My Road to Worldcon 76. Part 1: The Mexicanx Initiative
It all started with a tweet. I was at work on January 25th, 2018, still recovering after running my first half-marathon, getting pats of the back from my co-workers and acknowledgements from my online acquaintances. My mind was busy counting the days to my trip to Japan during the picturesque cherry blossom season. I was having lunch at my office while browsing Reddit’s r/japantravel for tips. I switched between apps and selected Twitter to see what was happening in the world. John Scalzi, a writer that I like a lot, had retweeted these messages.
I was immediately curious. Worldcon is the preeminent science fiction convention in the world, where the Hugo Awards, sci-fi’s Oscars, are awarded. The last time the con was on my radar was a couple of years back, when the sad/rabid puppies factions tried to sabotage the awards, unsuccessfully.
My first thought was “Should I apply?” I have been away from the sci-fi world for some time and I didn’t want to take this away from someone else who might deserve it more. However, one thought came to my mind “Do it. It’s better to try and fail than wondering what would happen.”
I put my phone away and continued working. My day was busy enough that I didn’t pay attention to it until 5PM, after biking to the Volunteer Healthcare Clinic near the office. There was a DM from John, providing his phone number and asking me which would be the best time to talk that day. 7 PM, I answered, as I would be at the clinic until 6, doing outreach for work.
I remember pedaling like crazy to get to La Casa de los Sabores (aka home) in time to talk to John. I made it back with 18 minutes to spare, which I invested in taking a quick shower and cutting some vegetables for dinner. I dialed at 7:01 PM and I heard John’s voice. He wanted to know more about myself, why me, as a fan, wanted to attend Worldcon and be part of this Mexicanx Initiative. I shared how sci-fi and comics were a big part of my history while growing up. How friends and family usually gave me books for my birthday as a child and how I devoured those stories. How my favorite encyclopedia was about a humanoid robot that was part comic and part in-depth information about different topics, from astronomy to biology.
“Who is a current creator that you admire?” John asked. Alejandro Jodorowski was my answer. I shared how his movies, books, and comics had influenced me. I shared how last year, in my first trip to Paris, I found out Jodorowski read every Wednesday the tarot to 5 people only, chosen by luck, at a small coffee shop. How I got there, put my whole long name in a piece of paper, and was called to be the 4th person to have the major arcana read. An experience of a lifetime.
That sealed the deal. John was ecstatic and wanted me to be one of the 4 recipients. I still needed to check with work if I would be able to take that time off, as I’m part of a very small team. I promised to update him as soon as I got a confirmation. “Thank you, Brother,” John said, the first time he called me that way. I hung up the phone and started dancing in my kitchen, incredibly happy, feeling validated. Two days later I managed to reserve time at work from August 15th till the 20th.
I saw the announcement a few days later. 3 persons that I have never met and I were sponsored to attend Worldcon. I had heard about BEF from my time in Mexico but the other two persons were a mystery to me. I shared the news with my friends on social media. Some were surprised but it honestly didn’t have a big splash. It didn’t matter. I felt happy and very accomplished.
I followed the development of the Mexicanx Initiative, as more sponsors started supporting John, adding 4 more Worldcon memberships, and then more and more. In just a couple of months, 50 Mexicanx were chosen, with diferent talents, backgrounds and stories. I couldn’t believe it at times. John’s call to action for more diverse voices was being heard and resonated with people within and outside the science fiction community.
“This might be interesting,” I remember thinking, while following each of the announcements. I didn’t expect the Worldcon to change my life the way it did.