Worldcon 75 – The Great Experience part 1

Oh dear! Worldcon 75 was such an exhausting and memorable event. Despite the fact it has ended a few days ago, I am still not fully recovered. Nevertheless, I will try to make a proper convention report. This time it will be split into two posts since Worldcon is somehow huge. Also I have more than one perspective on it, being both a Worldcon member and a staffer. I will try to be impartial but you know – it is not 100% possible when you have devoted a lot of your time and heart to the convention.

Worldcon 75 – The Beginning

In the beginning there was hydrogen… Well, let’s not go so much back in time ;). In the beginning there was the bid and when I have heard about it, I was disappointed that Helsinki lost 2015 to Spokane. The team did not surrender and in 2015 Helsinki won the voting. Since then I started to watch Worldcon 75 more closely and somehow on the way I joined the team (more about this in the second part of report).

The first version of website wasn’t user friendly enough but prior to the convention it was improved. I really liked the fact that there were two options to buy membership and although I don’t like Stripe as a payment processing company it worked quite well. When talking about website and tech, I really liked the whole system. It was easy to use and it allowed buying additional trips, or paying for Site Selection, etc. Last but not least, the Hugo voting was really easy to use and I hope that the future Worldcons will be also using it.

One of the panels One of the panels

Now some fast forward and we are coming to the convention. It was great that the badges were printed almost on the spot what allowed people to change their mind about the badge name even when waiting in the queue. The drawback is that the carton badge is not as sturdy as the plastic one (but I was very careful). What I really enjoyed was the welcome bag. It contained not only Souvenir book and Programme book (what I was expecting) but also nicely printed restaurant guide and an anthology of Finnish SF – the last one was really, really nice to receive and although I didn’t yet have time to read it, I am looking forward to do so.

Worldcon 75 welcome bags assembly line Worldcon 75 welcome bags assembly line

Bring the world to Worldcon

Putting the world into Worldcon was one of the aims of W75 and I do believe it succeeded. I can compare Helsinki only to Loncon 3 so my observations are far from being perfect. Still, I have seen a lot of work towards the goal and the effects that it brought. World fandom section of the Souvenir book gives some glimpse at fans in other countries. The Hugo ceremony allowed people from multiple fan backgrounds to participate actively. Last but not least, I have seen a lot of fans from many countries all over the convention. Some of them were simply participating while others had their tables showing local SF and fandom.

Fan Funds panel with participants from three continents Fan Funds panel with participants from three continents

Every rose has its thorns – every con has its queues

Programme rooms were crowded. Well, in the beginning they were even overcrowded. A lot of people have complained about this already during the convention. The issue was nicely solved but still some people were unable to attend certain items even on later days. Still, in order to give more space, not only the programme was moved to bigger rooms but also the amount of day passes being sold at the door were limited. I hope that no one who travelled from far away was turned away from the door.

Queue in front one of the programme rooms Queue in front one of the programme rooms

When I was checking the programme in Grenadine, I found a lot of items I wanted to attend. For the whole duration of the con I had always more than one item I wanted to see so I had to make my mind. Finally I have not visited too many panels and talks as I was usually doing something else (staffing the con is fun but it has its drawbacks), or I was too tired to listen to the speakers, or I wanted to talk to old and new friends, or, in a few cases, the room was already full when I arrived. Finally, I had to go for a lunch ;). In general I really liked the programme – there was a lot of interesting lectures and panels (and signings!).

I was totally amazed by the presentation about bear in Finland. I was expecting a talk explaining why the animal is sacred and instead I received intriguing presentation compiling lecture with some old tribal ceremony. Although I did learn less than I expected, it was way more interesting than I thought it would be!

Bear - the Sacred Creature in Finnish Mythology Bear – the Sacred Creature in Finnish Mythology

The Hugo ceremony is one of the most important items during Worldcon and I will describe it separately. Here I need to mention that my opinion will be totally subjective and extremely fanboyish as I had the honour and pleasure to be part of the ceremony and it wasn’t just interesting experience, it was THE EXPERIENCE for me.

The world in one building

When comparing to Loncon 3, Worldcon 75 had less to offer in regards to non-programme attractions. The fan village, dealers room, exhibitions, and art show were smaller. It does not mean they were less interesting, simply it was possible to accommodate fewer participants there.

Worldcon 75 exhibition area in the centre. Art show and dealers hall visible in the corners. Worldcon 75 exhibition area in the centre. Art show and dealers hall visible in the corners.

I really loved works of Juliu Tao that were presented in the art show. The depictions of gods/demons/spirits on scrolls were really beautiful and now I regret I have not bought one of them.

As I mentioned before, a lot of countries had their tables at the con. I have seen fantable of a Chinese convention where fans were promoting not only their con but also the Chinese fandom in general. The Science Fiction Writers Association from Japan was presenting books and mangas. The Korean table was mainly showing the covers of SF/F works but they told me there is a chance for some translations in the future. Of course there were also tables of future Worldcons/bids as well as two future Eurocons. My friends from Poland were also promoting Polish SF community. I am sure I don’t remember all of the fantables but I hope this already shows that one could meet fans from all over the world.

Polish Fantable Polish Fantable

And before you go to bed…

I devoted evenings to filking and partying. Although I didn’t manage to go to any concert, I had the chance to participate in two filk circles (I was not singing – only murmuring when I knew the lyrics). As filk is practically non-existing in Poland, I really treasure any occasion to listen to the filkers.

One of the Worldcon 75 Filk circles One of the Worldcon 75 Filk circles

As for the parties, I enjoyed the one organized by the Croatian/Australian/Fan Funds team. I had some nice talks there and I got a beautiful special edition of Croatian fanzine – Parsek. I also enjoyed the fact that there was raffle among those who came (I didn’t win anything but raffle is always fun!). The second important party was the Hugo Losers Party. Since I was a part of the Hugo ceremony, I got an invitation. I was expecting something smaller but it was really interesting to see how the famous Hugo Losers Party looks like. I will write more about it in my Hugo centered post.

Croatian/Australian/Fan Funds party at Rauhanasema Croatian/Australian/Fan Funds party at Rauhanasema. The building was unfortunately not accessible.

So did I enjoy Worldcon? Certainly I did. It was a great convention and despite the fact I was not able to participate in it fully, I had a great time and I am already looking forward for my next Worldcon. Please excuse my constant praising of the con I was staffing but I simply feel that my contribution was very small and I am happy with a lot of things I was not helping with. In my next post I will write more about how I found working for Worldcon 75 and what was awesome about it.

You can find more pictures in mine FB gallery.

Soon I will publish the second part of The Worldcon 75 report.