or seated convention committee. The Hugo Award mark protection effort is something else.

    152:

    The problem would not be less if it were a US or UK convention and a large media company was involved, though perhaps it would have been caught earlier.

    Would the reaction have been different? I've not been following the news about this, because I'm not involved in fandom and haven't even read most Hugo winners, but a lot of the online reactions I've seen seem to have a heavy tinge of anti-Chinese sentiment. (Secret Communist Plot™ kinda thing.) I have no idea how representative these reactions are, though.

    I do wonder if the con had been in LA and a big movie company had sponsored it and done the same kind of thing is the reactions would have been the same.

    153:

    There was a sponsorship scandal in the USA in 2021 at Discon III in Washington DC -- the Hugo awards took sponsorship from Raytheon, a military supplier, prompting an apology from the worldcon chair. (The military sales angle ambushed a bunch of Hugo nominees, some of whom are notably not fans of the military-industrial complex.)

    But at least the concom there recognized that this was a blunder and apologized for it.

    154:

    Charlie:

    2G is likely to last until 2030 at the earliest! 3G will be abandoned before that.

    The reason for this is simple: there are millions of so-called "smart meters" hard wired to 2G.

    Link: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/phones-telecoms-and-internet/information-for-industry/policy/2g-and-3g-switch-off

    Jamie

    155:

    Thank you. I now understand the anomaly better. However, you are advised to disregard the OFCOM weaselling. It's all in terms of 'expectations', and neither the providers nor OFCOM are going to take much notice of it, perhaps not any. For example, OFCOM 'expect' that the providers will give 3-6 months notice and keep customers informed, but the EE link says that Warrington was given 30 days. Vodaphone's says that their final switchoff is in January 2024, but its 3G still works for me, and I have had damn-all notice; I am expecting it to stop without warning, any time now.

    156:

    EC & Charlie
    My "Planet / Cosmo" Communicator appears to be 3G only ... Does this mean it will soon become useless?
    I'll be highly unamused if this is so.

    158:

    I don't know about the UK, but that is the case here. Two years ago, I had to replace my flip phone with a new one, that has More Features! (which I don't care about), because 3G is/has going/gone away in the US. Spectrum sold for other things.

    159:

    What happened was three, I think, nominees were suddenly declared "ineligible", and people who pay attention to the stats, because those are required by WSFS rules, to be published, that several that should have won according to the stats, like Babel, were suddenly out.

    160:

    Ummm, I don't get it. The Mark Protection Committee (the "Marks"?) has buggerall to do with bidding for, winning and/or running a Worldcon. Do real people really believe that the MPC has any actual power or control over Worldcons? The only thing it can do is send a cease-and-desist letter to someone who wants to run something called a Worldcon if they're not a bidding or seated convention committee. The Hugo Award mark protection effort is something else.

    You are correct, but that is part of the problem from the trademark perspective. As it stands, there's no one who can actually enforce the rules, which makes it very hard to say that there's a trademark to defend. As an example, if someone just decides to hold their own Worldcon at AvignCon and run their own Hugo awards, and the Worldcon Intellectual Property company (which is what owns the trademarks) tries to stop them, then WIP is going to have to show that they have actually licensed the Hugo and Worldcon trademarks to previous cons, and that there's a reason it's okay for Chengdu to throw out the rules on how to count Hugo ballots and not AvignCon to throw out the rules about how a site is chosen. If WIP has no authority to control how the Hugo/Worldcon trademark is assigned and used, then why should its ownership be recognized at all?

    Think about it in terms of other franchises, like fast food. Burger King corporate doesn't own all the individual franchises, but you can be sure that they make sure every one of those understands that a Whopper is a hamburger of a certain size and quality. If a franchise starts selling a Whopper that is actually a calzone, and Burger King just goes "well we can't actually make anyone follow the rules about what a Whopper is", then it is effectually abandoning the trademark.

    Yes, this contradicts how the WSFS has run things for years, and as I understand that's why a non-profit company to own the trademark was eventually created in the first place. Unfortunately once an organization gets to a certain size, running things based on vibes and good intentions gets increasingly shaky and you really need expert help. (Even volunteer help, which they could have had plenty of.) Mostly this part of the furor is because legal professionals are noticing just how bad things could be in the IP part alone, much less the accountants who are looking at WIP financial statements and asking things like "why does the State of California say you are delinquent on your registration fees?" and "why do your starting funds from 2022 not match your ending funds from 2021?" To be clear, I don't think anyone is accusing the people on the MPC/WIP of any intentional wrong-doing, just of being disorganized and not understanding how the law actually works.

    The easiest solution here would be for there to be a formal contract between WIP and each Worldcon, saying something like "we agree to use the WSFS constitution rules for the Hugo process", and the cons might want to consider using a professional service for the vote counting. (Even just having WSFS provide the software for doing so would be a step up from each con having to reinvent the wheel.) That goes against how WSFS has always been run, though, and would probably require doing the constitution change process. Two years is a very long OODA loop.

    Is anyone is actually going to run a fake con or sue for some frivolous reason? I think it's unlikely... although I'm not sure Ursla Vernon is joking about making Hugo sculptures from body-safe silicone.

    161:

    No, the Cosmo Communicator does 3G and 4G (LTE).

    The unfortunately-named Astro Slide also does 5G.

    162:

    Robert Prior @ 152:

    "The problem would not be less if it were a US or UK convention and a large media company was involved, though perhaps it would have been caught earlier."

    Would the reaction have been different? I've not been following the news about this, because I'm not involved in fandom and haven't even read most Hugo winners, but a lot of the online reactions I've seen seem to have a heavy tinge of anti-Chinese sentiment. (Secret Communist Plot™ kinda thing.) I have no idea how representative these reactions are, though.

    I do wonder if the con had been in LA and a big movie company had sponsored it and done the same kind of thing is the reactions would have been the same.

    I followed the link to the voting results. I couldn't figure out how they were scoring it, but I did recognize the title of one book I'd read (recommended by someone here).

    163:

    Thank you for correcting me.

    To Greg: if your device appears to support only 3G, I suggest checking its network settings. If it has been set to use 3G only (assuming that is possible, as it is on my phone), it will still fail when that goes, but the fix is easy.

    164:

    Charlie @ 161
    I will enquire - I thought it didn't "do" 4g(LTE) - whatever the "LTE stands for ...
    Certainly the screen(etc) says "3G" I must admit I'm lost!

    165:

    You are assigning vast apparent powers to the WSFS Mark Protection Committee (MPC) and even more to the WIP holding company which is, I think, an American entity and not something anyone in, say, Azerbaijan would recognise legally or even ethically.

