Saturday, August 09, 2008

Denvention 3 Day 3: Changing the Rules 

This convention isn't a big Worldcon; about 3500 attendees, I've heard, smaller than I'd expected considering that many usual members (including me) did not attend last year's con in Japan and therefore might be inclined to catch up with this year's con in Denver. Doesn't seem to be so. Is Denver part of the problem? A nice enough, decent city, but no special attraction, unless one takes (as I did) the time for side trips to Rocky Mountain Park or (as Scott Edelman did) Pike's Peak.

Controversy peaked today as the World Science Fiction Society held its annual business meeting, where one of the proposals was to eliminate the semi-prozine Hugo category, the category that Locus Magazine has won 20 times out of the 24 years the category has been in existence -- a category created because prior to 1984, Locus had dominated fanzine category, with 8 wins in 13 years.

The proposal passed, by a vote of 40 to 28 (according to SF Awards Watch), though it requires ratification by *next* year's Worldcon in Montreal before it becomes a permanent change. The proposal would disenfranchise *any* publication that qualifies under current semi-prozine rules, including Interzone and The New York Review of Science Fiction, from qualifying for any other category, such as fanzine.

Other proposals concerning a category for Best Graphic Story, and changes to the Best Related Work category that potentially would allow nominations for web sites, were passed, but these also would require ratification by next year's convention before they would take effect (the following year).

Meanwhile, this morning I attended the annual meeting of the Locus Foundation, where we discussed various technical matters regarding the legal definition of the foundation, ideas for fundraising and garnering donations to the foundation, and potential new members of the foundation given legal requirements for interested vs. non-interested parties. (Don't call us, we'll call you.)

After that I dropped in on various panels throughout the day. A panel on "Looking Ahead, what to read and watch before you nominate for the 2009 Hugos" was largely a reprise of the "Year in SF" panel from two days earlier, with media mentions added. Despite my emphasis on the spaciousness of the convention center, I encountered two events today where the rooms were packed to overflowing: a "Timeless Stars: H.P. Lovecraft" panel with Charles Stross and others, in a too-small room; and Lois McMaster Bujold's guest-of-honor speech, in a large room nevertheless so full that latecomers had to stand along the walls or sit on the floor. Bujold's speech concerned the definition of 'genre', how despite the genre's guardians who insists writers should push the boundaries of the genre, she has been comfortable with romance stories and Georgette Heyer, has firm opinions about fight scenes and politics, and has adopted lessons learned from shojo/manga comics. The audience was receptive. She concluded by answering the frequently asked question about where SF is 'going' -- she doesn't know; she's not steering.

A 4 p.m. panel on "the ages of a writer's life" was an entertaining presentation with Robert Silverberg, Connie Willis, Larry Niven, and Lois McMaster Bujold, moderated by a woman named Suford Lewis, who though I gathered must be a well-known old time fan, talked too much. Despite her, the guests on the panel described, each at length, their own careers and how they fit or did not fit into the paradigm of writing first just to get published, then to satisfy their fans, and finally for posterity; all were fascinating and informative, with Willis and to a lesser extent Silverberg providing comedy and wit.

I caught a few minutes of a panel on whether online magazines will replace print magazines, a topic whose currency was perhaps evidenced by the fact that 4 panelists presented to 5 audience members, including me. I ducked out of that to meet up with Gary and Francesca to trek over to this year's Eos party, held at an off-site restaurant a mile or so from the conference center -- the 16th Street free buses proving handy. There I chatted with Jonathan about real estate, Francesca about Terry Pratchett, and John Joseph about twittering, before the evening's thunderstorm died down and we could return to the con hotels in relative dryness.

Then there was a Tor party in the Sheraton; the SFWA suite a couple floors down, where Asimov's magazine celebrated its 30th anniversary with three cakes; and all the other fan and bid parties. Until late.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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