Three Guests Cancel MidSouthCon Appearances

The MidSouthCon committee announced today that guests of honor David Mack and Amanda Makepeace, and toastmaster Maggie Thompson, will not be attending the convention. Mack says his decision is due to the convention’s state-imposed Covid policy. Makepeace and Thompson have not specifically commented in social media about their reasons.

MidSouthCon will take place in Memphis, Tennessee from March 25-27. Their Covid-19 Policy requires masks, however, Tennessee state law prohibits them from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests.

Our attendee’s health and safety is our priority. With that, we are following the guidance of our venue and our local, state, and federal authorities. 

1. Masks – per our venue, masks are required for all visitors/guests in all public space, which is any non-guest-room space. All convention attendees will be expected to adhere to this requirement.

2. Vaccinations – per a recent state law passed by our Tennessee legislature, government entities and private businesses in Tennessee are prohibited from requiring proof of vaccination or negative covid tests to employees, patrons, and visitors…

David Mack explained why he withdrew as a GoH on his blog: “I’ve canceled my appearance at MidSouthCon”:

It is with deep regret that I have canceled my appearance as the Author Guest of Honor for this year’s MidSouthCon, because of the impossibility of verifying the vaccination/negative test status of attendees, staff, guests, and volunteers as a condition of attendance.

This would have been my very first time as an Author Guest of Honor at any con, and this invitation meant a great deal to me. However, protecting my health and that of my family against unnecessary risks during a pandemic, especially in the face of an extremely contagious COVID variant such as omicron, must take a higher priority.

I will be reimbursing MidSouthCon for any and all out-of-pocket costs they have incurred on my behalf.

At the time MidSouthCon and I made our plans, we had no idea the pandemic was coming. We certainly could not have known in 2019 that the Tennessee state government would pass a law that actually makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.

That fact is the key difference between this cancellation and the one I announced last week regarding my planned appearance at Farpoint Convention. The state of Maryland has no law at this time that prevents events and venues from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and/or service. The state of Tennessee, unfortunately, does. Whereas Farpoint could have chosen to apply a stronger standard for the protection of its guests, et al., but chose not to, the concom of MidSouthCon had no such option….

Artist Amanda Makepeace said in a tweet today, “I stressed myself out this weekend over a decision I needed to make. But once I accepted what was in my heart all that worry went away. Staying true to yourself is one of the best gifts you can give yourself.” The timing suggests a connection without limiting other possibilities.

Having had to pull out of two conventions, David Mack took a look ahead to address whether Covid policies would affect his participation in any other. His only upcoming convention appearance is Shore Leave, happening in Hunt Valley, Maryland from July 15–17. Shore Leave has a posted COVID-19 policy that will require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry/service to the convention’s designated areas and functions. Mack says, “As long as that policy remains in effect, I will look forward to attending Shore Leave this summer.”

He also has added a statement to his website’s Contact page that he “will not participate in person at any event held in a state…that legally bars venues and events from requesting proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and service.” Ballotopedia shows that currently includes the states of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming.

2022 Vintage Paperback Collectors Show & Sale on 3/20

Peter S. Beagle will be among the many authors signing at the 2022 Vintage Paperback Collectors Show. The event takes place Sunday, March 20 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium (1401 Verdugo Rd.) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is $5. Mark your calendar!

Dozens of authors and artists will be there — see the poster below to find out who.

There will be over 80 dealer tables. Dealers at the show have been spending the year looking in other places for inventory and are bringing their finds to this show to offer them to you.

Each year there are great finds reported by folks who attend the show.  This year, you could be the person telling the story.

World Fantasy Convention 2022 in New Orleans

World Fantasy Convention 2022 has named its Guests of Honor: Ginjer Buchanan, Victor LaValle, Jo Walton, Caitlín R. Kiernan, and Andrei Codrescu. The Toastmaster is Ursula Vernon. An artist Guest of Honor will be named later. Chaired by Tom Hanlon, the convention will be held in New Orleans, Louisiana November 3-6, 2022.

The event’s sponsor, the Louisiana Association for Literacy and the Fantastic, launched WFC 2022’s website and opened online registration early this week.

“While it’s been a challenge to organize and prepare for an event with a shorter time span than normal due to COVID, and Hurricane Ida didn’t help any,” said Hanlon, “we’re thrilled to have a committee with ideas and participation from New Orleans, throughout the South and across borders. We have an amazing committee who are working hard to ensure this year’s World Fantasy Convention exceeds our members’ expectations.” The event will be held at the Hyatt Regency New Orleans, located downtown within walking distance of many historical sites.

