(Don - 87th)[Don - 17th Worldcon]

(Thomas - 87th)[Thomas - 9th Worldcon]

1993: September 2-6

Moscone Convention Center

San Francisco, CA

GOH: Larry Niven

Art GOH: Alicia Austin

Fan GOH: Tom Digby & jan howard finder

Dead GOH: Mark Twain

Attendance: 7,120



ConFrancisco was Don's seventeenth Worldcon, Thomas' ninth, and they almost didn't make it. They'd planned a four-week cross-country trip centered around ConFrancisco. Captain Atkinson, Thomas' dad, fell ill a few days before they were scheduled to leave. After the better part of two weeks in the hospital, he returned home with a diagnosis of liver cancer. For most of that two weeks it was touch-and-go as to whether the boys would actually be able to get away; they wound up flying out to San Francisco on Thursday the 2nd and returning Tuesday the 7th.

ConFrancisco was one of the most poorly-run Worldcons Don has attended -- although not anywhere near as bad as the Nolacon. There were schedule screwups; long and badly-managed lines at registration, the Masquerade, and the Hugos; reports of panels that had to be filled with audience volunteers because none of the scheduled panelists showed up. The Masquerade was held in one-half of a large hall, and there were seats for only about 3,000 fans; Thomas was one of the few hundred who were actually turned away at the door because the hall was full. (Why they didn't use the whole hall is a mystery.)

Don was not part of the official program; he had been informed that there were too many prospective participants and too few programming slots, so he would not be invited to participate. However, when schedule conflicts left Melissa Scott alone on an "Alternate Sexualities" panel, she asked Lisa Barnett and Don to fill in the empty slots. The panel itself was rather unfocussed, and they wound up with six hours' worth of things to say on a fifty-minute panel. Both audience and panelists were dissatisfied.

A map issued in the Progress Reports showed the boys' hotel, the ANA Hotel, adjacent to the Moscone Convention Center and only about a block away; in reality, it was three blocks and there were several large buildings and cross-streets between the hotel and the Center. Fans who stayed in the other major hotels, the Parc 55 and the Nikko, were even more disappointed: what seemed on the map to be a short three-or-four-block walk was in actuality a major trek of ten or twelve blocks past X-rated movie houses, strip joints, and a city-wide convention of homeless people camping on the otherwise-deserted sidewalks.

A shuttle bus ran between the major hotels and the Moscone Center -- it wasn't until Monday morning that the convention newsletter informed us that the shuttle bus was for disabled persons only.

Elevators in the main party hotel broke down on Friday night, leading to horrible jams, frayed tempers, and a half-hour wait for upgoing elevators. Everyone completely gave up on trying to find down-going elevators, and just used the stairs. On subsequent nights, the committee posted elevator operators to keep the traffic moving.

The Time Travellers Parade, a costume event scheduled for Monday morning, was cancelled on Saturday. And the film schedule printed in the "pocket program" was completely scrapped; several signs in the convention area told us to ignore the printed film schedule entirely.

GOH Larry Niven refused to autograph books; instead, arrangements were made for books to be stamped with a rubber stamp bearing a facsimile of his signature. Of course, this was not announced before the con; Don heard many disappointed fans who had lugged Niven books across the continent only to find that they would not be signed. (Thomas and Don debated running to a nearby office supply store to get a dozen Niven-signature facsimile rubber stamps made, then stamping everything in sight; they decided it would cost too much.)

The ConFrancisco Program Book, which ran five pages of committe listings, could not spare even a single page for the traditional "In Memoriam" list, so many attending fans were unaware of the death of Lester del Rey and Fritz Leiber, as well as other legends of the field.

In short, ConFrancisco certainly earned its nickname "ConFiasco."

On the other hand, Lisa and Melissa held a joyous and elegant anniversary party in the penthouse of the ANA, and that was delightful.

If the con was something of a disappointment, at least Don and Thomas were able to enjoy touring San Francisco. They wished they had more time to spend there, and vowed to return.


Melissa Scott, Thomas, and Lisa A. Barnett.


The Liberty Ship Jeremiah O'Brien.


The view out Thomas & Don's hotel room, showing buildings, fog, and the Oakland Bay Bridge in the distance.


Obligatory trouist photo of a cable car.

 Evelyn & Mark Leeper's ConFrancisco report  Janice Gelb's ConFrancisco report
 Taras Wolansky's ConFrancisco report