Intersection (53rd Worldcon)

(Don - 98th)[Don - 18th Worldcon]

(Thomas - 98th)[Thomas - 10th Worldcon]

1995: August 24-29

Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre,
Glasgow, Scotland


Samuel R. Delany

Gerry Anderson

Artist GOH: Les Edwards

Fan GOH: Vin¢ Clark

Attendance: 4,264

Intersection was a huge con; it seemed much bigger than Conspiracy in 1987 and everyone kept saying it was larger than ConFiction in 1990. Everything about the con was big. The Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre (SECC), which was devoted entirely to Worldcon, had several halls large enough to hold five or six thousand people; just the central atrium was big enough for most Worldcons. It was like having a Worldcon in the shopping mall.

The truly international Worldcons (i.e. outside North America) are always fun. It's not just the Brits and Scots who attend; there are sizeable contingents from Germany, Japan, Holland, France, Norway, and various countries in Eastern Europe. To see people of so many different nationalities all happy together, joined by a common devotion to sf and a common culture of fandom, is not only a thrill -- it gives one hope for the Human race.

The biggest question of Intersection was the site selection bidding. Amateur groups from various cities bid for the privilege of hosting Worldcon three years hence; there is a scheme of geographical rotation, somewhat less arcane than the calculation of the date of Easter, which assures that all areas of North America get a chance.

Four cities were bidding for the 1998 Worldcon: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, and Niagara Falls. This is a rivallry that has been going on for years (Worldcons are big business and bids generally start five or six years ahead of time), and it culminated in a vote of the membership here at Intersection. Any members of the current Worldcon who are willing to pay a modest voting fee (this year it was £17) can cast a preferential ballot for the location of the next Worldcon.

Among the fans Thomas and Don talked to, this year's quadruple contest had become a choice of the least among evils. Every bid committee seemed to have something going against it. The Atlanta folks apparently made a good number of enemies with their handling of this year's NASFiC (a stay-at-home convention held every time there's a Worldcon outside North America). Baltimore lost the convention center for the usual Labor Day weekend date, so moved their bid to the first weekend in August -- a dramatic breach of Worldcon tradition, as well as a bloody hot and humid time to be in Maryland. The Boston bid was being run, not by the NESFA group which has hosted three successful Worldcons, but by another group that is less experienced -- and had already lost the major hotel for the Worldcon weekend. (The word was out from NESFA to vote against these faux-Boston people.) And Niagara Falls was perceived as not being a serious one really believed that Niagara Falls had the facilities and hotel room space to host a Worldcon.

The contest was at times acrimonious, as various parties published ads criticizing their competitors. But when all was said and done, and the results announced Saturday night, it seemed that Baltimore had won easily, by a large margin.

As is the pattern with 1990s Worldcons, the hotels were a bit scattered; in this case, most were a good twenty-minute walk from the SECC. But the con arranged frequent shuttle-bus service, and for £7 fans were able to ride the buses throughout the con. This proved convenient for getting to and from the SECC; between hotels, it was easier to walk the few blocks.

Thomans and Don stayed in the Charing Cross Tower Hotel. This is a converted office building, and received two stars in the Progress Report . . . the boys were not expecting much, and were pleasantly surprised. Their room was large and comfortable, the staff were helpful and friendly. Glasgow itself is a city torn between the past and the future. Once a great shipbuilding and trading center, Glasgow went through troubled times when the shipyards closed. In the last decade, the city has embarked on a revitalization project, consciously trying to attract tourists. This has succeeded, but still nearly every block has one or two "To Let" signs.

Thomas and Don toured much of Glasgow on foot, while they were searching for three of the four remaining blue police boxes in the world. These police boxes, once common in Britain but now merely historical curiosities, served as the model for the time machine (the TARDIS) in the sf series Dr. Who. The con indicated the location of the police boxes on the city map, and the boys made a pilgrimage to all three. (We don't know where the fourth is located; somewhere other than Glasgow, apparently.) They have video.

They also paid a couple of visits to the local outlet of Forbidden Planet, a U.K. chain of sf bookstores.

During the day the con took place largely in the SECC, but at night the action moved to the two main party hotels. At American cons, the pattern is for many groups to throw what are called "room parties," usually at least one on each floor of the hotel (some floors are designated "non-party" floors, and one can request a "non-party-floor" room.) British cons, on the other hand, go in for a few big parties held in hotel function rooms. Fewer and fewer American parties serve alcohol; most British parties do, and there are frequent bars everywhere in the hotel.

