Monday, August 17, 2009

The Annotated Worldcon Badge.


This was the badge I wore last week at Anticipation, the 2009 Worldcon. There’s more to it than meets the eye, so I thought I might share its semiotics with you. The annotations run from top to bottom:

Rocket Pin. Given to all Hugo nominees. Mike Resnick has on occasion worn all of his dozens of nominee pins, giving him a formidably martial appearance. He and I have a cherished tradition on those years when we are both nominated for the same award of each expressing the hope that the other wins. We are both rationalists and know that this will in no way influence the outcome.

Pen Nib Star. Commissioned by Jay Lake and distributed to everyone who was ever nominated for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. At the Hugo Losers Party, I spoke with Spring Schoenhuth, the artist, who pointed out that the nibs are all slightly tilted, making of it a propeller, thus signifying that the wearer is (or was) a “rising star.” Decidedly nifty. In an excess of whimsy, Jay also commissioned a tiara to be worn by the award’s winner, possibly inspired by a similar piece of jewelry imposed upon the winner of the Tiptree Award. Luckily, David Anthony Durham, this year’s winner, was able to pull off wearing it with panache.

Fleur-de-Lis Rocket Logo. A very nice design, combining the Canadian flag and science fiction imagery, while noting Quebec’s French heritage. There were four earlier Canadian Worldcons in 1948, 1973, 1994, and 2003, but this was the first in Francophone Canada.

Good Grief Charles Brown Button. These were handed out and I strongly suspect commissioned by Ellen Klages. The founder and editor of Locus died in his sleep on the plane home from Readercon less than a month before Anticipation. An inveterate Worldcon-goer, Charles would be pleased to know that he was once again present, if only in spirit.

Small Stickers. Given out at the entrance to parties, particularly bid parties, to mark the wearer as a supporter. Fast Forward is a cable access program in Arlington, Virginia, which airs interviews with SF and fantasy authors, along with reviews and related news items. Their party featured bottles of soda with photographs of such interviewees as Connie Willis, Nalo Hopkinson, and yours truly. Neil Gaiman, who was writer guest of honor, had separate photos for each of his five appearances on Fast Forward. The Texas bid party dished out barbecue. The British-and-Irish party served single malts. The gold star was either given to mark SFWA members, or for good penmanship. In my case, almost certainly the former.

Badge Illustration. By Taral Wayne, the artist guest of honor. Nice guy. The symbolism of his character discarding a book with a disgusted roll of her eyes was surely unintentional, though.

Reverse Side. Unseen are two zippered pockets to hold change, notes, whatever. Also a sticker with the participant’s individual schedule on it. Which proves useful when, after only a few hours of conventioneering, one loses orientation in time and space.

Programme Participant/Participant Au Programme Ribbon. The chief purpose of this ribbon is to make it easy for those running the Green Room to determine who belongs there and who does not. Note the bilinguality. Since Anticipation was held in Montreal, there were separate program tracks in English and French. The French programming had simultaneous translation for Anglophones but this fact was not widely publicized. There were posters throughout the convention center stating that the correction sheets for the program were in error. However, every item I was on occurred where the program book said it would, and was well attended by knowledgeable and engaged fans. So I have nothing but praise for those responsible.

Hugo Nominee/Nominee Au Prix Hugo Ribbon. "From Babel's Fall'n Glory We Fled..." lost. It’s an honor just to be nominated. The winner in my category (short story) was Ted Chiang, who surely has the highest award-to-output ratio of any science fiction writer ever. But anybody listed might well have won. It was an exceptionally strong year for short fiction.

Hugo Loser Ribbon. George R. R. Martin had these made up and handed them out to anyone who’d ever lost a Hugo. They were received with unalloyed joy. At the Asimov’s party in the SFWA Suite, George reminisced about the first Hugo Losers Party, held in his hotel room the day after the awards ceremony. “If any of the winners were unwise enough to try to get in, we’d do something to them like spraying shaving cream in their hair. We carried Joe Haldeman out to the swimming pool and threw him in.” These days the Hugo Losers Party is run by the upcoming Worldcon committee and is by invitation only. No shaving cream whatsoever is involved. One cannot help but feel that something has been lost.



Victoria Janssen said...

No shaving cream whatsoever is involved. One cannot help but feel that something has been lost.

Nobody gets stripped and has their clothes thrown out the window or stuck in the freezer, either. What is fandom coming to?

h said...

You know that you have just created the description of another unique literary artefact in the Library and Private Collections of Michael Swanwick. Now you cannot throw it away.

Michael Swanwick said...

It's the Graying of Fandom, Victoria. I did a lot more skinny-dipping in the days when my body was less unsightly.

As for the badge itself ... I'm trying to think of a good way to give it away, maybe to some fannish charity. Those things ought to be collectible, particularly on nomination years.

I wonder how much Bill Gibson's badge on the year he won for NEUROMANCER would go for? Pretty good money, I bet. And he almost certainly threw it in the trash once he got home.

David Anthony Durham said...


Thanks for describing my wearing of the tiara as having "panache". (That means dazed and overheated, smiley and confused, right?)

Michael Swanwick said...

You looked good, David. A little nervous, obviously happy . . . as was perfectly appropriate to the occasion.

Oh, and lhas anybody explained the semiotics of awards to you yet? They're fandom's ways of saying: Get back to work and write more.

Seriously, though: Congratulations.

David Anthony Durham said...

Thanks Michael,

It was a wonderful evening. I'm still a bit stunned.

Off topic but true: I just read "Triceratops Summer". Enjoyed it very much.

Dinogrl said...

It was a pleasure to speak with you and your lovely wife that evening. Thanks also for the mention of my pin too. I'm looking forward to seeing you at World Fantasy Convention in October!
Spring Schoenhuth