Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Folds

Orlando in 2023 NASFiC bid chair Adam Beaton today announced the bid has been cancelled.

With a heavy heart, we write to inform you that Orlando is backing out of the 2023 NASFiC race. This was an incredibly difficult choice to make so close to the vote at Chicon 8 – Chicago Worldcon 2022. There were some factors to our decision that were in our control that helped guide us and some sadly not in our control.

On behalf of the rest of the Orlando committee, thank you to everyone who supported us from our announcement at DisCon III to today and had planned on voting for Orlando. All of us on the committee are so sorry we could not bring the NASFiC to Central Florida.

Winnipeg is now the only remaining filed bid for the 2023 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). Since 1975, NASFiCs have been held whenever the Worldcon is held outside North America, as provided by the WSFS Constitution. The selection of Chengdu, China to host the 2023 Worldcon opened the way for a NASFiC the same year.

The Orlando NASFiC Bid had superseded the Orlando in 2026 Worldcon bid.

In March, the Orlando NASFiC bid had tried to position itself as a more acceptable alternative to attending the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon:

There isn’t an actual mechanism to take away the Worldcon based on the actions of what that committee’s government chooses to do or even not do. We can say, though, that the power of boycotting has always been a way for many diverse voices to be seen and heard, from the Cogadh na Talún in Ireland to the Swadeshi Movement in India. Such actions can and should always be considered by any of the members of WSFS.

The NASFiC can never be the Worldcon, and no one can promise you that. What we can promise you, however, is our deep commitment to running for you the best alternative to the Worldcon we can–a convention that celebrates the diversity and inclusivity that empowers us all as fans and commits our spirit to “keep moving forward,” as Walt Disney once said.

It’s also vital for us to recognize that some in the community have strong feelings about our own government here in Florida and perhaps even the American South at large. It would be hypocritical to not point that out in a statement like this, and we see and hear all of your opinions and feelings regarding this topic.

As the statement implied, they were already having to labor under the political baggage created by passage of Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill, leading to weeks of public acrimony between state Governor Ron DeSantis and Disney over the company’s opposition to the law which limits how educators discuss LGBTQ issues in the classroom. Then, the state legislature retaliated by voting to revoke a special tax district created in 1967 to facilitate the operation of DisneyWorld.

The bid committee therefore unexpectedly found themselves having to address the question “Is Orlando a safe space for LGBTQIA+ fans?”

Today’s announcement did not specify all the factors behind the withdrawal, however, the state’s political and cultural news profile must have been one of them.

23 thoughts on “Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Folds

  1. I support this decision. There are large parts of this country I, a straight white woman of a certain age, no longer feel safe in. It’s much more dangerous for people of color and and those who are anything but cis-het. Con committees need to be practical and consider if their site will get the numbers of fans needed to make the con a financial success. If too many folks don’t feel safe going somewhere, it is not a viable site.

  2. Some people are fine with the China Worldcon yet say they’d never attend a con in an evil state like Florida. That’s outrageous hypocrisy. If they regard both locations as unacceptable, fine, I can respect that. But if Florida is beyond acceptable bounds, China is much more so.

  3. I was also struck by this literal attempt to use the NASFiC — a WSFS event — to undermine WSFS’ Worldcon.

    People have raising that spectre since the invention of the NASFiC, arguing there should be only one WSFS event (and if people want a NASFiC some other organization should be started to run it). It’s time to take that concern seriously.

  4. I’m confused by the notion that a NASFiC bid could improperly undermine a Worldcon since NASFiC explicitly exists to give North America a con in the years Worldcon is somewhere else. Was it because Orlando said too much about Chengdu?

    It seems to me that WSFS can do both Worldcon and NASFiC as long as the NASFiC has guidelines for what it can and can’t do.

  5. Some people are fine with the China Worldcon yet say they’d never attend a con in an evil state like Florida. That’s outrageous hypocrisy.

    I can’t recall anyone taking an anti-Florida, pro-China position.

    Anyone who criticized the selection of Chengdu was reminded of the human rights abuses in the U.S., particularly in places like Florida. As a resident of Florida I can’t say they’re wrong. The Ron DeSantis regime is finding new rights to trample all the time.

