Filk in the Time of Plague

By Karl-Johan Norén: Blind Lemming Chiffon set up The Festival of the Living Rooms as a substitute for the cancelled Consonance this weekend:

Among the performers there you can find John McDaid, TJ & Mitchell Burnside Clapp, Margaret David & Kristoph Klover, and myself.

A lot of online concerts are announced over on Filk Streams:

It is a service started by Eric Distad of The Faithful Sidekicks to help schedule and announce online concerts of filk and other fannish/nerdy music.

Minicon Joins List of Cancelled Conventions

Minicon 55, planned for April 10-12 in Minneapolis, has been called off, although “if for any reason it is deemed safe to do so before that date” they will fulfill their agreement with the DoubleTree by holding a relaxacon. If it remains unsafe to hold an event, there will be none.

The chairs issued this statement:

Dear Minicon Community,

On Friday, March 13, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz declared a “State of Emergency” for Minnesota, and his Dept. of Public Health has advised that gatherings of more than 250 people “should not” occur. Minicon 55 was planned for about 500 people, and thus, cannot occur.

The Minicon 55 Chairs and Concom have agreed to postpone Minicon 55 to April 2-4, 2021 at the Saint Louis Park Doubletree. If you already have a membership to Minicon 55, your membership will remain valid. This is a date change to Easter weekend next year. If next year’s date will not work for you, please contact chair@minicon55.mnstf.org to work out an alternate solution.

Though we won’t be able to host Jo Walton and Elise Matthesen this year, we look forward to their attendance as our Guests of Honor next year in 2021. We wish our guests and their families’ safety and good health.

We, the Minicon 55 Chairs and ConCom, have had many discussions over the past few weeks about Covid-19 and its impact on our community. We recognize that much of our membership is 60+, and many of us are especially at-risk due to respiratory ailments and compromised immune systems. The health and well-being of our community is incredibly important to us. We also need to respect the health and well being of the larger Minnesota community, and avoid unnecessary contact. Without all of us, Minicon wouldn’t be the same.

We have an agreement with the DoubleTree Park Place to have a convention on Easter weekend of 2020, and if for any reason it is deemed safe to do so before that date, we will announce a relaxacon-style event tentatively called “Mini-Consolation”, where we will all cheerfully celebrate the safety and camaraderie of our happy community with enthusiasm yet unseen in suburban Minneapolis. If it remains unsafe to do so, we will, of course, hold no event. The Hotel has released a statement to let people know that all rooms reserved before April 30 of this year can be changed or cancelled at no charge up to 24 hours before your scheduled arrival. If you would like to remain hopeful about a 2020 event, you are welcome to keep your room reservation. We will send a reminder to cancel rooms on about April 4, along with a final update about any events in 2020.

We are all very sad to delay Minicon for an entire year, but we understand it is in the best interests of our entire community at this time. Thank you all for your patience and support. We very much look forward to seeing all of you at future events, and in better times ahead.
Sincerely,
Don & Sharla Stremski, Co-Chairs, Minicon 55

StokerCon UK Postponed

StokerCon UK announced today they are attempting to pospone the event to later in the year due to the rapidly evolving travel restrictions to limit the spread of coronavirus. The Horror Writers Association’s annual event, where the Bram Stoker Awards are presented, was scheduled to be held in Scarborough, U.K. from April 16-19. Here is their statement:

AN IMPORTANT STATEMENT FROM STOKERCON UK ABOUT CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19)

As per our last communication, like all of you we have been closely monitoring the NHS and UK Government guidelines as they have evolved over the past week. As we are all seeing, the situation with regard to COVID-19 changes on an hourly basis.

We have done everything we can to try to continue with StokerCon UK but, unfortunately, this is a fast-changing situation and, even though the UK still has one of the lowest rates of infection in the world, with other countries closing or restricting their borders and, understandably, an increasing number of cancellations, we are left with no choice but to radically reappraise the situation as it now stands.

We are now actively exploring all options to postpone the convention until later in the year and putting together the best plan for everyone who has already signed-up to attend. We understand how disappointing this will be to many of you, but even though the UK Government has not banned gatherings such as ours yet, it is most probably only a matter of time until they do, and we will be seeking advice on the implications for our convention members. The situation is unprecedented and for an event like ours, there is no simple answer.

