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Finland, Finland, Finland

In the comments section to the post immediately below, someone asked about voting for this year's Hugo Awards.  Alas, Hugo voting closed some time ago... for the 2013 awards, at least.

You can still cast your vote at LoneStarCon, however... not for the Hugo Awards, but for site selection.

It's the fans who nominate and vote for the Hugos, and the fans who decide where the world science fiction convention will be held. Unlike Dragoncon (always in Atlanta), Comicon (always in San Diego), or other megacons of their ilk, worldcon moves to a different city every year, just as it has since its founding in the 1930s.  Cities wishing to host worldcon must put together a concom, find a suitable site and hotels, and bid for the rights to hold the con.  Bidding, like American presidential elections, sometimes seems to go on forever, but the actual site selection ballot takes place two years in advance.

At this year's San Antonio worldcon, LoneStarCon 3, fans will decide where the worldcon goes for 2015.

(The site of the 2014 worldcon was determined at Chicon 7, last year's worldcon.  The winner was London, England).

There are three contenders for 2015: Spokane, Washington; Orlando, Florida; and Helsinki, Finland.  All three will be campaigning vigorously and throwing parties at Texas, I'm sure, selling pre-supporting memberships, and bending the ears of everyone who cares to hear about their wonderful cities, amazing facilities, and experienced committees.  So who to choose?

As it happens, I've been to all three cities.  Back in the mid 90s, I was GOH at a small regional con in Spokane.  Nice fans.  The city has its charms, and the surrounding countryside was lovely.   It's a small city, though, and it was a small friendly low-key con, which makes me wonder if the committee is ready to tackle something as large and contentious and complex as worldcon.

Orlando hosted the worldcon once before -- MagiCon in 1992 -- and was supposed to be the site once even earlier -- SunCon in 1977.  But SunCon was a disaster, had to move to Miami Beach after the fans voted for Orlando, and still ranks as one of the worst worldcons ever.  MagiCon was much better... but hot, swelteringly hot.  I have fond memories of the Peabody Hotel, but the new Orlando bid isn't using the Peabody, instead they will actually be inside Disney World, using Disney facilities.  I like visiting Disney parks from time to time, and I love attending worldcon, but that does not mean I want to mix the two.  The Orlando convention set-up has some undeniable advantages... I love the idea of having all of worldcon under a single roof, without elevators... but if you've ever been to Disney World or Disneyland, you probably know that there will be drawbacks as well.  Under the Mouse's roof, the Mouse's rules apply.  And what with global warming and all, Orlando in 2015 will probably be even hotter than Orlando in 1992.  Just thinking about it makes me want to turn the air conditioner up to "ARCTIC BLAST."

Fortunately, I think there's one choice for 2015 that stands head and shoulders above the other two:

No, no, no, NOT England.  England is next year.  I'm talking FINLAND!  Helsinki!

Singing, dancing, fish-slapping, reindeer, lingonberries...

Well, no, not really.  But Parris and I were guests at Finncon just a few years ago, and we had a great time.  Helsinki is a great, lively, historic city, and the Finnish fans are terrific... warm and friendly and hospitable.  They all speak English, by the way.  Every Finn we met spoke English.  So no one need worry about getting lost in a country where you cannot understand the language.  You can eat reindeer and lingonberries if you have a yen... but there's plenty of other types of food for those who'd rather not.  Saunas are omnipresent... but not compulsory, if you are the shy sort who would rather not take off your clothes around other people.  Helsinki's not quite north enough for a midnight sun, but we got a ten-oclock-at-night sun, and that was pretty cool too.   Hell, you could even find good pizza.  (I prefer never to go anywhere where you cannot find good pizza).

Even more than the charms of the city, however, it was the competence and experience of the committee that impressed me.  We have had too many badly-run worldcons in recent years (need I mention Montreal, anyone?).   The Finncon we attended was huge, drawing something like 30,000 people to Helsinki as I recall.  That's six times as large as any worldcon since the 80s, yet the con ran smoothly start to finish, and everyone seemed to have a great time.  I have no doubt that a Helsinki worldcon would be well run as well... and I know the Finnish fans would love to show your their city, their castles, the herds of reindeer wandering the streets.   Oh, there's vodka too.  And saunas.  Did I mention the saunas?