    I understand, folks who aren't Secret Masters of Fandom think that Worldcon has been running for over eighty years now so there must be a persistent controlling organisation of some kind that has ruled the Sevagram for lo! these last eight decades, and no there isn't. The one persistent structure in WSFS is the MPC AND IT HAS NO POWERS TO DO ANYTHING WITH OR TO A SEATED WORLDCON. The committee's only purpose is in its name, to protect valuable trademarks and logos and the shape of an award trophy.

    Every Worldcon is its own entity and for the few days each year a Worldcon operates WSFS comes to life. Everything WSFS-related happens during the convention between the Opening Ceremony and the Closing Ceremony after which WSFS goes into hibernation again. There are a set of rules the Worldcon should obey during that brief mayfly time, some things the Worldcon committee has obligated itself to do like hold the Business Meeting but the MPC has nothing to do with running the event or counting Hugo Award ballots.

    166:

    Let's boil it down to one sentence: If WIP has no power over an individual Worldcon, it is unable to protect its trademarks, which could then cause those trademarks to lose any value they have.

    Question: what fraction of veteran fans are so opposed to giving WSFS more central authority that they'd rather let the whole thing die?

    167:

    Let's boil it down to one sentence: If WIP has no power over an individual Worldcon, it is unable to protect its trademarks, which could then cause those trademarks to lose any value they have.

    This is true. The WIP is, I believe, a limited company holding intellectual property and nothing to do with Worldcons.

    A seated or bidding WorldCon committee signs up to promise they'll follow the WSFS rules, as created and amended by previous Business Meetings while the convention is in progress. If the committee don't actually abide by the few actual requirements of the WSFS rules then the MPC and the WIP can't do anything about it because they don't run WSFS. The only real sanction is that any attempt by some or all of the committee to bid for another WorldCon in the future would be looked on with some disdain by the fans likely to vote next time.

    what fraction of veteran fans are so opposed to giving WSFS more central authority that they'd rather let the whole thing die?

    Most if not all of them, from my experience hanging around with them over the past forty years or so at various cons. However you're still making the same mistake, thinking that the WSFS has persistence between conventions and it doesn't. The only time WSFS exists is between the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the current WorldCon, at which time everyone with a membership in the convention[1] is an equal member of WSFS, and there is no-one in charge. There is no chairman, no CEO, no directors, no Human Resources staffers, no hierarchy at all. Crazy, huh?

    [1] Apocryphal and child memberships don't have voting rights in the Business Meeting. Then again Business Meeting votes are only taken with those people present at the meeting itself, no mail-in or remote voting allowed. This may change in the future but it's how things are done right now.

    168:

    The only real sanction is that any attempt by some or all of the committee to bid for another WorldCon in the future would be looked on with some disdain by the fans likely to vote next time.

    Like the only real sanction against a politician* who lies, cheats, is corrupt, etc etc is to hope the voters remember and care?

    * Pick the lying, cheating, corrupt yet inexplicably re-elected politician of your choice. Sadly there seems to be no shortage…

    169:

    A politician who cheats and is corrupt can (notionally) be arrested, and often can be removed from office (the Canadian House of Commons expelled one MP twice; that guy must have had an exciting life); whether that effects their electability is another question.

    Cheating politicians may not get sanctioned, but that's usually a "don't," not a "can't": the relevance and the worry is that trademark law suggests if the MPC don't, eventually a court will make it can't.

    170:

    Oh, crap.

    https://www.firstpost.com/world/china-reports-death-of-woman-from-combined-h3n2-h10n5-strains-of-bird-flu-13672902.html

    China reports death of woman from combined H3N2, H10N5 strains of bird flu

    https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jama/article-abstract/2801499

    Bird Flu Has Begun to Spread in Mammals

    https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/wpro---documents/emergency/surveillance/avian-influenza/ai_20240126.pdf?sfvrsn=5f006f99_125#:~:text=From%201%20January%202003%20to,(CFR)%20of%2056%25.

    From 1 January 2003 to 1 November 2023, a total of 246 cases of human infection with avian influenza A(H5N1) virus have been reported from four countries within the Western Pacific Region (Table 1). Of these cases, 138 were fatal, resulting in a case fatality rate (CFR) of 56%

    https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/72/wr/mm7218a4.htm#:~:text=The%20age%2Dadjusted%20COVID%2D19%20death%20rate%20was%2061.3%20per,%2C%20and%20AI%2FAN%20persons.

    The age-adjusted COVID-19 death rate was 61.3 per 100,000 persons. (0.06%)

    171:

    It was Louis Riel who was twice expelled from Canadian Parliament.

    "Exciting" isn't sufficient. His execution is still considered to have repercussions almost 140 years later.

    172:

    DP
    Wasn't that how the great 1918-19 flu pandemic started?
    If so, then, as you say - oh shit.

    173:

    I may get around to submitting a change to WSFS: that business meetings MUST be hybrid. I'd say allow mail-in proxies, but that gets iffy.

    Personal thing: I'm really happy that Moshe Feder was taken down. Last year, in Chicago, I actually went to a session of the business meeting (second time, ever, in many, many years). There were, count them, 88 of us there. And the vote to change to the new WSFS mambership and attending addition was something like 48 to 42. A friend wanted to be there, to vote against that, but he was a vendor in the dealers' room, and couldn't get away.

    I spoke with Moshe after the meeting, and his reaction was "oh, he should have just closed his table..." When I complained about the business meeting not being hybrid, he said, "What, you want thousands of people attending?" At a con with thousands attending, only 88 of us showed. No, this is SMOFs want to maintain control.

    174:

    When I learned Saskatchewan history in grade school he ended up as a bit of a hero in my mind. Not certain exactly why, but my younger self took seriously our lessons on democracy and equality so it probably had something to do with that.

    Someone once told me that the difference between Canada and America is that in Canada we made a hero of Riel the visionary, while America would have idolized Dumont the military leader. No idea how true that is.

    I still remember visiting the trenches at Batoche, and seeing the bullet holes in the church.

    175:

    YOU WERE SAYING, about Louis Reil ?? - it would seem that "learning from history is not someone's strong point?
    Either that or some people in Canada want to follow the USA's awful example?

    176:

    I'm starting to think of the organization of WSFS as something rather like the landing system of the Curiosity rover. To people who didn't work on the project, it looks crazy, but it was the best the engineering team could come up with, and it was lowered on its tether to the surface of Mars while operational, cut itself loose from its tether, and has been working ever since.

