Fozard Guest Post About Resigning as Worldcon Co-Chair

By Colette H. Fozard: By now the news has been announced. I resigned as co-chair of DisCon III.

I have been part of the Worldcon community since 1995 when I attended Intersection as my honeymoon and I welcomed my now husband to the community with a Wedcon room party at Noreascon 4. I started volunteering in 1996 and have volunteered either at the Worldcon or for one I was working or bidding for at every Worldcon I have attended since then. I have volunteered at the Division Head level or higher at every Worldcon since 2017 save one.

In my years of growing responsibility of working for Worldcons, I have become increasingly alarmed and upset at the level of abuse and vitriol spewed at the all-volunteer staff. So much so that I have now abruptly walked away from probably the best chance I had to improve matters ‘from the inside.’

The Hugo announcement made Monday (and since retracted by DC III) made it clear that for the first time ever, all contributors to a Hugo finalist work would be listed and recognized as Hugo Finalists.  No matter how many persons were named by the finalist work – everyone would be credited in the permanent record of the Hugo Awards, receive the finalist pin, and be celebrated as a finalist. The limits that were set were where resources and readability might become an issue.  If you review the Hugo Finalist listings over there years, I can say with strong knowledge that if the listing said “Team [X]” or “X, Y, Z editors and the Staff of A” it was because the Hugo Administrator told the finalist that there was not the ability to list everyone they wanted to.  DC III decided to drop those limits for the first time.  

NOT GOOD ENOUGH, said some of the worst abusers of Hugo Admin staff over the years. They twisted the announcement to meet their selfish ends and I had to watch my staff despair that people were yelling at us for a misunderstanding. Because there were concerns about the readability of the ballot (most vote electronically, but paper ballots are required by the WSFS Constitution) and the physical ability of how many people we could fit together in reception and ceremony spaces, we were accused of stifling BIPOC creators. A rich accusation from the white editors/gatekeepers who pride themselves on being performatively abusive, in a social media community where this is not just tolerated but rewarded.

If this were the first time The Internet rounded on Worldcon staff, I would be less worried, but it happens over and over.  As a member of CoNZealand’s committee, I saw how upset the staff were when numerous Hugo Finalists loudly and publicly proclaimed how upset they were with their programming, did not give CoNZealand a chance to make modifications, and then ran their own programming scheme attaching the convention’s name to it without asking, and finally had the gall to remind everyone at the end that their programming might be eligible for a best related work Hugo Award. A former staffer accused Worldcon 75 of withholding the souvenir book based on her misunderstanding of internal communications, and even though she was clearly wrong, I got to watch former Worldcon chairs, among others, pile on with cheap rhetorical shots, here on File 770 and within the complainers FB post. 

Worldcon staff are people. People who are working hard to do the right thing and put on a convention where all feel welcome. Worldcon staff should be, must be, and are held responsible to ensure their work is welcoming and inclusive as possible, but the endless cycle of assume-bad-faith, attack-without-mercy is wearying, toxic and destructive to the very community these people claim to be a part of and care about.  I have seen senior professionals in the field repeatedly abuse staff, cutting them off to berate them as they are trying to explain how they can help them. I have spent more time listening, comforting and caring for upset, traumatized and dejected staffers who have just been on the receiving end of nasty and vicious abuse (both verbal/in-person and in writing/online) than I care to think about.

I have managed and worked with thousands of Worldcon staffers over the years, from all over the world, and all of them come to their roles at Worldcon wanting to make this event better, inclusive and enjoyable for all. Mistakes will be made, but it is horrifying to see how vicious and unforgiving some in the community have become. 

What is going to happen if this dangerous cycle doesn’t end? I don’t know, and since I’m leaving the Worldcon volunteer community, I no longer have to care.  However, to paraphrase Gritty, the Hero of Philadelphia – keep f*cking around and we’ll find out.

DisCon III Co-Chair Fozard Resigns

DisCon III announced today that Colette H. Fozard has resigned as co-chair of the 2021 Worldcon committee.

