Star Wars Day at MidAmeriCon II

Star Wars posterMidAmeriCon II, the 2016 Worldcon, will celebrate Star Wars with special guests, programming, and exhibits on Friday, August 19.

“Star Wars Day” will take place exactly forty years after the first MidAmeriCon (1976) hosted publicist Charles Lippincott’s presentation to Worldcon members of a slide show promoting Star Wars (now called Star Wars: Episode IV, A New Hope.) This was followed by a Q&A session where Charles was joined by actor Mark Hamill and producer Gary Kurtz. The movie debuted 8 months later, in May 1977.

At this year’s Worldcon, Charles Lippincott and Gary Kurtz will return to talk about the Star Wars phenomenon, along with Alan Dean Foster who ghost wrote the original Star Wars novelization (and more recently, wrote the novelization of Star Wars: The Force Awakens).

Alan Dean Foster at MidAmeriCon (1976).

Alan Dean Foster at MidAmeriCon (1976).

During the afternoon of August 19, Charles, Gary, and Alan will take part in a panel and Q&A session to discuss the marketing of Star Wars. In the evening, Charles will recreate the original MidAmeriCon slide presentation and participate in a further Q&A session. There will also be an opportunity to watch a contemporary video of the original 1976 Q&A session.

These events will provide a unique insight into the way that Star Wars was presented and talked about before it became the worldwide phenomenon we know today.

Charles Lippincott will also be re-creating the associated special exhibit which was presented in 1976 at MidAmeriCon. This will use a combination of reproductions alongside original, contemporary props and other materials associated with the film.

It was inside the original 1976 exhibit that LA fan Bill Warren had a conversation with Mark Hamill and listened to him complain, “I’m the star of a major motion picture only nobody knows it!”

The MAC daily newzine even felt the need to run an item clarifying, “It’s Mark Hamill, not Mike Hamill …”

1941 Retro Hugo Nominee Changes Announced

MidAmeriCon II has made a correction in the 1941 Retro Hugo finalists.

Dave McCarty, MidAmeriCon II Hugo Administrator, explains:

“Darker Than You Think” by Jack Williamson was mistakenly categorized as a novelette. The story is a novella, but did not receive enough nominations to be a finalist as a novella.  It has been marked as not eligible. The novelette “Vault of the Beast” by A.E. Van Vogt (Astounding Science-Fiction, August 1940) should have been listed as the 5th finalist and has been added to the Retro ballot.

Anyone who has already registered votes for the Retro Hugo contest online is encouraged to update their ballot as they feel appropriate. Members voting by mailed in paper ballot may write in “Vault of the Beast” and rank it, the administrators will count their ballot appropriately.

McCarty reports the ballot change is live now.

Members will receive notification in a mass email later today, which will include an electronic edition of PR#3 with an updated version of the ballot.

MidAmeriCon Posts Progress Report #3

The 2016 Worldcon, MidAmeriCon II, has made Progress Report #3 available in electronic format at the convention’s website. It’s a free read, and can be viewed online or downloaded as a PDF file.

Members who requested printed publications will receive copies in the mail.

Feature articles include John L. Coker III’s collection of excerpts about the 1941 Worldcon, Denvention, the hypothetical award year for the Retro Hugos which MACII members are voting on. Forry Ackerman, Walter J. Daugherty, Erle Korshak, Bob Madle, and Julius Schwartz are in the mix.

And Mike Williams advises about the wealth of dining opportunities within reach of the convention center.

PR# 3 includes voting forms for the 2016 Hugo Award and 1941 Retro Hugo Award, as well as the 2018 Worldcon Site Selection Ballot and 2017 NASFiC Site Selection Ballot. There is also a list of confirmed program participants; and information on all aspects of the convention including the Exhibit Hall, party arrangements, Art Show and Childcare.

MACII Chooses Hugo Base Designers

MidAmeriCon II has announced the winners of the contest to design and produce this year’s Hugo bases.

The 2016 Hugo Award base will be created by Sara Felix of Austin, who is also the current president of the Association of Science Fiction and Fantasy Artists. See examples of her work at DeviantArt, like the paper rocket below.

