A WSFS-Sponsored Asian Science Fiction Convention (ASFiC) — Discussing Item Nine from the Chengdu Worldcon Business Meeting Agenda

Introduction: I’m going to open discussion of some of the proposed WSFS rules changes in the Chengdu Worldcon’s Business Meeting agenda by setting the table in a series of topical posts. (Download the English-language version here and the Chinese-language version here.)

There will be an Asian counterpart (ASFiC) to the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) added to the WSFS Constitution if the proposal by Chen Shi, Tang Bingying, Yao Haijun, and Yang Feng succeeds.

Why should WSFS be in the business of holding an Asian convention? Good question, but there were people who thought WSFS had no business running a North American con – or anything but the Worldcon — and by now there have been 15 NASFiCs with another coming in 2024. That makes the Asian proposal harder to dismiss.

The amendment’s backers basically argue that the excellence of Asian sff creators and the existence of Asian conventions requires that the WSFS not “ignore this region that accounts for 61% of the world’s population.”

However, there needs to be added to the moral argument the expectation that there are people who want to run an ASFiC, whether on its own or grafted onto an existing convention. Who would be prepared to run one in 2026? If the proposal passes and is ratified at Glasgow, where the 2026 Worldcon site selection will be decided between Los Angeles and Cairo as things currently stand, the new rule would call for a 2026 ASFiC.

ON THE OTHER HAND. Rather than adding another regional event, what if the resistance to the proposed ASFiC energized the dormant (but never extinguished) movement to get rid of the NASFiC?

Boston’s Tony Lewis is generally credited for originating the NASFiC idea in the late 1960s. Tony thought that many of the fans who could not afford to travel to an overseas site would want to go to an alternative Worldcon-style convention in North America.

At Noreascon (1971) after heated discussion the WSFS bylaws were amended by a narrow 65-60 vote to provide that whenever a non-North American Worldcon was held, an interim Continental Convention would be held in the North American zone that would have been eligible to hold the Worldcon.

Only after Noreascon ended does it seem to have been remembered that at the 1970 Worldcon in Germany an effort to bring Eurocon under the WSFS bylaws had been ruled out of order by a chair who reasoned it is not in the province of the WorldCon to decide on national conventions. That argument was revived two years later when the first opportunity to vote on a NASFiC came around.

The 1973 Worldcon in Toronto (TorCon 2) is where fans would vote on Australia’s bid for 1975 Worldcon. The Aussie victory opened the way for selection of the first NASFiC, which was sought by two bidders, both from Los Angeles. Or make that – sought by two gluttons for punishment. Each bid was led by a co-chair of L.A.Con I, the just-completed 1972 Worldcon, Charles Crayne or Bruce Pelz.

But TorCon 2’s chairman, John Millard, advised by fan attorney Kenneth Smookler, took the position that the NASFiC rules were ultra vires, that is, outside the Worldcon-running purpose of WSFS. They would not administer the NASFiC site selection. To this day some fans remain opposed to the NASFiC idea on similar grounds.

Crayne and Pelz reacted to TorCon 2 simply by running their own site selection process at the con. I got my first bidding experience while helping Bruce Pelz and Milt Stevens haul cases of beer from a package store to their NASFiC bid party in Toronto’s Royal York Hotel.

It having been demonstrated that the NASFiC could not be ignored to death, thereafter it was taken back inside the WSFS tent where site selection has been officially administered ever since. But with enough votes that could be ended.

42 thoughts on “A WSFS-Sponsored Asian Science Fiction Convention (ASFiC) — Discussing Item Nine from the Chengdu Worldcon Business Meeting Agenda

  1. I think they are taking a superfluous action.
    Look at this: APSFcon – Have fun with sff fans from all over the world in the following 48 hours. We have held a APSFcon, which is meaning Asia-Pacific Science Ficiton Convention, or Another Planet Science Fiction Convention for many years. APSFcon was even held this year.“News and Newspaper Summary on SF, Vol.8”,the second piece: APSFcon wins a success. Why we need another ASFiC?
    We have a NASFiC. We will have a ASFiC. And will we have a AfSFiC, Eurocon, even Russiacon ( Oh, can Russia join a European convention in 2023? )? They are too many! Can we make them successful?

