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London to host Worldcon in 2014

Inspire a generation... of SF fans! The celebrated annual convention will be coming to the UK following a successful bid

London may have won the gold medal for its management of the Olympics and Paralympics, but it now faces a new challenge – the eyes of the global SF community will turn on the city in 2014 when it plays host to one of the world’s, nay, the universe’s most prestigious conventions: Worldcon.

Loncon3 Logo

Worldcon runs for five days and focuses primarily on SF and fantasy literature. Typically, it attracts thousands of visitors from all over the world. The Worldcon event has run since 1939; the 2014 event will therefore mark the 75th anniversary and will be known as Loncon 3, as it marks the third time that London has played host. It will actually be Worldcon 72 in number because of a break for World War II. This year’s convention was held in Chicago. "Worldcon is run entirely by unpaid volunteers [and] is a not-for-profit event," says facilities head Mike Scott. "It grew out of the letters page of the first science fiction magazines, with the first convention attracting such luminaries as John W Campbell, Isaac Asimov, L Sprague de Camp, Ray Bradbury, Frederik Pohl and Harry Harrison, a tradition that continues to this day with Worldcon attracting many of the biggest names in the industry every year."

While the acquisition of Worldcon is thus, undoubtedly, another triumph for London, the selection process was, admittedly, a less keenly fought battle than the city is accustomed to, as it was the only candidate. Scott explains: "Each Worldcon is chosen by the membership of the Worldcon two years earlier. London in 2014 [was] the only bid on this year's ballot ."

However, joint-chair Alice Lawson is certain that London will prove to be the perfect venue: “Loncon 3 will bring the best of science fiction and fantasy into the heart of London, and we plan to make it a fully inclusive, family-friendly experience that is safe and accessible to all.”

Iain M Banks

The Guests of Honour have already been confirmed, and include master of space opera Iain M Banks , best-selling fantasy scribe Robin Hobb, Grandville comic creator Bryan Talbot and Jeanne Gomoll, one of the prime movers in science fiction feminism in the 1970s. Furthermore, Worldcon plays host to one of the major events in the SF calendar, the Hugo Awards ( the 2012 winners of which were announced just this weekend, accompanied by an unexpected loss of the live online feed ). There will also be a plethora of other events including talks, film showings, autograph signings and masquerade, a live performance which offers a breath-taking showcase of costumes from the worlds of SF and fantasy. Confirms Scott: "There will be hundreds of hours of programming, large dealer and art show spaces, major exhibits and a number of special events."

Worldcon 2014 will take place Thursday 14 to Monday 18 August 2014 at the ExCeL centre in London's Docklands.

Jacob Martin