Worldcon, or more formally the World Science Fiction Convention, the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), is a science fiction convention. It has been held each year since 1939 (except for the years 1942 to 1945, during World War II). The members of each Worldcon are the members of WSFS, and vote both to select the site of the Worldcon two years later, and to select the winners of the annual Hugo Awards, which are presented at each convention.
|Genre||Science fiction, fantasy convention|
Activities and events at the convention typically include (but are not limited to):
The World Science Fiction Society administers and presents the Hugo Awards, the oldest and most noteworthy award for science fiction. Selection of the recipients is by vote of the Worldcon members. Categories include novels and short fiction, artwork, dramatic presentations, and various professional and fandom activities.
Other awards may be presented at Worldcon at the discretion of the individual convention committee. This has often included the national SF awards of the host country, including the Japanese Seiun Awards as part of Nippon 2007, and the Prix Aurora Awards as part of Anticipation in 2009. The John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Sidewise Award, though not sponsored by the Worldcon, are usually presented, as well as the Chesley Awards, the Prometheus Award, and others.
Each Worldcon committee selects a number of guests of honor (or "GoHs") for the convention. Typically there is an author (aka "Writer" or "Pro") and a fan guest of honor. Many conventions also have artist, editor, and science guests, and most have a toastmaster for major events, such as the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo award ceremony. A few conventions have had two or even three author guests.
While other conventions may select guests on the basis of current popularity, Worldcons typically select guests of honor as an acknowledgement of significant lifetime contribution to the field; while these are often well-known figures, some committees choose lesser-known figures precisely because the committee feels the guest's accomplishments deserve more recognition from the community. Selection is treated by authors, fans, and others as a recognition of lifetime achievement. As such, the tradition is to award it only to those who have been making significant contributions for at least 20 years. Guests of honor generally receive travel expenses, membership, and a small per diem from the convention, but no speaking fees.
In order to announce guests immediately after site selection, Worldcon bid committees select one or more guests before the site selection vote. Fans consider it inappropriate for bids to compete on the basis of their chosen guests (so as to avoid having someone chosen by a losing bid feeling that fandom had voted against them personally), so bids do not reveal who their guests are until after the vote, and losing bids generally never reveal who they invited. This is usually treated with the same discretion as the Hugo Awards, where only a few people might know in advance who the guests will be.
The name "Worldcon" is owned by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), an unincorporated literary society whose purpose is to promote interest in science fiction. WSFS has no standing officers, only small standing committees, and a large membership composed of the members of the current Worldcon. Its main activities are running the selection (voting) process for the annual convention and various awards. The conventions themselves are run by non-profit, volunteer fan organizations, who bid to host the event.
The WSFS constitution itself is discussed and amended by the annual general meeting, known as the "business meeting", held at the Worldcon, usually in three morning sessions on successive days. The WSFS constitution determines the rules for site selection, for the Hugo Awards, and for amending itself. The business meeting also empanels a number of standing or ad hoc committees to deal with review of amendments and with certain administrative functions.
Historically, most Worldcons were held in the USA; however, beginning in the later part of the 20th century an increasing number of them have been hosted in other countries. In 2017, the 75th World Science Fiction Convention ("Worldcon 75") was held in Helsinki, Finland; the 2018 Worldcon will be held in San Jose, California, and the 2019 Worldcon will be in Dublin. Assuming the unopposed bid for 2020 is selected, that Worldcon will be in New Zealand.
The first Worldcon to be held outside the US was the sixth, in 1948 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and the first outside North America was the 15th World Science Fiction Convention, in 1957 in Bayswater, London. The 2007 Worldcon in Yokohama, Japan, was the first to be held in Asia. Other non-US Worldcons held in the 21st century have included the 2003 Worldcon in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the 2005 Worldcon, held in Glasgow, Scotland; the 2009 Worldcon, in Montreal, Quebec, Canada; the 2010 Worldcon, in Melbourne, Australia;  the 2014 Worldcon, in London, United Kingdom and the 2017 Worldcon, in Helsinki, Finland.
