SFF Authors Release Open Letter Condemning China as Host of 2023 Worldcon

Publishers Weekly today drew attention to an Open Letter signed by over 80 authors calling for the revocation of the choice of Chengdu, China as 2023 Worldcon host: “Speculative Fiction Community Condemns China Hosting 2023 WorldCon Awards”. (The full text of the Open Letter appears at the end of the post.)

The Justice For All Canada site announced the letter on March 2 in its post “80+ Global Science-Fiction Fantasy Authors Condemn China Hosting the 2023 WorldCon Awards In An Open Letter”.

In the midst of the Ukraine invasion, threats to Taiwan, and Uyghur genocide, over 80 award-winning and bestselling writers from across the world as well as Uyghur human rights groups have condemned China’s right to host the 2023 WorldCon awards in an open letter.

The joint letter is addressed to the WorldCon committee and voters, bringing together a coalition of global science-fiction and fantasy writers to condemn the WorldCon committee for allowing Chengdu, China to bid for the 81st World Science Fiction Convention (WorldCon) – a bid that they won.

The letter calls on the literary community to appeal to the committee and community in charge of allocating the honour of hosting the world’s most prestigious science-fiction fantasy awards, requesting them to relocate the 2023 event out of China. The author signatories, many of whom are New York Times bestselling authors and Hugo award winners, include members of the WorldCon community. 

WorldCon community members vote on which country’s bid will win the right to host the Con. The vote was taken at DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon in Washington DC on December 18, 2021. The four bidders were France, United States, Canada, and China. Despite the Chinese government’s ongoing genocide against Uyghur and Turkic Muslim minorities in the Uyghur region (Xinjiang), the bid was won by Chengdu. Prominent signatories include Hugo winners, nominees and bestsellers Angie Thomas, N.K. Jemisin, G. Willow Wilson, S.A. Chakraborty, Zoraida Córdova, Tochi Onyebuchi, Ausma Zehanat Khan, Jeannette Ng, Tracy Deonn, Roseanne Brown, Usman T. Malik, and famous Uyghur writers like Tahir Hamut Izgil.

The people who crafted the letter are Sarah Mughal Rana, a Muslim writer and social outreach member of Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project, and Dr. Ausma Khan, author of The Khorasan Archives quartet.

Rana told File 770 today, “It was our idea because we both are Muslim SFF writers but it was also done with Uyghurs who cannot be named for safety reasons. I lived in China, I also work for the Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project – so this letter was made also in collaboration with most of the listed Uyghur rights groups that signed the letter to put their perspective, fact-check, and prioritize their opinions.”

The Publishers Weekly article is the effective debut of letter. Rana says she circulated it to potential signers through email and DMs and kept it under wraps until she had enough support from published writers. “I did not publicize the letter until Publishers Weekly wrote their article. …Justice for All Canada offered to publish the news release so journalists would be aware of this letter.”

A copy of the Open Letter has not yet been emailed to the Chengdu committee. Rana indicates she did previously reach out to them to discuss the bid and raise issues about the guests of honor: “I emailed Chengdu my complaints about the guests of honour and did not hear back. I tried to facilitate a discussion and am hoping they reply.” In February the Chengdu committee acknowledged another person’s tweeted complaint about guest of honor Lukianenko, so the potential exists for them to reply.

The Open Letter is not the only step the organizers have in mind. Rana says:

To be frank, I am completely aware that the bids happen via democratic vote. But my objective with the letter is to condemn the bid [the selection of Chengdu] and to draw attention and awareness about the horrific on-going Uyghur genocide — the worst in modern times. Other steps have been taken. I met with Worldcon 2022 to ensure there are plans to avoid Islamophobic rhetoric and to create a safe space for Muslims and Turkic peoples. I also am working on a constitutional amendment. At the very least, I hope for a boycott and for people to be educated on these matters so they do not gaslight and shutdown Muslim voices again. The last discussion about Chengdu’s bid, Muslims were gaslit and accused of being racist, and Western-centric.

