Memphis Worldcon Bidders: Won’t Run Retros If They Win; Address Diversity and Inclusion Policies

Memphis in 2023
Memphis in 2023

The Memphis in 2023 Worldcon bid chairs Kate Secor and Cliff Dunn have posted a statement about their plans for averting some of the high profile controversies that overshadowed the recently completed Worldcon: “Our Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion”. The full statement is at the link.

Given recent circumstances, now that CoNZealand has (officially) closed we feel that a well-though-out response is merited to questions asked of us over the last few days. We have chosen this format to try and respond in full; to quote a mutual friend, you can’t tweet nuance.

RETRO HUGOS. The 2023 Worldcon will have the choice to award the 1948 Retro Hugos; Memphis won’t exercise that option.

The easiest question to answer is whether or not we intend to run Retro Hugo Awards: No, we do not. While we understand that some family members very much appreciate getting Hugos for the work their parents (or grandparents) did, the reaction to the Retros has been increasingly mixed. On balance, we therefore believe it is time to move on from these, at least for the time being.

CODE OF CONDUCT. The Memphis bidders describe ways they would use their Code of Conduct as part of their answer to the question, “What do you intend to do to make marginalized people comfortable at your convention?”

Beyond communicating the Code of Conduct to staff, panelists, emcees and guests of honor, they say —

…Most importantly, for major speakers and guests (e.g., ToastPerson for the Hugos, and Guests of Honor), we intend to have a serious discussion with them well in advance of their events to ensure that they are comfortable with the Code of Conduct and that any questions are answered. We will do our best to vet any remarks which are to be delivered at major convention events in advance.

More to the point, if we cannot come to an understanding with a guest or speaker regarding the Code of Conduct, then we will not put that guest in a position where they feel they cannot comply with it. If we are sent an advance recording of non-compliant remarks, we will either edit them, or we simply won’t run the remarks.

As to “live” material –

…While we intend to be proactive (see above), we know that the odds are good that we will have to respond. So we intend to communicate the consequences for breaking the Code of Conduct as well. These may include, depending on the exact circumstances (i.e. seriousness of the breach, whether it was or seems to be premeditated, etc.), anything from a reprimand, to the premature termination of a speaking opportunity, to removal from programming and/or the convention.

PROGRAMMING. Doubtless with the “Statement of 2020 Hugo Finalists re: Worldcon Programming” and similar criticisms in mind, Secor and Dunn also say —

We intend to be as proactive and attentive as we can be regarding the makeup of panels and making sure that panelists are not “miscast” out of the blue or placed with people they know they do not get along with. We will also do our best to ensure that a broad range of topics are covered, and to work with various marginalized groups to ensure that their views are represented.


Memphis, TN (USA) and Chengdu, China are the two declared bids to host the 2023 Worldcon.

168 thoughts on “Memphis Worldcon Bidders: Won’t Run Retros If They Win; Address Diversity and Inclusion Policies

  1. JJ on August 20, 2020 at 7:15 am said:

    I would be very surprised if there wasn’t a great deal of debate behind the scenes for Worldcon 76 and Dublin 2019, as well, as to whether the Retro Hugos should be held.

    As Worldcon 76’s WSFS division manager, I can confirm that there were indeed many such discussions. The discussion were, as I recall, held jointly with Dublin, not in isolation from each other.

    Cora Buhlert on August 20, 2020 at 7:21 am said:

    @Kevin Standlee: You really do want me to organise a bid for BremCon or OLCon, do you?

    Considering how many people think that both the USA and China are Evil and that no US site should ever host another Worldcon ever again no matter what and no matter who is the President of the USA, you might get a whole lot more votes than you think.

    Chip Hitchcock on August 20, 2020 at 7:55 am said:

    (It’s also not clear to me that Kevin is in the bid committee, rather than being pre-promised to a convention task; maybe he’ll elucidate.)

    The second; I am not a member of the bid committee although I am a Friend of the Bid. I think; I need to go check. (So many bids, so little memory.) I agreed to run their WSFS division if they still want me to do so, and so far they have said that they do.

    I think we’d get better Worldcons if committees formed up and told us who they expected to run major parts of the convention and what policies they planned to have. Similarly, I think US presidential elections would be better if candidates said who they expected to name as their cabinet secretaries.

    Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little on August 20, 2020 at 1:03 pm said:

    Intriguing. This would produce something like a Retro-Hugos Reading List, which would encourage the sort of reflection and discussion and discovery that Cora has worked so hard to promote, without that final vote that so often comes across like a great big “Nah” in response to all that work.

    And note that any Worldcon could do that, regardless of whether there had been Hugo Awards presented N years ago, because this wouldn’t actually be the Hugo Awards and therefore not subject to all of the regulations that apply to them. However, they’d probably have to be careful with the wording to avoid giving the impression that actual Hugo Awards were going to be presented from such a process.

  2. Could the Retro vote be shifted to not be synchronous with the Hugo vote? I really like the idea of the Retros and wouldn’t mind reading some historic SF, but when there are also the 5-6 Hugo-finalist novels, 5-6 more related works, and a pile of shorter fiction, getting around to the Retro reading just never happens. If the vote took place in say, November, it might be more likely. Then the winners could be announced well before Worldcon, and the Worldcon presence would just be a panel or two, with no ceremony held (or just a small one for any descendants who attend?).

    This would make life more complicated for the admins, though, with two separate schedules for nomination + voting.

  3. Wow! Where to start. Let’s see…

    @Hampus Eckerman: My first draft said “dead white folks”. I thought that might not make it clear enough that I meant to include women, so I changed it to “dead white men (and women)”. I wanted to make sure the word “women” was there, explicitly, so the discussion wouldn’t get side-tracked. And the very first response I get, from you, quotes where I said “women”, and then accuses me of trying to make women invisible! I honestly don’t know how to respond to that.

    @rcade: Despite what you seem to think, I am (still) neutral, but, I’m only hearing one side here. I raised some possible issues the other side might have, to see if those could be addressed. I still hold out hope that my questions might get answered, but that hope is fading fast. White folks men (and women), amiright?

    @Cora Buhlert: Yes, yes, #NotAllMen, er, #NotAll1940sEditors. But that doesn’t change the fact that outright racists like Lovecraft and Campbell are still getting on the ballot. And it’s still an honor just to be nominated, so it’s small consolation they didn’t win.

    That said, of all the people defending the retros, you are the one I’m most sympathetic towards. I understand your hurt. I don’t want to diminish it. But at the same time, I cannot assign that hurt the same weight that I do towards the hurt people are feeling as we continue to celebrate monsters who don’t even consider them human! I wish I could see a way that nobody gets hurt, but so far, I can’t.

    @Olav Rockne: I’m glad you’ve arguing to keep racism and such off the ballot, but you aren’t being entirely successful. And I never said “all 1940s editors/writers”, so “hashtag NotAll1940sEditors” isn’t a rebuttal to what I said. I seriously thought this crowd would be beyond the #NotAllMen-style arguments.

    @All: I want to say again that I am not opposed to the retros! I am (probably foolishly) simply trying to look at both sides in a forum that seems to be heavily weighted towards one side. I live in a country where a racist president is sending in troops to attack people protesting police brutality and murder directed at PoC. I may be white, but I have friends, lovers, and close relatives who are PoC. I have a really hard time ignoring racism and its toxic effects! Especially right now.

    I’m sorry if some of you feel I’m ignoring your legitimate concerns. That is not my intent. The fact that I want racism to be part of the discussion does not mean I think it should be the whole of the discussion. But I do think it should be part of the discussion, and I will not apologize for that.

  4. It occurs to me that a significant proportion of the people who are nominating in the Retro Hugos are commenting here. There were only 120 nominating ballots this year, so just Cora, Olav and myself represent 2.5% of those.
    I do think that using the same categories for the Retro Hugos as for the current ones is a mistake. The dramatic presentation split into long and short forms doesn’t work, maybe split it into film and other forms. Also best magazine would be more appropriate to the era than the editor awards.
    I also like the idea of nominations only. Perhaps a non-Hugo award could be given to whatever tops the nominations in each category. Also, of course, not being a Hugo the con would be completely free to set whatever categories they wanted to.

  5. Cora Buhlert: And it’s perfectly fine not to care about the Retro Hugos, cause no one is obliged to care. But what’s not okay is paying zero attention to Retro Hugos and then complaining about the results.