But seriously... if you'd like to know more about the Finnish bid, check out their website here:  http://www.helsinkiin2015.org/

Anyway, those of you who will be attending LoneSTarCon should be sure to visit the site selection booths, check out the literature for the competing bid, then sign up for 2015 and cast your ballot.

Me, I'll be voting for Helsinki... to put the "world" back in worldcon.

(And for KANSAS CITY IN 2016 as well, but that vote is next year, in London).


Alas, Helsinki did not win the rights to host the 2015 worldcon.  The Finns threw the best parties and had the most first place votes, but after leading on all the early ballots, they lost out in the end when Orlando was finally eliminated, and their votes swung en masse to Spokane.  The vagaries of the Australian ballot.

The Finns will rise again, I hope.  But it's Spokane in 2015.

(Future bids announced or rumored at the con included New Orleans, Washington DC, and Dublin.  I like the sound of all of those.



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Bob Jenson
Aug. 19th, 2013 01:02 am (UTC)
But...I live in Spokane. That means I could go! Okay, admittedly when I read Spokane was a contender I said aloud, "Really?" - in the way you say, "Her?" when talking about Ann Veal. But our convention center is expanding! And we have løveli lakes - and Møøse - no realli! Sometimes they wander in tø town! (yeah, yeah, I know that bit was for Sweden, but work with me here). Come on Spokane! We can do this!
Aug. 25th, 2013 08:12 pm (UTC)
Re: Spokane?
The convention center has more space than was used at a number of past Worldcons - not to mention that it has a fabulous theater big enough for a spectacular masquerade and a first rate Hugo presentation. The staff will not be just locals, they will come from all over the world, but it is good to mention that there are locals from throughout Washington, and especially from the local fandoms, that are ready to volunteer. We have every intention of being the big fish in a smaller pond, working with the city, partnering to bring the experience outside of the confines of hotels and convention center sharing our love for Science Fiction and Fantasy with their broader community. The IMAX asked what SF films they should consider, the symphony asked if they could do a SF themed event - this is an opportunity to bring together the city with our Worldcon.
Re: Spokane? - Bob Jenson - Aug. 29th, 2013 04:48 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2013 01:49 am (UTC)
Just say it in the right voice.

"Finland is coming."
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:03 am (UTC)
I'm desperately trying to figure a way to London. Helsinki, while really cool would be right out. I kind of like Spokane (never been to the Pacific NW) but a Worldcon close enough to drive to would be really nice.
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:59 am (UTC)
The northwest is cool (in both senses of the word), but it should be pointed out that Spokane is actually quite a way from the Pacific.
(no subject) - supersnazz - Aug. 19th, 2013 08:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jarmopuskala - Aug. 19th, 2013 10:03 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serscot - Aug. 19th, 2013 04:20 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bovil - Aug. 19th, 2013 06:16 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:24 am (UTC)
One minor nit-pick; the Worldcon Mark Protection Committee would prefer you capitalize "Worldcon."
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:28 am (UTC)
Seems like having it outside of North America in consecutive years is going to be a hard sell.
Aug. 19th, 2013 05:29 pm (UTC)
...then why call it "Worldcon"?

That's not meant to snark at you, it just amazes me how frequently this "but how can we have it somewhere else in the world twice in a row?" argument seems to come up, when "world" is in the convention's name. :)

Edited at 2013-08-19 08:35 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - alexvdl - Aug. 20th, 2013 01:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - Aug. 20th, 2013 02:55 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alexvdl - Aug. 20th, 2013 05:40 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - ext_2123018 - Aug. 20th, 2013 11:49 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:43 am (UTC)
"You can eat reindeer and lingonberries if you have a yen" When did Finland adopt the Japanese currency? I'd think having a Euro would be more useful, although the amount of reindeer and lingonberries one would get for a single Euro would probably be hardly enough for a snack. : -)

More seriously, I have problems with all the sites. I think it was a long-term mistake to have 2000-2006 Worldcons all be in large non-isolated cities with large fanbases...followed by the 2007-2011 Worldcons all being in some combination of non-US, isolated, smallish cities. If Worldcon doesn't periodically appear in the sort of cities in 2000-2006, I think folk get out of the habit of attending. Note that Chicago was 20% lower in 2012 than in 2000. So while I sympathize with the Northwest wanting their first Worldcon since 1961, the hotel problems with Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver that make the SMOFs there bid for Reno and Spokane are a problem. And I don't think having as small and isolated a site as Reno and Spokane within 4 years is a good idea overall.