The rules governing Worldcons and site selection presently only provide for replacing a seated Worldcon if it is “unable to perform its duties,” therefore the Open Letter’s call for “revoking the 2023 site allocation bid to Chengdu, China” sounds aspirational. File 770 asked Rana if they have advisors about Worldcon governance. She says:

Yes we do. We are aware of the process. We consulted a number of individuals who are part of Worldcon’s organizing teams or were chairs of the business meetings. We know that a bid cannot be revoked. But our purpose is more symbolic than that. We hope this shows the broken-nature of how bids are carried out with regards to human rights crises. Moreover, this emphasizes that 1. bids can be awarded during concentration camps and genocide, and 2. there is no way to undo this.

This is why we have plans to propose a constitutional amendment regardless of Chengdu happening. Any amendment that is passed takes two years through two host cities, so this does not affect Chengdu. We hope to introduce an amendment where bidding cities do not qualify if an on-going genocide is being carried out that is recognized by either an independent verified tribunal or international human rights organizations. Even though this would not affect Chengdu; Chengdu is an example of the broken nature of these bids and how they do not take into account marginalized, persecuted populations.

The full text of the “Open Letter to WorldCon Committee to revoke Chengdu Bid 2023” follows the jump.

Open Letter to WorldCon Committee to revoke Chengdu Bid 2023

To Members of the WorldCon Site Selection, WorldCon Community and Voters:

We the undersigned authors, human rights organizations, and members of the science fiction and fantasy community are asking you to revoke the 2023 WorldCon bid to Chengdu, China.

We do so in protest of serious and ongoing human rights violations taking place in the Uyghur region of China, formally labelled by the Chinese government as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). These human rights violations amount to atrocity crimes, as documented by Human Rights Watch, and numerous other human rights organizations, and as per the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. The parliaments of Japan, France, UK, Belgium, Czech Republic, Canada, Lithuania and the Netherlands, along with the United States State Department, consider these crimes to have met the threshold of genocide. We will elaborate on these crimes below.

To cite the April 19, 2021 Human Rights Watch report on the oppression of China’s Uyghur population, entitled “Break Their Lineage, Break Their Roots”:

“Crimes against humanity are considered among the gravest human rights abuses under international law. The specific crimes against humanity documented in this report include imprisonment or other deprivation of liberty in violation of international law; persecution of an identifiable ethnic or religious group; enforced disappearance; torture; murder; and alleged inhumane acts intentionally causing great suffering or serious injury to mental or physical health, notably forced labor and sexual violence.”

While the Chinese government’s crimes against Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples are not new, they have accelerated since 2014, when the Chinese government launched the “Strike Hard Campaign Against Violent Terrorism” in the Uyghur homeland. According to the United Nation and Human Rights Watch, “As many as a million people have been arbitrarily detained in 300 to 400 facilities, which include “political education” camps, pretrial detention centers, and prisons. Courts have handed down harsh prison sentences without due process…”. The Uyghur Tribunal (independent People’s Tribunal led by Sir Geoffrey Nice in London) concluded based on 18 months of assessment of evidence, that crimes of genocide and crimes against humanity were committed by the Chinese government against the Uyghurs and other Turkic people.

In its latest White Paper, the Government of China acknowledged that between 2014-2019, an average of 1.29 million people in the region per year have gone through “Vocational Training,” a term used to describe detention facilities. 

Reports have also documented that within the concentration camps, millions of Uyghurs are subjected to severe physical, sexual, and mental torture, as well as forced labour on a wide scale. Uyghur Muslims have been forced to denounce their religious practices; China’s government has criminalized Islamic practices, destroyed mosques, shrines, and graveyards, banned Uyghur language, separated families from their children, and created a digital Gulag to eradicate Uyghur identity.

A recent report detailed a systematic campaign of forced sterilization and forced abortion of Uyghur women, alongside appalling measures deployed to prevent the birth of the Uyghur population. Forced sterilization and the transfer of children from their communities constitute acts of genocide under Article II of the UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

Numerous genocide and atrocity prevention organizations have also expressed their grave concerns at crimes against humanity and genocidal measures taken against Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim populations.

