Virtual World Fantasy Con 2020 Updates Program; WFC Board Announces They Will Add Member to Review Future WFC Programs

World Fantasy Con 2020 unveiled substantial changes to its program overnight, made in consultation to address the criticisms leveled against the original version posted last week.

The process utilized to make these changes was described in a press release published today:


The WFC 2020 Committee, after much reflection and listening to the grave concerns BIPOC panelists and fans expressed about the program panel descriptions, has revised the descriptions and also reassessed its commitment to ensure panel members are representative of the increasingly diverse voices in fantasy and horror literature. “The WFC 2020 Committee humbly acknowledges that we could have done better and deeply regret the offense, unintended, but nevertheless hurtful, towards our BIPOC fans and panelists. We also acknowledge that long-term, systemic issues with discrimination in our industry and with World Fantasy Convention itself cannot be rectified in one convention; this will be an ongoing effort beyond WFC 2020,” said Ginny Smith, WFC 2020 chair.

The World Fantasy Convention Board of Directors said in a statement:

“The WFC Board is sensitive to the criticisms by members from marginalized communities within the fantasy and horror genres. We acknowledge the minimal representation of these diverse populations on the Board and are taking steps to rectify that lack of perspective. We have voted to add at least one ex officio member to our number to review future WFC programs. We are currently reaching out to proposed candidates to discuss and will release a statement when the new Board member(s) are chosen.”

To address the programming issues for this year’s convention, the WFC 2020 Committee has done the following:  

• WFC Chair Ginny Smith engaged the help of three well-respected members of the fantasy community, two people of color and a well-regarded writer and sensitivity advisor, to review the offensive and insensitive programming language. They have completed their review and the revised program descriptions have been published on the WFC 2020 website. Members will be notified by email.

• WFC 2020’s amazing and supportive BIPOC panelists helped the WFC 2020 Committee create more panels to represent the rich diversity of the fantasy genre. For example, one of the new panels is “Black Women in Horror.”

• WFC 2020 remains committed to offering sponsorships to people of color. The intent in offering these sponsorships is to make the convention accessible to those who might not otherwise be able to attend the convention and to ensure that the convention’s attendance reflects the diverse fandom and artistry in the fantasy and horror genres. The committee is grateful to the private donors who have so far made it possible for 50 people of color to attend the convention for free. People of color can still apply for these sponsored memberships. For more information and to apply, please visit the WFC website at https://www.wfc2020.org/people-of-color-sponsored-membership.

This will be the 46th World Fantasy Convention; the WFC 2020 acknowledges its responsibility to ensure the con remains viable and relevant and to begin addressing the convention’s history of exclusion. The WFC 2020 Committee remains committed to building and conducting a vibrant, diverse, and professional WFC that brings together industry professionals from many backgrounds. “Please accept our sincere apology for what has happened; we hope you’ll still consider attending the convention to help celebrate, explore, and build what may be the oldest, most diverse genre on our planet—fantasy,” said Smith.


The Virtual World Fantasy Convention 2020 will take place October 29–November 1. For more information and to register, visit www.wfc2020.org.

In addition to the press release, WFC 2020 Chair Ginny Smith has also made a personal statement, “A Letter From Chairperson Ginny Smith”, that says in part:

I am not defending the mistakes we’ve made; however, I want to clear up some misunderstandings about what happened. To put together the program, we first sent out a questionnaire to every person who expressed an interest in being a panelist. We asked them what topics they would like to discuss. Most of the panelists replied with broad topics, such as, “afrofuturism, trauma, diaspora,” etc. We did not ask them to describe the topics, only to name them. So, while each topic was suggested by a potential panelist, the descriptions were written mostly by the program committee—which, yes, is comprised entirely of white people.

If my understanding is correct, it is not the program topics that are in question. It is the descriptions that are insensitive and offensive.

I want to be completely transparent that in June/July I was advised that I needed to ensure our program committee had more diversity for the insights and perspectives this would provide. I didn’t ignore the advice. I tried to recruit people of color for the programming committee, but my recruitment attempts failed. I don’t blame those who I invited—putting on a convention is a lot of work with no pay and little recognition. Other con-running tasks demanded my focus, so I did not continue trying to recruit new members for the programming committee, though I certainly should have. I also didn’t give the attention to the program that I should have. This was a huge mistake, one that makes me wish for an H.G. Wells time machine so I could have a do-over. But that’s science fiction; reality demands I try to rectify the mistake now.