  6. rcade: In general, it’s a political opinion whether the existence of the NASFiC detracts from or undermines the Worldcon, one I have not previously shared. We could discuss the evidence about the general view, but here my point is that I have never before seen a NASFiC bid with a campaign plank that encouraged the idea people should skip the Worldcon. The reasons for objecting to Chengdu are clear. However, now that someone has crossed this line, WSFS should take the idea more seriously that NASFiC is incompatible with their primary purpose, running a successful Worldcon.

  7. I am going to vote for Winnipeg as I originally planned as Florida was unacceptable but also Cheng Du is unacceptable.

  8. Whether or not the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) should sponsor occasional NASFiCs is a matter for the WSFS Business Meeting to decide. After all, WSFS owns the trademark on “NASFIC”. And there have been attempts to get the Business Meeting to remove the NASFIC from the WSFS Constitution. As far as I can recall, those efforts have consistently been defeated by about a 60% tp 40% vote.

  9. Donald Eastlake: Can you point us to the last attempt to remove the NASFiC? It would be a helpful case study.

  10. Curious if there’s ever been a serious attempt to create a U.S. Natcon. NASFiC obviously isn’t that.

  11. Rich Lynch: Around 1999, Robert Sacks was trying to create a Continental Science Fiction Association with the aim of taking over responsibility for the NASFiC, and/or starting a National convention. That’s the most serious attempt I’m aware of.

  12. orlandoin2023.org now redirects to main.winnipegin2023.ca. Cute. Other pages on the orlandoin2023.org are still up. Only the main page redirects. I was hoping their site would have more explanation about why they withdrew, so I wouldn’t have to go to Facebook.

    Which led me to realize, I’m not a fan of what is happening in Florida, but that would not prevent me from visiting the state. There are lots of decent Floridians who have to put up with the craziness every day, and they could use some sympathy and support. But Facebook, no, I’m not going there. No way.

    We’ve had several Worldcon bids implode, most unfortunately, but that has not turned into a discussion of whether we really should keep having Worldcons. Bidding is hard, and stuff happens that is beyond the control of the bid committees. Stuff also happens where the bid committee should have known better, but let he who has never made a misteak throw the first tomato.

  13. I don’t have a dog in the fight, but if would have been voting, it would probably have been Orlando because of the vote rigging attempts.
    But I am a straight white cis man, so there’s a lot I’m oblivious to

  14. There are differences:
    Attending Orlando for some is a comfort/safety consideration and personal for each individual fan.
    Attending Chengdu is an ethical issue, one which puts attendees on the side of state-sponsored genocide.
    Orlando would have taken place in a country that is still regarded as a Democratic state that respects human rights (heading for designation as a “Democracy in Failure”, but not quite there yet, and, mitigated, very recently, by signs that the tide may be turning.
    Chengdu takes place in the heart of a dictatorial regime where the joke is that they make you pay for your own bullet when they execute you for voicing your opinion.
    Orlando would not have been decided by a rigged vote, regardless of the outcome.
    Chengdu was.
    These differences may not have been sufficient for individuals to justify attending one event and not the other, but they are differences and the differences are significant.

  15. Another problem with Chengdu is practical. I like to go to different places and not all the places I have been were influenced by the Enlightenment. Egypt and Peru come to mind. I don’t know how great the Indonesian government is and I have been to Bali also. So, I thought, ugh, I could buy a burner phone (not wanting my phone compromised by the Chinese government) and go to China and see the sights. Not being very interested in Pandas I thought I could go early and see Beijing and some other spots of interest. The US state department travel advisory says “reconsider” travel to China. There is some of the normal things that can happen in a place that does not respect the rule of law such as the things they warn about visiting Iran, that is, you can be picked up and jailed for any reason. Worse than that though is China is forcing people to be quarantined for a week or so in their hotel where ever they go. So even if China was a Daughter of the Enlightenment the COVID restrictions are onerous. I am not certain that any of the non-Chinese members will even be able to go to the convention.
    I have noticed that very few Chinese are counted as attending, only 4. The interesting number is that there are under 30 who are supporting. Wouldn’t all those Chinese voters who voted in this disaster be counted as supporting members? Of course if they only submitted their email addresses and not their physical addresses, the country cannot be counted. This thing is a CF of Biblical porportions.