  2. Another Planet Science-Fiction Convention looks very interesting, and also very different from a Worldcon, based on this post by Naomi Kritzer from 2019: https://naomikritzer.com/2019/06/03/i-went-to-a-science-fiction-convention-in-beijing/

    Different isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does beg the question of how or in what way the convention might move around, and how the region where it might be held is defined. If APSFC is only going to be held in China, then an argument for an ASFiC could be stronger, but only if it will spread out the hosting sites.

    The WSFS Constitution defines eligibility to host a NASFiC two ways. One is by its definition of North America:

    “North America is defined as: Canada, the United States of America (including Hawaii, Alaska, and the District of Columbia), Mexico, Central America, the islands of the Caribbean, St. Pierre et Miquelon, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.”

    The second is by the rule, which applies to both Worldcon and NASFiC, that you may not bid to host the next one at a site that is too close to wherever site selection is occurring:

    “A site shall be ineligible if it is within five hundred (500) miles or eight hundred (800) kilometers of the site at which selection occurs. ”

    This is not in the NASFiC portion of the Constitution, but in that section it does say, ” Selection of the NASFiC shall be by the identical procedure to the Worldcon selection except as provided below or elsewhere in this Constitution,” so I believe the rule still applies.

    From what I can see, APSFC has been held in Beijing twice, and in Shanghai. I am interested to know how the proponents of this ASFiC amendment would define Asia, and especially whether or not they would include South Asian islands, and India.

  3. I’m always behind the idea of de-centralization in principle and (since I am a lot of obnoxious things but naïve ideologue is not one of them) almost always behind the idea of de-centralization in practice.

    But I do think that instead of calling it AsiaCon, they should just be honest and call it ChinaCon because if this passes, the chance of it being held anywhere other than China (with only CCP approved attendees, panels, guests, and functions) are infinitesimal.

  4. Interesting to have an ASFIC when Worldcon is not in Asia but instead, just why not have a large Asian convention each year? If you look at the numbers of fans from different countries, it is mainly USA, Canada and the UK. This was true of the Worldcon in Japan.

  5. I’m probably oversimplifying from lack of experience, but I feel like it could be simplified by removal of the name “NASFiC” and changing it to something like:

    “The Worldcon committee shall undertake simultaneous site selection for two cons for the given year, one bid-and-designated as Worldcon and one bid-and-designated as [AlternateConName] in a part of the world where (and in the event that) Worldcon is not selected in that zone. After Worldcon votes are tabulated and a winner declared, bids for Alternate cons in the same region will be devolved to the voter’s second choice, and the bid receiving most votes for “AlternateConName” will be declared the winner.”

  6. An ASFIC makes sense seeing as they have a brand new sparkling building. Tying the convention to WSFS, not so much.

  7. Since NASFiC has been in the WSFS Constitution, there have been a few attempts to remove it. As near as I can remember, these attempts have consistently lost by a vote of about 40% to remove NASFiC and 60% to keep it.

  8. @Anne Gray: Considering that the commentary says that 61% of the world’s population lives in Asia, I think they would have to be considering India as part of Asia. India alone constitutes about 17% of the world’s population.

  9. Pingback: The 2023 WSFS Business Meeting | From the Heart of Europe

  10. Before we add an ASFIC we should address the issue of whether the site selection vote between Chengdu and Winnipeg was fair and all the votes cast legitimate. A lot of excuses were offered for why it wasn’t possible to get the same amount of contact information about voters from China that is the norm for voters elsewhere.

    If that is a real issue, it is one that will occur in every ASFIC vote.

