Get Those Old People Off My (Artificial) Grass

Fans on The Lawn in Loncon 3's Fan Village. (You know, some of them don’t look that old to me.)

Fans on The Lawn in Loncon 3′s Fan Village. (You know, some of them don’t look that old to me.)

The Daily Dot thought all the geezers were a drag on Loncon 3.

“Worldcon is like a family reunion,” said longtime convention-goer and fanzine writer Curt Phillips, at a panel about the history of Worldcon. After a few days, I could only agree. It was indeed like being at a family reunion, in that it felt like you were spending your time with elderly relatives. You might want to talk to them and listen to their stories, but you’ll have to tolerate some offensive and outdated opinions along the way.

Daily Dot greatly preferred the Nine Worlds con held the weekend before Worldcon but did not play fair, inserting a complaint about the San Diego Comic Con that was totally inapplicable to Loncon 3 –

Nine Worlds also made sure their code of conduct was displayed clearly on their website, which is more than you can say for SDCC.

Seriously, that’s the last thing in the world you could fault about Loncon 3.

I also think it wouldn’t be a bad thing if the Daily Dot modeled the greater acceptance of diversity they claim to want.

For many, the Worldcon experience was just not worth it if your comments were constantly at risk of being shouted down old men. Either some drastic changes will have to be made, or those younger fans won’t come back at all.

When writing about the generation gap at Worldcon 2013, author Madeline Ashby phrased this rather more brutally: “It’s okay, because someday they’ll all be dead.”

I see Ashby’s curse repeated all the time but I don’t take it to heart. Anyone who lives long enough will be getting the same treatment from the generation that follows. I don’t actually wish it on the Daily Dot’s writers, however, nobody has ever been able to stop it from happening, either.

Paris in 2023 – Dead or Alive?

Paris in 2023 Worldcon bid chair Cécile Reyer says the bid is off again.

Reyer initially announced the Paris bid would launch at Loncon 3, followed by a last-minute cancellation citing a family emergency. Then, during Loncon 3′s Fannish Inquisition, UK bid agents Jonathan and Sharon Lewis-Jones declared the Paris bid had launched after all and they were representing the bid at a table in the Fan Village.

Reyer says in her latest statement:

Due to a circumstances beyond our control the Paris in 2023 Bid Committee were unable to attend Loncon3 and for this we must apologize.

We wish to thank everyone who came and visited the information table in the Fan Village and showed support for our bid and to our UK Agents who represented us at the convention.

After much consideration the committee has made the difficult decision to withdraw our Worldcon candidacy at this time, and we hope to be able to re-launch our bid at a future date.

The latest fluctuation in the status of the bid reportedly is powered by a backlash among French fans who don’t want a Worldcon in France, hot tempers, and resignations from the bid committee.

What little evidence of French fannish opinion I’ve tracked down so far sounds skeptical but even-tempered.

Georges Bormand of Monde de la SF said he was surprised to discover at Loncon 3 “a booth run by the mysterious Irish who are behind the project” (English wording via Google Translate) and felt the bid’s presence in London was “premature.”

Then, a writer signing himself Hervé speculated on the French rec.arts.sf.narkive about “people who want to organize a convention of several thousand people who can not travel to London!” (again, English via Google Translate).

Bid agent Jonathan Lewis-Jones wonders, “Could this be the shortest running Worldcon bid in history? I hope not, they are good people, with a fantastic idea. I just hope they dust themselves off and go for it.”

[Thanks to Steven H Silver for his assistance.]

We Interrupt This Program

By Bill Higgins: I’ve learned that an old BBC documentary on Seacon, the 1979 Worldcon in Brighton, is available on Youtube. Dave Nee told Tom Whitmore about it, and Tom posted a link to Making Light, here.

The program itself, an episode of Time Out of Mind, is here.

Let the games begin! On Making Light, Jacque Marshall, P. J. Evans, and Tom Whitmore have been identifying the many pros and fans who appear in the 25-minute video. Any number can play.

Editor’s note: Wow — Gregory Benford is like the second pro shown in the video — at about 2:00.

Final Notes on Loncon 3

Officer Sue Smith Interrogates Brad Templeton, attending Loncon 3 via telepresence.

Officer Sue Smith Interrogates Brad Templeton, attending Loncon 3 via telepresence.

By Francis Hamit: Loncon 3 ran so well that it begs a record of small things that worked and should be added to the list of “best practices”. I speak as one who has attended 111 conventions, including 10 WorldCons and NASFICs. Full disclosure: I have never been involved in “con-running” and am not a SMOF.

