Worldcon 2011? Hope You Like Reno

Science Fiction geeks knew that there were two primary contenders for the site of the 2011 Worldcon: Seattle and Reno, Nevada. Well, now there’s only one, because the Seattle in 2011 committee has withdrawn its bid, citing difficulties in securing their preferred venues. Inasmuch as this leaves Reno the only serious bid still out there, I hope you Worldcon attendees all are fans of the Biggest Little City in the World, because, well. That’s where it’s extremely likely to be. Personally, I’d’ve been happy either way, so this is fine by me.

71 Comments on “Worldcon 2011? Hope You Like Reno”

  1. Great! I’ve never been to Nevada, and it’s a lot closer than Australia.

    John, I’m considering going to Cincinnatti’s con, now I see you’ll be GoH. Go you!

  2. I was extremely skeptical when I first heard about the Reno bid, especially because they were up against Seattle.

    However after talking to some friends who know about these things and spending several hours speaking to the Reno folks at Denvention I pre-supported their bid and am greatly looking forward to it.

  3. I pre-supported Reno. While Seattle was easier to get to and I have friends in the general area, the tourism board in Reno really seemed to want the convention, the con hotels looked great, and taking a few more days off would allow for fun tourism stuff like Lake Tahoe, Carson City and Pyramid Lake. Or, if you prefer that sort of thing, you could always go to Vegas before or after the con.

  4. I tend to be the ‘pre-support everyone’ type. (You’re bidding for a Worldcon? Here’s twenty bucks.) As I recall, the voting was moved to three years ahead at one point to allow people to be able to make their space deals, and then moved back.

  5. Having grown up in Reno? Yeah, you’re not going to have nearly the geek resources you would’ve in Seattle.

    Be prepared to be looked askance at by the rednecks and trashy tourists.

    Also, Vegas is nine hours away from Reno. It’s not exactly a side jaunt.

  6. I’m just a little bummed out by this bit of news.

    I like Reno well enough I guess, but living just 20 miles north of Seattle meant that going to a Worldcon was going to be feasible not only financially but I could get some time away from work without it being a big pain to arrange.

    Guess I’ll have to start saving up discretionary cash. With the economy the way it is, I’m glad I have till 2011 to save up.

  7. PHEW!!! Our secrets still safe. You all just toddle off to Reno and never darken Seattle’s door again…because all we do have is Starbucks, Microsoft and the SFM. NOTHING else you’d wanna see, move along now, nothing to see here.

  8. For more information on Reno, I’d recommend checking out, which is the official convention bureau site (the City of Reno site is mainly just municipal data). The Reno in 2011 team has had great support from the bureau and I know they are delighted we’re bringing the Worldcon to their city.

  9. Mike@15, Don’t forget Dixie’s BBQ – one of my favorite places from when I spent a month at the Microsoft main campus in Redmond for training. Best BBQ sauce out there.

  10. Color me gobsmacked. A golden opportunity coming, WorldCon (likely) comes to MY town … but I’ll never be able to afford a membership.

  11. Back when I was attending WorldCons more-or-less regularly, I enjoyed spending at least a week in a new & interesting city — mostly, in addition to spending the entire Convention (usually plus a day/night on each end of it) in the ConHotel (perhaps with a few Dining Expeditions into the environs). If I attend this one (a possibility, despite increasing deafness that makes social interaction & Con appreciation an extreme hassle) I’ll probably reduce the Touristing to a day or two … and sigh about missing the many great places for dim sum in Seattle, as well as its museums. But I’m as reasonably certain as anyone can be that it’ll be an excellent WorldCon. (And yes, I think I presupported both bids — people who host Parties deserve all the encouragement they can get.)

  12. Well, Reno would be easier for me to get to than Seattle…Sabrina and I have been through there en route to Sacramento. I’m keeping an eye on this.

  13. Hope the organizers remember that little thing known as “Hot August Nights,” and schedule appropriately … or no one will be getting a room.

    On the other hand, the accommodations and non-geek entertainment in Reno/Sparks/Tahoe is likely to be vastly superior to Seattle. And there’s plenty of good places to eat – especially at the hotel/casinos (pretty much all hotels in Reno are also really big casinos, and vice versa).

