My Big News: I’m Toastmaster of Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon

Some of you may be aware of my big news out of AussieCon4 (at which I had a lovely time, and about which I will discourse in an upcoming post), but in case you’re not, here it is:

I was offered, and have gleefully accepted, the position of Toastmaster of Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago. It was announced at AussieCon4 a week ago, when Chicago won the 2012 Worldcon bid. At that time I was given the honor of announcing the other Chicon 7 Guests of Honor, who are: Mike Resnick, Author Guest of Honor; Rowena Morrill, Artist Guest of Honor; Peggy Rae Sapienza, Fan Guest of Honor; Jane Frank, Agent Guest of Honor; and Story Musgrave, our very special Astronaut Guest of Honor. It’s a hell of a lineup.

Being asked to be a Worldcon Toastmaster is a very cool thing. I’m sitting here giggling like a madman just typing out these words. One, it’s mind-boggling to be asked to be a Worldcon guest of honor in any capacity. Two, that it’s unspeakably brilliant that I get to do so for a Worldcon in Chicago, in which I have roots as a graduate of the University of Chicago, and which is one of my favorite places in the world. I often say Chicago is the quintessential American city (New York and Los Angeles being more international cities at this point), and every time I go there it does feel in some way like I’m coming home. So basically, speaking as a science fiction geek, this is the best of all possible worlds.

And you may ask, well, what does a Worldcon Toastmaster do? Well, unlike the other GoH positions, which consist of being fed grapes and chocolates by adoring minions whilst fans and admirers toss rose petals in your path as you are carried in an ornate palanquin to your panels and other events, the Toastmaster actually has to work. I will be taking part in the opening and closing ceremonies and in that year’s Hugo Awards ceremony, and will be also doing all sorts of other tasks during the convention itself (as well as, I’m sure, my own load of programming and the like). And over the next two years I’ll also be promoting and boosting Chicon 7 to others, getting people excited about the convention, and taking part, in whatever capacity the convention committee deems appropriate, in various planning and organizing.

Now, I don’t want to overstate my role, and in any event, I do have other things on my plate, like, oh, being President of SFWA and writing books and such. All the real heavy lifting of the convention will thankfully be done by others. But Chicon 7 head Dave McCarty has (rather all too cheerfully) told me how he plans to work me like a dog over the next couple of years, and I went in to the Toastmaster position assuming that I would be devoting a fair amount of time and energy to the thing. So, yes, I’m all in on this. And let me just say: Oh, man, do I have plans.

And now, what I really want to say about this, and to be sure that I am as unambiguous about this as possible, allow me to put the following in all caps and bold on its own separate line. Ready? Here it is:


You. Yes, you. Oh yes, you so very are. I want to you go over to your calendar right now and block off Labor Day Weekend 2012. Just go and block it off. Because that weekend you’re going to be in Chicago. And no, I don’t want to hear your excuses. You’ve got two full years to prepare, people. More than enough time.

What? Family plans? Then bring the family. They will love Chicago. It is chock full of family stuff.

Kids going to back to school? Bah. Take them to the Art Institute and the Field Museum. If the school won’t give them credit for that sort of unparalleled educational experience, then you should change schools.

Going to be on the run from the law? Dude, this is Chicago.

Hoping to be abducted by aliens that weekend? Come on: science fiction and fantasy convention. Far better chance for abduction than a lonely, cow-filled rural road, I’d say.

Giving birth? Well, aside from your very exact planning skills in planning a birth two years from now, for which you are to be congratulated, I suppose, I personally promise to dedicate a book to any child whose mother goes into labor while physically attending Chicon 7 (Note that you don’t have to actually give birth at the convention, although that would be one hell of a panel, wouldn’t it).

Planning a trip somewhere else for Labor Day? Not in 2012, my friend. In 2012, the tribe descends on Chicago. Chicago, a town of awesomeness. Chicago, city of brats and broad shoulders. Chicago, the place where the atom was first split — under a squash court. Chicago. Baby, you so want to go. The tribe won’t be the tribe without you.

Look, I’m totally serious here. This is my Worldcon, folks, and the appalling orders of fun we’re going to have there are going to be the sort which years from now, people will look back on and kick themselves that they weren’t part of. They will resort to lying about it: “What? Chicon 7? Oh, I was so totally there. No, really. I was in the back, man. Where you couldn’t see me.” Don’t be that guy. Be that guy who was actually in the back, the one that the other poor bastard is pretending to be. The one who he spends his night weeping that he isn’t.

