Category Archives: Essays and Articles

So You Want to Go to Worldcon…

Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is old content from the previous version of the LexFA website. We’re including it on the blog here so that it can be searched under the Essays and Articles category, and under appropriate post tags as well.

by Cynthia Brantley

There are two basic types of memberships for a Worldcon — supporting and attending. All members (supporting AND attending) have the right to vote for site selection (more about that below) and the Hugos, and get all the Progress Reports mailed to them. An attending membership is required to get in to the convention. Supporting memberships are a lot less expensive.

Worldcon floats from place to place. How a Worldcon gets started, is a group of people getting together and saying, “Let’s host a Worldcon.” Often, there is more than one group who decide they’d like to host the same year. A decision must be made, so a vote is held. Back when I went to my first Worldcon, in 1986, the site selection was voted on two years in advance. Now it’s three, because they started having problems with hotels booking earlier and earlier. There used to be ridiculously detailed rules limiting the location, but it has been simplified. It has to be at least 500 miles (800 km) from the Worldcon where the vote is held, three years before.

So a “Worldcon bid committee” is one of those crazy groups of people who decide they want to host one. To campaign for it, they go around from convention to convention and throw parties. These parties are expensive, so usually the group will offer some incentive to people who are willing to “pre-support” them — give them money before the voting has been done, which they get to keep whether they win or lose. If they win, the pre-supporter usually gets some benefit from having pre-supported. Pre-supporting (or pre-opposing, if you want to help support the parties, but don’t want them to actually win the vote) usually isn’t very expensive. Maybe $5 or $10. * They usually have various higher levels available, too, so you can give them even more money, and if they win, you get more out of it. Of course, they always appreciate donations as well. Worldcon bid parties can be quite expensive and time-consuming, and the bidders usually end up spending quite a bit more from their own pockets than pre-support money could cover.

The vote is held at a Worldcon, but ballots can be mailed in advance. To be eligible to vote, you must have a membership (either supporting or attending) to the Worldcon where the vote is being held.

In addition to that, if you want to vote for site selection, you have to pay the voting fee. This year (in 2001, for 2004) it’s $35. The voting fee buys you a supporting membership for that convention, regardless of which bid you voted for. The bid that wins gets all the voting fees that were collected, to use as their basic seed money. So they don’t know and don’t care whether you voted for them, because they won, and they get your money anyway.

As soon as the site selection voting is complete, all the ballots are counted, and the winner is announced. So suppose you voted. You automatically have a supporting membership. You want a full attending membership. That’s where conversion comes in. The best rate for converting a supporting membership to an attending membership is always offered immediately after the site selection is announced, and many people convert right away.

There are two basic theories on supporting memberships. For people who go to Worldcon occasionally, like me, they’re just a stepping stone to an attending membership. If I don’t think that I will be able to go to the convention being voted for, I don’t vote. When I have voted, I’ve always converted the supporting membership to attending. Financial advice on conversion in this case is, do it. If you’re not sure you can go, the memberships are transferable, and given how the price on them skyrockets, you can always sell it. I’ve done that at least three times now. To be fair, I usually split the difference between how much I paid for my membership (including voting fee) and how much they’re going for at the time I sell it, to come up with an asking price. When I sold our memberships last year, I sold them over the Net, and they were both gone the same afternoon.

The other theory: A lot of people who do Worldcons do them every year, and they just get into the cycle of voting and converting, so they always have their memberships lined up for the next three years. If they know they can’t make one, they keep the supporting membership, so they can keep up with what’s going on (the Progress Reports) and vote, so they’ll have their membership for the con three years hence.

I never keep a supporting membership without converting it, because if I can’t go, I sell it, and attending memberships are a lot easier to sell than supporting.

