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August 19, 2013

Helsinki in 2015
Posted by Patrick at 08:47 AM * 113 comments

Speaking of the World Science Fiction Convention. (As we were.) There are three groups bidding to host it in 2015—Orlando, Spokane, and Helsinki. It’s been a while since I endorsed a particular bid in one of these contests, but I’m doing so now.

I’m voting for Helsinki in 2015, because I’m convinced by their core argument: that it would be good for European fandom, and fandom in general, for there to be two European worldcons in a row for the first time. Lots of people will attend next year’s Worldcon in London as first-time Worldcon attendees. It would be great for them to have a Worldcon they can attend again next year, instead of wistfully wondering how many years it will be before another Worldcon is within their reach—and drifting away from the Worldcon community as a result.

None of this would cut any ice with me if I didn’t think Helsinki’s committee is basically competent, and (just as importantly) able to reach out to the fandom-wide network of experienced convention organizers for help, as practically all modern Worldcon committees do. As best I can see, the Helsinki group easily clears this bar.

I have a positive impression of Spokane’s bid as well, and they’ll get my second preference—which will matter if Helsinki comes in last. But Helsinki is my first choice.

Comments on Helsinki in 2015:
#1 ::: David Weingart ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 01:50 PM:

This is a pretty good argument for Helsinki, although I'm currently wavering between that and Spokane as my first choice.

(I've been to Helsinki. It's a nice city.)

#2 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:34 PM:

What, no love for Orlando? Which IIUC gave a crappy con last time, and is in a state that various people are boycotting, for pretty good reasons?

Gosh, can't think why. </sarcasm>

#3 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 02:52 PM:

Some pros are leery about Spokane because one of its concom's folks was in charge on the programming for last year's worldcon. On the other hand, I can drive to Spokane but not to Helsinki.

#4 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:14 PM:

Isn't Dave McCarty involved in Helsinki? I don't have a problem with that as long as he isn't in charge of programming or access. (He's the Chicon 7* chair, who, when people complained about how the con's many access issues were exacerbated by the fake programming track, said “Well, I’m sorry you don’t see the humor in it.” That seemed to be the attitude of the committee in general.)

I think Helsinki is the best bid, for many reasons. But Dave McCarty's involvement is, to put it mildly, not one of them.

*"Chicon 7 - never again." Horrible hotel for a Worldcon. If Chicago wants my vote ever again, than in addition to not having Dave McCarty and promising not to have a fake program track, they'll have to come up with a hotel that isn't a nightmare maze worthy of a Doctor Who episode.

#5 ::: Xopher Halftongue has been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:21 PM:

Only two links. Maybe one or both was to a gnomable source.

#6 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:37 PM:

You know what? Ignore all that.

Spokane and Helsinki each have a member of the Chicon 7 committee involved in their bid. Nothing to choose between them on that score.

That's all I needed to say.

#7 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 03:59 PM:

Xopher @ 4... Such a cavalier attitude wasn't found in the organization of last year's Hugo ceremony. I can attest to that. After the big glitch that caused the shutdown of the ceremony's webcasting, the third-party provider must have had its ass chewed up because they promised to last year's organizer not to fuck up this year.

As for last year's facilities... I liked them myself. Mind you, I have very fond memories of their 1982 worldcon, and had had too much of a good time to notice its labyrinthine aspects.

#8 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:09 PM:

If you know your way around and have no mobility issues, it's just a difficult hotel. If you don't already know, the stupid names given the levels are NO HELP in figuring out where you need to go from where you are.* And it's an access-hostile environment.

*If the levels were called things like "South B," you could figure out that you need to go up to South A or up-and-over to North A. But "Bronze" tells you exactly NOTHING about the relationship to other levels.

#9 ::: Dave Harmon ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:17 PM:

Elephant in the room: And of course, Orlando and Spokane are both in the USA, whose authorities have earned a reputation for harassing and stealing from international travellers.

#10 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:23 PM:

Xopher @ 8... Agreed.

#11 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 04:55 PM:

They could have had their fake programming track if they'd had the grace to present it as such:
"In a long-standing tradition of Chicago fandom, here's a track of programs we wish we were hosting and you wish you could attend. Have fun joining us in imagining how much fun these programs would be!" You could even make it a competition, in the lead-up publicity, with people invited to submit a proposed unpossible program (with panellists) with their membership, and t-shirts for the winners.

I worked registration at this last Chicon, and as easily-located people who looked official, we not only got a lot of inquiries about where things were and how to get to them, we also fielded a lot of complaints about the fake program track. It's a great example of a fandom group becoming a little too ingrown and self-referential to consider the comfort level of outsiders--remember the comments in a previous thread about the Smoothing tradition?

One valuable thing from this past Chicon (and probably a good many other forethoughtful large cons) worth emulating at future cons: have the badges for pre-registered people already printed and laminated, as it cuts down on wait times for registration. It's more work beforehand, but most people working registration, as well as those who'd had to deal with long waits elsewhere, seemed to feel it simplified the process and reduced stress levels.

#12 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:05 PM:

Serge #3: You mean that this isn't a possibility?

#13 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:10 PM:

Xopher, #8: No shit. There was a reason that, after my first day at the 1991 Worldcon, I had a custom button made that said, "Chicon V: It's in the other tower and down another escalator."*

I'm voting for Spokane, for purely personal and selfish reasons -- as a dealer, a con we can drive to means we can go and earn money. I'd love to visit Helsinki; from what I hear, it's a beautiful city, and they've been sending excellent licorice to their bid tables. :-) But finances will not permit me to go as a fan, so I need to vote for the one where I can go as a dealer. And Orlando is Right Out, for all the reasons Xopher notes plus jeezus ghod, FLORIDA in AUGUST? BTDT, never want to do it again. So Helsinki is my second choice.

* And I will forever be grateful to the person doing consuite security who, when I realized I'd left my badge in the room after changing clothes, said I could come in and get my drink and then go back for my badge. My room being -- you guessed it -- up 2 escalators, in the other tower, and then a longish elevator ride.