You don’t even have to wait to register: Go to the Chicon site now and click on the “Membership” box and you can get yourself set up just like that. And then you will feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with knowing that no matter what happens to you between now and Labor Day Weekend, 2012, when that weekend rolls around, you’re going to be awash in awesome. And having that sort of certainty in your life is so reassuring in these troubled times.

Okay, enough hammering you over the head (for now). Just know that I’m tremendously honored and excited and can’t wait for 2012. And that I hope you’ll be there to share in the fun.

94 Comments on “My Big News: I’m Toastmaster of Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon”

  1. Nabbing large image of “Beastmaster” poster…

    Powering up graphics program…

    Now to find a nice image of Scazi’s head to paste over Marc Singer’s.

  2. But… but… but… Mayor Daley won’t be the mayor any more! It just won’t be the same Chicago.

    Although Chicon would be a hell of a place to pull off a coup. Hmmm, this might be worth watching – from a safe distance.

    Gratz on the gig, boss.

  3. I’m IN!!!

    This’ll be good as I’ll probably be picking up my Hugo and waving it around in front of Marko’s tear streamed face while Kopka & Macfee hoist me on their shoulders. It’s inevitable.

    That is if we haven’t killed each other during the RENOCON 2011 roadtrip.

    What’s the abbreviation for Toastmaster? TSM? TM? TSTMSTR? TEAMSTER? Hmmm.

  4. It’s definitely, definitely on my long range radar, one of those cities I need to get to every couple of years, so many friends and memories there.

  5. I first saw this a day or two ago, and turned to dear husband, “See? *THIS* is why I must get my first manuscript sold. I want to go to my first con as an author, not just a squeeing squeeful fangirl full of embarassing squee.” Dear husband said “Ok!” because he is the most supportive yet laconic Englishman ever. Squee!

  6. No offense to you, John, but the thing that made it so that I have to go to Chicago in 2012 (besides the fact that going to Chicago has been on my todo list) is because Story Musgrave’s one of my personal heroes, and I’m going to do my best not to miss the chance to meet him.

    So yeah, it’s awesome you’re the toastmaster and all, but you’re not the reason I wanna go… ;)


  7. Of course I’m going to be there! Even if I have to (shudder!) fly. Nothing will stop me. Not only is the 2012 Worldcon in Chicago, which is plenty of reason. But I’m also a foodie, and there are so many great places to eat in Chicago. I’m saving my money, because this is going to be a great trip!

  8. katster:

    Hey, as long as you’re coming, I’m good.

    Josh Jasper:


    Although the pecs there are totally true to life.

  9. None of the reasons you list are reasons I can’t attend (although Labor Day weekend is pretty tough to swing for those of us who work in higher ed).

    The $155 per person price (and that’s the early registration special — I’m assuming that buying a membership in 2012 will require selling an organ on the black market), otoh, is a major barrier to entry. That’s $465 for our family before hotel, airfare, and food.

  10. The best part of the excellent news that Chicago got the WorldCon bid is that they planned it for Labor Day weekend — because it cannot interfere with any teaching schedule, which is what usually happens to me in the summer.

    Next up — buy a membership and then see about getting panel(s) and/or a reading. Or something.

    Need to get Edwardo’s stuffed pizza delivered to the hotel, too.

    Dr. Phil

  11. Labor Day = Dragon*Con! Although if Chicon can swear I won’t stand in line for 4 hours for pre-registration, I might reconsider my loyalties…

  12. Jon R, Mark J Musante:

    Dudes, that’s what PAX East is for. You can get your annual PAX fix and still come to Chicon 7.

    Adam Lipkin:

    It’s why I’m telling people early: Time enough to budget. Also, I believe your young’n is eligible for a young adult discount. And we’ll be working to make sure you’ll get your money’s worth. That’s a promise.


    A four-hour pre-reg line at Chicon 7 seems unlikely. And anyway, Dragon*Con is awesome to be sure and I do also love it, but it happens every year. Whereas me being Toastmaster of Worldcon is likely to happen just the one time. THIS IS TOTALLY HISTORY IN THE MAKING, Y’ALL. Like the moon landing! Only in Chicago and with Deep Dish Pizza. Mmmmm…. deep dish pizza.