    That, and it’s only about a seventy minute drive for me, so that’s good.

  14. Bob Portnell— the key to affording a membership is to buy early. Way early. We’re pre-supporters and I guess we’ll vote site selection to put the seal on it— far, far cheaper than tix at the door.

    Actually, a WorldCon ticket with pre-support is pretty cheap when compared to the cost of a day at a typical amusement park, and certainly cheaper than four days at one.

  15. Pam @12:

    As I recall, the voting was moved to three years ahead at one point to allow people to be able to make their space deals, and then moved back.

    Worldcon bids were selected three years in advance between 1986 (which selected 1989 Boston) and 2004 (which selected 2007). During that 18-year span, several sites lost their bids due to other groups putting down money sooner.

    The theory that having three years to plan would improve the Worldcon was not particularly proven. The largest Worldcon ever held was in 1984, selected in 1982. If anything, choosing sites that far in advance made things worse. It’s very challenging to hold an all-volunteer group like a Worldcon committee together for the full live cycle, which for a three-year-in-advance Worldcon was roughly eight years: three years bidding, three years planning, two years wind-down. (I lived through that, twice, once as bid chair and convention co-chair.)

    WSFS voted to shorten the lead time effective with the selection of the 2008 Worldcon (selected in 2006). So this year is only the fourth time we’ve selected a site two years in advance since we switched back to a shorter period. Changes in site selection can take many years to completely play out all of their effects, so it’s dangerous to try and generalize anything from a single data point.

    The real issue, IMO, is that Worldcon sites are selected in a very rigid way, a fixed time in advance, and by an open bidding and membership-selected process. This is good for democracy, and means that selected sites generally are those preferred by the people who already attend Worldcons. But it means there is no flexibility in selection. If an otherwise good site is lined up and someone comes along with a better offer for the space, there’s no way to make the decision early. To do that, you’d have to delegate site selection to a board of directors or other central authority, and the members of WSFS are allergic to such things.

    Advocates of the two year lead time acknowledge that we’ll have an occasional site “gazumped” by other groups moving over them before they can commit; however, the sites that remain are likely to be much more eager for our business because unsold convention center/hotel space earns no revenue, and at T-2 years, it’s getting close to impossible to sell it otherwise. SF genre conventions are generally considered bottom-feeders, and many people consider Worldcons to be too expensive already, so anything to keep the cost down tends to be seen as a good thing.

    One other thing: WSFS also abolished the zone-rotation scheme a few years before shortening the lead time. This increases bids’ flexibility. A particular bid that loses its site for a given year may find that if they can shift a year or two, they can get the space. (There’s no guarantee they won’t be hit again, of course.) North American bids once could only bid every third year, but nowadays have considerably more flexibility of picking their targets to match up with availability of facilities.

  16. Kurt @23:

    Hope the organizers remember that little thing known as “Hot August Nights,” and schedule appropriately … or no one will be getting a room.

    You don’t have to hint darkly about there being no rooms in Reno. You might try reading the Reno bid’s filing papers, which include conditional contracts (“conditional” in that they only take effect if they win the election in Montreal) for more than 1100 hotel rooms.

    The people backing the Reno bid include some of the most experienced conrunners in Worldcon fandom, including numerous past Worldcon chairs, division managers, and senior managers. Indeed, the staff and committee could easily be said to be a representative cross-section of the so-called “Permanent Floating Worldcon Committee.”

    (And no, I have no specific tie to the committee myself, but I hate to see suggestions of incompetence where there is no reason to suspect it.)

  17. I have only driven through Reno (on our way to San Jose, we were throwing parties for the 2006 KC bid) and was fascinated by the architecture.

    If we can swing it we’ll be there. I wanna see Lake Tahoe, etc.

  18. In defense of my dear Seattle, there is no way Reno can compare. at all. Seattle is tops when it comes to geeks and tech stuff, but we have other stuff to worry about. like ridiculous tunnels we “need” to build under our streets. you know. important things.

  19. While I’d rather visit Seattle than Reno, Reno had the superior bid, and I pre-supported them.

    A former resident of Seattle that I spoke to about it said “There ARE sane fans in Seattle…they’re not the ones organizing this bid.”

