ConStellation

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(For other Constellations, see Constellation (Disambiguation). For the fanzine Connie, see Cosmos.)

The 41st Worldcon and third in the Baltimore/Washington area, ConStellation (also known as Connie), was held September 1–5, 1983, at the Baltimore Convention Centre in Baltimore, MD. GoH: John Brunner, FGoH: David A. Kyle. Jack L. Chalker was Toastmaster. Chairman: Michael Walsh.

The convention newsletter was Scuttlebutt edited by Mike Glyer.

Special memories from Connie include the steam-bath temperatures and humidity in the convention center during set-up (it charged for air conditioning, and the committee had not paid for A/C at the start). Another is the Crab Feast/Hugo Banquet, which showed the error of giving 500 fans mallets (for opening crabs) and then not serving them fast enough...

The Longship Company, part of Markland Medieval Mercenary Militia had a replica Viking longship, the Fyrdracca in Baltimore harbor all weekend, and even pulled alongside the crippled meet-the-pros cruise to offer a ride. By arrangement with NESFA Press, Connie published A New Settlement of Old Scores to honor GoH Brunner.

See 1983 Hugos, 1985 Site Selection, 1985 NASFiC Site Selection.

Competing bids: Baltimore in '83, Australia in '83, Worldcon Scandinavia in 1983. See 1983 Site Selection for full details.

Because of Diamondvision and other mistakes, Constellation went bankrupt, and this is discussed in detail at Constellation bankruptcy.

Crab Feast[edit]

Connie Crab Feast mallets.jpg

Constellation decided to give one more try to have a Hugo banquet. Because blue crabs are a regional dish of Baltimore, they decided to have a crab feast.

At a Baltimore crab feast, the diners usually sit at a table covered with butcher paper holding a wooden mallet, a knife and a fork -- and dissect crabs from a pile in the center of the table. The crabs have been boiled in Old Bay seasoning -- cayenne, salt and garlic. The only difficulty with a crab feast is that the crabs actually have no meat at all in them, so there's a lot of pounding and dissecting and searching to get a meal. (The banquet also included hot dogs, chicken and corn on the cob.)

Beautiful Steamers, a how-to-eat-crabs cartoon guide by Steve Stiles and Jack Chalker, was issued for the event.

At Connie, there were an estimated 500 people who paid for the banquet. The meal went as smoothly as it probably could have, all things considered. It was only afterwards that the Fatal Flaw in the plan was discovered. In File 770 #44 p18 , Mike Glyer recounts:

Each crab feaster received a mallet, and after the feeding frenzy had passed, people used their mallets to create an obnoxious noise that resembled a cross between Bat Night and Ten Cent Beer Night in Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Jerry Pournelle [a speaker] found he could not talk over the racket and walked out....My ears hadn't received so much damage since I sat in the front row at TOMMY in Toledo, Ohio.

BucConeer also had a crab feast. And yes, it too was loud!

Diamondvision[edit]

A giant TV system, Diamondvision, was used at Constellation to show expanded images of the Hugo Ceremony and the Masquerade.

Unfortunately, the Diamondvision was very expensive and ... well, was — uh — sortof not actually in the budget, but was rented anyway. It was the most visible contributor to the Constellation Bankruptcy, and it became the poster child for Connie’s profligate spending and bad management.

Fandom's reaction was predictable, with much finger-shaking, alarm and despondency, and expressions of dismay. It was the talk of fandom. The second-guessing (especially by people who shared the Columbus Cavalry's approach to con-running) seemed endless and got to the point where the following year at LAcon II there was a very funny masquerade entry skit of smofs going on about it while wearing t-shirts which read "Blah, blah, blah, fiscal responsibility. Blah, blah, blah, Diamondvision.")

(See St. Louiscon Movie Screen Affair for another big-screen Worldcon brouhaha.)



Chicon IV Worldcon Bidding,  Hugos L.A.con II
Reasonator 1983
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