Recently leaked internal Chinese government documents document the inner workings and extent of detention facilities (concentration camps) and forced labor schemes. These leaks include Operating Manuals for the Mass Internment and Surveillance systems, a comprehensive logbook and more than 400 pages of other internal papers, including speeches from senior officials, providing an inside look at the implementation of genocidal measures against the Uyghur population.

In addition, enforced separation of Uyghur children from their parents has reached an unprecedented level. The Government of China has not disclosed the whereabouts of these children and has blocked access to their families. The number of disappeared Uyghur children is estimated at 880,000 from 2019. Furthermore, according to witness accounts and testimonies, frequent deaths, physical and mental torture, enforced disappearances, mass rape, and enforced marriage of Uyghur girls to Han Chinese, have become widespread in the region.

As science fiction and fantasy authors, we imagine brave new worlds in our fiction. We challenge power, authority and the status quo, where grave injustices may be perpetrated without accountability or reparation. We write underdogs and outsiders who disrupt power structures and overthrow cruel overlords. So often, our characters make unthinkable sacrifices, and undertake impossible quests to bring down tyrants and oppressive regimes. They do so for a chance at a just and more inclusive future, where their people no longer suffer violence and discrimination.

The human rights atrocities committed by the government of China against the Uyghur and other Turkic Muslim populations are in total opposition to everything we as a community stand for. We cannot, in good conscience, celebrate the achievements of the best and brightest in our field, against a backdrop of catastrophic human suffering. To participate in WorldCon in Chengdu, China, would be equivalent to giving WorldCon’s imprimatur to genocide and to crimes against humanity.

Therefore, we ask, that in solidarity with the Uyghur and Turkic peoples suffering ongoing atrocity crimes, that the site allocation bid for WorldCon 2023 be changed to any other reasonable contender. We hope that as a community that strongly advocates for human rights, you will take the appropriate action now that you are aware of the government of China’s actions. Given the egregious human rights violations that are ongoing in the Uyghur region, we are urgently asking the organizers of WorldCon 2023 to join us in condemning these violations by revoking the 2023 site allocation bid to Chengdu, China. This is not a protest against the citizens of China, with whom we stand in solidarity, but rather against a government that is committing crimes against humanity, as documented above.

Please note, also, that many members of our community had to prioritize the safety of their families in China, and thus could not publicly add their names. This is one of many reasons our petition is urgent.

We look forward to a positive response.

Sincerely,

The Undersigned Authors and Organizations

The undersigned authors, civil society and human rights groups:

Authors:

