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Eastercon is the common name for the British national science fiction convention. From 1948 until the 1960s, the convention was held over the three-day Whitsun bank holiday at the end of May. It has taken place over the four-day Easter holiday weekend ever since then. The pre-1960s conventions are generally considered to have been "Eastercons" even though they were not held over Easter.
British science fiction fandom is far too disorganised to have anything so formal as an organisation to arrange its conventions. The British Science Fiction Association does not have anything to do with organising conventions. Instead, groups of fans (typically 5-8 in number) get together to form "bid committees" and plan where they want to hold the Eastercon, who they want to be their guests of honour, what the theme of the convention will be, etc. The winning bid is chosen by a vote among the people who attend the bid session at the Eastercon two years in advance, or one year if no bid was successful at the bid session two years out. Until the early 1990s there were commonly several bids to hold the Eastercon, but since then the realisation appears to have grown that putting on an Eastercon involves a lot of hard work, and now it is normal for there to be only one serious bid. There may also be a number of joke bids - it is rumoured that in 1989 the joke bid for Inconceivable narrowly beat the serious bid for Speculation on the initial show of hands, but the chair arranged a lobby vote which then went the "right" way. In some years e.g. 2005, 2009, no serious bids are made, but one usually emerges in the following year (See "Two Year Bidding" below) The concom for the 2003 Seacon'03 was put together in the bar shortly before the bidding session at the 2001 convention, in the absence of any other bidders - the Seacon name was extremely ironic as the convention was held in Hinckley which is about as far from the sea as it is possible to get on the British mainland.
As Eastercons are fan-run/not-for-profit events, the money raised by membership, advertising etc. is spent on running the convention. It is traditional that any surplus is used for the benefit of the convention members, fandom in general or donated to charity. This may include sponsoring items at other conventions, buying equipment for use by other conventions, donating to the RNIB to get works of SF literature converted to talking books for the blind, donating to the Science Fiction Foundation to fund a variety of educational projects relating to science fiction, and funding international fannish visits (often through The League of Fan Funds).
Certain Eastercon host venues have fallen in and out of fashion at various times. Often a particular hotel offers a good package for several years, then either the management prices itself out of the market (perhaps trying for more lucrative conference customers instead), or fans get bored of the location and demand to go somewhere different. For example the Liverpool Adelphi was used five times between 1988 and 1999. It was due to be used again in 2007 but that convention was forced to cancel, in part because of the hotel's poor reputation among fandom. Glasgow was used four times between 1980 and 1991, then there was a break until 2000. Hinckley was used three times between 2001 and 2005 and was seriously considered for 2008 before Heathrow was chosen instead, but it has since come under new management who carried out extensive renovation work and then decided not to host Redemption in 2009.
Finding suitable venues for an Eastercon (enough function and social space of the right types, enough bedrooms, low enough rates, not in a city that's already hosting a big event on the Easter weekend, willing to put up with Eastercon's numerous unusual requirements such as supply of real ale, etc.) is a difficult job. Every year people say "there must be somewhere else we can go," and a lot of effort is put into trying to find new venues - usually with little success. There are plans to document the results of some of the most recent venue searches at Eastercon.org. If you know of a hotel that hasn't been used before and may be suitable, please mention it on the Eastercon Yahoo group or the Eastercon Livejournal community.
Some[who?] people claim there is little need to have a two-year lead time as the convention can be organised in less than a year. Others point out it is hard enough finding venues with more than two years to go, so potentially losing some of those makes it even more difficult. It also means only one year to get people to join, so the committee can't predict the number of members (and hence their budget). There are banking and taxation implications to take into account if bidding over a one-year period as some bank accounts have restrictions on how much money can be paid into an account without incurring further charges and if the convention financial year is only 12 months, they are at greater risk of breaking the VAT threshold, thus increasing the costs and administration for the convention. This is a contentious issue and a frequent subject for debate.
The Doc Weir award is voted on and presented each year at Eastercon to an "unsung hero" of British fandom.
