21 July 2003
Sailing the Clyde - April - June 2003
The behind-the-scenes newsletter for Interaction, the 63rd
World Science Fiction Convention
Eastercon Report / Cons visited
We had a great time at Seacon, as did many others by all accounts. Congratulations to Paul Oldroyd (who will be running Programme and Extravaganzas at Interaction) and his committee! This was the second Eastercon held in Hinckley, and not the last as the 2005 Eastercon, Paragon 2, will be held there too. See http://www.paragon2.org.uk/ for details. We sold over 100 memberships and introduced some new merchandise - mugs with a fun cartoon by Teddy Harvia, and some very classy bookmarks. We sponsored Beyond Cyberdrome and our GoH Chris Priest's SF Bookclub. Chris also won the BSFA award for his novel The Separation, later adding the Clarke Award, for which many congratulations! The remaining surplus (technically, the interest on the surplus) from the last UK Worldcon, Intersection, was used to support the production of the Seacon Fanthology. In addition we ran a presentation about Interaction and our committee and staff participated in other programme items. Altogether a very busy and successful weekend. At the 2004 Eastercon we hope to do even more, including possibly a Ceilidh!
Vincent was Fan GoH at the 2nd International Week of Science and SF in Timisoara, Romania. (The first week was held to coincide with the 1999 solar eclipse, and included our own Robert Sheckley as GoH.) Much touristing, eating, drinking and socialising was done on top of the formal convention programme and it was all well run and great fun. Vincent also met our new Romanian agent Antuza to discuss our plans. Rumours of a future Romanian Worldcon bid were 'Someone Else's Idea'!
Not to be outdone, Bjørn was GoH shortly after at Fantastika in Stockholm, Sweden (13-15 June 2003). It was a small event with just above 100 people. No memberships were taken but quite a few people ran off with fliers and the pre-made (by Britt-Louise) giro forms. Great fun was had by all.
Membership Rates and Statistics
We have always been conscious that Worldcons can appear expensive compared to other cons and we have tried hard to keep rates as low as our budget allows. So we were very happy be able to delay our first rate increase until 1 June 2003, and to limit it to £10 / $20. We were also able to minimise our European rate increases due to the strengthening value of the Euro since ConJose. In a separate decision, we have extended our bid presupporter and Friends discounts through to 30 November 2003.
In May, we launched our installment plan, which appears to be working well. Around 30 people have taken advantage of it already. The plan enables members to spread the cost of an Attending membership over up to 12 months. Under the plan, members buy a Supporting membership first (£30 or $45 or EUR 45) and then pay the fee for conversion to Attending membership in quarterly installments of £20 or $30 or EUR 30 (other currencies are also available). The total charge for the membership is frozen at the time of signing up to the plan. Full details can be found at http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/instplan.
Memberships have continued to come in steadily, with a large number now coming through our online payment system. As of 1 June 2003 we had 2442 people in our database from 29 countries, of which 1368 were attending. (Although we didn't report it in the last StC, Interaction reached its 1000th Attending Member on 21 March 2003, less than 7 months after being selected as the 2005 Worldcon. The lucky 1000th registration belonged to David Forsythe from Northern Ireland.)
The Site team has been very busy for the last few months as we have worked to confirm our site contracts and select our hotels. An important difference from the US is that British hotels typically only have 200-300 bedrooms at most. As in 1995 we will therefore need to work with a range of hotels to provide the amount of accommodation that we need. Luckily, Glasgow is one of the fastest growing and most successful conference destinations in Europe, with 12 new hotels built since 2000, so we have a much wider set of options than Intersection did.
One of the most important decisions in the Site area has been the selection of a professional partner who will work with us to manage our accommodation booking requirements. After a careful selection process, we have chosen Infotel (http://www.infotel.co.uk/) for this role and they are already working closely with us to assist with our hotel negotiations. More information on our accommodation service will be announced during 2004, but in summary we plan to support bookings on-line and off-line and to provide a one-stop-shop for all of our accommodation, including the cheaper university rooms as well as the core hotels. A particular feature will be real-time processing for on-line users, enabling members to browse through hotels, check room availability and obtain real-time confirmation on their selections.
Since last issue we have completed the process of registering Interaction with Electrical Eggs UK. Eggs UK is a fan-run organisation which offers advice and support to make SF conventions more accessible to fans with special needs of all kinds. We'll be working closely with Eggs UK and will provide as wide a range of special needs services as practicable, before and at the Convention. More information is available from the Eggs UK website at http://www.electrical-eggs.org.uk/.