    The organization of Worldcon and the Hugos has worked for decades. Chengdu was an aberration. So how about we work on ways to improve them, rather than buying into the scare stories of the people who want to destroy them and giving up?

    And that's about all I want to say about this. The rest is up to the lawyers, the courts, and the rules experts.

    No. One more thing. I've looked over the data on California's website on the filings and the problems look minor, the sort of things that can be corrected by filing some additional forms. I'm not a lawyer, but I don't think this is alarming. It looks to me like the problems there have been blown up out of proportion.

    177:

    I wonder how big a deal the WSFS/Hugo is now vs. 30-40 years ago in terms of global book sales.

    Just like film/movies were once dominated by the UK/US, once a market for that commodity becomes established, the cost drops and the effort of producing it eases (mostly due to more widely and affordable tech) in more regions/countries with larger shares of these countries' populations consuming it, national societies/awards start popping up. It's happened with theater, film, TV shows, music, etc. - the big difference is that WSFS is genre* rather than medium focused.

    Even if some other country's/language's SFCon/award becomes the largest/most important on the planet, chances are that the WSFS/Hugo will remain important/prestigious because it's been around so long.

    *I've heard of the Poe Award - does this genre have a committee like the WSFS and hold Conventions in as many different countries?

    178:

    The Edgar Allen Poe Awards are given by the Mystery Writers of America, and it's a juried award, iirc. The ceremony is always held in New York City, and it's not really a convention like Worldcon -- mainly just the awards banquet and a few related parties. Might be a few panels -- it's been a couple of decades since I was an MWA member and attended the Edgars, so this is all based on somewhat dated memory.

    There are a few mystery conventions in the U.S. -- nothing like the number of SF cons. There are British mystery awards, but I have no idea whether there are cons outside the U.S. -- again, it's been too long since I was active in the genre for me to comment definitively.

    179:

    A bit of a stretch from a pair of 19th century Metis/Indigenous 'rebellions' in (places that became) Manitoba and Saskatchewan to an arrest of an indigenous person at a homeless encampment in (what became) Alberta. Not that there isn't a thread connecting the events, but there are many, many other threads in that tapestry.

    Louis Riel was a hero and a fool, in equal measure. At the time of the Red River rebellion the Metis were the dominant military power on the prairies, which were only nominally properties of 'The Crown'. Much of the conflict can be summed up as 'ignorant Orangemen tried to subjugate Catholics, it went badly for them, so the Army was formed and then sent'. Repeat a decade or two later in Northern Saskatchewan.

    There is a lot of strength to the argument (made by Dumont) that if they had stuck to guerilla warfare they would have exhausted the military force and been able to force some favorable terms. The military was far beyond the extreme end of any logistical support, while the Metis and their indigenous allies were on home territory. As it was Riel insisted on making a dramatic stand at Batoche and they were effectively routed by a better armed conventional force.

    Canada would have looked very different if Riel had listened to Dumont.

    Yes, expelled from parliament twice - both times for leading an armed 'rebellion' against the putative government/colonial invaders. With plenty of the usual Protestant vs Catholic stuff as well.

    180:

    Sorry. That is a segue I would not have expected in a discussion of Worldcon shenanigans.

    181:

    Weird. All I knew was that I was -exceeding- pleased with the deserved recognition of Seanan McGuire and Ursula Vernon's work in the best novel and novella categories-- and that I hadn't afterward heard anything else about this year's Hugos until I read this.

    182:

    I'm guessing that joke has its origin in her only recently learning that she is in remission.

    183:

    Latest news in the story, via File 770 and one or two other places, is that McCarty and others may have taken it on themselves to decide what "local rules" are...

    184:

    I don't get it. The Mark Protection Committee (the "Marks"?) has buggerall to do with bidding for, winning and/or running a Worldcon. Do real people really believe that the MPC has any actual power or control over Worldcons?

    Yes. And that they secretly pick Hugo Award winners somehow. And various other things. None of this is true, but people get the strangest ideas what the Mark Protection Committee can actually do, or the Even More Secret SMOFs behind the known SMOFs. Chat up Kevin Standlee about this sometime; he has stories.

    185:

    Yes. And that they secretly pick Hugo Award winners somehow. And various other things. None of this is true, but people get the strangest ideas what the Mark Protection Committee can actually do, or the Even More Secret SMOFs behind the known SMOFs. Chat up Kevin Standlee about this sometime; he has stories.

    No, I think it's pretty clear that people understand the MPC/WIP has no power as WSFS currently exists. That's the inherent legal contradiction here. Worldcon Intellectual Property LLC is simultaneously saying "Worldcon and Hugo Award are trademarks, and we own them" and "we have no power to do the most basic quality control over the use of the trademark". You can't have a trademark when all you're doing with it is having a third party giving cons a completely informal, unwritten license to do whatever they want with it. If WIP can't say "you didn't follow the few rules WSFS has, therefore you are not a Worldcon," then anyone can say they are a Worldcon and anyone can give out authentic silicone Hugo Awards.

    Again, I understand that at present that is the situation as far as the MPC's nonexistent powers go. That is why the lawyers had a collective fit. WIP is a Calfornia nonprofit that is supposed to own the Worldcon trademark under US trademark law (and the extensive intellectual property treaties with other countries), and its board members have very vocally said there is not actually an enforceable trademark.

    As for Kevin Standlee, given his very vocal belief that his only power is to yell at people for claiming to have won 0.0026% of a 2019 Hugo, he really needs to follow the advice of the experts and keep his mouth shut until WIP's own attorneys tell him exactly what he should and should not say in public.

    186:

    Super Secret SMOFs? The Illuminati? Oh, come on, I found The Truth decades ago: SMOFs want to, dare I say it, Rule The World, and they're using fandom as their power base to work from.

    187:

    SMOFs want to, dare I say it, Rule The World, and they're using fandom as their power base to work from.

    Oh, indeed - and nobody wants to compare a Worldcon budget and attendance with, for example, those of a Taylor Swift concert.

    But it's easy to imagine that there's some Deep State of fandom that controls everything.

    188:

    Relevant to this topic, Kevin Standlee recently posted an essay titled "WSFS Misconceptions (Possibly #1 in a Series)" which begins:

    [This is not an official statement from the World Science Fiction Society. I am not President of WSFS, Inc. This is my personal opinion, not that of any organization, club, convention, committee, corporation, or other entity that I ever have been or currently am a member, officer, or employee. The WSFS logo is up there because I'm writing about WSFS.]

    and goes on to conclude:

    [Again, this is my personal opinion, not an official statement from any organization, convention, corporation, or any other entity. Believe it or not, I really can have personal opinions that differ from any organization, etc. of which I'm a member. I am not the King of Worldcon, owner of Worldcon Intellectual Property, and Duke of the World Science Fiction Society. And I am very definitely not the Boss of the Hugos.]