Although registration officially opened at the 2021 World Fantasy Convention in Montreal, this week’s website launch made online registration possible. Initial pricing is $150 US for attending memberships and $50 US for supporting membership. “We are planning to host a hybrid convention, with a strong virtual component,” says Hanlon. “Our initial price for virtual membership is $50, the same as a supporting membership.” The prices for attending and virtual memberships will increase on February 1, 2022, while the supporting membership will remain $50.

This year’s WFC will be the second held in New Orleans. Hanlon also chaired the first one in 1994.

[Based on a press release.]

Arisia 2022 Is Cancelled

Arisia 2022 has been cancelled due to the impact of Covid announced Chair Vivian Abraham today. The event had been planned for the January 14-17 weekend in Boston. The hotel has agreed to slide Arisia’s contractual obligations to later years.

At the end of 2021, the Con Chair team met and determined how we would move forward.  We decided that we would look at the COVID numbers in the new year (they are higher than ever), we would look at the health of our team (several of whom now have COVID or have family members with COVID), we would look at the number of folks planning to attend and/or be on program (which is currently too small to sustain us financially), and we would look at the advice of our COVID advisory team.  Together, these things portray only one responsible decision that we can make:  We need to cancel the in-person Arisia 2022.  Fortunately, the hotel has agreed to reschedule the 2022 and 2023 contracts and, instead, host Arisia 2023 and 2024 in the Westin.

More information about how memberships will be rolled over, and the deadline for cancelling current year room reservations is in the Final Progress Report.

They will not pivot to a virtual convention. However, on the weekend Arisia would have been held they will still have an online Minecraft server and an official Discord. People will not need a badge to participate. The Arisia code of conduct will apply in both of these spaces. Check the website for updates about how to connect.

[Thanks to Daniel Dern for the story.]

Winnipeg Exploring Bid
for 2023 NASFiC

Terry Fong, chair of the former Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon bid, has announced the committee is now considering a bid for the 2023 NASFiC. The WSFS rules provide for a North American Science Fiction Convention when the Worldcon is held outside North America. Fong’s press release invites comment:

Given the strong show of support with the at-con vote at DisCon III, and the encouragement we have received from a plethora of fans, the Winnipeg in 2023 Worldcon Bid Committee has decided to look into bidding for the first ever Canadian NASFiC in Winnipeg, MB.

Leading this exploratory effort will be Robbie Bourget and Linda Ross-Mansfield.

We welcome all comments on this. Should anyone be so inclined, we have set up an e-mail to receive comments: nasfic@winnipegin2023.ca

Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid

Orlando is the first city to announce a bid to hold the 2023 North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC). Since 1975, NASFiCs have been held whenever the Worldcon takes place outside North America, as provided by the WSFS Constitution. The selection of Chengdu, China to host the 2023 Worldcon opens the way for a NASFiC the same year.

The Orlando in 2023 NASFiC Bid Facebook page says this new bid supersedes the Orlando in 2026 Worldcon bid.

The Orlando NASFiC bid currently has a Facebook and Twitter presence. They are working on their website, which will be here when it is ready.

Science Fiction Outreach at C2E2

Science Fiction Outreach took a booth at C2E2 in Chicago to promote reading and SF conventions.The event ran from December 10-12. James Bacon was there to help. 

By James Bacon: I had a terrific weekend and thousands of books were given away. Helen Montgomery was leading the operation with a host of fans helping out. The books, so many kindly donated by fans, were moved from storage to McCormick Place on Wednesday by Helen and Dave McCarty. On Thursday set up was in full flow and the shelving was built with Leanne’s help, and books put out. 

Weeks of preparation had gone into sorting the books, especially separating kids’ books, as these are at a premium for kids present at con, but even they are separated into age groups.

Friday was busy enough but with some superb examples of cosplay. Readers, once convinced that ‘Free’ meant free descended upon the booth with eagerness. Dune and Frank Herbert were perhaps the most asked for, although we had plenty of prequels, sequels, so that was good. Horror as ever proved to be strongly popular, and media tie-ins from Star Wars to Star Trek were very popular. There was considerable interest in magazines, while related books flew out.  

