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Again in 2010

from the fanzine File 770 #153

Each year's Worldcon used to vote for the next year's site. After a while we went to voting two years ahead; the 30th Worldcon "L.A.Con" (in retrospect "L.A.con I") of 1972 won its election in 1970 at Heidelberg. Then we went to three years; the 64th Worldcon "L.A.con IV" of 2006 (File 770 150) won in 2003 at Toronto. Now we have re-adopted two years, and the 2008 Worldcon "Denvention III" will decide where the 2010 Worldcon shall be.

So far the Melbourne for 2010 bid is running unopposed. This is a kind of compliment, the community – fans, pros, and all kinds of folk are involved with Worldcons, some in more than one capacity – saying "We can't do better than that."

Since the bid if it succeeds will formally or informally constitute Aussiecon IV, following the 1975, 1985, and 1999 Worldcons, its slogan is "Let's do it again in 2010." Not all bids have slogans. The L.A.con I slogan was "Sei auf der Seite der Engel" (German, "Be on the side of the angels"), which you may evaluate freely as a pun on the name of the bidding city, where I live, and as truth.

You could say the 2010 bid started as a kind of joke. You don't have to; the bid committee already has, describing on its Website the remarkable first 48 hours. [As of June 2009, no longer available on its Website, but archived on Sharon Sbarsky's.] Those of us who saw it happen at ConJosé the 2002 Worldcon know why this bid has firends (note spelling) and why, as so often has been the case, Mark Olson (1989 Worldcon chair), Joe Siclari (1992 Worldcon chair), and their firends can be blamed.

In the commotion of those days Stephen Boucher emerged as the bid chair. Some have greatness thrust upon them. His name is great in s-f, although "Anthony Boucher" was a pseudonym and if there is anything false about Stephen I have yet to see it. Many things were on our minds about this bid, if as had not yet grown clear a bid it was. I had been thinking about the year. Perhaps you have too.

It was not the first time a kind of joke turned into a Worldcon bid. You may know, and whether you do or not you can read in Harry Warner's fine history of 1950s fandom A Wealth of Fable, about Solacon the 1958 Worldcon. The 1992 hardbound edition has in the back-cover cartoon by Steve Stiles, just above Walt Kelly's Pogo Possum and a bug-eyed monster, a man carrying a sign "South Gate in '58". That was the Solacon slogan. Also at upper left is Jon Lackey's 1958 Masquerade entry.

Of South Gate in '58 Rick Sneary was the mastermind. In our international way British fans Walt Willis and Atom supported South Gate, which won at the 15th Worldcon, London, and was duly held. Tony Boucher called it the purest Worldcon. The Mayor of South Gate as a punster rivaled Willis. At the end Sneary went on stage carrying a sign "South Gate again in 2010".

I wrote, or to be more pure I ought to say I edited, the Program Book for L.A.con II the 1984 Worldcon. Among its advertisements was a simple block of text "South Gate again in 2010." Then and now no secret concealed who put it there; not Sneary. The fated year was still decades away.

Sneary died. June & Len Moffatt and I edited his memorial fanzine Button-Tack. In 1996 was L.A.con III. Long before ConJosé it became apparent that Los Angeles would bid for and might well win 2006, in which case nothing less than a miracle could yield a South Gate Worldcon in 2010. What was the world coming to?

According to the Book of Esther and a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical – also of 1958 – a hundred million miracles are happening every day, and those who say they don't agree are those who do not hear or see. I went to find Stephen Boucher.

I didn't know Melbourne. "Tell me," I asked him, "is there by some chance in or near Melbourne any district or neighborhood which is or reasonably could be called South Gate?" He looked at me wide eyed, and to this day even his wife insists, innocent. "But of course there is," he said. By then he had maps. He opened one. "Right here." In fact, where his bid meant to hold the Worldcon. The present article is occasioned by his wife's sending photographic evidence.

I acknowledge the fannish tradition which understands carpe diem as find fault every day. It has been remarked to me that between South Gate near Los Angeles and Southgate in Melbourne there is a measure of orthographic dissimilitude. I could, if moved to riposte, point to the arrangements between the Mayor of South Gate and the Mayor of Los Angeles, or simply say of myself that I am known to back space. Instead I only say, "Let's do it again in 2010!"