Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

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A Blast from the Past

While searching for something else, I stumbled across this Interaction review that I don't recall seeing the first time around. I added some of my own comments to it, particularly the sections that personally mentioned me or over which I had some management control. I don't mind people saying that I talked too much -- I usually do. However, in the case cited, if it hadn't been me making the announcements, then someone else would have needed to do so.

The posting and the discussion of it, however, reinforces what should be obvious that it is utterly impossible to satisfy everyone with a Worldcon. Interaction was, in my opinion, one of the best-planned, best-organized Worldcons I've ever attended, and I'm not just saying that because I was a division manager. Actually, being a DM means that I could see how well organized it was from the inside. Yet we still have people saying how badly organized it was for this reason or that. And I'm convinced that if we'd made the areas about which there were complaints better, it would have caused something else to fail.

The specific example over which I had some control was the "care and feeding of your Hugo Award trophy" speech that is a fairly common part of the pre-Hugo Award reception. The complaint was that "only about fourteen people in the room need to know this anyway" and "just give us a handout after the ceremony if we win and we can read about it." My response was, "People don't read handouts, and much of this was stuff you needed to know before you held the trophy." Hugo trophies are heavier than they look. The rockets are not, as some people think, hollow, but are solid zinc castings with a chrome plating. Zinc is heavy. We don't want a winner to drop the trophy or do anything foolish that could possibly break it. Most of the trophies are not that fragile (some have been), but grabbing it by the rocket and swinging it around over your head, for example, is probably not a good idea -- there's too much lever action going on between the trophy and its base. And this is about the only time we'll get to talk to the Hugo Award winners as a group, and while, yes, they're mixed in with a larger crowd of people who will never hold one, we need to take this opportunity to tell them because otherwise we're not doing our jobs as planners.

And if we repeated a few of the messages multiple times, that's because the messages were sufficiently important that we couldn't afford not to saturate people with them. In particular, I was worried that we'd get at least one Hugo winner who would wander off after the ceremony instead of coming to the Forth Room for the photo session. Therefore, we needed to be absolutely certain that not only did the potential winners know what was happening, but also everyone else around them, so that none of them would allow the dazed winner to wander away.

Unfortunately, some of this knowledge has been gained over time and painful experience. If you've never been involved in a Hugo Awards ceremony or the pre-ceremony reception, you're unlikely to know any of this. But if we did not take these precautions and someone broke their trophy (or their toes), then we the organizers would be chastised for not taking proper precautions. Once again, you can't win. You can only do the best you know how, and hope that nothing goes wrong.
Tags: interaction, worldcon

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