Also, Chris M. Barkley, one of the people who consulted on the program changes, has written a column about his participation, “Crisis Point: The 2020 World Fantasy Convention”, which includes examples of the feedback he gave and recommendations he made.

Another consultant, Christine Taylor-Butler, offered her perspective of the larger picture in a comment on File 770 yesterday:

Ginny has worked pretty hard on this and I know – having done this in the past – that you will give up a year or more of your life in planning. So to have to shift to a virtual conference on short notice, renegotiate hotel contracts you may not get reimbursed for (one organization I’m associated with lost thousands of dollars in cancelled contracts) is terrifying. Worse, that a handful of members use their own perspectives to create an environment that shifts the balance to their own views is worse. How is this different than what is going on in our political landscape. It’s not about compromise, it’s about destruction and “my way or the high way” mentality.

Cons are not populated by a single person. I am part of the BIPOC community and while there are many things to be angry about (215,000 people dead from a preventable virus for starts, millions out of work and can’t pay bills is another) – this isn’t one that rises to this level of vitriol. The descriptions and titles were easily fixed. The hurt and outrage and psychological damage from the methodology used to complain about the volunteers is not.

In planning a conference I’ve learned you can’t please everyone. I’m planning on going and I’m planning on bringing friends with me – virtually.

Barkley — So Glad You (Didn’t) Ask: A Column of Unsolicited Opinions #54

Crisis Point: The 2020 World Fantasy Convention 

By Chris M. Barkley: On the few occasions that I was privileged to head up the World Science Fiction Convention’s Press Office, I gave my staff members a great deal of latitude in their duties. However, I had only one directive that was absolutely sacred; if they spotted a member, staffer or volunteer that was in need of assistance, they were to stop whatever they were doing and render assistance.   

In my 44-plus years of congoing, volunteering and activism, I have come to believe that fandom is family; we may not all be related on a familial basis and we all may not agree on certain points or get along with each other, but more often than not, we try to be available to each other and when the offer of help is made, it is be heartfelt and genuine. 

So I felt more than a bit of discomfort when I initially heard about the travails of the 2020 World Fantasy Convention. 

The controversy surrounding the Salt Lake City based bid started when the preliminary list of convention programming items were posted online, which is chronicled here. miyuki jane pinckard, an eminent writer and game designer offered her concerns in an open letter that was published on a Google Docs page.

The most immediate reactions to the posting were swift and harsh, charging that the programming staff was elitist, racist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic and generally tone deaf.

Well known author and editor K. Tempest Bradford has an extensive history of difficulties and criticisms of WFC which she lays out here. Bradford, and others whom she offers evidentiary links to, are spot on about how previous World Fantasy Convention Board of Directors and convention committees have repeatedly failed to address a variety of issues. Mainly of accessibility for disabled members, sexual harassment and a lack of diversity in programming and staffing at conventions among MANY other things.

Ms. Bradford did not pull any punches in her commentary; condemning the Chair, Ginny Smith and WFC’s Board of Directors for not responding sooner to her email entreaties about systemic problems they continually seem to suffer from over a long period of time. In an addendum to her blog post, dated October 10th), Ms. Bradford wrote the following:

It has now been almost 10 years of this. At this point, if you are attending and/or participating in WFC 2020 you are participating in a system that is unsafe for BIPOC and other marginalized attendees and has been for a long time.

And yes, even if they “fix” the many program items with problematic content thanks to help from panelists, I still say: don’t go. Remember, we’ve done this dance before. More than once. And they were offered help and guidance on how not to have this happen. Don’t reward them by accepting last-minute changes that had to be spearheaded by folks who have probably already done too much emotional labor around this.

It should not be on BIPOC and other marginalized folks to clean up after white people who refuse to do right unless Twitter gets mad at them.

I asked folks on Twitter not to help them with programming for these reasons and then I said:

Hey there white, able-bodied, cishet ppl of SFF who constantly claim allyship with marginalized folk: Now’s the time to prove it.

WFC depends on you to come even if BIPOC don’t. Therefore: drop your membership or, at least, rescind participation on panels. Take a stand.

I stand by this ask. Even though I’m apparently being too “extreme“. This hella long post is my testament to why.

So, it appears to me that Ms. Bradford, and many others it seems, have come to the conclusion that the World Fantasy Convention no longer has any value and must be boycotted or ended completely. Doors are to be slammed closed, roads completely destroyed and bridges are to be set alight and burn brightly.