#14 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:15 PM:

I couldn't point to Spokane on a map. Hell, I don't even know which coast it's nearest. That, alone, tells me I probably won't be going if worldcon is there (it sounds like a small town in the middle of nowhere and it's also almost certainly 3 -- or even 4 -- flight sectors from where I live, making it a drudge).

Orlando is ... been there, thought it was made of plastic. Amusing, but 100% artificial. Also a hell of a long trudge from where I live (last time it was 3 flight sectors and 22 hours door-to-door).

Helsinki is a shoe-in. Been wanting to go for ages.

Alas, I'm not going to worldcon this year (Texas? Not my favourite place; Texas in August? Horrors!) so I don't get to vote ...

#15 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:19 PM:

Fragano @ 12... I was actually tempted to quote that title when I wrote that comment.

#16 ::: Lenore Jones ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:26 PM:

Charlie @ 14: You don't have to go to vote. You do have to have at least a supporting membership in this year's worldcon, as well as paying a voting fee, so it costs money. You'd also have to find someone to carry your ballot to the con. But you don't actually have to go yourself.

#17 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 05:58 PM:

Charlie, it's east of Seattle in Washington State.

#18 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 07:12 PM:

Charlie Stross, #14:

"I couldn't point to Spokane on a map. Hell, I don't even know which coast it's nearest."

Yes, and it's a pity you don't have near-instantaneous access to a global information utility that could have cleared this up for you in less time than it took you to type this silly remark.

"it sounds like a small town in the middle of nowhere"

Spokane is actually about 210,000 people, making it several times larger than a "small town." And considerably larger than Brighton, England (155,000 people), host of the 1979 and 1987 Worldcons and this year's World Fantasy Con.

The point being that what matters isn't the size of the host municipality, but the size and suitability of the facilities, plus considerations like accessibility, committee competence, and so forth. All modern Worldcons are a collaborative effort involving volunteers from all over the US and many other countries.

I do agree that given the hub-and-spoke nature of most modern air travel, Spokane is liable to entail travel times for many of us (me included!) not much shorter than flying to to Helsinki. Of course, for many people, the same was true of the last two British worldcons, both of which were in Glasgow.

#19 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 07:26 PM:

And it rhymes with "my man," not with "cocaine." Annoying to those of us who wanted to filk about it, actually.

#20 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 07:58 PM:

Spokane is on the Amtrak "Empire Builder". I suspect people could fly into Seattle (which is a major airport) and take either another flight, or the train, or even rent a car and drive if they are so inclined. According to G maps, it's a 4 hour drive on I90.

No way am I going to Texas in August. Or Orlando, for that matter. But I rarely go to Worldcon anyway. I went to Chicon last year because it was relatively close, and could take the train.

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:39 PM:

As someone who lived in Jamaica for fourteen years, and who belongs to a species that evolved in east Africa, I am nonplussed at the hostility to Texas and Florida in August. Particularly so as I live in Atlanta, a place not noted for temperate summers.

#22 ::: Jo Walton ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 09:46 PM:

While Spokane is indeed on the Empire Builder, the Empire Builder coming from Chicago, Minneapolis and other points easterly gets there at 01h30 in the middle of the night.

I would certainly go to Spokane. But I'd much rather go to Helsinki.

And I'd much rather the Worldcon was in Helsinki even if I can't personally afford to go that year. Helsinki have a better moral argument.

#23 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 10:36 PM:

Jo Walton, #22:

"And I'd much rather the Worldcon was in Helsinki even if I can't personally afford to go that year. Helsinki have a better moral argument."

Just so. We ought to be making this choice based on something more than "can I afford to get there." If our predecessors had chosen based on nothing but that, the Worldcon would have never escaped the Eastern seaboard. Sheesh, people.

Fragano, #21:

"As someone who lived in Jamaica for fourteen years, and who belongs to a species that evolved in east Africa, I am nonplussed at the hostility to Texas and Florida in August."

Be nonplussed all you want. Humid heat makes me helpless and sick. I'm not actually making that up, nor is it really a joke. It's just a fact.

Yes, I live in New York City, and every July/August I wonder what the fuck I'm doing here. This year has actually been surprisingly easy, he said, expecting a September consisting of volcanic eruptions and blood from the sky. Meanwhile, yes, I'm going to Texas, but the prospect of Orlando is just too much to be borne.

#24 ::: Lenora Rose ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:06 PM:

If Worldcon 2015 is in Helsinki, I might just do everything in my power to see if I can finagle a way to get there. (My luck and *that* will be when I've just produced another child...)

With relatives who live less than 10 minutes from the BC/Washington border, Spokane is officially more feasible. But I wouldn't go out of my way to attempt to go to Worldcon there.

#25 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:06 PM:

Political & meteorological reasons and obstacles aside...
A worldcon is the chance for us to meet friends we see all too seldom.

#26 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 19, 2013, 11:16 PM:

Yeah, after that one debilitating heat wave, this summer has been comparatively mild in the NYCMA. Since my AC died, I am ever so grateful for this!

#27 ::: Phlop ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 01:56 AM:

Brief nitpick - Brighton is technically Brighton and Hove, with a population of 273,400.

Much more interestingly, Helsinki is offering free public transport and advice on the best way to swim from Estonia. Deal-breakers, surely?

#28 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:03 AM:

I certainly hope Helsinki gets the Worldcon - but then I'm a Finn.

I'm also hoping it'll be held in Dipoli, the Cthulhoid conference center with no 90 degree angles anywhere ...

#29 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:10 AM:

...And now that I've looked at the site a bit, I notice they're going to use the Conference Center in Pasila. The last time I was there, I could've summed it as "meh", but perhaps it's changed since then.

#30 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:32 AM:

Fragano, #21: I've lived in Houston for 15 years. But I grew up in the much more temperate climate of Detroit, and as far as I'm concerned Houston's summers are a pretty close approximation of Hell. San Antonio is a little better, being further inland and thus somewhat drier -- but I can't blame anyone for not wanting to come down here in the heat of the summer. Especially since said heat has gotten noticeably higher since I moved here. We used to have summer highs in the mid-to-high 90s, with a couple of 100-degree days. Now we break the 100 mark more often; in 2011, we had a heat wave that recorded 46 100-degree days! This year hasn't been that bad... yet.