As a result, this could have huge financial impact upon the convention—one, that at this stage we are not even certain we can survive without the agreement and co-operation of both the hotels involved—but we also want to assure you that the safety and well-being of all our attendees, guests and staff has to be our primary concern at all times.

For those who have booked flights to the UK, you should contact the airline, your insurance provider or your credit card supplier for a refund. For those travelling by train who have already bought tickets, LNER is offering refunds directly online by e-mailing customers@lner.co.uk or by calling 03457 225 333. They just ask that you apply for your refund before April 30, 2020.

With the convention just a month away, we have already invested much of the money received in membership fees with third-party services. As you can imagine, this is going to take some time to sort out, and we will make further announcements when we have more news.

In the meantime, the advice remains as per the Public Health England website: Try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell and avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean. Wash hands frequently and use a hand-sanitiser or antiseptic hand-wipes and observe basic hygiene by coughing or sneezing into a tissue and then throwing it away and washing your hands. If you have a fever or a new and persistent cough, then self-isolate for at least 14 days and if your condition persists or gets worse, then call 111 in the UK or your local health emergency numbers in other countries. Together we can reduce the spread.

Stay safe out there, look after the elderly and infirm and, if we are able to reach agreements with our suppliers, then we hope to see you at a possibly scaled-down StokerCon UK event later this year. We appreciate your patience and understanding as the situation evolves.

Norwescon 43 Cancelled

Norwescon, which had been planned for April 9-12 in SeaTac, WA was cancelled today due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Gordon VanGelder will announce alternate plans for presenting the Philip K. Dick Award, which was to have happened at the convention.

Two days ago the governor of Washington state set a policy banning large gatherings in three counties, and today closed schools for a month in those same counties. SeaTac is in King County, one of the affected three.

The committee posted this statement:

For the health and safety of our community, due to the ongoing concerns about the coronavirus situation, and in accordance with the recent proclamations by Washington State Governor Jay Inslee and the King County Public Health Department, we have decided to cancel this year’s convention. We appreciate your patience as this has not been an easy decision to make.

We have spent much of the past two weeks monitoring the news, tracking announcements, keeping up with recommendations from local and governmental health organizations, and monitoring your questions, comments, and concerns on social media and those sent by email. While we had hoped to continue as planned, it has become clear that this would not be best for our community.

We know that you were all looking forward to this year’s convention just as much as we were, and we hope you all will be able to join us again next year. We also hope that you will continue to keep an eye on our website and social media outlets, as we will be working on highlighting the many professionals, authors, artists, and vendors who were looking forward to introducing you to their projects, books, creations, and wares.

Memberships for this year’s convention will be automatically rolled over to next year’s convention. If you have concerns or questions regarding this, please contact us at registration@norwescon.org.

At this time if you had a reservation in the Norwescon room block your room has been canceled and your deposit will be returned by the hotel.

We deeply and sincerely thank you all for the enthusiasm and support you have for Norwescon and look forward to your rejoining us in 2021. In the meantime, we hope you all stay safe, healthy, and keep washing those hands.

[Thanks to Michael Hanscom for the story.]

Convention Cancellations Accelerate as Public Health Restrictions Announced

With the effects of the coronavirus outbreak expanding, and authorities all over the world responding with policies that attempt to limit large gatherings, many more sff events have cancelled or postponed. Some are shielded from contractual penalties because the actions were initiated by the government, but not all.

The International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts has relented and cancelled ICFA 41, which was to be held March 18-21.

For the last two weeks, the IAFA Board has been monitoring the evolving COVID-19 situation. Until yesterday, we considered it our responsibility to keep the ICFA going for the more than 400 members who were still planning to attend, and to let each individual decide for themselves the risk.

The situation has changed drastically and quickly. The WHO has ruled this an official pandemic and, well, you’ve all seen the news. We believe it would be irresponsible for us to hold the conference because travel poses a public health threat, so ICFA is cancelled. We now must enter into negotiations with the hotel to try to minimize the financial damage. At this time, our policy to credit registration forward (as opposed to refunds) has not changed, but we will give you an update when the situation becomes clearer.

