Smofcon 37, the convention for conrunners, taking place December
6-8 in Albuquerque, NM, asked Worldcon, and Smofcon bidders, and seated
Worldcon and Westercon committees to answer a questionnaire. The responses have
been posted at Smofcon’s website under Fannish Inquisition.
will also be a Q&A
the con on December 7 – publishing these questionnaires in advance helps keep
that time from being taken up with basic information. If you want to submit a
question, see the information at the end of this post.
following FAQs have been received from Bids and seated conventions:
Seven Worldcon committees and bidders (all except Nice in 2023) cosigned a statement (which many inserted at the beginning of their questionnaires) criticizing the Smofcon 37 committee for the short response deadline, the dramatic increase in number of questions asked from last year’s form, and use of Google Docs to communicate, which cannot be accessed in China. Smofcon 37’s chair Ron Oakes responded with a lengthy justification of what happened, while the FAQ coordinator apologized.
Submitting Questions to the Fannish
Inquisition: Here are the
This event is our traditional time for bids for future SMOFCon, Worldcons and NASFiCs. Our usual highlight event, and will mostly be run as it has been in the recent past with written questions through our able moderators. Those wishing to submit questions in advance may do so by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org, up to 6:30pm MST December 7, 2019 to ensure that we receive it prior to the convention.
[Update 12/07/2019: After this post was drafted last night, several more questionnaires were added to the website. The new links have been added here.]
Damn it, why didn’t I pack a pair of blue jeans? I mean, blue colored blue jeans? It would have SO matched the shade of blue of my Samuel R. Delany t-shirt. Ah, so it goes.
The weather this morning was brilliantly good. And then came the rain squalls. I had such high hopes. Is this what makes the Irish, Irish?
In case anyone was wondering, my identifying pronouns at the Business Meeting were HE, HEY YOU and THAT GUY.
I am convinced that one of my three flatmates is a cultural saboteur; for several days now I have placed the toilet paper in the bathroom to roll from the top, only to turn late and it’s been reversed. I have vowed to discover who the culprit is BEFORE I LEAVE THIS ISLAND! Enough said.
Speaking of the loo, my first encounter with toilet in the apartment was startling to say the least. As I flushed, an epic Angel/Niagara/Victoria Falls torrent of water crashed into the bowl, scaring me out of my wits. I sure hope that’s all greywater and not the drinking sort.
Juli and I saw our good friends Robbie Bourget and John Harrold on
the tram this morning. They were headed to the Business Meeting to hear the
announcement of the Site Selection team of the winner of the 2021 Worldcon bid.
They looked remarkable happy at that moment so I suspect that they were either
not working or their jobs were completed and they were enjoying themselves…
The meeting started promptly and, as expected, Washington D.C. was
the overwhelming choice with 798 votes.
The 2021 Worldcon has been dubbed DisCon III and will be held from August 25 (MY BIRTHDAY, WooT!) to August 29. The Guests of Honor are author Nancy Kress, Baen Editor in Chief Toni Weisskopf, Uber Fan Ben Yalow, with Special Guests Malka Older and Sheree Rene Thomas. Co-Chairs Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard promised that an Artist Guest of Honor will be announced at a later date.
The runner up results in themselves were whimsical and amusing in
None of the Above 18
Minneapolis in 73 3
Tampere in 2032 in 2021 3
Peggy Rae’s House 2
Rapid City, South Dakota 2
Xerpes 2010 2
Any Country That Will Let Me In 1
Anywhere NOT in the United States 1
Beach City 1
Boston in 2020 Christmas 1
Free Hong Kong 1
Haimes, Alaska 1
Helen’s Pool Cabana 1
I5 in ‘05 1
James Bacon’s Living Room 1
Laconia Capital City, Laconium Empire 1
Malmo, Sweden 1
Port Stanley, Falklands 1
Ratcon in 2002 1
One of these days a joke bid is going to win and there’s going to
be trouble. I must also say that as an American, I was surprised that there
weren’t a lot more protest votes against the DC bid considering our, let’s say,
turbulent political situation at the moment. The mere thought of the current
president showing up unannounced is a logistical and political nightmare none
of us want. But, we’ll see, I suppose.
