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.