The George Hay Memorial Lecture, a presentation on a scientific topic by an invited speaker, has been held every Eastercon since 2Kon in 2000. The lecturer and subject are selected and paid for by the Science Fiction Foundation who offer this programme item to each year's Eastercon. Since 2009 the British Science Fiction Association has presented a similar lecture, drawing speakers from the arts and humanities (with a declared bias towards history).
In 2003 at Seacon, in a momentary lack of disorganisation, a fan offered to obtain the UK trademark for "Eastercon" on behalf of UK fandom and this was agreed by the small percentage of that year's convention who attended that programme item. This trademark was subsequently obtained and so any group that now wants to run an "Eastercon" and use that name must clear it with the trademark holder first. This is not so much to control fans running an Eastercon as to prevent its takeover by large commercial companies who have no idea what an Eastercon should be about.
List of Eastercons
|Year||Location||Name||Guest(s) of Honour||Size|
|2||1949||London||London||William F. Temple||?|
|*||1951||London||Festivention||Forrest Ackerman, Lyell Crane||?|
|5||1954||Manchester||Supermancon||John Russell Fearn||?|
|8||1957||Kettering||Cytricon III||see note below||?|
|11||1960||London||London||E.J. "Ted" Carnell, Don Ford||?|
|16||1965||Birmingham||Brumcon II||Harry Harrison||?|
|20||1969||Oxford||Galactic Fair||Judith Merril||?|
|21||1970||London||Scicon 70||James Blish||?|
|22||1971||Worcester||Eastercon 22||Ethel Lindsay, Anne McCaffrey||?|
|24||1973||Bristol||OMPAcon||Samuel R. Delany||?|
|25||1974||Newcastle||Tynecon||Bob Shaw, Peter Weston||?|
|27||1976||Manchester||Mancon 5||Peter Roberts, Robert Silverberg||?|
|28||1977||Coventry||Eastercon '77||John Bush||?|
|29||1978||Heathrow, London||Skycon||Roy Kettle, Robert Sheckley||?|
|30||1979||Leeds||Yorcon||Graham and Pat Charnock, Richard Cowper||?|
|31||1980||Glasgow||Albacon||Jim Barker, Colin Kapp||?|
|32||1981||Leeds||Yorcon II||Tom Disch, Dave Langford, Ian Watson||?|
|33||1982||Brighton||Channelcon||Angela Carter, John Sladek||?|
|34||1983||Glasgow||Albacon II||Marion Zimmer Bradley, Avedon Carol, James White||?|
|35||1984||Brighton||Seacon '84||Pierre Barbet, Waldemar Kumming, Josef Nesvadba, Chris Priest, Roger Zelazny||?|
|36||1985||Leeds||Yorcon III||Gregory Benford, Linda Pickersgill||?|
|37||1986||Glasgow||Albacon III||Joe Haldeman, John Jarrold||?|
|38||1987||NEC, Birmingham||BECCON87||Chris Atkinson, Jane Gaskell, Keith Roberts||c.800|
|39||1988||Liverpool||Follycon||Gordon Dickson, Gwyneth Jones, Greg Pickersgill, Len Wein||?|
|40||1989||Jersey||Contrivance||Avedon Carol, Rob Hansen, M. John Harrison, Don Lawrence, Anne McCaffrey||?|
|41||1990||Liverpool||Eastcon||Iain Banks, Anne Page, SMS||1100|
|43||1992||Blackpool||Illumination||Geoff Ryman, Paul J. McAuley, Pam Wells||?|
|44||1993||Jersey||Helicon||John Brunner, George R. R. Martin, Karel Thole, Larry van der Putte||?|
|45||1994||Liverpool||Sou'Wester||Diane Duane, Neil Gaiman, Barbara Hambly, Peter Morwood||?|
|46||1995||London||Confabulation||Lois McMaster Bujold, Roger Robinson, Bob Shaw||?|
|47||1996||Heathrow, London||Evolution||Jack Cohen, Colin Greenland, Paul Kincaid, Bryan Talbot, Maureen Kincaid Speller, Vernor Vinge||?|
|48||1997||Liverpool||Intervention||Brian Aldiss, Octavia Butler, David Langford, Jon Bing||?|
|49||1998||Manchester||Intuition||Ian McDonald, Martin Tudor, Connie Willis||?|
|50||1999||Liverpool||Reconvene||Peter S. Beagle, John Clute, Jeff Noon||?|