  11. It would be useful if the proposal was amended to include a definition of Asia similar to the definition of North America provided by the existing 4.8.6 so we (or future Site Selection Administrators) don’t have to speculate.

    And yes, I would also like to see who would actually intend to bid for 2026 and future years. (I particularly want to see interest from people not affiliated with the 2023 Chengdu concom.)

  12. I think Asia would be better served with a Eurocon model. I’m not sure why the makers would even want a WSFS connection.

  13. @ rcade:

    As per the WSFS constitution (p. 19, §4.4.1) that, as far as I can tell, would’ve ruled the 2021 site selection, the defining paragraph demands that the site selection ballot has space for name, signature, address, and membership number. It further states these are “to be filled in by the voter” and sets forth what voting options there should be.

    Now, “space to be filled in by the voter” can be taken two distinct ways (and possibly both at once), and that is that it should only be the voter filling i out, not anyone else, as well as “these spaces shall not be left blank”.

    If I were to have to rule on the validity on the ballots you are talking about, I would probably have to take the “must only be filled in by the voter”. Had it instead said “to be completed by the voter”, the mandadtoriness of the filling-out would have been clearer. But, as-was, there is a strong suggestion that these fields must be filled, but no actual demand to do so.

    The constitution as it stands (again, p.19 §4.4.1) until the conclusion of the 2023 Business Meeting have a similar language, but allows for someone else to fill in the membership number if the voter has forgotten (or does not know).

  14. I’m generally pro everyone should have More Fun.

    The North American thing makes a bit of sense, but it’s rooted in the idea that Worldcon is an American thing, and Americans deserve a consolation when they are good enough to gift it to the rest of the world.

    Europe does not need such a gift. We have our own roving con thank you very much, and it happens even should there be a European Worldcon as seems to happen roughly one year in five.

    I’d be perfectly content to see a roving Asian con. Might even go to it. The question though, is What’s Stopping You?

  15. Thi also raises the question of whether every continent should have a con. Well, probably not Antartica, but South America and Africa should be considered for inclusion if Asia is.

  16. I have to admit I always viewed NASFIC as “Americans being upset that Worldcon is held somewhere else for once”, though I have no issue with it otherwise, because more cons and more fandom is great and bringings cons to fans who rarely have a chance to go is even better.

    Personal, I think that a Eurocon type model would work better for an Asian con and also for NASFIC, i.e. just have a roving con somewhere on your continent every year. This model would also work for South America and Africa. Australia and New Zealand already have their own national cons and probably don’t need a continental con.These cons don’t necessarily have to be tied to WSFS, since Eurocon functions wonderfully without WSFS involvement.

    Also, not tying an Asian continental con to WSFS will make it easier to actually get it off the ground, since it doesn’t have to go through the Buisness Meeting.

  17. I get why there is a NASfic. At the same time, I would be more supporting of decoupling any North American con (such as NASfic) from WSFS than in creating an ASfic under WSFS.

  18. An all-Asia con run by corporate/government entities like Chinese media or business conglomerates sounds dreadful. Ugh. Even if fans across Asia joined forces to travel back in time to create a strong conrunning institution, it wouldn’t work. WSFS is their best bet.

    No such entity, government or political party could engineer a takeover of ASFiC if site selection is run through WSFS. The con would lurch around to unexpected countries and cities. There’d be colorful factional infighting, very much in the spirit of Worldcon. It sounds great. If they have the momentum to pull it off, good for them.

    But as I said on the other thread, practically speaking, what will happen to the Hugos if vastly increased participation by non-English speaking voters is the norm? I hated EPH because it undermined core fannish ideals, but maybe, in such a fractured linguistic evironment, it or some better algorithm would function in service of them.

  19. There’s a NASFiC because Worldcon started in the US, and stayed here for many years. The name Worldcon is happily no longer just inspirational.

    Considering where Worldcons have been held, how about an ASFiC which rotates throughout Asia, from Japan to India, not merely China. And, of course, an ESFiC for Europe.