The 1941 Retro Hugo Award base will be designed by Brent Simmons, an architectural designer and sf reader from Kansas City.

1941 Retro Hugo Voter Packet Available

MidAmeriCon II has posted the voter packet containing works by some of the nominees for the 1941 Retro Hugos.

Heinlein’s greatest year as a short fiction writer is on display. Otherwise, the voters don’t seem to have picked a lot of work in the public domain, or that the rights holders wanted to release for use in the packet. Here’s what I received in the download:

Best Novel

Contains a one-page notice where you can buy Slan.

Lydia van Vogt and the Ashley Grayson Agency are thrilled that Slan is being considered for the 1940 Retro Hugo and are happy to provide this summary of where MidAmerican [sic] members can find the book to enjoy for the first time or again a voting gets underway.

Best Novella

  • Coventry by Robert A. Heinlein
  • If This Goes On by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Magic, Inc. by Robert A. Heinlein

Best Novelette

  • “The Roads Must Roll,” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Blowups Happen,” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Darker Than You Think,” by Jack Williamson

Best Short Story

  • “Martian Quest,” by Leigh Brackett – a link to the story on the Baen website
  • “Requiem,” by Robert A. Heinlein
  • “Strange Playfellow” (A.K.A. Robbie) by Isaac Asimov
  • “The Stellar Legion,” by Leigh Brackett – a link to the story on the Baen website

Best Professional Artist

Hubert Rogers is represented by four pieces of cover art, three that appear to be the original art and one copy of a magazine cover.

Best Fanzine

  • Futuria Fantasia (Sept. 1940), edited by Ray Bradbury

A statement directs voters to examples of Futuria Fantasia, Le Zombie, Spaceways, and Voice of the Imagi-Nation at

Best Fan Writer

Contains another copy of Futuria Fantasia (Sept. 1940)

A statement explains the Ray Bradbury sample for the Best Fan Writer category is “Gorgono and Slith,” found in that issue. Also, that samples by fan writer nominees Forrest J. Ackerman, Ray Bradbury, Bob Tucker, and Harry Warner can be found at

[Thanks to Hampus Eckerman for the story.]

Brighton WorldCon ‘87: A Slightly Delayed Report

Conspiracy 87 logoBy R. A. MacAvoy: I had thought to begin this trip report with the idea it was something lost in the mail.  Lost for many, many years.  That seemed clever at first, but I realized that my memories aren’t close to clear enough for me to get away with that.  Not even with people who know how muddled my memories can be.  So, instead, this is a trip report to a con that didn’t get written in 1987, but is being written now, in 2016.  In a way, that makes it easier.  I don’t really have to explain getting things muddled.  I can simply be glad I remember anything.

In early 1987 I was between books, and as always in that situation, I felt desperate to do something fannish to keep my hand in until the next idea came my way. And I was reading that the World Con, which was going to be held in Brighton, was having the usual difficulties getting funds together, so I reasoned I could solve their problems and mine with one very long journey, from the West Coast of California to the South Coast of England and back.  This was not really financially responsible, of course.  My income was, at the time dedicated toward building onto our excuse for a house, whilst Ron’s income kept us living in it day to day.  But still, I could take it off my taxes.  Business expenses, or some such.

I went alone, because Ron could not get time off to travel with me. It seems, then and now, the software industry doesn’t allow for holidays except at the most peculiar times, such as when we went to the arctic circle in mid-winter.  But that happened many years later.  To Brighton World Con I went alone.

And going that way isn’t particularly fannish. At the time, it seemed to me that fans travelled in close packs, crept into hotel rooms unnoticed and slept on the floor, hoping not to be noticed.  This might explain why SF conventions, even large ones, were not particularly desired events at hotels around the world.  That, plus the fact that SF fans have an abysmally low bar bill compared with most any other sort of convention, and hotels do depend upon the bar bill when hosting conventions.

So. I arrived alone at Brighton and was put into a room at the Radisson Hotel, which was far above my pay-grade, but also far away from the convention center.  I remember I thought about all the unused space in my room, and wondered if I ought to sneak some more fans of some sort into the hotel.  But I literally didn’t know anybody, and also, I wasn’t confident I could pull it off.