The 1998 Worldcon bids hosted a common party in the Forte Crest Hotel on Thursday and Friday nights; other future bids hosted parties in the Central Hotel. Two of these were notable: the Minneapolis in '73 bid party (even though they lost the 1973 Worldcon {which took place in Toronto}, they liked throwing parties so much that they continued to this day), and the Zagreb in 1999 bid. Rumor has it that the Zagreb group (who used to be Yugoslavians, and are now Croatians) cannot get exit visas from their country unless they are on an official mission -- and bidding for the Worldcon counts as an official mission. The Zagreb group consists mostly of young men (and a few women) of college age, plus some adults who seem to be nominal chaperones and actual accomplices. Thomas and Don spent much of Saturday night watching the Croatian boys playing with a balloon in the hotel hallway outside their party room -- they both fell in love several times over.

Bad news interfered with the celebrations at Intersection: sf great John Brunner went into the hospital Friday afternoon, and died that evening. Thanks to computer networks and modern communication, the news was all over the con Friday night, and the daily newsletter did a memorial issue with quotes from friends and those who knew him.

The In memoriam page of the Programme Book, two columns long, listed Ian Ballantine, Robert Bloch, Pat Killough, Stan Leventhal, Mike McQuay, Will S. Sykora, Karl Edward Wagner, and Roger Zelazny, as well as Peter Cushing, Raul Julia, Burt Lancaster, Donald Pleasance, and Jessica Tandy.

The Intersection daily newsletter was the best the boys have seen at a Worldcon. It was witty and informative, and was distributed three times a day with lightning speed. Issue number 11, announcing the Hugo Award winners, was in fans' hands barely half an hour after the ceremony ended.

The Dealer's Room was fairly large and quite complete. Lots of book dealers, lots of media stuff: Star Trek, Star Wars, Dr. Who, and plenty of merchandise from various Gerry Anderson series, as well as numerous other British and American tv shows and movies. Thomas, on the lookout for Star Wars stuff that wasn't available in the States, made some rare finds -- in particular, the British version of the Kenner Death Star toy. Unlike the American version, which was plastic and tower-shaped, the British version was cardboard and hemispherical. Although this was priced at £200, Thomas traded a Graflex flash tube to the dealer and so paid only £100 for the toy.

Among the exhibits at the con was a new attraction in London called Alien War . . . a sort of live-action takeoff from the Aliens movies. Thomas spent some time with the exhibitors and became somewhat friendly with them. (Subsequently, Thomas & Don visited Alien War in London -- it was every bit as exciting as promised.)

Hugo Awards went to Lois McMaster Bujold for Best Novel, Isaac Asimov for Best Nonfiction Book, the final episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation for Dramatic Presentation, among many others.

The Pocket Programme was very attractive, complete, and useful. It was in the form of a quarter-page, two-ring looseleaf binder. Since Don routinely carried a Dayrunner containing his entire life, this Pocket Programme was very natural to him. The shuttle-bus passes were a perfect size to fit; Don punched holes and mounted them where they were easily accessible.

Sunday night after the Hugos there were fireworks over the Clyde River, arranged by the Worldcon . . . a few hundred fen gathered on the plaza outside the SECC, and there was a half hour of "oohs" and "ahhs" before the show was over and people headed to parties.

Thomas & Don spent Sunday night at the Standing Worldcons party (sponsored by Winnipeg, Glasgow, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Baltimore), where they ate chili, and in the filksinging room upstairs at the Forte Crest.

Monday morning they went to the Post Office to mail home a parcel containing much of the loot and presents they'd picked up in the Dealer's Room and at Forbidden Planet. The parcel, which they constructed from two of the largest cardboard boxes available at the Post Office, cost over £37 to mail home -- but the cost was trivial compared to the difficulty of lugging the stuff first to London, and then home.

They arrived at the SECC in plenty of time to take a last spin through the Dealer's Room, examine the Art Show, and bid farewell to friends they'd made. They also attended author Bob Shaw's "Serious Scientific Talk." Shaw conducts these talks at every con he attends, and they are anything but serious. This one was a rambling series of reminiscences delivered with Shaw's trademark dry humor, and all laughed themselves silly.

Then it was back to Forbidden Planet for a few more items and a farewell to the nearby TARDIS. The boys returned to the hotel, made dinner on fish & chips, and then set off for the party hotels to hit the dead dog parties.

It was still early evening and nothing much was going on. They wandered the halls of the Central until they found the last vestiges of the con: a rather silly parody of an interview show, and a rather good panel on weapons technology. Since nothing more appeared to be happening at the Central, they wandered over to the Forte Crest and ran into the filkers in the lobby. The boys gleefully followed them up to the tenth floor and spent a few happy hours at the filksing. (Thomas and Don sang Don's "Mercedes" filksong, then handed the words over to a woman who publishes a filking fanzine.)

 Evelyn C. Leeper's Intersection report  Janice Gelb's Intersection report
 Taras Wolansky's Intersection report