Worldcon Sunday Funnies

Chicon 7 achieved Fan Guest of Honor Peggy Rae Sapienza’s vision of giving Worldcon members a special Sunday morning edition of the daily newzine.  “The Sunday Funnies”  is now available at eFanzines.

Edited by Kurt Erichsen, the four-pages of color comics were created by Randy B. Cleary, Phil Foglio, delphyne woods, Richard Chwedyk, Alan F. Beck, Sheryl Birkhead, Kurt Erichsen, Steven Vincent Johnson, Howard Tayler, Anne Trotter, Kurt Erichsen, Taral Wayne and Spring Schoenhuth.

Chicon 7 Apologizes for Access Issues

The Chicon 7 committee has answered concerns about access and complaints about its hoax program panel — “Chicon Acknowledges Concerns of Mobility-Impaired Members”

Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), has acknowledged the concerns expressed by a number of convention members over the arrangements made to support scooter users and others with mobility impairments. Chicon 7 apologizes sincerely for any inconvenience caused and is committed to sharing the lessons learned with its successors.

Chicon 7’s support for mobility-impaired members was in line with that used for preceding Worldcons, although inevitably subject to the constraints of the host facility (the Hyatt Regency Chicago) in terms of hotel layout and internal navigation. Chicon 7’s arrangements were coordinated by a disability services team with experience from many previous conventions and included the usual arrangements for reserved scooter areas in key event and program rooms. Elevator management was supported by hotel staff located at key locations.

Feedback received has made us increasingly aware that these arrangements did not work as well as planned. Some scooter users had extended journey times across the site due to challenges finding elevator space, and members could not always obtain access to the program items they wished to see due to rooms filling quickly with more mobile fans during change-overs. In addition, some confusion has been reported with access to the reserved seating area in main Ballroom for the Hugo Awards.

Separately, we have also received complaints over the imaginary “Stagg Field” program track. This tradition of Chicago conventions was trailed in Progress Report 4, and designed to bring a touch of whimsy and local fandom to the program. However, we recognize that the presentation of the track – seamlessly integrated with the real program information – meant that some people did not realize that this was an artificial creation. Among these were mobility-impaired members who suffered discomfort looking for the Stagg Field room, and to them we particularly apologize.

Chicon 7 deeply regrets the impact that these issues caused for some members. While the events cannot now be undone, we hope that members will accept our apology and our commitment to gather and collate feedback and share it with the upcoming Worldcons in San Antonio (2013) and London (2014).

Helping Nippon 2007

The 2007 Worldcon in Japan sustained a large loss and still owes over $84,000.

Anyone willing to help clear the deficit can make a nondeductible donation to the cause by (1) writing a check payable to Nippon 2007 and (2) mailing it to BWAWA, P.O. Box 314, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701-0314.

BWAWA is the Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association, Inc. The nonprofit corporation hosted the 1998 Worldcon in Baltimore and is pursuing the right to host the 2014 World Fantasy Con.

[Via The Write Stuff #9.]

Estimating Chicon 7 Attendance

The final membership statistics for Chicon 7 are not yet public, however the daily newzine released on Sunday afternoon gave the latest count as 4,776 members present and 5,133 attending memberships sold.

That is enough to make Chicon 7 the largest Worldcon since 2006, though it’s not likely in the remaining day-and-a-half the con came anywhere close to equaling Chicon 2000’s 5,794 warm bodies.

[Via The Write Stuff #08.]

Video of Future Worldcons and Bids

Kevin Standlee had posted video from the Site Selection Business Meeting at Chicon 7.

Part 1: Formal results, Introduction and Question Time for Loncon 3, Question

Time for Orlando in 2015:

Part 2: Question Time for Spokane in 2015:

Part 3: Question Time for Helsinki in 2015:

Part 4: Question Time for Arizona (Tempe) in 2014 NASFiC:

Part 5: Final Housekeeping, Announcements, and Adjournment sine die:

Access Issues at Chicon 7

There’s an illuminating discussion of access problems at Chicon 7 on Sasha’s Dreams, sparked by a letter from Karen Moore.