Costume-Con 38 in Montreal, scheduled to start tomorrow, has been cancelled.

It is with great sadness that we are constraint to follow the Prime Minister directives to cancel any event bigger than 250 persons. It is a case of force majeure. We will keep you updated on the situation.

Zenkaikon, slated to begin March 20 in Lancaster, PA now will not take place. The decision was made in response to the state governor’s appeal: “Gov. Tom Wolf advises canceling mass gatherings in Pennsylvania, avoiding recreational activities due to coronavirus concerns” .

We know many of our prospective attendees will be disappointed by this decision. We are disappointed too. Our volunteer staff has spent thousands of hours to make this event happen, and to make it safe for our attendees. But given the current reports coming out about this virus, we agree that it is no longer safe to hold the event. We would hate to put our members, staff, exhibitors, panelists, guests, and the greater Lancaster community at risk.

Fantastika 2020, the Swecon this year, has been postponed until sometimes in the fall. Here is the Google Translate rendering of their Swedish-language announcement:

We have had a very hard time deciding whether to implement Fantastika or set it up for the coronavirus pandemic. Now the issue has been resolved by the Diesel Workshop [the convention facility] seeing us as such an event that they do not allow it. One advantage of this is that we do not have to pay for the premises and in addition, the Diesel workshop tries to find a suitable weekend with us in the committee where we can move Fantastika2020….

Planet Comicon Kansas City is postponed ‘til later this year:

Planet Comicon Kansas City is following the Emergency Order issued by the City and will be postponing PCKC 2020, scheduled for next weekend (March 20-22). The safety, security and health of our attendees, guests, exhibitors, staff and crew members will always be of the utmost importance to us. We will be shifting our efforts to our new event dates which will be in late summer or early fall of 2020 and will be announced in the coming days. For more information, click here.

Already cancelled were the Spectrum Awards Ceremony and Flesk/Spectrum appearance planned in conjunction with the KC convention.

The 2020 Jack Williamson Lectureship at Eastern New Mexico University has been postponed.

I regret to inform you that, due to the COVID-19  virus outbreak in the country and – more recently — in New Mexico, Eastern New Mexico University will be canceling large campus events.  Unfortunately, that means postponing the 2020 Williamson Lectureship (scheduled for April 2-3, 2020) until fall 2020.

We are reaching out to our guests and guest writers to see if we can arrange a date in September.

TOOL TO HELP STAY CURRENT. The US/Canada Convention Status Sheet is an unofficial attempt to track the many dozens of events planned for the next few months.

IN CALIFORNIA. Last night, the Governor of California publicly advised against holding large gatherings (See the LA Times story, “Large gatherings should be canceled due to coronavirus outbreak, California Gov. Gavin Newsom says”.) This announcement affects conferences, concerts, sporting events, and more — but currently does not apply to schools.

… Gov. Gavin Newsom joined state health officials in recommending the cancellation of gatherings of 250 or more people across the entire state, escalating the effort by his administration to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus….

The advisory, which does not carry the force of law, stops short of asking Californians to change their work, travel or even some leisure habits. A document provided by the governor’s administration said the limit on large gatherings does “not apply to essential public transportation, airport travel, or shopping at a store or mall.”

Wondercon, not due to take place until April 10-12, has been postponed. Comic Con International, which runs the Anaheim, CA event, proactively decided to postpone the con even though the host city nudged them on Twitter:

It’s also been decided that Disneyland in California will close through the end of the month.

As for San Diego Comic-Con itself, scheduled for July 23-26, the SDCC Unofficial Blog says it’s still moving forward:

…So what does this mean for San Diego Comic-Con 2020? Comic-Con International stated that they “continue to work closely with officials in San Diego and at this time no decision has been made regarding the rescheduling of Comic-Con slated to take place this summer; July 23-26, 2020.” That convention is more than four months out, and with the exception of E3, most events being canceled have been in March-April. Most event organizers are likely waiting to see how containment and other measures in the US work, as well as if warmer weather could potentially help combat the spread of COVID-19, before making decisions on conventions further out. But the situation continues to change at a rapid pace, so keep an eye on this space.

