Corflu, It Just Sounds Like a Disease

By Milt Stevens: Approximately 40 people attended Corflu 34 at the Warner Center Marriott in Woodland Hills, California on April 28-30, 2017. Corflu is a convention for people who publish or used to publish fanzines on paper. Yes, paper. If you want to read more about these atavistic characters, you can go to eFanzines.com.

This is the end of the convention.

The banquet. Since most cons no longer have banquets, Corflus have them. The Corflu banquet is in the form of a Sunday brunch, and it includes such traditional items as awards, the guest of honor speech, and other business. The results of the Faan Awards have already been announced.

As you might expect, Corflus don’t handle guest of honorship the way other cons do. We feel we are all worthy of honor, so the name of the goh is picked out of a hat during opening ceremony. The goh is then obligated to give a speech at the banquet. If you really, really don’t want to be goh, you can give the chairman of the con a $20 bribe to have your name removed from the hat. Last year at Chiflu, the chairman , Nigel Rowe, forgot to give himself a bribe and ended up as goh. This year’s guest of honor was Randy Byers who gave a quite well-received talk.

One of the usual items of business at Corflu is the election of the past president of Fan Writers of America (FWA). Fan Writers of America is an organization for people who are doing fan writing, or have done fan writing, or have at least thought about doing fan writing. You might wonder why we would be electing a past president rather than a current president. Well, we’re the sort who don’t like being told what to do, so we never elect a current president to tell us what to do. The past president for 2016 is Pete Young from Thailand.

Another item of business is the choice of a site for next year’s Corflu. The choice for 2018 is Toronto, Canada. In case current international stresses increase, the Toronto Committee will make arrangements to have American fans smuggled across the Canadian border in truckloads of melons.

This is the beginning of the convention.

I thought we might start the convention with opening ceremonies, but Marty Cantor said such things just weren’t done. “Whyzat?” I asked. Marty intoned “TRADITION!!!” and did a funny little dance. It’s hard to argue with a proposition like that.

So we began the con with a panel, “Remembrance of Corflus Past” with Andy Hooper, Jerry Kaufman, and Ted White. Sometimes we get a little bit confused about past, present and future. However, when we can figure out which one is the past we love to reminisce about it. Many and noisy are the sagas of Corflus past. Names like Corflu Chromium and Corflu Titanium make the blood of all trufen run sideways. Names like E Corflu Virus and Chiflu give most fans a rash.

Not long before the end of the convention.

Andy Hooper designed a diabolical trivia contest. There were two teams in the contest, the Slan Boys (Rich Coad, Jerry Kaufman, and myself), and The Winning Team (Sandra Bond, Ted White, and a third person who was a bit too far away for me to recognize.) It’s obviously hubris to name your team The Winning Team, and you know how the gods are about hubris. Of course, they lost. Also, our wildass guesses proved to be luckier than their wildass guesses.

The audience was quite amused by the totally obscure questions and the expressions of indescribable horror they produced on the faces of the panelists.

As an example of an obscure question, “In the softball game at the 1939 Worldcon, what position did Art Widner play?” Of course, we knew who Art Widner was, but fans don’t pay attention to sports. While nobody got the correct answer, Art Widner played catcher in that game.

As an example of a medium grade question, “Of the following articles, which one wasn’t written by Charles Burbee?”

(A) Al Ashley, Successful Novelist
(B) Al Ashley, Indefatigable Gardener
(C) Al Ashley, Elfin Edison
(D) Al Ashley, Galactic Observer

I knew that Al Ashley, Elfin Edison, and Al Ashley, Galactic Observer had been reprinted in A Sense of FAPA and were by Charles Burbee. That gave me a fifty-fifty chance on the other two.

Somewhat after the beginning.

Panel: “Fandom and Us” with Rob Jackson, Karl Lembke, and myself. Are we even in fandom anymore? Does it matter? What the heck is fandom? As a reactionary, I think fandom should be about reading and stuff. It’s the “and stuff” that causes the problem.

Somewhere in the middle.