First of all, security here was left to the professionals who work at ExCel. The UK has a very strong security consciousness and culture. There are CCTV cameras everywhere in London, and security officers in black suits and ties are ubiquitous. Rather than oppressive, their presence is reassuring in a city with a recent tragic history of terrorist attacks. In the USA, this function detailed to fan volunteers, whose quality ranges from poor and indifferent to jack-booted thugs. I spent twenty-one years in the security industry, and have an appreciation for the fine details of the art.

An innovation here was the provision of “Listeners”. These were people that attendees could go to with their concerns and complaints, or if they just needed someone to talk to. It was emphasized that first-time attendees should be especially aware of this service. I don’t know how much this was actually used, but I suspect that many molehills were prevented from becoming mountains because this service was there.

The Press Room was run by professionals for professionals, and, as a result, was able to not only handle Mundane reporters from mainstream media, but turn their presence to advantage and avoid the usual “look at all the funny people” journalism.

The Fan Village, and the prohibition of parties in hotel rooms, were also a unique feature that should be emulated. No elevators, er, lifts, were broken at this convention, and everyone got enough sleep (maybe).

The long lines at every turn were a detriment, because they soaked up time that could have been spent enjoying the convention. This was probably unavoidable and unplanned because of the last-minute surge in registrations, and the size of the convention, which was record-breaking. Perhaps additional volunteers could have been requested from the lines, of people who had experience with cons in other places, to help out an hour or so to speed things along.

Part of the programming was provided in German, because of the number of German fans attending. This made it a truly “World” con. Whether or not it could be emulated in the USA is an open question.

The huge expanses of concrete and distances between events and functions seem inevitable, but given the “graying of fandom” factor, more attention needs to be paid to disabled access. There were a number of incidents where people on mobis ran into each other and were injured.

Finally, as I sat in the concourse one day, that fandom in general needs to go on a diet and find a good chiropractor. We are woefully out of shape, and I am no exception.

Respectfully submitted.

Loncon 3 and the Graphic Novel, Guest Of Honour Bryan Talbot

Bryan Talbot signing at Loncon 3.

Bryan Talbot signing at Loncon 3.

By Francis Hamit: At the Press Briefing before LonCon3 officially started, the Artist GoH, graphic novelist Bryan Talbot, said that being selected made him feel as if his art had finally moved beyond being considered mere “comic books” to being “literature”. He is quite well known in the UK, and the subject of a recent documentary The Graphic Novel Man: The Comics of Bryan Talbot. This hour-long presentation was shown on the fourth day of the convention and it seemed to me that not only had his art evolved into a form of literature, but a way to put cinema on paper. His subsequent lecture the same afternoon demonstrating the wide range of techniques and graphic devices confirmed this. He laid out the various ways to format a page so that the reader’s eye is easily led through the images and text that comprise the narrative.

About the creative process, Talbot said, “When I get an idea, the first thing I do is write it down. Then I create a ‘bible’ for the graphic novel in a loose-leaf notebook so that I can move between the sections and make notes. Research is next, as I reference images and create ‘mind maps’ as a useful way of working through complete scenes and getting the order of scenes.

“Structure is very important. I chart the scene progression so that you can see the whole story, scene-by-scene, and the number of pages needed to tell the story. I create layers from the photo references as a basis for the individual panels, and add details. I make rough sketches that pre-planned of papaer are a mixture of words and pictures, so that the story changes at the right instants. Each moment is a moment in time. I choose which instants is needed to break the scene.

“The script is next, it is a page number and panel number description, which the editor approves; I then polish and improve the dialogue. A complex scene requires a description of when things are taking place as well as where.

“The layout can be on a grid or freestyle. Freestyle melds panels into a collage of images. Grid panels provide a ‘proscenium arch’ that you can look through, proportionate to the page. The Golden Mean (2 to 3) is used in American comics. Freestyle layouts let you have lots of open space.

“The placement of text and speech balloons is critical. It is vitally important that the reader not read them in the wrong order. Double-page layouts must form a whole. The pages have to work together and be harmonious. The palette is important, as a historical reference. We give each scene a different ambient color, and use composition lines to lead the reader’s eye from one panel to the next.”

I found this presentation extremely interesting because I’m not really up on comic books or graphic novels. Since I am in the middle of collaborating on a motion picture, I see the parallels between this and cinema. Part of our process is what is called ‘storyboarding’, where shots are planned in advance on paper. Graphic novels intrigue me because they are the dominant form in many other countries with huge audiences, such as India, China, and Japan.

Bryan Talbot has a PDF of his lecture on his website and it is something that even text-bound dinosaurs like myself would do well to read.

Loncon 3: A Stroll Through the Dealers’ Zone

The ExCel is big and friendly, if you don't mind walking.

The ExCel is big and friendly, if you don’t mind walking.

By Francis Hamit: One of the notable aspects of the Dealers’ Zone at Loncon 3 was the number of “small press” publishers who took advantage of Loncon 3 to display and sell their books. Two big British publishers were also present, as well as a couple of University presses. Also, displaying their wares or cause were some British nonprofit organizations.

www.hic-drdgones.co.uk

www.hic-drdgones.co.uk

“Small press” is a term that avoids the curse of “self publishing”: generally condemned for its poor editing and execution. (The truth is that while some eager writers in their rush to get to market have failed to live up to the standards of traditional publishing, the majority of those at Loncon 3 avoided this self-defeating behaviour, and had product indistinguishable from the mainstream. Everyone uses short-run print-on-demand technology now.) Since Leigh and I have our own publishing company, we are sympathetic to small press entrepreneurs, and had we any science fiction titles, might have also had a table. Here are some photos taken on the last day. We are happy to report that everyone not only covered their costs but seemed to be happily in profit.

Ticonderoga Publications' Liz Grzyb and Russell B. Farr

Ticonderoga Publications’ Liz Grzyb and Russell B. Farr

One young, pretty, and very smart scientist in the Fan Village said to me scornfully that 90% of self-publishing is crap, to which I replied with Theodore Sturgeon’s famous line, “My dear, 90% of everything is crap.” The high sales reported by small-press dealers indicates that this deplorable attitude is finally going away.

Closing Ceremonies End Loncon 3 on a High Note

The line for the Closing Ceremonies

The line for Closing Ceremonies.

By Francis Hamit: On the last day the organizers of Loncon 3 ended their four-year adventure with some well-deserved, self-congratulatory pats on the back. (Yes, it’s a cliché, what the hell, sue me.) The original pitch film that won London the bid was shown again, without the sound (not sure that there was any, since I hadn’t seen it before) but this may be not only the largest Worldcon ever, but one that ran so smoothly, and without noticeable glitches, that subsequent events will be hard put to meet, much less exceed, the standards set by this ConCom.

The co-chairs bid adieu.

The co-chairs bid adieu.

The Guests of Honour were once again presented, and Brian Aldiss, who was present at LonCon 1 and is one of the great authors of our genre, was serenaded with a rousing rendition of “Happy Birthday” by the entire audience. The GoHs were all presented with engraved crystal awards as a remembrance. The event was then Closed, and the organizers of the 2015 Worldcon in Spokane, Washington, USA, named after a mythological beast, were brought out to urge everyone to attend their event, Sasquan.

Brian Aldiss is serenaded with "Happy Birthday."

Brian Aldiss is serenaded with “Happy Birthday.”

A Few Comments on Loncon 3

Overview of the Fan Village at Loncon 3.

Overview of the Fan Village at Loncon 3.

By Leigh Strother-Vien: I’m thrilled that younger fans are having a good fandom to come into. But we older fans *sigh* need softer floors, smaller venues, or reallyreally fast medical breakthroughs — everything aches. Aside from that, LonCon 3 has been a friendly place to be. I’ve enjoyed chatting with random people: in queues, and sitting in food courts, standing next to dealers’ tables, waiting for a lift, etc.

The Art Show was, unsurprisingly, Very High Quality, and I’m glad to say that the artists are asking for prices that reflect more accurately their worth, i.e., I couldn’t afford what I Really Liked (at least, not yet).

The Dealer’s Area was diverse with lots of booksellers as well as the usual Neat Stuff.

But, mostly what struck me was the general feeling of Good Will. And, I believe, the exceptions were mostly due to aches and pains (and jet lag). Which are inevitable with a large con, apparently.

Good Con. Kudos to the ConCom and their volunteers.

Paris in 2023 Launches After All

The Paris in 2023 bid was officially launched at the WSFS Site Selection
business meeting on Sunday, August 17 reports Jonathan Lewis-Jones.

He also sent a correction to his earlier message: Jonathan and Sharon Lewis-Jones, while no longer on the bid committee, now are acting as Paris in 2023′s UK Agents.