  20. Seattle would have been a terrific city for a WorldCon, but Seattle is just plain jinxed. Somebody in that town always has to screw it up, when it comes to the big time stuff. And it’s a damned shame, too. They botched the WTO. They botched the superbowl. They botched their NBA team. They’re botching the floating bridges and the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. Will they botch Light Rail? Ahhhh, Seattle. Dear to my heart. Alas, you drove me crazy with your outrageous home prices, and I left. (sigh) Now I only visit. Why, Seattle? Why do you always have to fuck it up?? (sob)

  21. Seattle doesn’t have sufficient hotel space close to the convention space. Think Denvention, only worse. (I had fun at Denvention, but their facilities were pathetic.)

  22. @Kevin #27:

    Sorry, I always assume incompetence. Especially when it comes to committees. That way I’m always pleasantly surprised at even marginal efficacy.

    And now I’m going to have to see what else is up in Aug. 2011 in Reno … hopefully there’ll be some gun shows at the same time.

    … which sounds rather menacing, but believe me, if there’s one thing great about Reno (besides the Air Show & Casinos), it’s the gun shows.

  23. Kurt @36:

    Sorry, I always assume incompetence….

    That’s pretty sad. Why bother attending, then, if every single convention runner is completely incompetent as you assume they all are?

    And now I’m going to have to see what else is up in Aug. 2011 in Reno …

    And the Reno bid is so incompetent that they’ve already posted on their web site pages About the Reno area and standing attractions in the greater Reno-Tahoe area, such as the National Automobile Museum, the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Carson City, historic Virginia City and the Virginia & Truckee Railroad, and many more. (I mentioned the ones I did because I’ve been to them, in some cases multiple times; I’m a railroad enthusiast.)

  24. Hurray, I see from the filing papers that they’ve got a whole 50 rooms reserved in one fully non-smoking hotel, as opposed to the casino hotels, like the Atlantis, where there’s plenty of smoking.

  25. Sub-Odeon @31:

    “Reno works awesome for me! It’s close! It would be my very first WorldCon, too.”

    Neat! One of the advantages of Worldcon moving around like it does is the opportunity that presents for drawing new members to the convention. We know there are a good number of people in and around the Reno area who will be interested in attending. It’s always a joy to see messages like yours confirming that.

    As Kevin Standlee graciously mentioned, the Reno bid committee and staff has an abundance of folks who enjoy putting together a Worldcon even after years (or decades) of doing so now and again (or more frequently). To my eyes, the committee’s true strength is reflected in the fact that it also contains several folks who working on their first Worldcon bid. There’s a lovely balance of experience and new interest in the team Patty Wells has put together. That bodes well not just for a Reno Worldcon, but for the future beyond that, too.

    Yes, I’m biased; I’m honored to be a member of the Reno committee and helping out as I can. And I’m learning a lot along the way. That’s neat, too.

  26. Michael @38: Yes, smoking is allowed on the casino floor at the Atlantis, and currently about 20% of their sleeping rooms permit smoking. But the entire convention center, our function space in the Atlantis, and the other 80% of the sleeping rooms in the hotel are all non-smoking areas.

    There’s a more thorough overview addressing the concerns of both non-smokers and smokers at the bottom of the Reno bid’s facilities overview page.

  27. I was fond of both sites, since they were West Coast USA, but I must admit a little more fondness for Reno as it’s just up the road (I live in Sacramento).

    So, thrill! A Worldcon almost in my backyard!

    – yeff

  28. Kevin@25,

    Thanks- I remembered the change, but had forgotten the details.

    Best of luck to Reno!


  29. Woo hoo,

    Worldcon here I come. I can road trip that from Phoenix, and I can get my folks to drive up from Sacramento to watch/play with the kids.

  30. As another (new) Seattleite, I’m bummed by this news. In fact, I kinda wish the Reno thing would have been announced as a fait accompli because I had no idea we were even up for getting a Worldcon, and now it’s been snatched away. Bummer.