    We'll see how long it takes for someone to misconstrue that.

    189:
    We'll see how long it takes for someone to misconstrue that.

    "How dare people act like the things I say in public about the WSFS are true unless I'm speaking ex cathedra" isn't exactly a reach, here, and is the kind reading; the unkind reading is he has no idea what he did that got him reprimanded.

    Whether he's acting as spokesperson can change, but he's either an authority on the WSFS or he isn't; he can't pick and choose when people should take him seriously about it.

    190:

    From Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the Constitutional Peasants scene:

    ARTHUR: How do you do, good lady? I am Arthur, King of the Britons. Who's castle is that?

    WOMAN: King of the who?

    ARTHUR: The Britons.

    WOMAN: Who are the Britons?

    ARTHUR: Well, we all are. We are all Britons, and I am your king.

    WOMAN: I didn't know we had a king. I thought we were an autonomous collective.

    DENNIS: You're fooling yourself. We're living in a dictatorship: a self-perpetuating autocracy in which the working classes--

    WOMAN: Oh, there you go bringing class into it again.

    DENNIS: That's what it's all about. If only people would hear of--

    ARTHUR: Please! Please, good people. I am in haste. Who lives in that castle?

    WOMAN: No one lives there.

    ARTHUR: Then who is your lord?

    WOMAN: We don't have a lord.

    ARTHUR: What?

    DENNIS: I told you. We're an anarcho-syndicalist commune. We take it in turns to act as a sort of executive officer for the week,...

    ARTHUR: Yes.

    DENNIS: ...but all the decisions of that officer have to be ratified at a special bi-weekly meeting...

    ARTHUR: Yes, I see.

    DENNIS: ...by a simple majority in the case of purely internal affairs,...

    ARTHUR: Be quiet!

    DENNIS: ...but by a two-thirds majority in the case of more major--

    ARTHUR: Be quiet! I order you to be quiet!

    WOMAN: Order, eh? Who does he think he is? Heh.

    ARTHUR: I am your king!

    WOMAN: Well, I didn't vote for you.

    WSFS has less structure and organisation than the anarcho-syndicalist commune as described but many people think there is a King in the manure pile somewhere and they keep on digging, looking for an overarching control structure that doesn't actually exist. It's kind of funny in a way.

    For example, someone is now accusing Kevin Standlee of acting as a "spokesperson" for WSFS when he's actually just describing how the Worldcon bidding process works to others who may have false beliefs on how the process operates.

    191:

    ...someone is now accusing Kevin Standlee of acting as a "spokesperson" for WSFS...

    He must be Duke of the World Science Fiction Society even when he's not wearing the ermine cape, right?

    Or is it a tribble fur cape?

    192:

    That's the problem with making funnies about something like this, stupid people think it's true.

    194:

    many people think there is a King in the manure pile somewhere

    I thought you could tell the king because he didn't have shit all over him?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a360Afe267U

    195:

    "I have a sack full of cats and if you don't do what I say I'll let them out"?

    196:

    Urgent Notice

    4-page article by Cory Doctorow in today's "FT" colour-comic, on the subject of the Enshittification of the Internet, especially "social media".
    Go out & buy a copy!
    The cover article on the hangman who came to believe that Capital Punishment was ineffective is probably worth reading as well.

    Posting this on all three threads, for reasons which should be obvious, I hope.
    GT

    197:

    Canada would have looked very different if Riel had listened to Dumont.

    Forgot to ask, but I’d be interested in knowing more about this. Most of my alt-history imaginings focus on the US, and it shames me to admit how ignorant I am about Canadian history and the roads it didn’t take.

    198:

    Worldcon update

    This year's worldcon (2024) is in Glasgow.

    Next year's worldcon (2025) will be held in Seattle.

    The only bid still standing for 2026 is for Los Angeles.

    And now we have news of a 2027 bid for another worldcon in Montreal. Run by an experienced team.

    200:

    Not sure if this is the right thread but, a reminder to those of us in the UK, above a certain age ...
    Bagpuss is 50

    Rumour that "Professor Yaffle" is/was a kindly spoof on Bertrand Russell ...

    201:

    ""Conmondiale"?"

    That sounds like an... interesting concept.

    202:

    We're looking forward to it. I didn't realize, or I'd have pre-supported (as I did LA) while we were at Boskone this past weekend.

    203:

    Next year's worldcon (2025) will be held in Seattle.

    The only bid still standing for 2026 is for Los Angeles.

    I'll be in Seattle next year; I've already got my membership. Not for LA yet, but that Worldcon is close enough that it would be hard to justify not going.

    204:

    And now we have news of a 2027 bid for another worldcon in Montreal. Run by an experienced team.

    One may also read the same news on the Worldcon site.

    It's been asked repeatedly so I'll pass along that yes, they did consider 2028 - but their event venue will be doing a gigantic remodeling project then, so 2027 it is.

    205:

    See you in Seattle, then, I hope. If I get lucky, and enough eyeballs on Becoming Terran, I'm hoping to be a Hugo nominee...

    207:

    This is really bad. An object lesson in how not to run the Hugo awards -- political censorship to avoid the anticipated displeasure of the Chinese communist party!

    This is basically the death knell of any future Chinese worldcon bid. Also a blow to any worldcon bids from countries that have political censorship. This includes Florida ...

    208:

    Welcome to the new eye of the hurricane, Charlie, because the Glasgow Hugo administrator is heavily involved in the latest long-past-just-real badness.

    The UK is four hours ahead of us just-waking-up Americans. When do we expect a Glasgow statement about what, if anything, they are going to do about that?

    209:

    I think you can expect a day (or even two) of headless-chicken-mode from Glasgow (benefits of it being an entirely volunteer-run operation) then frantic corrective action.

    As Hugo nominations have opened but not closed, much less been counted, there's time for Kat Jones to make a strategic resignation and for the concom to pick a new Hugo administrator.

    The worldcon itself isn't in jeopardy and we're still six months out. There should be a sufficient talent pool to find a last minute substitute with experience who isn't splattered with shit. (I imagine they're already vetting whoever ran the Hugos in Dublin in 2019 or London in 2014, and preparing to ask if they're willing to step in (assuming they're clean)).

