Category Archives: Worldcon

Why Voting on Worldcon Location Matters

Previously on this blog, I wrote a post on how to vote on Worldcon location for the 2015 Worldcon race, and it was translated into several languages (Chinese, Swedish, Finnish, Deutsch, Irish, Japanese, Dutch …).  I regret that it’s not also an intro to what Worldcon is, but I haven’t managed to write a real entry on that yet (tho I did write an entry on some fannish terminology).  I suspect that most people reading this blog (particularly the posts tagged “fandom”) are folks who go to conventions, whether or not they’ve been to a Worldcon yet.  Y’all might have an idea of what Worldcon is, therefore.  There’s also an entry on Wikipedia, if you want a general sense of “Worldcon 101.”

What I’d like to talk about now is why voting on Worldcon location matters on a philosophical level.

I’ve heard a lot of people say, “oh, I didn’t know you could vote on Worldcon location!” For them, the answer is yes. There are instructions. In several languages now, even. You already know that, though, because you read the first paragraph of this post.

Some people have said they were aware that Worldcon could be voted on, but if it wasn’t going to be near their home, they weren’t going to vote because they “didn’t have a dog in the race.” Is that you? This post is for you.

Major Ursa and Crystal

I do my best to be helpful! I swear!

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My Hugo Eligibility Post

Hugo Awards nominations are open until March 17th, which means it’s time to write an eligibility post! I didn’t publish any fiction or art or podcasts in 2016, myself, but I did do a lot of fan writing on various platforms, so I am eligible to be nominated as a Fan Writer. I’d be honored and privileged to be considered for your nomination.

Looking back on 2016, there are many things I wrote for and about fandom, but particular things I’d like to highlight are:

This Twitter thread (later turned into a longer essay) on bias in Worldcon bidding.

This post on international SFF reading.

This frank (Facebook) post on the financial cost of bidding for Worldcon, and subsequent discussions on North American and British privileges in bidding.

This compilation of gender inclusive forms of address, which I posted to Facebook & Twitter last year and participated in several SoMe (Social Media) discussions about. The goal was to encourage panelists, moderators, and public speakers in general to be more gender inclusive when addressing groups of people. I can report some concrete success, in that a couple of convention staffers contacted me to say they were updating their panelist & moderator info sheet to include this issue. Yay!

I co-authored the original Worldcon 75 accessibility statement at the beginning of 2016, and took a significant role on this topic within the committee and when engaging with the membership. W75 has since updated their accessibility page to reflect the goals and process of the new leadership, so I’m linking to the Wayback Machine for this.

I wrote parts of the Worldcon 75 website and publications, although I don’t know what parts of what I wrote are still being used at this point. You can see the Progress Reports (PRs) for Worldcon 75 here. I contributed to PRs 0, 1, and 2.

Relatedly, I was also interviewed for several podcasts last year. The most fandom-relevant of them was the Mad Writers Union podcast episode on community building, where we nattered for a couple of hours on conventions, speculative fiction, and communities. In particular, I talked about how Readercon staff, as a community, addressed the incident of sexual harassment that occurred at Readercon 23.

 

Crystal hugging Major Ursa, the stuffed polar bear.

I’m just amused by this photo shoot Worldcon 75 asked me to do with a stuffed polar bear.

I usually don’t write an eligibility post for any awards, and have some trepidation about doing so now. Historically speaking, women are punished for doing self-promotion. Heck, there are several think pieces about how Hilary Clinton’s popularity plummeted any time she asked for a promotion. It was really disheartening. Women and other marginalized people are penalized for promoting diversity of any kind, which is something we’re inherently doing when we’re doing self-promotion and are of a less-privileged identity.

In terms of being the change I wish to see in the world, though, I’ve decided to post this and see how it goes. I  support all the women, People of Color, trans folks, and others who are debating doing similarly. Having been on the receiving end of death threats for my feminist work in fandom, I recognize that everyone should make their own threat assessments and decisions on this topic. Here’s hoping it goes well.