#31 ::: Don Fitch ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:36 AM:

Paxed @ 29

In my book, a WorldCon venue that can be summed as "meh" is a goal greatly to be desired, at least half the time (and not at all bad the rest of it). This comes from having attended at least twenty of them in the last fifty years.

#32 ::: paxed ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:18 AM:

Don Fitch @ #31: Right, it's not the venue but the people who make the 'con. Also, for me, "meh" means I didn't hate it!

#33 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:29 AM:

Helsinki also has (or, at least, had, when I was last there) an astonishingly pleasant wooden roller coaster, with brakers employed to make sure the cars stay on the track.

In addition, Helsinki is a very pleasant city, should one venture forth from the con hotel.

#34 ::: Lurks-no-More ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:32 AM:

As another Finn, I heartily recommend and support Helsinki for Worldcon. We have a very strong culture of con organizing, with a lot of cross-fandom cooperation and plenty of experience. I'm absolutely sure that given a chance, the Helsinki Worldcon will be a success!

#35 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 07:07 AM:

Lee @ 30... About San Antonio, I'll be driving there from Albuquerque. Acording to Mapquest, the best and fastest route involves going thru Roswell. Does that agree with your own experience?

#36 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:44 AM:

Serge Broom #15: I suspected you might have been.

#37 ::: Michael Walsh ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:45 AM:

"What, no love for Orlando? Which IIUC gave a crappy con last time"

Blaming the city?

In any event, it's essentially an entirely different committee from 1992 - and a different facility. Or are you thinking of the alternate 1977 Worldcon?

Anyway, I thought Magiccon was a perfectly reasonable Worldcon, so I guess we cancel each other out.

#38 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:57 AM:

Serge #35: Does that mean you'll arrive by flying saucer?

#39 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:23 AM:

Fragano @ 38... I'd better get my Michael Rennie outfit cleaned up.

#40 ::: Nancy Lebovitz ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 09:26 AM:

#21 ::: Fragano Ledgister

Congratulations on your ability to tolerate hot weather.

I get pretty unhappy around 85/90 degrees F. (30/32 C.)

Anyone know what the humidity was like when humanity was evolving?

#41 ::: Lila ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:30 AM:

I have heard that heat tolerance depends on variation in numbers of active sweat glands, and that the hotter the environment in which you spend your first three years of life, the more active sweat glands you have. I tried to track down a citation, and though I found this assertion quoted in a couple of professional papers, neither of them offered a citation to the original research. So take that with a grain of salt.

#42 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:19 AM:

Patrick #23: As someone who has borne New York summers without air-conditioning, you have my sympathy. They can be flattening.

#43 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:24 AM:

Lee #30: What really gets me is dry desert heat. My first weekend in San Diego, the mercury hit 113 and it felt like the inside of an oven. I got really tired of hearing "But it's a dry heat". Ninety-seven and humid, on the other hand, I could comprehend.

In recent times I find myself disliking the fierce settings that lots of people seem to want for air-conditioners in these parts. Going outside into the heat is actually a relief.

#44 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:58 AM:

Patrick @18, while Spokane is indeed identifiable by means of the interwebbytubethings, the implicit point I was trying to make is that it's not exactly prominent.

A worldcon in Seattle I would totally get on board.

Spokane ... the best I can say is that I can see myself flying over for a vacation in Seattle, then renting a car for a road trip to/from the worldcon nearby.

#45 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:15 PM:

We almost had a worldcon in Seattle in 2011. They lost the facilities though so it wound up in Reno.

#46 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:16 PM:

Serge, #35: Google Maps concurs. If instead you go down I-25 to US 380 and cut across to Roswell from there, you drive right past a shop that advertises trinitite for sale, if that interests you. But it adds about an hour to the trip. The all-freeway route (I-25 to I-10 and over) is about the same length as the one that goes across 380, so the deciding factor will be whether you prefer a shorter trip or more freeway driving. Note that taking the back roads leaves you more subject to burglets with low speed limits and traffic lights, and I don't know how much of that Google takes into account. (We've had some disagreements with our GPS over that issue, when the route it said was fastest turned out to be based on never having to stop at a traffic light... and there were a lot of traffic lights.)

If you're taking a few days for sightseeing and haven't been there before, I heartily recommend Carlsbad Caverns. One caveat -- your legs will be very sore for a day or so afterwards; that long descent puts a lot of stress on muscles that don't normally get so much use. But OMG it was SO worth it!

Fragano, #43: "It's a dry heat" really only works when you're comparing the same temperature; 97 and dry is noticeably better than 97 and humid. But there's also a point of diminishing returns -- after all, fire is a dry heat! Also, note that the principle of a swamp cooler is to lower the temperature by putting more water into the air, and hence only works in dry climates.

We've hit a string of "the dealer room is cold enough to hang meat in" lately, and I completely agree with you about that. Who the hell thinks that 60 degrees is a comfortable indoor temperature??? If I have to go outside to warm up, your building is too cold!

#47 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 12:31 PM:

Lee @ 46... Thanks for the tips. We're aiming for a straight-to-the-worldcon trip without any detour. I'll tell Sue what you said then she can decide which way she prefers. She navigates, I handle the helm. My own experience with eastern New Mexico's country roads is that I can drive pretty fast without anybody caring, especially if it's very early in the day. Still, beter not to risk being pulled over.

#48 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:03 PM:

The primary advantage Texas has over New York in August is that central air conditioning is a given. The transit between hotel and convention center is likely to be unpleasant, but I strongly suspect the endpoints will require sweaters for people who don't run pretty hot. People here wear long pants year-round. And the humidity *should* be lower, although I live in Austin and can't swear to San Antonio's climate. It's not Houston, anyway. It's not even Chicago.

#49 ::: Michael I ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 02:58 PM:


When did San Diego get anywhere near 113? Most of the time the weather in San Diego itself is fairly reasonable temperature-wise pretty much year-round.