Sites for future Worldcons are determined by voting of the Worldcon membership. Worldcons through 1970 were selected one year in advance, from 1971 through 1986 two years in advance, from 1987 to 2007, three years in advance, then from 2008 to the present, two years in advance again. For example, during the 2011 Worldcon in Reno, San Antonio was selected to host the 2013 Worldcon. The rules changes to lengthen or shorten the period were implemented by selecting two future Worldcons at the 1969 and 1984 conventions and by having the 2005 convention not select any.
To ensure that the Worldcon moves around to different locations, the WSFS constitution requires that the proposed sites must all be at least 500 miles (800 km) away from the site of the convention at which the selection vote happens.
When a Worldcon is held outside of North America, a North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) may also be held within North America that same year. Since 1975, whenever a Worldcon site outside North America is selected, WSFS administers a parallel site selection process for the NASFiC, voted on by WSFS members at the Worldcon (or NASFiC if there is one) held one year prior to the prospective NASFiC. With the 2014 Worldcon being held in the United Kingdom, members at the 2013 Worldcon in San Antonio chose Detroit to be the site of the 2014 NASFiC and Spokane, Washington, as the site of the 2015 Worldcon.
As WSFS itself is an unincorporated society, each Worldcon is organized by a separate committee (usually) legally incorporated in the local jurisdiction; in the United States, these are usually set up as 501(c)(3) non-profit corporations, while in the United Kingdom, they are usually operated by companies limited by guarantee. The local organizers may be standalone, one-shot committees (organized to hold the one event and then disbanded afterwards), or they may be organized by an existing local group. A few groups such as MCFI in Boston, SFSFC (San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc.) in northern California, and SCIFI (Southern California Institute for Fan Interests Inc.) in southern California are permanent corporations set up to run Worldcons (or other one-off or rotating conventions) in different years in the same geographical area.
Like most non-media science fiction conventions, all Worldcons are run entirely by volunteers, with no paid staff. Senior committee members typically devote hundreds of hours (not to mention thousands of dollars in travel expenses in some cases) in preparation for a particular convention. While each convention is run separately by the local committee, an informal and self-selected group of volunteers constitute the "Permanent Floating Worldcon Committee" who volunteer for many Worldcons in different years; this group offers a measure of institutional continuity to otherwise disparate legal organizations.
Recent Worldcons have had budgets running in excess of a million dollars. The main source of revenue is convention membership, but Worldcons also collect fees from exhibiting dealers and artists and advertisers in publications, and some conventions manage to attract sponsorships up to 5% of total income. The main expenses are facilities rental and related costs, then (if possible) membership reimbursements to program participants and volunteers, then publications, audiovisual equipment rental, and hospitality. Traditionally, all members (except for guests of honor) must pay for their membership; if the convention makes an adequate surplus after covering operating expenses, full or partial membership reimbursements are paid back to volunteers after the convention. Most Worldcons run a small surplus, which the rules of WSFS suggest be disbursed "for the benefit of WSFS as a whole;" typically at least half of any surplus is donated to future Worldcons, in a tradition called "pass-along funds".
Because of their size, Worldcons have two layers of management between the chair and the staff. "Departments" operate a specific convention function, while "divisions" coordinate the work of several departments. Department heads (sometimes called "area heads") have one or more deputies plus a large staff, or they may have no staff at all. Most Worldcons have between five and twelve division heads who form the convention executive group.
In order for convention staff and members to quickly identify the function of other staff at the convention, Worldcons use ribbons of differing colors which are attached to convention badges to signify different roles and responsibilities. Often there are ribbons to signify rank, division, and department or specialized functions; ribbons are also used to identify program participants, other noteworthy members (for example "Past Worldcon Guest of Honor", "Hugo Award Nominee", etc.), or classes of members ("Dealers", "Artists", "Party Hosts") who are interacting with convention staff. Some members of the committee may be performing a variety of current or past roles and could have a large number of ribbons attached to each other hanging from a badge. Extending this tradition, other groups and individuals create more special ribbons for use at the convention; these may be serious or silly. Convention badge ribbons are important memorabilia, and become valuable years later because they evoke memories of events at the convention, and often can be expected to be displayed in exhibits at future conventions. It is commonplace for Worldcon attendees to wear their ribbons from previous Worldcons alongside or below their current Worldcon ribbon.