There’s a crowdsourced compilation of Hugo-eligible works available in this spreadsheet, btw, for those who are interested — you may have forgotten some work you wanted to nominate, but maybe someone else can remind you!

PS: If you aren’t sure how Hugo nominations work or whether you are able to nominate, I covered that in a more recent blog post on Worldcon membership benefits. I’m also happy to answer questions, if you have any.

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What Do I Get With My Worldcon Membership?

I get asked this … a lot. Even now. So, okay, this is kind of a question about how the Hugos work, and kind of a question about how Worldcon in general works, in my opinion. Here’s a quick (and simplified) overview of what you get with a Worldcon membership of any given year.

  1. Hugo nomination rights for the year before, the year of, and the year after your membership to Worldcon. 
  2. Hugo voting rights for the year of your membership. 
  3. Access to the Hugo Packet, if applicable. 
  4. Paper publications of the convention, depending on the convention’s policies.
  5. Ability to send business to, speak up at, and vote on business at the WSFS business meeting at Worldcon.
  6. Ability to vote in site selection for Worldcon site options two years in the future (and NASFIC site options one year in the future, if applicable).

Some notes:

a) Worldcon membership benefits depend partly on how soon you get your membership. If you voted in site selection for a Worldcon (like, say, voting in the 2017 site selection race, which was won by Worldcon 75), you automatically got an immediate supporting (aka non-attending) membership of Worldcon for the year on which you voted. This means you have a membership early enough to get all possible membership benefits. Worldcon generally gives you all possible benefits of membership if you join the convention by January 31st of the year BEFORE the convention, though, so if you didn’t vote on site selection one summer, it’s not necessarily too late! (It is now too late to be able to buy a new membership and nominate with it this year, though — if you didn’t have a membership to MidAmeriCon2Worldcon 75, or Worldcon 76 by January 31st, you can’t nominate for the Hugos this year.)

b) A supporting membership to a Worldcon can be upgraded at any point prior to the convention for an attending membership to that Worldcon, generally at the cost of attending membership when upgraded minus the cost of the supporting membership one already owns. The rights of membership to Worldcon as a supporting member versus an attending member usually differ in only one regard — supporting members can’t show up at convention without paying more money, and there are a couple of things that members only get if they are at the convention in person (which requires an attending type of membership).

c) The Hugo Packet (which is our name for a compilation of eBook and PDF samples or entire content of the works nominated) isn’t something any Worldcon can guarantee, since it’s up to the individuals and publishers on the ballot what, if anything, is included of their copyrighted works. Any Worldcon can also decide not to publish a Hugo Packet.

So! Read more detailed explanations below if you’re so inclined.

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Arisia 2016 Schedule

I am quite active at Arisia this year (even in comparison with previous years)!

B&w photo of Crystal wearing goggles in Finland

Crystal can wear a pair of goggles like a pro, yo!

Friday at 5:30 pm in Marina 1
SUPERGIRL!

Friday at 7 pm in Faneuil
GENRE FICTION IN TRANSLATION

Saturday at 4 pm in Marina 4
MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK; DO I HAVE TO BUY IT?

Saturday at 5:30 pm in Burroughs
CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS IN SFF

Saturday at 9 pm in Room 666
WORLDCON 75 PARTY!!! (open to all Arisia attendees)

Sunday at 4 pm & Monday at 11:30 am in Independence Room (both sessions)
WORKSHOP TO COMBAT IMPOSTOR SYNDROME

 

Friday at 5:30 pm in Marina 1
SUPERGIRL!
“Although not (as of yet) connected to the rest of the TV DC Universe, the new Supergirl show is both a hit, and a blast to watch. We’ll talk about the first half-season of the show, what it means to have a positive female hero on the small screen as a headliner, and how the creators are reinterpreting a familiar mythos through an amazing new lens. We’ll also discuss the verve Melissa Benoist brings to the title role, and the dual roles played so well by Laura Benanti.”
My co-panelists are Adam LipkinSharon Sbarsky, Gordon Linzner, and Cassandra Lease.
I have already warned them about how much prep I’ve done for this panel. It may be EPIC. I may pull out various feelings about feminism and liking imperfect things. I imprinted heavily on the 80s Supergirl movie when I was a child. Seriously.