Same for 2 years in a row in Europe. If Helsinki was bidding for 2017, I'd be all in favor. But I think Japan-Denver-Montreal-Australia was long term a bad ordering for the reasons given above. So by rights, I should be in favor of Orlando which'd be only the second Worldcon in the Eastern Time Zone since 2004, Montreal being the other and having had its own problems (didn't break 4K despite having Neil Gaiman as a GoH). But I have qualms about some of their upper committee. Damned if I know who I'll end up voting for.

(Yes, I know it's a matter of who bids in a particular year, particularly since the 3-zone rotating location system was abolished, and there's nothing anyone could do to enforce a different order from 2000-2011. I still think the effects of 6 big non-isolated cities in a row followed by 5, well, not such, were detrimental long term)
Aug. 19th, 2013 03:07 am (UTC)
Ah, but what is the consequence of having a "problem?" Having a lower attendance?

Worldcon seems to have stabilized in the range of 3000 - 5000 members. Myself, I'd like to see it growing again. It saddens me that our record attendance, 8000, was twenty years ago. I don't want to see worldcon turn into San Diego Comicon with 150,000 fans, no, but a worldcon of 15,000 to 20,000 people would be good for everyone. We would actually fill the big convention centers we use, instead of having to share them with four other conventions (as at Denver), we'd have more clout with hotels, it would certainly be good for the writers and publishers. And we'd get a younger and more racially and sexually diverse crowd.

This seems to be a minority view, however. Certainly among the SMOFs I know, most of whom seem to like worldcon as it is, and don't want it getting any bigger. And since almost all worldcons turn a profit in the end (Japan and Baltimore excepted), these problems caused by small cities, foreign sites, and the like are not problems at all.
(no subject) - querldox - Aug. 19th, 2013 03:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - Kaisa Vitikainen - Aug. 19th, 2013 05:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jophan - Aug. 19th, 2013 07:25 am (UTC) - Expand
Finncon numbers - teroyks - Aug. 19th, 2013 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alexvdl - Aug. 19th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - grrm - Aug. 19th, 2013 04:54 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - querldox - Aug. 19th, 2013 05:35 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - alexvdl - Aug. 19th, 2013 05:49 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nojay - Aug. 19th, 2013 09:12 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - serscot - Aug. 19th, 2013 04:11 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - fjm - Aug. 19th, 2013 07:17 am (UTC) - Expand
Justine Pollitt
Aug. 19th, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
Why are you so keen on the saunas, Mr Martin? Are they unisex?
Aug. 19th, 2013 03:47 pm (UTC)
Re: Saunas!
In Kublakhan in 1975 we made one unisex... and changed my life forever.
Re: Saunas! - parrismcb - Aug. 19th, 2013 04:01 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Saunas! - apostle_of_eris - Aug. 19th, 2013 06:19 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Saunas! - Leila Usurel - Aug. 20th, 2013 10:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2013 08:32 am (UTC)
Next Year In LONDON !! SQUEEEEE :D <3
Colette H. Fozard
Aug. 19th, 2013 11:05 am (UTC)
A Clarifying Note about the Orlando Worldcon Bid...
Mr. Martin: I would like to add some background to your comment above of "Under the Mouse's roof, the Mouse's rules apply." Disneyworld does not have any rules at the Coronado Springs that impinge on the wonderful fannish activities that take place at Worldcon. There are no rules limiting costumes at the Coronado Springs, there are no limitations on food and drink that members can bring into their hotel rooms to enjoy throughout their stay (all rooms have mini fridges), and there will be no limits on the wonderful variety of fannish merchandise sold in the Dealer's Room.

Those are the three primary questions we have received when people hear we are bidding for a Disney property. If you or anyone else has any questions about the Orlando bid, please reply here and I'll be happy to answer your questions.

-Colette H. Fozard, Member, Bid Committee
Orlando in 2015 Worldcon Bid
Aug. 19th, 2013 06:21 pm (UTC)
Re: A Clarifying Note about the Orlando Worldcon Bid...
uh huh
So how near are the closest restaurants which are not tolerated by grace of the Kingdom?
Aug. 19th, 2013 12:16 pm (UTC)
For me I am excited by the opportunity offered to European fans to become regular Worldcon attendees. In '95 At Glasgow there wasn't even whimsical talk of going to LAcon the next year, it was so beyond our reach. I think/hope that fans would get the bug after two consecutive Worldcons and consider the long trip to the US worth it. It also allows European conrunners to build experience and for European fans to become regular volunteers.

