About Worldcon

Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 except for the years 1942 to 1945. It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (or WSFS).

There are many science fiction conventions around the world, but Worldcons offer a unique mix of fans and professionals from all walks of life and all corners of the Earth for a very exciting experience.

This is an interview with Norman Cates, the co-chair, about Worldcons. This interview took place at MidAmericon 2, in 2016.

All Inclusive

For the most part, your Worldcon membership gives you access to all aspects of the Worldcon as part of your membership. There may be external, related events that have a charge.

Activities and events at the convention typically include (but are not limited to):

  • Activities to support fan and external charities
  • Art show – presenting paintings, drawings, sculpture and other work, primarily on science fiction and fantasy themes
  • Autographing sessions, literary beer or coffee-with meet-ups, Walks with the Stars, and other chances to meet favorite science fiction and fantasy professionals.
  • Awards ceremonies:
    • The Chesley Awards ceremony
    • The Hugo Awards ceremony
    • Other ceremonies, depending on timing and the country the Worldcon is in.
  • Costuming – both formal competition (the “Masquerade”) and casual “hall costumes”
  • At least one dance, with either live music or a DJ (LoneStarCon 3 had three in 2013, including a Firefly Shindig contradance and a steampunk dance.)
  • Dealers’ room (often referred to by fans as the “huckster room) – a large hall full of people selling books, games, comic books, movies, jewelry, costumes (often including weapons), and other fannish goods
  • Filk and other musical performances, music circles, and workshops
  • Films – an independent film festival and other film rooms showing science fiction movies, television shows, etc.
  • Gaming – live-action and tabletop board games, card games, and role-playing games
  • Live theatrical performances
  • Panel discussions on a wide range of topics pertaining to speculative fiction (SF) literature; film, audio and other media; art; graphic stories; fandom and fannish hobbies; science, technology, and society; costuming, gaming, and music
  • Socializing in the “con suite”, convention bars and at parties (typically run by other conventions or bidders, clubs, publishers/magazines, and by private individuals)
  • Speeches or other presentations by the Guests of Honor and other program participants
  • Other business of the World Science Fiction Society, including voting on the location of future Worldcons and North American Science Fiction Conventions (NASFiCs, which occur when the Worldcon is overseas) and any changes to the WSFS Constitution, which are made at WSFS business meetings during the convention.

Why Are Attendees of Worldcons Members?

When you buy a ticket for Worldcon, it is called a membership fee. This is because when you attend a Worldcon you are not just buying a ticket to observe an event (as with a football match, for example), but you are paying to join in. Worldcons are communal experiences with hundreds of staff and volunteers – absolutely everyone involved in Worldcon is a volunteer. Membership encourages this. All of the events and publications are included in the membership fee. Members of each Worldcon also get to vote for the Hugo Awards, the world’s most prestigious science fiction award, which has been held every year since 1955. People who cannot attend Worldcon can still vote by buying a supporting membership, which also entitles them to all of the related publications. For the last few years, this has included the Hugo Awards voting pack. This pack is an electronic collection of many of the nominated works. It is not guaranteed, but is a common benefit and its contents can be worth in excess of $100. Membership also entitles people to attend the World Science Fiction Society Business Meeting and get involved in policy decisions.