    I have to agree with this. It’s like my grandfather used to say: if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain about who won.

  6. @Stuart: I nominated and voted too, which means at least 3.33% of the total nominations received are from people in this conversation.

  7. ….the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government….
    Would it not in that case be simpler
    for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another? – from Bertolt Brecht’s “Die Losung”, after the East German Communist government put down the popular uprising of 1953

    So, the Memphis WorldCon chairs doesn't like the use of free democratic voting in awards if they disagree with the outcomes. Perhaps convention membership rules should now have revision so that ideological credentials be presented and evaluated by the con com before memberships are sold to fans and pros.
    No, this isn't an attack from the Right. Most of my opinions are decidedly left of center, but my hero is socialist George Orwell, not Josef Stalin. This nonsense in the SFF world has got to stop. If you don't like the outcome of a vote, suck it up, and don't try to play games with it. When the next vote is held, state your case why you think someone or their work should or should not be supported. Make your case in the marketplace of ideas. A literary convention is the last place where thought police should be deployed, and free voting canceled. Unfortunately, the tribalism and ideological extremist feuding in SFF show that the Horseshoe Theory of the Political Spectrum has sadly overflowed from our poisoned civic world to the Worldcon:

    from Wikipedia: “In political science and popular discourse, the horseshoe theory asserts that the far-left and the far-right, rather than being at opposite and opposing ends of a linear political continuum, closely resemble one another, analogous to the way that the opposite ends of a horseshoe are close together. The theory is attributed to French philosopher and writer Jean-Pierre Faye. Proponents of the theory point to a number of similarities between the far-left and the far-right, including their supposed propensity to gravitate to authoritarianism or totalitarianism.”
    It’s amusing that this is the same crowd that calls Robert Heinlein a fascist writer. I always think of him as the guy who said that whenever anyone in a position of power says this you may not see, this you may not read, no matter how well meaning the rationalizing might be, the end result is tyranny.

    If and when, as is likely, Trump continues to tamper with the election this fall, and then loses it and refuses to accept the outcome as legitimate, these same social justice poseurs will be the first to cry foul, and will look like hypocrites for it. Let the people of the SFF world vote!

  8. @amk:

    Could the Retro vote be shifted to not be synchronous with the Hugo vote? I really like the idea of the Retros and wouldn’t mind reading some historic SF, but when there are also the 5-6 Hugo-finalist novels, 5-6 more related works, and a pile of shorter fiction, getting around to the Retro reading just never happens. If the vote took place in say, November, it might be more likely.

    Nominations couldn’t open until the “membership merge” between the outgoing and current Worldcons was completed so as to determine who is eligible to nominate, so that’s a hard limit on how early they could open.

    Also it wouldn’t personally help me much with the reading load because I usually spend end-of-year until Hugo nominations close catching up on everything that comes highly recommended (via File 770, the Locus list, Nebula nominations, Asimov’s/Analog reader awards, etc.) that I didn’t get to yet. (Although I did try to make time this year for a couple books (Sirius, City) that were Retro eligible and on my extended TBR anyway.) The real sweet spot I think would be something like September to December, and see above for the problems with that.

  9. Memphis might consider administering a not-a-Hugo award — call it the Retro-Gernsback — which is just like a Hugo except for the name and that having previously won a Hugo or Retro-Hugo automatically disqualifies a person or work from eligibility.
    That would keep Campbell, Ackerman, Asimov, Heinlein, and the Cthulhu Mythos from being an issue.

    Or, alternatively, they might decide that their authority to administer the Hugo awards (see WSFS Constitution sec 2.1) inherently includes the ability to disqualify certain works and individuals in the best interest of the awards (I think this would not be a good solution, but others may disagree).

  10. As a newbie to all this, I want to commend the exchange of thoughts, feelings, and ideas by this group. It seems Xtifr has the best summary of the challenges and problems and possible solutions. If there were an easy fix, I am convinced a committee would have already decided the issue. May this group continue to stay active and civil.

  11. @K It seems to me that the committee telling us in advance they are not going to run the Retro Hugos (which are presented at the committee’s discretion, as per the WSFS Constitution– they are not a requirement) is more democratic than not telling us until they have won the bid. You can make an informed choice.

