Worldcon, or more formally The World Science Fiction Convention, is a science fiction convention held each year since 1939 (except for the years 1942 through 1945, during World War II). It is the annual convention of the World Science Fiction Society (or WSFS). The members of each Worldcon are the members of WSFS and vote both to select the site of the Worldcon two years later and (since 1955) to select the winners of the Hugo Awards, which are presented at the convention.
The World Science Fiction Society administers and presents the Hugo Awards, the oldest and most noteworthy award for science fiction. The award is voted on by Worldcon members. Categories include novels and short fiction, artwork, dramatic presentations and various professional and fandom activities. Frequently, the Japanese Seiun Awards are presented as part of the Hugo ceremony.
Although other noteworthy awards presented at Worldcon include the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and the Sidewise Award, these are not sponsored by the Worldcon. In many years, the Chesley Awards, the Prometheus Award, and others are also presented here.
Individual convention committees may, at their discretion, present additional awards.
Each Worldcon committee selects a number of guests of honor (often just "GoH" in publications). for the convention. Typically there is an Author (or "Writer" or just "Pro") and a Fan guest of honor. Many conventions also have an Artist, Editor, and Science guests, and most have a Toastmaster for major events such as the opening and closing ceremonies and the Hugo award ceremony. A few conventions have had two or even three author guests.
While other conventions may select guests on the basis of popularity, Worldcons select guests of honor as an acknowledgement of significant lifetime contribution to the field; while these are often well-known figures, some committees choose lesser-known figures precisely because the committee feels the guest's accomplishments deserve more recognition from the community. Selection is treated by authors, fans, and others as a lifetime achievement award. As such, the tradition is to award it only to those who have been making significant contributions for at least twenty years, 25-30 for authors. Guests of honor generally receive travel expenses, membership, and a small per diem from the convention.
In order to announce guests immediately after site selection, Worldcon bid committees select one or more guests before the site selection vote. Fans consider it inappropriate for bids to compete on the basis of their chosen guests (so as to avoid having someone chosen by a losing bid feeling that fandom had voted against them personally), so bids do not reveal who their guests are until after the vote, and losing bids generally never reveal who they invited. This is usually treated with the same discretion as the Hugo awards, where only two or three people might know who the guests will be.
The WSFS constitution itself is discussed and amended by the annual general meeting, known as the "business meeting", held at the Worldcon, usually in three morning sessions on successive days. The WSFS constitution determines the rules for site selection, for the Hugo Awards, and for amending itself. The business meeting also empanels a number of standing or ad hoc committees to deal with review of amendments and with certain administrative functions.
The most important standing committee is the Mark Protection Committee (MPC), which is responsible for maintaining the society's trademarks and domain names.
Sites for future Worldcons are determined by voting of the Worldcon membership. From 1987 to 2003, selection was done three years in advance. For example, during the 2004 Worldcon in Boston, Yokohama was selected to host the 2007 Worldcon. Since 2004, the rules specify that selection of future locales takes place two years in advance.
When a Worldcon is held outside of North America, a North American Science Fiction Convention or NASFiC may be held within North America that same year. Since 1975, when a Worldcon site outside North America is selected, WSFS administers a parallel selection process for NASFiC, voted on by WSFS members at the following year's Worldcon, (if there is no NASFiC in that year), or by the following year's NASFiC, if there is one.
Recent Worldcons have had budgets running close to a million dollars. The main source of revenue is convention membership; Worldcons also collect fees from exhibiting dealers and artists and advertisers in publications; some conventions manage to attract sponsorships up to 5% of total income. The main expenses are facilities rental and related costs, then (if possible) membership reimbursements to program participants and volunteers, then publications, audiovisual equipment rental, and hospitality. Traditionally, all members (except for guests of honor) must pay for their membership; if the convention makes an adequate surplus after covering operating expenses, full or partial membership reimbursements are paid back after the convention. Most Worldcons run a small surplus, which under the rules of WSFS and the non-profit legislation in their jurisdiction, they are required to disburse to qualified organizations; typically half the surplus is donated to future Worldcons, in a tradition called "pass-along funds".
Because of their size, Worldcons have two layers of management between the chair and the staff. "Departments" operate a specific convention function, while "divisions" coordinate the work of several departments. Department heads (sometimes called "area heads") have one or more deputies plus a large staff, or they may have no staff at all. Most Worldcons have between five and twelve division heads who form the convention executive.
In order for convention staff and members to quickly identify the function of other staff at the convention, Worldcons use ribbons of differing colors which are attached to convention badges to signify different roles and responsibilities. Often there are ribbons to signify rank, division, and department or specialized functions; ribbons are also used to identify program participants, other noteworthy members (for example "Past Worldcon Guest of Honor", "Hugo Award Nominee", etc.), or classes of members ("Dealers", "Artists", "Party Hosts") who are interacting with convention staff. Some members of the committee may be performing a variety of current or past roles and could have a large number of ribbons attached to each other hanging from a badge. Extending this tradition, other groups and individuals create more ribbons for use at the convention; these may be serious or silly. Convention badge ribbons are important memorabilia, valuable years later because they evoke memories of events at the convention, and so will often be displayed in exhibits at future conventions. It is commonplace for Worldcon attendees to wear their ribbons from previous Worldcons alongside or below their current Worldcon ribbon, occasionally incurring minor confusion.
There is also a convention badge, displaying each attendee's name, membership number and (if desired) fannish nickname. The customary practice is for all attendees at the same convention -- occasionally excepting Guests of Honor -- to wear badges of the same design, but each Worldcon's badge design is unique to that convention. As with ribbons, Worldcon attendees will often wear their badges from previous Worldcons alongside or below their current badge.
Prosurv LLC released Pocket WorldCon 1.1, coordinate and latitude/ longitude conversion software for the Pocket PC.(new & notable)
Jun 01, 2005; Also, PROSURV LLC released Pocket Worldcon 1.1, coordinate and latitude/longitude conversion software for the Pocket PC....