One more thing — sometimes a group of people decides to put up a “hoax bid”. They usually just throw parties using the hoax bid as the theme, whenever they feel like it. Doesn’t require any real commitment. But you have to be sure that your hoax bid is far enough out of the realm of possibility that somebody doesn’t say, “Hey, that just might work!” It happened with the Bermuda Triangle in ’88 bid, when they started the whole thing as a hoax bid, and then somebody said, “We could get a cruise ship!” and the next thing you know, it’s on the ballot. It came in second after New Orleans, but beat the real bids of St. Louis and Cincinnati.

Some of us in LexFA had a hoax bid running, for Alpha in ’99. That’s Moonbase Alpha, of course. It just had to be done. But the bid committee for that one scattered to the four winds before we could do much with it. Dar & Anna moved to Seattle, and Oliver went back to London, and John and I found ourselves here in New York. We ended up doing three bid parties, at Rubicon, Rivercon, and Bucconeer. It was fun, and if we ever feel inclined to do another party, we will. One of the advantages of a good hoax bid, is that there’s no reason to stop throwing the parties just because the election is over. Just throw a time machine into your literature, if you have any literature. Or don’t. It doesn’t matter; it’s all for fun.

If you want to read the formal info about site selection, this is it:

If that link breaks at some point in the future, try this one:

Have fun at your first Worldcon, and maybe I’ll see you there!

* Pre-supporting rates have changed in recent years; they’re NOT $5 or $10 like I said earlier.

This is the deal for this year’s vote, as far as I can tell:

Boston has two basic rates available. $12 pre-support rate gets you a pin. Whoopee. I wouldn’t bother with that unless you feel like supporting their parties, and want to be listed as a supporter. If you just want to support their parties and don’t care about the listing, then donate to your heart’s content. It doesn’t seem to have any bearing on your final membership cost.

$75 to Boston, PLUS voting, will get you a full attending membership, a pin, a T-shirt, and their newsletters. So you could spend $110 total, and if Boston wins, you get a full attending membership. Not TOO bad. If Charlotte wins, you have a supporting membership, and you’ve donated $75 to a failed bid. (Or you have a rather expensive T-shirt, if you choose to look at it that way.)

Charlotte has more deals, that cost more, and this weird thing about “credits”. $20 basic pre-support rate gets you a “half credit” towards converting to an attending membership if they win. Whatever that is. And a listing in their publications and on their website, and a subscription to their newsletter. For an extra dollar, you can be listed as “opposing” or not listed at all.

$40 gets you “a full credit” towards conversion, so I assume that means if you spend the $40 and vote, and they win, you’ll have an attending membership. And a laminated “pre-supporting” badge, and their newsletters, win or lose.

I guess a half credit probably means you’d only have to pay half the conversion fee, but half of what?

So if you wanted a guaranteed attending membership to whichever con wins, and also wanted to guarantee donating money to the losing bid that you’d never see again, you could spend $150. $35 voting fee, $75 to Boston, and $40 to Charlotte, and you’re set. And you get pins and newsletters from both, and Boston’s T-shirt, and you get your name on both lists.

On the other hand, you could get a new attending membership for Philcon for $145 until September 30, 2000 — less than a year before the convention.

This article copyright July, 2001 by Cynthia Brantley. All rights reserved.
Permission granted for use on the LexFA website.
Anyone else who wants to post it, ask me first:
cbrantle at

Monday Night Breakup

Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is old content from the previous version of the LexFA website. We’re posting it here on the blog so it can be searchable under the Essays and Articles category of posts, and under appropriate post tags.

by Carl Parlagreco

Note: Carl posted this article to our mailing list in response to a sigline suggesting that relationships should come with little black boxes, so after a breakup you can figure out why it crashed and burned.

No, I think a relationship black box would be a bad idea. The data in the black boxes is frequently not enough to tell what happened without lots of interpretation. To get the answers, you’d have to have a team from the National Relationship Safety Board come in and completely reconstruct the relationship in a big old hangar, and put out a report about a year after the breakup. No, I think much better would be one of those “instant replay” shows like they’ve got in sports:

“Hi. Welcome to Monday Night Breakup. I’m Tom Buttrash.”

