With the WorldCon so close by, it’d be a shame to miss it…
[Worldcon] taught me a lot of things, about writing, about people, about life. But it also let me know that I’m invisible until I’m not, and it’s never for the reasons that I want it to be. My talent, my stories, my brain, the fact that I’m a fucking person who exists and is talking, none of that matters. When I do matter, those rare occasions, it’s my tits. It’s my ability to service your dick. It’s the fact that I’m a random collection of bumps and holes that just so happen to fall into the correct schema to spark desire when someone is drunk enough to not care that I’m not hot or young.
Marlee Jane Ward on visibility.
Marlee was Australia’s DUFF delegate to Worldcon 76 in San Jose. That is, she was the individual nominated and sponsored by the Australian and New Zealand fan communities to represent them at the Worldcon. Saying that she should never have been treated this way somewhat elides the fact that no one, ever should be treated this way… but especially not when they’re representing their region at an international conference.
The sheer parochially contemptuous disrespect would be staggering if it weren’t so depressingly common…
So, apropos of yesterday’s post I decided to see who does, in fact, actually get nominated for (and who wins) the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer.
Note that the data below was primary collected from Wikipedia. The “unknown” slices in the pies are because I didn’t go “deep doxxing” for biographical details, in the cases where nominees didn’t have obvious internet presences (e.g. Wikipedia pages, well-known social media profiles, etc.).
So, in other words: Who wins the Campbells? Americans, basically.
Other bonus fun facts (all caveats about unknown details applying):
- The Campbell has been awarded since 1973.
- In the first decade of the award, there was one Canadian winner (Spider Robinson in 1974), and one British nominee (James P. Hogan in 1979).
- The first nominee I could find outside of the “US-UK-Canada” triad was Tobias S. Buckell, in 2002 (although note he currently lives in the US).
- All known non-US-UK-Canada nominees are from the 2000s.
- Nominees are about 37% female-identified to 49% male-identified (with 12% unknown, 2% nonbinary-identified).
- Winners are 51% female-identified versus 49% male-identified.
Foz Meadows has a write-up of the current WorldCon 76 drama.
This all feels very much like people used to running a small-town parochial con1 with an established member-base suddenly getting in a twist because they have to accommodate (gasp) outsiders.
I do think it’s maybe indicative of the fact that WorldCon is finally starting, in the last few years, to live up to the “world” part of its name. In other words, you can’t just have your local con grab the host spot and expect to be able to run things in the same way you always run them…
Edit: Another write-up.
- I know San Jose has a million or so people in it… but on the other hand, Melbourne has about 4 million and it took me like two years to feel like I knew, at least by sight, most of the regulars at Continuum. ↩
… Worldcon sweetie what are you doing?
FWIW the only SMOF-y conspiracy theory I’ve ever heard about Worldcon is that there’s a SEKRET CABAL of people in the US who rig the host bid vote to make sure any non-US con is immediately followed by a US-hosted one intentionally crafted to be small scale/only for the Worldcon old-guard. I’d never really put much stock into that (because lawlz conspiracy theories), but man the current concom seems to be working damn hard to try and convince me it’s true…
This morning, I woke up to an email letting me know site selection voting for the location of the 2017 WorldCon is now open.
Voting is $40, which is essentially buying a supporting membership to the 2017 Con, no matter where it ends up being held. This is the same $40 that will let you nominate and vote in the Hugo Awards for that year, so even if you don’t/can’t attend the con itself, it’s not a bad deal if new spec fic is you bag baby. Think of it as like a kind of annual Birchbox but for SFF.
Potential sites for the 2017 WorldCon are Washington D.C., USA, Shizuoka, Japan, Montreal, Canada, and Helsinki, Finland. Of those, Japan is my favourite because, a) it’s Japan,1 and b) it’s the closest to me of all the sites. Next preference would be Helsinki, which I’ve never been to, but we’ve got some friends in Norway and the Netherlands, which are nearby,2 and so is Iceland, which is also a super-rad place I’d totally 110% go back to.3
So yeah. I have Opinions, and I should totally go exercise those, right? Okay. So I’ll just… oh.
The 2017 site selection ballot is available online and a paper ballot is included in the site selection packet. However, Site Selection voting is by PAPER ballot only. The WSFS Constitution guarantees the bidding committees the right to audit the voting.
Ballots may be sent in advance by postal mail to the address on the site selection ballot, and such ballots must be received by the mail-in deadline of August 10, 2015.
[Emphasis from original.]
You’ve got to be kidding me. It’s 2015 and I have to send in a paper ballot and a cheque? Despite the fact that the site promises online payments, as opposed to cheque mailing, the facility is “not available yet”. Which… y’all know how long the international post takes to get around, right? ‘Cause four months might seem like a long deadline now, but it really, really isn’t. Not to mention the hassle of actually going to the post office, finding stamps and an envelope,4 paying for stamps and an envelope…
Yeah. I mean, c’mon. And to think. Just the other day I was wondering why so many WorldCons are held in the US. Now I know: the logistics of the site voting process is stacked in such a way to keep it there. It’s a wonder WorldCons ever get held anywhere else.
It’s also bizarre to me that the payment logistics of WorldCons seem to be handled by the individual cons (?), and not the World Science Fiction Society. The World’s Fair, by contrast, which WorldCon grew out of, is run by a central authority, the Bureau International des Expositions. The BIE is French, because the original World’s Fairs were in France, but today it has 168 member countries, and it’s the BIE that manages the schedule for Expos, not the last country an Expo was held in. Ditto with the Olympics and the IOC.
Online payment and voting logistics–specifically the auditing thereof–aren’t trivial, and can be super expensive. But they are doable. Except not if every single tiny town and its dozen-member con volunteer group has to recreate everything from scratch every year. That’s bizarre. Surely there’s some kind of SaaS platform that the WSFS can centrally administer for this purpose?
Since the Sad Rabies are an outgrowth of the American culture wars, simply tweak the rules about Worldcon locations slightly such that Worldcon cannot return to one particular inhabited continent and associated islands until it has been hosted in at least two of the other three. Making Worldcon an actual World Con would dilute the effect of any one nation’s odd politics.
–James Davis Nicoll on a true WorldCon.
I’d been thinking of something similar to this prior to reading Nicoll’s post. Even just limiting the country WorldCon can return to would be an improvement, I think, though that’s in a general sort of “goddamnit WorldCon is really freakin’ far away” sense, rather than a “this will help the Hugos specifically” sense, because I think US-style culture wars have been exported globally enough that moving the con around isn’t going to do much on that front. (Also: the internet is a thing that exists now.)
Nonetheless, if you’re going to call something “WorldCon”, the list of hosting countries really shouldn’t look like this. Compare and contrast the world’s fairs, for example, which WorldCon is a literal outgrowth of: the inaugural WordCon was held as part of the 1939 New York World’s Fair whose slogan, not surprisingly, was “Building the World of Tomorrow”.
The World’s Fair moved on (nowadays we call it Expo, and it’s still held),1 both in location and in focus. WordCon didn’t. Maybe it’s time to rethink that a little.
- True, somewhat irrelevant, story: I went to the world’s fair/Expo in ’88 when it was in Brisbane. All I remember about it was riding on a fiberglass triceratops, walking into a room that looked like the inside of a wave, and really, really wanting a platypus mascot doll. ↩