Worldcon 76 convention Chair Kevin Roche presented pass along checks of $10,000 (US) to the con-chairs of Ireland (James Bacon) New Zealand (Norman Cates) and Washington. This generous donation was done despite the pending litigation brought against Worldcon 76 by Jon Del Arroz, who filed a lawsuit alleging defamation after being banned from the event.
Mr. Roche promised that more funds would be distributed to current
and future bid when litigation has been concluded.
In other news, the group backing an amendment to establish a Best
Game or Interactive Experience category suffered a minor setback when the
members of the meeting voted to refer the legislation back to the Hugo Study
Committee for another year discussion.
This was done in spite of a fairly extensive 60-page report
compiled and written by the group sponsoring the category. I spoke to one of
those sponsors, Claire Rousseau and several others who were there to see the
outcome. They were all extremely upset that this proposal would not be
discussed in a formal debate for at least another year or more.
As a personal aside, I told them that I had been on the receiving
end of these sorts of setbacks on numerous occasions and while they may be
feeling disappointed right now, they should should remain vocal and more
importantly, persistent, if they feel they have a just cause.
Mark Richard’s advisory motion to also issue an award to translators of Hugo Award winning works was also soundly rejected by the attending members. After the vote Mr. Richard, was approached by Jo Van Ekeren and Joni Brill Dashoff with some helpful suggestions on how to make the proposal clearer and more palatable to the members who opposed it.
Profound disappointment does not even begin to describe how I felt
about this, but I will refrain from editorializing about this until my final
By a fortuitous coincidence, my final Worldcon panel, “Get Us Out
of the Twilight Zone: the Work of Jordan Peele,” was scheduled right after the
Business Meeting in the same room. My panelists were media critic and Abigail
Nussbaum (who won the 2017 Hugo Award for Best Fan Writer), Dr. Andrew Butler,
a distinguished film critic from the UK and Dr. Wanda Kurtcu, who organized the
POC meetup the previous day.
Looking through my bag, I could not find the placard with my name
printed on it, which we were supposed to keep and use at each panel. Luckily, I
found a folder filled with name placards and not only found one with a blank
side to write on, I also picked up an autograph as well.
Over the course of our hour, we took an in depth look at Mr.
Peele’s first two films, the Academy Award winning horror film Get Out
and Us, a more overtly ambiguous fantasy film. I believe that while Us
is a more ambitious movie, Get Out had an edge in being my favorite
because of its straightforward and take no prisoners narrative.
Doctor Butler had not seen the first season of the revival of The
Twilight Zone so when the other panelists and I discussed the episodes we
were a little diligent not to drop too many spoilers for him and the other
audience members. Doctor Kurtcu pointed out rightly that Twilight Zone,
like the original Rod Serling series and other shows like Black Mirror, darkly
reflect what is going on in the world today.
Ms. Nussbaum, like myself, were not really ardent fans of the
horror genre but it seems as though Jordan Peele has a true artistic vision to
express that is striving to transcend the usual boundaries of genre.
Towards the end of the session, an audience member said that Mr.
Peele’s next project was a reboot of the Candyman film franchise.
“All right,” I said. “We all know what to do. NONE of us should
say Candyman three times before the film is released.”
We appeared at the Press Room office a little before seven to pick
up a lanyard for Juli so she could attend the Hugo Award Ceremony. We were
delighted to find out that some of the press passes had not been claimed so now
she could sit with me in the designated area. (This is not unusual; when I ran
the Press Office, there were occasions where passes had not been picked up and
I issued them to late arriving reporters or convention staff members who wanted
a seat closer to the action.)
