Worth Reading (Fiction)

  • Mamet, David: Chicago: A Novel
    In Roaring 20's Chicago, a Great War veteran turned hard-boiled reporter falls in love with the wrong woman and then seeks to find her killer.
  • Nelson DeMille: The Cuban Affair: A Novel
    Two million dollars to charter a boat for a fishing tournament? A great way for the owner to pay off the boat's mortgage, but it turns out to include slipping into Castro's prison island in search of a lost (and perhaps imaginary) treasure.
  • Kate Atkinson: Life After Life: A Novel
    Ursula Todd has the opportunity to relive her life, over and over and over, moving steadily through the Great War and its sequels and accumulating shards of memory.
  • Connie Willis: Crosstalk: A Novel
    An empathy app leads to complications involving telepathy, Irish women and a true love that runs most unsmoothly. Classic Willis comedy.
  • Mark Steyn: The Prisoner of Windsor
    In a 21st Century sequel to Anthony Hope, the heir to the Ruritanian throne must fill in for the kidnaped Prime Minister of Great Britain.
  • Tim Powers: My Brother's Keeper
    Werewolves, the Brontë sisters, their wayward brother, their heroic dog and a conspiracy to unleash an almost dead deity.
  • Tim Powers: Declare: A Novel
    An intricate Cold War fantasy that seems so plausible that one wonders whether it is the true story of why the Soviet Union rose and collapsed.
  • H.F.M. Prescott: The Man on a Donkey
    Set during the Pilgrimage of Grace, this is the rare historical novel that captures the mindset of the actors. The hero, Robert Aske, was martyred in a way that makes burning at the stake look merciful.
  • Theodore Odrach: Wave of Terror
    Based on the author's experiences when the Soviet Union occupied his homeland after the Stalin-Hitler Pact, this book melds Chekov and Solzhenitsyn. By stages, the isolated folk of the Pripyet Marshes learn that there are worse masters than their former Polish overlords.
  • Simon Montefiore: Sashenka: A Novel
    Both grim and funny, this historical novel peers into the inner world of an upper class Russian girl turned loyal Bolshevik, highlighting her youthful fling at revolution-making in Petrograd, her fall from grace under Stalin, and an historian's effort, after the end of communism, to ascertain her fate.
  • Harry Turtledove: The Man with the Iron Heart
    Can the U.S. maintain its resolve against a defeated enemy's terrorist campaign? Imagining a post-World War II Nazi insurgency, Harry Turtledove puts this question into a new context. As Reinhard von Heydrich's "werewolves" devastate Germany, war-weary Americans call for withdrawal, regardless of the consequences.
  • Neal Stephenson: Anathem
    If you have not a smidgen of interest in how Platonic philosophy relates to the "many worlds" version of quantum mechanics, you still may like this novel, though you'll probably wish that the characters talked less. Persevere. After a slow start, the story grows compelling, and the intellectual dialogues turn out not to be digressions.
  • Alfred Duggan: Lord Geoffrey's Fancy
    Perhaps the finest book of one of England's finest historical novelists. The setting is 13th Century Greece, where Crusaders fought each other and the shattered Byzantine Empire. The history is accurate, the writing graceful and the characters not merely modern people in fancy dress.
  • Rodney Bolt: History Play : The Lives and Afterlife of Christopher Marlowe
    A pseudo-history springing from the premise that Shakespeare's flashy predecessor survived the famous Deptford brawl and fled to the continent, where he secretly wrote almost all of the Bard's works. A clever, tongue-in-cheek reworking of literary history that also recreates the milieu shared by many real Elizabethan exiles.
  • Charles W. Chesnutt: Stories, Novels, and Essays (Library of America, 131)
    Fiction and essays by a black American writer who deserves a wider audience.
  • Harry Turtledove: Gunpowder Empire
    Debut of a juvenile series set in parallel worlds. 22nd century teen siblings, trapped without adult aid in a besieged city, must cope with the bizarre (to them) customs and prejudices of a never-fallen Roman Empire.
Blog powered by Typepad

« Quote of the Day, Alas | Main | A Simple Test for “The Religion of Peace” »

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Presumably by "overseas" you actually mean "Non-US," as there were about that many ballots cast at ConAdian (San Antonio vs. St. Louis).

But anyway, I was initially also concerned about the low turnout, but I think that there are multiple factors here. As others said above, there were probably people who, despited everything they were told, assumed that voting would continue through Saturday no matter that the Worldcon was a day earlier than usual this year. It was hard enough for me to stick to Worldcon Daylight Time, and I knew what was going on.

But the factor that I think really affected this election is that it is the first one to be fully affected by both "no-zone" and 2-year bidding. In the old zonal/3-year system, Worldcon sites in North America were restricted to the same zone as was administering the election. Therefore, there was probably a disproportionate interest in the location from people within that zone. The biggest example of this I can think of was the 1991 race between Louisville and Winnipeg held in Chicago, where there were 2,107 ballots cast, split nearly evenly between the two candidate sites.

It took several years for "grandfathered" bids to work their way through the transition to "no-zone," and then we also shortened the lead time. In any event, we now require that bids be no closer than 500 miles/800 km from the host site. This means that there's far less "local vote" factor than there probably was when one or more of the candidates was a relatively short distance from the host city.

In other words, the lower turnout may not be a bug, but a feature, of the no-zone system. We at least in theory want people voting for reasons other than "It's near where I live," after all.

I think one of the contributing factors to the low turnout (in addition to the possibility of people thinking they could vote one day later than they could) was the unobtrusive location the polling place had in the exhibit hall. It was placed so as to fairly guarantee no walk by traffic, either to remind people to vote or to catch the curiosity of first time attendees who might not know much about the voting process.

I'm surprised about the amount of animosity that still remained towards Chicago as to the Art Show from 2000. I shouldn't be, I suppose --people have long memories when it comes to gripes. I'll be curious to see how the collective fannish memory is after five days of walking a minimum of 3-4 blocks from their hotel to the convention center. At altitude.

Having all the party suites on one floor is a better reason than you think. Even if you don't attend parties yourself, it still cuts the lines at the elevators by 60-90%.

My nutshell analysis: None of the three bids was good (hence the low turnout), but Denver's flaws were less public than the other two bids.
- Columbus probably has the best facilities, but were conspicuous by their absence (e.g., at Glasgow and Marcon).
- Chicago had two problems, both involving ChiCon 2000 (which was also conspicuous). Many people were tired of going to Chicago. Even more voted against Chicago on account of the Chicon 2000 art show. The Chicago bid committee thinks they addressed that sufficiently, but as far as I can tell, that opinion was only held by the Chicago bid committee. All I can say is that within a half hour of hearing that Denver won, two people told me they voted for Denver because they expected me to run the art show; two who voted for Columbus said that had they known who would have run Chicago's art show, they'd have voted for Chicago. That's a four vote swing just among people I talked to in half an hour. This doesn't sound "sufficiently addressed" to me.
- Denver has the worst facilities and has other problems I considered serious, but they largely remained hidden - none were publicly on display at a Worldcon.

Someone who voted for Columbus told me that he voted for them because they had all the party suites on one floor, rather than having to spread them around on the few available suites on different floors. Although I find this an odd reason to choose a convention venue, I suppose there are even odder ones out there.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Books by Tom Veal

Worth Reading (Non-Fiction)