  31. I was having a hard time deciding, although I suspect I was leaning Seattle at my disappointment over their withdrawal. However, I pre-supported both bids, and I currently live near Sacramento, so it’s just a drive over the hill. You know, for definitions of hill that include Donner Pass. Good thing Worldcon’s in the summertime.

    Reno will probably be pretty cool when it’s all said and done, and I’m looking forward to it. At the rate I’m going, it’ll be the next Worldcon I can make it to.


  32. Hello fellow Sacratomato residents!

    One thing that you might consider doing is taking the California Zephyr to Reno, if you don’t want to take a car. The stretch between Sacramento and Reno is not only very pretty, they often have docents from the California Railroad Museum speaking in between Auburn and Reno. It’s much nicer than a plane and you can take lots of luggage.

    We’ll probably be taking a car because of small fry, but it’s a good option to have.

  33. While I’m very sorry to hear about Seattle’s continuing facilities difficulties, I know that my friends on the Reno committee will do a fine job of running the 69th Worldcon.

  34. Bummer for Seattle, but I think the Reno committee will do just fine. (I pre-supported both.) And frankly, Reno is IMHO a better destination than Vegas in many ways. Not nearly as hectic or spread out, and MUCH better August weather. And it’s tempting to catch the Zephyr in Denver for the ride.

  35. While I appreciate the fine efforts of the Reno WorldCon committee folk – and I really mean that with absolutely no sarcasm – having been to Reno on business, there are few things I wish I had known ahead of time that would have made it a much less stressful visit.

    Yes, there is a lot of smoking in Reno, and yes, if you are going to WorldCon you should be prepared to deal with that if you are sensitive to smoke. It is also at a high elevation from the point of view of those of us who live close to sea level (which means it will be colder than you think). If these things are issues for you, I strongly urge you to consider arriving half a day or a day early, to give yourself a chance to acclimate and nap, and for your anti-allergy meds to kick in.

    There are very few amenities on the drive up from the west side (i.e. Sacramento/Bay Area way). Do not assume that you will be able to pop into a fast-food restaurant or fuel up your car anytime you notice the needle is dropping. Bring bottled beverages and snacks and go with a full tank.

    Oh, and bring a camera. The view on the way up is astronishing.

  36. Reno is a nice venue for conferences, actually, as I can testify to having been to several science conferences there. And where Science Goes, Science Fiction can follow (that being the history of the modern Worldcon, with hotel, multitrack programming, and badges, as forced into being by analogy with the APS conferences by the late Milton Rothman, whom I’d known since the early 1960s.

    The context includes the historical fact that the structure of major Science Fiction conventions was brought into Science Fiction from Physics by a genius with feet in both camps, namely Milton Rothman, who explained to me, at a circa 1961 pancake brunch of himself, myself, and my science fiction book editor/publisher father, at Princeton (where he was doing Fusion Reactor engineering and Plasma Physics). Milton Rothman explained to me his version of the first true
    science fiction fan organization in Washington, namely the World War II-era group known as the Washington Worry-Warts; and how he finally persuaded a critical mass of fan activists of the American Physical Society (APS) annual conference format.

    Of course, the highly fragmented conference and convention industry is somewhere between $50 and $80 BILLION dollars a year. Reno knows how to handle this.

    Of course there are parallels between SFWA, and the older MWA and WWA, and their traditions of cons and awards.

    Of course, once the culture existed, there could be completely non-writer-centric cons, of which smofcon is a leader.

    Of course, I’m terribly biased by being one of 10 professional writers and editors in my family, loving Science Fiction, and being a [currently unemployed] professional scientist.

    But I seem to be on the same page here, now and then, with people who have expertise above and beyond mine.

    I greatly enjoyed a few years ago the SFRA annual conference held in a casino hotel at Las Vegas.

    Once the casino management realized that few English Lit professors present were involved in gambling, boozing, or whoring, things settled down to the metaphysical strip show starring Ursula K Le Guin, a track to whom the conference had dedicated, and who appeared, smiling enigmatically, at all the papers on her oeuvre.

    We all have a request from Kurt Vonnegut.

    “I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, ‘Isaac is up in heaven now.’ It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, ‘Kurt is up in heaven now.’
    That’s my favorite joke.”

    Kurt is up in heaven now.