Leanne, Johnathon, Dave, Noelle, Michelle, Alan, Sue, Pam all helped to call out free books, replenish, chat, engage and recommend. Pam had donated a given box so as it got opened was able to give first-hand recommendations. It was also nice to meet fans for the first time and they were a lovely crew. 

Here the call of free attracts all fans. One needs to be ready to meet erudite well-read fans, of all ages and backgrounds, and I loved talking to readers. 

“Any authors you are looking for? And who’s your favourite?” work well, while “Would you like a recommendation?” was also popular. If one found a good book and lightly said “This is awesome space opera” it was soon taken away. Fans like recommendations. A Penguin book of Irish Myths lasted seconds.

It’s great fun, although a hard part is convincing people that the books are free, that yes, you can take more than one and you know, there were fans who were so grateful, so pleased to be going home with something, unexpected and nice and certainly in some cases, clear they hadn’t expected to be taking anything home and that is amazing.  

Librarians and teachers flock in, inquisitive and eager to spread the word, collectors wonder and share their passion but are reluctant to take books they hope fans younger than them will pick up. Chicon regulars fist bump and show their pride and pleasure with the efforts and cosplayers cone in to browse.  

Octavia Butler, Yoon Ha Lee and Aliette de Bodard proved easy to recommend, readers were actively enquiring about writers from as diverse backgrounds as the fans at C2E2. It’s easy to talk about great works while catering to such requests. Anthologies also offered great opportunity to allow a low investment spec try of a specified genre or area, and with themed subjects covering so many aspects, even with the most challenging of requests “I like war stuff” was easily sorted with some Joe Haldeman edited anthologies to choose from.   

Likewise James White, Justina Robson and Robyn Hobb were snapped up by readers looking for pointers. Pratchett, Rice, Banks, Harris, Gaiman, LeGuin were snaffled quickly too, but with less prompting. 

Real excitement and pleasure was palpable, and it was fun. 

We had T-shirts available for a @$25 donation and these proved popular, and people were just so nice and lovely, and donations kindly flowed. There’s real respect and appreciation. 

Every book has a bookmark promoting Outreach, Worldcons, local cons. But also flyers were given out for local cons and worldwide ones too.

With a good crew in hand, breaks were encouraged and I was gratefully given time to enjoy C2E2. 

Had a cracking weekend. In between giving away free books, with Helen Montgomery and the gang, meeting fabulous cosplayers, and enthusing about dozens of authors, I also got to roam about C2E2.  

It was amazing to meet Larry Hama, who was so friendly and we spoke about the Vietnam issue of Journey Planet, while he knows the west of Ireland well. He also was happy to use a Sharpie on a fan that would get tattooed! 

Larry Hama wields a Sharpie

It was fabulous to catch up with Dublin 2019 featured artist Afua Richardson who continues to do amazing work, and I was chuffed to get her to sign Marvels Indigenous Voices for which she did a variant cover. 

Gene Ha was super lovely and kind, and we enjoyed overcoming some pronunciation challenges, our mutual friend  Pádraig Ó Méalóid, being easy to read one way and not sounding like the person I mean when I say Pádraig. Gene is a guest at Capricon and Chicon 8 and I’m very excited. 

I asked Chris Claremont, “So about the Leprechauns in the X-Men?” and got a wonderfully thoughtful response. Indeed we spoke for longer than I expected, and it was a good discussion. 

Chris Claremont

Stephanie Hans was impressed that comics signed to other fans make lovely postal surprises, while I got to meet some amazing people thanks to Christopher Hwang. I failed to meet David Mack, and I wanted to thank him again for an awesome time at Thought Bubble

It was all go. It was huge. There were a lot of people but not overly crowded. 

The Covid policy was good, everyone wore a mask, polite and cheerful wardens reminded people, in a respectful way, assuming forgetfulness in the first instance and having masks for anyone who dropped them. This approach is good, it works. 

The con had hundreds of large 10- or 12-foot tables, next to a long run of different food trailers or stands and a bar, where beers and food could be eaten. At these tables there was no issue if you had no mask on while enjoying your break. People were respectful asking to join tables with others, but still given space some distance away at the same table, while anyone who I observed saying “I’d prefer you not” was respected or thumbed up and folks moved on. It was good, thoughtful. There was no anti-establishment bull, but likewise no heavy-handed unnecessary enforcement. Regular announcements informed us all that masks were mandatory. It was good. 

The cosplay was excellent and I offered praise and took photos of favourites.  

Timothy Zahn was as ever delightful, and it was good to speak to him, asking what’s next for this author and his character Grand Admiral Thrawn. 