There is also a convention badge, displaying each attendee's name, membership number and (if desired) "fannish" nickname. The customary practice is for all attendees at the same convention (occasionally excepting Guests of Honor) to wear badges of the same design, but each Worldcon's badge design is unique to that convention. As with ribbons, Worldcon attendees will often wear their badges from previous Worldcons alongside or below their current badge.
The 10th World Science Fiction Convention was held on Labor Day weekend from August 30 to September 1, 1952, at the Morrison Hotel in Chicago, Illinois. This Worldcon never chose an official name other than the title "10th World Science Fiction Convention," as both the convention's issued membership card and program book clearly stated. Only the first Worldcon in New York City (1939) and the 11th in Philadelphia, 1953, shared this lack of a formal convention name. The phrases "Tenth Anniversary World Science Fiction Convention" (TAWSFiC) and "Tenth Anniversary Science Fiction Convention" (TASFiC, likely a simple linotype error, as "World" is missing) were each used in some of this Worldcon's pre-convention materials; the phrase's acronyms "TAWSFiC" and "TASFiC" were never officially used in print or otherwise by the Chicago committee at that time. However, the 10th Worldcon was frequently referred to by its members by the unofficial name Chicon II, so dubbed after the previous Chicago Worldcon (Chicon) in 1940; this name proved so popular that the convention became known as Chicon II in science fiction fandom's lore and written histories.
The convention chair was Julian C. May (later also known as Judy Dikty). Hugo Gernsback was the convention's official guest of honor. The program included the performance of an original science fiction ballet.
For years this Worldcon held the record for the largest attendance at any early science fiction convention, with 870 registered attendees, a figure which was not surpassed by another Worldcon until 1967 for Nycon 3 in New York City. By way of comparison, the previous year's Worldcon, the Nolacon in New Orleans, had an attendance of 190.
It was at this Worldcon that the idea for the Hugo science fiction awards was first proposed and adopted. These awards, the highest and oldest honor in science fiction, were first awarded at the 1953 Worldcon in Philadelphia.
The convention is said to have been the place where Sturgeon's Law was first formulated (although other origin stories claim Sturgeon first articulated the concept in 1951, a year earlier). During a panel discussion on science fiction, one of the panelists observed that about 90% of science fiction was crud. Theodore Sturgeon, also on the panel, replied that 90% of everything was crud.15th World Science Fiction Convention
The 15th World Science Fiction Convention, also known as Loncon I, was held 6–9 September 1957 at the King's Court Hotel in London, England. It was the first Worldcon held outside North America.The chairman was Ted Carnell. The guest of honor was John W. Campbell, Jr., the editor of Astounding magazine. Total attendance was 268. Events included a "fancy dress ball" on the evening of Friday, September 6.19th World Science Fiction Convention
The 19th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Seacon, was held September 2–4, 1961, at the Hyatt House Hotel in Seattle, Washington, United States. The convention chair was Wally Weber.The guest of honor at the 19th Worldcon was Robert A. Heinlein, who gave a speech titled "The Future Revisited". He was previously the guest of honor at the 3rd Worldcon and would again be the guest of honor at the 34th Worldcon. The Toastmaster was Harlan Ellison.58th World Science Fiction Convention
The 58th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was Chicon 2000, which was held in Chicago, United States from August 31 through September 4, 2000. The venues for 58th Worldcon were Hyatt Regency Chicago, Sofitel Hotel and Fairmont Hotel. The organizing committee was chaired by Tom Veal.The convention had 6,574 members, of whom 5,794 actually attended the convention.62nd World Science Fiction Convention
The 62nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was Noreascon 4, which was held in Boston, Massachusetts, from September 2–6, 2004. The venues for the 62nd Worldcon were Hynes Convention Center, Sheraton Boston Hotel and Boston Marriott Copley Place. The convention was organized by Massachusetts Convention Fandom, Inc., and the organizing committee was chaired by Deb Geisler.