I am going to beg to differ.

But, before I do so, I am going to point out a few things.

I have only attended one and a quarter World Fantasy Conventions in my life. I went to the 1983 convention in Chicago, which featured Gene Wolfe and Manly Wade Wellman as the author guests, Rowwena Morrrill as the Artist GoH and Robert Bloch as the Toastmaster. It was a very relaxed and rather subdued convention in comparison to the six Worldcons I had previously attended. And hey, I got to meet and chat with Fritz Leiber! I had a good time.

As I became more involved with attending and working at Worldcons, I just couldn’t fit the WFC into my schedule, either economically or timewise. I did have the opportunity to go on a day trip to the 2010 Convention in Columbus and hang out in the public areas for a few hours and chat with a few friends, but that was about all. This is the extent of my involvement with the WFC.

Reader, this past Thursday evening, I received an email from Ginny Smith, asking for my help. I got around to reading it Friday morning. 

At this point in time, I was unaware of miyuki jane pinckard’s letter nor had read Ms. Bradford’s or anyone else’s comments on Twitter.

It wouldn’t have made any difference if I had. Ms. Smith, a person who I had never heard of or met before, asked for my help. 

And I, without hesitation said yes. Why?

First, because it is my nature to help. Maybe it’s a remnant of my Catholic grade school upbringing, my Boy Scout training or my unbreakable convention rule. My first instinct is to render assistance, if possible. 

Secondly, I live by the words of Dr. Martin Luther King,Jr., whose framed picture hangs prominently on my office wall and features the following quote, “The time is always right to do what is right.”  

I Immediately sought out and found the File 770 post, pinckard’s letter and Ms. Bradford’s comments. Frankly, none of what I found looked good for Ms. Smith or the convention. She explained to me in a follow up email that she was a complete novice at con-running and was in way over her head from the start. She also told me that she had made several apologies about the snafu and that others beside myself were helping out as well.

One of those people is Christine Taylor-Butler, an African-American author who is a graduate of MIT and Art & Design. She is the creator of the The Lost Tribes young adult series and an impressive number of other fiction and non-fiction books (80!) for children whose various subjects range from a biography of Michelle Obama, to the physical sciences, geography and United States History and Civics.

The other person declined to be identified. The reason she specifically stated was that she doesn’t want others to assume that she is available to perform a similar function for dozens of other conventions. Actually, what she was quoted saying, “I’m simply taking the principle of white people helping to clean up the messes white people have created.” So, respect.

Ms. Smith specifically asked me to review a number of the program items that people found objectionable and offer some insights on how they could be revised to be more inclusive and not offensive. 

I spent a majority of my day Saturday writing up critiques of the titles and descriptions of the panels. I also gave her a few pointed comments on how the Board could have been more helpful in her endeavors. Here are two of the examples:


  • Program Item 30: Norse and Germanic Fantasy: The Northern Thing

Original Description: “Beowulf to the Niebelungenlied, Norse and Germanic myth have been one of the major notes sounded by European and Anglophone fantasy and arguably the basis of sword and sorcery as we know it. We find such echoes from the works of William Morris, J.R.R. Tolkein, Paul Anderson From to more recent works like David Drake, Diana Paxson, George R.R. Martin, and Marvel Comics Thor. Let us explore this particular magic…“

Criticism: “The disparity present in compiling the cultural traditions of the entire rest of the world into one panel while devoting an entire panel on Norse and Germanic tales is telling. This is the most highly detailed panel, with specific authors mentioned, a courtesy that was not afforded the other panels. There is also no attempt to address the problematic side of Norse mythology and its co-option by white supremacists and fascists, including the Nazis. This should absolutely be part of any panel about being inspired by Norse mythology. And yet, the panel fails to actually name any Nordic writers and focuses entirely on Anglophone writers.”

Revised Suggestion: “From Beowulf to the Niebelungenlied, Norse and Germanic myth have been one of the major notes sounded by European and Anglophone fantasy and arguably the basis of sword and sorcery as we know it. Let us explore this particular magic.”