Friday at 7 pm in Faneuil
GENRE FICTION IN TRANSLATION
“Cixin Liu’s _The Three-Body Problem_, translated by Ken Liu, won the Hugo for Best Novel. Clarkesworld’s recent foray into translating Chinese SF has brought some well deserved attention to the vibrant body of stories in that country. Haikasoru has made a name for itself translating works from Japanese, and Tor.com has recently published SF stories translated from Spanish. What possibilities do we see in translation of other cultures’ SF? How might this change the landscape of the genre?”
I’m moderating this panel, with Ken LiuJohn Chu, Sarah Weintraub, and Morgan Crooks.
I plan to bring in plenty of stories the Finns have been telling me about SFF translation work, and we shall plumb the depths of what’s out there and what’s coming up in translation. Likely this conversation will include some structural racism of the genre. Good times, I promise you!

Saturday at 4 pm in Marina 4
MY FRIEND WROTE A BOOK; DO I HAVE TO BUY IT?
“This panel will discuss etiquette for friends of authors and other creators. How do we support their endeavors without going broke or feeling obligated to attend every signing. What do we do when we don’t like their creations and are asked (or feel it’s expected) to give a reaction?”
I’m moderating this panel, with participants Timothy Goyette, Kourtney Heintz, Deborah Kaminski, and Archangel Beth.
This is a panel where I will confess all of my sins that are on-topic, so I half hope none of my friends show up … but actually, I promise to give practical as well as funny advice on this topic, as well as address some of the more sensitive aspects of the question. What is friendship, when money becomes involved? This is another aspect of that question.

Saturday at 5:30 pm in Burroughs
CULTURAL ASSUMPTIONS IN SFF
“Recent novels such as *The Three Body Problem*, *The Grace of Kings*, and *Throne of the Crescent Moon* join other works that challenge the cultural assumptions behind mainstream (American and English) science fiction and fantasy. How are these genres being reimagined beyond just making the space cowboys swear in Mandarin?”
John Chu is moderating this one, with Max Gladstone, Kiini Ibura Salaam, and John Scalzi on the panel.
This panel is going to be amazing, and you should come to all of my panels, but this one especially. I love Firefly, and we’re totally going to address Firefly’s racism. Also, I have some book recommendations you all want to get in on! I know where to find all the cool books doing the awesome shit.

Saturday at 9 pm in Room 666
WORLDCON 75 PARTY!!! (open to all Arisia attendees)
We shall offer some Finnish delights (which are totally different from Turkish delight), and some prizes! Some books! Some music! It’ll be great. Come visit us in Room 666, where apparently we still can’t get past the impression that we’ll nickname the Helsinki Worldcon something evil. 😉


I’m also going to be offering TWO FREE WORKSHOPS to address Impostor Syndrome at Arisia.

Sunday at 4 pm & Monday at 11:30 am
Location: Independence Room (both sessions)

“Impostor Syndrome: the feeling that you aren’t really qualified for the work you are doing and will be discovered as a fraud. Many women, People of Color, QUILTBAG persons, and others from marginalized groups deal with this feeling, especially when they’ve been socialized to value other’s opinions of their work above their own. This workshop includes practical methods of addressing one’s own Impostor Syndrome as well as suggestions for how to improve one’s community. Limit 15 (due to room size).”

This workshop is usually given at a cost of $200 per person (or a company pays for their employees to take the workshop). In 2016, I’ve pledged to offer 12 workshops for free to nonprofits, and these sessions are toward that pledge. I care about the Arisia, Inc. community and want to help make fandom a better place. This is one way I’m working toward those goals.

After taking my workshop, participants have reported higher productivity on projects, improved self-esteem, and better capacity to deal with the negative messages society sends so many of us. I love giving this workshop, and want as many people as possible to take it. I hope to see many of you there this weekend!

