How it happened

How to get a WorldCon bid for one hundred and thirty seven dollars and change

So it’s late Sunday evening on August 29th at the Comatose Cat party at Au Contraire. It’s been a great convention, made even better by the presence of many overseas fans who have popped by on their way to the World Con in Melbourne.

As is tradtiional, BASFA (the Bay Area Science Fiction Association, Motto: “We do these things not because they are difficult but because they are weird”) is holding a club meeting, because there are three or more members present. I being one of them. Dave Gallaher then mentions that it’s traditional to auction off a member of BASFA. Preferably someone with a birthday that day or close… No one? Well how about six months from now?

Well, my birthday is about 6 months from now so I decide to join in the fun and offer myself to be bid on. (Somewhere in here I get made the Ministerial Ambassador to the Land of the Colossal Squid… It’s all a bit fuzzy.)  Tom Parsons opens the bidding, and then Sean Williams joins in. Oh so innocently. And the amount rises with other people joining in. And Sean has a somewhat calculated expression on his face. But what could possibly go wrong?

The bidding continues, with other people drop out, leaving Tom and Sean bidding… And then Sean runs out of cash.

So people start handing him cash to keep bidding. And so it goes. Back and forth. Up and down. Sideways and frontways.

Eventually Tom runs out of cash, and Sean is left as the winner, holding other people’s cash as well as his own.

He’s then declared the winning bidder, and he turns to me, and in tones of great innocence says “Norman, I want you to run a WorldCon in New Zealand in 2020.”

My jaw drops, and before I can express anything beyond astonishment, people are flinging money at me. Literally, flinging money at me.

So what can I say but yes.

And then the power and generosity of fandom comes to the fore.

Someone (I believe it was Tom Parsons) suggested the tag line of “New Zealand in 2020 : A Perfect Vision”. And René Walling (Canada) is having a brain wave about an eye chart logo. And a bunch of fans have gathered around offering their help. Kurt Baty (USA) offers to get t-shirts made at AussieCon 4. Jannie Shea (USA) is offering her help with art shows and exhibits. Kate Kligman is offering help with the Hugos.

Within two hours, we have a domain and a website thanks to James Shields from Ireland.

And in the next few days René has come back with a great fern design for the bid.

By AussieCon 4 Spike (USA) has found a company in Australia that can make 200 badges and get them to us at the convention in time. Kurt and James scour Wellington before they leave for AussieCon and pick up a bunch of decorations for a bid table at AussieCon 4. AussieCon 4 kindly find space for us to have a bid table.

And then at AussieCon 4 so many fans volunteered to sit on the bid table. And also brought typical New Zealand sweets over with them.

We were humbled and grateful that the Texas in 2013 and London in 2014 bids were so welcoming to us, and even invited us to take part in their Friday night bid party. As the designated Russians.

We were moved by the number of people who dropped by the bid table after the Christchurch earthquake to offer their support and sympathies.

And I was exhausted by the end of it. Before Au Contraire I had expected to have a nice quiet WorldCon. Go to some panels. Meet some people. Browse the art show.

But no. Instead I was thrust into the hurley burly and exhilaration of starting a WorldCon bid…

So I’ve now had some time to reflect. And here’s what I’ve been thinking.

  1.  Never trust Sean Williams when he’s looking innocent. He may be just remembering a conversation he had with you minutes ago where you unguardedly mentioned your desire to run a WorldCon in New Zealand…
  2. Fans are awesome when fired up. Truly unstoppable. Generous. Kind. Ingenious. And quite willing to help push you over a cliff. I’m grabbing hold of them and they’re coming over with me.
  3. It’s going to take a lot of work and support from fandom here in New Zealand and from all over the world to pull off a WorldCon in New Zealand. I’m out there marching in front. But without the band, it’s just a silly dance. We need fans to join the band. Then we’ll be able to pull off a world class convention.

If you want to support the New Zealand in 2020 bid, then go to Sign up for the newsletter, or Like us with the Facebook link there. We will update you as we have more information.

In the mean time, it would be worth practicing for a WorldCon by helping out at your local conventions. Perhaps volunteer to be in charge of one aspect, large or small.

(Written by Norman Cates. Originally appeared on his Facebook page, and in the pages of Phoenixine, the magazine of the Phoenix Science Fiction Society.)