Helsinki is some distance from London and so distinctly different yet achievable as a destination. I hope they win because I want to see people at London really captured by the idea of going to another Worldcon and I like the thought of growing Worldcons, where they can. Good to read your thoughts on this. James.
Aug. 19th, 2013 01:39 pm (UTC)
You're one of the best friends that fan-run conventions (especially Worldcons) could possibly ask for.
Aug. 19th, 2013 02:12 pm (UTC)
'Under Siege' was in Finland too?
Your time-travelling short story knocks any Dr Who script into a tri-corn cocked hat! You've led me down some dark roads Ser Knight!
Aug. 19th, 2013 03:48 pm (UTC)
Speaking of Finland, are you familiar with Sibelius' "Finlandia?" It's a fantastic orchestral piece. There's a good performance over at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G8iZWrzHl_I

Aug. 19th, 2013 04:02 pm (UTC)
This is brilliant, thanks for rooting for our country, George!
*sits in a sauna eating reindeer and drinking vodca - well almost, anyway* ;)
Aug. 19th, 2013 05:03 pm (UTC)
Finland is a wonderful country. Was there in June for the first time and fell in love with that country. Will be back for a very short trip in October and December this year and next year hopefully for a bit longer vacation.
What I really can recommend to you are finnish heavy metal bands, almost all good heavy metal bands are from Finland! :-)
Aug. 19th, 2013 08:58 pm (UTC)
Where to Worldcon
Re Attendance at WorldCon

After a long absence my very con-friendly family returned to Chi-con/WorldCon last year. We do not attend more WorldCons for the simple reason it is scheduled opposite DragonCon (and I know D-Con is an Edward IV usurper type). Still it seems an odd thing to not work out. We prefer non-US locations simply because they don't tend to conflict with D-con.

(Other reasons to support the Yorkist Con: despite Mr. Martin being at WorldCon, D-con often has more Ice and Fire oriented events including a mass out pouring of fans in the parade. Also it has more gaming including my I&F oriented miniature games - a personal favorite).

Making Lemondade out of Lemons

The schedule conflict is unfortunate but at risk of a beheading, I'll give my reasons for moving WorldCon:

1) The Hugos. These are awarded VERY late in the award season. Academy awards go out in March - not September. The winners can seem a bit like old news as a new Summer movie season has passed etc. I think the H's would get more/better pub if they were a bit closer to year end (say Memorial Day?)

2) D-con is big and immobile when faced with a large "opponent" use maneuver not head butting

3) Strength in numbers. Why split efforts in a genre trying to establish itself as a cultural heavy weight. At Dragon Con the spirit is "nerds" rule (the whole city turns out to cheer the parade - it feels like marching in the Rose Parade). Worldcon seemed a bit more reserved and self-concious esp re costuming and other forms of irrational exhurbrance. Oldtimers (like me) did not seem to realize that we had won the culture wars. What do those guys that picked on you in high school call you now? Boss.

For now I plan to just be a supporting member so I can vote on the Hugos but I would much prefer to be a year in year out attender...

Aug. 20th, 2013 12:26 am (UTC)
Re: Where to Worldcon
It is Dragoncon that should move, not worldcon.

Labor Day weekend has been the traditional worldcon weekend since the late 40s. For most of the next half-century, it was understood that no other con would ever schedule on those dates, since worldcon was considered the "gathering of all the tribes."

Dragoncon broke that unwritten rule when they moved from their original July dates. Dragoncon needs to move back to July, where it belongs.
Re: Where to Worldcon - starkdad - Aug. 20th, 2013 02:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Where to Worldcon - grrm - Aug. 22nd, 2013 10:04 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Where to Worldcon - starkdad - Aug. 23rd, 2013 04:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Where to Worldcon - debgeisler - Aug. 20th, 2013 05:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Where to Worldcon - wouldyoueva - Aug. 22nd, 2013 02:24 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 19th, 2013 10:41 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Dear George,

The Helsinki in 2015 bid committee really appreciates your glowing endorsement and support! We hope to be able to reach as many people as possible 'til and at LoneStarCon in order to tell people about the bid and what kind of fandom Finland has. And what kind of a Worldcon we'd be organizing. As the chair of 2009 Finncon/Animecon, I am personally chuffed to bits about the praises you've deemed us worthy of receiving. Not only were you a brilliant GoH in 2009, but you and Parris are truly the best possible advertisement the whole idea of Worldcon has.

