15 October 2004
Sailing the Clyde, July - September 2004
The behind-the-scenes newsletter for Interaction, the 63rd World Science Fiction Convention <http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/>
Welcome to the latest issue of Sailing the Clyde, covering July – September 2004. We have now all emerged from the maelstrom that was Noreascon 4 and, as you can imagine, we have quite a bit to report.
Membership Rate Change – Colin Harris
On 8 October we announced our next membership rate change, which will take effect on 1 December 2004. On this date we will increase our adult attending membership rates from £95 ($170 / €145) to £110 ($195 / €165). We will however be maintaining all of the existing rates for children, infants and new supporting members. Full details of the new rates in all currencies can be found at: http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/pressr23.htm.
We issued a press release on 8 October confirming the changes and emphasising that Worldcon remains tremendous value for money. As a 5-day event the cost remains barely £20 per day, which compares well to a trip to the theatre or a good restaurant. Another important distinction between Worldcon and some other conventions - media events in particular - is that our rates are fully inclusive, covering all of the programme, art show, dealers' room and autographing sessions.
If you know anyone who is thinking of buying a membership, please let them know that they need to do so quickly to take advantage of the existing lower rates.
Noreascon 4 Report - Vincent Docherty
In the last StC I talked about the 'cunning plans' for our activities at Noreascon 4, the 2004 Worldcon in Boston. I'm delighted to say that we did everything we planned to do and in some cases even exceeded our goals.
Looking back now, after a couple of weeks of recovery time, it was an amazingly colourful, hectic, and overall Science-Fictional weekend. Numerous accounts and reviews of N4 have been written and you can read a selection here: http://www.noreascon.org/.
Interaction had several official events at N4, on top of our usual open party and sales desk. On the Thursday night, N4 organised 'First Night' - an opening evening celebration and festival, run by fan groups in N4's 'Concourse' (exhibits) area. This was a riot of decoration, creativity, fun and noise, with a lot of hands-on events. We participated by running a Tombola Booth. The description says it all: "Interaction brings the heart of the English village fete to First Night with a traditional tombola. Much beloved by Agatha Christie, these summer affairs were the highlight of the village calendar, and the tombola booth gave the villagers access to the only form of gambling that was approved of by both Vicar and Women's Institute." The booth was always busy and the highlight for me was the tombola drum itself which Steve Cooper had built from scratch - he assures me based on years of watching 'Blue Peter' on the BBC. In fact the booth was so successful that late in the evening the drum bearings collapsed from overuse!
On Friday we ran a joint open party with L.A. Con IV, the 2006 Worldcon. We were located in a function room in the Sheraton, N4's HQ hotel. As the corkage waiver covered food and soft drinks only, we jointly decided to focus on creating a congenial party space, with rented comfy seats and a good supply of nibbles. There may have been a few chocolate liqueurs on the sales desk - for medicinal purposes only of course! During the evening a number of the winners from the Retro-Hugo ceremony dropped in and I was particularly pleased to see James Bacon (the 2004 TAFF delegate) carrying the Retro-Hugo for the fanzine 'Slant' which was edited by Walt Willis and James White: the late Jim White being an old friend to Glasgow fans and someone I met at my very first con, too many years ago.
Saturday brought us the Hugo Award Ceremony and our first official item as a seated Worldcon - running the 'Hugo Losers Party' afterwards. This was organised by Henry Balen and Renee Sieber, who redesigned the suite given to us for the purpose by N4. With their army of helpers they had transformed the room into a vision in white, with balloons and masks hanging from the ceiling, text from Hugo nominated works projected on the walls, a stunning range of food and drinks, and not forgetting the 'naked waiter', (who was probably the only sensibly dressed person in the room as the temperature increased with all the well-dressed nominees and fans there). Feedback from the people attending the party was very positive!
On Sunday we welcomed Nippon 2007 as the 64th Worldcon (http://www.nippon2007.org/) and we offer them our congratulations. Commiserations to the Columbus bid, who bid well and gained a very significant number of votes.
The end of the convention came all too soon on Monday. Our next official event was to participate in the Closing Ceremony, where Deb Geisler, N4's chair, passed the gavel (or rather, gavels) to Colin and me. We had arranged a few surprises for Deb, including a 5-minute version of N4, (most of which she missed, being chair), chaotically run by Sparks and his cast of - dozens. Deb's account of this will be in our next PR along with some photos. We followed this with a video message from Glasgow's Lord Provost and closed with a surprise (ha!) appearance by a highland pipe band, who performed and then piped us out of the hall.