I didn’t realize how frustrating it was for fans in mobile wheelchairs (mobis) to navigate the Hyatt. However I did witness that the motion-sensor sliding door at the lobby exit didn’t work because once I opened it for Linda Ross-Mansfield when she couldn’t get through.

Karen Moore compares her Chicon 7 experiences unfavorably to WisCon. It’s not surprising to hear they’re ahead of the Worldcon on such an issue. I wonder: Do Worldcon committees assume that because convention facilities have been brought up to a certain standard to meet legal requirements access is not a problem? If we didn’t know better before, we do now.

Worldcons rent (or broker) mobis for up to several dozen people. That means part of a committee’s implied obligation is to scout their facilities, with their plans for using them in mind, to verify they are accessible (lavatories included). Then they can identify problems to the hotel/convention center to be fixed in advance, or be ready to advise fans about work-arounds.

Bill Parker, co-chair of LoneStarCon 3, told this year’s business meeting he had driven a mobi to test the passages and ramps between the hotel and convention center, some having complained about them at the 1997 San Antonio Worldcon. Once he reads Karen Moore’s letter, I hope he’ll have someone scout the elevators, lavatories, exit doors, etc., too.

Karen Moore’s critique also extended to the hoax program track in Chicon 7’s schedule —

And finally, as much pushback as I know Access has gotten from within the committee over its mission, at least none of WisCon’s concom (that I know of) has ever seriously suggested developing an entire track of programming that doesn’t exist, located in a room that doesn’t exist, and then put the damn thing in the pocket program book, the online program and everywhere else. Evidently, someone in the WorldCon committee finds it immensely amusing to think of a convention member with no cartilage left in his hips struggling painfully down multiple escalators, across the tunnel, up more escalators, then searching through a maze of corridors for a program event, only to find a sign that essentially says “Ha, ha, gotcha, Sucker!” The con chair heard from me on that topic as well, by the way. His response? “Well, I’m sorry you don’t see the humor in it.”

The fake programs were listed in the “Stagg Field” room, which did not exist and so, of course, was not on the hotel map – I’m assuming, therefore, Moore’s scenario is cautionary rather than anything that really happened.

Yet I, too, disliked the hoax program track because so many of the items sounded more plausible than humorous. For example, on Monday this was one of the items shown for Stagg Field:

Deke Slayton was the seventh and final member of the Mercury 7 to fly in space. Come hear stories about his legendary flight aboard the Delta 7, which set records for endurance and distance traveled, and made Slayton a household name and a hero of the astronaut era.

If you know enough about the Mercury program you might recall Slayton was replaced on the Delta 7 mission due to a heart murmur. Or for that matter, know Slayton died in 1993, so he obviously wasn’t going to be present. (A great many listed as Stagg Field participants were equally life challenged.) If you know enough trivia, you’d also recognize another panelist on the item, Minnifield, as a fictional character from Northern Exposure. Or by Monday you may have deduced from other items that everything in Stagg Field was a put-on.

I don’t necessarily say they shouldn’t have done it, but every successful fannish hoax depends on a volatile social chemistry in which some fans have the pleasure of discerning the fraud, as well as witnessing the frustration of others who have not, and are even more annoyed once it’s explained to them. Did anyone wander aimlessly around the Hyatt looking for the Stagg Field room? I doubt it. However, the story demonstrates that, in the age of the internet, the calculated insensitivity of hoax humor can easily turn into bad publicity. Be warned.

Update 09/06/2012: See comments reporting not only that the story happened but that the fake “Stagg Field” room was shown on the con’s pocket program map as if it existed. And how that changes my own criticism of the hoax track.

Fan Hugos: Random Numbers

File 770 landed on the fortunate side of another close count but must be using up its nine lives awfully fast. I’m afraid to check how many times in recent years the zine has reached the finals by a single vote.

The 2012 Hugo statistics show that Argentus, the fanzine edited by Chicago-area fan Steven H. Silver, also could have made the ballot with one more vote. I know how much he’d have enjoyed being in the race.