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My Finnish Adoption (Into Fandom)

Why are you with Helsinki in 2017?

While working on the bid for Helsinki to get Worldcon for the first time ever (which is being voted on RIGHT NOW, in case you didn’t know! and you can find out how you can still vote here!) … I’m often asked why I’m with the Finns. Now that there’s a competing bid for Washington, DC, why wouldn’t I join the other Americans? I really should’ve written this post ages ago, but love letters take me time to write and are often embarrassing.  This is most definitely a love letter to Helsinki.

Helsinki harbor is beautiful. With bonus sailboat.

Helsinki is freaking gorgeous. Seriously.

What’s great about Finland?

There are many reasons why one might join the Finns. They’re efficient and get shit done. They’re hilarious once you get to know them. They’re respectful of your space and need for silence. They’re an amazing group of people. Their country is also really damn beautiful, has incredible sights to see, and makes gorgeous and strange art. You’ve got to love a country where reindeer sleigh is a legitimate form of travel.

That’s not why I’m with the Finns, though.

Getting personal

My connection with the Finns is a personal one, but not familial. So far as I’m aware, I don’t have a drop of Nordic blood in my family tree. I’d love to be wrong! But there’s nothing to indicate that I’m biologically related to a Finn.

The first time I’m aware of meeting anyone from Finland was in December of 2011. I attended an international convention on convention-running, Smofcon, and it was actually in Europe for a change. Hells yes, I wanted to go. With some frequent flyer miles donated from a friend, it was actually possible to get there, so hells yes, I went!

I don’t remember much about the Finns from that visit. I definitely met Jukka Halme and Eemeli Aro there, amongst other international fans. Later on, what was more important was that the Finns remembered meeting ME.

Readercon impacted everything, for me

A year later, I chaired my first Readercon. I was nervous because I’d been to only one day of Readercon prior to chairing the convention.

At con, it seemed to go well. I had a good time. Everyone else seemed to, as well. After the con was over, however, an incident of harassment was reported to us. The Readercon board failed to handle it at all well, initially. You can read more about that on the Geek Feminism Wiki (and other, related issues on the Timeline of Incidents). Rose Fox and I organized a reversal of the board’s decision and (in a loooong committee meeting) finished hammering out a public apology and statement of actions we would take as a convention committee (“concom”) to start to address the issue of harassment within Readercon’s community.

That was an incredibly intense time for me. Among other things, I received a metric ton of email, before and after the reversal of the board’s ruling. My inbox could be easily divided into categories:

  • What Readercon (or I) did that we shouldn’t have
  • What Readercon (or I) didn’t do that we should have
  • What Readercon (or I) should do now
  • What Readercon (or I) shouldn’t do now
  • Hatemail in general (lots of it…)
  • Death threats

There were only two emails that fit into that last category, but they were … memorable. I did not appreciate them, shall we say. Who sends death threats to a stranger on the internet? Horrible people, so far as I can tell. To receive death threats over a science fiction convention seemed particularly absurd. By and large, however, my email’s tone was incredibly shouty. Everyone was angry with me, it seemed.

One singular email from Finland

I received one incredible email in that deluge that fit into a category of “other.” Eemeli Aro emailed with a much simpler message. He said that he saw on the internet that something was going down with Readercon. He asked if I was okay. He expressed appreciation for me as a person, and hoped to see me again at a Worldcon in the future.

When I go back and read Eemeli’s email now, it’s a pretty normal-sounding email from one semi-stranger to another on a sensitive subject. At the time, though? He didn’t yell at me or threaten me. He didn’t treat me as someone whose “fannish reputation” was ruined (in fact, he argued it wasn’t). He sent kindness my way.

So when people ask me why I’m with the Finns, that’s the first reason. The Finns reached out and treated me like a real person when it felt like the rest of fandom was screaming at me and might never stop.

Visiting Finland, myself!

After such kindness from the Finns, I figured I wouldn’t be able to afford to visit their country, but I could help the (sadly unsuccessful) bid for Worldcon in 2015. I joined up and threw a few rather popular parties at conventions in the US. Then, due to an incredible salary raise (50%!) in 2013, I suddenly had extra money in my budget. I decided to go to a Finnish SFF convention myself so I could tell people about it from personal experience!

One of the highlights of my year in 2013 was therefore my first Finnish SFF convention, Åcon6.  This was exciting not just because I got to go to a Finnish con for the first time.  It was fantastic in particular because at the end of the convention, I was part of something particularly special and unique as far as I’m aware.

I was officially adopted into Finnish fandom.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa. Finnish SFF characters around the border and an alien baby wrapped in a Finnish flag feature prominently in the art.

My Finnish fannish adoption certificate, signed by Eemeli Aro and Karo Leikomaa.

No, really! That happened!

I and a couple of others were called into the bar (the major social space of the con after the function rooms were closed down). There was some laughter, and then, along with three others, I was declared officially an adopted Finnish fan. I have framed the adoption certificate they presented to me, which was drawn by my friend Petri Hiltunen and features several Finnish SFF characters around the border.

I am apparently the alien baby at the top, wrapped in a Finnish flag. I adore this piece of paper. It hangs proudly in my dining room.

I didn’t have to learn any Finnish in order to be accepted into this group, although I have tried to retain basic greetings and courtesies such as “kiitos” and “ole hyvää” (aka “thank you” and “you’re welcome”). I am having great difficulty learning how to roll my R’s, I must say.

Pic of me with Johan and Johan, my new siblings!

Johan and Johan became my new siblings at Åcon6! I make much hay of calling them my siblings. As is my right.

Now I have Finnish siblings!

I wasn’t the only one that Finnish fandom decided to publicly claim that evening. Johan Jönsson, Johan Anglemark, Linnéa Anglemark, and Cheryl Morgan all joined me as siblings. I’m honored to be in such great company! (Cheryl and Linnea weren’t available at the time we took this photo, unfortunately.)

So here’s something I know now about the Finns — they can easily be inspired to do amazing things! They took an offhand remark someone made months prior and from it created this most treasured memory of mine. There was a kind of semi-official ceremony, and they presented us with a very remarkable and unique piece of art. It was fantastic.

(Just saying, Åcon was awesome in 2014, as well. I met Karen Lord! Who is fabulous! I didn’t get adopted there, though.)

Inasmuch as I can sum up …

So, yes. Why am I with the Finns for Worldcon?  I have a great love of the Finns, at this point. I’ve now been to several events with them (in Finland, the US, Canada, the UK, as well as other countries).  I would love to share Finnish fans with Worldcon (and vice versa). The Finns are, frankly, amazing.

If nothing else, a group that gathers for scifi-themed summer picnicking and sings songs to Cthulhu is a group we should all embrace! (Or possibly fear …?)

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Ba mhaith leat vótáil ar suíomh Worldcon? Go hiontach!

Seo iad na rudaí gur gá duit a dhéanamh chun vóta a caitheamh ar son iarratas Heilsincí d’óstáil Worldcon 2017:

Ceannaigh ballraíocht do Sasquan (an Worldcon dhá bhliain roimh ré). Tá costas USD $40 ar ballraíocht tacaíochta faoi láthair, cé gur feidir leo é sin a ardú.

Ba chóir go mbeadh an ballóid do suíomh Worldcon 2017 oscailte thart ar 15 Iúil 2015. Bí cinnte go bhfuil an dáta sin marcáilte i do chuid féilire!

Íoc an táille don ballóid, ar suíomh idirlíon Sasquan. Pé áit ina bhfuil WorldCon 2017, geobhaidh tú ballraíocht tacaíochta as íoc an táille seo.

Líon isteach do roghanna le haghaidh suíomh Worldcon 2017, in ord tosaíochta.

