2005 TAFF Trip Report Now Available

The rest of the world can now own what Corflu Zed members had first chance to buy – a copy of Jerry’s Suzle’s TAFF Report, Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund delegate Suzle Tompkins’ account of her trip to the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon co-written with Jerry Kaufman.

Suzle’s press release follows the jump.

(Somebody should gift Elst Weinstein with a copy of this. For obscure reasons, he’ll appreciate the photo of a warning sign painted in a driveway which a pothole repair has reduced to “Ook Both Ways.”)

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File 770 #155 Posted at eFanzines

Alan White’s cover and Taral’s bacover bookend one of the longest issues in File 770’s history, now posted here in PDF — http://efanzines.com/File770/File770-155.pdf

The 50-page issue is loaded with stories about the late Forry Ackerman, and photos too. Taral provides insightful commentary about the styles and history of all 10 previous Rotsler Award winners. John Hertz contributes his definitive Denvention 3 report. James Bacon muses on the things fandom could learn from Britain’s cosplay balls. Steve & Sue Francis highlight the 9689-mile road trip they took en route to last year’s Worldcon. And I have a number of pieces, including my Corflu Zed report and analysis of the Hugo ballot. 

Hope you enjoy it!

UK Corflu in 2010

Corflu Cobalt will take place March 19-21, 2010 in Winchester, England. The bid was accepted at the recent Corflu in Seattle. Rob Jackson will chair. The Winchester Hotel will host the con.

Attending membership is £40 UK or $55 US til 31 May 2009; this includes the Sunday banquet. Supporting membership is £10 UK or $15 US. Paypal registration will be available soon. Until then, send memberships to Corflu Cobalt, 45 Kimberley Gardens, London N41LD, UK. (UK cheques payable to Pat Charnock.) US Agent: Robert Lichtman, 11037 Broadway Terrace, Oakland, CA 94611-1948, USA. (US checks payable to Robert.)

In addition to chair Rob Jackson the committee includes Pat Charnock (memberships), Graham Charnock (programme), John N. Hall (treasurer), and Linda Krawecke (hotel liaison). You can contact the con by e-mail at [email protected].

2009 FAAn Award Winners

The 2009 Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) Award winners were announced during the Corflu Zed banquet on March 15. The winners are:

Best Fanzine: eI, edited by Earl Kemp
Best Fan Writer: Bruce Gillespie
Best Fan Artist: Dan Steffan
Best Letterhack: Lloyd Penney
Best Online Fanac Site: eFanzines.com
Best New Fanzine Fan: (tie) Jean Martin (SF/SF) and Kat Templeton (retstak.org)

Awards administrator Hal O’Brien said 36 ballots were cast. A beautiful award plaque designed by Ulrika O’Brien was given to the winners: when a photo is posted online I will add a link.

Update 3/16/2009: Filled in the Best New Fanzine Fan winners, courtesy of Peter Sullivan. Update 3/17/2009: Corrected title of SF/SF.

The Corflu Comes Up Like Thunder

Fans this morning are coming by twos and threes into Tully’s, the coffee counter in the hotel. In another part of the country a careless person could explain that it’s kind of like Starbucks, but never in coffee-conscious Seattle with its rival chains. That’d be a little like saying wearing blue is the same as wearing red in parts of LA…

Another quick note about opening day: Andy Hooper’s inspiration for Friday night’s 10 p.m. program was to have an array of fans read aloud excerpts of Corflu reports from over the years. There may have been about 25 pieces, with John D. Berry reading aloud Hooper’s connective tissue and perhaps eight others performing the quotes.

As Hooper said, the material ought to provide some of the entertainment, and the juxtaposition of speakers and fanwriters should supply the rest. He was right about that.

Sandra Bond has a flair for reading conreports aloud, sounding easy and yet striking the right emphasis where needed. Chris Garcia’s enthusiasm was infectious, as always. Claire Brialey enjoyed some of the humorous readings quite a bit, but never went so far as to crack herself up. I got to read a bit of Ted White’s account of the dread which some felt before the 2001 Corflu — finding it impossible to actually mimic Ted and equally impossible not to try. The triumphant matching of material and reader was a British conreport with a Jersey accent. Not the Isle of Jersey, either.

Corflu Zed Begins

Randy Byers in a red fez greeted all the fans filling the banquet room at Corflu Zed. After he identified himself as chair, thanked a list of the people making it all possible, he then went right to the one ceremony needed to launch the convention — drawing the name of the guest of honor from a hat.

First, Andy Hooper asked the rhetorical question, “When did being Corflu’s guest of honor become compulsory?” He said Frank Lunney had originated the practice of paying $20 to have one’s name removed from the hat, taking away any risk of being drafted to give a GoH speech at the Sunday banquet. And between Andy and Ted White, everyone present heard the legend of how drafting began. Now, however, Andy proposed a new “tradition” — of allowing somebody to say “no” if his or her name was drawn. Despite Corflu’s culture of adhering to fannish tradition, there was immediate acceptance of the idea. And immediate practice.

