Crystal Huff Resigns as Co-Chair of Worldcon 75

Crystal Huff, who spent years working to bring the Worldcon to Helsinki and, after they won the bid for 2017, became co-chair of Worldcon 75, resigned today citing the need to give family and career priority. She will continue working on the con in another role.

The committee responded on Twitter:

[Thanks to Mark-kitteh for the story.]

24 thoughts on “Crystal Huff Resigns as Co-Chair of Worldcon 75

  1. How much time does it take to chair world on? Especially this far out. should this really need to be what sounds like an unpaid full time job? Its a 4 day event.

  2. Guess: How much time does it take to chair world on? Especially this far out. should this really need to be what sounds like an unpaid full time job? Its a 4 day event.

    It’s a 5-day event, and it’s 9 months away. Being a Worldcon concom member is a hugely time-intensive job, and being one of the two main co-chairs is indeed pretty much a full-time job.

    If you’re genuinely interested in understanding how much time it takes to chair a worldcon, there are resources available.

  3. JJ: If you’re genuinely interested in understanding how much time it takes to chair a worldcon, there are resources available.

    Why yes, I am! 😉

  4. Mike Glyer: Why yes, I am!

    I tried looking for them. It looks as though the original handbook by Noreascon is no longer available (either on the web or in the Wayback Machine), and a website has been started which uses that handbook as a starting point, but it is not very far along yet.

    I imagine if we send out a Kevin Standlee Signal that he will be happy to point to those resources when he has the time to do so. I’m pretty sure that he’s posted links to them here on File770 in the past, in response to Puppy complaints about Worldcon, but some searching on my part did not turn up any of those posts.

    If you have fancy-schmancy godstalk-searching rights for all posts by a given user e-mail, you may be able to find what I couldn’t. 🙂

    ETA: I just found this. I knew I had seen it out there somewhere.

  5. JJ: There have been a couple well-known attempts to capture the knowledge of running Worldcons. Ross Pavlac launched a project in the 1980s under the aegis of the Business Meeting which accumulated over 150 pages of material and (so I recall) had an interim mimeo edition, and there was George Scithers’ fabulously antique The Con-committee Chairman’s Guide (written after Discon I in 1963). I remember how those of us trying to rescue Nolacon II’s program in 1988 laughed til the tears ran when it was pointed out to us that Scithers had written, “For the Discon, we set up most of the convention program in July, which seemed early enough to us.” Discon I set up its one-track program about six weeks before Labor Day. Nolacon II was expected to have around a dozen simultaneous offerings in most program slots, and we had about the same amount of time.

  6. @Guess: From my own limited (and very dated) experience of helping to organise and run much smaller SF Cons and other events such as Beer Festivals, (as well as workplace events) I can well imagine that it’s something like a full time job even this far out.

    Yes, it’s a 5-day event, but most vaguely comparable events in Mundania run for “working” hours only, have one, or maybe two parallel, programme/event streams, and are staffed by paid professionals in professionally adequate numbers.

    A Worldcon, by contrast, may have approaching a dozen simultaneous parallel programme streams and other installations (Dealers’ Room(s), Art Show), some of which may run activities close to, if not beyond, midnight. So in terms of programme items, it’s an order of magnitude larger and, since a lot of it requires intercoordination, more complex, and it’s organised and run by (always too few) unpaid volunteers (some of whom may well have professional levels of experience and competence, but they’re still volunteers).

  7. Co-Chairing the 2002 Worldcon was a significant drain on my life. It also badly affected my Day Jobbe, resulting in a (relatively) poor management evaluation, contrasting with the following year when my manager (the same one who had downgraded me the previous year) said, “We got the old Kevin back!”

    I estimate that I devoted about ten years to what became the 2002 Worldcon, in bidding and helping organize it. My own out-of-pocket (not-reimbursed) expenses probably were on the order of $50,000. A small part of that was tax-deductible in a couple of years, but that’s less of a benefit than one might think. (Among other things, you have to have enough other itemized deductions to make it worthwhile, which I rarely have had.)

    Chairing a Worldcon is a very expensive hobby. Worldcons are among the most complicated all-volunteer (i.e. no paid staff at all) events I know of. (There are bigger and more complicated events that depend mostly upon volunteers, but they all have a core of paid full time staff, and many of them are ongoing events, rather than enormous million-dollar-gross-revenue one-shot conventions like Worldcon.)

  8. @Guess: To get more specific: managing a Worldcon is not like running a corporation; it’s more like herding a very large number of cats, some of them somewhere on the autism spectrum and many of them with very specific ideas about what a Worldcon should be or done that the last few weren’t or didn’t. Some people work just because it’s more fun making things happen than watching things happen; others work because of a chance to get their particular vision realized — but that vision may have to be tweaked to get it to not actively collide with some other part of the the convention. A chair can swan about letting everything happen randomly, or try to provide a central perspective that division managers don’t always have, or get involved with a lot of decisions, or demand that every decision go through them. It’s particularly time-consuming because of the spread-out management of current Worldcons; in 1980 the division managers were all in the same city and could do a lot of planning in person, but these days a lot more has to be in writing so enough people can be party to it. (Writing takes time, even if you have a voice-to-text program.)

  9. Tasha Turner: Sad to hear this. I know Worldcon 75 has been an important part of her life for years including much travel, planning, and energy.

    It must be an absolutely gutting decision for her. I know how I would feel to spend 4 intense years of time and work and love on a huge project, and then have to step away from it shortly before it all comes to fruition. 😐

    I hope that she is still able to participate at a level that gives her some satisfaction in a job well done.