However, there was nothing close about the final vote in the Best Fanzine category. SF Signal, the popular blog, started with a 137 vote lead over 2011 winner The Drink Tank and still led by 97 votes when all the traditional fanzines had been eliminated. In the last round SF Signal and The Drink Tank essentially split File 770’s remaining votes with a preference.

The runoff in the Best Fan Artist category, on the other hand, made all the difference and illuminated a dramatic schism among voters.

A Hugo winner needs a majority. Voters rank the finalists in order of preference, then in each round the low vote-getter is eliminated and those ballots are redistributed to the next highest preference still in the race.

Randall Munroe (creator of xkcd) started with a 74 vote lead over winner Maurine Starkey. Munroe picked up only 26 votes in the following four rounds; Starkey collected 92, but still trailed. Then at the very end she got the lion’s share of Steve Stiles’ support which put her over the top. So you had two truly irreconcilable communities voting in this category, the Munroe fans, and the anybody-but-Munroe fans.

Lastly, I wanted to see the response to George R.R. Martin’s endorsements in the fan categories. They didn’t make the final ballot, but where did they end up? Here’s what Martin wrote on his Livejournal in January:

Some of my own favorites include PAT’S FANTASY HOTLIST, THE WERTZONE, MAKING LIGHT, THE BLOG OF THE FALLEN (okay, he doesn’t like my stuff, but it’s still a good read), STOMPING ON YETI, CHEESE MAGNETS, HATHOR LEGACY, and PUNKADIDDLE. And for Best Fan Writer, I’d suggest you consider some of the folks who write for these blogs and e-zines, including Patrick St. Denis, Adam Whitehead, Adam Roberts, and John J. Miller.

Patrick St. Denis and Adam Whitehead and their blogs did reach the top 15. (I’ve added links beside their names.) None of the others got over the event horizon.

Best Fanzine (329 ballots cast)
83 The Drink Tank, edited by Christopher J Garcia and James Bacon (25.23%)
42 Banana Wings, edited by Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer (12.77%)
39 Journey Planet, edited by James Bacon, Christopher J Garcia, et al. (11.85%)
38 SF Signal, edited by John DeNardo (11.55%)
37 File 770, edited by Mike Glyer (11.24%)
36 Argentus (10.94%)
30 Challenger, edited by Guy H. Lillian III (9.12%)
29 Yipe! (8.81%)
26 The Wertzone (7.90%)
17 Chunga (5.17%)
17 Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist (5.17%)
15 StarShipSofa (4.56%)
13 A Dribble of Ink (3.95%)
13 eI (3.95%)
12 The Coode Street Podcast (3.65%)
12 SF Commentary (3.65%)
12 SF in SF (3.65%)

Best Fan Writer (363 ballots cast)
63 Christopher J Garcia (21.67%)
56 Jim C. Hines (15.43%)
51 Steven H Silver (14.05%)
43 Claire Brialey (11.85%)
41 James Bacon (11.29%)
37 James Nicoll (10.19%)
30 Cheryl Morgan (8.26%)
25 Adam Whitehead (6.88%) [The Wertzone]
23 Mark Plummer (6.34%)
20 Abigail Nussbaum (5.51%)
20 Mike Glyer (5.51%)
15 David Langford (4.13%)
13 Patrick St. Denis (3.58%) [Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist]
13 Guy H. Lillian III (3.58%)
13 Mette Hedin (3.58%)

Best Fan Artist (217 ballots cast)
49 Steve Stiles (22.58%)
41 Maurine Starkey (18.89%)
25 Spring Schoenhuth (11.52%)
25 Taral Wayne (11.52%)
20 Brad W. Foster (9.21%)
20 Randall Munroe (9.21%)
14 Frank Wu (5.11%)
14 Sue Mason (6.45%)
10 Alan F. Beck (4.61%)
10 Dan Steffan (4.61%)
9 Kurt Erichsen (4.15%)
9 Dave Hicks (4.15%)
9 Dick Jenssen (Ditmar) (4.15%)
9 D West (4.15%)
9 Delphyne Woods (4.15%)

Horseshoes and Hand Grenades

The 2012 Hugo statistics [PDF file] show award-winner Encyclopedia of SF (eds. Clute, Nicholls, Langford and Sleight) would not even have made the final ballot if the next closest contender in the Best Related Work category, Whedonistas by Lynne M. Thomas and Deborah Stanish, had received three more nominations. Wow.