The first fan to have her name drawn declined. No problem. Next out of the hat was Bill Burns — but he said he had only one speech in him, which he did not want to upstage as he needs to deliver it when he’s a GoH at Eastercon. Elinor Busby’s name was the final one drawn, and we expect to hear from her at the banquet.

Maybe I will talk to Andy about my idea of merging several of these traditions: if someone is picked who is reluctant to do a speech, let them enlist one or more paladins to do the duty in their stead. A rebirth of fannish chivalry is sure to follow.

FAAn Awards Deadline Impending

Hal O’Brien reminds all that votes may still be submitted by e-mail for the Fanzine Activity Achievement Awards until Thursday, March 5. “At this writing, I have only 18 votes in hand. I think we’d all benefit from more votes than that.”

The 2009 Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn) Awards Ballot is now on the page for Corflu Zed hosted by efanzines: http://efanzines.com/Corflu26/index.htm.

FAAn awards are given in the following categories for work published in 2008: Best Fanzine; Best Fan Writer; Best Fan Artist; Best Letterhack; Best New Fanzine Fan; Best Online Fanac Site.

It’s Reno in 2011

I’m overdue to post about Seattle pulling out of the race for the 2011 Worldcon. They didn’t have the required facilities committed by the February 6 filing deadline. Only Reno put in an official bid, so when the votes are counted in August Patty Wells’ crew should receive most of them.

Fans in Los Angeles know from hard-earned experience there’s nothing pleasant about losing a Worldcon bid, with a record of six defeats in ten campaigns over the past 50 years. Yet I am sure it’s even more painful and frustrating to pour out years of effort and thousands of dollars and be forced out short of the final vote – a thing Seattle fans have endured twice in the last 11 years.

Seattle’s bid for 2002 collapsed in 1998 when Starwood hotel management declined to commit any of their facilities, so it became impossible to meet the hotel and convention center reservations requirements set by the World Science Fiction Society. Now, a fatal inability to secure necessary facilities has overtaken Seattle’s bid for 2011. Seattle Chair Bobbie DuFault told readers:

This is due to an unforeseen event and our inability to reach a formal first option agreement with our preferred facilities. We had initial options on facilities, but when it came time to reduce them to formal writing, we found that our preferred facilities had groups willing to make the financial commitment ahead of us. Seattle is such a popular destination for conventions that all of the reasonable dates (early August through early September) already have groups that have firmer commitments than we do.

Cheryl Morgan observed, “The Seattle folks were obviously trying right up until the last minute to find a deal that would rescue their bid.”

That’s possible, though I suspect hope genuinely slipped away months earlier – not based on any inside knowledge, but on the indefinite nature of the answers given me about facilities when I asked about them in June 2008, right after Reno announced. For some of the most respected Worldcon runners to launch a bid for 2011 at that time seemed an implicit criticism of a political weakness in the Seattle bid that I wanted to understand. Seattle’s facilities and committee were two obvious areas to probe.

A Seattle bidder, on background, emphatically assured me they had commitments from many hotels to block rooms for the traditional Labor Day weekend — yet, at the same time said their bid was negotiating to move earlier in the month. In my mind, that begged the question: Why would a committee risk existing facilities arrangements and abandon the weekend promised by its campaign publicity – unless it already had a compelling need to do so?

No committee makes a binding financial commitment to a hotel or convention center before it is voted the rights to the Worldcon. That’s why Worldcon bids are always vulnerable to the possibility of losing their intended facilities to another group able to immediately sign a contract.

Seattle was already trying to shift dates in June 2008. In the end, they were unable to get acceptable facilities on a workable date. One can only guess how long the bidders spent grappling with this crisis behind the scenes.

Lead Time: Most analysts of Seattle’s predicament dwell on the facilities problem, the reason given by the bidders, becase it fuels a perpetual debate about how much lead time should be built into the site selection process.

Tom Veal reminded Stromata blog readers:

In 1986, the site selection lead time was changed from two to three years, largely in hopes of mitigating this problem. It didn’t work very well, as the subsequent travails of the D.C. in 1992 bid (withdrawn after another group preempted their main hotel), Baltimore in 1998 (forced to change its date) and San Francisco in 2002 (exiled to San José) illustrate. Now we are back to a two-year cycle, and nothing has changed.

Just the same, there’s been a lingering sense that Seattle’s best chances expired awhile ago. The fans at the Las Vegas Westercon I questioned about the 2011 race (none of them part of either committee) felt Reno had all the momentum, and that has never changed.

Lead time isn’t an isolated factor, but must be balanced against the requirement to keep a volunteer committee together and motivated for years of bidding and years of preparation after they win the Worldcon.

Selecting Worldcons three years in advance did not keep bidders from losing dates and facilities. The shorter two-year cycle, however, reduces the stress and punishment inflicted on bidders – which may encourage more fans to get involved or, at least, make the experience more tolerable for veteran conrunners.

Go North, Young Fan: I’m sorry Seattle is such a tough market for a 5,000-person Worldcon. Nor is the irony lost on me that in just a few weeks Corflu members (meeting in the University District, not downtown) will be enjoying everything that Seattle in 2011 has talked up, especially the Science Fiction Museum. Maybe you can’t pass a camel through the eye of a space needle, but Corflu Zed will slip through, and room to spare.