    • N. K. Jemisin, author of THE BROKEN EARTH TRILOGY
    • Angie Thomas, author of THE HATE U GIVE and ON THE COME UP
    • G. Willow Wilson, author of ALIF THE UNSEEN and MS. MARVEL
    • S. A Chakraborty, author of CITY OF BRASS
    • Jeannette Ng, author UNDER THE PENDULUM SUN
    • Xiran Jay Zhao, author of IRON WIDOW
    • Tochi Onyebuchi, author of RIOT BABY and GOLIATH
    • Zoraida Córdova, author of THE INHERITANCE OF ORQUIDEA DIVINA and STAR WARS: THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK
    • L. D. Lewis, author, editor, Publisher at FIRESIDE MAGAZINE, Project Manager FIYAH Literary Magazine, Director FIYAHCON
    • Tahir Hamut Izgil, Uyghur poet of DISTANCE AND OTHER POEMS and author of article ONE BY ONE, MY FRIENDS WERE SENT TO THE CAMPS
    • Tahir Imin, writer, translator and founder of UYGHUR TIMES
    • Uighur Abdulla, author of Uyghur works
    • K. Tempest Bradford, author, educator, and activist
    • Tracy Deonn, author of LEGENDBORN
    • Sona Charaipotra, author of SYMPTOMS OF A HEARTBREAK
    • Roseanne Brown, author of A SONG OF WRAITHS AND RUIN & A BLACK PANTHER GRAPHIC NOVEL
    • Bethany C. Morrow, author of A SONG BELOW WATER and SO MANY BEGINNINGS
    • J Elle, author of WINGS OF EBONY
    • Ausma Zehanat Khan, author of BLOODPRINT
    • Usman T. Malik, author of MIDNIGHT DOORWAYS
    • Uzma Jalaluddin, author of AYESHA AT LAST
    • N. H. Senzai, author of SHOOTING KABUL
    • Tasha Suri, author of THE JASMINE THRONE
    • Anna Smith Spark, author of THE COURT OF BROKEN KNIVES
    • Lauren Blackwood, author of WITHIN THESE WICKED WALLS
    • Hannah Whitten, author of FOR THE WOLF
    • Jamilah Thompkins-Bigelow, author of YOUR NAME IS A SONG and ONCE UPON AN EID
    • Intisar Khanani, author of THORN
    • June Hur, author of THE SILENCE OF BONES
    • Susannah Aziz, author of HALAL HOT DOG
    • Ava Reid, author of THE WOLF AND THE WOODSMAN
    • Aamna Qureshi, author of THE LADY OR THE LION
    • Jessica & Jacinta, authors of LUNAR BOY
    • Ciannon Smart, author of WITCHES STEEPED IN GOLD
    • Mike Brooks, author of THE BLACK COAST
    • Vaishnavi Patel, author of KAIKEYI
    • N.E. Davenport, author of THE BLOOD TRIALS
    • S.B. Divya, author of MACHINEHOOD
    • Alechia Dow, author of THE SOUND OF STARS
    • Saara El-Arifi, author of THE FINAL STRIFE
    • EK Johnston, author of AHSOKA
    • Claire Holroyde, author of THE EFFORT
    • Farah Naz Rishi, author of HOPE YOU GET THIS MESSAGE
    • M.O. Yuksel, author of IN MY MOSQUE
    • Linden A. Lewis, author of THE FIRST SISTER
    • Deborah Falaye, author of BLOOD SCION
    • Kat Howard, author of AN UNKINDNESS OF MAGICIANS
    • Greta Kelly, author of THE FROZEN CROWN
    • George Jreije, author of SHAD HADID AND THE ALCHEMISTS OF ALEXANDRIA
    • M.T. Khan, author of NURA AND THE IMMORTAL PALACE
    • Josh Monken, host of CONTRIBUTE A VERSE podcast
    • J. Austin Yoshino, FRESH PULP MAGAZINE
    • Liselle Sambury, author of BLOOD LIKE MAGIC
    • London Shah, author of THE LIGHT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WORLD
    • Nafiza Azad, author of THE CANDLE AND THE FLAME
    • Natasha Khan Kazi, author of MOON’S RAMADAN
    • Rowenna Miller, author of THE UNRAVELED KINGDOM series
    • Tracy Banghart, author of GRACE AND FURY
    • Kat Dunn, author of DANGEROUS REMEDY
    • Victor Manibo, author of THE SLEEPLESS
    • Chelsea Abdullah, author of THE STARDUST THIEF
    • Tej Turner, author of BLOODSWORN and THE JANUS CYCLE
    • Tanvi Berwah, author of MONSTERS BORN AND MADE
    • Shirin Shamsi, author of THE GIRL WHO DARED
    • Joanne Hall, author of THE ART OF FORGETTING
    • SHENG Xue, Chinese-Canadian author, poet, and human rights activist

Organizations:

    • World Uyghur Congress
    • Uyghur Human Rights Project
    • Uyghur Revival Association
    • The Uyghur Rights Advocacy Project
    • Uyghur Times
    • Justice for All Canada
    • Stop Uyghur Genocide Canada
    • International Coalition to End Transplant Abuse in China
    • Boston Uyghur Association
    • Canadian In Support of Refugees In Dire Need
    • NG Medical PC
    • Uyghur Hjelp Project
    • Canadians in Support of Refugees in Dire Need

87 thoughts on “SFF Authors Release Open Letter Condemning China as Host of 2023 Worldcon

  1. We need a Worldcon bid expert. CAN a Worldcon basically back out of a bid after they have won it? And under what circumstances (if there are even any) can a bid be revoked from a winning convention?

