I love WorldCons, and not just because that’s where the Hugos are given. I’ve been to a few of them, and had a great time at every one of them. This year has some promise of being one of the better ones despite the incredibly high cost of hotel rooms. And flights. ESPECIALLY flights…
The city: San Antonio. It’s the birthplace of the modern Chili movement (even though they don’t use beans, which is HERESY as far as I’m concerned!) and famous for The Alamo. The Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center is a comfortable place with a lot of space and a bunch of great stuff nearby. The Marriott Rivercenter and the Marriott Riverwalk are the primary hotels, and while they’re both pretty pricey, you can also find good hotels at more reasonable prices within a mile of the Riverwalk.
First off, this year’s WorldCon has a slate of Guests of Honor that are fairly spectacular. First off, there’s Ellen Datlow, Hugo-winning editor and anthologist. She’s a fine choice, probably overdue for the honor of a WorldCon GoHship by a few years. She once borrowed a naillfile from The Lovely & Talented Linda at a Hugo ceremony. She then went on to accept the Hugo for Best Professional Editor. Correlation IS Causality, you know? Next, there’s the great James Gunn! A spectacular author of spectacular works, especially “The Cave of Night”, Gunn’s also the founder of the Center for the Study of Science Fiction. For that alone he should be a GoH and have his face caraved into the rock of Science Fiction history! Norman Spinrad is another GoH and the author of some of the best science fiction mind-trips ever. From The Iron Dream to Carcinoma Angels, the guy can just flat out write a tale that’ll mess you up!
Willie Siros is the Fan GoH and he’s awesome. He’s a book guy, has been selling at cons for just about ever and is both into Mystery and Science Fiction like another Fan I can think (who happens to be writing this piece!). I think I’m most interested in WIllie out of all of the GoHs because I don’t think I’ve ever met him! Paul Cornell is the Toastmaster. He’s one of the top writers in the world today. From Doctor Who, to the comic Saucer Country, to Hugo-nominated stories all over the place. The guy’s a stud! He’s going to be a lot of fun mastering the toast.
Sadly, the Artist GoH, Darrell K. Sweet, passed away. He’ll be honored at the convention for sure, including an exhibit of his work, I believe.
These aren’t the only awesome people who are gonna be there. Special Guests include musician Leslie Fish and author Joe R. Lonsdale. You can go to http://www.lonestarcon3.org/guests/appearing.shtml and see who else has confirmed that they’ll be there, but some of the highlights are authors like Charlaine Harris (the Sukie Stackhouse novels), Gail Carriger (the Parasol Protectorate novels), Lois McMasters Bujold, Jo Walton, Howard Waldrop, and more than an hundred others. Add to that editors, artists, and fans, and you’ve got a bunch of folks who’ll be talking about a bunch of stuff!
Now, a WorldCon ain’t a WorldCon without a bunch of stuff to look at. Yeah, there’ll be an art show and it will feature some of the top names in the field. You’ll get to see works from the likes of John Picacio (2012 Hugo Winner for Best Professional Artist) and Richard Hescox and Julie Dillon, to Best Fan Artist nominees Galen Dara, Mo Starkey (2012 Best Fan Artist Hugo winner!) and Spring Schoenhuth. It’s a great line-up (you can find more info at http://www.lonestarcon3.org/art/index.shtml) and I’m excited for Friday night, the 30th of August, which is Art Night!
If you’ve got art, you need Music, right? There’ll be filk, because would it be a WorldCon without it?, and there’s an entire day dedicated to concerts from the likes of Sassafrass (a wonderful a capella group) and all sorts of others. That’ll be Thursday and I’m psyched!
Now, you love books, right? And comics? Costumes? Art stuff? Anything science fiction related? Then there’s the Dealer’s Room for ya. It’ll be HUGE and awesome and you’ll find anything you want. I’m going on the look-out for a Stillsuit from Dune. That may be a bit of a stretch.
Now, I’m working on the exhibits area for the con, and the exhibits are gonna be great! There’ll be exhibits dedicated to the Guests of Honor, plus an exciting look at Science Fiction Music! That one will have listening stations and all sorts of good stuff. The Campbell Award, which I’m told is not a Hugo, has a display for the first time ever, and a look at the legendary Texas-Israeli War of 1999. There’s also Fandom in Fifty Objects, which may be one of the most interesting exhibits on Fandom in history.
Now, there’s always the business meetings. You see, you can’t have something as complicated as the Hugos and the WorldCon without a Business Meeting to keep it all running smooth. Hmmm… that might be the first time Business Meeting and ‘running smooth’ were used in the same sentence. This year, the big challenge may turn out to be the motion to eliminate the Fan Hugos. There are 4 categories that are now threatened, much like the Best SemiProzine was several years ago. I may be speaking as a winner of one of the endangered Hugos, but I’m hoping it doesn’t pass because I think we should be honoring the contributions of fans just as we do the contributions of pros. But maybe that’s just me…
The other piece of business that’ll be settled at WorldCon in San Antonio is the site selection for the 2015 WorldCon. This will be fascinating to see how it goes. It’s a slog between Spokane, Orlando, and Helsinki. In my eyes, it comes down to two questions: does American fandom want two WorldCons in a row in Europe, and can either of the American bids get enough non-SMoFish votes to overcome the overwhelmingly pro-Helsinki vibe among most of the Conrunners around the World. From what I’ve been hearing, Spokane may well be dead in the water, and if Orlando’s going to be able to win, it’s gotta get Texas locals and other USians to vote for it, as well as capture a fair number of second place votes from Spokane. It’s going to be a very interesting race, and if you want a more comedy look at what’s going on, take a gander at http://efanzines.com/DrinkTank/DrinkTank348.pdf.
Oh yeah, and The Hugos’ll be given out. I’ve got a vested interest in the Hugos, of course. I’m up for two (two nominations in Best Fanzine and one for Best Fan Writer) and it’s always a highlight of the WorldCon for me. This year features one of the tightest races for Best Novel I’ve ever seen, as it’s got Scalzi, Mira Grant, Louis McMaster Bujold, Saladin Ahmed, and Kim Stanley Robinson all vying for the title. We took a look at the novels in http://efanzines.com/DrinkTank/DrinkTank347.pdf and it’s going to be close as there are three that I would say have a very good chance of winning it all. I expect the Hugos will be a lot of fun, especially with Paul Cornell Mastering the Toast at the show.
And there’s so much more. Personally, I’ll be shooing interviews for 5 Cons – A 21st Century Fandom Documentary Series (http://5consdocumentary.weebly.com/) and for the Leaf & Let Die podcast (http://leafandletdie.weebly.com/) and hanging out in the Fanzine Lounge! I’m on panels (including one with the amazing Cathrynne Valente!) and I’m hoping to get a chance to chat with all those great people from around the world who show up to mingle at Fandom’s Biggest Party!