The convention had 7485 members, of whom 6008 actually attended the convention.63rd World Science Fiction Convention
The 63rd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) was called Interaction, and was held in Glasgow, Scotland 4–8 August 2005. The event was also the Eurocon. The Venue for the 63rd Worldcon was the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) with the attached Clyde Auditorium (often called "The Armadillo") and Moat House Hotel. Parties took place at the Hilton Hotel.
The total registered membership of the convention was 5202, of which 4115 physically attended. The members represented 35 different nationalities. By far the largest contingents were from the USA and the UK. The organising committee was co-chaired by Colin Harris and Vincent Docherty.64th World Science Fiction Convention
The 64th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), styled L.A.con IV, was held in Anaheim, California, United States, from August 23–27, 2006. The venue for the 64th Worldcon was the Anaheim Convention Center and the nearby Hilton and Marriott hotels. The organizing committee was chaired by Christian B. McGuire.
The total registered membership of the convention, based on preliminary post-con data reported by the committee, was 6,832, of which 5,913 physically attended. The members came from 23 different countries. By far the largest contingent was from the United States, followed by Canada, UK, Australia and Japan.65th World Science Fiction Convention
Nippon 2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) and the 46th Annual Nihon SF Taikai, was held in Yokohama, Japan from 30 August - 3 September 2007, at the Pacifico Yokohama Convention Center and adjoining hotels. The organising committee was chaired by Hiroaki Inoue. The attendance at the convention totaled 2,788, including 1,578 Japanese members, and 1,210 foreign members.Nippon 2007 was the first Worldcon held in Asia.66th World Science Fiction Convention
The 66th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Denvention 3, was hosted in Denver, Colorado, USA on 6–10 August 2008, at the Colorado Convention Center and Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel (formerly known as the Adam's Mark Hotel). The organizing committee was chaired by Kent Bloom. The attending membership at the convention was 3,751.67th World Science Fiction Convention
The 67th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Anticipation, was hosted in Montréal, Québec, Canada, on 6–10 August 2009, at the Palais des congrès de Montréal. The organising committee was co-chaired by René Walling and Robbie Bourget.Official guests of the 67th Worldcon were:
Neil Gaiman (Guest of Honour)
Elisabeth Vonarburg (Invitée d'honneur)
Taral Wayne (Fan Guest of Honour)
David Hartwell (Editor Guest of Honour)
Tom Doherty (Publisher Guest of Honour)
Julie Czerneda was Master of Ceremonies.Anticipation was the fifth Worldcon to be held in Canada and the first one to be held in an officially French-speaking city.Anticipation also incorporated the annual Canvention, including the presentation of the Prix Aurora Awards.
Anticipation was the first Worldcon to include a category for graphic story on the Hugo ballot. The category filled with six nominations due to a tie for fifth place.70th World Science Fiction Convention
The 70th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Chicon 7, was held in Chicago, Illinois, August 30-September 3, 2012, at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. The convention committee was chaired by Dave McCarty and organized under the auspices of the Chicago Worldcon Bid corporation.71st World Science Fiction Convention
The 71st World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as LoneStarCon 3, was held in San Antonio, Texas, on August 29-September 2, 2013, at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and Marriott Rivercenter. The convention committee was chaired by Randall Shepherd. The convention was organized by Alamo Literary Arts Maintenance Organization, Inc. (ALAMO) which had previously organized LoneStarCon 2, the 55th World Science Fiction Convention, held in San Antonio in 1997.72nd World Science Fiction Convention
The 72nd World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Loncon 3, was held 14–18 August 2014 at ExCeL London in London, England. The convention committee was co-chaired by Alice Lawson and Steve Cooper and organized as London 2014 Limited. Loncon 3 sold the most memberships (10,833) and had the second largest in-person attendance (7,951) of any Worldcon to date.75th World Science Fiction Convention
The 75th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Worldcon 75, was held 9–13 August 2017 at the Helsinki Exhibition and Convention Centre in Helsinki, Finland. This location was selected in August 2015 by the members of the 73rd World Science Fiction Convention in Spokane, Washington.
