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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.



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?
Aug. 20th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
Aug. 21st, 2013 02:13 pm (UTC)
Re: Thank you!
It's impossible to get accurate figures for Finncon attendance due to memberships being free. I've been told that Finncon has ranged from 5k to 15k, generally speaking, and that seems likely to me. A few have quoted me 20k attendees for really large years, but I'd never heard 30k before this post. As Jukka says, it's probably never been that high.

Finncon is another convention that moves every year, has a different committee running it every year, etc. I suspect most people already realize this, but it's one of the reasons why I'm so excited to be a part of the Helsinki bid. This team already has a local and enthusiastic staff pool with experience with running large fannish events that move every year and attract international attendees. Combined with the forces we've been gathering internationally, if we win, we can run a really great Worldcon!

Thank you for the endorsement, George. It's very kind of you, and we definitely appreciate your support. :)

Crystal Huff
Helsinki in 2015


George R.R. Martin
George R. R. Martin

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