I walked down the road between the Radisson and the convention center, and across the way was the water and the famed Brighton Pier. At the time it was a mess.  There were signs warning of danger and unsafe surfaces.  The Channel itself reminded me very much of Lake Eerie, where I grew up.  As long as one can’t see the other side, any body of water seems to be an ocean.

The lines for registration were very long and registration is more than usually dreary when one shows up alone. When I finally got to registration there was a great deal of ka-tah over which sort of badge I should have.  I was certainly no sort of guest, but I wasn’t to be considered a proper sort of fan, either, as I had, at the time, published six or seven books in the field.  So I was shuffled around until I had some sort of badge with my name on it and something that described me as a writer, but as nothing special.  And that is the perfect description of what I was and what I intended to be at the con.  Nothing special.  No panels.  No responsibilities.  Free.

What does a lonely fan do at a convention, when presented with the leaflet describing the coming programming? I know what I did.  I looked immediately for the dealer’s room and the art show.  And the masquerade, of course. Panels were the last thing on my mind.

The dealers’ rooms were huge, and the art show was glorious. I can say today I’ve never seen the like of the art show at Conspiracy ’87.  I remember especially one man who created art out of skulls he found as roadkill.  These were mostly skulls of raptors, including owls, although I believe I saw a few fox skulls as well.  In the eye sockets of the cleaned skulls he inserted gems, beveled in silver or gold.  Sometimes, he also placed jewels in the foreheads.  They were stunning, and the price was astronomical.  To me, at least, astronomical.  I did set my eye on some of the plaster reproductions of such skulls, which were indistinguishable from the real thing, in my eye.  There was one of an owl’s skull . . . I wondered if I had the chutzpah to wear a jeweled owl’s skull around my neck, once back at the ranch. But more about that later.

The first convention assemblage was a large open forum. A sort of welcome to the convention, I suppose, with numerous speakers from the Brighton Fan Community.  They were all young men and all seemed to have the same message.  It was an angry message.  They said that Americans, (and they made no clear distinction between Yanks and Canadians, so I suppose we were all in that boat together,) had hijacked this British convention.  They were extremely irate.  I was flabbergasted, because the message I had received from my friends who worked at Locus and at The Other Change of Hobbit back in California, had been that we must rescue the convention, which was in danger of bankruptcy.  Since then I’ve learned that every convention is in danger of bankruptcy.  That is a convention’s normal state of existence.  But as I’d come so very many miles with the idea I was helping, I have to say my feelings were hurt.  The other repeated message told us from the podium of that one huge assembly was that Americans did not write proper SF, but instead stories of ‘Red Indians in Outer Space’.  That, like the owl’s skull, will be important to this story later.

Luckily, I don’t remember a single name of the angry young men who spoke from the podium that day. I don’t think any of them were writers.  Those names I would have remembered. I watched the audience carefully from my position standing near an exit door.  (That is my preferred position at all convention events.)  The people I could tell were American, mostly by their shoes, for at the time Americans wore a sort of brightly-colored trainer than was uncommon footwear to other people, seemed to shrink into their seats.  And I watched for the rest of the convention as the Americans went about their business, getting into and out of lifts, and dodging people in hallways, muttering the word ‘sorry’ almost as a mantra.  I have never seen a less confident lot of hijackers in my life.

I must repeat here that the angry young men of Brighton did not represent anything of Britain, or of England, but themselves. Because the cost of meals at the convention hall was so steep, I began to make a practice of darting out of the building to get my meals at near-by shops, where the locals were so warm and friendly, and so careful to guide a visitor into not buying more food than she could likely afford, that any idea I might have had of extending the distinct feeling of unwelcome beyond the doors of the convention center died aborning.  I also visited a florist and bought daisies, first to have someone to talk to and later to have silly things to give away.