  2. Paul Weimer:

    (1) A winning bid can abandon its rights to the Worldcon. That’s not a rules problem — the rules aren’t designed to force committees to hold cons against their will. There could be consequences to a committee that fails to honor a facilities agreement — and while that could hurt the Worldcon in the long run, too, that legal obligation is the committee’s. There also would be issues about what happens to the site selection membership money that was turned over to the winning committee, and recovering the membership data, and lots of other mess to clean up. The WSFS rules have a section on “incapacity of committee” where other seated committees are called on to sort out what happens if one year’s group can’t do it.

    (2) There isn’t any provision in the rules for revoking a winning convention bid except for incapacity.

  3. A convention committee almost certainly could choose to back out by claiming they were unable to perform their duties as the seated convention. AFAIK there’s no way for a convention to be backed out by any other entity, though.

    edit or, what Mike said.

  4. I’m in total support of their intentions and goals. I don’t see a way it can be achieved, except by the Chengdu committee declaring they can’t carry out their duties. I fear that, even supposing they agree with these concerns, the Chengdu committee would be in deep shit with their own government. They’re really unlikely to be that committed.

    I would really like to see something meaningful happen. The cancelation of the Chengdu WorldCon–I can’t see how it’s possible now. I can’t think of how anything kludged together at this point wouldn’t have very, let’s say “inconvenient,” consequences in the future. And I feel like saying “so we can’t do anything” is lazy and cowardly.

    Not happy with myself or anyone right now.

  5. The contrast between this letter and the letter written by some authors in July 2020 is certainly marked. It’s heartening to see that so much thought has been put into both words and actions.

    Sadly, I do not think the Chengdu concom is the slightest bit concerned about any of this, and I do not see them responding in anything other than a token way (if that). But depending on how the 2023 Worldcon goes, I do think that WSFS members may be willing to make drastic changes to the process.

  6. Note that a constitutional amendment passed in Chicago would need to be ratified in Chengdu to go into effect.

  7. Even considering the potential difficulties of ratifying an amendment passed this year, I think it’s worthwhile to begin considering what changes we might want to make sooner rather than later—if nothing else, as base text for refinement and consideration in 2024.

  8. Given the grotesque human rights abuses of the US (and Canada, and the UK, and every other country I can think of) why are people moaning about the Chengdu Worldcon in particular?

    I have a hypothesis – just that, a hypothesis. Is it because if the Chinese government decides that they want to take over Worldcon they can – and with little expense or effort? And then the traditional SMOFs are out in the cold? They think that Chengdu is the first step, perhaps? The old guard always hates being cut out. That’s all this is, in my opinion.

  9. Miles Carter: Do you feel it’s your superpower to lower the average IQ of any room you enter?

    Because you plainly don’t care about “grotesque human rights abuses” unless somebody annoys you by mentioning them.

    Also, no SMOFs signed this letter. That’s a really zero-effort attempt to gin up a little conspiracy theory.

  10. Indeed @Olav. Given the (feature and bug in twain) glacial speed at which Worldcon allows for change, if such a proposal was to be done, it should have been considered, then.

    Now, as Goobergunch notes, the next opportunity that could produce result would be to start at the 2024 Worldcon Business meeting? (which I suppose gives a lot of time to think and lay groundwork for it and think through it all, if it can and should be done,and how)

  11. Is it possible, under the WSFS constitution, to formulate an amendment that will skip the first subsequent Worldcon for ratification, but will be voted on two years down the road? I foresee that any amendment (that is, disagreeable to the Chinese) voted on at Chicon will otherwise be voted down into oblivion at Chengdu.

    I might mention here that US fandom has not been entirely clean in the matter of keeping the Worldcon out of places committing human rights abuses–the first Nolacon, in 1951, was held deep in Jim Crow country (Louisiana). Fortunately, that never happened again, as race relations improved markedly from the late 1960s onward (although we’re still far from perfect on that one). The next Worldcon held in the Deep South was Florida’s Suncon, in 1977. That con had many serious problems, but racism wasn’t one of them.

  12. Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson: It’s great if true, however, how would you even know?

  13. might mention here that US fandom has not been entirely clean in the matter of keeping the Worldcon out of places committing human rights abuses–the first Nolacon, in 1951, was held deep in Jim Crow country (Louisiana).

    Yes. Exactly.