The annual L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future awards ceremony, planned for April 3 in Hollywood, CA has been cancelled.

We have been closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 virus in California and throughout the world and carefully considered our options for the 36th L. Ron Hubbard Writers and Illustrators of the Future workshops and awards celebration.
In the best interest of the winners, judges, and guests, the workshops and gala event set to take place in Hollywood, CA, on April 3rd will be postponed until later this year.
We know how important this event is for aspiring writers and illustrators and their families who come in from all over the world.

THIS WEEKEND. Yesterday’s File 770 post about conventions affected by the coronavirus outbreak noted that PopCult HQ was tracking eight events happening this weekend. Whereas yesterday six were still planned, by today all but one has been cancelled or postponed.

That one is the River Region Comic Con in Montgomery, Alabama.  

STATEMENT CONCERNING CORONAVIRUS: We have been monitoring the situation and there has been no advisement from Alabama Public Health to not have the event. At this time no cases have been reported in Alabama. If the CDC or Montgomery Public advises and does not allow us to use the building due to concerns we would then cancel. RIVER REGION COMIC CON HAS NOT BEEN CANCELLED. for more information: CLICK HERE!

TADE THOMPSON. One of the GoHs of the UK Eastercon, Tade Thompson, has withdrawn. The convention currently is still planned to start April 10 in Birmingham, UK.

CHARLES STROSS BATTENS DOWN THE HATCHES. In Scotland, Charles Stross is “self-isolating”: “Public appearances in a time of pandemic”.

This probably doesn’t need saying, but I’m cancelling/avoiding public gatherings and/or public appearances for the indefinite, but hopefully short-term, future.

As of an hour ago the Scottish government announced that we’re moving from “contain” to “delay” wrt. Covid-19—community transmission unrelated to travel or contact has been confirmed—and banning all assemblies of >500 people from Monday.

I’m personally in the high-risk category, being over 50 and with both type II diabetes and hypertension, so I’m self-isolating as of today….

TAKE CARE. Diana Glyer’s comment on Facebook seems a good note to end with:

My favorite book about contagions is Connie Willis’s brilliant Doomsday Book, There are a hundred things to love about that book, but for me, today, the big takeaway in it is this: We are limited in the things we can do to address the catastrophe itself, but there are no limits to the ways we can serve, love, help, guide, encourage, and care for one another in the midst of it. And that will make all the difference.

Coronavirus Threat Causes
Some Conventions to Cancel or Reschedule

Book fairs and sff conventions, like all public events, were already making decisions whether to proceed in the face of the coronavirus outbreak, but today’s World Health Organization announcement will step up the level of concern even higher. From the New York Times: “W.H.O. Declares Pandemic as Number of Infected Countries Grows”.

…“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, chief of the W.H.O., said at a news conference in Geneva.

“We cannot say this loudly enough or clearly enough or often enough,” he added. “All countries can still change the course of this pandemic.”

But now there is evidence on six continents of sustained transmission of the virus, which has infected more than 120,000 people and killed more than 4,300, and by most scientific measures the spread qualifies as a pandemic. The designation itself is largely symbolic, but public health officials know that the public will hear in the word elements of danger and risk.

PopCult HQ has been tracking 8 conventions worldwide that are planned for next weekend and as of yesterday, only two have been called off.

Seattle’s large Emerald City Comic Con, which was planned for March 12-15, announced on March 9 that it has been postponed until Summer 2020 (the date to be named later.)

Each year the Emerald City Comic Con team works their hardest to do right by the thousands of fans that come together in Seattle. We want to create a space for you to gather, be yourselves and make memories with those who matter to you most. We have been closely monitoring the situation around the COVID-19 virus in Seattle, and, after many hours of conversation internally and consultation with local government officials and the tourism bureau, we have decided to move next week’s Emerald City Comic Con to Summer 2020 with date and detail announcement forthcoming. We did everything that we could to run the event as planned, but ultimately, we are following the guidance of the local public health officials indicating that conventions should now be postponed.