    I look forward to the day when Africa and South America can host Worldcons, though I don’t expect to live to see it.

    mark, co-chair of the Tycho, Luna Worldscon bid for 2069

  20. There are currently two active bids for Worldcons in Africa, Cairo, Egypt, and Kampala, Uganda. I’m actually surprised that there has never been a Latin American bid to date. I could certainly see a Worldcon in Mexico (which is technically North America) or Argentina or Brazil or Chile one day..

    Europe doesn’t need an ESFIC, because we have Eurocon

  21. @Cora Buhlert: There was a bid for a Worldcon to be held in Cancun in 2003, but it lost to Toronto. (It’s not clear to me what involvement there was from Mexican fans in organizing the bid, but it does count as a bid for Mexico.)

  22. Cora Buhlert on October 10, 2023 at 7:24 pm said:

    I’m actually surprised that there has never been a Latin American bid to date.

    There was a bid for Cancun (Mexico, which is part of Latin America as well as North America), floated by American fans, but it lost to Toronto in the election in 2000 to select the 2003 Worldcon. That is, to my knowledge, the only time there were two serious non-US bids on the same ballot, both of which were in North America.

    There have been attempts to remove NASFiC from the WSFS Constitution. (This would be WSFS effectively abandoning the NASFiC service mark, should someone else wish to pick it up.) While there are lots of people who don’t like NASFiC for various reasons, it does not appear to be sufficiently unpopular to draw enough people to the Business Meeting to kill it.

  23. @Brian Z
    How well is that working for
    The 81st World Science Fiction Convention Industrial Development Promotion Conference

  24. Also, just to mention it, members of the MPC include a representative for NASFiC.
    I presume that adding an Asian/Chinese version would require the addition of another rep for that organization. (One for each regional SFIC, I presume.)

    China is not known for its respect for other’s IP.

  25. Steve davidson on October 11, 2023 at 2:49 am said:

    Also, just to mention it, members of the MPC include a representative for NASFiC. I presume that adding an Asian/Chinese version would require the addition of another rep for that organization. (One for each regional SFIC, I presume.

    Yes, every WSFS-sanctioned convention is entitled to a seat on the WSFS MPC because all of them are licensees of the WSFS IP. Chengdu has an appointee to the committee, for example. We probably should amend this proposal to also change the language at 1.8.1 to generalize it.

    For those who don’t want to go look it up, every seated WSFS-sanctioned convention, which currently includes Worldcon and NASFiC, gets to appoint a member to the MPC who serves at the convention’s pleasure until two years after that convention ends. For example, DisCon III’s appointment ends at the end of this year’s WSFS Business Meeting, at which point the 2025 Worldcon’s appointee takes office. That’s why we usually ask newly-seated committees who their appointees are.

    Buffalo NASFiC 2025 appointed a member when they were selected at Pemmi-Con. Because of NASFiCs, the total membership of the MPC varies.

  26. I’ll add my opinion to the box with “a major Asian-focused annual SFF convention is a great idea — why does it need to be affiliated with WSFS?” And I wouldn’t be at all sad if discussion coming out of this proposal energized a movement to decouple NASFiC. The entrenched exceptionalism that motivated the creation of NASFiC feels increasingly uncomfortable. There are plenty of large North American SFF conventions for people to attend if they don’t feel able to attend a non-NA Worldcon.

  27. Without getting into the overall issue of if NASFiC and/or ASFiC should be under WFSF or not, one concern I have heard raised that I agree with is that this proposal does not define “Asia.”

    Section 4.8.6 of the WSFS Constitution defines “North America” for purposes of NASFiC, but there is no equivalent section in this proposal.

    So that leads to the open question about what is and isn’t Asia:
    – Is Indonesia part of Asia
    – Is Timor Leste part of Asia since it was once considered part of Indonesia
    – What about Moscow? It is in the part of Russia that at least Europeans consider to be Asia not Europe.
    – Would an ASFiC bid for Istanbul be accepted as long as it was on the Asian side of the Bosporus, but not on the European side?