    That’s why I think any criteria need to be based on as neutral metrics as possible. There are several human rights indexes that offer fairly credible country-by-country and year-by-year analysis.

  14. “We know that a bid cannot be revoked.”

    Then perhaos reflect this in the letter.

  15. “That’s why I think any criteria need to be based on as neutral metrics as possible. There are several human rights indexes that offer fairly credible country-by-country and year-by-year analysis.”

    Any metric regarding the Uyghurs would also have stopped US from hosting a Worldcon when their genocidal sanctions against Iraq killed half a million children below the age of five. That means that no Worldcon could have taken place in US between 1991 and 2003. Apart from that, we have also had the period of the Vietnam War, the Iraq War and more.

    Do we really think it’s feasible to more or less never be able to host a Worldcon in US to avoid supporting US soft power?

    I think if we go by any working metric for site selection, it wouldn’t be about war and oppression performed by the country. It would instead be about the freedom of expression without repercussions for the visiting Worldcon members. And possibly if there are UN sanctions against the country.

    But I’m not sure if there is an international body with any neutrality that measures this. It would need to be something like the Red Cross or Amnesty.

  16. Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson on March 7, 2022 at 4:21 pm said:

    Is it possible, under the WSFS constitution, to formulate an amendment that will skip the first subsequent Worldcon for ratification, but will be voted on two years down the road?

    Short answer: No.

    Long Answer: Section 6.6 of the WSFS Constitution is the only way to amend the WSFS Constitution:

    Section 6.6: Amendment. The WSFS Constitution may be amended by a motion passed by a simple majority at any Business Meeting but only to the extent that such motion is ratified by a simple majority at the Business Meeting of the subsequent Worldcon.

  17. I wonder where they got this idea:

    The four bidders were France, United States, Canada, and China.

    Probably everyone here knows this, but the only bids on the ballot were from Winnipeg (Canada) and Chengdu (China).

    Whoever actually wrote that statement doesn’t seem to know a whole lot about how the site selection process works.

  18. This is why I voted against Chengdu.

    Now, unless Chengdu chooses to say they can’t carry out their duties as the 2023 Worldcon, we can’t change things until after 2023.

    No country is perfect, and the US is worse than some, but no, we’re not, in the current era, as bad as China, or Russia, or Saudi Arabia. I’d have liked to see the Nice bid succeed, even though I couldn’t possibly have gone. There are other good options, too, even if a person’s standards are too high to tolerate the US, Canada, or the UK.

  19. @ Jeanne (Sourdough) Jackson: My very first Worldcon was Suncon in 1977. And let me tell you, I could tell you a few hair-raising encounters of racism involving me in Miami Beach back then.

    Interestingly enough, all of the incidents involved Cuban-Americans who were HIGHLY disturbed by the presence of a young, African-American man enjoying himself at a science fiction convention.

    Even today, systemic and outright racism are like a programs running in the background of my life. It’s always there and I am ever vigilant about when it might strike next.

    Because there’s ALWAYS a next time…

  20. @ Hampus

    Thank you for listing America’s human rights issues, but what do you think about the moral issues surrounding Chengdu 2023? Do you approve? You didn’t say anything about that. We’re not talking about then, we’re talking about now.

  21. It is not in the bylaws to revoke a bid that a majority of voters selected. This is simply publicity opposing the on-going Uyghur genocide but has zero validity.

  22. Rob Thornton:

    “Thank you for listing America’s human rights issues, but what do you think about the moral issues surrounding Chengdu 2023? Do you approve?”

    Approve of what? The only thing I see is a call to revoke a bid that the letter writers themselves say can’t be revoked. Let me see the proposal to the Business Meeting that Rana is working on,, then we have something to discuss and approve or not.

  23. While obviously there is nothing that can be done to revoke the Worldcon designation for Chendu in 2023, if enough people feel strongly about it, they can make it a Worldcon in Name Only by encouraging U.S. and European pros and fans to boycott it. If only a handful of people from outside China show up, it would send a message that fandom does not approve of genocide.

  24. Samuel Lubell: I suspect you overestimate how many Western writers would spend the money to attend a con in China even under ideal circumstances; what difference will a boycott make?