  12. K: So, the Memphis WorldCon chairs doesn’t like the use of free democratic voting in awards if they disagree with the outcomes.

    Wow, you really need to work on your reading comprehension.

    The Memphis bidcom has said that they think the pros of running Retro Hugos are outweighed by the cons, and thus they’re not going to hold Retro Hugos.

    Worldcon is an event put on by a social club, not a sovereign country, and “free voting” has not been “cancelled”.

     
    K: whenever anyone in a position of power says this you may not see, this you may not read, no matter how well meaning the rationalizing might be, the end result is tyranny.

    No one is forbidding or preventing anyone from seeing or reading anything. Your melodramatic hyperbole is hilarious. 😀

  13. First of all, if there is a German Worldcon bid, it won’t be a rush job for 2023, but for 2026 or beyond. Also, I put out BremCon or OlCon, because both cities have facilities that could handle a Worldcon (Oldenburg’s convention centre can handle 10000 people, Bremen’s at least twice that) and because I know the facilities well. However, both cities also have drawbacks such as no airport with overseas flights and Oldenburg would have issues with the hotel capacity as well. So if there is a German Worldcon bid, it would likely be for a city with good facilities (lots of those) and an airport with overseas connections, which narrows the possibilities down to a handful of places.

    @Olav Rokne
    Glad someone likes North Germany, since most people only focus on the Southern half and Berlin. Anyway, if travel is safe again and you ever come my way, feel free to drop by.

    Also, the vast majority of people pointing out they felt hurt and unwelcome by repeated references to Lovecraft and Campbell were referring to the 2020 Hugo ceremony (where the repeated references to Campbell and Lovecraft were indeed highly inappropriate), not the Retro Hugos which were awarded two days before. All of those who did complain about the Retro Hugo winners they disagreed with were white.

    Also, H.P. Lovecraft will never win a Retro Hugo again. Lovecraft died in 1937 and by the mid 1940s, August Derleth had dug up every unpublished story or fragment by Lovecraft and published them. And the Lovecraft acolytes and writers playing in his sandbox won’t produce another 240000 words by 1947 for the Cthulhu Mythos to requalify.

    Campbell will continue to be eligible, which is why it’s important to point out the good work editors not named Campbell were doing.

    Also, Xtifr, I fail to see what the shitshow the US has turned into has to do with an award presented at a convention in New Zealand or indeed with me or Hampus or Olav or rcade, since none of us are Americans. And anyway, I’m through arguing with you. If you feel that the mere interest in older SFF is so offensive that people shouldn’t be exposed to it, I can’t help you.

  14. @Heather Rose Jones

    As an (amateur) historian, I know better than to think that historic persistence of visibility has anything to do with objective significance.

    Denying that visibility has anything to do with significance seems a stretch.

  15. Xtifr on August 20, 2020 at 3:11 pm said:

    If you’re going to wildly misrepresent what I said, you could at least spell my name right.

  16. (I know I owe replies from the beginning of the month but I’ve more or less been sleeping since then – I’ll try and get to them, I swear!!)

    @bill

    There is a difference between “remaining in the public eye for a long period of time is generally a mark of quality” and “remaining in the public eye for a long period time makes a work/body of work superior to anything which did not” and you’ve been arguing, intentionally or otherwise, pretty close to the latter. I doubt that you’d be getting nearly as much pushback if you’d stuck wholly to the former.

    Of course, the former is a defence of something appearing on the ballot and not a defence of someone winning, since it acknowledges the possibility of the existence of other marks of quality of equal significance, and thus would not suit your purposes.

  17. @bill–

    Because the Chinese are mean to Uighurs.

    Because China is engaged in genocide against the Uighurs, and that’s just one example of the kind of repressive, brutal, totalitarian regime that runs China.

  18. …and the fake endorsement of the Chengdu bid which was attributed to one of the DisCon III co-chairs certainly gives an early indication of what sort of governmental control and disinformation would be exercised over the content of a Worldcon in China.

  19. If people want other categories or only voting for finalists for the Retro-Hugos, that means going through the whole business meeting hullabaloo, as it would mean change in the constitution. The chaos that would create would suck enormous amounts of energy and I don’t see it as very realistic.