    Probably what I am saying/implying is that the Western (Eurocentric) idea of “Asia” may be quite different than the idea of “Asia” that the proposers have since we think of much of Russia, the middle east, and the Indian Subcontinent as “Asia” as much as the China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia.

    And the geographic or geophysical definition is different yet because the Asian (or IIRC more accurately Eurasian) plate doesn’t include all of Southeast Asia.

    I honestly expect this proposal to founder on the rocks of the lingering “Should NASFiC be a WSFS sanctioned event” debate, well before the vagary of its definition of Asia comes up – if not this year, certainly next year when it would come up for ratification or in 2025 when it would come up for ratification if there are significant changes made.

  28. There’s a post just gone up today on The con’s official Weixin page that has an image near the bottom about the proposals, and refers to “EASFiC” – “EA” presumably meaning “East Asia”?

    The hanzi are the same as the ones in the Chinese version of the Business Meeting agenda, so I’m not sure why the English language text has changed. AFAIK those two characters – which I’m not going to attempt to post here, given WordPress’ propensity for mangling them – just mean “Asia” generally.

    As an aside, I also note that at the bottom of the page it has an image with a number of corporate sponsors, although not all are identified as such. One is the already-known China Telecom, another is a car company. I’ll try to identify the others in time for today’s Scroll.

  29. Look at the level of criticism of the committee coming from within Chinese fandom. The Beijing bid will not be lining up to repeat Chengdu’s mistakes, nor the Bangkok bid nor the Bengaluru bid.

    Re: “industrial,” etc., the bad translation is amusing, but it is probably true that in some places in Asia business and government may be willing to give some support a fan convention that has industry discussions on the side. The balance may not be the same as in North America, but that is not categorically bad. For example, in Chengdu they’re talking about ways to strengthen industry IP protections. We don’t complain when others do it, like Dublin conventions taking UNESCO money. OK, sometimes we complain. What cross-promotion could possibly top Raytheon? Holding your con at a Class IV Biowar Facility?

  30. An ASFiC in Almaty could meet jointly with the Almaty Eurocon:

    APPENDIX 1 – EUROPEAN COUNTRIES Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark (including Greenland and the Faroes), Estonia, Finland (including Åland), France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Montenegro, Netherlands, North Macedonia, Norway (including Svalbard), Poland, Portugal (including Madeira and the Azores), Romania, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain (including the Canaries), Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom (i.e. England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and, for the purposes of this Constitution, Jersey, Guernsey and its dependencies, Isle of Man, Gibraltar), Vatican City.

  31. I know that Dave Lally was advising on an attempt by (mostly Japanese and Korean) fans to set up an AsiaCon on the EuroCon model, rather than the NASFic model. The last I heard of this was before COVID, so I have no idea where this is up to.

    It might be more useful to get the different groups all pointed at each other and talking so they can agree on a single model, rather than ending up with multiple competing cons that are all intended to be Asia-wide, but finding that some are largely Chinese and others are largely non-Chinese

  32. For information, an earlier draft of the proposal did say “East Asia,” but was modified by its makers before the agenda was finalized. Neither version of the proposal defined the terms the way we define “North America” in the WSFS Constitution.

  33. @Kevin, Asia is much better than East Asia.

    @Andrew, Russia and Belarus are being expelled from Eurocon’s coordinating body. Russia has a case for being Asia but Belarus does not. If they are going to participate in geographic groupings surely they would wish to be grouped together.

    An Asiacon is a good thing, it is just not feasible. They’d end up with something run by and for China with regional ambitions. ASFiC is stateless. Chengdu reaching out to work with WSFS on it is like an olive branch. If that doesn’t succeed, some other kind of international SF society will fill the void. It would be entirely predictable if national meetings started rotating among China, Brazil, South Africa, Russia, India, and Iran. An ASFiC, if there is a demand for one, is better for everybody.

