Beam me to Spencer Dock

By Kathrin Kobus

For five days this August the Convention Centre at Spencer Dock will be the focal point for around 6,000 Science fiction fans from all over the World. Irish scifi fans started planning with the idea “Why don’t we?” seven  or eight years ago, 2011 or 2012 before Dublin was officially announced as location at the Helsinki Con/Finland in 2015.  “More than 800 people will be attending Worldcon for the first time. It’s especially important because a Worldcon coming to town is often a member’s first experience with fandom. Diversity in areas such as background, experience, race, country of origin, socioeconomic status, language, and religion leads to a deeper and more enriching convention experience for all of our members.” So James Bacon, chairman for the Dublin event. Opinions differ what is to be regarded as the first piece of science fiction literature.

programm poster for the WorldCon

Even Shakespeares The Tempest gets mentioned. But science fiction really took off a little over a century ago. Works by Jules Verne, HG Wells (only examples there are others of course), journeys to the moon and other planets, other worlds. SciFi and dime novels went hand in hand by the time the first WorldCon was held in 1939, the Hugo Award, “The Hugos are the most prestigious award in the science fiction genre, honouring literature and media as well as fan activities. The awards were first presented in 1953.”

The one-off event quickly became tradition that will of course continue in Dublin. Those signed up for the convention could nominate up to five suggestions for the ballot box that they believed worth a Hugo. “The six most popular nominees in each category will appear on the final voting ballot. Only Dublin 2019 members will be able to vote on the final ballot and choose the winners. The 1944 Retro Hugo Awards will be presented on Thursday, August 15, the opening night of Dublin 2019, and the 2019 Hugo Awards, and the Lodestar and Campbell Awards, will be presented on Sunday, August 18”. The 2019 Hugo will get the Irish touch, the base for it has been designed by Dublin based Jim Fitzpatrick, famous not least for THE Che Guevara poster.

Among invited guests is Irish astronaut in training Dr. Norah Patten who will lead a space flight workshop as part of the children specific programming of the con.  “In 2017 she founded Planet Zebunar, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education company focused on space stories. Her children’s book Shooting for the Stars is forthcoming from O’Brien Press in September. She won the 2018 PoSSUM Science Educator award. Dr Patten will be our first Special Guest and will attend the convention on Saturday and Monday. It’s wonderful that we are going to hear about cutting-edge developments in space research from a scientist of Norah’s calibre.”

There are over 700 programme events, from readings, panel discussions, meets with fans, Pokemon hunting, video gaming, theatre plays, karaoke parties and of course CosPlay, the masquerade ball on Saturday night.

Don’t be surprised if you think you’ve seen an alien or two around the area.
(map provided by organisers)

There are now only a limited number of day passes still available at the Convention Centre. The 77th World Con will run over five days from 15th till 19th of August at the Spencer Dock and various venues of the Port area. For further details check out @dublin2019Facebook, @dublin 2019 Twitter and @dublin2019worldcon Instagram accounts up until the convention. More information is available on the Dublin 2019 programme pages.