DisCon III Abandons Previously Announced Hugo Policy

Bill Lawhorn, Chair of the 2021 Worldcon, DisCon III, announces that the committee has reversed the Hugo Award-related policy published yesterday that would have limited the number of creators identified with a finalist for certain purposes, such as the ballot and award name plaque.

Lawhorn’s statement says:


We apologize to the Worldcon community for the Hugo Awards policies announced yesterday. We realize we should have reached out to the wider community for your feedback before finalizing it. Many were hurt and disappointed, especially those who are members of marginalized communities, and we have listened to your feedback and concerns.

The Hugo Awards exist to celebrate and honor all of the creators chosen by the Worldcon membership. We should have considered those creators’ needs and feelings through our policies and the messaging we used. We once again apologize.

Here are the steps we are taking to address the problems that were caused:

All publications and visuals linked to the Hugo Awards will include all Hugo Finalist creators named to DisCon III with no restrictions to the number of names. This includes, and is not limited to, the Hugo Awards ballot, the visuals used during the Hugo Awards Ceremony, the plaques on the Hugo Awards trophies, the Hugo Awards Ceremony program guide, the DisCon III souvenir guide, and the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites.

We will address concerns about the size of events such as the Hugo Pre-Reception, the number of Hugo Awards trophies, and any other cost considerations individually with the finalists.

We want to thank the fans, especially those who are members of marginalized communities, for speaking out and helping us understand the issues with yesterday’s policies and how they were communicated.

Worldcon and The Hugo Awards are stronger because our fandom continually challenges us to create a better and more inclusive future. We acknowledge the trust placed in us as caretakers of Worldcon. We still have a lot of work to do. We are committed to earning back your trust as we approach DisCon III

Once again, we offer our sincerest apologies. Please continue to reach out to us through social media @Worldcon2021, Discord, and via email at info@discon3.org. We will continue to keep you informed about DisCon III.


DisCon III Announces 2021 Hugo Award-Related Policies

DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, has announced how they will administer this year’s Hugo finalists which have multiple individual creators. They also are creating a Hugo Concierge Team to assist finalists with issues connected with the award.

DisCon III’s Hugo Concierge Team, under the Hugo Administration Subcommittee, consists of Kat Jones, Chris Brathwaite, and Kathy Bond who will “facilitate a smooth experience for Hugo finalists from the composition of the final ballot through the end of the convention and any post-convention wrap-up matters. The Hugo Concierge Team will work with finalists to gather creators’ names and contact information, create and foster connections with program and event teams, provide relevant and timely information to finalists, and ensure clear and constant communication.” More information on the Hugo Concierge Team can be found on the DisCon III website.

DisCon III also says they will be capping the number of names that will appear on the Hugo ballot and the award plaque, but that all creators of Hugo finalists will appear in other publications and on the website, receive related pins and ribbons, and have the same standing when applying to be on con programming.

A press release explains the committee’s plans:


For many categories of the Hugo awards the work itself is the finalist, but the creators have traditionally been listed as part of the final ballot. As more works have become collaborations, and as categories have been added, the length of the final ballot and the award ceremony have increased. This has begun to cause substantial issues with physical space limitations and accessibility. Pre- and post-ceremony receptions have expanded considerably, which impacts accessibility and budget. Long ballot entries require reduced font sizes on ballots and visuals during the ceremony itself, which also impacts accessibility.

All creators named to DisCon III as part of a Hugo Finalist work will be listed in the DisCon III souvenir book, Hugo Award Ceremony program, and the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites. These are the permanent records of the administration of the Hugo Awards. There will therefore be no restriction on the number of names linked to a finalist in these records.

However, if a finalist has more than four creators, DisCon III will list a maximum of four names for each finalist on the 2021 Hugo Final Ballot (both printed and online), the visuals used during the Hugo Award ceremony, and the plaques on the Hugo trophies. Where a finalist does not wish to limit their list of named persons on the ballot to four or fewer, they will be listed as “[Title] by the [Title] Team” or agreed equivalent.