  34. If they can somehow guarantee it won’t be in China every year, and include South Asia, maybe. But how likely is that to happen? They’d have to define “Asia” like the NASFiC rules do North America, and probably add it can’t be in the same country in consecutive years, maybe only X years out of Y.

    But there’s absolutely no reason to tie it to WSFS. Do it yourself, 61% of people! They are certainly able to organize such a thing. The Eurocon model would be best.

    The “Industrial Conference” is still irking/amusing me. I picture a giant dealer’s room selling turbines, tractors, steelmaking equipment, production lines… which would actually be cool if they were science fictional. There’s a free story idea for you all.

    (starts picturing the “Serenity” crew at one of those)

  35. This feels like putting the cart before the horse.

    If there was some sort of pan-Asian fannish community with a thriving schedule of annual conventions, perhaps there could be some value in anointing one each year as the ASFiC.

    Starting from scratch and getting involved in building up that pan-Asian fannish community feels like it’s way outside of WSFS’ competencies.

    Beyond that, the implicit assumption of WSFS administering NASFiC site selection seems to me that a non-North American Worldcon would be preceded by a North American Worldcon (which is no longer true) or that at least the majority of voters participating in site selection for a NASFiC are at least considering attending that year’s NASFiC (which is probably still true).

    None of that would be true for ASFiC. If you imagine this passing and the members of a theoretical 2025 Seattle Worldcon choosing the site for a 2026 ASFiC, I think it’s inarguable that (1) the vast majority of those voting in Seattle would never attend an ASFiC, and (2) the vast majority of those who would be attending a 2026 ASFiC wouldn’t be attending a Seattle Worldcon.

    It seems ludicrous to me to even consider this.

    I could imagine a reasonable argument for the WSFS to incorporate a pre-existing pan-Asian fannish community; I can’t see any reasonable argument that WSFS is the best organization to try to create that community.

    I’m just happy that China was willing to let Worldcon go after renting it for a year, since there’s a number of scenarios where things could have gone very badly and the usual useful idiots would have no doubt let it happen. I think the smart move is for the WSFS to take that gift and walk away, not sign up for further Chinese entanglements.

  36. Can we maybe stop with the anti-Chinese sentiments? We can all agree that the basic idea of a Pan-Asian con is a good one, that this proposal has several flaws and that a Pan-Asian con doesn’t need the WSFS to get off the ground.

    And yes, they definitely need to define what counts as Asia for this purpose.

    As for a potential Pan-Asian con being in China most of the time, NASFIC is in the US most of the time, though this year’s was in Canada and 2019 was in Puetro Rico, which is sort of US but also not. A Pan-Asian con might actually have more variety with regard to locations (China, Japan, India, South Korea, Singapore, Thailand would all be logical locations and there are many other potential locations) than NASFIC.

    Finally, if the idea is to have a Chinese national con that moves around the country (which may already exist – I’m not very familiar with the Chinese con scene), again this doesn’t need the WSFS to get off the ground.

  37. Here’s what we might be missing here: an international science fiction convention in Asia might need the trappings of legitimacy to get off the ground.

    Hypothetically, if Chinese SFF fans tried to create a roving pan-Asian SFF convention, it might be perceived by fans in Korea and Japan to be a convention that is Chinese-dominated. However, if the WSFS set up an ASFiC, it might have more of a stamp of legitimacy and internationalism.

    Personally, I don’t take issue with either ASFiC or NASFiC. Though it would be hecking odd for SFF fans at the Seattle Worldcon to be voting on the location of an upcoming ASFiC.

  38. We can all agree that the basic idea of a Pan-Asian con is a good one means “we all North Americans and a few Europeans”?

  39. Honestly I don’t like the idea of a ASFiC convention. I get that Asia has 61% of the Worlds population, but as others have pointed out Asia would be better off with an Eurocon type scenario and not tie it to the WSFS.

    I think this will only put more pressure on the somewhat small number of dedicated fen that keep WSFS running.

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