As it turned out, it was not only the Americans who felt rejected by the welcoming speeches. There were Dutch, Swedish, Australian and Italian fans at the convention also.  We met at the bars and in lobby corners and had a fine convention of our own.  And it was there that I met my own Jugoslav translators, who had come with the specific idea of meeting me.  (I never knew I had Jugoslav translators.)  It was flattering and embarrassing to meet them, especially after I stood them up at a meeting we had scheduled the first day, which flew out of my head completely with the overwhelm of the con.  So I spent the next few days chasing them down hallways, constantly apologizing, and trying to explain that yes, I was that naturally disorganized and that I did appreciate them.  I really did.  Finally we all made up.  In years to come, when there was no longer a Jugoslavia, I used to wonder what had become of the two of them.  They were sparkling with enthusiasm and energy.  I know I gave them daisies.

Doris Lessing signs at 1987 Worldcon. Photo by Frank Olynyk.

Doris Lessing signs at 1987 Worldcon. Photo by Frank Olynyk.

During the convention I missed the opportunity to meet two people I would have liked to meet. The first was Doris Lessing.  I stood within three meters of her and said to myself go on. Step forward.  She can only look through you and give a blank smile.  She can’t hurt you.  But I couldn’t.  I was so very intimidated at the idea of being in the same room with Doris Lessing that I couldn’t move.  In the end, it doesn’t matter.  I have often been in the same room with her work.

The other person I didn’t meet was Dave Langford, who was one of the fan GOHs.  If I could have known the future I would have sought him out and said Langford, one day in the future we will be friends, and so I’d like to shake your hand now. But of course, I didn’t know and I didn’t shake his hand.  These days, I post or comment to him almost daily, and I suppose time travel is completely unnecessary to the process.


The second morning of the convention I had a most peculiar experience. Even for convention fandom, it was most peculiar.  I was under the awning of the convention center, waiting for the doors to open. (I am incurably early for everything.  That is, when I haven’t forgotten to show up at all.)  I put my backpack and convention bag down and sat with my back against one of the awning posts, waiting for the doors to open.  A minute or so later another fan appeared.  A young man.  Very young.  He stood there and looked down at me.  His eyes narrowed and he asked me where I had gotten that badge.

I thought he was inquiring about registration, but as I opened my mouth I saw he already had a badge. “Where did you get THAT badge?” he repeated, heatedly. “It’s not yours.  Everyone is going to know it’s not yours.”

I had no idea how to answer him. Should I show him my passport? My driver’s license? But then, why should I show this boy anything?  I pointed to the name.  R.A. MacAvoy.  “That’s me,” I said.  I looked at his badge, but I have no memory of what his name was.

With complete assurance, and with fists balled at his side, he told me “I know R.A. MacAvoy, and you’re not him!”

There were so many layers of misunderstanding in this I didn’t know how to address it. It did know to slide up the steel post I’d been leaning against, so I’d be on my feet.  I told him my name was Roberta A. MacAvoy.  I hate to say that to people, because the name ‘Roberta’ has always fit me as well as roller skates fit a pig.  But it was the clearest explanation I could give.

His voice rose to a shout. “It’s Robert A. MacAvoy.  What is he?  Your father?  Or did you make up this fraud from scratch?”

It occurred to me that the boy had conflated me with Robert A. Heinlein somehow. Perhaps he was young enough not to know the difference.  But his mental processes had ceased to matter at this moment, as he was approaching me square-shouldered and full of belligerence.  My mind raced.  I was I a foreign country and I did not know what my rights of self-defense were.  I was imagining ending up in jail for hurting this idiot.  I was also imagining my refusing to defend myself and ending up in hospital.

At that moment the big glass doors burst open and two men in convention center security uniforms came to stand between us – between me and the angry boy. One security man quietly asked me what was going on.  I replied to him that I had no idea what was going on, but that I was profoundly glad to see him.  The other security man tried to touch the young fan and was repeatedly brushed away.  A few seconds later I was in the convention hall.  It was almost time to open, after all, and I was very grateful.  The security man even carried my backpack and swag bag into the hall with him.  I might well have forgotten them and left them in the street.

To this day I have no idea why my identity was questioned by the young fan so strenuously. It’s a mystery.  Thank ghod it didn’t become a bloody mystery.