“And I’m Wyatt Bland. Tonight we’re watching Tony and Tina’s breakup.”

“That’s right, Wyatt. And what a breakup it is. Here we can see the opening moves — Tony is staying out late with his buddies again.”

“A classic gambit. And what’s this? Tina is responding with the traditional, some might say unoriginal, ‘affair with the friendly co-worker’ gambit.”

“Ooh. Tony didn’t like that one little bit.”

“No, Tom, I should say not.”

“We’ll be back to see Tony and Tina fighting about money in our next segment. But first, a word from our Sponsors.”

“I’ve had it. I want a divorce!”

“A divorce?”

“That’s right, a divorce! I’m getting a lawyer.”

“I’ll represent you, ma’am. I’m Willis Badger, Divorce Lawyer. And we’ll take this bastard for everything he’s got!”

“Has this ever happened to you? You’re enjoying another quiet evening with the spouse, fighting about some silly little thing, when he or she gets a lawyer involved? You don’t have to suffer through the bother and indignity of a trial any more. Get ReamAway, and never be reamed again!”

“Oh, no! I’m melting!”

“Oh, darling! I’m sorry I got a lawyer involved!”

“That’s okay. I’m sorry I spent the kids’ college tuition fund on a bass boat.”

“Let’s go have sex, right now!”

“Yeah. Make up sex is the best sex there is!”

How to Spot a Virus Hoax

Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is older content from the previous version of the LexFA site. We’re including it here on the blog so it can be searched under the Essays and Articles category, and under the blog post tags as well.

by Robert Holland

A virus alert is undoubtedly a hoax if it bears all the classic warning signs.

  1. “IBM announced”

    IBM does not, ever, announce viruses, they’re a hardware company. That would make as much sense as Frigidaire announcing a food poisoning case.

  2. “There is no remedy”

    There’s always a remedy. It may not be easy, but any virus can be defeated.

  3. “It will eat all your information”

    This breathless, excited tone of speech is a dead giveaway. Real virus reports will be written in a calm, journalistic style. This kind of overworked, unprofessional hack writing points to a bored 14-year-old trying to get a rise. Similarly, comparison to “Melissa” and product name-dropping (Netscape and Explorer) are transparent attempts to provide a false air of authenticity.

  4. “Do not open anything with this title”

    Once again, unless you’ve got your e-mail client set to autorun attachments (and hopefully you’re not this stupid), it is not possible to get a virus simply from reading an e-mail.

  5. “Pass this message on to all your contacts”

    This is another dead giveaway. Real virus reports are announced through official websites and news services. They don’t need individual users to manually propagate them. Anything that tells you to send it to all your friends is a bored individual’s attempt to get his spam propagated as far and as fast as possible.

These things aren’t hard to spot, once you know what to look for. Some even bear is a fake dateline or a “this was just announced yesterday” to lend a sense of immediacy to a message that has, in fact, been circulating for months.

Generation X-Wing: Memories of Star Wars

Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is an older compilation of members’ memories of the original Star Wars trilogy, and their reactions and anticipation about Phantom Menace coming out in 1999. We’re including it here so it can appear under the Essays and Articles category of posts, and under the Star Wars and Movies tags.

compiled by Tracy Hite

Phantom Menace introduced a whole new generation to Jedi Knights and Darth Lords. For the first time, movie tickets went on sale a week or more before the premier – and the lines formed days before that. (Talk about your reunion concerts!) I remember when a farm boy from the middle of nowhere first took on the Empire. (People old enough to drink weren’t even born then!) Their ships twisted and dove through the far reaches of the galaxy, bringing unheard-of realism to the silver screen. (Look, Ma, no strings!) Some guy named Lucas risked a huge budget on a bunch of unknown actors. (Harrison who?) The good guys won, the doomsday machine was destroyed, but the villain managed to escape at the last minute. (Sequel? What’s that?)