Now the next county to the east (Imperial County, where I lived year-round for 8 years and during summer and vacation breaks for 10 more years) is mostly a HOT desert which does regularly get to 113 in the summer.

#50 ::: Joshua Kronengold ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 03:26 PM:

Er -- where in NYC is AC -not- a given?

My only issue with Helsinki is that they opened the bid last year -- which has always seemed rather rude to me. Why wait a year before bidding for the Worldcon, when the existing bids had an extra year to entrench themselves? I also do think that as much as it would be useful to have two European worldcons in a row, it would also be useful to have a Worldcon in the Pacific Northwest, something that hasn't happened for a long, long time -- if you don't count Cascadia Con (the 2005 NASFic), not since 1961 (!). So I'm going to be voting for Spokane first, and we'll see after that.

#51 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 03:49 PM:

Serge, I remember Reno actually defeating Seattle in site selection, not being defaulted to because Seattle lost their facility. Or are you talking about what led to them losing the bid?

I've heard that Seattle just doesn't have facilities that would make it pleasant to have a WorldCon there. Think Denver but with much longer stretches between the relevant bits.

#52 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:04 PM:

My understanding is that Seattle *had* won the bid for 2011, but I may be mistaken.

#53 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:31 PM:

Serge, I wasn't 100% sure, so I went looking. In February 2009, Scalzi reported on Whatever that Seattle had withdrawn its bid, leaving only Reno (among serious bids). This happened before site selection, so Reno won, if only by default.

#54 ::: Serge Broom ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:35 PM:

Xopher... I stand corrected.

#55 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 04:51 PM:

Michael I #49: This was August of 88. It rarely gets that high in Gritty Waffle proper, but it certainly did the very first weekend I was there.

Imperial County, eh? I've made the mistake of being in that part of the world in the summer. It does get a bit warm.

#56 ::: thomas ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 05:17 PM:

Charlie #44:

I don't have any dog in this fight, but I will comment that if you ever happen to be on a flight from Seattle to Spokane, get a window seat. First there's the Cascade mountains, and then the Channelled Scablands formed by the post-glacial floods, where you see what 50 cubic km of water moving at 100km/hr can do to a landscape.

#57 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:05 PM:


If that's a serious question, how do you get around town? Subway trains are usually air conditioned, but platforms aren't. Ditto sidewalks, of course. Even if you're driving, you can't count on parking right next to your destination, and few people air condition parking garages.

I assume your question refers to commercial spaces—hotels, restaurants, shops—and you aren't trying to tell me that large parts of the apartment I lived in for 25 years don't exist. (The layout was such that it would have been impractical and extremely expensive to air condition anything except the bedroom.)

#58 ::: Joshua Kronengold ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:18 PM:

Vicki: I grew up without AC in my bedroom as well, but AC has gotten (relatively speaking, anyway) good and cheap enough that most indoor spots are air conditioned, as well as most (reasonably well off) homes. Subways aren't, of course -- but underground subways tend to have their own regulating systems simply by being underground, in my experience. [of course, there are eateries and such that are un-airconditioned, but in this day and age, they're few and far between).

To a degree, it depends on what you compare it to. Maybe San Antonio has things set up such that you never have to go outside of air conditioning. But in Playa Del Carmon (in Mexico), I got to experience a far more equatorial city, where the only location we had access to that had -any- AC was a single Friday's resturuant; our hotel, and every single other establishment we encountered was not air conditioned.

And in Vegas, and Reno, while the hotel/casinos themselves were, naturally, air conditioned, getting between them all but required long walks through the sweltering heat -- and it seemed that not all establishments bothered with AC either. So I'd hardly hold NYC up as a location bereft of AC; for the most part, quite the reverse.

#59 ::: Jeff R. ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 06:24 PM:

If Helsinki wins does that make the Houston Nasfic bid a done deal, or would there be time for other candidates for that?

#60 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 07:54 PM:

Lila @41: I have heard that heat tolerance depends on variation in numbers of active sweat glands, and that the hotter the environment in which you spend your first three years of life, the more active sweat glands you have.

So, having spent those years in Winnipeg, Manitoba...

Fragano Ledgister @43: In recent times I find myself disliking the fierce settings that lots of people seem to want for air-conditioners in these parts.

I never get why people who would set the thermostat at 75° in winter, want to set it at 65° in summer. I know some people will set it at 55° on the theory it will get cold faster.

I am currently doing a couple of shifts a week at a computer station which is parked underneath a ceiling AC vent — I have to wear a sweater and hat. Last week, no joke, I spent half a shift wearing a parka.

#61 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 08:10 PM:

In general, I too am opposed to heat, as anything over about 80F/27C makes me both miserable and stupid--and I lived in Las Vegas for seven years. Ask me how that went.

Or note that I live in Massachusetts now.

I may have evolved in East Africa, but my ancestor's recent adaptation was in Ukraine, Sweden, and Ireland. Long enough for all the melanin to drop out of my skin and eyes... and for me to develop a pretty good tolerance for a diet based heavily on cow's milk.

Probably long enough to cold-adapt, too.

OTOH, not everybody has that experience.

Charlie, you know I adore you, but Spokane is a fairly major U.S. city--roughly four times the size of, oh, say, Harrogate--and that you haven't heard of it doesn't actually reflect on the city. ;)

That said, I have no urge to go there. And my experience with Scandinavian fandom has been unmitigatedly awesome. Let's go to Helsinki! (Bring your own booze. The liquor taxes... aiee.)

Can somebody explain this "fake programming track" at Chicon thing to me? I was too busy being lost and waiting for elevators and being late to the panels I was scheduled for to notice this, I guess...

#62 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:16 PM:

I spent most of a year working on a floor where there was a server room. Most of the floor was comfortably cool, but there was an office on the other end from the server room that was, I swear, running about 62 degrees F.

#63 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:17 PM:

ebear: in a nutshell, apparently Chicago fandom has a tradition of having a fake programming track at their local convention. Everyone knows about it and it's just a joke.

This translated poorly to a WorldCon situation where a) everything is much farther apart, b) people don't know their way around the massive, confusing, nightmarish Hotel From Hell, c) people are not aware of the Chicago tradition of fake programming, and d) many people are mobility challenged. It became a practical joke, and a cruel one; indeed, almost a bullying tactic.