That’s about what I remember from Conspiracy ’87. The panels were like panels everywhere.  The running up and down the streets of Brighton was not my usual convention experience, as it took place outdoors.  The masquerade was astonishing. I bought the replica owl’s skull, with silver and garnets.  Between earthquakes and moving house, somehow I no longer have it.

But, if you remember, I began this by saying I had gone to Brighton between story ideas. I came home with a good one. At least I think it’s good.

I wrote a novel about red Indians in outer space. Because the First Nation people are no more red than any other group of humans, I had my protagonist genetically altered to be really red.  And I added in descendants of the people of the subcontinent of India, just to complicate things. It is the only real Space Opera I have ever written.  So I got my money’s worth out of the anger of the young men of Brighton.  In fact, the advance of that book paid for the roof of our house.

Additions to 2016 Hugo Voter Packet

MidAmeriCon II has added material from Best Editor (Long Form) nominee Sheila Gilbert to the 2016 Hugo Voter Packet that was unintentionally omitted from the original release.

As Gilbert explains:

I am including excerpts from one novel written by each author whose work I published in 2015. I hope that you take a look at these excerpts, perhaps revisiting longtime favorites, or possibly discovering some exciting new novelists who will soon become favorites of yours as well.

There are in total 278 pages of excerpts from —

  • Unbound by Jim C. Hines
  • Impulse by Dave Bara
  • Fields of Wrath by Mickey Zucker Reichert
  • The Thorn of Dentonhill by Marshall Ryan Maresca
  • The Crow of Connemara by Stephen Leigh
  • Dragon Thief by S. Andrew Swann
  • Oracle by Michelle West
  • Alien Separation by Gini Koch
  • Faces by E. C. Blake
  • The Twice and Future Caesar by R. M. Meluch
  • Crossways by Jacey Bedford
  • Frozen in Amber by Phyllis Ames
  • A Red-Rose Chain by Seanan McGuire
  • An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
  • This Gulf of Time and Stars by Julie E. Czerneda

2016 Hugo Voter Packet Released by MidAmeriCon II

Members of MidAmeriCon II can begin downloading the sample work provided by 2016 Hugo Award nominees.

All five Best Novel nominees are represented. Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves is complete. The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin is labeled an excerpt, though there are 449 pages of story here, and the file is 500 pages (of what Amazon lists as a 512-page book), so without taking time to read the text one can say it’s at least a very generous portion of the whole. There are excerpts from Ancillary Mercy and Uprooted. And although not flagged as an excerpt, the Jim Butcher file ends on page 116, of what Amazon lists as a 640-page novel, QED.

From my quick inspection, it appeared all the novellas, novelettes and short stories are present. (The text of Cheah Kai Wai’s novelette is in the collection There Will Be War, vol. 10., part of the Best Editor, Short Form packet.) [Update] However, “If You Were an Award, My Love” by Juan Tabo and S. Harris, published on Vox Popoli, about which some objections have been raised, is not part of the download. [Update] The committee states that the story was not submitted to the packet.

The related works section excludes Safe Space as Rape Room – there is a statement with a link to the online text, as previously announced.

The graphic novels are represented by Invisible Republic, Sandman Overture, and The Divine. (Not present are Erin Dies Alone and Full Frontal Nerdity.

Best Editor (Long Form) nominees Jim Minz, Liz Gorinsky, and Sheila Gilbert provided lists of the books they worked on in 2015. There is no entry from Toni Weisskopf. Vox Day’s editorial production for Castalia House is represented by books in the Related Works section. Sheila Gilbert’s statement says she was “including excerpts from one novel written by each author whose work I published in 2015.” I didn’t find any excerpts in what I downloaded, and have written to the committee asking for clarification.

Best Editor (Short Form), in addition to Jerry Pournelle’s book, has a sample issue of Asimov’s edited by Sheila Williams, links to works edited by Ellen Datlow for, Clarkesworld issue 100 edited by Neal Clarke (plus links to additional issues and stories), and from John Joseph Adams all the fiction published by Lightspeed in 2015.