While we were waiting to be escorted to the press section, I came
across UK author Paul Cornell, who I had not been in close proximity to since
LAcon IV in 2006. I was particularly delighted to see him because he wrote one
of my favorite Doctor Who stories of the modern era, the Hugo-nominated
episode “Father’s Day”.
The Press section wasn’t that close to the action this year; it
was located in the first three rows of the upper balcony just to the right of
the center of the stage. What it lacked in proximity was made up for by its
height, which provided a sweeping view of the stage.
The first big surprise of the evening was the winner of the John
W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, Jeanette Ng. Not surprising that she had
won the award, because she is an exceptionally fine writer and was favored in
this category. Oh no. It was because of what she said in her acceptance speech:
John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fascist. Through his editorial control of Amazing Stories, he is responsible for setting a tone of science fiction that still haunts the genre to this day. Sterile. Male. White. Exalting in the ambitions of imperialists and colonisers, settlers and industrialists. Yes, I am aware there are exceptions.
But these bones, we have grown wonderful, ramshackle genre, wilder and stranger than his mind could imagine or allow.
And I am so proud to be part of this. To share with you my weird little story, an amalgam of all my weird interests, so much of which has little to do with my superficial identities and labels. But I am a spinner of ideas, of words, as Margaret Cavendish would put it.
So I need (to) say, I was born in Hong Kong. Right now, in the most cyberpunk in the city in the world, protesters struggle with the masked, anonymous stormtroopers of an autocratic Empire. They have literally just held her largest illegal gathering in their history. As we speak they are calling for a horological revolution in our time. They have held laser pointers to the skies and tried to to impossibly set alight the stars. I cannot help be proud of them, to cry for them, and to lament their pain. I’m sorry to drag this into our fantastical words, you’ve given me a microphone and this is what I felt needed saying.
<do the hat thing>”
You can see that “hat thing” (eventually) on YouTube or the
streaming broadcast online.
I was one of the people madly cheering this speech. I posted a
meme on Facebook as she was still speaking: “Jeannette Ng is AWESOME!!!!!”
Moments later, swept up in the moment, I posted another meme, “I’m just gonna
say it: The Name of the John W. Campbell Award SHOULD BE F***KING CHANGED!”
To clamor atop a soapbox for a moment; NO, I am not advocating
that the life and work of John W. Campbell, Jr. be scrubbed from history. But
neither should we turn a blind, uncritical eye to his transgressions. When the
winners of such a prestigious award start getting angry because the person
behind it is viewed to be so vile and reprehensible, that ought to be
acknowledged as well.
I think work and legacies of film director D.W. Griffith and H.P.
Lovecraft have survived fairly intact since they have been deprived of their
privileged status. And that is precisely the point; for decades JWC’s white
privilege has given him cover to be adored by generations of readers, writers,
editors, fans and scholars. The time has finally come to call him out.
Jeannette Ng said out loud what people have been either thinking
and whispering for the past several decades. Rebecca Roanhorse’s speech last
year in San Jose alluding to her discontent was the tipping point. Ms. Ng just
picked it up and threw it over the edge. (Climbs off soapbox.)
Other momentous moments included Charles Vess double whammy for
Best Professional Artist and the Special Category addition for Best Art Book,
both for his meticulous and detailed art for the gigantic omnibus, The Books
of Earthsea: The Complete Illustrated Edition. Becky Chambers’ Wayfarers
won Best Series, a dizzying ascension for a writer who only had a draft
version of her debut novel five years. She tearfully thanked her supporters,
readers and the Hugo voters for making “room for her at the table”.
The Best Long and Short Form Dramatic Presentations went to
popular front runners; the former to the Oscar winning animated film Spider-Man:
Into the Spider-Verse and the latter by “Janet(s)” an excruciating funny
episode of NBC’s farce/philosophy seminar The Good Place.