All this was exacerbated by the "oh, can't you take a joke" attitude of Dave McCarty, the con chair.

#64 ::: Jeremy Preacher ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 10:35 PM:

Travel to NYC in late spring has always been complicated by figuring out which hotels would have their window units ready yet. I don't live there, so I dunno how widespread it is, but it's definitely been an issue for me.

The Chicago programming track included things like a talk given by Scalzi's cat, which was a) something I could totally someone writing and performing, possibly involving a video presentation, and b) took place in a room that didn't exist. I was actually quite cranky - I wanted to hear what Ghlaghghee had to say.

#65 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 20, 2013, 11:19 PM:

Jeff, #59: A Houston NASFIC bid? There is one listed on the Worldcon website, but this is the first I've heard of it, and I live in Houston and am active in our local con; you'd think I'd be aware of anyone trying to launch a bid here. I'll need to have more information before I consider it anything but vaporware.

#66 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 01:23 AM:

Helsinki sounds wonderful, with or without a Worldcon. Juan and I will be going there for a little while before we go to Fantastika in Stockholm. (Juan said, "Finland! Must go to Finland," and it seems like a fine plan. And my friend Lucy has been singing Helsinki's praises to me.)

#67 ::: ebear ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:49 AM:

Xopher and Jeremy:

Thank you. Yeah, it sounds like a lovely tradition if everybody knows what's going on.


I guess I'm glad I didn't have time for much programming. I would have spend half an afternoon trying to find the Ghlaghghee panel. Considering that the cat has a twitter feed, it's not beyond the realms, you know?

#68 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Lurks-no-More @ #34:

If I am "the other Finn", the closest I can claim is "my stepfather was born in Loviisa". But I dearly love Helsinki as a city, almost as much (but for essentially the same reasons) as Stockholm.

elise @ #66:

Are you taking one of the ferries across from Helsinki to Stockholm? That would be my recommendation, unless you are fundamentally opposed to being within tens of metres of people who are inebriated (that happens a lot, they're not called "booze cruises" for nothing; cf ebear's comment about liquor tax).

#69 ::: TexAnne ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:55 AM:

Now I'm imagining a Ghlaghghee poetry slam written by Scalzi and performed by Kowal.

#70 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:02 AM:

In re worldcons in Orlando (and Chicago): Going forward, because of the realities of the renting-convention-space market, it may just be best to ignore all the very-first-tier cities (that are known for Having Lots Of Conventions, of the AMA-size), because the hotels do not want us.

I'm going to use Chicago as an example because it's what I know.

Worldcon is far too small to use McCormick place, where the Auto Show and such are -- it's basically an enormous set of continuous convention floors and a small number of other rooms, but the space layout is utterly inappropriate for a WorldCon (despite having several conveniently-attached hotels and good access issues). Also, they'd want us to pay too much. If you eliminate McCormick, we're basically just on the edge of too big for almost any other convention space right in near the city -- they all gear themselves to trade shows, so someplace that needs as many medium-large-classroom/small-ballroom-with-seats rooms as we do is a weird nor-fish-nor-fowl situation.

This means we get charged a lot. Especially since we want That Weekend, or as close to That Weekend as possible. Paying for the site and (esp. in the case of the Hyatt Regency) dealing with the (*&%^^ of the venue's policies leaves an enormous purple elephant in the middle of all the concom's plans doing anything. And it's expensive.

Fan-run conventions can get sixty times more bang for their buck in the second-tier cities: Milwaukee instead of Chicago, Reno instead of Las Vegas, Spokane instead of Seattle, etc. They have enough convention space to hold us comfortably, and several that-sized venues to get to bid competitively, but we will also be biggish by the standards of conventions they 'like' to host, so we will be VALUABLE to the venues, instead of an annoying PITA with special needs.

However, there is a group of perpetual Worldcon voters who will only vote to send the Worldcon somewhere they can also productively have a 3-week family vacation in the exact same city, and few people are excited about seeing Sunny Spokane. Helsinki may do well out of the tourist-subset vote.

(I will never again be on a concom where either Dave McCarty or Helen Montgomery hold significant power/responsibility. They both tend to pour out dysfunction like a fountain, unless EVERYONE ELSE on the concom are their good friends with whom they communicate well)

#71 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:09 AM:

Oh, and a corollary to my last: the reason Chicago Worldcons keep being in That Hotel is because it is basically the only Worldcon-shaped rentable space anywhere near downtown, and the people who bid to be concoms in Chicago believe "The Voters" would refuse to consider any Chicago-metro-area convention where you couldn't take a 2-hour morning program block to go walk around downtown and Be Scenic.

Whether this assertion about voter preference is true or not, I have no idea; Worldcon-shaped rentable spaces aren't amazingly widespread and available even away from downtown, but it is my understanding a couple exist (Rosemont, for example), they're just not close to basically anything walkable, because they're out in Sprawl-Land. Dinner runs (barring hotel restaurants) would need to be carpools to strip malls, etc.

#72 ::: janetl ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:05 AM:

Elliott Mason: I don't say this to endorse that particular hotel, but I'm definitely way more interested in a downtown con than a suburban one. I was at a con recently in the suburbs of a different city, and I did not enjoy it half as much as that con's previous location near good restaurants and interesting things.

I live in the Pacific northwest, and I've never heard any of my friends say that they're going to Spokane for a vacation. It doesn't sing a siren song for me. To be fair, it probably has much better weather on Labor Day weekend than 90% of the potential US locations.

#73 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 11:51 AM:

I get the downtown-not-suburbs thing, too. I don't drive, and sometimes suburban locations are barely even reachable, especially far from the coasts (though I remember having considerable trouble getting to a con in Tarrytown, NY).

If the suburban cons are off the table, and the Hyatt Hotel-From-Hell is the only realistic downtown alternative, then...Chicago just isn't a good place to have a WorldCon, because it lacks suitable facilities. Because the Hyatt is not an appropriate hotel for a WorldCon. If they made some changes (renaming the levels numerically, fixing their stupid policies, making the doors work for wheelchairs, etc.), it would just be a painfully awkward hotel (that two-towers thing is unfixable, unfortunately). As it is, it's flat-out unacceptable.

