Fundraiser to bring Peter Watts to WorldCon in Australia

Kathryn sez,
Last year Canadian marine biologist and science fiction writer Dr Peter Watts underwent a terrifying ordeal at the hands of overzealous border crossing guards in Port Huron, USA. While leaving the United States on December 8, 2009, he was subject to an exit search, then beaten, maced and arrested when he tried to find out what was going on.

Even though all he did was fail to promptly comply with border guards' instructions, he narrowly escaped a prison sentence and is now officially a convicted felon and therefore no longer able to attend US conventions. Peter's short story 'The Island' from The New Space Opera 2, edited by Gardner Dozois and Jonathan Strahan, has been nominated for a Hugo award. What with Worldcon being on Aussie soil in September this year, I thought it would be a good thing if he could fly out here for both the Hugos and Aussiecon itself.

To that end, with Peter's permission, Cat Sparks conducting a raffle to raise money for his airfare and accommodation. First prize is tuckerisation in his next novel State of Grace. Peter says: 'make sure that all entrants realize that their namesakes will most likely come to a really painful and unpleasant end. And they may not be especially cuddly as characters before then.'

The Aussiecon committee has very kindly donated Peter's membership. The rest is up to us. If you think the guy deserves a break, how about taking part in the raffle or making a donation? Peter is well known as an excellent value panelist and would be a fantastic asset to the 'hard science fiction' end of the con's literary stream. He has also consented to participating in the Australian Natcon, Dudcon, where he will hand out the Ditmars (the Australian equivalent of the Hugos) and generally partake of other silliness as required.

To participate in the State of Grace tuckerisation raffle send AUS $10 via Paypal to If you'd prefer to buy a ticket via some other medium, please email cat at Any funds raised surplus to requirements will be donated to a reputable charity of Peter's choice.

the bring peter watts to aussiecon campaign


  1. i came back in through port huron in 1999 — a sickening, intimidating experience even then. angry angry people.

    1. While I believe Peter’s version of what happened last year, I have never had any problem going between the US and Canada, even after 9/11 (though I’ve never gone via Port Huron). Most of the time, I’ve gone over the border from Vermont, where people on both sides are mellow.

      I don’t believe are border guards are inherently awful people. Most TSA agenta are fine too. They’re just making some money and helping to watch the border. It doesn’t mean that some of them don’t overreact at times. Sadly, when they do, innocent people can go to jail.

  2. Have the organizers done the due diligence to be sure he would be admitted into Australia? I could easily see his prior experience being unjustly held against him in other countries. It would be a shame if they were able to raise the money only to have him turned away.

  3. UPSIDE: If he goes, and if he gets in to Aus, at least he won’t be leaving Aus in a car that some border patrol guard wants to search.

    1. #5,

      “UPSIDE: If he goes, and if he gets in to Aus, at least he won’t be leaving Aus in a car that some border patrol guard wants to search.”

      It is my theory as an Aussie that you can’t have a real country unless it is surrounded by water.

      And FYI for Peter: the penalty for joking about bombs on the plane while travelling has been increased to 10 years in prison.

  4. According to the comments on Cat spark’s blog post, Peter has a valid visa for Australia already.

  5. Please, please make sure there’s no pornography on any of your devices when you traverse Australian customs. It’s a stupid law we’ve recently introduced but I’d hate for you to be caught out by it.

    Oh and no fresh food products. We take agricultural security seriously for good reason.

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