    What I see as more realistic is to skip the parts that sucks the most energy from administrators. I.e the ceremony and the trophies. Giving the results in a printed newsletter during the convention and then having panels discussing the finalists as a block would be a place to bring in larger discussions about racism and sexism.

  20. “…and the fake endorsement of the Chengdu bid which was attributed to one of the DisCon III co-chairs…”

    What did I miss now?

  21. Hampus Eckerman: What did I miss now?

    William Lawhorn, chairman of the 2021 Washington Worldcon, also encouraged Chengdu’s bid. He hopes the Worldcon can expand its scope of influence to farther places on earth. “After all, only by hosting at different places each time, the world-class convention can be diverse and the sci-fi family can be enlarged.” Lawhorn said, “We need Chengdu, China to become a part of our world sci-fi family.”

    William Lawhorn: The script used for the welcome by Colette and I was:

    B: Ni hao
    C: I’m Colette
    B: and I’m Bill
    C: and we’re the cochairs of Discon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention
    B: We wish to welcome the fans of Chengdu to the Worldcon family.
    C: Have a great convention

    Chengdu Bid Committee Officially Established to Facilitate Worldcon 2023 Bid

  22. Meredith — if that’s how my posts have come across, then I’ve phrased them poorly. I’ve been responding to the idea, expressed several times by several people, that Campbell gets nominated because he always got nominated; that he is famous now because he was famous then; that we only think he was a good editor because Astounding could pay more; and various reasons other than “We know him now because he did good work then.”

    To me, these sound like post-hoc justifications for discounting his work, in order to elevate others from that era. He did revolutionary work then, was the best editor of the 1940s, and it would be amazing if we didn’t know who he was today.

    @Lis Carey — the question was phrased simplistically, and I answered in kind. Obviously my post was far too short to convey the depths of what the Chinese government has done to the Uighurs; that would take a book.

  23. Damn. I’ve been thinking about problems with the Retro Hugos and what to do about them since the Dublin Worldcon. I was hoping I would get a chance to finish writing up the proposal I’ve been working on so that I could circulate it as a whole for comments rather than putting it out piecemeal. But since we’re discussing the topic now, let me share some excerpts from the notes I have on how we could better honor past work if we were to decide to discontinue the Retro Hugos in their current form.

    Issues with the Current Retro Hugos

    This list of issues with the current Retro Hugos is a combination of thoughts that I’ve had and some of the comments I’ve heard from others:

    1) They involve a lot of time and expense for the Worldcon putting them on, especially for the Hugo Administrators.
    2) They are an all-or-nothing thing for a given year: either a Worldcon decides to host all the Retro-Hugo categories for a given year, or they won’t be revisited at all for another 25 years.
    3) Lots of Worldcon members don’t participate, compared with the regular Hugos.
    4) It’s a fair amount of effort or expense for many voters to track down all the finalists in a given category.
    5) They are tied to a specific anniversary year in a 25 year cycle.
    6) People vote for the one thing that is familiar, rather than thoroughly comparing finalists.
    7) It’s hard to track down reproduction rights to form a Hugo Packet.
    8) At 75 years, it’s hard to find representatives for whom the trophy is meaningful – lots of past Retro trophies are sitting in warehouses.
    9) Modern categories may not fit historical SFF consumption well.
    10) Retro Hugos don’t have the same prestige as regular Hugos.

    What Would We Need in a Different System to Honor Past Work?

    Suppose we were to pass and ratify a constitutional amendment discontinuing the current form of the Retro-Hugos at the 2021 and 2022 Worldcons. Would that be the end of attempts to honor unrecognized work from past years?

    It need not be. But I think that any replacement system must reckon with the central failure of the current Retro-Hugos, which is that they attempt to do too much in a single year. Trying to deal with a full second set of Hugo categories in addition to all the current year Hugo categories is a burden for voters and administrators alike, and means that few are able to devote the time to properly understand these works in their historical context. Thus the two key ideas that I would propose are to decouple historical awards from a specific anniversary year, and to host no more than one historical award category per year.