I was ten or so, and it had been a pretty lousy summer. My grandmother died, and so did Elvis Presley. I needed a diversion in the worst way, and Star Wars was it. It took me away from Earth, and gave me hope again. If Obi-Wan lived on in the Force, then maybe Grandma could, too.

Before Phantom Menace appeared, I asked our members to share some of their anticipations for the new movie, and memories of the one that started it all. Below are their replies.

From Linda Wyatt

So you want a before and after. Well, I can’t tell you what I expect. It should be good, but may not have the impact of the first. Still, all in all, I am glad George is continuing the saga.

I will see it at 12:01 at the Showcase. I could have gone to Tinsel Town, but I wanted the biggest screen, and Showcase is where it all began. I will leave TT to the new fans.

I will be attending with Mike and Sue Baugh, Steve and Sue Francis, Leah Gadzakowski, Denise Spear and my male niece, Brian. (For some reason, he hates the word nephew. Not that he is fond of my replacement.)

From Susan Baugh

“I am expecting classic Star Wars, decent plot, lots of action and awsome special effects.”

From Leah Gadzakowski

“Based on the trailers, I am expecting a battle, young Obi Wan, and a setting up of Anakin’s turn to the dark side. Should be very exciting. Lots of battles. Lots of the old Republic setting and future falling apart. First should be a build up and the second may be a little more of a downer.”

From Denise Spear

She is breathless, but mostly from rushing around. Completely inarticulate with anticipation.

From Brian Wyatt

“I think it is going to be cool. Lots of air battles, flying around, light sabers, and robots. ”

From Steve Francis

“I have only been waiting 22 years for this. Before we said, That was so cool.’ Now we are saying, This is going to be so cool.'”

From Sue Francis

“I just hope the hype doesn’t disappoint us.”

From Mike Baugh

“Why is my wife dragging me out in the middle of the night…make that morning. Why can’t I go to work.”

Well, that is all for now. Time to go get in line. See you all on the flip side and…


From Kirby Sloan

And I want a report from all of you BEFORE you go to bed tomorrow morning! Spoilers or not.

I am envious of you all. We probably won’t see the movie for a couple of weeks, given the need to find a sitter and getting ready for out China trip.

I looked in my diary and found that I waited for the midnite show of Jedi when it came out from about noon. Saw it at Southpark (is that theatre even there anymore? I was lucky since my apartment was right there. I haven’t been to Lexington in over 10 years.) I was one of the first people in line. The people waiting in line that long were looked at as strange. This days and days in line thing is hard to imagine.

From Sylvia Wendell

All this remembering back to when you saw Star Wars (Episode IV) for the very first time …. First time I saw ST was in Boston, at a special showing that was organized as a preview for the theater managers in New England, a couple days before it opened in general release. They wanted to fill seats with viewers who would be enthusiastic, to give the managers the idea it was *really great*, so they handed out FREE tickets to the two big SF clubs in the Boston area, and we went en mass. Sigh (smack, smack), they sure don’t make’em like that anymore.

Until now.

From Maria Bellamy

Which movie came out in 1983? I was overseas that summer and I was the first one in line to see it in London, England. I got there about an hour before showtime and about 30 mins. before, all of a sudden hundreds of people showed up. A man with 2 small children came up and asked me to buy their tickets out of consideration for the kids standing in July heat & that he would buy my ticket if I would. I half-jokingly asked for popcorn and he was quite offended, but softened when I got his tickets. I gave up seeing Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof for that. Not the movie, the play.

From Terri Barger

I saw the first one in 1978 (I was 2 years old), someone was dressed up like Darth Vader in the lobby of the theatre in Ashland, KY-where we lived, and dad asked him to leave because Vader scared me. I can honestly say my daddy took on Darth Vader for me! 🙂 I’m not sure whether I actually remember this or just heard the story so many times from my family…hard to say.