Looking Ahead to 2024—Reflections from the Chair

We’re heading into the last eight months of planning, working, and creating to give you Glasgow 2024: A Worldcon for Our Futures. You’ve probably seen these messages before; I get all excited about what we’re doing, talk about proud I am of my team, and then digress into how good the food scene is in Glasgow. 

This time around, the team suggested I do something slightly different, and talk about what Glasgow 2024 means to me. 

This is a Worldcon I’ve been working to create for eight years. I find it very difficult to articulate the intense relationship I have with this event, because it is so inextricably tied up in who I am as a person. I can honestly say that there is not an hour that goes by when I don’t think about this convention, or am not actively working towards making it the best event I possibly can. There have already been so many moments, so many wins and losses, and tears, and shouting at the ceiling in frustration, and learning things, and loves, and the odd moment of sheer anger at the injustice of things, and just . . . passion. 

When I look up from writing this, I see original art on my wall by Iain Clarke, and an empty bottle of our gin, full of lights and on display in my bookcase. I see a mug that one of my team gave to me and a comic book that a Division Head sent this week to cheer me up. My phone is buzzing, because it always is, despite the fact that I said ‘This is the last week we have before the new year, you HAVE to all take breaks’. (Reader, my team absolutely has not let me do this, because there’s always one thing that needs addressing and, as a result, several of them have been forcibly told to take that break, because we really won’t get it from now on in.) I can see the official gavel of the convention, which is on my mantlepiece until next August. The gavel has been around the world multiple times, but for me, it will be next used to open Glasgow 2024, and five days later, it will be used to declare it closed. Another Chair told me once that closing their Worldcon with that gavel broke their heart a little bit. All of the Chairs cry in the Closing Ceremony. Because it’s five days to attend, but it’s years and years to build. 

My life is entirely this convention at this point. It’s my friends, my vision and ideas, and my absolute determination to be Imaginative, Caring, and Inclusive. I’ve poured every single bit of experience I have into it, and then I’ve gone out and found people smarter, sharper, and cannier than me and asked them to join in and help me. I’ve asked people who I think will be wonderful guests, and cajoled people I’ve never met to come along. I’ve assembled a crack team of brilliant organisers, got people to give ‘just an hour or so, please?’, and bored absolutely everyone by never ever being able to stop thinking about this thing, this Worldcon. I have worked so very, very hard. And here we are in the last year. 

So, looking ahead feels big. It’s rushing up now. It’s confirming our spending and getting the quotes in. It’s walking the convention floor again to check the space and putting the programme together. And it’s worrying we don’t have enough exhibits, beer, power sockets, hotel rooms, likes on Facebook, members, time. Time. 

But it’s going to be amazing!

So, this is the less sentimental, actual looking ahead bit.

We are starting to announce our Special Guests. These are people who we feel are representative of the vision of Glasgow 2024: to be Imaginative, Caring, and Inclusive. Alongside our existing Guests of Honour, they represent the best that Worldcons can offer. In this case, the Special Guests we have already announced (author Tendai Huchu and gamer / roleplayer and creative Tanya DePass) showcase Scottish SFF Writing and the growing importance of Games and Gaming within our community. This year will be the first time that a Hugo Award for Games is officially announced, and I’m terribly excited to see who takes home the rocket. Keep your eye out, however, because these two are just the beginning of Special Guests we will be announcing . . . .

Hotel bookings will be opened by the end of January. We have contracted with thirty-four hotels around Glasgow, including all eight on site. Come January, I will have stayed in all of the SEC campus hotels at least once! For reasons of price sensitivity and our contract with Glasgow, we have not been able to release specific prices yet, but can confirm that they range in price from £120 to £345 per night, with the average cost of a double occupancy room being £172 on the SEC campus, and £175 off campus. These are extremely good rates (95% also include breakfast), and I’m thankful to the team for doing a really good job here. Glasgow is served by good public transport links across the city and to the SEC—more details about all of this on our website. You will need to be a Glasgow member and have WSFS membership to get the booking link when it becomes available. 

Programme! We’ll be doing our Programme ‘frenzy’, when we construct the first blockout of the event, in early February. With up to twenty-five different items happening at the same time—readings, panels, events, talks, plays, shows, ceremonies—timetabling takes . . . time! We then create the first participant draft and fit in as many people as we can. If you’ve not told us you’d like to be involved, please do—there is still time to fill in the Expression of Interest form—in order to receive the participant application. However, please be patient. This is a mammoth and incredibly complex task, and we are unable to choose absolutely everyone who offers. 

Expression of Interest Form: https://glasgow2024.org/whats-on/programme-and-events

Worldcon chair, Esther MacCallum-Stewart, wearing a inflatable unicorn costume, smiling and looking towards the camera, standing in front of a blue police box.

We did all sorts of things last year. Our gin and our tartan continued to be extremely popular, and we had parties all around the world to promote Glasgow 2024. Whilst I did not attend the Worldcon in Chengdu, China, two of our team did represent us and were able to report back as they encountered everything from pandas to Chinese ceilidh dancers. I visited Glasgow multiple times as we started to lock our plans into place. The committee swelled to a satisfying forty-two people, and we recruited throughout the team (but we always need more—so do please get involved!). We continued to meet in person and online, and started our plans for both in-person and virtual offerings. It was a busy year, although now that the spaceship has truly taken off, it’s going to get even busier.

Finally, some sad news. I originally started writing this on a day when I had heard of the passing of one of our volunteers, Tom Barnes, who died very suddenly in December. Earlier in the year, we also lost Marinda Darnell, also from the Volunteer organisational team. For many of us, fandom becomes our family—and the people, loves, and lives within it are those we care deeply about. Fandom is so much less without them both. 

It’s been a long road—500 miles, and 500 more. But soon, I will see you in Glasgow and I cannot wait to welcome you!

The 82nd Worldcon will take place in Glasgow, August 8–12, 2024. We can’t wait to welcome you to Glasgow and the SEC/Armadillo for a Worldcon for Our Futures.

Professor Esther MacCallum-Stewart is the Chair of Glasgow 2024, a Worldcon for Our Futures. She has worked on multiple Worldcons and conventions, as a volunteer, and is a huge science fiction and fantasy reader. By day, she is a Professor of Games Studies at Staffordshire University, where she specialises in player behaviour, roleplaying games and representation in games.