The format will be as follows, within the aforementioned restrictions:

  • In the Best Novel, Best Novella, Best Novelette, Best Short Story, and Best Series categories: [Title], by [Author(s)], published in/by [publisher].
  • In the Best Semiprozine, Best Fanzine, and Best Fancast categories: [Title], by [Hosts/Editors].
  • In the Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form and Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form categories: [Title, including show name and episode as needed], written by [writer(s)], directed by [director(s)].
  • In the Best Editor Long Form and Best Editor Short Form categories: [Name].
  • In the Best Professional Artist, Best Fan Artist, and Best Fan Writer categories: [Name].
  • In the Best Graphic Story or Comic category: [Work, including volume as needed], by [Writer, artist, inker, letterer], published by [publisher].
  • For Best Related Work, the listing will depend on the types of works that appear on the final ballot but will be consistent with the above. The Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book listing will follow the format for Best Novel. Finalists for the Astounding Award for Best New Writer will be listed by name and each listing will include the writer’s year of eligibility.
  • Best Video Game: [Title], by [Publisher], on [Platform(s)]

The persons named on the ballot will, in principle, be the finalist’s acceptors at the ceremony, with substitutions allowable as appropriate. If a finalist is listed on the ballot as a “team,” they can name up to four acceptors. If they are attending the convention, acceptors will be invited to the pre-Hugo reception and seated within the finalist seating area at the Hugo Ceremony. The winner in each Hugo category will receive up to four (4) Hugo trophies from DisCon III, as appropriate, with the option to purchase more at cost.

All creators, regardless of how finalists are listed on the ballot, will be in the convention souvenir book and Hugo Award Ceremony program, on the DisCon III and Hugo Awards websites, and will receive Hugo finalist pins and ribbons. All finalists who wish to participate in DisCon III programming will be encouraged to apply, and will be considered for inclusion as a Hugo finalist.


“Hugo finalists represent the best of the field of speculative fiction as determined by Worldcon members. Therefore, the individuals who contribute to these works are critical parts of the Worldcon community,” said DisCon III Co-Chair Colette H. Fozard. “DisCon III is committed to recognizing all the individuals that are part of creating the stories, art, and other works that lead the genre.”

[Based on a press release.]

Update 01/11/21: Added information supplied for Best Video Game category

How DisCon III Memberships Match Up To Other Recent Worldcons

After DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, shared their membership update last month it seemed reasonable to guess that the coronavirus pandemic is creating a lot of suspense and having a dampening effect on fans joining DC. Just how true is that and how severe is the effect?

The Dublin 2019 and CoNZealand chairs agreed to furnish benchmark numbers from late in the year before their cons to make the comparison.

WORLDCONDublin 2019 11/30/18CoNZealand 12/28/19DisCon III 11/20/20
ATTENDING375116731535
SUPPORTING669730635
TOTAL442024032170

Dublin 2019 chair James Bacon commented about their November membership totals: “I’m still astounded and how we got to our final figure. This is indicative of something else though, fans especially local fans really came on board late.” Dublin finished with 6,525 attending and 8,430 total members.

Even so, Dublin 2019’s trajectory is in general what might be expected from a large Worldcon in ordinary times.

As for CoNZealand, South Pacific Worldcons (Aussiecon 2, 3, and 4, and CoNZealand) as a class are the four smallest Worldcons of the past 35 years. However, CoNZealand was by far the largest of that group, finishing with 2,685 attending and 1,939 supporting members, a total of 4,624. As much as the committee would have preferred a primarily in-person con, going virtual did not keep CoNZealand from surpassing the 2010 Aussiecon stats.

Since a U.S. Worldcon in ordinary times would be on track for high attendance, the effects of the pandemic seem evident from this comparison, and don’t come as a surprise.   

Taking Inventory of Future Worldcon Bids

Next year fans will choose the site of the 2023 Worldcon: Chengdu, China and Memphis, TN (USA) are currently in contention. Beyond that? An abundance of new Worldcon bids have responded to SMOFCon 37-1/4’s call for questionnaires — Israel, Los Angeles, and Orlando joining the others already in the field. You’ll find all their Q&As here.

(In addition, the seated Worldcons – DisCon III (2021) and Chicon 8 (2022) have submitted answers.)