The Manga Comic Con in Leipzig, Germany is part of the Leipzig Book Fair, which also will not take place. Public health policies contributed heavily to the decision:

…The Leipzig Public Health Office decided to follow the directive of the Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Ministry of Economics, which states that the traceability of contact persons at major events must be guaranteed. The directive explicitly stipulated that every participant in the fair must provide written proof that he or she is not from any of the identified risk locations and has not had contact with people from such locations. Considering the approximately 2,500 exhibitors and 280,000 expected visitors, this was not a reasonable task. The health of our exhibitors, visitors, guests, partners and employees is our top priority. The City of Leipzig and Leipziger Messe have therefore decided to cancel the event entirely.

However, next weekend’s conventions in Canada, Ireland, and several U.S. cities east of the Mississippi are going forward.

On the other hand, the Burning Cat gaming con slated for May in Portland, OR has already canceled.

Not on PopCult HQ’s list, Consonance 2020, the Bay Area filk convention slated for March 20-22, has been cancelled. Chair Lynn Gold made the announcement today.   

And Perth, Australia’s Swancon 2020, calendared for April 25-27, has been called off. The convenors told Facebook followers, “This Really is The Darkest Timeline”:

In light of information from the Department of Health, the Western Australian Department of Health, and the advice of medical professionals in our community such as Dr Karen McKenna, the Convention Committee, Convention Steering Committee and WASFF Board have voted to cancel Swancon 2020.

Early projections indicate that the height of the pandemic is likely to be late April to early May, and as such we would be irresponsible to hold a large public gathering, regardless of the amount of hand sanitizer and tissues we provided.

The governor of Washington state today set a policy banning large gatherings in three counties which could impact Norwescon“Inslee orders halt on large gatherings in Seattle region, asks schools to prepare for closure, to slow coronavirus spread”

Flanked by the leaders of Seattle, Tacoma and Everett, and of King, Pierce and Snohomish counties, Inslee said he was ordering the cancellation of large church services, sporting events, concerts, festivals and conventions.

“Today I am ordering, pursuant to my emergency powers, that certain events in King, Snohomish and Pierce counties with more than 250 people are prohibited by order of the governor,” Inslee said, at a King County government building in downtown Seattle. The three counties are “experiencing significant community transmission, significant outbreaks and they are large population centers.”

The order is in effect through the end of March, Inslee said, but it is “highly likely” it will be extended beyond that time.

Norwescon is scheduled for April 9-12. The convention committee has posted this response:

The Executive team is aware of the March 11 announcement by WA Gov. Inslee regarding COVID-19 containment plans. We are in active discussion within the Executive team and with the hotel to determine our best options. We will provide updates as soon as possible, but do need some time to coordinate. Thank you for your patience and understanding as we do our best to adjust to a quickly moving situation.

BALANCING ACT. Where public health officials have not yet instituted any restrictions, few events can unilaterally cancel without jeopardizing their future.

The International Association For The Fantastic In The Arts, in “COVID-19, Cancellations, and Credits/Refunds”, said their economic survival would be in doubt if they cancelled the event, therefore ICFA 41 will still take place March 18-21 in Florida.

The conference will meet. We have to meet certain guaranteed minimums for room occupancy, food and beverage expenditures, etc., specified in our contract with the hotel, or pay out of pocket. It is not an exaggeration to say that cancellation would jeopardize the very existence of the IAFA.

All conrunners have a recent example in Arisia of what happens when penalty clauses kick in because an event has been cancelled for reasons outside the provisions of their facilities contracts.

In that vein, after conferring with their hotel the chairs of UK’s Eastercon, Concentric 2020, planned for April 10-13, put out this statement on March 8:  

The Eastercon committee met with the Hilton on Friday and discussed with them the concerns of the Eastercon membership. We asked about their policies on refunds for the event and any rooms booked with the potential issues from Covid-19. The Hilton have confirmed to the committee that, as the government’s stance at this point is business as usual, they will not be offering any additional or exceptional circumstances towards bookings that have already been made.