I think it was nighttime. I could tell because it was dark outside. We were in the con suite. As always, Karl Lembke did a great job with the con suite. After the con, prominent Toronto fan Murray Moore reviewed the con as “The program was good, the cookies were great.” Somebody or possibly several somebodies had donated a case of various wines to the con suite. This was in addition to the homebrew and exotic beers. As the bottles became either half empty or half full, the attendees became either half sober or half inebriated. Funny how things work out that way.

Spike mentioned she was organizing the program for the next World Fantasy Convention. WFC only has two tracks of programming which is a lot more sensible than most cons. Since I’ve organized a few con programs in times past, we talked about doing programs for awhile.

Bill Burns asked me what I thought about Mr. X. I’m not quite sure what I think about Mr. X. I’m one of the few people who regularly writes letters to his fanzine, but I don’t really know anything about him.

I told Michael Dowd I thought he was the most atypical fanzine I had ever encountered. Issues of his fanzine Random Jottings are about the same size as issues of Analog. He has had one issue devoted to Watergate and another devoted to the Samaritans. Several people told me I had a letter of comment in the current issue which Michael was distributing at Corflu. That isn’t really surprising, since I think I write letters to most issues of most fanzines.

After the middle but before the end.

Auctions at Corflus are lively affairs. This year’s auction was heavy on fanzines from the Los Angeles area such as VoM and Shaggy from the forties. The most expensive single item was a hardback anthology The Best From Xero which included material from Dick and Pat Lupoff’s fanzine which sold for $55. Graham Charnock was making bids in the auction while still being in England. Graham was doing it through a laptop carried by Rob Jackson. At Graham’s requests, Rob would move the laptop around so Graham could get a better look at what he of bidding on. At the beginning of this, I described the attendance as “Approximately 40.” Graham was part of the “Approximately.” How should you count someone who is participating in the con from thousands of miles away.

After the beginning but before the middle.

Strawberries. Lots and lots of strawberries. We didn’t pick-up enough room nights, so we had to buy more stuff from the hotel to make up the difference. This took the form of strawberries and chocolate. The chocolate included brownies, and cookies, and candy. With a maximum effort from the entire membership, we were able to consume all of it burp

Probably sometime but maybe not around here.

Panel: “Beyond Numbered Fandoms” with Greg Benford, Sandra Bond, Mike Glyer, and Ted White. The idea of numbered fandoms is based on Arnold Toynbee’s conception of history in his book A Study of History. Toynbee thought a civilization was defined by the universal state and the universal church. With numbered fandoms, the universal state and the universal church are replaced with the Focal Point Fanzine. With the decline of each Focal Point Fanzine, an interregnum begins and fans retreat into the apas (amateur press associations). This model also includes a few barbarian invasions. Strangely enough, this model seemed to work for quite awhile. Then Harlan Ellison proclaimed false seventh fandon, and all fandom was engulfed in guacamole.

Efforts were made to salvage the numbered fandoms model, but they never really worked. There was muttering about a model based on dialectical fanac, but that gave everybody stomach cramps. Some suggested fan history might even be influenced by things outside of fandom such as WWII and the introduction of the hula hoop. Others suggested we might be living in a post modernist fandom where the center was marginalized, the margins were central, and rationalism was the bogey of small minds. Stay tuned for further developments.

Balticon 51 Names Second Special Guest

S. M. Stirling, creator of the Draka, Nantucket (Island in the Sea of Time) and Emberverse (Dies the Fire and The Change) series will attend Balticon 51 as Special Guest.

He has published over 59 books, including novels co-authored with David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, Holly Lisle and James Doohan. Stirling is especially well-known for his tales involving time travel and alternate history, interests shared by author Eric Flint, Balticon 51 GoH, whose health problems will keep him from attending in person.

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society said:

We thank him for joining us for the weekend and look forward to his participation on many panels as well as signing opportunity. With the addition of Steven Brust and S.M. Stirling as special guests, and with the telepresence participation of Eric Flint, Balticon has gone about as far as we can to enhance the at con experience of fans at Balticon 51 to compensate for Eric Flint’s sudden travel restrictions. BSFS would like to thank Eric Flint for trying with such great dedication to make it physically to Balticon 51 and to Steven Brust and S.M. Stirling who put aside their own Memorial Day plans to travel so far to enhance the lives of many SF fans.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]

Flint Won’t Make It To Balticon 51; Brust Added As Special Guest

The Baltimore Science Fiction Society announced that Balticon 51 Guest of Honor, Eric Flint, will not be able to travel to the con due to health constraints; he will, however, be attending some sessions via video teleconference.