    These two ideas are related. Doing only a single historical category per year reduces the extra workload on voters and administrators dramatically. Breaking the link to a specific anniversary eliminates the current pressure on Worldcons to either host a full set of retro-Hugos for a given year or accept that no works from that year can be honored for another twenty five years at the earliest, when they will be even further away from the people to whom those works were most meaningful. Instead, the focus can shift to asking what historical categories, if any, are most ready and appropriate to be honored now.

    Outline of Proposal:

    I’m still working out details and looking for feedback, but the basic outline of the proposal I originally hoped to submit to the 2020 Business Meeting involved three constitutional changes:

    1) We officially decide to stop holding the Retro Hugos in their current form after 2020 (or maybe after 2022, if Chicago really wants to host them).

    2) Instead, we add a provision that would allow each Worldcon to optionally add a special Hugo category for works from a specified past year to the regular Hugos, similar to the current provision for trial categories in section 3.3.19 of the WSFS Constitution. If they elected to add such a category, it would be a special category in the regular Hugos, such as “Best Short Story of 1948” – no need for a separate ceremony or the expense of a separate base design. This would also address concern #10 above.

    3) Finally, we establish a new standing committee to propose and vet proposals for past year categories, so that future Worldcons will have a list of ripe proposals to choose from if they want to add a past year category. Two important criteria for them to consider in evaluating possible year/category combinations (suggested, not absolutely mandatory): (a): Can the Worldcon obtain the rights to distribute likely finalists in the Hugo Voter Packet, or otherwise make them available in an easily obtainable form, and (b): Is there a living person connected with the work who would appreciate having the trophy (and ideally, would show up to accept it)?

    These two criteria are related: the existence of such a person can aid in getting the rights for the packet. If the original artist is no longer alive, it could be a family representative, literary executor, or publisher. Having most/all finalists available in the Voter Packet would make it more likely that voters would read and compare all the works on their merits, instead of just voting for the one name they recognize.

    (I recently shared the above proposal outline in a twitter discussion with Hugo finalist Siobhan Carroll, who had her own similar proposals about the Retro Hugos – twitter discussion here and here.)

    I wish I’d had time to write this up more fully, but maybe the unfinished version makes it easier to incorporate feedback. What do others think?

  24. There’s of course the option to No Convention 2023 if we don’t want Worldcon in either place.

    In such a case, what would happen to the voting fee? That usually goes to the just voted in Worldcon, doesn’t it?

  25. @Cora: If there is a realistic posibility of a German worldconbid, the were exactly is not my first priority.
    But the north is as touristspot in Germany quite popular.
    Of course there is a good reason that the southern part is popular, but we don’t have to sell the north short.

    @JJ re Bills coment:
    Re: chinese worldcon and chinese fans. We have to seperate this. Chinese fans are absolutly welcome to worldcon. Fans from Saudi Arabia also, btw. (I would say that Yassar the head of their worldcon bid was good to have at worldcon, even if I can’t think I would ever visit this country) I don’t think that should be so controversal.

    It is mean to say that but at the moment if there was a serious bid against the USA in a democratic country, I would not call the USA the favorite here. Call me dramatic but I can see a future were fans would be discusing next year which country will be the leser evil. (Or 2020 can later this year give us a break and the world can look a bit better)
    I also think Chengdu will do better next year than Jeddah did and they could produce an interesting con. Not ignoring the huge problems that this bid has.

  26. Mouse3 on August 21, 2020 at 4:27 am said:

    There’s of course the option to No Convention 2023 if we don’t want Worldcon in either place.

    “None of the Above,” not “No Convention.”

    In such a case, what would happen to the voting fee? That usually goes to the just voted in Worldcon, doesn’t it?

    If None of the Above wins, then the Business Meeting attempts to decide who holds that convention. If they are unable to decide, then the committee of the following Worldcon makes the decision. (That’s the committee, not the membership of that following Worldcon. It’s the only case where a small select committee rather than the membership of WSFS picks the site of a Worldcon.)

    The words in the WSFS Constitution are:

    4.5.5: If “None of the Above” wins, or if two or more bids are tied for first place at the end of tallying, the duty of site selection shall devolve on the Business Meeting of the current Worldcon. If the Business Meeting is unable to decide by the end of the Worldcon, the Committee for the following Worldcon shall make the selection without undue delay.

