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Science Fiction Convention
Name: Worldcon
Dates: 1939-1941, 1946-present (interrupted by WWII)
Frequency: annual
Location: varies from year to year; voted on two years in advance by membership
Type: fan run
Organization: World Science Fiction Society
Founding Date: 1939
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Worldcon or more formally World Science Fiction Convention, convention for science fiction fans, historically focused on the literary aspects of the fandom. It's held annually in a city chosen two years in advance at an earlier Worldcon, most often in the United States. The convention is organized by the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS), under a constitution which is revised and ratified at several Convention Business Meetings during the course of the con.

Members of the Convention can choose the winner for the annual Hugo Award, and the location of a future Worldcon.

Membership in the WSFS is restricted to a specific convention. A supporting membership is offered for people who wish to vote in the Hugo Awards and can not attend the convention itself.


Initially, Worldcon was held only in American cities (a different city every year); the first con held outside the United States was in 1948 in Canada. Non-U.S. locations to date include: Toronto (1948, 1973, 2003), London (1957, 1965, 2014), Heidelberg (Germany, 1970), Melbourne (Australia, 1975, 1985, 1999, 2010), Brighton, UK (1979, 1987), The Hague (Netherlands, 1990), Winnipeg (1994), Glasgow (1995, 2005, 2024), Yokohama (2007), Montreal (2009), Helsinki (Finland, 2017), Dublin (Ireland, 2019), and Chengdu (China 2023). [1]

Subpages for Worldcon:

When in held in North America, Worldcon used to rotate between three regions:

  1. Western: Baja California, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Saskatchewan, and all states, provinces, and territories westward including Hawaii, Alaska, the Yukon, and the Northwest Territories.
  2. Central: Central America, the islands of the Caribbean, Mexico (except as above), and all states, provinces, and territories between the Western and Eastern regions.
  3. Eastern: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Quebec, and all states, provinces, and territories eastward including the District of Columbia, St. Pierre et Miquelon, Bermuda, and the Bahamas.[2]

As of 1999, the location requirements have eased: "[a] site shall be ineligible if it is within five hundred (500) miles or eight hundred (800) kilometres of the site at which selection occurs."[3]

When Worldcon is held outside North America, the North American Science Fiction Convention steps in to offer a regional convention for the region in which Worldcon would have been held.[4]


When countries or cities want to host Worldcon, they put in a bid two years in advance.[1] Members of the World Science Fiction Society (WSFS) vote on the location and are generally encouraged to consider criteria for the site such as being close to home, being a great location for people to visit, or having the best committee who will host the best convention. [2] Members who vote also then are required to support the con for which they vote, which includes buying a Supporting Membership for the host city.

Historically, bidding to host the con can become quite competitive, with campaigns using the available fannish media to drum up support. One of the first of these was an open letter posted by Mark Reinsberg in Voice of the Imagi-Nation in September 1939: In 1940 -- It's Chicago! In more recent years, bidding has become more scarce and in fact some bids have rule fully unopposed such as the 2025 bid for Seattle [5].

Bid Parties

Proponents of a specific location for a future Worldcon start several years in advance, gathering information about their choice of hotels, potential Guests of Honor, and other necessary details. They host parties at several other conventions where prospective members attend, raising funds and persuading people to vote for their location.

In 1989, the Los Angeles bidding committee for the 1996 Worldcon created The Grey Rat Stamp Book, which encouraged holders to attend multiple cons to collect stamps at bid parties.

1963 Publication

The Convention Annual No. 3 – DisCon Edition 1963 was edited and published in 1964 by fan photographer Jay Kay Klein. Its 104 lithographed pages are reproduced on good-quality white bond with cardstock covers. It contains nearly 300 black and white photographs taken at the 1963 World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Washington, DC. In addition to the many photos, the volume contains the following articles: “Some Notes on Conventions and Where They Are Held, or A Blow for Freedom,” by Robert A. Madle, about the Worldcon “rotation system”that ensures they will be held in locations all over the U.S. and abroad; “First Fandom at D.C.,” by Don Ford, about the activities of First Fandom and its members at the DisCon; “Con Report,” by Dave Kyle, a 9-page account of the DisCon from Kyle’s point of view; and an introduction and an article, “DisCon Fandago,” by Jay Kay Klein.