Flint has been battling cancer, and opportunistic diseases such as pneumonia, which he discussed on Facebook.

Author and musician Steven Brust, the author of the Draegara fantasy novels, the Incrementalists secret-history series, To Reign In Hell, and Cowboy Feng’s Space Bar and Grill will be coming to Balticon 51 as a Special Guest. A lot to look forward to — Brust’s resume reads: “I’m the author of twenty-six novels and one solo record. I’m an enthusiastic amateur drummer, guitarist, banjo player, and poker player.”

The 1632 MiniCon is still a go. While series creator Flint will be missing, all of the other contributors to the 1632 universe are still coming to Balticon 51, so the 1632 programming will carry on.

[Thanks to Dale Arnold for the story.]

Space City Conrunner Unmasked in Stealth Comeback Attempt

Unnamed individuals behind an entity calling itself “Fandom Galaxy” took over the Space City Comic Con Facebook page yesterday with the intention of capitalizing on SCCC’s social media profile while unilaterally giving their next Houston show a fresh start.

There is no re-brand. No rename. No “new look”. Fandom Galaxy saw potential and seized the opportunity. We saw fans and vendors who were now without a show they had supported and enjoyed over 6 events. We did not acquire this to repeat the past, but to begin something new – and after all, the social media was strong and already in place! They took their name off, we acquired the social media (NOT the name), and made it all our own, as a starting point to get to know the fandom….

Those familiar with Space City Comic Con’s checkered past – everything from being sued for trademark infringement about the name, to nationally-publicized controversies over payments owed celebrities (like the Sons of Anarchy cast), vendors, and others at the 2016 event – began posting skeptical comments. Why would a new event risk association with SCCC’s baggage instead of starting with a clean slate? And others aware that Facebook pages cannot be sold speculated about a continued connection to the old regime.

As Kat wrote in File 770’s comments yesterday:

They are engaging a bit with fans in the comments, but are thus far ignoring all comments asking for more information about THEM. More and more folks are asking who they are, like actual names of people and/or corporate entity name, where they’re from ‘out of state,’ etc., and are being met with silence.

One fan had the presence of mind to research the Texas Secretary of State records for the “Application for Registration of an Entity Name” filed by Fandom Galaxy where – lo and behold! – the person signing on behalf of this newly-formed Delaware corporation was George Comits, the financially-troubled head of last year’s Space City Comic Con.

Trae Dorn of Nerd & Tie succeeded in getting Fandom Galaxy to comment on its connection to Comits:

We did hear back from Fandom Galaxy’s management. When pushed about George Comits’s involvement, they responded:

He’s an employee. He had to be, because Facebook pages cannot be sold. Also, he has congestive heart failure and if there was an event, we wanted to know the vendors, network etc from his advice. He’s admitted his mistakes to us, but he’s also told us the real version of events – which include the theft of the entire cash office receipts by [REDACTED]

Meanwhile, Fandom Galaxy today deleted a large number of comments from its Facebook page, including the many displaying copies of Comits’ registration form.

U.S. Border Guards Refuse Entry To Canadian Comics Artist Headed for C2E2

Gisele Lagace, a Canadian webcomic artist who also has worked on Archie, Betty Boop and Jem and the Holograms comics, told Facebook readers she was turned back from the U.S. border on her way to appear in Artists Alley at C2E2, a ReedPOP show being held at McCormick Place in Chicago this weekend.

They kept pressing about the comics I had and the sketches, and well, I had to be honest and said that I did get paid for commissions but before hand, but since they weren’t complete, it was considered work in the us. Comics wise, I had maybe $700 in value if I had sold everything. Honestly, it’s not a lot.

Was asked if I was the only one doing this as I looked surprised to be refused entry. I said no, many artists from around the world attend these to promote themselves. I don’t think they cared.

