Last year saw a number of cons fold and attendance down at many others, but whether this was due to recession or a glut of cons is anyone's guess. By the end of 1991 Twentycon and X-ASM seemed to fare worst with handfuls of attendees rather than the 100+ expected. This year looks better with fewer conventions, almost none in the Summer - perhaps because so many people seem to be going to Magicon in Orlando. The best news I've heard is that Novacon is returning to the Royal Angus. Apart from the virtues of the hotel it's probable that some of the people who have stayed away from Novacon these last few years will attend, for old time's sake, thus rescuing Novacon from it's recent lethargy. A good convention depends on having the right people in the right place - let's hope it works back at the Angus.
As mentioned above, this is the year that British hopes for the Worldcon in '95 will be decided in Orlando. Vince Docherty is quietly confident after receiving a lot of positive feedback from cons in the USA late last year. If the bid committee can maintain their present high profile then they may get enough punters to vote for them, countering the American conrunners' preference for a more experienced committee. I still think that Winnipeg's success in securing 1994 will count against Glasgow when American fans see the prospect of the Worldcon going out of USA two years in a row. Meanwhile, in Glasgow, apathy is reaching fever pitch over the prospect of the bid winning. One of the complaints we had about Speculation was that we didn't involve the local fans - though this was deliberate policy to ensure that the convention had a totally different flavour from the old Albacon's. A Worldcon should, however, cultivate local fans to provide a reliable workforce: the one thing I'm sure everyone learned from Conspiracy was the need for lots of willing workers!
Organising the workforce remains a problem that British conrunners still haven't cracked, but help may be on the way in the form of SMOFcon 10. (SMOF = Secret Master Of Fandom, a name used by American conrunners to add a little old-fashioned fannish fun to conrunning.)
I received the following information about SMOFcon from Fiona Anderson:
"SMOFcon is a conrunner's convention, wherein all aspects of setting up and running a con may be discussed, usually within an overall theme. The theme of SMOFcon 10 will be "A Clash Of Symbols" looking at different ways in which conrunners solve the same problems, and also at the different problems that different mundane cultures pose to fandom and conrunning.
SMOFcon originated in the States (though it has also been held in Canada) and is coming to Jersey in 93 the weekend after Helicon BECAUSE of Helicon, it being the Eurocon and thus likely to attract Eurofans, and hopefully conrunning Eurofans will be able to stay on from Helicon for SMOFcon 10.
Transatlantic conrunning fandom is very keen to meet Euroconrunners, ever since the success of ConFiction, the many political and social changes in Europe, and the high profile of the Glasgow in 95 group in America.
But SMOFcon 10 itself is also a unique opportunity for Euroconrunners to meet each other, and to exchange ideas from all our different perspectives and experiences - since Eurofandom is such a wildly multi-headed beast with so many different types of cons and fandoms.
When I refer to Eurofans, I mean fans from across the whole spectrum of Europe - not just EC types. To this end I am writing to fan groups through the width of Europe to acquaint them with the opportunities offered by SMOFcon 10, and not to neglect British conrunners I am writing to you too.
Come to SMOFcon 10, meet fans from round the world (and of course Hugh Mascetti) and enjoy smoffing. Hugh is our intrepid insider since his experience running Conscription makes him the obvious Chairman. Further details and membership can be obtained from SMOFcon 10, 63 Drake Rd, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1LQ."
Interestingly, my spellchecker didn't recognise Mascetti and offered Maoist as an alternative. I doubt if Hugh will be amused.
The idea of holding SMOFcon in Europe is great but I really do have to question the timing: a summer convention would have been better. Despite the Illingworth et al mania for Jersey, it remains remote, expensive to get to and an expensive place to stay. And it's not just Glasgow people who don't like Jersey as the letter's pages in this and previous issues show. I appreciate that the location is apt for a Eurocon but not SMOFcon. I reckon that the Americans who come over will not have the Channel Islands high on their list of places to visit in little old Britain. Oh well, I'll see how holidays and finances work out before deciding whether to go.
Yet Another Pathetic Appeal For Cash
Once more I am unable to get Conrunner printed at my school and have had to resort to (shock, gasp) commercial printing. So, any charitable donations would be gratefully received. (Maximum amount: one drink.)