    I think it is also only fair to give him Kilgore Trout’s epitaph: “We are healthy only to the extent that our ideas are humane.”

    Farewell Vonnegut, in non-heaven with Asimov. But more specifically:

    Sonja Rae Fritzsche
    has done first-rate research into the bizarro world of Science Fiction
    publishing in Cold War East Germany.

    For instance:

    (Book) Science Fiction Literature in East Germany. DDR Studien/East German Studies Series. Bern; Oxford: Peter Lang, September 2006.

    “Utopia, Dystopia, and Ostalgia: The Pre- and Post Unification Visions of East German Science Fiction Writer Alexander Kröger.” Journal of Utopian Studies 17.3 (Winter 2006): 441-464.

    “Reading Ursula Le Guin in East Germany.”
    Extrapolation 47.3 (2006): 471-487.

    Asimov and Le Guin were 2 of the 3 first American authors whose science fiction was translated into German, with special foreword and afterword, for East German publication. The two were politically vetted.

    Asimov was allowed as he was determined to be “a bourgois secular humanist.”

    Le Guin was a trickier case. They liked her attack on Capitalism in “The Dispossessed” but denigrated her for failing to point out that Communism was objectively superior to the false dichotomy between Capitalism and Anarchism.

    When Sonja Rae Fritzsche gave a talk at the SFRA (Science Fiction Research Association) annual meeting about 2 years ago in Las Vegas, Ursula Le Guin was in the audience. I questioned Dr. Fritzsche, by explaining the Asimov/Vonnegut role in the American Humanist

    Le Guin now entered the discourse, although usually she listened without comment to papers on her writings. She said approximately:

    “Are you now or have you ever been a Secular Humanist? Well, I am not in the American Humanist Association, and didn’t know that Asimov was

    I like to slightly fictionalize this by paraphrasing her comment as:

    “I am not now, nor have ever been…”

    Asimov was certainly a scientist, and Biochemistry Professor, who was also one of the greatest Science Fiction authors of all time, and proud of it. Vonnegut and Le Guin and Harlan Ellison and some other major authors have made a valid marketing decision in declining to have the phrase “science fiction” on their book covers, or used to denote them in TV interviews and the like, on the grounds that it could actually decrease sales.

    Vonnegut thus wrote some Science Fiction, and metafiction about Science Fiction (i.e. Kilgore Trout), without being deemed a Science Fiction Author as such. Le Guin writes quite a bit of first-rate Science Fiction, where the Science is mostly Anthropology (given whom
    her parents were!), Linguistics, and Sociology.

    All of these writers were interested in Religion, interested in Science, yet had distinctive analyses of how the two magesteria interacted. I’m sorry to say that I’d discussed this with both Asimov and Le Guin, but now can never ask Vonnegut directly. Nor do I expect
    to go to Heaven. And I can’t fathom why (according to survey) more Americans believe in Hell than in Heaven.
    The first does not exist in Jewish theology, but, in the USA context, don’t they come together in the same box?

    David Letterman (or Jay Leno?) jokes once: “The I-15 freeway is closed because of brush fire between L.A. and Las Vegas. It’s the first time in 5,000 years that transportation’s been cut off between Sodom and

  37. Re the shift to a 3 year lead time: I was involved in the change to 3 years and it was not to give concoms more time to organize. Instead it reflected the need to lock down convention space farther in advance. The hotel industry at the time did not like dealing with our 2 year lead time and was, in fact, booking a lot of events 5 or more years in advance. Conditions have changed and space is not quite as tight as it was. Also it has been demonstrated that concom stresses are a lot more with a 3 year lead. Given that a bid can take a few years, the planning, running, and wrapping up of a worldcon take 3 more, you can have half a decade involved in one worldcon. Fannish groups can barely make it through that with only a few friendships and marriages taking hits. The 3 year lead just added another year to the stress.

  38. I’d like to shout out my hometown, a mere 30 minutes from Reno (to the west), Truckee (and I can also “vouch” for Reno, the city of my birth, as an interesting little city when you get off the beaten path ie: casinos).