Our con desk was always busy, especially with queries about our accommodation booking which we had opened on the first day of N4. The representatives from Infotel, our accommodation partner, and the Tourist Board dealt with the queries ably and by the end of N4 we have taken hundreds of bookings. We also took a lot of memberships - about 150 at the desk - although a bit less than we expected. After N4 we discovered that there had been a lot of online membership sales, so it is possible that the total was closer to our target. It may be that our desk being busy encouraged fans to join at the internet lounge. Feedback was positive and many fans said they would like to attend Interaction if at all possible. (The main problem, as expected, being the current exchange rates which make it more expensive for US fans to attend.) We also launched our new merchandise range, by OffWorld designs, and sold a lot of shirts, caps and other items. (You can order these online by linking from our website.)
Many of Interaction's staff worked at N4, and it was especially good to see the number who shadowed their N4 counterparts. We also had many staff on the programme and even had a Hugo winner, with Cheryl taking the Best Fanzine award.
We had so many people working at N4 that it isn't possible for me to thank them all individually, so I will just say 'Thank you' to all of you who worked so hard!
Hotel Bookings – Colin Harris
Our accommodation service launched fantastically well with over 1000 people booking their accommodation via the Infotel service in the first two weeks. Despite the event still being almost a year away, a quarter of the expected attendees, representing over £300,000 worth of room bookings, have already reserved their rooms.
The official launch of the service occurred on September 2nd 2004 during Noreascon 4, this year's Worldcon, which took place in Boston. We were lucky to be joined by Evie Mauchan from the Glasgow Tourist Board, and Tanya Beresford and Susanna Bridge from Infotel, and they were kept busy throughout the convention answering members' queries. All the testing done by the staff before the service went live also had benefits, as we have not had any significant problems with the website or the service provided by Infotel. In fact the only complaints were from a few members who could not get their first choice of accommodation as some of the hotels filled up very quickly.
As we expected, demand has been particularly high for those properties located close to the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Moat House Hotel, and Hilton Hotel, which will host the main convention events. We have now used up all of the public allocations in all three on-site hotels (Moat House, City Inn and Campanile) as well as the Marriott and Central, and the Hilton is also about two-thirds full. However, we still have more than enough beds to go around - in fact our main allocation has room for over 4000 people, and we have reserve allocations for another 1000! As in 1995, what we are seeing is simply that members have a strong preference for the two main hotel areas and are booking there first.
It should also be noted that even the most popular hotels are not actually full at this point. In anticipation of the high demand, we retained a limited number of rooms at each of these hotels for the use of members with impaired mobility or other special requirements. We are currently putting a process in place to allow members to apply for these rooms, and to assess relative priorities where demand exceeds supply. Electrical Eggs will be advising us on this process.
Breeding Division Heads – Cheryl Morgan
Ah, if only we could breed them! But we do have three new division heads to announce.
Firstly, to replace Paul Oldroyd (who is doing well and scheduled for surgery early in the new year), we have Kevin Standlee heading up Extravaganzas and Ian Stockdale heading up Programming. Kevin was co-chair of ConJosé, the 2002 Worldcon, and has had numerous other senior Worldcon positions, including running Site Selection and the WSFS Business Meeting for Intersection in 1995. Ian has long experience of working in and leading programme at Worldcon and smaller cons. He has had roles around green room, programme ops, programme database and other aspects at most recent Worldcons going back to Chicon in 2000. Both of them are based in the San Francisco Bay Area (as is Janice Gelb, our head of Programme Operations). The Scottish Parliament is expected to announce the annexation of San Francisco in the New Year.
In addition, our Publications & Promotions Division has been split in two with David Stewart taking charge of the new Promotions Division (Steve Cooper remains in charge of Publications). David is an Irish fan based in Dublin. He has been a regular visitor to British conventions and Worldcons over the years, as well as an organiser of Irish conventions. He is a professional journalist, specialising in coverage of technology issues.
Extravaganzas – Kevin Standlee
Extravaganzas (sometimes called Events) consists of the major "milestone" functions of the convention, marking the official start and end of the convention, and what are usually the best-attended events of Worldcon: the Worldcon Masquerade on Saturday night and the Hugo Awards Ceremony on Sunday night. We also have a full stage play scheduled for Friday night, and the opening and closing ceremonies on Thursday and Monday. Most of the major events will happen in the Clyde Auditorium (the "Armadillo"), the beautiful 3,000-seat fixed-stage theatre that represents the most striking addition to our facilities compared to those used in 1995.
I will have a fairly hands-off role in this. I see myself as the "producer" of the shows. My job is to get the resources necessary for my team to do their jobs. I’m relying on my fine team of show directors: Giulia de Cesare for the Masquerade, Mike and Debby Moir for the Hugo Ceremony, and Ian Sorensen for the play, not forgetting Tim Broadribb our head of Technical Services, to actually get things done.
