The Hugo Awards, our annual fan awards, were convoluted this year by a slate of candidates having controlled the nomination process. As upsetting as this was, it caused a dramatic increase in the level of participation in the actual vote on the awards. Sasquan had a record number of memberships, and in particular a record number of non-attending memberships, people who couldn't actually attend the convention but who paid a reduced membership fee just to vote on the Hugos. With this huge outburst of backlash against the slate nominees, we were able to defeat the slate resoundingly. Only five times in history (the last time in 1977) have Hugo voters rejected every nominee in a category and chosen not to give an award in that category. In each of the contests in which slate-nominated candidates completely controlled a category, no award was given. Perhaps Sasquan would rather not have been the convention at which so few awards were given, but it does have the distinction of being the WorldCon at which the slate strategy was strongly rejected.
Sasquan was also distinguished by having a guest of honor who did not come any closer than 200 miles to the convention. Dr. Kjell Lindgren, a medical doctor and research scientist, participated in the convention from his temporary home on the International Space Station.
Dr. Lindgren was the first person to name one of the Hugo award winners from space.
Because of his fame as an elevator talk show host, Eric was invited by the convention to record "Messages to Orbit," video messages from convention attendees for Dr. Lindgren. Thus, Eric spent substantial parts of the convention frantically arranging for lighting, solving technical problems, and hauling around unwieldy life-sized cardboard cutouts of Dr. Lindgren, an enormous video tripod, or both. He didn't have time to see many of the convention events, and barely had time to eat. But we're sure Dr. Lindgren will be very excited when he sees the video.
While Eric was hauling around unwieldy life-sized cardboard cutouts of Dr. Lindgren, I attended various author readings and events. In terms of convention programming, Sasquan stands out as my favorite WorldCon. The programming and organization were outstanding. I thoroughly enjoyed the emphasis on literature and science.
I went to a reading by Ann Leckie, whose Ancillary Justice won the most prestigious Hugo award, Best Novel, last year. The sequel, Ancillary Sword, was a (non-slate) nominee for Best Novel this year, but lost. This year's Best Novel award went to The Three-Body Problem, by Chinese author Cixin Liu. The Sasquan Hugos were also distinguished by having two winners that were translated into English from other languages. No work in translation has ever won a Hugo before. My WorldCon became even more exciting when, at the end of her presentation, Ms. Leckie raffled off four copies of the manuscript of the first four chapters of her next novel, Ancillary Mercy, and I won one of them!
The Hugos were not the only breath-holding vote at Sasquan. We also voted on site selection for the 75th WorldCon in 2017, in a very hotly contested election among four potential locations. I am pleased to say that Helsinki won its bid. Friends of ours have been pouring shots of disgusting Finnish anise tar liquor and handing out Finnish candies (with surprise flavors slightly reminiscent of Bertie Botts' Every Flavour Beans) at con parties for years, trying to have a WorldCon in Helsinki, and they lost out to Spokane in the site selection for 2015. While we have no plans to attend the Helsinki convention, we were pleased to see them win.
It seems that, when the surrounding forests are not on fire, Spokane would be a nice little town, with a good quality of life. It had far more character than I had been led to expect. The Spokane Convention Center is part of a lovely Riverfront Park. While Eric was recording videos for Dr. Lindgren, my friend Silven and I walked around and took some pictures of the Spokane River and Falls.
The convention chose Spokane's Historic Davenport Hotel for the party site. I don't think Eric and I have ever stayed in such a beautiful hotel before.
The most exciting attraction at the Historic Davenport was the Hall of Doges. Inspired by the Doge's Palace, it was built in 1908 and then moved to its present location during a 2002 restoration of the property.
So many things made Sasquan a particularly special WorldCon. I thank everyone who worked on the convention for making it such a great experience in spite of the weather.
On to Olympic National Park.