  13. Thanks for pointing that out, John. Cut anywhere from $50-100 from my initial estimate (since she’ll be 17 then, and appears to qualify at two different price rates until someone fixes the page). It still might not be time enough to budget — it’s an expensive trip, and one that’s hard to prioritize over college savings (or even over much cheaper local cons like Readercon, etc), but it does change the sticker shock slightly.

  14. To those people that are concerned about the $155 attenting fee -DUDE attending Chicon is, like free! I imagine that (hope that) there will again be a bundle o’ E-books (the Hugo Nominees) that Voters will get – Judging by the Aussiecon packet – the packet is worth more that $155 – going to the Con is a FREE BONUS!

    The Hyatt is within walking distance of Union Station(Amtrak)/ Metra commuter rail stations as well as the “el” (any my office) – I can’t imagine any fan who lives anywhere within 100 miles not going for at least 1 day.

  15. Dude, you are SO the master of lousy timing. As Nekussa has already so aptly pointed out: Dragon*Con. Not only that, but the Amazing Freakin’ Randi at Dragon*Con!

    Argh! Why must you torment me with impossible choices?!

  16. Awesome.

    I will note that I have missed BOTH of the last two WorldCons in Chicago because I had a baby due right around that time. I will endeavor to avoid getting knocked up on New Year’s Eve of 2012, however, because I would really like to come to this one!

  17. I’ll be there, in the city (well, Cook County, anyway) of my birth in 2012. It’ll be the first Worldcon I’ve attended that I didn’t have to fly or drive more than a day to.

    BTW, welcome back! I didn’t miss you too much though, as your guest bloggers and Mallet-wielder did an awesome job. :)

  18. I was a Chicon friend of the bid and voted in Site Selection, so my membership is already paid for! Now to plan ahead for a nice long Chicago trip.

    Congratulations, John. Lots of butter on that toast, please.

  19. Mike:

    “Why must you torment me with impossible choices?!”

    Well, again: Dragon*Con: Every year. Me as Toastmaster of Worldcon: One time thing. And besides, if you go to Dragon*Con every year, cleansing the palate in 2012 will refresh you for future Dragon*Cons. You’ll be doing your Dragon*Con loving self a favor, my friend, coming to Chicago.

    More seriously, however, as I understand it Chicon 7 and Dragon*Con will be working together in an innovative way to make sure attendees of one con can still enjoy some of the features of the other, because in fact we live in a science fictional world where such things are possible. I think more details of that will come later, but I know it’s being worked on. So it won’t be as impossible as you may think.

    Just remember, though: Randi, Amazing though he may be, doesn’t love you like I do.

  20. As a Chicagoan, all I can say is “how cool is that?!!”

    That, and yes, my friends and I are so very much coming.

  21. With a lineup of Guests of Honor as awesome as they came up with, you are a natural.

    (Jason Mitchell — You don’t want to walk from Union Station to the Mariott with luggage, but several busses run direct.)

  22. That should make for interesting security arrangements. Lazarus claimed that that meeting “…was harder to get into than an esbat of witches.”

  23. Sounds like a great time, I’ll pencil it in.
    Maybe two years will be enough to get an In-n-Out Burger in Chicago…

  24. Doubtful on In-n-Out Burger, but Chick-fil-A is opening in Aurora on Thursday — might have one downtown by 2012…

    (I know, I know — John’s particular hangup is the Double-Double. But Chick-fil-A rocks!)

  25. John H:

    Chicago already has Harold’s, so my chicken needs are pretty well covered.

    Mark Horning:

    It’s never too early to get excited about a Worldcon. Hell, I’m already jazzed about the plan to have the 2020 Worldcon in New Zealand.

  26. @Hugh 57: Eh, I think they’ve just rented a suite of rooms at the Hyatt under the convention price and are planning to mooch off the buffet. Nothing to be concerned about.

  27. I… I… think I may actually be able to do this. We have friends who live in Chicago, and my wife and kid can come and hang out with them while I attend the show.

    I’ll have to ask her when she gets home tonight, but I have a feeling she’ll say yes.