Organisational Update and Situations (still) Vacant!
The biggest change for us was the beginning of the transition from our old post-bid organisation, to a division-based structure. The timing of this transition was based on experiences from 1995 and other Worldcons. We learned not to rush into setting up the new organisation.
All but one of the division heads have been appointed and they will now begin to expand their teams over the next two years. The latest staff list can be seen at http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk/staff.htm and already features over 50 staff, not including around 30 general volunteers. However, many more posts remain to be filled - indeed the average Worldcon uses around 500 staff on the day !
We have opted for a relatively small number of divisions - six in fact. The two busiest areas to date have been Site and Facilities (led by Jonathan Jones and Ben Yalow) and Publications & Promotions (Steve Cooper). Unfortunately, Jonathan needs to step down from the role of joint division head due to other commitments; we thank him for his outstanding work in sorting out our accommodation plans and site liaison. Ben will head up the site function for the time being.
The other division head appointments comprise Paul Oldroyd (Programme & Extravaganzas), Alice Lawson (Services), and Pat McMurray (WSFS). All come with great experience; for instance Paul was Coordinator of the 1987 Worldcon, Conspiracy; Alice was Chair of the 2001 Eastercon, Paragon, whilst Pat has worked on numerous Eastercons and is already active as our WSFS MPC nominee - we welcome them all to the team.
We continue to run an open staff email discussion list for both appointed staff and interested fans. A staff website is also available to assist with staff communications. Further volunteers at all levels are always welcome - contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org in the first instance. We also continue to seek staff for some specific posts. These include:
Press and Publications News
We released the first issue of our pre-convention Newsletter, "Armadillo Dreams", on 21 April, distributing copies by hand at Eastercon and mailing the rest out from the US (which minimises our overall costs). Overall, we plan to produce three issues of Armadillo Dreams before the Convention, along with four Progress Reports. Whilst the Progress Reports will follow traditional lines, the Newsletter will provide more news from behind the scenes, giving a flavour of the work that goes into the creation of a Worldcon. The first issue features a retrospective on the history of the 2005 Bid, news from around the team and a showcase of UK fan writing from the period since the last UK Worldcon in 1995. New artwork has been provided by Teddy Harvia and a Newsletter logo by Sue Mason.
Work is also well in hand on Progress Report 1. This is planned to go to print in early August, with copies available at Torcon 3.
News From Our Agents
We continue to extend our Agents Network with several new Agents appointed since last issue. We are delighted to welcome Olav M. J. Christiansen (Denmark), Antuza Genescu (Romania) and Oscar Logger (Czech Republic) to the team. We have a change of Agent in Australia, with Edwin Scribner taking over from Rose Mitchell - many thanks to Rose for her efforts over the last couple of years !
The agents from Holland, Belgium, and France met with Paul Treadaway and Bjørn in Liège, Belgium on April 5-6. As with the meeting with the Nordic agents in Stockholm in February a lot of useful points about marketing Interaction on the continent came up, as well as some interesting ideas about how our agent network can best be used.
Coming Soon and Forthcoming Convention Appearances !
As of the time of writing, we have just held our first staff weekend, "Construction", in Cardiff, UK. Around 30 staff attended and made the best of some very fine weather - and some excellent waterfront restaurants. Many of the sessions were well attended and discussion was lively - although as always there were also areas that we will want to improve upon next time. A full report on Construction will be included next issue, and planning is already in hand for future events with the next two staff weekends likely to occur around February and October 2004.
Approaching fast are two of our most important Conventions of the year. At the end of August we will of course be out in force at Torcon 3, this year's Worldcon, which is being held in Toronto, Canada. Those who were at ConJose will be pleased to hear that we won't be quite as frantic this year - but we will still be running a party and con desk, and doing as much as we can to encourage more people to sign up for Interaction.
Before Torcon, though, it's Finncon, this year's Eurocon, which is being held in Turku, Finland at the beginning of August - exactly two years before Interaction itself !! A number of the senior staff, including Vince, Colin and Bjørn will be attending - indeed Bjørn is Guest of Honour ! - and we will be bidding to host the 2005 Eurocon as part of Interaction. More help with running a convention desk is still needed.
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Page last updated 26th July 2004
Page last updated 26th July 2004