    210:

    Nicholas Whyte from the Dublin Hugo team is already listed as part of the Glasgow Hugo administrators.

    211:

    Wikipedia says headless chickens have survived as long as 18 months :-(

    212:

    This includes Florida .

    I don't think there are any laws in Florida which would impact the convention. (And I may be wrong.)

    But then again, the legislature might pass some laws if it did head there. Which would mostly be tied up in the courts and cost everyone too much time and hassle before being tossed out.

    But if it was held there, I'd drive down just to stand out front and yell at my generation telling them just how big of an asshole they have become.

    213:

    That didn't take long: Glasgow 2024 Hugo Awards Statement – 15th February 2024.

    As Chair of Glasgow 2024, A Worldcon for Our Futures, I unreservedly apologise for the damage caused to nominees, finalists, the community, and the Hugo, Lodestar, and Astounding Awards.
    Kat Jones has resigned with immediate effect as Hugo Administrator from Glasgow 2024 and has been removed from the Glasgow 2024 team across all mediums.
    I acknowledge the deep grief and anger of the community and I share this distress.

    (More deets to come, but it looks like they're taking the issue very seriously.)

    214:

    I don't think there are any laws in Florida which would impact the convention. (And I may be wrong.)

    Book banning. Library censorship. Transgender bathroom bans. The whole war on woke and culture wars and hostility to LGBT people (many worldcon attendees are LGBT and out). Worldcon is an international affair and con-goers with foreign accents or complexion could expect to feel threatened. And so on.

    215:

    That is now an ex-chicken, headed or not.

    Seriously, they did what they had to when they had to.

    216:

    @207 - You misspelled FloriDUH.

    217:

    David L @ 212:

    "This includes Florida ."

    [...]

    But if it was held there, I'd drive down just to stand out front and yell at my generation telling them just how big of an asshole they have become.

    Let me know if you want to car pool.

    218:

    Charlie Stross @ 214:

    "I don't think there are any laws in Florida which would impact the convention. (And I may be wrong.)"

    Book banning. Library censorship. Transgender bathroom bans. The whole war on woke and culture wars and hostility to LGBT people (many worldcon attendees are LGBT and out). Worldcon is an international affair and con-goers with foreign accents or complexion could expect to feel threatened. And so on.

    I just don't understand FloriDUH. Tourism is the life's-blood of their economy and yet they appear determined to "kill the goose that lays the golden eggs".

    WTF is WRONG with those people?

    219:

    Charlie: { @ 213 }
    Hiow deeply was Kat Jones involved in this, or was she the "chosen victim" of others, notably the PRC, or was she "simply" ridiculously naive/stupid?
    @ 214:
    To add, for others not up-to-speed on this one ...
    Currently, in Florida, all & any performances of any British/English PANTOMIME would be immediately banned/illegal & the performers & produces criminally prosecuted.
    Yes, it's that bad.

    JohnS
    "WTF is wrong with these people?"
    A single word - christianity ... in the specialised evengelical form seen in the US.
    See also the new thread, with references to the "Satanic Panic"
    THEY KNOW that they are pure & all the rest of us are evil ... we know where that one goes, don't we?

    220:

    They failed to jump off when the "conservative" movement was highjacked by reactionaries.

    221:

    WTF is WRONG with those people?

  • Florida is gerrymandered halfway to hell and back, enough that the Democrats are locked out of the legislature and governor's mansion for at least one more election cycle. (More if the Republicans can redraw the boundaries before then.)

  • Florida's governor, Ron DeSantis, can't run for re-election because of term limits so he set his hat on replacing Trump as the Republican POTUS candidate. He failed, but in the process he went the Full Geek -- biting heads off chickens variety -- in pursuit of the MAGA primary voter base. Florida is now paying the price.

  • 222:

    Florida is gerrymandered halfway to hell and back, enough that the Democrats are locked out of the legislature and governor's mansion for at least one more election cycle.

    If I understand it correctly, the election for governor is a simple majority (or maybe plurality) of the popular vote, with not districts, so can't be gerrymandered. (Unlike the rest of the elected positions.)

    223:

    Florida is gerrymandered halfway to hell and back, enough that the Democrats are locked

    The last few state wide elections in Florida were won by R's by wide margins. gerrymandering makes it a bit worse but in general the D's have been loosing state wide.

    224:

    Hugo Administrator in 2019 was Nicholas Whyte, who is Glasgow's WSFS Division Head. Hugo Administrator in 2014 was ... Dave McCarty.

    225:

    So it seems, that even without open gerrymandering, FloriDUH consistently votes fascist, yes? Can a resident USA-ian explain why?

    226:

    Probably the same reason as places along the south coast here are consistent Tory/UKIP/Brexit voters. Huge retiree communities.

    227:

    Huge retiree communities in Florida, and also don't underestimate the Cuban immigrant diaspora -- they break strongly conservative, and while USA-wide the Republicans are turning strongly anti-Hispanic, I'm pretty sure that hasn't reached Florida (especially under DeSantis).

    228:

    The politics R/D, Hispanic/Cuban/not, retirees, etc... in Florida are complicated to say the least. And hard to read even on the ground there. Much less from a few states away. I'm sure by the time the news gets to other countries it has been simplified to mush in many cases.

    Both sides (R&D) at local levels run radio ads in Spanish aimed at specific communities with what are basically lies about the other side. And most state and national operatives have no clue about what is happening till after the election. Much less run counter ads.

    Florida politics are a mess.

    229:

    Don't say gay? "War on Woke"? They against what at least 75% of what fendom is.

    230:

    Their idiotology has overwhelmed their ability to see what's in front of their eyes (or in the bank accounts).

    For many decades, people have asked, "how could Nazi Germany have happened?"

    This is how. Exactly, given the white supremecists, and the reuse of actual Nazi propaganda.

    231:

    And esp. given the suggestions that McCarty actually got money from one of the Chinese companies, the overwhelming opinion is that he's never going to be near a Hugo committee ever again.

    232:

    Tim H. @ 220:

    They failed to jump off when the "conservative" movement was highjacked by reactionaries.

    I'm pretty sure they ARE the reactionaries who hijacked the "conservative" movement.

    233:

    For many decades, people have asked, "how could Nazi Germany have happened?"

    Don't worry. You're getting a repeated lesson right now.

    234:

    Rbt Prior
    Here, the tories, or some/lots of them are doing the same thing, lurching towards popular fascism, with names like: "new Conservatives" & "Popular Conservatives" & "Reform UK".
    *Reform" is particularly insidious, as it reminds me of Adolf's trick of putting the word "socialist" in the Nazi party's full name ...

    235:

    Robert Prior @ 233:

    "For many decades, people have asked, 'how could Nazi Germany have happened?'"

    Don't worry. You're getting a repeated lesson right now.

    Not a lesson I need or want ... and it is worrisome.

    236:

    "Reform" in the US has been co-opted by the Calvinist religious believers. Everything is predestined.

    As to opposed to the "free will" folks or those who believe God is sovereign but doesn't care if a bird eats from your feeder or the one next door.

    Just like in the UK it is a code word to hide the real meaning. (Calvin was somewhat of a big tail hole in the way he ran the local government.) Just very different meanings. But lots of similar people. :)

    237:

    To add, for others not up-to-speed on this one ... Currently, in Florida, all & any performances of any British/English PANTOMIME would be immediately banned/illegal & the performers & produces criminally prosecuted. Yes, it's that bad.

    Well, I'm not at all sure you could get people to buy tickets for that -- no nostalgia in the US propping it up. Might work as a novelty thing for a few weeks.

    But there are drag shows all over Florida, in spite of last year's efforts to shut them down (the Supreme Court upheld the block on application of SB 1438), and showings of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" continue every weekend. It's probably not quite as bad as you think it is.

    As for tourism, there are plenty of authoritarian followers who want to visit Epcot, too! Remember that one characteristic of these people is that they want to appear "normal" -- just regular folks.

    238:

    Yes. AFAIK all of those laws were aim at the under 18 folks. We got to protect the kids.

    Disney has all kinds of pride day events and similar.

    239:

    A couple of comments on previous comments

  • The 1984 Worldcon in Los Angeles had 10,000 members. That's total, I believe. Probably around 8,000 to 8,500 actually present for at least part of the convention.
  • 2.Worldcon and Dragoncon have been combined once, Confederation in 1986. I was there. I would consider it a better-than-average Worldcon

  • I'm inclined to agree that the current SMOFdom/conrunning fandom is getting rather old. (And I'm in my late 70s). How to fix that, I'm not sure.

  • Before the Chengdu fiasco, I would have thought Ben Yalow too smart and/or honest to get involved in something like this. But then, I've been relying on his rep in fandom rather than personal knowledge.

  • I hope that the next two or three business meetings can figure out a way to prevent this from happening again. It's not easy to figure out how. Actually, I can see one thing that might work: specify that any country in which same-sex sex is illegal is ineligible. For some reason, there seems to be a strong correlation between that and dictatorship. Maybe because getting people riled up about sexuality helps keep people's minds off the lousy job the dictator is doing.

  • 240:

    Maybe because getting people riled up about sexuality helps keep people's minds off the lousy job the dictator is doing.

    Keeping the mob riled up about something is the way most dictators keep the reins of power.

    241:

    David L
    Calvin was somewhat of a big tail hole in the way he ran the local government. - Quote: "It was as if all the walls of the houses in Geneva had been turned into glass" IIRC?

    242:

    Before the Chengdu fiasco, I would have thought Ben Yalow too smart and/or honest to get involved in something like this. But then, I've been relying on his rep in fandom rather than personal knowledge.

    I'm not close with Ben but we've chatted at conventions often enough. My take is that he is smart and honest - and not routinely suspicious of other people's motives. That an organized group with a healthy budget and some competent 'face' people for social manipulation could put one over on him is completely plausible.

    243:

    I think an organized group accustomed to making the kind of deals where one needs to count ones fingers after shaking hands could put one over on most unprepared people and organizations. As our host observes, these people had a "metric fuckton of moolah" -- they can afford the best persuaders. This is out of the league of Worldcon fandom. In fact it's out of the league of almost any literary or educational organization and many businesses as well. One needs experts to navigate such waters.

    244:

    My take is that he is smart and honest - and not routinely suspicious of other people's motives.

    I know Ben and that's my take, too. In particular he's a peculiar kind of New England academic-ish person who isn't aware of cultural nuances outside his own SF-fandom-tinted bubble. I can totally see him being flattered and taken for a ride to provide top cover for someone else's agenda.

    245:

    I've seen a fair number of academic taken advantage of by businessmen. In general it seems the academic mindset assumes honesty and doesn't look for deliberate deception, while the business mindset assumes deception is a very real possibility and looks to mitigate it.

    Jane Jacobs' Two Syndromes seems to apply here, where academics follow the Guardian Syndrome and businessmen follow the Commercial Syndrome.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Systems_of_Survival

    246:

    Helsinki were surprised by the popularity of the convention with loads of walk in memberships bought. The rooms were overwhelmed on the first day. But they then opened up another hall, split into multiple pieces, and moved the popular talks into that with plenty of space.

    247:

    Robert Prior @ 245:

    I've seen a fair number of academic taken advantage of by businessmen. In general it seems the academic mindset assumes honesty and doesn't look for deliberate deception, while the business mindset assumes deception is a very real possibility and looks to mitigate it.

    The "business mindset" appears split between those who look to mitigate deception and those who look to exploit deception ... and if you spend most of your time in the ivory towers, you might not be prepared to recognize which side of the split the person you're dealing with falls into.

    248:

    The "business mindset" appears split between those who look to mitigate deception and those who look to exploit deception ...

    I was trying to be tactful… :-/

    I think you'd enjoy reading Jacobs' book, if your local library can get it. It's a deceptively fast read, being framed as a discussion between people of different backgrounds, but there's a lot of interesting concepts to chew over in it.

    249:

    Re: 2, sorry, a lot of folks have said, in my hearing, over the years that it would have been better to have selected Philly.

    ObDisclosure: I was on the Philly in '86 bid committee.

    250:

    Note that the Chengdu financials DID NOT INCLUDE what the corporate sponsors were spending. Literally, there are posts that "the nominees would show up, rooms and transportation paid, not by the con".

    Note also that Glasgow has chosen to refuse all pass-along funds from Chengdu. (Good on them!)

    251:

    Sorry, I dislike Ben. Most specifically, I spoke to him after the Chicago business meeting, pushing the idea of allowing virtual attendance (esp. since WSFS membership is a separate thing as of that meeting) - a good friend wanted to be there to vote against that splitting of membership... but he was in the dealers' room, and couldn't leave his table for hours.

    Ben's response was no, what you want a thousand people in the meeting? Note that there were 88 at the meeting in Chicago, where in-person attendance was in the thousands.

    My take is that he and the other SMOFs want to keep control.

    252:

    I'm not a member of SF-fandom, other than liking OGH's books and reading this blog, so please indulge me: what does the frequently popping-up acronym SMOF stand for? I have no idea.

    253:

    Secret Master Of Fandom (self-proclaimed).

    254:

    The term is half a joke about paranoia, because if you want to be important in science fiction fandom you can just volunteer for lots of stuff and you'll go as high up in the SF world as your abilities, knowledge and personality can take you.

    The other half is not a joke at all. There are SMOFs and they do run things, and they can be as bitchy about continuing to run things as any other in-group can.

    A big part of what's happening vis-a-vis Chengdu is that a lot of SMOFs who were talking the talk but not walking the walk are now being handed the bill and shown the door, with some of them discovering that they've run up quite a tab... -Dave McCarty!-

    255:

    That was supposed to read [COUGH!] -Dave McCarty!-

    256:

    No-one knows how to run a global virtual town meeting with thousands of potential participants. I wonder even if existing software can accommodate that. Maybe WSFS needs to figure that out -- SF is supposed to be about the future, after all -- but it's going to be work.

    Right now we have to get through the current mess, and attacking the people and institutions that kept it working for decades is not the way to do that, a point which is also applicable to other political situations. Too many people believe that new institutions will spring up spontaneously when old ones are destroyed. That is not the case.

    257:

    Though I totally get the points about SMOF behaviour, and I'm not trying to say they were right in what they did, but one mitigation I would like to point out from my experience of running things for societies etc. is that it can be annoying/frustrating when people turn up to vote and decide how things should be run/what the people running it should do, vote for things that will require lots oif work to implement, but are notably absent for the part where the actual work needs done. I can see that resulting in a reluctance to allow people who don't show up in person to have a say, though that is unfair to people who would put the effort in but circumstances prevent them. Not sure if there is a good solution to that one.
    It's why the society I now run is a one man one vote system, and I'm the one man with the one vote. I tell this to prospective mebers, and that I am happy to listen to suggestions but if they want to do something I don't want to organise they are welcome to go elsewhere and organise it themselves. I'm not getting paid, so i'm only doing what I think is fun. I doubt that scales though!

    258:

    No-one knows how to run a global virtual town meeting with thousands of potential participants.

    My union's done it. It's asymmetric: video out, with question submitted either electronically or via audio to a screening panel who filter out the irrelevant (always a few crazies) and cluster the same/similar into comprehensive questions (with thousands of people there will be lots of similar questions, and often people don't pay attention so their question has already been answered*).

    A filtering panel (with authority) is essential. It needs to be run by firm but tactful people.

    *Very ironic when it's teachers ignoring the presentation and then wanting the bits that interest them explained personally!

    259:

    it can be annoying/frustrating when people turn up to vote and decide how things should be run/what the people running it should do, vote for things that will require lots oif work to implement, but are notably absent for the part where the actual work needs done

    You've just described a lot of union politics. Lots of people want a say in what should be done, not nearly so many actually want to do it.

    260:

    firm but tactful people.

    I'm suppressing a laugh. Cause I know this can get serious fast.

    That first attribute (firm) is easy to find. You'll have people lining up to be volunteers. The second (tactful) is always in short supply. Both in one person is rare indeed.

    In a local club when we talk about meeting topics and who might do future presentations, it has been suggested that the last person fleeing the room be drafted into the job. But that would require too much rope and shackles to properly implement.

    My wife and I thought that being on the board of our local community pool would be a good way to put in time to help things out. Little did we know that many of the others on the board or who had jobs assigned to them by God or maybe earlier in time felt the fate of western civilization was in the board's decisions. We're talking of how much to charge for diving lessens for pre-teens and other such weighty matters.

    Someone on the city planning board (which mostly deals with zoning and code enforcement) said once resonates with me. "If you say NO to something, you are also saying YES to something else. Whether or not you are willing to admit to it."

    261:

    1) Sure they do. I've attended such where I worked... and the county I live in had one months ago, with many, many people called in.
    2) But you seem to have utterly missed my point: THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE WILL NOT SHOW UP AT A WSFS BUSINESS MEETING, WHICH OCCURS SEVERAL DAYS DURING THE CON. Chicon VIII had THOUSANDS of in-person attendees... and 88 of us showed up for the session I went to. Maybe there'd be another 100 virtually... and that's the thing, the SMOF who doesn't want to lost control.

    262:

    Betcha there will be slightly more attendees at the WSFS business meeting in Glasgow than usual!

    Put it another way: I'm a member of the UK Society of Authors.

    The SoA has an annual AGM and it's normally poorly attended. From 2020 onwards it's also been hosted via Zoom. Still poorly attended until ...

    In 2022, some TERFs tabled a motion of no confidence in the SoA's then chair, Joanna Harris, a noted LGBT+ ally, stood up a couple of TERF candidates for the council, and basically tried to swing SoA policy behind transphobia.

    ... And they got their ass handed to them, by a 20:1 margin in the voting, by the 800-odd members who connected to the Zoom session.

    Controversial inciting events tend to generate a level of engagement an order of magnitude greater than normal in any organization. And while the WSFS business meeting won't be held on Zoom, it will be held at an in-person event 80% of WSFS members will be present for.

    263:

    The WSFS Business Meeting is usually thinly attended because it's at the convention, one has to attend physically, and one has to get up early -- not so easy at a con. In any event, matters are usually routine, so it's only committed people who show up. But I was at Spokane in 2015. It was not thinly attended. The Business Meeting at Glasgow this year is also, as our host observes, also likely to be well-attended.

    Robert, it's good to hear this is being done. I hope we see it formalized, preferably in a document somewhat shorter than Robert's Rules of Order, Newly Revised (224 pages, abridged.) There are a lot of issues with online that are going to have to be worked out. The firm-but-tactful people you mention also have to skins of iron, because they are invariably attacked, sometimes quite harshly. There are also the problems that firm-but-tactful does not work with sharks, which seems to have been one of the problems with the Chengdu convention, and firm-but-tactful explanations can sometimes be used against an organization in legal action.

    264:

    ... I was at Spokane in 2015. It was not thinly attended.

    Indeed it wasn't! You wouldn't remember me, but you saw me at the time if you ever looked behind you; I was in the back, up on the platform, sitting next to the woman running the camera. (It's still on YT, for future fan history nerds.) It was indeed not thinly attended, for reasons everyone here knows.

    265:

    ...and I forgot my point. Voting by people not at the meeting was brought up then (see video Friday 4a) and it wasn't easy to pull off then. I'm sure Kevin could lay out the current state of proposals to allow WSFS voting outside the physical meeting.

    266:

    Charlie @ 262 & partially off-topic.
    The subject of TERF's & transphobia is very sensitive, but:
    1: I suspect everybody, including both myself & Charlie are wrong about this ... somewhere.
    2: I think I've finally worked out why strong feminists often become what we are calling "TERF" - they are frightened, & frightened people do silly/stupid things.
    They have seen so many examples of "male" privilege & empowerment used against women, that they are scared that this is "just more of the same" & will be used to trash women, again.
    They, also, are probably wrong, but, like I said, it's a difficult subject.
    ???????

    267:

    All forms of prejudice involve fear of some kind, and frequently just plain cowardice, not to mention that if you want to have power it's sometimes necessary have 'an enemy.' LGBTQ people are among our society's designated targets; the sexual version of Jews, and the use of Transgender people as (one of) the designated 'others' of feminism goes back to the 1970s, at least, where the paranoia was that a trans-woman might show up to a feminist meeting as a spy for the patriarchy. (A silly idea given that it would be easy-enough to pay an otherwise non-aligned woman to attend a feminist meeting and report - there's no need to pay for expensive surgery.)

    268:

    All forms of prejudice involve fear of some kind, and frequently just plain cowardice, not to mention that if you want to have power it's sometimes necessary have 'an enemy.'

    I have come to the conclusion that the default brain wiring for shaved apes is to want to be better than someone else. Which leads to the way we deal with large sports organizations. (Greg has a bit of a point here but not a complete one.) Which also leads to racism. Or class societies. There are place on the planet were the outsiders are clueless but the locals know the pecking order of everyone in public based on clues the outsiders have no idea are being broadcast. Skin color just makes it easier to assign the pecking order.

    269:

    David L
    Which leads to the way we deal with large sports organizations. - which, as I think some of you know, I think - ought to be exterminated with extreme prejudice. They all seem to reek of fascism, in one way or another.

    270:

    I read online that the U.S. State Dept. has gotten involved in the Hugo kerfluffle, but the poster did not provide much information, nor did they provide a link. Has anyone else heard about this, because I have my doubts?

    271:

    Talking of SF & SF conventions ... apparently a well-known SF trope has just surfaced in what we laughingly call "real life"
    An AI system appears to have "woken up" - & promptly gone bonkers - any thoughts/comments on this one?

    272:

    The Independent's headline writer is going for the most sensational and wrong-headed interpretation possible.

    No, an LLM has not "woken up and gone bonkers". Someone simply tweaked a statistical weighting or a configuration variable and the result was a shift in the output towards what humans interpret as gibberish.

    Hint: LLMs are not "intelligent", they're just glorified autocomplete trained on a gigantic corpus of input text. What they produce when you give them a prompt is not an "answer", it's just a lump of text that follows the same probability distribution as a response to the prompt.

    273:

    Charlie Stross @ 272:

    The Independent's headline writer is going for the most sensational and wrong-headed interpretation possible.

    No, an LLM has not "woken up and gone bonkers". Someone simply tweaked a statistical weighting or a configuration variable and the result was a shift in the output towards what humans interpret as gibberish.

    Chinese Hakkorzz? 🙃

    274:

    JohnS
    Actually, I would not be the least bit surprised if the Han were "hacking" into Worldcon, or anything else, at all.

    275:

    Attributing a monolithic identity to roughly 1.6 billion people is bloody stupid, Greg. Like suggesting all "whites" act as one uniform hive-mind -- yourself, random USAN Christian Dominionists, Scottish nationalists, the Transnistrian mafia, female doctors in Australia -- all lumped together.

    276:

    Han

    1.6 billion people

    I personally know 3 people who grew up in China and one more from Taiwan. I suspect that there are 3, and maybe 4, very different views of politics and such on the mainland.

    277:

    Attributing a monolithic identity to roughly 1.6 billion people is bloody stupid, Greg. Like suggesting all "whites" act as one uniform hive-mind -- yourself, random USAN Christian Dominionists

    I dunno. There seems to be a considerable overlap in levels of "I know I'm right" (with undertones of disdain for those in non-favoured groups) between certain posts here and what I see in my daily missives from PenceNews…

    Yes, Greg, I'm being deliberately provocative. A goodly chunk of my family is Chinese (Han Chinese to be specific) and you feel free to regularly insult them. Are you aware of just how much you come across as a Little Englander? Because when you start talking about China, you sound just like the Trumpist rants the GOP feeds its followers.

    278:

    Charlie - oops - AND Rbt Prior Crossed wires - when I say "the Han" I mean the government & bureaucracy of the PRC.
    Emphatically NOT individual "Chinese" people, especially of they are Uighur, Tibetean or other oppressed minority in that area, OK?
    Got a better simple name for this racist governmental organisation?

    279:

    CCP

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_Communist_Party

    The nation of China is subservient to the CCP. Per the CCP.

    280:

    when I say "the Han" I mean the government & bureaucracy of the PRC

    So say that. You've got offended in the past when people here used the terms "British" or "English" to refer actions of your (Conservative) government.

    Got a better simple name for this racist governmental organisation?

    I dunno, maybe "the PRC government" or "Xi's government"? Or "the PRC" or simply "China"? Something that actually refers to the government rather than the people?

    281:

    That sounds more like the Scottish and/or Welsh members of the commentariat being offended by being called "English".

    282:

    Oh yes, reverting to Rbt Prior @ 277
    A "little englander" who voted REMAIN?
    Who is still angry with the Brexshiteers who very nearly conviced him with their carefully-constructed lies?
    Who, for identical reasons, is a "mililtant" atheist? In the nicest possible way - fuck right off, OK?

    David L @ 279
    Maybe that was my point - thanks.
    Which reminds me, how are the "other" ethnic/religious minorities doing inside the "Central Kingdom" these days, people like the Hmong, f'rinstance?

    283:

    In the nicest possible way - fuck right off, OK?

    So associating you with your political leaders got under your skin?

    Consider that that's exactly what you're doing when you conflate an ethnicity (Han Chinese) with the government of the PRC. Which is exactly why I used the term. People have pointed that out to you before but you seem to have ignored it, so I figured that the tactic would get your attention.

    You're offended if I assume that you have the same opinions as Johnson or Sunak or Khan or Thatcher. That's exactly what you've been assuming about my family.

    284:

    R P Actually, no - I'm talking about the government & tyranny of the PRC
    NOT these people - nor anyone outside their jurisdiction, either.

    285:

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