  28. Olympics, John. We’re going to the Olympics. Moolah for also going to Chicago is non-existant.

  29. LOL! Yes, Worldcon is Awesome. We’ve been to many. I’m bummed because Chicago is closer to us than any since Boston and Montreal.

    London will be a madhouse. Even madder than Conyers, Georgia in 1996. But a madhouse with HORSES.

    Not to mention all the touristy stuff we will do. We haven’t been to England in over 10 years. Scotland in 2005 was not sufficient.

  30. Well, -I- am coming to WorldCon. :)

    Congratulations on the toastmaster gig, John! Chicon made a very good choice there, and I look foward to your masterful toasts!


  31. This may very well be my first Con. I had been planning on Renovation, but that dream is slipping away as my stretch of unemployment continues to, um, stretch. I think ScalziCon, I mean Chicon, is going to be more doable. And besides, as you say, Chicago!

  32. Awesome! If it’s taking place in my town (Chicago), I can come for once. That would be fantastic. I’ve always wanted to do Dragon*Con or WorldCon, but never had the moolah to travel.

    Now it comes to me. With a Scalzi appearance included. Yay!

  33. It is folly to plan too far ahead in the crazy industry in which I work, but it seems likely that my boss will pay me to go to PAX, whereas I’d have to go to Chicon on my own dime.

    We’ll just have to bring you back down for Armadillocon, and/or I’ll have to get up to Penguicon again one of these years.

  34. Ultragotha@48. It’s even worse if you have people you know in line to be in the 2012 Olympics. Very hard choice. Both one in a lifetime things. Chance of getting to even touch the hem of the Scalzi garment is remote at this time, but if there’s a pizza invite, maybeeee..

  35. First of all, congratulations.

    Second, what you need to do the next couple of years is write regular entries on Why Going To Chicon 7 Would Be So Much Better Than Going To Dragon*Con. You have made several good arguments here in the comments, but you need to give them an entry of their own (or several). Make the people who run Dragon*Con want to come to Chicago.

  36. Johnny Carruthers:

    Well, I don’t want to give the impression that I’m running down Dragon*Con; I think that’d be silly and I don’t want to do that. We are in a nation of 300 million people; there’s enough people to go to both.

    What I am comfortable saying is that Chicon 7 is going to be awesome enough that everyone who goes there is going to have their heart explode with joy. And that I plan to make Chicon 7 the party that everyone wants to be at.

  37. We go to Dragoncon and love it, but Worldcon will trump it every time we can go if it conflicts with Dragon.

    Chicago in 2012 is a no-brainer for us!

  38. Might even get my non-reader husband to that one. I’m pretty sure he agrees with me that Story Musgrave is one of the most impressive people around.

  39. I’m already making plans for it. I’m a Chicago Native and can spend the money I’m saving on hotel for merch, drinks and such.

    Any chances to buy you a drink or three while you are here for Chicon7? Membership purchasing has to wait until next payday, but I had a great time in Montreal, can’t wait for this one!


  40. Do Worldcons tend to be small enough that you can actually get a room in the convention hotel?

    Without having to reserve the room practically the second that convention reservations open, that is.

  41. Harold’s is good. In fact I’m going to Chicago next month, but probably no time for chicken.

  42. Dude – No need to convince me, I’d already decided to go to Chicon 7 before I heard this. This is icing on the cake. Planning on coming early and spending some time doing the tourist thing in Chicago, as well.

  43. Cassie@67 – Get her into one of the fine schools in the Chicago area and the problem solves itself.

  44. I’m happy to be close to completion on 3 novels in 3 different universes, simultaneously, and not have to deal with the distinguished SFWA Board, whose expertise exceeds my own in esoterica such as the importance of implementing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to best protect their members.

    I’m thrilled by your Toastmastering (Toastmastery?) at Chicon 7, the 2012 Worldcon. Growing up in International City Trantor, I mean New York, and long residing in International City LaLaLand, I mean the town founded as “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula” — I was always fascinated by my book editor mother’s tales of fabled Quintessential American City Chicago (whose name perhaps derives from an acronym of Quintessential American City) as she’d earned he degree in English Lit Magna Cum Laude at Noorthwestern.

    I’ve especially loved ChiCons among the dozens of Worldcons where I’ve panelled. Those folks know how to Do It Up Right!