2023

CHENGDU IN 2023

Proposed Site: Chengdu, China
Proposed Dates: August or September 2023
Bid Leadership: He Xi, chair
Website:
English: CD-WSFC CHENGDU WorldCon in 2023
Chinese: http://www.worldconinchina.com/
Twitter: Chengduworldcon
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Chengdu for 2023

MEMPHIS IN 2023

Memphis in 2023
Memphis in 2023

Proposed Site: Memphis, TN
Proposed Dates: August 23-27, 2023
Bid Leadership: Cliff Dunn and Kate Secor
Website: Memphis in 2023
Twitter: Memphis in 2023
Facebook: Memphis in 2023
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Memphis for 2023

2024

GLASGOW IN 2024

Proposed Site: Glasgow, Scotland
Proposed Dates: August 8-12, 2024
Bid Chair: Esther MacCallum-Stewart
Website: Glasgow in 2024
Facebook: Glasgow in 2024
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Glasgow for 2024

2025

BRISBANE IN 2025

Proposed Site: Brisbane, Australia
Proposed Date: Mid-August 2025
Bid chairs: Devin Madson and Leife Shallcross

Website: Australia 2025

Twitter: Australia 2025: Brisbane bid for Worldcon (@aus2025)

SEATTLE IN 2025

Proposed Site: Seattle, WA
Proposed Date: Mid-August 2025
Bid chair: Kathy Bond
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Seattle2025/
Twitter: Seattle2025

SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Seattle for 2025

2026

JEDDICON IN 2026

Proposed Site: Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Proposed Date: To Be Determined, 2026
Bid chair: Yasser M. Bahjatt
Facebook: JeddiCon (created for the 2022 bid)
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Jeddah for 2026

LOS ANGELES IN 2026

Proposed Site: Anaheim, Long Beach, or Los Angeles, CA
Proposed Date: August 2026
Bid chair: Joyce Lloyd
Facebook:
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: LA for 2026

NICE, FRANCE IN 2026

Proposed Site: Nice-Côte d’Azur, France
Proposed Date: August 12-16, 2026

Bid chairs: Ugo Bellagamba, Pascale Chabrillat-Trahin
Website: Nice2023 (created for 2023 bid)

Facebook: Nice2023
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Nice for 2026

ORLANDO IN 2026

Proposed Site: Orlando, FL
Proposed Date: Early to mid-August 2026

Bid chair: Adam Beaton
SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Orlando for 2026

2027

TEL AVIV IN 2027

Proposed Site: Tel Aviv, Israel
Proposed Date: August 2027
Bid chair: Gadi Evron

SMOFCon 37-1/4 Questionnaire: Tel Aviv for 2027


Ready Nominator One: Best Video Game Special Hugo Award Category Announced for 2021

DisCon III, the 79th Worldcon, announced today that a special Hugo Award category for “Best Video Game” will be included in the 2021 Hugo Awards.

The Hugo Awards — the oldest and most prestigious awards in speculative fiction, presented first in 1953 and annually since 1955 — honor the field’s literature and media as well as the genre’s fans. The awards are voted on by members of each year’s Worldcon.

“Since early 2020, many of us have spent more time gaming than we ever expected. This award will offer fans an opportunity to celebrate the games that have been meaningful, joyful, and exceptional over this past year,” DisCon III co-chair Colette Fozard said. “Video games draw from the same deeply creative well that has fed science fiction and fantasy writing and art for so many years. This innovative and interactive genre has brought us new ways of story-telling as well as new stories to tell and we are glad to honor them.”

There is no permanent Hugo Award category to recognize this interactive form of storytelling with which so many fans of the genre create and engage. A trial Best Interactive Video Game Hugo Award was attempted in 2006. Since that time, science fiction and fantasy video games have continued to evolve and generate intense interest from both reviewers and the wider fan community.

The DisCon III committee has chosen to create this special category for 2021 only, as provided for by the rules of the World Science Fiction Society. The Hugo Study Committee is also considering Best Game or Interactive Experience as a potential permanent category.