Lagace’s person and car were searched:

My car was searched and is a mess. And to top it off, I was body searched and finger printed too (they do that when you get refused entry apparently.) It was an awful experience.

Things then went worse when they searched me throughout and found 2 white pills in my wallet. There was no identification on them and I wasn’t sure what they were. Once I calmed down after being touched all over, I remembered they were generic acetaminophen from the dollar store that I carry around in case Marc gets a headache as it sometimes happen. I forgot they were even in there.

Anyway, I wasn’t turned around for the 2 acetaminophen, as they found those after I was refused entry for the comics in my car and the unfinished sketches but they kept us longer there until they were convinced they weren’t narcotics. I never took drugs in my life!

Lagace, whose Twitter page says she’s from New Brunswick, wrote that she and another person has driven two days to reach the Windsor border crossing.

And she’s concerned that she now has a record of being refused entry to the U.S.

Don’t expect to see me at a US con until I can figure out a way to get in and being absolutely certain this won’t happen.

People are outraged on her behalf — 20 hours after being posted on Facebook her story has 561 shares.

On the other hand, work visa laws have been in effect for a very long time, in the U.S. and many other countries. Lagace’s truthfulness that she was likely going to work despite attempting to enter as a visitor is admirable but unless a person is prepared to tell a lie in that situation the guards will enforce the law.

This news story has reminded people of Peter Watts’ far worse experience at the US/Canadian border in 2009 when he ended up being arrested after a physical altercation during a search of his car.

[Thanks to JJ for the story.]

The Replacements: Odyssey Con’s New Guests of Honor

Three days after Odyssey Con lost the last of its GoHs over its mishandling of Monica Valentinelli’s safety concerns, the con has recruited two replacements — filmmaker Michael Butts and artist Brent Chumley.

Michael Butts aggressively defended his decision in a statement posted as his Guest of Honor bio.

Michael Butts

I thought long and hard about joining Odyssey Con. I learned that one of the Members had made choices that upset people in the past, and how it was handled was not the best. I believe that the damage that was done has been contained and separated from the convention. I understand many people are still upset by this, and some would like to see Odyssey Con fail. I do not believe that is right. Because of the actions of a few, is all of the labor and love so many fans have put into this event to be discarded? Should the whole barrel of apples be discarded because some were bad? I say no. What happened is horrible but it is not beyond repair. And I want to see this convention raised up to become a shining beacon of decency. I am giving them a second chance, will you? And remember, before you judge all on the actions of a few, I would like to remind you that ‘Only a Sith Deals in Absolutes’ (Obi Wan Kenobi).

Butts commands instant forgiveness for things that happened just last week, even though the Odyssey Con committee hasn’t finished shooting itself in the foot yet – witness the posting of his GoH bio – let alone done anything to show a change in the culture that led to the problems.

The early reaction on Twitter has been decidedly unfavorable. D Franklin lit into the guest announcement with a series of incisive tweets that included these two –

[Thanks to imnotandrei and James Davis Nicoll for the story.]

Mind-Blowing Music Sensation at Eastercon: Recital by Pauline Haas and Thomas Bloch 

By James Bacon: As the beautifully haunting sound of the Harp, expertly plucked by virtuoso Pauline Haas, majestically filled the room with Laura Palmer’s Theme, I felt incredible sensations and tingling throughout my whole being and was astounded that here at the National British Science Fiction convention, Innominate, I could experience such an incredible musical delight.

This was the recital by Pauline Haas and Thomas Bloch, produced by Adam Robinson, and introduced and indeed expertly hosted by Vincent Docherty.

On the stage were Bloch’s instruments next to an ornate classical harp. These instruments were definitely new to me and to most people in the audience — instruments that looked truly science fictional, and in many senses sounded it. Throughout the evening, in between pieces of music, Vince Docherty would talk about each piece and engage Bloch who would go through the history, use and his appreciation of the given instruments.

Vince also asked Haas about her harp, and Bloch translated her French into English for the audience. The performers were so comfortable on the stage, consummate musicians who were relaxed and obviously pleased to be among a group so willing and keen to hear their music and words.