    If you get a chance, please visit. A fantastic little town with a storied history (I won’t give it away, but think the Donner Party, logging’s golden age, site of Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush”) and great restaurants (Moody’s Bistro in the old Truckee Hotel, Dragonfly and Cottonwood).

    I hope all who attend Worldcon have a fantastic time in my neck of the woods. Admittedly not Seattle, but a cool area of the country nonetheless.

  39. John,
    seriously dude: “I’d’ve”?
    Isn’t there a cosmic law that will cause your keyboard to implode if you contract to many words at once?

  40. I lit out from Reno, I was trailed by twenty hounds
    Didn’t get to sleep last night till the morning came around.

  41. If I’m not mistaken, this’ll be the smallest city ever to host a WorldCon?

    Depends on how far back you go and if you want to count suburbs as actually being part of a larger metro. Berkeley and South gate both come to mind.

  42. As a Reno area resident:

    Weather: It’s hot here in summer despite the 5,000 foot elevation.

    Locals: After seeing the Burning Man crowd roll through here for the past 15 years, the locals will not look askance at beanie-copter caps, jedi robes or even 14-foot-tall robots roaming the streets.

    The Burner’s 14-foot-tall green-lit preying mantis appears in public parks. And its art cars – replete with costumed cavorters – drive in the Nevada Day parade.

  43. Addendum: Hot August Nights.

    For the concern brought up earlier, HAN runs August 1-8 of that year – leaving a week gap to the Worldcon dates.

    Weather: August 17-21? Baking. But the convention center here has decent climate control, if I’m not mistaken.

  44. Will @63:

    Yes, and they just a few months ago opened a climate-controlled skywalk between the Atlantis Hotel and the Convention Center. If you book your room at the Atlantis, you can actually stay indoors the entire run of the convention, and can avoid going out into the heat all week. It’s slightly harder to avoid the convention floor if you want to eat at most of the restaurants in the hotel, although if you just want to go from your room to the convention center, you can get out at the second floor and cut through the arcade, skipping the casino.

  45. I am excited to see the conversation taking place about the 2011 Worldcon. I had the opportunity to meet many of you in Denver and look forward to welcoming you in Reno!

    I do want to respond to a couple of items:

    Smoking — yes, there is smoking on the casino floor. You will not find smoking in restaurants, public facilities (convention center) and most hotel rooms.

    Temperature — accourding to our records the average in August is 89 high and 45 low…the evenings cool down. That said, we usually have about two weeks of high 90’s to low 100’s and those weeks are typically in late July or early August (thus Hot August Nights). The Sierra Mountain Range provides cooler evenings and it is longer to warm up…not the suffocating heat you might think of.

    I have enjoyed meeting many of you and working with your HIGHLY QUALIFIED convention committee. I’ll see some of you in Montreal and am ready to welcome ALL of you in RENO!

    Reno-Tahoe Convention Visitors Authority

  46. I’m happier than a pig in dirt. Reno rocks! While either place would have worked great for me Reno has many extras Seattle doesn’t. Better parking, cheaper food, things to do when convention is done for day. Can’t wait to see people I met in Denver,party like rockstars or in our cases like scifi geeks!

  47. To all who might be interested in seeing places around Reno, while I live near Boise now I lived in Incline Village Nv. for 11 years, and know Reno well. A trip to Lake Tahoe, Basque food, the Sierra Nevada Mountains all at our foot steps.

  48. Sounds great, Brad!

    This week’s Reno News & Review covers a wide variety of ethnic restaurants in Reno. They’ve given the bid permission to make posters of the article, which should help us spread the word. Louis’ Basque Corner is mentioned, and I understand there are several other Basque restaurants in town, too.

  49. The Santa Fe is a better Basque food spot & bar. More of the old time feel to it. This will be fun for me.
    As it gets closer I can feed in some of the “locals” spots. Been in Reno and the north part of the state for the last 40+ years. If it does get here, a trip out to the Black Rock desert is a must.

  50. As an artist that has attended many cons, I’m very excited to have Worldcon come to my home town!
    Reno is a beautiful city and we look forward to hosting all the great attendees.

    Reno is much more relaxed than other, larger cities and lots of great restaurants in the areas. You’ll have a great time!

    I look forward to seeing everyone here in 2011!

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