However, we are still very interested in recruiting someone (or multiple people) to direct the Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you're interested in this. We also continue to need specific help with the other major events; it's best to contact the specific events' directors and discuss your interests with them.
Interaction Goes Live(Journal) – Cheryl Morgan
Interact online with Interaction! Our new LiveJournal account is up and running. This works like a bulletin board. It is a place where you can post questions about the convention and get answers. Also, you can connect with other attendees, and make new friends before the con starts.
You don’t have to have your own LiveJournal account to participate as Interaction’s department heads are setting up their own discussion threads to which anyone can respond. Our friendly moderators, Raaven and GregorTroll are there to guide and assist you. So please join in and share your views. We want to hear what you want from our Worldcon.
You can find the Interaction LiveJournal at: http://inter_action.livejournal.com/.
Interaction Souvenir Book Update – Steve Cooper
As announced in PR2, Interaction will be producing a limited edition hardcover of its Souvenir Book, specially bound and slipcased and signed by all the Guests of Honour. The process for ordering this edition, which will be restricted to 200 copies, has now been announced.
As we believe demand will be high, we have now decided to run a ballot process for the limited edition to provide all interested members with a chance to purchase a copy. The ballot will be run in two pools, with Friends of the UK in 2005 Bid, and convention staff, in one pool, and all other members in the other. We have chosen to favour Friends and staff as a way to say thank you for all their efforts in supporting us.
The ballot process will open on 15th November and members will be able to submit orders up until 28th February 2005. The Friends & staff orders will be processed first, with a maximum number of 170 books in this pool. A ballot will be operated if demand exceeds this level. A minimum of 25 books, plus any left over from the Friends and staff pool, will then be put into the general members pool. All members will be restricted to one book each in the ballot process.
We will contact all applicants by the end of April 2005 to tell them whether they have been successful in the ballot. Credit cards will be charged during May 2005 and the books will be available for collection at the convention.
WSFS Division Divides – Kevin Standlee
WSFS (World Science Fiction Society) includes those required elements that make us a Worldcon: The Hugo Awards, the WSFS Business Meeting, and Worldcon Site Selection. Although we originally put all of these functions in a division of their own, with the division manager (Pat McMurray) transferred to Exhibits and his deputy (Kevin Standlee) tapped to run Extravaganzas, we decided it made more sense to divide the WSFS jobs between those respective divisions.
Hugo Awards Administration followed Kevin to Extravaganzas, where Paul Dormer will head the Hugo Administration Subcommittee and work closely with Hugo Awards Ceremony directors Mike & Debby Moir. WSFS Business Meeting went with Pat to Exhibits, but don't expect Tim Illingworth to chair the meeting in the Art Show or Dealers Room.
Worldcon Site Selection also transferred to the Exhibits Division; however, we will not actually host a site selection election at Interaction. At this year’s Worldcon an amendment to reduce the Worldcon site selection bidding period from three to two years was ratified and took effect. This means that there will be no Worldcon site selection at Interaction. (The 2007 NASFiC site selection will take place at CascadiaCon, the 2005 NASFiC. You must be a member of CascadiaCon to vote in the 2007 NASFiC election. Interaction will not conduct NASFiC selection.) However, the members of Interaction will still be entitled to vote in the 2008 Worldcon site selection, whether or not they are members of L.A.con IV. The 2008 ballots will be available in early 2006. (Individuals may cast only a single vote in the 2008 site selection.) Interaction will work with L.A.con IV to make sure all members of Interaction have an opportunity to vote in 2006.
Interaction is not just the Worldcon – it is also the 2005 Eurocon. The official business of Eurocon also followed Pat to the Exhibits division, under the supervision of Dave Lally.
Membership Update – Colin Harris
As expected (and as is usual for Worldcons) we took a good number of memberships at Noreascon 4, and we are seeing more people joining online as well. In fact we took around 270 memberships in September alone. You can see the latest demographics and statistics on our website at: http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/demograp.htm.
Within the recent joiners, we welcomed our first members from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Nigeria and even the Vatican City State - taking us to 29 countries in all.
For those interested in statistics, we passed two key milestones in the last few weeks, with 3000 total members and 2500 attending members now achieved. However, our sights remain set on at least 5000 total, and 4500 attending members, to provide the budget we need to put on everything we would like to see at the convention.
Forthcoming Appearances – David Stewart
Forthcoming Issues – Cheryl Morgan
As we get closer to the convention the amount of news that we have will increase greatly. We are currently looking at ways to communicate this with you more effectively without clogging up your email with too many copies of Sailing the Clyde. Our next issue will hopefully have news of something additional on the news-reporting front.
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Page last updated 17th October 2004
Page last updated 17th October 2004