A wonderful personal moment was some kind praise from Garth Ennis for the Battle issue of Journey Planet, noting a particular poignant element, a photo of myself and Dad and an article I wrote, while I discussed research I’ve done on V for Vengeance, published in 1942. 

Garth is so good to his fans, he signs and signs and signs and is generous with his time, he contributed to JP with an interview and kindly donated to charitable activities arranged by Paul Trimble, but you know, praise from professionals for your zine, is nice. I can’t wait for his next work with PJ Holden and Keith Burns, The Lion and the Eagle

Detroit Pizza is Amazing. One pizza was equal to all the cheese I ate in three months. Got a go on a US school bus, met Josephine the French bulldog who got off her pedestal of guarding Battlecat to say hello. Along with thousands of fans taking away books. 

The Science Fiction Outreach Project continues its good work and as a 501(c) accepts donations.

More photos after the jump. 

Continue reading

Smofcon Is Go!

By James Bacon: With over 50 people on site and 100 online, Smofcon is occurring during challenging times with new rules having taken effect in Wednesday in Portugal and developing worldwide. 

The con began with well-subscribed workshops and there was a welcome reception that local fans and professionals were invited to that was sponsored by a number of bids and conventions. 

James and Vincent Docherty gave the opening speech — keeping it brief — and in accordance with Smofcon Europe traditions, recognized great effort and bestowed honourary Chair status to local fan Rogério Riberio who played a vital part in ensuring local cohesion, engagement, and managing facilities negotiation, and Tammy Coxen, who delivered a fabulous programme (see the item descriptions and schedule here) and has taken charge of the overall online proposition.  

Drinking, networking and socializing continued to 3:00 a.m. 

Reports of superb food:

Eat as much as you can sushi at Arigat?:

…We ordered tempura with the starter, and the starter of scallop, cucumber salad and gyoza was lovely. The tempura was tasty. The cheese tekpura was new to us, but lovely. Then arrived the ‘Combinado’ a wonderful platter of sushi with dry ice rolling off, it was stunningly incredible. And so tasty! We loved the wide and flavoursome selection. So much so we ordered the platter again… And devoured the delicious delicacies a second time! We were delighted with Sushi that was not known to us, incredible chefs here, for sure….

Mozambique cuisine at Roda Viva:

…A stunning eating experience, the food is so delicious and I loved it. We had a wide selection of food. Staring with the mushrooms and aubergine and Shrimps, I was so pleased with the shrimp, and they had a chilli oil sauce and one could spice up as you liked. Then the Chicken and Peanut sauce was incredible while the Spaghetti and clams were brilliant. We were with vegans and they found the spinach dish very tasty while the greens in peanut sauce and mushroom were all enjoyed….

And the Fado experience at Duque da Rua was well enjoyed, the traditional Portuguese music genre proving quite the experience. 

Service in this delightful bar is excellent but it’s for the Fado that all seats are filled. 7 singers, 3 musicians, duets, some acting as chorus, it was Incredible and a wonderful introduction to this uniquely Portuguese genre of music. The Fado Guitarist was unbelievable, his effort and commitment to the music and attentiveness to the singer, paying off to our benefit.

This morning programme items have been going well, one online stream is broadcast directly into the hotel for people in person to watch and this work very well. 

The Dynamic Leadership and Crucial Communication workshop has some spaces available on Sunday.  

Online membership is available at smofconeurope.com 

Smofcon Europe Posts Worldcon, Eurocon and Smofcon Bidder Questionnaires

Smofcon Europe, a convention for conrunners taking place December 3-5 in Lisboa, Portugal asked Worldcon, Eurocon and Smofcon bidders to answer a questionnaire.

The responses have been posted at Smofcon Europe’s website here. (Direct links below.)

There will also be a series of Q&A sessions at the con on December 4 where bid representatives will make presentations and take questions.

Seated Worldcons

Worldcon bids

Eurocon bids

SMOFcon bids

Three other announced Worldcon bids submitted questionnaires to last year’s Smofcon but are not represented here:

  • Jeddah in 2026
  • Nice in 2026
  • Orlando in 2026

Also absent is the Winnipeg in 2023 bid announced since the last Smofcon.

There is also an Australian bid getting organized.

  • Brisbane in 2028

And there is pre-bid activity for two more locations, Dublin in 2029 and Texas in 2031, whose committees would not be expected to participate at this stage.