|51||2000||Glasgow||2Kon||Guy Gavriel Kay, Katherine Kurtz, Deborah Turner-Harris||?|
|52||2001||Hinckley||Paragon||Stephen Baxter, Claire Brialey, Lisanne Norman, Mark Plummer, Michael Scott Rohan||?|
|53||2002||Jersey||Helicon 2||Brian Stableford, Harry Turtledove, Peter Weston||?|
|54||2003||Hinckley||Seacon03||Chris Baker (Fangorn), Christopher Evans (author), Mary Gentle||?|
|55||2004||Blackpool||Concourse||Mitchell Burnside Clapp, Danny Flynn, Sue Mason, Christopher Priest, Philip Pullman||?|
|56||2005||Hinckley||Paragon 2||John Harvey, Eve Harvey, Ken MacLeod, Robert Rankin, Ben Jeapes, Richard Morgan||?|
|57||2006||Glasgow||Concussion||M. John Harrison, Brian Froud, Elizabeth Hand, Justina Robson, Ian Sorensen||?|
|59||2008||Heathrow, London||Orbital 2008||Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Miéville, Charles Stross, Rog Peyton||1300+|
|60||2009||Bradford||Eastercon LX||Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Tim Powers,
|61||2010||Heathrow, London||Odyssey 2010||Alastair Reynolds, Iain M Banks, Liz Williams, Mike Carey,
|62||2011||NEC, Birmingham||Illustrious||David Weber, Peter F. Hamilton, David A. Hardy, Vince Docherty, Roz Kaveney||956/877|
|63||2012||Heathrow, London||Olympus 2012||1400|
|64||2013||Bradford||EightSquaredCon||Walter Jon Williams, Freda Warrington, Anne Sudworth and Edward James||800|
|65||2014||Glasgow||Satellite 4||John Meaney, Juliet McKenna, Jim Burns, and Alice and Steve Lawson, Special Guest Terry Pratchett||777|
|66||2015||Heathrow, London||Dysprosium||Jim Butcher, Seanan McGuire, Caroline Mullan, Herr Döktor||?|
- Early conventions did not always have a particular name, and sometimes were given a name retrospectively when another Eastercon was held in the same town, e.g. Brumcon only acquired its name when Brumcon II was held in Birmingham.
- The 1957 convention held in Kettering has recently acquired a semi-mythical status among British fandom, since at a distance of nearly 50 years nobody who might have attended can definitely remember actually attending this one, as opposed to the other Kettering conventions in 1955, 1956 and 1958, and there does not appear to be any surviving contemporary documentation from the con itself; however, there is just enough evidence from fanzines of the time and other fannish memorabilia to suggest that it did, in fact, take place.
- The official numbering of the conventions has been somewhat adjusted, following the naming of the 1972 convention as "Eastercon 22" which necessitated the counting of 21 previous Eastercons, which is why the 1951 Festivention is not counted.
- Convoy, the 2007 Eastercon elected by members of Concussion, was cancelled at the end of October 2006. Contemplation was formed at the 2006 Novacon by Chris O'Shea and Fran Dowd as a very short notice emergency replacement. Convoy's guests of honour were invited to attend, and Sharyn November initially accepted, but she was ultimately unable to attend due to work commitments.
- Eastercon.org - the central Eastercon website
- Eastercon Trademark - FAQ (Revised 2013)
- THE WHITCON (1948) - surviving documents of the first 'Eastercon' before they became Eastercons
- Convoy - the cancelled 2007 Eastercon (see Contemplation above)
- Illustrious 2011 - the 2011 Eastercon
- Olympus 2012 - the 2012 Eastercon
- EightSquaredCon - the 2013 Eastercon
- Satellite 4 - the 2014 Eastercon
- Running the Eastercon - a "how to run an Eastercon" guide by Steve Davies, Chair of Reconvene
- The Conbledegook File - a glossary of Eastercon related jargon
- Where's the Eastercon? - a link to the current venue via what3words.com