    4.5.6: Where a site and Committee are chosen by a Business Meeting or Worldcon Committee following a win by “None of the Above,” they are not restricted by exclusion zone or other qualifications.

    None of this information is secret. The WSFS Constitution is online at the WSFS Rules web page.

    So if you don’t like any of the committees, you can vote for None of the Above and hope that the Business Meeting picks a committee you like. If you’re at that Worldcon, you can attend that meeting. The Business Meeting is allowed to pick any committee that filed a bid or anyone else. While the Business Meeting hasn’t selected a site since we went to advance voting, there was an analogous situation in 2011 with Westercon, where the Westercon Business Meeting was obliged to pick a site when the only filed bid failed to gain the necessary majority. That bid was among four groups that appeared before the meeting, but the meeting selected another group to hold the 2013 Westercon.

    Unlike Westercon, when the Worldcon Business Meeting picks a site, a simple majority (more than half the votes cast) is all that is needed to select a winner.

    I note that if the same percentage of the attending membership of a Worldcon were to show up at such a Site Selection Business Meeting as happened in San José at the 2011 Westercon, we would probably need to hold it in the largest available meeting space at the convention. Every time I’ve chaired a Worldcon Business Meeting, I’ve had contingency plans for the low-probability event, and I undoubtedly irritate Programming when I tell them about such plans. But in 2015 in Spokane, we had already had to move from Plan A (the Conference Theatre) to Plan B (the larger but not so nicely appointed room on the other side of the convention center), and I had plans C-D-E lined up if we’d exceeded the ~450 capacity of Plan B.

  27. The Weird Tales link disproves the claim Freas did no genre work in 1950, since that issue had a November 1950 cover date, but he might have needed three such works to qualify in Professional Artist. The WSFS Constitution includes this: “In the Best Professional Artist category, the acceptance should include citations of at least three (3) works first published in the eligible year.” (I say “might” because I don’t know if that requirement was there in 2001 when the 1951 Retro Hugos were held. I’m also not sure if that language requires three works for the acceptance to be valid.)

    This blogger says that cover was the first by Freas for Weird Tales.

  28. His New York Times obituary states, “His picture of a satyr on the cover of the November 1950 Weird Tales began 50 years of professional illustrating.” I looked at that issue to see if he did any interior work and found none. There wasn’t a December issue.

  29. A copy of the WSFS Constitution as of 2001 does not contain the language about citations. The Best Professional Artist section states, “An illustrator whose work has appeared in a professional publication in the field of science fiction or fantasy during the previous calendar year.”

    Looks like Freas did qualify for the 1951 Retro Hugo he received.

  30. @Dave Wallace
    I think that sounds really promising. As someone who hasn’t participated in the Retro Hugos mainly due to not having the time on top of current Hugos, I could definitely see myself participating in this. It really sounds like it would address a lot of the drawbacks.

  31. David Wallace:

    I’m very much against tying a category to the distribution of a Hugo package. It’s as if saying that a Novel should only be eligible for a Hugo if it was free. I’m also against caring if someone shows up or not, that’s even worse. As if only authors who bought memberships to a Worldcon would be eligible.

    I’m also slightly sceptical towards the whole idea, as only a single category per year would basically remove everything, but Best Novel. The category I care most about, Graphic Novels, would be more or less doomed under that proposal.

  32. One possible amendment for the Retro-Hugos would be to not host voting for finalists unless a minimum number of both nominators and nominees.

  33. I admit that the idea of Memphis over Labor Day

    Is this the date Memphis is proposing for their WorldCon? Surely not. That would put little WorldCon in direct competition with the massive DragonCon in Atlanta.

    I know WorldCon folk like to discount DragonCon, but if publishers, book buyers, fans and authors have to make a choice, which way will they go?

  34. Well, that’s too bad. In any case, two cons in two consecutive weeks is difficult.

  35. Dave Wallace on August 21, 2020 at 1:26 am said:

    Damn. I’ve been thinking about problems with the Retro Hugos and what to do about them since the Dublin Worldcon. I was hoping I would get a chance to finish writing up the proposal I’ve been working on so that I could circulate it as a whole for comments rather than putting it out piecemeal.