    Likewise, sending a message depends on there being someone to receive it. Between the language barrier and the contraints on free expression in China’s social media would sff fans there ever know this protest was happening?

  25. Adrienne Foster: Has there been any response from Chengdu Worldcon?

    Not on Twitter. But then their last tweet was February 22. And besides, the creator of the letter had not sent a copy to them as of today. They may not know about it until somebody on the committee reads (or sees a translation of) the Publishers Weekly post.

  26. @Chris Barkley: I did say “serious problems.” Like the first hotel going bankrupt under them. Like the second hotel being scheduled to fold right after Suncon, the staff knowing this, and treating people of all races alike–surly service and greedy for tips (I heard about this from a couple of friends who did attend). Like the concom suffering a meltdown nearing Chernobyl proportions, requiring a massive infusion of outside fannish assistance to get the con going onsite and keep it that way. Like rain falling on the art show. As far as I know, Florida had by then gotten rid of Jim Crow–no segregation in public schools, restrooms, lunch counters, hotels, etc., and nonwhites could vote. I’m a little surprised that it was Cuban-Americans who were giving trouble, as people who judge others by skin color (rather than character) often tend to lump Hispanic people in with those of African descent.

  27. @samuel Lubell:
    A difficult proposition given that much of fandom resides on a continent stolen through genocide, I suspect that the message the rest of the world would hear would be we don’t approve of genocide unless it’s our ancestors who did it.

  28. What Hampus said. (Let’s not forget the half-million bombs the US dropped on Laos, either.)

    Personally, though I didn’t vote for the bid for reasons largely covered by the open letter, I plan to go in 2023.

    Part of that reason is that I have traveled to multiple places where human rights are…not as we’d hope (including places in the US), and I learn from those places experientially.

    But also, I see that there is an obligation of Worldcon fandom who are privileged enough to go to (try to) ensure that 2025 doesn’t become a worse tire fire.

  29. Should a “human rights” exclusion make its way into the Worldcon site selection rules, I expect the usual suspects would immediately jump on the opportunity to exclude Israel.

  30. Olav was not the only one raising issues with this bid three years ago.

    Beyond this particular issue, and directly in train with the puppy kerfuffle, is the fact that what WSFS needs is a standing committee whose job it is is to do what science fiction authors supposedly no longer do: predict the future.

    I spoke to Standlee and others (not holding Kevin more or less accountable than anyone else, merely mentioning to indicate that I spoke to people who knew the issues and the details) about the possibility of vote fixing through the ballot process beginning a full two years before those puppies started bleating.

    I anticipated human rights issues complicating Worldcon bids as well.

    WSFS needs to have a “loyal opposition” committee, whose job it is to look five years down the road and deliberately try to screw with the system, in order to uncover its vulnerabilities and offer enough time to address them through the formal process. Otherwise, WSFS will continue to find itself unprepared to deal with a rock OR a hard place.

    (Kevin was helpful and professional throughout)

  31. Here’s a crazy idea: make more people aware that they can participate in site selection and make it less of a pain in the ass to do so.

  32. @Jeanne
    as a member of the committee for Suncon (Hugo Awards Banquet Manager among many other hats – we all wore multiple hats) some of what you write is essentially accurate and some is not.

    The big human rights issue concerning Worldcon at the time was not racism but LGBTQI issues (we didn’t call it that back then, mostly it was called “THE gays and lesbians” and most people had not a clue that there were other letters involved). Anita Bryant, famous actress, used her notoriety to champion anti-gay causes and making some headway with support from the religious right.
    There was a lot of talk about it, and some folks didn’t attend because of the locale, but as I remember it, that wasn’t an issue at the con itself. (I’ll look through my progress reports for mentions of this issue and report back if I find anything significant.)

    I do know that “rain in the art show” is not accurate.

    There “would” have been rain in the art show if conchair Don Lundry and myself had not done a hotel walk through a handful of days before the con began; the ballroom that was planned for use as the art show smelled heavily of mold and we discovered that was owing to ceiling leaks.

    We subsequently moved the art show to the ballroom that was supposed to be the Huckster’s room, and moved the Hucksters room to several levels of the parking garage.

