Thursday started with the Preliminary Business Meeting at 10:00 am. The World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) is a curious organization in that there is no Board of Directors or executive staff. Everything is organized by volunteers for each year’s convention by the host committee. This makes the business meeting an interesting exercise in parliamentary procedure. For example, a quorum is whoever shows up. I estimated fewer than 100 people at the business meeting. These are the ones who control the WSFS constitution and the rules by which the conventions are run and the Hugo Awards are administered. But things are kept in check because important business can only be ratified if it is approved by two consecutive Business Meetings.
The preliminary meeting mainly dealt with procedural issues, such as what and in which order items would appear on the agenda for the main meeting on Friday. There were a couple of issues brewing that I wanted to see discussed, and I wasn’t disappointed. The main item of interest was a proposal to revamp the semi-prozine Hugo rules. There was also supposed to be a proposal to add a Young Adult Novel category to the Hugos, but the originators apparently dropped this, at least for this year. The discussion regarding the semi-prozine award was quite contentious. A related, but separate proposal was introduced to add a “Fancast” category, defined as a non-professional audio or video production, i.e., podcast.
Around 11:30 I got bored and headed out to the Art Show. There were some very nice pieces. I was particularly impressed by a couple of sculptors: Vincent Villafranca and Johnna Y. Klukas. There was also a special art exhibit featuring the extraordinary collection of the late Ken Moore. This show included works by most of the top SF artists of all time: including Chesley Bonestell, Richard Powers, Ed Emshwiller, Paul Lehr, John Schoenherr, Vincent Di Fate, Ed Valigursky, Ron Miller, and many more.
At 1:00 I popped in to “And the Debate Rages On: The Fanzine and Semi-Prozine Hugo Categories” with Neil Clarke, Chris Garcia, David Hartwell, and Stephen Segal. The panelists did their best to clarify what was wrong with the current Hugo rules concerning these categories and why they did or did not like the proposals to modify the rules. Some of their arguments made sense, but I just felt like I was watching a bunch of whiney children fight over their toys. I will write a separate article on this topic.
Around 2:30 I got in the long line for George R. R. Martin’s autograph session at 3:00. After getting my three books signed I was pausing to put the books back in my bag when a strange young woman came up to me. She was probably in her 20s. She just kind of stared at me, so I didn’t quite know what to do. I was wearing one of my bright Aloha shirts, so I thought maybe she was just admiring that. I finally said something to her, which started a long, rambling conversation about how great Mr. Martin is. I pointed out that he had taken 30+ years to become an overnight sensation due to the success of the Game of Thrones TV series. She just looked at me blankly. I realized she had no idea what I was talking about. How could a George R. R. Martin fan not know about that series! She explained that she didn’t watch TV. I tried to explain what the show was, and that it was on HBO. She didn’t seem to even know what HBO was! Finally, she asked if HBO was like Showtime. Yes! you’ve got it! Oh, she didn’t watch channels like that; too much sex. I replied, then why are you reading Martin’s books: they’re filled with sex and violence. She replied that she hadn’t read his books, either. She was just a fan because he knows how to party. She then saw the camera strapped around my shoulder and started asking if I was “the photographer.” I was thankfully interrupted by someone who wanted to take a picture of my shirt and she silently walked away. I am convinced that she either had a mental problem or was “medicated” in some manner. Her lack of focus and wandering thoughts left me very amused.