My Commentary: It seems to me (at least) that the critics of this description doth protest TOO MUCH. (Climbs onto soapbox). I may be Black, but even I am aware of the Norse and German influences generally in Westen culture. And YES, it is both intriguing, thrilling AND problematic. Do the critics think that the panelists are unaware of those problems or wouldn’t actually discuss them? Do the racist undertones really NEED to be described in the panel description? (Climbs off soapbox). So, what the objection is REALLY about is that this is yet another panel about the subject, which they are probably tired of seeing. Point taken. So, the panelists can either have a discussion about how those writers have influenced modern fantasy or they drill down on the older regional writers of the genre. The new description could be adapted to go either way, in my opinion. By the way, it’s Poul Anderson, not Paul Anderson. You’ll get a ton of side eye from eagle eyed fantasy fans for a mistake like that and deservedly so.


  • Program Item 54: Female Tropes and Archetypes

Original Description: “Women characters for years were mostly helpmates and love interests or the reward for an adventure well done. But changes in society have brought a welcome change to this restrictive way of viewing half the populace. How are today’s authors pushing past the old, tired tropes to bring a more real and interesting take on their female characters?”

Criticism: “Female Tropes and Archetypes” feels like a topic that was covered twenty years ago.

Revised Description: None, with this note: “Again, we’re not sure how to respond to this. Yes, it’s a topic that has been covered but continues to have an impact on the genre. So… we’re inclined to leave this one alone?”

My Commentary: OK, this is an easy fix; the problem here is that the panel is gender specific and not very inclusive to other people. So,my suggestion would be: remove “Women” from the title and description and call it Tropes and Archetypes in Fantasy (Modern or Otherwise): Fantasy  characters of all ages, genders and a spectrum of sexualities populate the landscape of Modern Fantasy. Gradual political and societal changes over the past few decades have brought a welcome change to the restrictive way of viewing others who had not previously been considered in the genre. How are today’s authors pushing past the old, tired tropes to bring a more real and interesting take on their fantasy characters?”


In total, I offered my suggestions for eight other programming items that were point of contention.

After the disastrous fiasco of the 2020 Hugo Awards Ceremony, it would have been very easy to heed Ms. Bradford and others, and just let the WFC crash and burn on the tarmac and left as a stark warning to other con-runners. 

I, for better or worse, am not one of those people. I believe that the Hugo Awards Ceremony could have been saved with some last minute intervention. I also believe the same can be said of this year’s World Fantasy Convention. 

Ginny Smith, her convention committee and, I hope, its Board of Directors, are working night and day to try to put on a convention that is worthy of attending (albeit virtually) and not fall victim to their earlier mistakes.  

If they were truly as racist and insensitive as their critics have claimed, they could have thrown up their hands and said, ‘This is OUR convention, WE run it as we see fit and YOU  can take it or leave it.” That’s not what I have experienced over the past several days.

Earlier today, the World Fantasy Convention Board of Directors released a statement to me, via an email from Ginny Smith:

“The WFC Board is sensitive to the criticisms by members from marginalized communities within the fantasy and horror genres. We acknowledge the minimal representation of these diverse populations on the Board and are taking steps to rectify that lack of perspective. We have voted to add at least one ex officio member to our number to review future WFC programs. We are currently reaching out to proposed candidates to discuss and will release a statement when the new Board member(s) are chosen.” 

– The World Fantasy Convention Board of Directors 

2020 marks the forty-sixth year for the World Fantasy Convention. In spite of its ongoing problems, I still believe that it still is a vital part of our fannish community and should not be canceled or abandoned. 

I HOPE that the calamitous events and harsh, but justifiable criticisms leveled this year’s edition can finally be the tipping point that finally puts this convention on the right path. This will also involve a lot of introspection AND changes by the Board of Directors, which, among other things, being more transparent about the bidding process, staffing, volunteer memberships, programming, the awards and most importantly, how they operate. 

Because it’s always the right time to open the doors of inquiry, build cultural roadways and reconstruct those emotional bridges.

Right here, right now and without delay!

Capclave, D.C.-Area Con, Celebrates 20 Years

Capclave: Where reading is
not extinct

The Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) will virtually host the 20th Capclave online from October 17-18. Memberships are $10.

This year’s Capclave will feature author and founding editor of FIYAH Magazine Troy L. Wiggins as Guest of Honor, and to celebrate the 20-year anniversary many past author Guests of Honor are returning including Connie Willis, Ken Liu, Nancy Kress, Carrie Vaughn, Catherynne M. Valente, Sarah Beth Durst, Alyssa Wong, and James Morrow.  