    I think that is an interesting proposal. I’m not sure about all aspects of it, particularly as I can see it magnifying one of the problems of the Retro Hugos by making the actual winner even more of a high profile/high status win by making the retro Hugo even more part of the regular Hugos.

    I do like the idea of just not doing all of the categories. It also means that WorldCons get a lot more choice of what to run, as a given past-year has many categories. A single focus on “what was the best short story of 194X” or “what was the best dramatic presentation of 194X” will generate more and wider discussion.

  36. @Hampus Eckerman

    One possible amendment for the Retro-Hugos would be to not host voting for finalists unless a minimum number of both nominators and nominees.

    They already have the discretion to do that:
    “Section 3.6: “No Award”. At the discretion of an individual Worldcon Committee, if the lack of nominations or final votes in a specific category shows a marked lack of interest in that category on the part of the voters, the Award in that category shall be canceled for that year.”

  37. And in fact, that’s what happened in the most recent Best Dramatic Long Form category — not enough nominees, and it wasn’t awarded.

    I think you could make a case that the numbers were low enough in Best Graphic Story or Comic that they should have done likewise there — only 20 nominating ballots; the eventual winner, Superman, was only nominated by 7 people.

  38. Then I think that is the solution. Judge more harshly on what Retro-Hugo categories you think are viable depending on nominations.

    Possibly together with a version of Wallaces suggestion, to let the Worldcon decide what categories they want to run for the Retros (instead of just what category).

  39. @Laura — I’m debating with myself if I agree with “frequently”; as far as I can tell, only BDP-LF was dropped for this reason in 2020. Fancasts and Semiprozines weren’t a thing back then, and the data to do Best Editor LF didn’t exist (plus, novels weren’t as significant back then as they later became). I don’t know why there was no award for Best Fan Artist.

    But Dublin’s report (last page) shows they made liberal use of the rule (although they call it out as “Sec 3.5” instead of “3.6”). The give data for 7 categories which had low-to-zero nominees, and thus were not awarded. (They include Fancast, Semiprozine and Editor LF in the list. While 2 of these did receive nominations, the categories simply aren’t viable for the era.)

    I wish New Zealand had given full data for the categories that they did not award, as Dublin did.

  40. I’m also slightly sceptical towards the whole idea, as only a single category per year would basically remove everything, but Best Novel. The category I care most about, Graphic Novels, would be more or less doomed under that proposal.

    Never mind that Best Novel usually isn’t the most interesting category at the Retro Hugos, because SFF publishing in the 1940s was geared short fiction rather than novels. Best novel and to a certain degree novella also have a lot of left-field finalists. Meanwhile, the most interesting finalists (and even more great stories that don’t get nominated) are usually in the short story and novelette categories.

    I like the Retro Graphic Story category, too, though I’m annoyed by the fact that the winners inevitably are US superhero comics, leaving European comics and newspaper strips out. For example, it’s a disgrace that Retro Hugo voters in 2019 voted for a racist Wonder Woman comic (oddly enough, no one complained about that) above Flash Gordon, the best drawn of all the newspaper strips of the era, and a Tintin comic, most likely because Wonder Woman is a popular character.

    I also don’t want to ditch any of the Retro categories except the blatantly unviable ones like semiprozine and fancast (which never get finalists anyway, due to there being nothing to nominate) and maybe editor, unless people start voting for someone other than John W. Campbell for a change. I was thrilled that we had enough finalists to have a Best Related Work and Best Series category at the Retro Hugos this year, even if the winner of Best Series turned out to be contentious.

  41. I also don’t want to ditch any of the Retro categories except the blatantly unviable ones like semiprozine and fancast (which never get finalists anyway, due to there being nothing to nominate)

    It’s a pity that cassette tape fanzines (which might qualify as fancasts) didn’t exist in the RetroHugo time frame (they’re before my time as a fan, too, but such things did exist, right? I’m not just imagining them?)

  42. @Red Panda Fraction
    DisCon is the week before Labor Day. It’s usually been mid August in recent years. Last time it was on Labor Day weekend was LoneStarCon in 2013 and also Chicon 7 the year before.

  43. Flash Gordon, the best drawn of all the newspaper strips of the era,

    Milt Caniff and I would like a word with you.

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