Adam Robinson, Pauline Haas, Thomas Bloch, and Vincent Docherty. The Ondes Martenot is on the right.

Thomas Bloch is an expert and maestro at several instruments.  Tonight he had the Ondes Martenot, an electrical device with a keyboard, string operation and three different speakers; a glassharmonica, which gives the same sound as glasses filled with water, but made in the 18th century to allow multiple playing, in ordered keys, with the fingers or percussion sticks; and the Cristal Baschet.  This I initially thought had its name as it was something that one bashed, but no, it is in fact named after its inventor, a wonderful device that has multiple methods of playing, from bowing the large metal angled sheet, to striking it, to it taking the vibration from the cristal rods that he played. It felt both alien and fantastic, a special selection of new to us, yet older instruments, that were here tonight for our delight.

Thomas Bloch at the Cristal Baschet.

With some fifteen pieces making up the recital, it was an eclectic selection, securely grounded in its connectivity to genre.

Without doubt, after Laura’s Theme, Samual Barber’s Adagio for Strings, opus 11 was astounding. With Haas on harp and Bloch on the Cristal Baschet, known from Gattacca and The Elephant Man. I know it from Platoon and it was unbelievably brilliant, haunting as ever, but with these instruments, phenomenal.  One looks at the Cristal Bashett and wonders how no power is connected to it, it exceeded my expectations.

The range of music was impressive. Haas has composed her own pieces and her piece, La lyre d’Ys (the Lyre of Ys), felt like a harp expert pushing the capabilities of the instrument to its musical limits. As she violently struck the strings with her hands, I pondered if this was a new element. Haas was unbelievable in range and sounds, as she plucked from ferocity to delicacy, and this song was again a stunning performance. Bloch likewise could call upon his own written work, and we were treated to Formule from the TV series Monk. Using the Ondes Martenot, there was a change to the sounds and it was indeed a very computerized-sounding feel to the piece. I was amazed that such an older instrument, there was less of the timbrel effect and it was sharp and modern, amazing given that the instrument is from 1928.

Quelques songes sur pont suspendu (Some Dreams on a suspension bridge) by Michel Redolfi and from the film Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea was accompanied by a French reading of some of the book, and utilized both the Cristal Baschet and the glassharmonica, again the skills were demonstrated as the musicians enthralled the audience.

As the last piece came Fantasy on themes of Lucia do Lammermoor by Gaetano Donizetti, which was originally an opera and featured in the film The Fifth Element, a song by the Diva.  I thought that this piece was a lovely rendition, and so easy on the ear.

The level of engagement with the musicians was special indeed, indicative of how amazing this evening was. Haas and Bloch treated the appreciative audience to an encore, where Haas sung in Spanish while playing the harp, accompanied by Bloch on the glassharmonica.

Afterwards, both musicians were happy to sign sheet music and CD’s and a line formed for some time, as fans offered thanks in a personal manner.

This was an incredible achievement, and an enjoyable evening. It exceeded my expectations and demonstrated the potential that conventions can bring to their members. Chair Steve Cooper and Head of programme Emma England received considerable applause for their faith and belief in bringing this unique experience to the membership. The tech set up was world class. As I watched the close-ups, two cameras were filming with big screens behind the stage, the lighting was unbelievable. The tech team outdid themselves, Keith Smith and his team made the stage and the performance a focus.

Adam Robinson of Pulcinella Music Productions, who arranged the Orchestra at the 2009 Eastercon and the Worldcon Philharmonic Orchestra, really brought a new and fresh experience to fans. Vincent Docherty hosted the event with charm, panache, knowledge and skill, and kept the tone lighthearted, whilst being informative and fascinating.  This made the performance itself by Pauline Haas and Thomas Bloch something that I will treasure as an experience.

Adam Robinson, Pauline Haas, Thomas Bloch, and Vincent Docherty beside the glassharmonica.

Social Media

Pauline Haas — www.paulinehaas.com

Thomas Bloch — www.thomasbloch.net

Pulcinella Music Productions — www.pulcinellamusicproductions.com

Utah Launches 2019 Westercon and Prospective NASFiC Bid

A bid to bring Westercon back to Utah in 2019 has gone live. A placeholder Tempe bid, created when no one else filed, has stepped aside to give them a clear field.