There are portfolios from four Best Professional Artist nominees, Abigail Larson, Larry Rostant, Lars Braad Andersen and Michal Karcz. (None from Larry Elmore.)

The Best Semiprozine section has Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue #183, a 71-page sampler from Sci Phi Journal, Strange Horizons’ Fund Drive Special 2015 (with an introductory comment disclaiming the Rabid Puppies slate, where it was an unwilling entry), and The Best of Uncanny 2015. Daily Science Fiction provided a link to its site.

The Best Fanzine category has samplers from four nominees (no submission from Superversive SF.)  Three Best Fancast nominees compiled links to eligible works on their sites (Cane and Rinse, HelloGreedo, and Tales to Terrify.) All five Best Fan Writer nominees furnished samplers. The Best Fan Artist packet has work from Ku Kuru Yo, Matthew Callahan and Steve Stiles.

John W. Campbell nominees Alyssa Wong, Brian Niemeier and Sebastien de Castell provided copies of their short fiction or novels.

It is possible more samples will be added later — that has occurred in other years.

Update 05/28/2016: Corrected to show that one short story nominee is not accounted for. The committee says it was not submitted to the packet.

2018 Worldcon Site Selection Voting Opens

MidAmeriCon II has unveiled its Site Selection Voting page for the 2018 Worldcon and 2017 NASFiC. However, all you can do today is download a ballot and mail it in with a check. MACII’s token purchase system for buying Advance Supporting Memberships by credit card comes online June 1.

On the page is the documentation each bid was required to submit about its facilities and committee when it filed to appear on the ballot.

Rival groups are bidding to host the 2018 Worldcon in New Orleans and San Jose. Click to download the 2018 Worldcon Mail-In Ballot.

Bidders for San Juan, PR and Valley Forge, PA are vying to host the 2017 North American Science Fiction Convention. (NASFiC is held when the Worldcon for the year is outside North America). Here’s the link for the 2017 NASFiC Mail-in Ballot.

The deadline for receipt of mail-in ballots is Saturday, August 6. Site selection votes also can be cast at MidAmeriCon II until 6 p.m. CDT on Friday, August 19, 2016.

In order to vote in Site Selection, you must be an Attending or Supporting Member in MidAmeriCon II and pay the Advanced Supporting Membership fee for each election. This process also makes you a Supporting Member of the winning bid’s convention. Ballots and information about voting and paying the Advanced Supporting Membership fee will be distributed in a future progress report and will be available online.

MACII explained in a statement why electronic voting is unavailable, although it is an option under the rules:

While the WSFS Constitution now allows electronic Site Selection balloting, it also requires that the current Worldcon Committee and all bidding committees agree that electronic balloting will be allowed. The MidAmeriCon committee believes that there are several technical issues associated with electronic balloting which have not yet been solved, and therefore MidAmeriCon II is opting out of electronic Site Selection voting in 2016. The Site Selection Administrator and staff will, per the Constitution, be accepting only paper ballots either completed on site, mailed, or hand delivered, and will not accept ballots via any electronic means.

Castalia Blog Posts Excluded from Hugo Packet

Daniel Enness announced he has been informed by MidAmeriCon II that “Safe Space as Rape Room,” his Hugo-nominated series of posts on the Castalia House Blog, will not be part of the Hugo Voter Packet:

Worldcon Members who are looking forward to the forthcoming Hugo Voter Packet – which traditionally contains as many of the works nominated for a Hugo Award as possible so that all voters can review the nominees in a unified set of documents – will notice a special warning from MidAmeriCon II in this year’s edition of the Packet:

As the World Science Fiction Convention, MidAmeriCon II has members from 35 countries. Safe Space as Rape Room quotes extensively from a written work containing explicit descriptions of children engaged in sexual activities. This material may be illegal in some home countries of  members. MidAmeriCon II does not wish to put any member at risk of inadvertently violating the law in their country of residence by downloading it in the packet without intent. As such, under legal advice, we are not  hosting or distributing this material directly. However, Safe Space as Rape Room is freely available on the Internet and can be found by anyone at….

The series of posts is nominated in the Best Related Works category.