#74 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:32 PM:

Ingvar M @68: Yes, we hope to take the ferry either from Helsinki or from Turku, if we wind up going to Turku, which we might not because various people keep telling me that Helsinki is where many delights are.

Where would you send a pair of travelers with several days in Finland?

#75 ::: elise is being held captive by gnomes ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:37 PM:

Silly gnomes, I am not your actual quarry. Here, let'sl all have tea together and make friends. Your jobs sound like a lot of work, but I'll bet you know interesting stories. How do you feel about shinies?

As long as I'm typing, though, another question for Ingvar M or any other Finns or other knowledgeable types with experience:

There seem to be a number of choices for ferries and times of voyage. What between Helsinki and Stockholm wants seeing, and when are the best time to see? Thank you in advance!

#76 ::: Jukka Halme ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 02:55 PM:

#75 Elise: You want to take the day ferry from Stockholm to Turku. Whole day (weather permitting) filled with beautiful Stockholm, Åland and Turku archipelagos. Adds an extra day, but tourism-wise money and time well spent.

All Stockholm to Helsinki ferries leave at 5PM and arrive at 10AM the following day. In early August the sun will still be up until 9.30PM'ish and one should be able to witness the Stockholm archipelago well and truly.

If one makes the trip the other way round, same selling points: day trip from Turku is well worth the while. From Helsinki to Stockholm there is less archipelago in the beginning, but then again, the morning cruise presents a beautiful vista.

The one actual thing between Finland and Sweden that wants to be seen is the Åland islands , a picturesque collection of small islands smack in he middle of our two countries.

#77 ::: Magenta Griffith ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 06:47 PM:

It may be time for a serious Minneapolis Worldcon bid. The convention center has "475,000 square feet of exhibit space and 87 meeting rooms", several hotels within a couple of blocks, light rail from the airport to downtown, and weather is usually pretty good around Labor Day. Or does the con have to have it in a hotel with enough rooms for all the events?

I'm not serious. We really aren't bidding until '73

#78 ::: Naomi Parkhurst ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:20 PM:

The view from the Stockholm-Turku ferry made my husband and I feel occasionally as if we were suddenly living in the Moomin books, in case that's appealing to anyone. (Occasionally a boathouse or something else would come into view that reminded us of the books.)

In any case, it was a beautiful, peaceful trip; we sat on the deck all day and loved it. We also very much enjoyed the view of the Ålands.

#79 ::: Naomi Parkhurst hath been gnomed ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 07:21 PM:

for speaking of Moomins? (Probably bad punctuation)

I have pizza made from scratch with a sourdough crust. Also fresh figs.

#80 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:32 PM:

I haven't been to a Chicago Worldcon since 1982, yet I still vividly remember how those two towers were unsuitable for a Worldcon.

#81 ::: Allan Beatty ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 08:33 PM:

And I still have my "Resident of the Wimpy Zone" teeshirt too. You kids get off my lawn.

#82 ::: iamnothing ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 09:09 PM:

For some of us, Orlando is the only affordable choice as well as having the best plan for the actual convention. I might not vote though as I don't want to get stuck with a supporting membership I can't use.

#83 ::: Henry Troup ::: (view all by) ::: August 21, 2013, 10:29 PM:

Airconditioning follies: at one office, we had a meeting room that was cold in winter and colder in summer. Eventually we discovered that ductwork for it had been run through the server room! In winter, all the heat was lost to the expensively airconditioned server room. In summer, it didn’t make a huge difference, but did get well chilled. A big oops.

#84 ::: Ingvar M ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 05:58 AM:

Jukka Halme @ #76:

I concur.

elise @ #74-#75:

"Still not a Finn". :) In Finland, I don't, honestly, know too well. I quite liked walking around in Helsinki. I have quite enjoyed my weeks in Mariehamn (the most major capital city of the Åland islands). There's stunning nature pretty much everywhere.

If you're interested in the rather fraught Swedish/Finnish history, there's a castle on an island outside Helsinki (Sveaborg, I think) that used to be a Swedish naval fort, with at least one museum with The Winter War and the Second World War things.

In Stockholm, if you have the time, get on one (or all) of the boat tours that shows Stockholm from the water. Seeing as how Stockholm is spread across, um, 8? islands, it's a pretty good way to see everything, with a guide, from the comfort of a padded seat. For things naval, there's always the Vasa museum (old ship, only used the once and then only for a few hours; not for sale, even to the highest bidder). For things sciencey, there's the museum of science and technology. There's probably still a canoe and kayak rental place just past the officer school, on the edge of Pampas.

Oh, actually, that is an amusing game in Stockholm. Visit one or more of the places that are named for somewhere else. There's Pampas, a big (hah) open grassland, between Karlberg and Huvudsta. There's Frescati, up by the university. There's Inverness, the water between Stocksund and Bergshamra. I am sure there are more, but those are the three that immediately come to my mind.

#85 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 08:01 AM:


If planning a party at Helsinki, allow time to catch a ferry to Talinn, Estonia, for booze shopping. It's a couple of hours each way but the price differential is eye-watering. (Alcohol in Estonia is as cheap as or cheaper than it is in the UK, viz. about a third what it is in Finland.)

#86 ::: Paul Herzberg ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 12:07 PM:

Charlie Stross @85:

Had you just read this (Finnish booze rally helps fund Estonian literature) too?

#87 ::: Charlie Stross ::: (view all by) ::: August 22, 2013, 03:45 PM:

Paul: Yep, I read that. As my last-but-one travel event was a literary festival in Estonia, it struck kind of close to home ...

NB: They take literature seriously there. You can go 48 years without once being invited to an embassy reception, then get two in a week! And the star guest was interviewed by the president. Not the president of the writer's union: I mean, the President of Estonia himself. (Admittedly the star guest was Tom Stoppard, but even so, can you imagine Barack Obama showing up at a literary festival to interview a playwright, novelist, or film director?)