  16. Mm-re this issue of NASFiC (in years when the Worldcon is not in N/America and it is likely there will also be one in 2024 -when Glasgow prob wins its Worldcon bid at Chicon 8/2022), I remember having an animated discussion with some US fen in Martins Bar/CCD in my home town (Dublin) at Worldcon/2019 re this. I could not understand why every other Country has a NatSFCon (incl Canada-CanCon) but not the US of A -and as far as I know also, there has never been a Mexican NatSFCon!! I was told that if the NASFiC mutated into an annual USNatCon (which might also have a Worldcon tagged on to it, when there), most US fen would prob abandon attending any non-US Worldcons held, anyway. —-Best and BCNU (or some of ye and it is my 1st time in US) at Chicon 8 – looking forward to it. [ I’m : (i) immediate past Chair ESFS-which runs the annual Eurocons -next 2 confirmed ones: in June 2023 in Upsalla/Sweden, and in Aug 2024 (1 week after Glasgow), in Rotterdam/Netherlands and (ii) now Intl Officer/BSFA (the UK’s National Body for SF). ]

  17. It will be good to see you in Chicago, Dave.

    I am surprised by the idea that a US national con would cause US fans to abandon attendance at Worldcons held outside the US. I don’t think that this would be likely. A notional “US National” con would not have many of the elements that drive Worldcon attendance – renewing friendships with international fans, Hugos, business meeting, Worldcon site selection, and so on. Also, there is a large established base of genre conventions of various types, as well as many well established regional cons, yet US based fans continue to attend non-US Worldcons in good numbers.

    BCNU at the Big Bar!

  18. I have helped run a couple of NASFiCs and support continuing to have them, so long as they are scheduled at least two weeks apart from that year’s Worldcon and therefore do not preclude attending both.

    One of the arguments for having a NASFiC has always been that international travel is prohibitively expensive for many while others cannot manage the travel for physical or health reasons. As a Hybrid mode of technology + convention planning improves, virtual attendance from a distance and with concurrent language translation may gradually reduce the strength of that argument. But that time is not here yet.

    With regard to a national convention, I would rather see a North American one that is inclusive of Mexico and Canada, or an American one that includes Central and South America, though sadly the success of such an effort looks like it would require reversing the current trend of making it harder to cross those borders.

    As a U.S. fanhistorian, I would hypothesize that a large part of why we do not have a NatCon already is that the combination of having large regional cons and having up until this century held most of the Worlcons in the U.S. have caused enough of a call on the time, energy, and treasure of U.S.ian conrunners that we haven’t had the capacity for mounting an annual roving national convention as well. But the country is just too big and too poorly connected for fast transit for us to situate a NatCon in one city for the duration, as many smaller countries do.

    Many of the overseas conventions this century have still leaned heavily on the predominantly American/UK/Australian “floating Worldcon Committee” of experienced WSFS members dedicated to helping the Worldcon succeed wherever it is hosted. I think an overlap of volunteers from year to year valuably assists in knowledge transfer and continuity, though of course there must be a balance in welcoming new volunteers, ideas, and fannish cultures. I hope that committee members of non-North-American Worldcons will be encouraged to continue the practice of joining other committees so the “Floating Worldcon Committee” becomes more of a worldwide network of collaboration and support.

  19. I don’t think that WSFS needs to consider dropping NASFiC because a convention bid that failed before a vote behaved objectionably in how it campaigned in regard to the same-year Worldcon.

    But if someone wants to propose a constitutional amendment to better express the desired relationship between NASFiC and Worldcon, that could be worthwhile.

  20. Is there a Chengdu WorldCon website? All I found was worldconinchina dot com, which is a bid site. Where did Linda Robinett find registration stats for 2023?

  21. Is there a Chengdu WorldCon website? All I found was worldconinchina dot com, which is a bid site. Where did Linda Robinett find registration stats for 2023?

    You might be better off with their Facebook web page here.

  22. So in addition to everything else, one needs to be on Facebook to get full information about the Chengdu Worldcon. (I realize this is low on the list of complaints about a Chengdu Worldcon, but it is the one thing the committee actually has control over.)

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