The new bid proposes to hold Westercon 72 from July 3-7, 2019 at the Davis Conference Center and adjacent hotels in Layton, Utah. (Reportedly a barber shop quartet convention has locked up the rooms in Salt Lake City on the required dates, which is the reason for not going back there.)

Bid chair Ben Hatcher is supported by experienced leaders from the 2014 Salt Lake City Westercon committee, including Vice-Chair Kate Hatcher, and Bid Advisor/Treasurer Dave Doering.

The group has also declared that if a 2019 NASFiC becomes available (which seems likely, given Dublin’s unopposed Worldcon bid) they will bid for that as well, with the intention of holding a combined Westercon/NASFiC. (Note: Under the rules, a North American Science Fiction Convention — NASFiC — is held when the Worldcon is hosted outside the continent.)

As they explain on their website:

Side Note: The question of bidding for a NASFiC (North American Science Fiction Convention) came down to the fact if a Worldcon is voted overseas, then there would be two conventions, Westercon and the NASFiC, with similar goals, competing for space and members in the same year while dodging the dates of the overseas Worldcon.

The options are sexy for Worldcon 2019. This is an opportunity to solidify membership, expand awareness of all three conventions, and teach what has made these honored conventions great for so many years.

Utah for 2019 does not push for any particular bid, Worldcon will vote what is best for their convention. We only wish to be up front, and declare if a NASFiC becomes open due to an overseas bid, that we will bid for that as well, and run/combine both for a unique experience.

Odyssey Con Loses Last GoH

Filmmaker Christopher R. Mihm today became the last of Odyssey Con’s three guests of honor to walk away from the con. He wrote on Facebook:

After extensive research gathering opinions and facts and in light of all the craziness surrounding Odyssey Con, I’ve decided it’s simply best to pull out as a guest. Sadly, this will be a bit of a financial hit against my family (which includes several wonderful, well-behaved children who deserve so much more than I can ever provide) but, I’ll make it work like I always do…somehow. If you feel particularly generous and my attempt at cynically pulling your heartstrings worked, allow me to take advantage of the situation and remind you fine folks that you can pick up my films or contribute to my latest film, “Demon with the Atomic Brain,” at my website (cough cough sainteuphoria ahem dot cough com).

Mihm and Tad Williams followed Monica Valentinelli’s initiative, who quit as GoH due to the presence on the committee of someone she knew as a harasser, and how several other members of the committee continued to support him after she raised the issue.

Valentinelli responded to Mihm’s departure with a tweet —

Odyssey Con has updated its statement and, having lost all of its GoHs, is offering membership refunds if requested before April 21.

Odyssey Con regrets to announce that Christopher Mihm, Tad Williams, and Monica Valentinelli have decided that they are unable to attend Odyssey Con 17. We respect their decisions, and wish them all the best.

James Frenkel will not be attending Odyssey Con 2017. Mr. Frenkel is no longer associated with Odyssey Con in any way.

At this time, it is planned that Odyssey Con 2017 will go on as scheduled. We will continue to offer the stimulating discussions, anime and movie programs, karaoke and live music, LAN and face-to-face gaming, poetry, cash-prize writing contests, masquerade, our famous real-food Con Suite, the notorious (and often humorous) Opening Ceremonies, and the camaraderie and good fellowship for which OddCon has become well known.

We realize some may be disappointed in this change, and those wishing a refund for pre-registrations may do so before 4/21/17

[Via Soon Lee and James Davis Nicoll.]

Monica Valentinelli Withdraws as GoH of Odyssey Con

Author Monica Valentinelli announced today she is withdrawing as Odyssey Con’s Literary/Game Designer GoH, just two weeks before the con takes place, due to a specific individual’s continued presence on the concom and her concern for her safety.

I was invited to be a guest of honor in 2016. At the time, a known harasser was working at the con. I, personally, had several uncomfortable interactions with this individual and I did not feel safe around him. At first, this individual was my guest liaison, and I had considered pulling out of the convention as a result. Thankfully, my point of contact was changed and I never had to speak with this individual again. I assumed that he was no longer working at the convention following this act.