As couple of people in the know have stated, Finncon is a big national convention, but perhaps not as big as to being able to lure 30 000 unsuspecting Finns to hear the Good Word. :) The 2009 Finncon was the biggest ever and as Tero and Johan say above, it probably gathered about 7000 individual visitors in all. Still, for a national con of a nation of 5+ million people that is quite respectable.

The Finnish fandom is big, but we're not alone in this bid. we have a good number of active conrunners all over the globe who would like to see the bid turned into a Worldcon. With your help, George, and like-minded voters, this could happen. We'd *really* like to see fen co-operate in making this a true WORLDcon. And we'd *love* to have you back in Helsinki. I'll heat up the sauna myself. :D

All the best,

Jukka Halme,
for Helsinki in 2015 bid committee
Aug. 20th, 2013 12:27 am (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
Boy, it sure seemed like a lot more when we were there.

Does your 7000 figure include all those anime fans and cosplayers out front, with the "Free Hugs" signs?
Re: Thank you! - teroyks - Aug. 20th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
Re: Thank you! - chaiya - Aug. 21st, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2013 01:43 am (UTC)
As it happens, I have the same rule as you do, Mr. Martin - about the pizza, that is.. and I do believe it's the Jersey Boy coming back out in you, because as a fellow Jerseyite, with good pizza around every u-turn, it's a must. So Finland it is.. but only because the pizza in Florida stinks.
Mary Ellen Wofford
Aug. 20th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
You need to look deeper into Florida pizza. We have many pizzerias that rival those in Chicago and New York, or so I've been told by natives of those big cities.


Alas, though, we do not have lutefisk. It would be fun to travel to Finland to taste that famous dish which I have always wondered about, it sounds a bit weird but then no weirder than cracklings or chittlings. And the scenery would be spectacular I think. It all comes down to price.
(no subject) - honeybunny123 - Aug. 21st, 2013 04:36 am (UTC) - Expand
Aug. 20th, 2013 09:57 am (UTC)
I know at least one Helsinki-dwelling speculative fiction and games writer who is very happy at this suggestion, and that it has your support!
Lidiele Moura
Aug. 20th, 2013 12:45 pm (UTC)
Hello George, I am Brazilian and aspiring writer. Have you read any book written by a Brazilian?
Aug. 21st, 2013 02:05 am (UTC)
Ah, Helsinki <3. I have Finnish heritage, so I'd love to see a worldcon there. Not that I could afford to travel there, but maybe someday. Orlando in the summer, under Disney's roof? Definitely NOT a good idea! Hopefully other fans realize this when the votes are taken.
Hanna-riikka Jrvinen
Aug. 21st, 2013 07:00 am (UTC)
welcome to finland!i can"t wait!
Markus Niinisalo
Aug. 21st, 2013 01:03 pm (UTC)
Worldcon in helsinki that would be like 300km from my hometown, *epic voice* you can have my vote
Aug. 22nd, 2013 10:53 pm (UTC)
Dracaris Alert
Dracaris Alert: http://now.msn.com/spain-sea-monster-puzzles-authorities

Bia Moreira
Aug. 23rd, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
A fan's girlfriend request!
Hello, my name is Bia, I'm from Portugal and I have no ideia if you're going to read this but i sure hope you do...

My boyfriend's birthday is coming up, it's actualy the same as yours, I didn't even know that until today!
The thing is he is a real fan of your books, he says your writing is brilliant and he's crazy about Game of Thrones, and I tried to get him your autograh that one time you were is Lisbon but I missed it by one day!! We have been dating for almost 2 years now and he always gives me the best gifts, and I thought maybe if I contacted you you could like send me a digitalized autographs or something, but I know it's a long shot and too much to ask...

If you are readind this thank you, I know you are a realy busy man, so even if you don't reply, thank you... Oh and I'm sorry if my english was bad!

Edited at 2013-08-24 02:02 pm (UTC)
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