    And in order to make that look decent, we had to get the hotel to paint the floor of the garage…. The rush job left some bubbles of undried paint here and there which we mostly got rid of before the con started by using…(wait for it)…Fans.

    (Don, Mike Walsh – who was head of the Hucksters and would chair a future Worldcon – and myself were scratching our heads over how we were going to deal with the undried paint – the con started the next day – and all three of us turned to each other and said “Fans!” at the same time. We laughed, but it was a nervous laugh).

    Most of the internecine committee stuff happened before the replacement committee came on board; and we were handling things remotely, mostly from NJ and NY.

    And everyone, please remember – 1977. Those long lists of attendee names in the program book were typed by hand (and I did a lot of the typing).

    So yes, there were problems and issues from beginning to end of that con. Personally, I don’t remember anyone having an issue owing to race or religion or gender or orientation (well, harassment of females was still a well-accepted thing back then: Asimov would have been pinching butts in elevator cars if he had been there…on the other hand, midnight skinny dips in the hotel pool were still a thing too), but I do know that even despite our Chairman disappearing into his suite on day one and not being seen until closing ceremonies (that’s a slight exaggeration), we all dug in and delivered a convention at which all of the WSFS requirements were met and most people who were there seemed and said they had a good time.

    Now, ask me about bats in the hotel restaurant at Iguanacon the following year….

  33. @ Deidre Saorise Moen

    What Hampus said. (Let’s not forget the half-million bombs the US dropped on Laos, either.)

    So you are saying that it’s ok to do wrong now because we did wrong before. Is that correct?

  34. Hyman Rosen: Should a “human rights” exclusion make its way into the Worldcon site selection rules, I expect the usual suspects would immediately jump on the opportunity to exclude Israel.

    Given that the US, UK, Canada, Australia, and China are all under scrutiny for their human rights abuses, why would Israel be exempt from scrutiny?

  35. Rob Thornton:

    “So you are saying that it’s ok to do wrong now because we did wrong before. Is that correct?”

    What are you even talking about now? Are you still discussing site selection or something else?

  36. Chengdu was won fair and square so it’s a done deal. I thought it was problematic at the time, and got hammered for my troubles, having been accused of being a doom monger. Then again, history happens fast these days, and whatever NASFIC bid wins better have appropriate backup plans.

  37. As for Worldcon and human rights, I think it is silly to make a decision based on the entire human rights record of every country throughout time. For me, I think judgement should be made on the current state of human rights in the host country, compared to what we consider a reasonable standard on LGBTIQ+ rights, freedom of speech, and so on. Going through a left-wing litany of human rights sins through history does not help Worldcon at all.

    The question should be: Does holding Worldcon in State X imply that fandom approves of the current state of human rights in that country? Of course a state probably won’t have a perfect record, but as the US Supreme Court said about pornography, we will know a poor human rights record when we see one.

  38. I was against the Chinese Worldcon bid because of the country’s history of repression. It’s not appropriate to hold a Worldcon in a country where writers would be in danger of arrest when attending because of their political views. I think they won because of two complimentary factors: 1. strong support from Chinese fans, and 2. very weak competition. Memphis never really got their bid off the ground and dropped out, and Winnipeg didn’t do a good job with their bid and certainly didn’t sell it well. Being “Not China” doesn’t work, especially with a strong push from Chinese fans. However, I’m against having some political yardstick in the official Worldcon bidding rules. That opens up a whole can of hurt with politicizing Worldcon. Much better I think is for Worldcon voters to take a stand against countries with horrible records of abuses. Remember, it was the voters that kept the puppy slates from taking home any Hugos. If a bid has problems and there’s strong, competent alternative bid, I think there wouldn’t be a problem. I suspect we’ll see an even larger contingent at next year’s NASFIC as a result, slightly more than would be caused by Worldcon being so far away and expensive for travel.

  39. It’s been a while, but the way I remember it is there were a lot of exaggerations about what’s going on in Xinjiang, like at the Gordon Chang level of reliability. (A less charitable but more honest take would mention Nayirah al-Sabah)

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