Klein has been known for decades as one of the most devoted photographers at science fiction conventions, and this volume is one of four produced in the ‘60s. The others cover the 1960, 1962 and 1966 Worldcons in Pittsburgh, Chicago and Cleveland, respectively.

Fandom Activities

(Fake bid parties, t-shirts, etc.)


Transformative Fandom Inclusion

A 1984 flyer tailored for Star Wars fans: "Most of you have at least heard the term Science Fiction Convention. These are gatherings of fans of Science Fiction and fantasy books and films and TV. Once a year the biggest of these SF Cons, "World Con," is held over the Labor Day weekend in September. [...] COME AND TAKE YOUR FIRST STEPS INTO THE LARGER WORLD OF FANDOM!!!!!"

[more content needed - how has Worldcon treated fanfiction, fan art and fanvids?]

Fandom, Writing, Art, Poetry, Filking, History

Worldcon (Aussiecon 3) had panels on various forms of fandom, writing and creativity in 1999 including...

1) Do You Speak Fan? GAFIA and TEOTWA WKI? (Janice Gelb, Irwin Hirsh, Jan Howard Fonder) - 12 pm, Thursday 2 September 1999.

2) Fanhistoricon 9.5 - Origins of the Melbourne SF Club (Race Matthews, Merv Binns, Karen Pender Gunn, Dick Jenssen) - 2 pm, Thursday 2 September 1999.

3) Picturing Tomorrow - The Fantastic Visions of Australian Artists (Gran Freckelton, Lewis Morley, Shaun Tan, Nick Stathopoulos, Marilyn Pride), - 2 pm, Thurasday 2 September 1999.

4) Fanhistoricon 9.5 - Who's a DUFFer? (Janice Gelb, Terry Frost) - 3 pm, Thursday 2 September 1999.

5) Other Tales of Horror: Running A Convention (Susan Batho, Janice Gelb, PeggyRae Paviar, Alan Stewart, Ben Yalow) - 5 pm, Thursday 2 September 1999.

6) Fandom and the Internet (Daniel Stern, Saul Jaffe, Ben Yalow) - 1 pm, Friday 3 September 1999.

7) The New York Futurians - The Best Fan Group Ever or Just a Bunch of 'Filthy Pros'? (Daniel Hartwell, Justine Larbalestier, Gordon Van Gelder) - 3 pm, Friday 3 September 1999.

8) Introduction to Filking (Perianne Lurie, Dave Luckett) - 11 am, Saturday 4 September 1999.

9) SF Poetry - Where Has It Been, What's It Doing Now, and Thoughts on the Future? (Joe Haldeman, James van Pelt, Robert Stephenson, Jenny Blackford, Alan Stewart) - 3 pm Saturday 4 September 1999.

10) Slash! Fiction (Cathy Cupitt, Kerry Greenwood, Emma Hawkes, Sandra Norman, Marina Frants) - 4 p,m, Saturday 4 September 1999

11) The Great Artistic Challenge (Nick Stathopoulos, Michael Dashow, Teddy Harvia, Danny Heap) - 5 pm, Saturday 4 September 1999.

12) Filking (8 pm, Saturday 4 September 1999).

13) Semi-Professional Publishing: How to Make A Million Dollars (or at least Not Go Broke) with a Fanzine (Jonathan Strahan, Charles Brown, Marianne Jablon) - 10 am Sunday 5 September 1999.