#88 ::: cd ::: (view all by) ::: August 23, 2013, 10:18 AM:

Ingvar, #84: there's Manilla on Djurgården, too.

#89 ::: Margaret Organ-Kean ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 12:36 AM:

Xopher -

Seattle has a very good, large convention center, directly attached to a Sheraton hotel that's been enlarged in the last few years. There are a number of hotels in the immediate area - at least within what I'd consider walking distance.

The convention center hosts Emerald City ComicCon which is about 60K and it was, at least in my opinion, comfortable.

#90 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 02:44 AM:

The shape of the convention center in Seattle doesn't work very well for what a Worldcon wants to do; and the cost works even less well, last time I looked.

#91 ::: Cally Soukup ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:23 PM:

The problem is, at least partly, that Worldcons held in North America have been in the 4000-6000 person range since the late '70s, which is too big for most hotels (especially with the disproportionately large number of meeting rooms we require), and too small for convention centers. With fewer attendees to spread the costs of a convention center, or even a partial convention center over, membership prices are high. And then people look at giant conventions with ten or more times the people and say "but THEY charge less; why can't YOU?" Economies of scale, that's why.

But finding facilities that work for 4 to 6 thousand people with 10 to 15 tracks of programming, and at least a couple of Big Events that a large proportion of the members will want to attend, is not an easy problem. The fact that we've don't have a five or more year head start on guaranteeing facilities doesn't help, either. (Note that as I understand it from talking to people who should have reason to know, the change from 3 to 2 years in site selection didn't make much difference to facilities acquisition. Increasing it to 6 might make a difference, but is completely unfeasible!)

#92 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:34 PM:

Cally, in addition to what you've said, someone (perhaps here) pointed out that the big commercial conventions are also in the same place year after year, and can develop a following AND a relationship with hotels and convention facilities.

#93 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 04:48 PM:

Xopher: I've heard that Seattle just doesn't have facilities that would make it pleasant to have a WorldCon there. Think Denver but with much longer stretches between the relevant bits.

It isn't so much the lack of facilities. The last bid was torpedoed, according to those who I spoke to at the time, by a local head of the Starwood hotel chain who was some sort of fundamentalist and who had worked at a hotel where Bad Things had happened at a SF convention early in his career. When he got the position he ruled that no Starwood facility would be used for a SF (i.e. Satanic--he was weak on the difference between the two) convention and who would not hear otherwise, which meant the folks putting together the bid suddenly lost the majority of the hotels they'd planned on using way too late in the game to arrange alternatives, and so the bid fell apart.

Charlie Stross: Spokane ... the best I can say is that I can see myself flying over for a vacation in Seattle, then renting a car for a road trip to/from the worldcon nearby.

Better rent that Land Yacht again: there's a little problem of the Cascade Mountains and six hours of drive time each way between Seattle and Spokane. Flying would be more pleasant.

Most of the folks worried about Spokane not being able to handle a Worldcon seem to forget it's handled a World's Fair and an international ice skating tourney of some type (I don't follow skating) that had a considerably larger amount of attendees than a Worldcon. For artists in the USA it means that it would give artists here an opportunity to send art to Worldcon again: you don't want to know the hassles that dealing with a broker when you show art over a boarder are.

#94 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 05:00 PM:

Wow, I hadn't heard that about Seattle's bid. I hope they sued that asshole.

#95 ::: Lee ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:00 PM:

Xopher, #94: No grounds for a suit, because there was no contract signed yet -- they didn't even have the bid yet. A hotel can refuse to deal with any group they want to, so long as they don't run afoul of Federal anti-discrimination laws (none of which apply to SF cons).

Usually it's not quite so overt; when I was talking to hotels for Musicon, I remember being politely priced out of one facility -- they just quoted me rates that were much higher than comparable hotels in the same area, and also higher than Kubla Khan had paid when they were in that hotel.

However, I will note that this contradicts the story I heard, which was that some professional group which books its conventions 5 or 6 years in advance wanted the same slot, and the convention center demanded earnest money of around $10,000 -- which would have been non-refundable -- in order to hold the date. For a bid that hadn't yet been voted on, and which was being contested by Reno.

#96 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: August 24, 2013, 07:20 PM:

Xopher @94: for what, and using whose money? There's a very real difference between what one knows about an individual's prejudices, and what one can prove; and as far as I know, there's no law saying you can't make it much harder for SF conventions than for others. It's not as if we're a legally recognized minority.

But the "using whose money" is the bigger half of that. It's expensive to sue.

#97 ::: Elliott Mason ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:32 AM:

The major way Worldcons are different than, say, comicons or a lot of the larger anime cons is that a Worldcon really doesn't need anywhere near the exhibition floor area they do. This is also why it's unlike the big trade shows (Chicago Auto Show, etc) that rent convention centers.

Convention centers tend to expect large groups to want big exhibition floors and a certain complement of smaller presentation rooms, plus an auditorium or so; we're more like an academic conference, except that they generally require larger numbers of SMALLER panel/programming rooms than we need (because a lot of the papers presented will have sub-20-person audiences). Worldcons need no big contiguous floor area (which is why some sites keep putting the consuite on an exhibition floor-type space, not ideal) beyond dealer's and art show, neither of which are even a quarter of a comicon's exhibition floor. We also need quite a few rooms suitable for panels with 50-120 seated attendees, and a few bigger, and a few smaller than that, plus assorted other odd size spaces.

We're too small/too oddly distributed in our space needs for convention centers that aim themselves at trade shows (also, we have less than half the attendees they expect, and price for); we're too big for hotels with a lot of meeting space, who could host, say, a regional Mary Kay meeting or something. Between two chairs, as far as Chicago space is concerned, at least, and probably so in other big 'convention' cities too.

#98 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 12:33 AM:

I lived in Spokane for several years (college and a year afterward) and I would be seriously excited to attend a Worldcon there for practical and also for selfish reasons. (Lots of friends to see, right?)