Taking advantage of the online nature of the convention this year, Capclave will feature an international line-up, including Aliette de Bodard in France; Australians Kaaron Warren, Lisa Fuller, Jason Nahrung, and Kirstyn McDermott; and from China, Regina Kanyu Wang, Samusara, A Que, Sara Chen, Emily Jin, and Guangzhao Lyao.

The convention will feature panels on writing, reviewing, and other topics. Program participants will read from their works and participate in kaffeeklatsches. There will also be virtual fan areas on the Capclave discord server.

A special membership rate of $55 for both this year and 2021. Register at the Capclave website.  

World Fantasy Con 2020 Apology for Program Draft Seeks to Stem Participant Attrition

After seeing the complaints voiced about the draft program for World Fantasy Convention 2020 (“Virtual WFC 2020 Program Attracts Criticism”), the WFC 2020 committee directed an apology at several writers on Twitter.

We are sorry that our program caused hurt and concern, thank you to those that commented. We are working with our team and panelists to amend this and will be revising it as an ongoing process.

And they pulled the panel descriptions, explaining on the convention’s Program webpage:

We are excited about the awesome panel discussions scheduled for the 2020 Virtual World Fantasy Convention. We have some terrific conversations planned, and our panelists are amazing.

But some of our original descriptions failed to live up to our members’ expectations. We apologize for offending the very people we hope to include in this year’s convention. We hear you, and we appreciate your feedback. We’re working to revise the descriptions – with the help of some of those amazing panelists! – and will update them here as they’re finalized.

WFC2020 Chair Ginny Smith also responded to File 770’s post in a comment here, saying in part:

We have sponsored 46 people of color to participate in the convention at no cost (so far – more to come I hope), and have worked very hard to ensure that every panel is comprised of people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. The panelist list hasn’t been published yet, but when it is I hope the list demonstrates our commitment to equity and diversity.

But some authors who were going to be on the program have already seen enough to make up their minds.  

David Levine wrote on Facebook and Twitter on October 8.

Very sorry to say this, but I’m going to have to withdraw from World Fantasy Convention 2020. Despite a lot of effort on many people’s part, the recent fiasco with panel descriptions demonstrates that the convention simply doesn’t understand how to operate in a diverse world without stepping on marginalized people. I hope that the World Fantasy Convention ? board recognizes that it has a serious, ongoing problem and takes strong action to change course in 2021 and beyond.

The Writing Excuses podcast hosted by authors Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal, and author and web cartoonist Howard Tayler will not provide content for use by the virtual convention. (Note: Sanderson is one of WFC 2020’s Author Special Guests.)

Also, this tweet from K. Tempest Bradford was retweeted by Mary Robinette Kowal, a signal boost with extra impact because it was Kowal who led the effort to bail out the 2018 Worldcon program.

Jeff VanderMeer tweeted on October 7 that after being told what panel he was on, he was bowing out.

Yilin Wang dropped out October 6.

One writer who has not dropped out, Kate Heartfield, still has some misgivings:

There are three weeks to go before WFC 2020 begins. When the revised program descriptions and panel assignments come out, the decision of other program participants to stay or go will be revealed if they have not announced it before then.

Update: Kate Heartfield tweeted on October 9 that she has now withdrawn from WFC2020 program and membership.

Cat Rambo has also dropped out.

Release of Virtual WFC 2020 Program Attracts Criticism

World Fantasy Con 2020 has added a Program page to its website with panel titles and descriptions, the times and participants to be added later. The virtual convention will be held October 29-November 1.

The concepts of some panels and their descriptions have become the focus of feedback to the conrunners, and online criticism.

miyuki jane pinckard sent the committee an open letter with substantive comments, “The panel descriptions on the World Fantasy Con 2020 program are a problem” [Google Docs], which begins:

I want to draw your attention to your program, and in particular the panel descriptions, which are written in a way that alienates anyone who is not white and not cisgender and not heteronormative. If the goal is to welcome people, then the program as written fails. Everything about this program underscores that the expected audience is white and cisgender and heteronormative. I should be clear that I am speaking solely for myself and not on behalf of any organization or community.

I am concerned that BIPOC, queer, disbaled, and otherwise marginalized panelists who are asked to speak to these topics will be hurt, offended, harmed, and burdened with emotional labor to service a majority white audience for the benefit of that audience. This program has set up an unequal distribution of power and benefit which replicates systems of inequality in publishing as a whole.