An eligible work for the 2021 special Hugo award is any game or substantial modification of a game first released to the public on a major gaming platform in the previous calendar year in the fields of science fiction, fantasy, or related subjects. 

For these purposes, a game is defined as a work wherein player choice, interaction, or participation significantly impacts the narrative, play, meaning, or experience. A major gaming platform means that the game is available on personal computers such as Windows, Mac, or Linux computers (including, but not limited to, via Steam, Epic, itch.io, browser, or direct download), iOS, Android, Switch, PlayStation, and/or Xbox systems. This definition will be provided as part of the nominating and voting ballots. 

The DisCon III committee expressed appreciation to Ira Alexandre and the Games Hugo Subcommittee of the Hugo Study Committee for their work in gathering the necessary data and evidence to support the creation of this special award. (An earlier version of Alexandre’s idea was discussed in their 2019 File 770 post “A Hugo Award for Best Game or Interactive Experience”.)

Members of CoNZealand and DisCon III as of December 31, 2020 are eligible to nominate works for the 2021 Hugo Awards, including for the special category Best Video Game. Nominations open in early 2021. Only members of DisCon III are eligible to vote on the final ballot. More information on the Hugo Awards is available at The Hugo Awards official site.

Register for DisCon III here. Follow the con on Twitter at @worldcon2021.

[Based on a press release.]

DisCon III Membership Update

DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Washington DC from August 25-29, 2021, has released their latest membership numbers.

With ten months until the convention, they have 2,170 total members distributed over the following categories:

Adult Attending — 1468 

YA — 34

Child — 8

Kid-in-Tow — 4

Household — 8

Attending total — 1535

Supporting — 635 

Total memberships — 2170

[Thanks to Adam Beaton for the story.]

What’s Happening with 2021 Worldcon Facilities

Colette Fozard and Bill Lawhorn, chairs of DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, updated fans about the status of their facilities in the convention’s October newsletter [PDF file]:

As you can imagine, we have uncertainty related to the Coronavirus but planning and activities continue. The status of the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel is unclear. Litigation between the owners was filed 2 September and settled at the end of September. At the start of October, Marriott filed a lawsuit against one of the entities that owns the hotel. What a mess! The hotel itself does not have an official statement at this time, and we are in close touch. Our Facilities team does have the room blocks for both the Marriott and the Omni Shoreham set up, and our current plan is to release those in January 2021.

In June, the Marriott Wardman Park hotel ownership notified the workers’ union of its intention to potentially close the hotel permanently. The facility has been shuttered since March due to the coronavirus outbreak.

According to the Wikipedia, (citing the Washington Business Journal article “Marriott sues Wardman Park hotel owner, alleging a lack of investment in the property”, behind a paywall):

On October 6, 2020, Marriott sued Pacific Life (which now owned 80% of the property) and JBG Smith (which owned 20%). Marriott claimed the two companies were intentionally failing to invest contractually obligated capital in the hotel, in order to force the property to close, so they could redevelop the land as a high-end residential property, even though Marriott had a contract to manage the hotel through 2029, followed by three automatic 10-year extensions.

So if DisCon III can’t use the Marriott, they presently have space reserved in the nearby Omni Shoreham.  

Chengdu Worldcon Bid Announces Ambassadors

The Chengdu in 2023 Worldcon bid named four new ambassadors in conjunction with a book launch held in Shenzhen in late September.

One is Emily X. Jin, a Yale University East Asian Languages and Literature PhD student, and sff translator. She tweeted that the occasion was the launch of The Search for Philip K. Dick, her translation, and the first-ever PKD biography in Chinese.

Jin, Dr. Rafaela Yilun Fan (chief editor of the book) , sf scholar Fan Zhang, writer Yang Liu, and Guibing Ma, founder of the Shenzhen Scifi Development Fund, all received their Chengdu Bid Ambassadors Certificates.

Fan Zhang is the founder and director of Fishing Fortress SF Center in Chongqing, China. He got his Ph.D. in science fiction studies from Beijing Normal University and MFA in creative writing from Fudan University. The Center was officially established on December 28, 2019 at the School of Communication of Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications.

Example of ambassador appointment document.