  10. I’ve been involved in parties for 400 persons for three days and the amount of time for that was staggering. 10-20 times more people, an enormous amount events and panels, so many people with questions and so many workers that have to get along, and so many contacts to meet in different countries?

    Guess asks if it really would need to be a full time job. I would be surprised if there would be less than 5 people putting in time enough for it to be a full time job and 10 more for a half time. Perhaps not for four years, but definitely the last half year.

    This is pure guess work from my side though.

  11. I guess you could call my position (banquet manager) a “department head” in today’s parlance. I started working on that worldcon (’77) about a year before it was held.

    I spent four extra days at the convention site (two pre, two post) and, other than sharing a total collapse with everyone left on the last day, my at con hours were pretty much 20-22 per day, for 6+ days running.

    I spent pretty much a couple of hours every afternoon, and most days of the weekends prior to the con, working on the con. I was a student and could more easily afford the hours (by neglecting “unimportant” school work); anyone with a full time job they had to handle properly (like most on the committee) would get home from work, grab a quick bite and get down to working on the con 5/6 pm till midnight or later.

    Weekend meetings, which were held at least once a month (but actually more frequently) took up the entire weekend between travel and meeting.

    That was in ’77. We had multi-track programming. We did not have a (mostly) geographically) distributed committee. Most of the folks working on the con had years and years and years of experience and things were generally smaller and slower back then.

    Working on Worldcon, much less chairing one, is MORE than a full time job. You are sitting in a place of supreme responsibility, handling people with kid gloves (because everyone is a volunteer AND everyone is emotionally invested in doing a good job and making their mark). You get no pay, no benefits; you’re building a spectacular happening that you know, up front, you will actually MISS most of and, your only real satisfaction afterwards (for months if not years) is receiving small praise from friends who were there, and listening/reading to the (legitimate) bitch fest afterwards.

    If you question “why”, there is a level of FIAWOL that you’ve just not achieved in your personal life.

  12. “… it’s more like herding a very large number of cats, some of them somewhere on the autism spectrum and many of them with very specific ideas about what a Worldcon should be or done that the last few weren’t or didn’t.”

    This sounds…oddly familiar. Just swap in a certain large organization of F&SF writers for “Worldcon”.

    Crystal has put huge amounts of time into the Helsinki Worldcon already and I’m sure it will be awesome; I’m looking forward to attending; Finland will be the high point of next year’s travel for me, I think.

  13. Mike Glyer on November 19, 2016 at 3:13 pm said:

    Why yes, I am! 😉

    You’re not just a resource, Mike, you’re an on-line resource. Interactive, even. Though perhaps not as well indexed or as quickly searchable as some might like. 😀

    Definitely sad to hear this. It must have been a tough decision for her. I’m sure we’re all grateful for the hard work she’s put in so far. (I know I am, even though I’m not going to be able to attend.) But sometimes life happens.

  14. @JJ Kevin Standlee is currently too busy trying to ensure that any excitement about the YA award is strangled by red tape to be able to respond to your signal.

    Where are your priorities? There is a real risk of new blood feeling encouraged to come into the system – and we can’t have that!

  15. @Cat Rambo: Why am I not surprised? There have always been writers who came over from fandom (cf the Futurians) — and getting a story out the door does not select for equanimity. I asked some years ago, in response to complaints about bad manners from writers, whether there was any other profession so concentratedly solitary; the one answer I got was “theoretical mathematician”.

  16. Note also that Kevin was chairing a Worldcon less than a day’s drive from his house, and in the same time zone; I’d imagine doing it for something on another continent, with long/expensive travel and a several time zone difference would be even another order of magnitude.

  17. Alex on November 20, 2016 at 4:15 pm said:

    Kevin Standlee is currently too busy trying to ensure that any excitement about the YA award is strangled by red tape to be able to respond to your signal.

    You misspelled, “Rules are to be ignored whenever they are inconvenient to me.”

    Also, I’ve expressed no opinion whatsoever about the merits of the YA Award, nor will I do so unless it should come down to my vote as Chairman affecting the result. I only have said that no single WSFS Business Meeting is allowed to suspend the WSFS Constitution, by any vote whatsoever, even a unanimous one. The Business Meeting could always overturn that ruling by majority vote, and no matter how I ruled on the subject, I expect that it would be debated one way or the other. (Unless the proponents find a way to evade the procedural hurdle by splitting the concept of a new award from a specific name for that award, which would be perfectly legal.)

    My desire to enforce the rules of the World Science Fiction Society as they are written has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the YA Award proposal, or with new blood, or anything of that nature. What I’ve decided to rule is that a single WSFS Business Meeting is not allowed to write blank checks to their successors, no matter what the subject is, and no matter how popular the proposal is, and even if I personally wrote the wording of the original proposal.

    Lurkertype on November 20, 2016 at 6:53 pm said:

    Note also that Kevin was chairing a Worldcon less than a day’s drive from his house, and in the same time zone….

    In fact, because I hadn’t yet moved to Nevada, I lived less than twenty miles from the site of the convention. Even when I bought the house in Nevada (the day after the 2011 Worldcon in Reno), it was still farther away from the convention site that year than my apartment in Fremont was from the San José Convention Center.

  18. Hello Crystal!

    I an so grateful for all the work you have put in. We shall praise you and cover you in finnish candy at WorldCon. And Moomins.

  19. “terribly dated” — that’s one way of putting it. Long-ago recollection is that he advises having several different brands of cigarettes available at bid parties….

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