Worldcon 2020 and 20201

By Keith G. Kato

As most of you know, CoNZealand, the 78th World Science Fiction Convention (“Worldcon”) scheduled in Wellington, New Zealand from July 29 – August 2, 2020, has changed to a virtual convention thanks to COVID-19 messing up the entire world. Those of us who had planned to attend in person can no longer do so. However, now that the transportation and housing costs related to CoNZealand are gone, more of us can now participate from the comfort of our own couches!

The Bad News is that you still must purchase an Attending Membership to access CoNZealand’s virtual activities (see the CoNZealand website for more details). The Good News is that membership rates have been reduced. At the moment, an Attending Membership is NZ$300, about US$184 at today’s spot exchange rate of 6:1, which is actually lower than I paid to attend two years ago. Attending Membership will get you online access to all events (Opening and Closing Ceremonies, Hugo Awards, panels) and voting privileges (Hugo Awards, Retro-Hugo Awards, 2022 con site selection).

Specifically related to THS (pending reality arriving), we are hoping/planning for the following:

  • [Virtual] Fan Table. We have been told that CoNZealand’s Fan Table venue will support things like an automated PowerPoint briefing, audio, video, and some mechanism for live and delayed Q&A. Depending on who is available from THS to “sit” at the Table, we are hoping for live interactions during specified time slots, along with a looping PowerPoint briefing. Alas, we will not be able to hand out the usual tchotchkes like badge ribbons.
  • [Virtual] Blood Drive. Virtual Blood Drives are up and running! See the THS Blood Drives Facebook page or the THS website Blood Drives page for full details.
  • [Virtual] Panels. The CoNZealand con committee is working to switch panels to an online format. We have pitched a THS-related panel, but have not heard back on its fate (yet). It is not clear whether a podcast-like file for the panels will be available for later retrieval and viewing.
  • Hugo and Retro-Hugo Awards. The Final Ballot of nominees is out ( ) although as of now final ballots have not been distributed, nor a submittal deadline cited. You must be at least a Supporting Member to vote. Of note (and without editorial comment) we see that Farah Mendlesohn’s The Pleasant Profession of Robert A. Heinlein is nominated in the Best Related Work category. Among the Retro-Hugo candidates, our friends at The Center For Ray Bradbury Studies are no doubt gratified to see Bradbury’s “I, Rocket” nominated for Best Short Story, while any number of RAH’s contemporary friends (Isaac Asimov, Leigh Brackett, Henry Kuttner, C.L. Moore, Clifford Simak, Theodore Sturgeon, A.E. van Vogt) are amply represented as nominees in all four fiction categories.
  • 2022 Site Selection. There are two candidate sites for the 80th Worldcon in 2022: Chicago, Illinois ( ) and Jeddah, Saudi Arabia ( ). The obvious joke is that one place is poorly-run, insolvent, and has a high murder rate; the other place is Jeddah.
  • [Virtual] Party. THS’s Board is weighing the possibility of hosting a virtual Worldcon party, via a conferencing site like Zoom. The interesting thing is, since we control the invitations and access, even those who are not registered members at CoNZealand can attend. Again, this party is highly tentative so check again with us in the July Newsletter (the last issue before Worldcon), and THS’s website and/or social media.


The 79th Worldcon in 2021, DisCon III ( ), will be held in Washington DC, 25-29 August 2021, primarily in the Washington Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. This will be the first Worldcon in the continental U.S. in three years, and under normal circumstances a large attendance would be anticipated. Supporting Memberships (all Worldcon mailings, nomination and voting rights for the Hugo Awards and 2023 site selection) are US$45. Attending Memberships (Worldcon mailings, voting rights, and physical attendance at Worldcon) are US$155 at the moment, but this rate will increase to US$175 on June 2, 2020. THS is considering the following activities:

  • Group Field Trip. In keeping with THS’s Worldcon tangentially-related trips in 2016 (RAH’s induction into the Missouri Hall of Famous Missourians), 2018 (RAH physical archives at the University of California, Santa Cruz), and 2019 (the show “Riverdance” in Dublin, Ireland), we are considering a group trip in the DC area. The most immediate candidate that comes to mind is the Air & Space Museum within the Smithsonian complex.
  • Mission & Vision Meeting. In 2016 and 2018, THSers gathered for sidebar meetings on impressions, wishes, and complaints from members outside the purview of the Board and Committee Chairs. Several suggestions, such as the raffle of the Virginia Edition at Annual Meetings, emerged from these discussions. We hope to convene another Mission & Vision Meeting while in DC.
  • Fan Table. Back to a normal operation, we hope! Note from November 2020 through October 2021, THS will be celebrating our 20th year of existence.
  • Blood Drive. Ditto a normal con Blood Drive.
  • 2023 Site Selection. At the moment there are three candidate bids for the 81st Worldcon in 2023: Chendu, China (, Memphis, Tennessee ( ), and Nice, France ( ). The bids from New Orleans, Louisiana, and Spokane, Washington, have dropped out.
  • Party. Worldcon 2021 is not only the end of THS’s 20th Anniversary year (sort of), it is also the end of Ray Bradbury’s Centennial Year (also sort of). The Heinlein Society and The Center For Ray Bradbury Studies will likely co-host a 2021 Worldcon party to honor these milestones.