After addressing many individual panel topics, the letter concludes:

Time and again, I and other marginalized people have had to endure uncomfortable and sometimes overtly hostile experiences on panels for a majority cishet white audience. It is part of your role to do what you can to protect us and support us, just as you do any attendee. It is my hope that World Fantasy Con can become truly for the world, and welcoming to all. 

The author of the letter also tweeted about her concerns in a thread which starts here and includes these observations:

Other responses at this hour include —

Jason Sanford’s criticisms, which attracted comments from several writers, start here.

Liz Barr writes:

Yiling Wang commented:

Finland Bids For 2025 Eurocon

Finland is bidding to host the 2025 Eurocon in Mariehamn in the Åland Islands. Saila Kyllönen, speaking for Maa ja Ilma Ry, formally announced the bid at the European Science Fiction Society meeting that took place in the online space of the ongoing, Croatian-hosted 2020 Eurocon, Futuricon

The Finnish Eurocon bid, if successful, will run as Archipelacon II and take place ten years after the original Archipelacon. Though dates cannot yet be confirmed it will likely take place during the summer. Maa ja Ilma Ry is the Finnish fan-run legal entity which ran both that Archipelacon and the Helsinki Worldcon in 2017.

The Finnish bid for 2025 goes alongside proposals for Eurocon to take place in Luxembourg in 2022Uppsala, Sweden in 2023 and Rotterdam in the Netherlands in 2024. The location of the 2022 Eurocon will be formally decided as the ESFS business meeting continues tomorrow.

The Åland Islands are a Swedish-speaking part of Finland. Demilitarized by international treaty, the islands have also played host to the nearly-annual Åcon convention since 2007.

[Thanks to Edmund Schluessel for the story.]

Tempe Bids for 2023 Westercon

The Western Science Fiction Association and Central Arizona Speculative Fiction Society have filed a bid to hold Westercon 75 in Tempe, Arizona in 2023.

Linda Deneroff, Westercon 73 Site Selection Administrator, has posted all their required paperwork here.

They propose to hold the con at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Phoenix Tempe from July 1-4, 2023, with a preview night on June 30.

Bid Chairs are Hal C. F. Astell and Mark Boniece, with Treasurers Stephanie Bannon and Kevin McAlonan.

The bid is currently unopposed.

Montreal SMOFCon Postponed, Portugal Steps In

Montreal SMOFCon logo

Due to the increasing impracticality of holding Smofcon 38 in Montreal as originally scheduled in 2020, SMOFCon 38 has been postponed until December 2-4, 2022. The only known bid for SMOFCon 39, SMOFCon Europe, will host SMOFCon in Lisboa, Portugal on December 3-5, 2021. The two committees are in discussions for jointly organizing a limited series of online-only events on the weekend of December 4-6, 2020.

Conditions with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic are such that CanSMOF (the parent non-profit corporation of the Montreal SMOFCon 38 committee) concluded that holding an in-person SMOFCon in December 2020 was unsafe. CanSMOF felt (and still feels) that the in-person element of a SMOFCon is essential to the nature of the convention and the event would be non-viable without it. Accordingly, they began to explore options for postponing the convention.

The SMOFCon Europe committee was the only group to express interest in hosting the 2021 SMOFCon. They did say, however, that it would be impossible for them to postpone their convention any later than 2021, due to many committee members being involved in the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon bid. Under the circumstances, and after extensive discussions on the SMOFCon email list, all parties reached a consensus that if Montreal could renegotiate its hotel agreement to 2022, Lisboa could proceed with their plans for 2021.

The Montreal committee was able to reach an agreement with the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal to postpone the event until December 2-4, 2022 at no additional facilities cost and with the same hotel room rates previously agreed for the original 2020 dates. Membership rates for the Montreal SMOFCon will remain frozen at the current level (CAD$80 / USD$60) until after the Lisboa SMOFCon in 2021.

In July, the Montreal SMOFCon committee contacted the previously announced SMOFCon bidders for 2022. Those bidders mutually agreed that if Montreal was able to postpone their convention, that they would postpone their bids as well. After agreements were reached, Montreal’s committee contacted the SMOFCon bids for 2022 and 2023 in early September to advise them that “Operation Leapfrog” was a go. The Montreal committee thanks all future SMOFCon bidders for their cooperation and understanding under the current worldwide pandemic conditions.