[Hat tip to Dan Wells.]

Update 09/04/2012: Corrected post per comment by David Levine.

Martin Interview at Chicon 7

Mo Ryan of the Huffington Post interviewed George R.R. Martin on the program at Chicon 7. Steven H Silver adds:

About three minutes before the panel, I brought Peter Sagal of Wait, Wait…Don’t Tell Me into the room and introduced him to Mo, asking her to make sure he was introduced to George.  More than that, she invited Peter to be on the panel.

A podcast recording of the whole panel is here.

Ryan’s blog post summarizing the panel is here.

47 minutes [in]: Martin talks about using magic sparingly in his tales. “A little magic goes a long way,” he said, noting that there’s not a ton of “on-stage magic” in “The Lord of the Rings.” And he said he much prefers alluding to magic that is “strange and unknowable” rather than constructing a “system” of magic, which he called “fake science.” “Magic is cooler to my mind when it’s dangerous,” Martin said.

Good to know Peter Sagal made it to Chicon 7 after all, despite having withdrawn as a special guest due to a commitment to film a documentary in Reykjavik.

Not That You Asked

(1) Monday morning programming at Worldcons is great. It’s worth waking up to attend. I did, for a change, attending back-to-back presentations about orbiting space telescopes, fascinating lectures and visuals, especially from the less-publicized ones that detect energy (microwave, infrared) or the signatures of elements (carbon monoxide), helping to discover more about the formation and structure of the universe.

(2) Next time I organize a con program I want to tap into children’s programming for some of thir cool ideas. James Bacon worked with ChiKidz and when I went there to find him for coffee, I arrived at the same time as members of the NIU quidditch team who came to set up a demo for the kids. Plenty of fans would like to see that. It was likely the most exciting thing happening at that hour.

(3) Chicon had a good idea, posting printouts of the Hugo voting stats just outside the ballroom. A lot of people looked them over. Sure the info is online by then but how many are aware of that or equipped to access it?

(4) Speaking of Hugo stats, there were a lot of wire-to-wire winners who led every round. Even in the dramatic categories — there was no doubt which Doctor Who episode was getting the Hugo despite the multiplicity of choices. Best Fan Artist supplied the only come-from-behind victory, Maurine Starkey picking up critical support in the last round of the runoff.

(5) Jim C. Hines ran away and hid in the Best Fan Writer category while the new Best Fancast Hugo went to a crew of five, most of them significant pro writers. Len Bailes’ quote “Prodom is the new fandom” becomes ever more true.

(6) John Scalzi launched the Hugo Ceremony with an incisive bit of comedy, analyzing how the psychological experience of being a nominee parallels the well-known five stages of dying. Very true.

All of his material was good, no duds at all. His early pacing was right on target and I would have liked for him to stay with it. I felt like there was less and less of his presence as the evening wore on and at several points he joked about getting us away to the parties or off to drinking as if he felt pressed for time.

It is a kind of Chicago Worldcon tradition to make the trains run on time — twice here TM Marta Randall turned in hundred-minute ceremonies. But Scalzi hasn’t been around long enough to have witnessed that, so unless someone layed that charge on him it must reflect his sense of the way things ought to run. Now as a member of the audience sitting through categories with five winners giving acceptance speeches, and others where people caught up in the emotion of the moment thank their entire geneologies, I need the toastmaster to buy me a little breathing space before tackling the next dramatic peak. Generally, Scalzi proved to be in his own way the heir to Silverberg, Resnick, Shaw and Willis. I hope future committees bring him back as TM.