I’ve been reading a fair amount of commentary following Discon III’s announcement that they are planning a December date with a different hotel.
While a lot of the emails are endorsing the decision (some with faint praise), a fair number are, to put it bluntly, bitching and moaning.
I’m here to tell you, that’s out of line.
For decades I have been agitating for a permanent change to Worldcon’s annual gathering, and I have been roundly (and justifiably) ignored. What I’ve been requesting is the permanent re-location of the convention to my home or other suitable location no more than a half hour’s drive from my home.
While I recognize that such a change would inconvenience a lot of people, it DOES have the virtue of guaranteeing my personal attendance, for the duration of the convention, every year, without fail, and that, I assure you, would directly benefit the convention. After all, I’d have to purchase an Attending Membership every year.
Sure, I know, Manchester Regional Airport is not the most convenient nor least expensive airport to fly into (you can’t get a straight flight from hardly anywhere), but by the same token, I’m only 30 minutes away, so picking you up isn’t that big of a deal. It’s also a very small airport, so finding (and walking to) your gate is about the same as walking from your bedroom into your kitchen. Believe me, that makes things a lot easier when you’re hauling a ton of book finds from the Dealer’s Room.
The local hotels are few and far between, but you don’t need to worry about lodging. There’s plenty of room to sack out in my basement. Just bring an air mattress (or rent one, I’ve got a few). Note that this is already saving you the equivalent of $200 per nite – more than compensating for the expensive roundtrip air passage.
The weather? It’s always nice in New Hampshire, so long as you don’t have to go outside, and who wants to do that when you’re at Worldcon? Besides, there’s hardly any tourist attractions here to bother with, with the possible exception of our Stone Arch bridges and the Shephard Redstone at the McAuliff-Shephard Discovery Center. (I’ve been, you don’t need to.)
Now admittedly, there are some issues associated with such a move, and I recognize that while they’re not majority concerns, they will affect a handful of individuals, so they should be addressed.
You’ll want to pack a variety of season – appropriate clothing as we’ve not yet picked a date. You’ll also want to apply for a leave of absence, family leave, a sabbatical or use some other excuse to take the year off with pay so that the moment we do pick a date, you can be assured of being able to attend.
The room block is very small, but also variable. I can easily get another 20-30 people in, if I open up the attic. I think we’ll do a survey of potential attendees and see what percentage of folks are willing to climb a ladder to get some shut-eye. (Going up, not so much of a problem. Coming down after the room parties might be a bit problematic for some.)
I also don’t have the capacity to prepare Kosher meals, so if that’s a concern, you’ll have to bring your own. I think our closest synagogue is in Brooklyn.
The Art Show is flat out – so if you plan on displaying, load all of your images onto a table and we’ll put them in the hallway so members can swipe through them at their leisure.
On the other hand, Room Parties are not an issue at all. First – no worries of another non-SF convention sharing the space. Second – the neighbors will never hear the noise over their shotgun blasts, chainsaws and four-wheeler acrobatics. And sure, bring your own – no corkage fees!
Internet access is assured, though you’ll have to book time at the single keyboard.
Once the United States entered World War II, Fandom, many of whom volunteered for service, decided to place the hosting of Worldcon on hiatus until the end of hostilities. When that decision was made, no one had any idea of how long the war would persist, nor did anyone know what the outcome would be (and when the decision was first made, the outcome was in serious doubt). I have no doubt that some voting to make this change did so with the certain knowledge that there never would be a Worldcon again.
We’re very lucky to live in an age when virtual conventions are a technological possibility. I suppose you could try one sans electronics, but you’d need a whole hell of a lot of semaphore experts and I don’t think even Fandom could scare up more than a handful.
We’re lucky to live in an age where international travel is commonplace, even when impacted by a pandemic.
My bottom line here is this: Discon III, like all other Worldcons before it, is a volunteer organization. If you think that a December con will raise hobb with your personal planning, imagine what the folks responsible for trying to navigate to an acceptable solution have been going through for two years. TWO YEARS. They’ve all got the same issues that you do – needing to see family, getting time off from work, travel during a Pandemic. You have the luxury of deciding whether to go or not – those folks are locked in.
We all know that no Worldcon is ever perfect. We also know that the DC committee has been handed a series of issues to deal with that I believe are unprecedented in their number. They’ve done their best. They sought input, they’ve kept us informed and they’ve come up with a plan that looks to make the con accessible to a majority of fans who’ve let their opinion be known.
So lets cut them some slack, suck it up and help them make it the best Worldcon it can be.