The convention chair was Jukka Halme, and the vice-chairs were Karo Leikomaa and Colette H. Fozard.76th World Science Fiction Convention
The 76th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Worldcon 76 in San Jose, was held in San Jose, California from August 16 to 20, 2018. The guests of honor included authors Chelsea Quinn Yarbro and Spider Robinson; artist John Picacio; musician Frank Hayes; and fans Pierre and Sandy Pettinger.77th World Science Fiction Convention
The 77th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon), also known as Dublin 2019 — An Irish Worldcon, will be held in the Convention Centre, Dublin, Ireland from August 15 to 19, 2019. A number of fringe events are also planned to take place around the city.Charles N. Brown
Charles Nikki Brown (June 24, 1937 – July 12, 2009) was an American publishing editor, the co-founder and editor of Locus, the long-running news and reviews magazine covering the genres of science fiction and fantasy literature. Brown was born on June 24, 1937 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended City College until 1956, when he joined the military at age 18; Brown served in the United States Navy for three years. Following his discharge from navy service, he went to work as a nuclear engineer but later on changed careers and entered the publishing field; Brown became a full-time science fiction editor with Locus in 1975.Along with Ed Meskys and Dave Vanderwerf, Charles N. Brown founded Locus in 1968 as a news fanzine to promote a bid to host the 1971 World Science Fiction Convention in Boston. Originally intended to run only until the site-selection vote was taken at St. Louiscon, the 1969 Worldcon in St. Louis, Missouri, Brown decided to continue publishing Locus as a general science fiction and fantasy news fanzine. It quickly began to fill the void left when the decades-old news fanzine Science Fiction Times (formerly Fantasy Times, founded 1941) ceased publication in 1970 during the same time period. Locus gradually evolved into the field's professional trade journal and remains so today. In 1970 it was first nominated in the category of Hugo Award for Best Fanzine. The following year at the 29th Worldcon, the first Noreascon that Locus was founded to promote and support, Brown's news fanzine won its first of a record 29 Hugo Awards (as of 2008).Brown died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 72. He previously had been announced as one of the guests of honor at Renovation, the 69th World Science Fiction Convention in Reno, Nevada. In accordance with established Worldcon tradition, he was retained as a guest of honor in memory of his longtime contributions to the science fiction field.Hugo Award
The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards given annually for the best science fiction or fantasy works and achievements of the previous year. The awards are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories, and were officially named the Science Fiction Achievement Awards until 1992. Organized and overseen by the World Science Fiction Society, the awards are given each year at the annual World Science Fiction Convention as the central focus of the event. They were first given in 1953, at the 11th World Science Fiction Convention, and have been awarded every year since 1955. Over the years that the award has been given, the categories presented have changed; currently Hugo Awards are given in more than a dozen categories, and include both written and dramatic works of various types.
The Hugo Awards have been termed as "among the highest honors bestowed in science fiction and fantasy writing". Works that have won have been published in special collections, and the official logo of the Hugo Awards is often placed on the winning books' cover as a promotional tool. The 2018 Hugos were presented at the 76th Worldcon, "Worldcon 76", in San Jose, California, on August 19, 2018. The 2019 awards will be presented at the 77th Worldcon, "Dublin 2019: An Irish Worldcon", in Dublin on August 19, 2019.
For lists of winners and nominees for each category, see the list of award categories below.List of Worldcons
This World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) list includes prior and scheduled Worldcons. The data is maintained by the Long List Committee, a World Science Fiction Society sub-committee.
Name – a convention is normally listed by the least confusing version of its name. This is usually the name preferred by the convention, but fannish tradition is followed in retroactively numbering the first Worldcon in a series 1 (or I or One).
Guests of honor – custom in designating guests of honor has varied greatly, with some conventions giving specific titles (Fan, Pro, Australia, U.S., Artist, etc.) and some simply call them all guests of honor. Specific labels have been used where they existed, as have regional variants in spelling.
Size – where available, this column records two numbers: how many paying members attended the Worldcon and how many total members there were (in parentheses). The available data is very incomplete and imprecise and many of these numbers are probably substantially in error.1942–1945: Worldcon not held due to World War II