Seol isteach do ballóide tríd an bpost, trí fhreastal ar Sasquan go pearsanta, nó trí ríomhphost. Níl an próiseas chun vóta a sheoladh isteach trín ríomhphost soiléir go fóill, ach tá sé geallta go mbeidh sé faoin am sin!

Seol ríomhphost chuig info@helsinkiin2017.org ionas gur féidir linn cinnte a dhéanamh go bhfuil do vóta san áireamh, gur féidir linn tuilleadh chabhair a tabhairt má tá deacrachtí agat, agus gur féidir linn ár mbuíochas a chur in iúl! 🙂

Tá tionchar mór ag gach suíomh Worldcon ar na chomdhálacha atá le teacht, le mórán blianta anuas. Mar sin, is dócha go bhfuil vótáil ar an suíomh an rud is tábhachtach gur féidir le gach ball a dhéanamh, go háirithe nuair atá an iomaíocht chomh géar is atá sé i mbliana.

 

Many thanks to Nóirín Plunkett for the awesome translation into Irish!

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Yes, Codes of Conduct Are Required.

Anyone who’s spoken with me over the past couple of years, after Readercon 23, probably knows that I have a strong opinion about harassment and how we handle it, particularly in fannish events like conventions (and parties, and work weekends, and all sorts of other fannish gatherings).  I’ve also been in HR in my professional life, so hopefully I know something about the topic, at this point, from multiple perspectives.

Let’s be clear, though — I developed some of my strongly-held opinions and beliefs after experiencing harassment myself, and I did a lot of reflecting on the topic during my three years as chair of Readercon.  It infuriated me to read the following email about whether or not a convention needed to have a code of conduct (which I won’t attribute because I don’t have permission to do so and suspect I’d never get permission from the person in question)…

“Do we need such a thing?   I have never heard of this being an issue at [convention name redacted] and see no reason to open a can of worms that is best to keep closed until there really is a need to open it.

“And if we do need one, I’d rather have a very short ‘act reasonable, don’t do dumb things, or we may ask you to leave.'”

I would like to say, unequivocally, that we DO need such a thing as a code of conduct.  The time of pretending that harassment doesn’t happen is behind us (not that that was ever an appropriate decision to make, on the part of people running events).  Now is the time of making sure that our conventions are as safe as we can make them, and that when someone behaves in an unsafe fashion, their behavior can be addressed in a clear and unambiguous fashion.

As for a “don’t be stupid” statement in lieu of having a real policy?  Pardon me, but that’s bullshit.  Poorly-developed policies don’t serve anyone well, as we’ve experienced in the past.  Poorly-defined policies don’t set people’s expectations for what they can or should do when they have a problem, other than that people might expect the problem won’t be handled well by the event organizers.  The only thing a lack of policy or barely-existing policy might do is send people the message that you don’t care if they harass other members of your convention.  That’s not quite putting out a welcome mat at the door of your convention for poorly-behaved attendees, but I do note this:  at [convention name redacted] referenced above?  I experienced being harassed multiple times, and no longer want to attend it.  I don’t trust the convention staff to take it seriously if I report a problem, nor address problems appropriately.

I have been the convention chair of Arisia in the past.  A few years ago, despite some objections about it “not being relevant to science fiction” (among other things), I was one of the people who started the tradition of inviting BARCC (the Boston Area Rape Crisis Center) to run workshops with Arisia staff in order to offer some helpful training and tools for addressing harassment and other inappropriate behavior at our conventions.  Since then, I have helped coordinate workshops with BARCC for Readercon, Arisia, Vericon, and local SCA staff.  Readercon ran BARCC workshops as part of the convention programming in 2013 (and possibly also 2014; I can’t recall).

I believe it really helped to have these workshops.  Fandom is not historically good at dealing with harassment, but I hope we are improving, as evidenced by things such as this post about harassment at RWA 2014 and this post about dealing with harassment at Arisia 2014.  I have hope.

But I base that hope partly on having codes of conduct that help set the tone for attendees.  So yes, I think codes of conduct are required.  Not having one is a different message you send to your attendees, if that’s what you choose to do.

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