On the practical side, it's probably the most Worldcon-style facility set I've ever seen, with all of the hotels within *real* walking distance, instead of Denver's* "walking distance" and Reno's "walking distance." Plus the theater that's just a covered breezeway away from the convention center—my brain insists upon calling it The Spokane Opera House even though that has never, AFAIK, been its name. And the facilities are *right* on the river, and *right* at Riverfront Park, which basically was my no-expense-for-the-broke-college-student destination entertainment. (Waterfalls! BIG waterfalls!) And I will gladly point people at Boo Radley's, who would be *ecstatic* at a concentration of geeks.

They wouldn't be shooting for Labor Day, either—no going up against certain other conventions.

As for the city itself, it has held events such as Bloomsday (the largest completely-timed race in the world, 12K in length) and Hoopfest, so handling the Worldcon crowd is no issue.

I will be gently sad if Spokane loses to Helsinki, mainly because I won't be able to go to Helsinki. But if they win, more power to them. On the other hand, I'd be kind of annoyed if Orlando wins, because setting it up against That Major Convention Down South and being in a major tourist area on Labor Day Weekend seems like less than a good idea to me.

*Not really Denver's fault—as I understand it, they got bumped from their original choice of date by the DNC, and had to scramble a bit on the hotels. But it still made for some awful distribution on the programming, particularly since I had a Wee Baby.

#99 ::: Em ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 10:54 AM:

I'm curious - as someone who for financial reasons is only a recent and very intermittent Worldcon-goer (Boston in 2004 due to a teacher offering to let me stay on her hotel room floor for free; Montreal because I could stay with my folks; Chicago because I saved for several years), I haven't had a lot of experience with various hotels, and don't think I'm really able to compare. I also am fortunate to not have any accessibility requirements, so I'm lacking personal-experience data (other than "I kept getting lost in Chicago because of the floor names").

There's been quite a lot of discussion of which spaces didn't work in various ways - is there any kind of consensus on locations that worked really well? I generally vote based on "wow, I would like to go there if I can work out the money/I think I can maybe afford to go there", because I've got little other data to go on, so it would be nice to know what to look for when I do research, and being able to look at past facilities that did well and note things they had in common (hotels located within reasonable walking distance, with numbered floors, for instance) would be good.

#100 ::: AbNormal ::: (view all by) ::: August 25, 2013, 08:18 PM:

Spokane native reporting in: it's technically the INB Performing Arts Center, but everyone calls it the Opera House.

#101 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:14 PM:

Not even Dallas-Fort Worth or Atlanta have direct flights to Spokane (I suspect big events in Spokane which get people from other than the Pacific northwest and the west, make extensive use of chartered flights....). Getting there from the eastern half of the continent, is even more inconvenient than getting to Reno was.

The "four hour drive" from Seattle is something like 250 miles, and assumes a constant more than 100 kph speed. In much of Europe that distance would have one crossing international borders....

I looked at a layout map of the facilities for conference rooms and such--they are not compact, they looked to me even more sprawled out than most large conventions centers have gotten to. I seem to recall them being in several connected by long corridors nearly independent buildings.

I voted Helsinki than None of the Above.

Spokane is I think the largest city between Seattle and Minneapolis. There is one train a day, each way.

I looked at the transportation options there, months ago, in gory detail, and was underwhelmed.

#102 ::: Paula Lieberman ::: (view all by) ::: August 28, 2013, 01:33 PM: shows a population density map of the USA. The northwest quadrant once away from the Pacific coastal area, is mostly very sparsely populated.

Here's an interactive US population map

#103 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 12:21 AM:

I can attest that the convention center in Spokane is much more compact than Denver's. That's not saying a whole lot, but it's out there.

#104 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: August 30, 2013, 05:18 PM:

This post may be too late to matter, but there are a lot of flights to Spokane from Seattle, and some from Portland and Las Vegas (as well as airports, such as Boise, that aren't useful hubs). This just from a quick look at the Spokane airport website; it's not arcane information.

If you're thinking in terms of travel time or number of hops, going via Seattle isn't inherently worse than going via Dallas or Atlanta would be. (Even in terms of total miles flown, you might do worse going that far south in order to go to the northwest from the northeast.)

#105 ::: Tom Whitmore ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:23 AM:

From what I've heard, Spokane has won. No details yet. (And Detroit for the NASFiC, if you care.) I thought Helsinki was going to pull it out.

#106 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 01:56 PM:

I hear Spokane was going around telling people to put them as choice 2. I expect a lot of Helsinki and Orlando people did just that.

Myself I voted
1. Helsinki
2. Spokane
3. [I forget what they called the "don't have a convention" choice]
4. Orlando.

#107 ::: B. Durbin ::: (view all by) ::: September 01, 2013, 11:22 PM:

Spokane has won and the convention will be called Sasquan. (I suspect the pronunciation is going to be like Sasquatch rather than Sahs-con.)

#108 ::: elise ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 12:22 AM:

Well, alas for Helsinki. That would have been cool.

But Spokane could be fun. Especially if we get a trainful of people together heading that way from parts east.

#109 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 01:07 AM:

We'll make a long caravan! "...then we get over the mountains by going through this place called Donner Pass."

And when word gets out, All Fandom will be Plunged Into War.

#110 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 11:45 AM:

Xopher #109:

Unless the only west-bound train to Spokane goes first through San Francisco and then up to Seattle before attacking Spokane from the west, Donner Pass is not on the route.

#111 ::: Xopher Halftongue ::: (view all by) ::: September 02, 2013, 06:28 PM:

joann, I also am not confused about the differences among the three Moscows, in case you were in doubt! :-) (I was just being silly.)

#112 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: September 03, 2013, 11:40 AM:

Xopher #111:

Just seemed a hell of a long detour for a joke.

(I've been through Donner Pass. On an SF-based choir trip to Reno. No one was eaten at that time.)

#113 ::: Bruce E. Durocher II ::: (view all by) ::: September 07, 2013, 07:39 PM:

Paula Lieberman:The "four hour drive" from Seattle is something like 250 miles

I gather you didn't see my earlier comment about a six hour drive each way. Yakima is three hours over the mountains and I do that fairly often, but Spokane in four hours is a fantasy based on no gas/potty/food breaks that I wouldn't undertake for any amount of cash.

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