August 28 – September 1, 2003
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, eh? It was the 61st annual World Science Fiction Convention—Torcon 3—and all we can say is “Toronto, eh?” Well, in deference to our friends up north, that’s all they could say, as well. To be honest, the sense of “world” was missing from this year’s Worldcon. So much of the convention schedule was filled with sessions on Canada—Canadian history, Canadian anime, Canadian costuming—that we went looking for some Canadian Club hoping everyone would just move on.
The location was excellent though (Toronto’s Convention Center) and close to hotels, restaurants, and general touristy things like the CN Tower. The accommodations were lovely; we stayed at the beautiful Royal York Hotel, and we found several fantastic restaurants within a block or two of the hotel and Convention Center.
Operationally, the convention could have been tighter. The pocket program wouldn’t have fit in a pool table pocket and, unfortunately, the printers printed an outdated file, rendering the entire book pretty much useless. Updated schedules were available every morning (if you were quick enough to get them before they ran out) but, sadly, these too turned out to be wrong a good percentage of the time. Pre-con information books were well-labored over yet were either never received or sent very late. We wished that the last update—which arrived the day we got on the plane—had arrived a week earlier; it contained important information about clearing customs. Without that info we spent eight hours on the phone with Canadian customs and had to literally bribe local shippers to get our ’zines into the city. In the end we had to chalk it up as a lesson learned.
Content-wise Torcon 3 was strong and with GoHs George R.R. Martin (Pro) and Mike Glyer (Fan) and Toastmaster Spider Robinson, the general sessions were entertaining and purposeful. Unfortunately, Frank Kelly Freas (Artist GoH) was ill and unable to attend. However, even death didn’t stop Robert Bloch (GoHst of Honour) from making an “appearance.” Be sure to visit the con’s website to get the complete rundown on Hugo Award and Masquerade winners (www.torcon3.on.ca) but in brief: Robert Sawyer took home a well-deserved Best Novel Hugo for Hominids and an amazing Trumps of Amber presentation won Best in Class Masters Division and Best in Show at the Masquerade.
Despite the confusing program updates we still found several great panels to attend… There were some good panels on small press publishing, an unusual Photoshop panel (most people on the panel preferred to talk about how they could do special effects without Photoshop), and a LOT of Doctor Who programming that kept us busy. We also attended a few readings and lectures by Spider Robinson, Cory Doctorow, and Nalo Hopkinson. There was a great Children’s Programming track as well (pipe cleaner dragons, yay!). We wanted to go to a few of the KaffeeKlatches but the sign-up lists filled up WAY to quickly. And, unfortunately, none of the video programs that we attended had the necessary projectors—that really hurt the Chuck Jones tribute that we had been looking forward to.
Don’t get the impression that the convention was a total bust though. SF fans LOVE to complain and Torcon really came through for us. We spent half the con laughing and bonding with total strangers over the mounting problems each day. Therein lies the beauty of a Worldcon… There are no true strangers at a Worldcon, just strange people you haven’t met yet.
Next year’s Worldcon, Noreascon 4, will be held in Boston, September 2-6. For you early planners, check out www.noreascon.org. Terry Pratchett and William Tenn are the scheduled Pro GoHs. See you there!
And here are some more of our photos from Torcon…