14) Fanhistoricon 9.5 - Sweden Has A Fannish History Too! (Thomas Cronholm) - 11 am Sunday 4 September 1999.[7]


Over the years, a few panels have been hosted regarding FanFiction

Worldcon had two panels on slash [fandom] in 2018...

1) The Meta of Slash: Its Influence on Fan Culture (modded by Constance Penley with speakers Cecelia Tan, Laura Antoniou, Megan Kent, K.M. Szpara, and Charlotte Hill)

2) Transform This: Fanfic as a Vector for Reclaiming Hostile Canons (modded by Michi Trota, with speakers Cecelia Tan, Jennifer Mace, Constance Penley, and Nino Cipri.[8]

North American Con, the one in San Juan PR a few years ago had Paula Smith as Fan Guest of Honor. Also, check Winnipeg Worldcon 1994 had several fan panels, including one on slash with Clive Barker.[9]

In addition to panels on Fanfiction, one very notable event in the presence of fanfiction at WorldCons was in 2019 when the fanfiction archive, Archive of Our Own, won a Hugo Award. See Archive of Our Own and The Hugo Awards for more information.

Fan Vids

For the most part, fan vids have received little acceptance or welcome at WorldCons, even as the Hugo Categories branched out to include non-written works (ex: fan edits, film or TV). However, on a few occasions, fans were able to secure panel spots to discuss or showcase fanvids.

LonCon 2014 (London, UK)[10]

Two Panels


  • Types of Fanvids (vidshow)
  • Capital Suite 9 (ExCeL), 12pm - 1:30pm
  • Such Heights
  • Fanvids are short videos (90 seconds to five minutes) of footage edited from one or more films, television programmes, advertisements, or cartoons set to music. They may, for example, tell a story, comment on a theme in the source text or media in general, provide "fan squee", tell fan history, or create fan community. In this vidshow the well respected vidder and organiser of the UK's only dedicated vidding convention VidUKon, Such Heights, introduces different types of fanvids including promotional, meta, shipping, and multi-fandom vids.


  • History of Vidding (vidshow)
  • Capital Suite 15 (ExCeL), 3pm - 4:30pm
  • Such Heights
  • Fanvids are short videos (90 seconds to five minutes) of footage edited from one or more films, television programmes, advertisements, or cartoons set to music. They may, for example, tell a story, comment on a theme in the source text or media in general, provide "fan squee", tell fan history, or create fan community. In this vidshow the well respected vidder and organiser of the UK's only dedicated vidding convention VidUKon, Such Heights, traces the history of fanvids. She presents the beginning of vidding with VHS, through different technological developments on DVD, PCs, Macs, and downloads. She explores cultural changes where fanvids were only made possible through the sharing of material via post and in person, niche conventions, and gradual popularisation through to YouTube mashups which are a form of fanvids but not part of the classical vidding tradition

A list of some of the fanvids shown that year can be found on the Nine Worlds Geekfest page (some of the playlists overlapped that year)

Gallery: Program Books, Progress Reports, Flyers

External Resources


  1. ^ The Long List of World Science Fiction Conventions (Worldcons) (accessed 25 April 2015)
  2. ^ Regions from Worldcon official constitution
  3. ^ 1999/2000 Worldcon Constitution, section 3.7 (Site Eligibility).
  4. ^ NASFiC
  5. ^ {{cite web}}: Empty citation (help)Site Selection Vote Results (Accessed 15 February 2024.)
  6. ^ Locus Online Letters 14 October 2001
  7. ^ Aussiecon Three committee, published Daily Schedules for 2 - 6 September 1999.
  8. ^ Constance Penley Facebook comment at Morgan Dawn's post "Have any fanvids or AMVs ever been shown at any of the Worldcons?", July 2, 2022
  9. ^ Debra Hicks Facebook comment at Morgan Dawn's post "Have any fanvids or AMVs ever been shown at any of the Worldcons?", July 2, 2022
  10. ^ such_heights, Archived version