Worldcon Locations and Finland in the Future

Worldcon as a convention began in 1939.  A break in continuity occurred during World War Two, such that we celebrated the 71st Worldcon this summer at San Antonio.  Next year, Worldcon will be located in London, UK, as was decided by the voting membership of Worldcon in 2012 (voting two years ahead on where Worldcon will be located in the future). In the 71 years we have held Worldcons thus far, there have been 18 of them outside the United States.

  1. 1948, Toronto (CA)
  2. 1957, London (UK)
  3. 1965, London (UK)
  4. 1970, Heidelberg (DE)
  5. 1973, Toronto (CA)
  6. 1975, Melbourne (AU)
  7. 1979, Brighton (UK)
  8. 1985, Melbourne (AU)
  9. 1987, Brighton (UK)
  10. 1990, The Hague (NL)
  11. 1994, Winnipeg (CA)
  12. 1995, Glasgow (UK)
  13. 1999, Melbourne (AU)
  14. 2003, Toronto (CA)
  15. 2005, Glasgow (UK)
  16. 2007, Yokohama (JP)
  17. 2009, Montreal (CA)
  18. 2010, Melbourne (AU)

I take this list as a direct excerpt of  The Long List of World Science Fiction Conventions.

Of the above list (the 18 times the Worldcon has been outside the US), five of those Worldcons were in Canada, still in North America.  Of the above list (again, the 18 times the Worldcon has been outside the US), seven of them were in the UK.  Four were in Australia.

We’ve had the World Science Fiction Convention on American soil 53 times.    It’s been in North America 58 times, and outside of North America for only 13 Worldcons.  This is something I’m personally concerned about.  Only 25% of Worldcons have actually been non-American.

When Eemeli Aro announced at Chicago in 2012 that the Finns wanted to have a Worldcon in Helsinki in 2015, everyone thought he was a little nuts.  The deck was stacked rather against the Helsinki bid.  When declaring a Worldcon bid, most do so with more than a year’s warning, and most people have a bid committee and parties planned, and they have already-made flyers and all sorts of other paraphernalia.  In addition, Helsinki is in Finland, and the official languages of Finland are Finnish and Swedish.  Although all Finns are taught English by the time they get to elementary school, it’s not their first language.  Worldcons have almost always been in English-dominated countries.  Of the above list, which is a list of international locations where a Worldcon has been held, only four of them were held in cities NOT predominantly or entirely English-speaking.  That very small list is: Heidelberg (German), The Hague (Dutch), Yokohama (Japanese), and Montreal (French).

To skip a bit to the end, the Helsinki in 2015 bid was not quite successful in winning the vote for Worldcon in 2015.  Helsinki came really close, though — we lost by 35 votes in the third round of voting.  When the vote results were known, many people came up to us to congratulate us on a good race, to sympathise that we had so nearly won, and to express reasons why they thought more people didn’t vote for Helsinki in 2015.  But that’s a topic for another post.

This post?  This post is about how I want to see Worldcon do better, and actually BE an international convention on science fiction and fantasy, encompassing fans from all over the world (and maybe even fans from outer space!  and other timelines or dimensions!).   God help me, but I care about this project, which is why I have signed on to help the Helsinki in 2017 team.   The Finns decided to run again, and I am totally supportive of that decision.  The Finns would create a fantastic Worldcon.

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