Although the person was not named in her blog post, he was subsequently identified as Odyssey Con’s guest liaison Jim Frenkel, a former Tor editor banned from WisCon (permanently).

Yesterday, I found out that I was scheduled to be on programming with him and he was still part of the concom. I also learned that peers and friends were uncomfortable with his role at the show, and they had decided to avoid the convention altogether. His involvement with the con meant that I would have to interact with him, especially as a guest of honor, and I do not feel safe around him nor would I want to put any of my friends, peers, or fans in that situation either.

Yesterday, Valentinelli wrote to the concom.

To resolve this, I sent the concom an e-mail. I told them that I, personally, had several problematic experiences with him, and that if he was still working the convention that I would have to withdraw. The response I received was incredibly dismissive of not only me, but of past reports as well. The e-mail went on to say how this individual was a long-time close friend of the concom, and I should judge his behavior for myself.

I have judged his behavior for myself, and I do not feel safe being in the same room with him let alone the same hotel. This blatant disregard of my concerns also worries me that should any new harassment complaints arise, that they would not be dealt with appropriately. I am extremely disappointed that a member of the concom would be more valued that an invited guest, and though I recognize the invitation is an honor I cannot and do not find this resolution acceptable.

Program participant Patrick S. Tomlinson followed her out the door.

Tomlinson added, “If they change their mind, I’ve offered to attend. But not with him participating in any capacity”.

And Catherine Lundoff said:

On Twitter, dozens of writers have lined up to support Valentinelli’s decision.

Odyssey Con is an annual Madison, WI event founded in 2001. Frenkel, who also lives in Madison, has a number of friends among its organizers and works on the concom. The President of the convention’s executive board (OCSI) is Richard S. Russell. Russell, after having worked every WisCon since its founding, was ousted from the WisCon committee in 2014, in part for his continuing expression of his views in committee channels about WisCon’s People of Color Safe Space and the Jim Frenkel harassment complaint.

Odyssey Con’s program organizer, Greg Rihn, is another longtime Frenkel acquaintance. His answer to Valentinelli’s email was the first from someone on the concommittee and said in part —

I have known Jim personally for more than thirty years. Although there have been unfortunate events in the past, I do not now believe, nor have I ever, that Jim is dangerous to any one, in any way. I believe that the lamentably widely disseminated idea that he is, is exaggerated and grows from a lack of knowledge of the facts in his case. His reputation since the WisCon incident has been spotless.

I will, if you wish, take Jim off any panel that presently features both of you, which I hope you would find a reasonable compromise. Banning Jim entirely would be unfair to him, and, in refusing to attend if he is working the con at all, you are being unfair to yourself. Why let other people make your decisions for you? Come and see the man for yourself. You will see that he is a decent man, and not a monster.

Subsequently, Rihn regretted his answer and he has written on Facebook:

I take complete and personal responsibility for my stupid response to Monica’s e-mail. I believed the matter urgent and wrote with too much haste and too little thought. Hospitality is a sacred obligation. I would defend a guest against my brother, let alone a supposed friend (who would cease to be a friend the moment he offered harm to a guest).

Co-chair Janet Lewis posted the entire email correspondence between Valentinelli and the committee on the con’s Facebook page but those posts have since been deleted. Gone with them is OSCI President Richard S. Russell’s public response to Valentinelli:

There has been much discussion regarding Monica Valentinelli’s announcement that she has withdrawn from the Gaming Guest of Honor position at our convention. Much is being said in social media, so we would like to take a moment to make the following statement.

Yesterday, April 10th, Monica contacted our convention through various email addresses expressing her concern and problems with our convention with Jim Frenkel as a part of the event. Last night one of the members of our committee contacted her to try to address her concerns. Unfortunately the position and words were his own, but did appear to be an official statement from the convention. It wasn’t, and he sent a further communication to Ms. Valentinelli to help clarify that.