    I look forward to rolling in the aisles there in a couple of years, as your wit breaks the barriers hitherto established in Hog Butcher for the World, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler; Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders. Which is as hard to fit on a badge as was “El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula” at recent PorciunculaCons.

  45. Just great. Now Ai-chan is going to be REALLY demanding in about fifteen months. Thanks a lot, dude.

    (…Wondering if they have little Chinese maternity bears too that he’ll have to carry everywhere around Chicago…)

  46. I may go, assuming I have successfully pushed a couple of tentacles back into the luscious soft tissue of science fiction.

    There are three reasons:

    1.) I try to do Bouchercon every year for crime fic. Would have gone this year, but my employment situation has become volatile. (Thanks a lot, Lehman Brothers! I hope you go under! Oh, wait…)

    2.) It’s Chicago, baby! I LOVE Chicago!

    3.) I want to prove to my wife that I am not the only science fiction fan who does not dress like a Klingon. Unfortunately, there are photographs to the contrary. Not of other fans. Of me.

  47. Ah, WorldCon, Dragon*Con…à Chicon son goût.

    hugh57 41: That should make for interesting security arrangements. Lazarus claimed that that meeting “…was harder to get into than an esbat of witches.”

    While it IS easier to get invited to a sabbat, it’s not really all that hard (in the 21st century) to get to come to an esbat. I mean, they’re every full moon in most covens, and in mine we had a full moon AND a dark moon esbat. Even WorldCon is harder to get into than an esbat, because you have to pay a fee for the one, whereas no real Witches will charge a fee to attend an esbat.

  48. It’s a little early for me to decide, but I’m very tempted to do a con back in my former hometown, and in the Loop too, mere blocks from the Billy Goat, the Bean, and the big scary Eye.

  49. Oh, and: I will be crushed if I have to miss that. Of course, you never know when you’ll be dead, but otherwise (well, iff* I have a job) count me in.
    *Yeah, spelled it that way on purpose.

  50. Is this likely to sell out anytime soon? (are there a limited number of memberships?) I can pull together registration before the December early-bird deadline, but don’t want to miss out if I take too long.
    Chicago is a Big Deal to me…lots of family history to chase down while I’m there. A con on top of that would be the perfect icing!

  51. @Kristi:

    There is no limit to the number of memberships. We plan to sell memberships in advance and at the door for those who happen to show up without buying a membership in advance.

  52. John –
    Will you be taking applications for adoring minions to feed you grapes and chocolates?
    If so I would like to be first on the list. I have references! Your good friend Wil says I really have my geek together.

  53. PAX East is a pale shadow of the true thing, but I understand it’s a surprisingly workable substitute for people who live on the less-advantaged coast.

  54. Oh Lord…I’ve never been to a Worldcon that isn’t in Boston, and financially it will be very dicey. But this is really, really tempting, damn you to a hell without bacon or cats….

  55. Unfortunately I think that at the cost of multiple thousands of pounds and at least three weeks of valuable vacation time (it will be a cold day in hell before I set foot on an airplane again); not to mention “being harassed by the US border people”… I feel I am unlikely to be making it across the pond any time soon, even for so very excellent a reason as this.

  56. Sadly my tentacles are too-well rooted in Dragon*Con for me to ditch it for Chicon, regardless of the sparkly unicorn-ness that is John Scalzi. There’s a certain Dragon*Con space track director in particular who would undoubtedly kill me while I sleep were I not to attend….

  57. If John isn’t enough reason to go, Mary Anne Mohanraj may well be. I’m in the middle of Bodies in Motion, and the book is so good, it glows in the dark.

    And of course, by that time, I’ll have done so much of the playing that John told me to do at VP XIII with my Klarion series that I’ll be able to look him in the eye like a good student.

    I’ll see if the husband can give me excuses, but it’s beginning to look like they’d be thin excuses.

  58. If I wasn’t at Chicon McCarty would remove my skin with a cheese grater, just as I have threatened him for looking at my goddaughter LIKE THAT. On a positive I consider the toastmaster for the con to be the lovely chocolate ganache frosting on the moist cake of Chicon. Both may be delicious but the one is not as good without the other.

  59. I’m pretty sure at this point I need to be a gentleman scholar of means to allow me both the time to attend all of these wonderful events and the chance to invent my time machine so I can actually go, thus preventing more ensickening.

%d bloggers like this: