To Be Fair, I Was Left Unsupervised: A Disjointed Chronicle of 79th World Science Fiction Convention, DisCon III – December 19-20, 2021
By Chris M. Barkley:
(Author’s Note: As of this writing, I misplaced all of my notes for Day Four. The things I write about here may be a bit truncated, so please bear with me with this day’s events…)
I woke up relatively early (for a Worldcon), at around 8:45 a.m. Dapperly dressed in my Chelsea FC pajamas and socks, I decide to go down to the Information Desk for the latest Dis N’ Dat newsletter for the latest news and Programming changes.
Just as I exited the elevator, I encountered Laurie Mann and Dave McCarty in deep conversation. Mr. McCarty told me that he was on his way to the Site Selection Meeting and was particularly vexed because the contest between the Chengdu and Winnipeg bids was, as of this morning, in doubt.
This was a little peculiar because under normal circumstances, the identity of the winning bid would have been leaked the previous evening by unknown sources and would have been circulating among the parties last night.
But as I inferred from my earlier conversation with Ms. Mann and Mr. McCarty, this did not happen. By now, most of you may know that the statement from Kevin Standlee a few days earlier cast the election in doubt due to what was perceived by some as an infraction of the rules regarding the lack of valid addresses by those voting for the Chengdu bid.
To my understanding of the matter, a majority of the Chengdu voters used as email address because that is how they interpreted the use of that term in China
Mr. McCarty, who is associated with the Chengdu bid, had no idea whether or not the disputed ballots would be allowed or not this morning.
Quickly realizing that either history, a controversy, or both was about to occur, I bolted to my room, got properly dressed, grabbed a tea and a protein bar and raced down to the Palladian Ballroom for the reveal.
The Site Selection Meeting had been scheduled for 9:30 a.m. but that passed by as the room slowly filled with interested parties.
[The rest of Chris’ report follows the jump.]
As I was waiting, I saw Business Meeting Regular and DisCon III GoH Ben Yalow enter the room.
And I cursed at myself because I had left the copy of Robert’s Rules of Order entrusted to me back in my hotel room. Seeing that the meeting was not about to begin anytime soon, I ran back up to the room, retrieved it off of the File 770 News Desk and raced back to the meeting.
As you may have recalled, Dave McCarty had recruited me to help out with a honor/prank some of his friends had organized; each of us were given a copy of Robert’s Rules of Order, each published during the past fifty years of Ben Yalow’s career as a sf fan and convention worker. Our task was to have him sign the copy we had but to another person entirely, not ourselves and have all of the copies signed by the end of DisCon III.
My copy was from 1992 and marked with a label signifying the Worldcon of that particular year. In this case it was MagiCon, which was held in Orlando, Florida that year.
When Mr. Yalow opened the book to sign, he noticed the date and convention, he expressed a desire to give my copy to the Chair of Magicon, Joe Siclari. In its stead, he gave me a 1972 copy that was marked L.A.con 1, which he signed to my partner and sweetheart, Juli Marr.
Just before the meeting started, I approached the dais and asked one of the officials, Todd Dashoff (the timekeeper, who was seated at the far-lefthand side of the table), if I could place my phone in front of him to record the session, just in case my editor, Mike Glyer, should need it to post on File 770.com. (Author’s Note: It turns out he did not.)
At 10:13 a.m., the Site Selection Meeting was called to order and the results of the 2021 Site Selection Meeting were distributed and the results were immediately evident:
The ballots had been allowed and Chengdu had been declared the winner to a smattering of applause. Robbie Bourget, a representative of the Winnipeg bid, rose, went to the microphone and congratulated the Chengdu Worldcon bid. She also reiterated that no one associated with the Winnipeg bid had ever accused the Chinese bid of cheating. This too, was met with some applause.
Then, Yao Haijun, Vice-Chair of the Chengdu Worldcon, took center stage. He thanked everyone for their support and promised to put on a wonderful Worldcon. He hoped that anyone who comes to China will do so with an open mind.
Mr. Yao also sought to assure those who had doubts about the bid that Chengdu was not only a warm and welcoming center of China’s sf fannish community but a safe space for the LGBTQ community as well.
When Mr. Yao had concluded his remarks and took his seat. I went up to retrieve my phone and leave the meeting before they started delving into Worldcon business. I stopped, congratulated him and his bid and wished them luck.
“Thank you,” he said warmly.
I left, stopped by the Press Office for a warm body count (still estimated to be around 2000), returned to the room to report directly back to Mr. Glyer, posted the results on my Facebook page and spent a majority of the afternoon finishing the Day Three report.
As I was struggling with Day Three, a small electrical fire broke out in the Regency Ballroom around 3:00 p.m.
At 5:15 p.m., I reported to Programming Ops for my next panel, “New TV: From Foundation To Squid Game and Beyond,” to be taken, Dick Cheney-style, to an undisclosed location for a virtual zoom meeting. (An audio version of this panel will be posted on File 770 soon!)
I found out about the fire just before the start of the panel as I was checking my email. Shortly thereafter, there was another email stating that the Hugo Awards Ceremony would still be held in the Regency Ballroom, but pushed back an hour to 9 p.m. to accommodate the cleaning of the event space.
After a leisurely dinner, Juli and I got dressed for the Hugos. As I got dressed, I noticed, much to my distress, that my tuxedo was missing its black tie and that the sleeves on my jacket were too short…I had PACKED THE WRONG JACKET!
Undeterred, I decided to go with an open shirt, accented with my fancy blue and orange FC Cincinnati scarf. Because I can fashion improvise like a mofo!
Juli and I were promptly seated in the press section, which had excellent sightlines, on the right hand part of the stage, in front of the huge closed caption screen.
Among the luminaries in the front row were triple Hugo Award nominee Seanan McGuire and her companion, musician extraordinaire, Amy McNally.
Our hosts for the evening, Sheree Renée Thomas and Andrea Hairston were fantastic.
By now, everyone reading this knows who the winners are. These are what I consider my personal highlights of this year’s 2021 Hugo Awards Ceremony:
BEST FAN ARTIST: Sara Felix
For several years now, both Juli (the ecstatic owner of one of her tiaras) and I have been enthusiastic fans of Sara Felix’s works. We were incredibly happy she won.
BEST FAN WRITER: Elsa Sjunneson
Although I was unfamiliar with Elsa Sjunneson’s work, I was moved and inspired by her speech, in which she implored the audience to keep on “kicking down the fucking doors” against abelism, sexism and for civil rights for the those who are still being marginalized by society today. Bravo and Congratulations!
BEST SEMI-PROZINE: FIYAH Magazine of Black Speculative Fiction
When the staff of FIYAH won for their outstanding work presenting stories by and about Black People of the African Diaspora, I LEAPED to my feet in joy! FINALLY, it seems that fandom has fully embraced the Black fannish community and it was done in the District of Columbia, our nation’s capitol and a majority Black metropolis. HOO-HA!
BEST GRAPHIC STORY: Parable of the Sower, A Graphic Novel Adaptation
Anyone who has read Octavia Butler’s novel Parable of the Sower, knows what a great book it is. I was heartfelt that the fans recognized and rewarded the graphic story version with its highest honor.
BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION – LONG FORM
I’m not going to lie to you, I wanted Christopher Nolan’s twisting and turbulent thriller Tenet to win. But I cannot and will not dispute nor deny the greatness of writer Greg Rucka and director Gina Prince-Blythwood’s The Old Guard, which was adapted from Rucka and Leandro Fernandez’s graphic novel series. Gritty, exciting, heartfelt and just as relentless, the door for more films in the universe has been left wide open and I hope that fans will have a chance to stampede through it, soon.
LODESTAR AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ADULT BOOK
Everyone here KNOWS that I have a special place in my heart for the Lodestar Award. And now the Lodestar will be forever associated with the most memorable, most unexpected, most informative and most HILARIOUS speech in the long and storied history of the Hugo Award Ceremony. It was EVERYTHING you EVER wanted to know about slime mold, but were too afraid to ask. With good reason, as it turned out…
BEST SHORT STORY
So, Ms. Vernon, who was definitely NOT expecting to win in this category, Ms. Vernon, in the guise of T. Kingfisher, regaled the audience with even MORE facts and slime mold…
BEST SERIES AND BEST NOVEL
Tonight was Martha Wells’ lucky night; she not only won Best Series category, she also went home with the Best Novel award, a first for any author in the history of the Hugo Awards
After the Ceremony and the photo session, after all of that excitement, Juli and I headed back to our room and crashed, watched the hybrid-Covid-19-Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live with host Paul Rudd, Tina Fey, Tom Hanks, Michael Che and Keenan Thompson.
Tomorrow, we face the final frontier; Closing Ceremonies and going home…