By Petrea Mitchell| May 29, 2011 | 14 Comments
Worldcon has an interesting bid situation right now. Worldcon sites are selected 2 years beforehand, so bids typically show up 4-5 years before the year the bid is for, and more often than not, there are two or more bids for the same year. In the last year or so, however, we’ve seen bids operating on a much longer timescale than usual, so that while there are 7 active bids, every one is currently uncontested.
This probably won’t last long. There are more groups interested in running Worldcon, and one really startling absence on the current list.
The current lineup
2013 (being voted on this year): San Antonio
2016: Kansas City (exploratory)
2017: Japan (year is tentative, but definitely bidding)
2018: New Orleans
2019: No bids yet
2020: New Zealand
Who’s waiting in the wings?
- Zagreb, Croatia. Their first bid, for 1993, was sunk by a war. Now, Croatia is on its way toward joining the EU, Zagreb is hosting next year’s Eurocon, and the organizers sound serious about tackling a Worldcon next.
- Canada. The last three Canadian Worldcons were in 1994, 2003, and 2009, so the next is likely to show up later this decade.
- Los Angeles. The LA area has been hosting a Worldcon per decade for the last few. The most recent was in 2006, so the urge to run another one should be creeping into the local con-runners’ hearts about now.
- But the really big one is: the East Coast. This is where most of the biggest Worldcons have been held. Boston also runs about a Worldcon per decade. Philadelphia has hosted it three times, most recently in 2001. There was nearly a bid for 2011 or 2012 in Washington, DC, said to have been dropped due to delays in the facilities they wanted to use being constructed. I will be astonished if a bid based somewhere along the coast doesn’t turn up by the end of the year.
After the jump: what do the odds look like for the declared and undeclared contenders?
The mind of the Worldcon voter
There are many ways to evaluate Worldcon sites, but for most voters it appears to come down to two questions:
- Does it look like fun? Do people talk about what a great time they had last time Worldcon was there? Did the voter personally enjoy it, if they were there? How’s the weather? Do the local attractions look interesting? (Most Worldcon members will stay at the con while it’s happening, but many people stay an extra few days before or after it to go touristing.)
- Can I get there? The majority of site selection voters are usually in the US. Arguments about whether Worldcon is being held outside of North America too often or not are usually more about whether the people arguing are willing and able to travel outside of North America. This is vividly illustrated, for example, in the results of the site selection for 2009 (PDF), which was held the year Worldcon was in Yokohama, Japan. Mail-in votes were almost tied, but the overwhelming majority of votes cast at Worldcon itself– by the people who travelled to Japan– were for the more foreign and exotic city.
Among non-US voters, the US is at a growing disadvantage due to the increasing hostility of Homeland Security. In addition to the things you’ve heard, Europeans are hearing lots about how much personal information the TSA is demanding be handed over before flights are allowed to enter the country, and recently, two prominent members of the sf community have been banned from the US for reasons that the community feels were not their own fault (one was a botched Border Patrol search, the other a bureaucratic mistake that would take a very expensive lawyer to fix).
Handicapping the field
2013 is a done deal– voting is already happening. 2014 is unlikely to get competitive. The sf community is hugely Anglophilic, so London can breathe easy.
2015 is where it starts to get interesting. The Worldcon voters don’t seem ready yet to have two conventions in a row outside North America, but Spokane may look like the easiest target in the next few years for someone wanting to run a Worldcon elsewhere on the continent, since it has no Worldcon history, no big geek attractions that spring easily to mind, and few direct flights. It’ll have to fight hard.
2016 is still a bit up for grabs since Kansas City hasn’t declared a firm bid yet. Many people have fond memories the previous KC Worldcon, but that hasn’t been enough to keep them from losing bids for 2006 (to Anaheim) or 2009 (Montreal). This is also the earliest a Zagreb bid is likely to turn up for.
2017 is currently Japan’s to lose. The people who went last time loved it, and as anime makes more and more inroads into the Worldcon community, Japan’s stock can only rise. The only thing it should worry about is a Zagreb win for 2016, going back to the problem of two consecutive Worldcons outside North America.
2018-2019 is getting a ways out, but this is the timeframe where I’d expect to see at least one bid from California. Also that missing bid from the East Coast, if it didn’t turn up in time to compete for 2015 or 2016. Same for Canada. I think New Orleans is a toss-up against any of these.
2020, if New Zealand wins, would continue a pattern of sending Worldcon “Down Under” about every 10 years. Their chances are good enough that any non-North American bids for 2019 would likely be up against the expectation that 2020 was going off-continent for sure.
To sum up, that’s probably 3 trips overseas in the next 9 years, and plenty of geographical diversity in the others. Whatever happens, the “World” is definitely staying in “Worldcon”.