News Book Event News | Written by EdFortune 30/07/2020

Chicago beats Jeddah to host Worldcon

The 80th Worldcon will be held in Chicago, USA in 2022, following a successful bid to host the event. This will be the eighth time a Worldcon has come to Chicago since the convention began in 1939. Site selection is decided by the members of the World Science Fiction Society, who are the members of the relevant Worldcon at the time of voting. Members of the current Worldcon, ConZealand voted for the winning bid.

ConZealand is the 78th Worldcon, intended to take place in Wellington, New Zealand, but currently taking place online due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.

The event will be called Chicon 8 and the convention chair is Helen Montgomery. The guests of honour are Charles de Lint and Floyd Norman. The Toastmasters are Annalee Newitz and Charlie Jane Anders. More information can be found on the website chicon.org.

Chicago won with 517 votes, with the opposing bid, Jeddah, receiving only 33 votes. Write in votes included Antarctica, Zeppelin Hangar, Free Hong Kong, Moderately Expensive Hong Kong, New Zealand, Old Zealand and one that simply read “Any country with an acceptable human rights record.”

The bid for Jeddah, Saudi Arabia was the only opposing bid. It was always very unlikely to win; the bid team was unfamiliar to Worldcon members, the proposed date was around the 4th May rather than the traditional August; and many members had concerns over Saudi Arabia’s human rights record. The Chicago bid had very established event organisers behind it, who are well known to those members of each Worldcon who attend the Convention frequently.

Yasser Bahjatt, who was the chair of Jeddah Bid, told Starburst Magazine “We are thankful to the Worldcon community for their support, and tip my hat to Chicago for the run we had together.”

The Jeddah bid will try again, this time for 2026. You can find out more about their journey via this link.

Shortly before the site selection process closed, the Jeddah bid prompted an open-letter from a number of mostly British science fiction and fantasy authors and fans who expressed their concern about the risks of running a Worldcon in Saudi Arabia. The open letter, orchestrated by Empires of Dust author Anna Smith Spark, acknowledged that the event “would break new ground for SFF Fandom,” before continuing to add “It’s therefore with great sadness that we must face reality for what it is, that the Saudi regime is antithetical to everything SFF stands for.” The letter continues, quoting information from a recent Amnesty International report. The open letter was heavily criticised for its rushed nature, lack of consultation with concerned parties, seeming lack of understanding of the bidding process, and omission of an actual call to action.

Worldcon bids are heavily investigated by members of the community. A video of the most recent investigation process for the 2022 bids can be found here.

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