There was a lot of criticism that the Lodestar Award (or, as I
call it, The Ursula K. LeGuin Memorial Award) either would not be very popular
at all or might suffer from “award fatigue” by Hugo nominators in general
reading community. Well, the statistics posted online after the ceremony show
that there were 216 nominated books on 512 ballots. So, as far as I’m
concerned, you can stick a fork in that theory, because it’s done.
Best Profession Editor went to the late Gardner Dozois. I must
report that I did not vote for him; he was a fine person, a marvelous writer
and one of the greatest, if not THE GREATEST, editor we are ever likely to see.
But, I note, he had won fifteen Hugos for editing between 1988 and 2004. Now
his estate has another award that he will never know of or enjoy. It’s fine for
us to honor the dead, but not at the expense of the living.
Best Novel went to Mary Robinette Kowal’s The Calculating Stars,
an alternate history story in which the 1950’s suffers a cataclysmic event and
the “space race” is reframed is an actual struggle for the survival of the
human race, led by women astronauts. I hope that this book, and its sequels,
will not only endure but inspire future generations of young adults and
A PDF of the voting results and nomination longlists are available
We headed to Martin’s after the ceremony and almost immediately
ran into Carole’s partner John. He told us that the wallet had not been turned
in yet and everyone is presuming it is lost for good. Credit cards have been
canceled and other friends have offered other help, too. Carole was there, enjoying herself and John
reassured us that she was feeling a lot better since that night. We were rather
concerned so it was nice to see that she was having a good time.
John also said, “Hey got get a drink at the bar. DC is paying for
all of the drinks on their tab!”
I feigned confusion. “Your mean DC Comics?” John gave me one of
those resigned looks he make after hearing a bad joke. “Go get a drink,” he
shouted over the din.
We got into the nearest queue but the DC tab had already been
tapped out so we had to resort to buying our own drinks. Hugo Admin Nichols Whyte sidled up to the bar
and in a burst of American generosity, we bought him two ciders, citing his
fine work for the con.
As we were ordering our own ciders our, I was accosted by an older
man standing next to me, whom I thought was a complete stranger. But it wasn’t;
Jerry Kaufman was a fan we had met previous at the Spokane Worldcon. “So,” her
said, “what are you proposing for the name change?”
Now it was my turn to be genuinely confused. “Excuse me?”
“I heard some people talking about it. It was your Facebook post.”
With that I sat down and whipped out my phone and checked the post
I had completely forgotten about from two hours ago. While it had not gone
exactly viral, it had several “likes” and who knows how many views.
While I sat and posed for a few pictures with my friends, I
suddenly realized that I was drinking this cider on an empty stomach, which
meant that I was going to be incredibly tipsy in the next five or ten minutes.
I told Juli about my dilemma and after some chit chat with some
friends in passing, we bade everyone good night. We stepped into a chilly and
damp night. The walk back was bracing and kept me on my feet as we walked back
to our apartment.
After fumbling to check the Facebook post and send my esteemed
editor a brief, spell check enhanced email, I fell into bed, and, according to
Juli, was asleep in two minutes.
P.S. DAY FIVE BREAKING NEWS! I am incredibly PLEASED to report that Carole’s wallet was turned in to the local police station today, WITH THE CONTENTS ALL ACCOUNTED FOR!!!!
Carole and John have already left Dublin for a tour but will be returning to the city on Friday recover the wallet.
Who’s says there are no Happy Endings at Worldcon? A big THANKS to the local citizens and the Dublin Garda for your diligence in this matter…
Washington D.C.’s unopposed bid to host the 2021 Worldcon was officially voted in this weekend at Dublin 2019. The name of the convention will be DisCon III. Bill Lawhorn and Colette H. Fozard are the co-chairs.
The committee announced their current guests are: Nancy Kress, Author GoH; Malka Older, Special Guest; Sheree Renée Thomas, Special Guest; Toni Weisskopf, Editor GoH; and Ben Yalow, Fan GoH.
Total valid votes: 878
DC in 2021
None of the Above
The complete details (with all write-ins) are here [PDF file.]