Opin­ion

David Lang­ford has a touch of con­ven­tion fever

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Contents - David Lang­ford’s list­ing of UK con­ven­tions and World­cons at news.an­si­ble.uk some­times even gets up­dated.

SFX’s colum­nists talk con­ven­tions, bounty hunters and hor­ri­ble­ness.

It’s that time of the decade again, when starry- eyed fans be­gin to mut­ter about bring­ing the World Sci­ence Fic­tion Con­ven­tion back to this coun­try. Lon­don in 1957 and 1965, Brighton in 1979 and 1987, Glas­gow in 1995 and 2005, Lon­don Dock­lands in 2014... and now there’s a feel­ing in the air that the stars will be right in 2024 for ei­ther the awak­en­ing of Great Cthulhu to de­vour our puny hu­man brains or ( much the same thing as far as the or­gan­is­ers are con­cerned) yet an­other UK World­con. From mod­est be­gin­nings like the in­au­gu­ral New York event with 200 peo­ple and Lon­don in 1957 – the first in Bri­tain – with 268, these fan- run events have be­come big­gish business with ter­ri­fy­ing bud­gets and many thou­sands in at­ten­dance. Prospec­tive com­mit­tees need to spend sig­nif­i­cant chunks of life­time pre­par­ing their bid and woo­ing the scep­ti­cal vot­ing mem­ber­ship with wild par­ties and wilder prom­ises. The crunch point comes with the site se­lec­tion vote at the World­con two years be­fore your tar­get year. In 2015, Helsinki was cho­sen as the 2017 venue, to gen­eral Fin­nish re­joic­ing. After that, New Or­leans and San José are the ri­val bids for 2018, and at World­con 2016 in Kansas City the vot­ers will con­firm that There Can Be Only One. So far the only hat in the ring for 2019 is Dublin.

Bri­tain in 2024, whether or not an op­pos­ing bid emerges, will need to per­suade the mem­bers of the 2022 event. This, ac­cord­ing to world­con. org/ bids, is cur­rently a toss- up be­tween Chicago – a plau­si­ble venue that’s hosted many a past World­con – and Doha, Qatar, a con­cept that frankly makes my sense of won­der blow a fuse. Espe­cially when I re­mem­ber some of the World­con com­mu­nity’s more in­ter­est­ing peo­ple and prac­tices in the light, or the murk, of Qatar’s hu­man rights record.

If 2024 seems a long way off, that’s be­cause it is. For less de­layed grat­i­fi­ca­tion there are Bri­tish UK con­ven­tions all the year round. This year’s na­tional event – the an­nual Easter­con – is called Man­cu­ni­con, and read­ers deeply versed in the sub­tleties of lin­guis­tics will de­duce that it’s in Manch­ester: for full in­for­ma­tion see www.man­cu­ni­con.org.uk. 2017 should be mak­ing his­tory with the first ever Welsh Easter­con: Pas­gon in Cardiff, whose de­tails have been leeked at www. pas­gon. org. uk.

For my own part I have fondish mem­o­ries of be­ing on var­i­ous UK con com­mit­tees, one an Easter­con; of chair­ing a long- ago Easter­con bid that went for a hy­per- ex­pen­sive cen­tral Lon­don venue and mer­ci­fully lost; of or­gan­is­ing Hugo tro­phies for one of the Brighton World­cons; and of al­most en­tirely miss­ing three con­ven­tions be­cause I spent the weekend in a stuffy room full of equip­ment, edit­ing and pub­lish­ing the sev­eral- times- daily con news­let­ter. When I gaze bleary- eyed on these past glo­ries and feel the urge to have an­other bash at con­ven­tion- run­ning, I dose my­self lib­er­ally with whisky and lie down qui­etly un­til the feel­ing passes away. It’s your turn now. Any­one’s turn but mine.

The Read­ers of SFX: How, oh how, can I join the ex­cit­ing dis­cus­sion about plan­ning a 2024 UK World­con?

My­self: This may be a ter­ri­ble se­cret with which hu­man­ity should never med­dle, but if you in­sist... send a grov­el­ling email to Fu­tureUK­world­cons@google­groups. Just don’t blame me if you end up with one of the tough World­con jobs like dis­pos­ing of the bodies after a guest ap­pear­ance by Ge­orge RR Martin.

“for three cons i spent the weekend in a stuffy room full of equip­ment”

Il­lus­tra­tion by Andy Watt

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