The Lisboa SMOFCon in 2021 will conduct the site selection for the 2023 SMOFCon. The Montreal SMOFCon in 2022 will not conduct a site selection for a future SMOFCon. Site Selection will once again return to one year in advance rotation starting with the 2023 SMOFCon.

The committees of SMOFCon 38 (Montreal 2022) and SMOFCon 39 (Lisboa 2021) have mutually agreed to jointly organize a limited online-only “mini-SMOFCon” event on the weekend of December 4-6, 2020. Dubbed “SMOFCon 37 ¼,” the initial plan is to have online sessions to allow current Worldcons, bids for future Worldcons, and bids for future SMOFCons to make their presentations and answer questions. The joint SMOFCon 37 ¼ committee will announce further details of their plans shortly, including contact details and participation information.

SMOFCon Europe will launch their convention, making rates, hotel rooms, their online proposition and further information all available in time for SMOFCon 37 ¼.

If you have questions specifically about the Montreal or Lisboa SMOFCons, please direct them to the individual committees through their websites:

[Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the press release.]

IAFA 2021 Will Be A Virtual Event

Caution in the face of the pandemic is forcing meeting planners to give up hopes of holding in-person events in the early part of next year. Dale Knickerbocker, President of International Association For The Fantastic In The Arts, announced September 20 that their Spring 2021 conference will be online.

The Board has been monitoring the ongoing situation with the pandemic closely and has met twice this summer to consider options for the 2021 conference. The future prospects remain unclear, but based on information about our membership, likely timelines for widespread vaccination, ongoing border closures, and our financial options, the Board took the decision at its meeting on September 19, 2020 to move the 2021 Conference to an online format.

More information will follow soon about methods of participation, timelines for events and other considerations regarding membership and registration fees. We are also adjusting the timeframe for the event to maximize chances for participation across time zones, but we will convene during the originally scheduled conference “long” weekend, March 18-21, 2021….

We are aware that this news is very disappointing—to us as well! Nonetheless, we believe it a priority to protect the health of our members and guests over other considerations. We also feel that we needed to make this decision early enough to give us time to mount a great online event. Rest assured that we are aware that social interactions are a hugely important part of our conference culture, and we are working on ways to allow maximum interaction and also to recreate a version of some of our most important social gatherings.

Knickerbocker assured members IAFA will soon open the submission portal for the virtual conference.

Noel Rosenberg Sues Crystal Huff

Noel Rosenberg, former President of Arisia, Inc. (2000, 2018) and Arisia convention chair (2002), filed suit against Crystal Huff in Middlesex (MA) Superior Court on September 17 alleging defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress. Huff published a 6,000+ word statement on October 25, 2018 ending her connections with the convention: “Why I’m Not At Arisia Anymore: My Rapist is President. Again”. Rosenberg says in his complaint:

…Her blog posting also alleged that in addition to raping her, Noel had “stalked,” “harassed” and “intimidated” her. Crystal’s accusations of violent and heinous criminal wrongdoing by Noel are utterly devoid of any basis in reality.

Rosenberg requests a jury trial, with damages in an amount to be determined by the jury (plus interest), plus costs and attorney’s fees.

A complete copy of the complaint can be downloaded here from a website created for the plaintiff: Noel Rosenberg v. Crystal Huff.

At the time it was published, Huff’s statement evoked a strong and immediate response. Two of Arisia 2019’s guests of honor, Daniel Jose Older and Malka Older, dropped out of the convention. Within three days, the Arisia, Inc. Executive Board announced that Noel Rosenberg had been removed as President and permanently banned from the convention. (This was just the beginning of the convention’s problems. Although not involving Rosenberg, Arisia soon received several more statements criticizing their handling of code of conduct violations, and apologies from two former Arisia officers. There followed four resignations from the Arisia eboard.)

Rosenberg’s complaint gives his version of the relationship he had with Crystal Huff from 2007 to 2010, characterizing all of the encounters where it applies as “consensual sexual intercourse.”

He gives his interpretation of what was done about Huff’s charges at the time under Arisia’s Incident Reporting process, or later when it existed the Arisia Incident Response Team (IRT).

He follows a list of salient examples of the allegations in Huff’s blog post with the summary response:

These and other statements set forth in the blog were false, defamatory and literally fabricated. Her accusations of criminal misconduct are defamatory per se.

The blog post is reproduced in full as one of the attached exhibits.

The court’s website indicates Huff has until January 15, 2021 to file her answer to the suit – coincidentally, the same date the next Arisia is scheduled to begin.