Up until yesterday we had no knowledge of any problems Ms. Valentinelli had with Mr. Frenkel at Odyssey Con – both had been at Odyssey Conn previously, and both had been on panels together during that time. So we were surprised to hear there had been a problem. Here are the facts as we know them to be:

1) No claims of harassment against Jim Frenkel have ever been made at Odyssey Con that current ConCom members are aware of. We have a firm anti-harassment policy and all charges are treated seriously.

2) We have never made a secret of the fact that Jim works at the con. The assumption that Ms. Valentinelli made to the contrary was an unfortunate failure of communication.

3) Jim Frenkel has volunteered to step down from any official capacity with Odyssey Con to help the organization involved to move forward with a successful event.

Before making any updates and changes on the website and social media, we have been working to verify everyone’s position before making the appropriate changes. These changes do take a little time. Please keep in mind these issues were brought to us less than 24 hours ago.

The official statement from the president of Odyssey Con Society, Inc.:

Odyssey Con has immense appreciation for Monica Valentinelli and her work. We admire, respect, and honor them both, and were fully prepared to do so publicly at our upcoming convention, before Ms. Valentinelli withdrew as one of our three guests of honor.

But Odyssey Con is now, always has been, and always will be, open and welcoming to all. We do not allow anyone, not even a guest of honor, to dictate that someone else must be excluded from it.

Odyssey Con is also a safe environment. We have policies in place ( http://odysseycon.org/policies.html ) strictly forbidding harassment and a designated ombudsperson to whom any such complaints may be directed. Anything beyond harassment, of course, is a police matter and would be promptly dealt with as such. No such allegations have been made with regard to anyone expected to attend this year’s convention, and therefore Odyssey Con has no basis for excluding anybody.

We sincerely regret that we will not be able to provide our members with the full experience we had advertised and will, of course, refund the membership fee of those who feel that they must now cancel their attendance.

Richard S. Russell, President, OCSI

Other people are weighing in outside of Twitter:

Jim C. Hines – “Odyssey Con, Frenkel, and Harassment”

As is the nature of these things, there’s a lot more that isn’t written about publicly. I’ve spoken with other people harassed by Frenkel who chose not to post about it online, or to file complaints. Given the way we tend to treat victims of harassment and assault — demanding details and proof, blaming them, excusing the harassment, telling them why they’re wrong or overreacting, and so on — I can’t and won’t blame anyone for making that choice.

Even so, knowledge of Frenkel’s history is widespread in the SF/F field. He lost his job with Tor Books shortly after the 2013 incident. He was banned for life from Wiscon. Hell, some of this stuff is on his freaking Wikipedia page.

In other words, there’s no way Odyssey Con was unaware of this history. But they still chose to allow Frenkel to serve as their Guest Liaison.

That’s their right. It’s their convention, and if they want to put a known repeat harasser on staff, they can do so. But that choice has consequences. Consequences like their Guest of Honor withdrawing from the convention. Or having other guests withdraw because the con prioritized a harasser over the safety of their guests.

Kelly McCullough – “On The Matter of Jim Frenkel”.

I don’t remember ever seeing Jim make unwelcome advances or any of the other reported behaviors that have given him his reputation as a serial harasser, but I don’t have to witness a behavior myself to condemn it. All I have to do is believe the accounts of the women who were affected, and I do. It’s that simple. So, though it gives me no pleasure to say this about a man who advanced my career and who I thought of as a friend, I will repeat myself.

Jim has no business being a guest liaison for any convention.

K. Tempest Bradford – OdysseyCon and Why Serial Harassers Are Safe In Our Community.

I’ve seen a bunch of people commenting on this wondering how it is that Jim Frenkel is in any way involved with any convention at this point in time given everything that’s happened. Well. This. This is why. It’s multiple people (see how many folks are listed on this concom who know Jim and are real sure he didn’t ever do anything wrong, despite those third hard reports from the Internet (who trusts that?? Pish) continuing to allow him to be in official roles because we wouldn’t want to lose all his knowledge and experience.

This is how fandom has worked for decades.

And the potential for today’s developments has existed for some time. Sigrid Ellis wrote an open letter to Odyssey Con a year ago criticizing the use of Frenkel and Russell on program.

[Thanks to Rose Embolism, ULTRAGOTHA, and Cat Rambo for the story.]