We have discussed if there would be any possibility of a change in their stance on this matter. We have been advised that the only time at which there would be a change would be if running the convention would be either impossible or illegal due to requirements put in place either from the Government or from an authorised public body such as Public Health England or the World Health Organisation….

Pittsburgh’s furry fandom Anthrocon (July 2-5) has also been consulting with and monitoring information from public health agencies, and in a March 9 statement said they plan to go on with the con:

At this time, there is no intention of canceling or delaying the Anthrocon 2020 convention. None of the agencies listed above has advised either course of action. We continue to monitor the situation daily, however, and should circumstances warrant either a cancellation or rescheduling, we will issue that announcement without delay on our web site and through all of our social media outlets. Please be patient. None of us can predict the course that this epidemic will take, and to what extent – or even if – it will be a concern in July. Our only choice is to rely on the advice of the medical professionals who are best situated to offer such advice.

At this time, no U.S. medical agency is advising travelers to cancel plans to travel to Western Pennsylvania, whereas of this date no cases of COVID-19 have been reported.

Today, the SFWA Board of Directors today said the Nebula Conference (May 28-31) is going forward, because of the penalties that would result from cancellation: “A Message from SFWA Regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19)”.

…At the moment, SFWA is planning to hold the conference with adjustments to reduce the risks of spreading the virus. The SFWA Board and the Nebula Conference events team are talking about this evolving situation daily including the possibility that things may shift enough that we need to cancel the in-person event. We will continue to monitor the situation and make adjustments.

The Nebulas are 80 days away and every day brings us a better understanding of what’s happening with COVID-19.

Our challenge is that the hotel will not allow us to cancel the event without paying penalties unless it is “illegal or impossible” to host it. Similarly, they will not offer us any refunds. This limits our choices. With that said, the board’s priority in decision-making still remains with the health and safety of our attendees and by extension their families.

The chairs of CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon, Norman Cates and Kelly Buehler made this public statement on March 6:

Although New Zealand has not been affected by Covid-19 to the extent of the rest of the world, our government and the NZ Ministry of Health have extensive civil defence plans. We are monitoring the situation and will be prepared for what the future brings.

As usual, we strongly advise all members purchase their own comprehensive travel insurance for any foreign travel, including cancellation insurance. If you have already purchased insurance for your journey to New Zealand, we recommend that you check the full terms with your insurance provider.

We are in touch with the Ministry of Health as well as with our venue planning managers. We want everyone to have a safe and healthy convention, and we will be following best practices.

CRUISE SHIPS. While the Canadian government’s coronavirus disease guidance warns citizens to avoid all cruise ship travel, and the United States’ Center for Disease Control recommends cruise ship travel be deferred, N.K. Jemisin, Rebecca Roanhorse, Patrick Rothfuss, John Scalzi, and Martha Wells are among the many pop culture guests currently aboard the 2020 JoCo Cruise, which ends March 13.

READINGS: The Fantastic Fiction at KGB readings series today canceled its March event with guests Daniel Braum & Robert Levy, promising instead, “both authors will be reading their work over an online livestream at the same scheduled date and time (March 18th, 7pm). Details on that livestream will be forthcoming.”

BOOK FAIRS. Outside of fandom, a series of publishing industry events have shuttered or rescheduled due to the withdrawal of participating book companies and sponsors.

The National Book Critics Circle in New York has canceled both its finalists reading on Wednesday, March 11, and its awards ceremony on Thursday, March 12. The Tucson (AZ) Festival of Books, which was planned for March 14-15, has canceled. 

The Los Angeles Times has postponed its Festival of Books and Food Bowl events, “in light of public health concerns related to the coronavirus and out of an abundance of caution.” “Los Angeles Times postpones Festival of Books and Food Bowl due to coronavirus concerns “

The 25th Festival of Books, originally scheduled for April, will now take place the weekend of Oct. 3-4 on the USC campus. The 4th Food Bowl, previously set for May, will also be moved to the fall, with dates to be announced later.

While the Book Prizes awards ceremony will not be held this year, honorees and winners will still be acknowledged via an announcement to be released on April 17.

With Italy already a center of the outbreak, publishers are shying away from the Bologna Book Fair:

Penguin Random House has become the second of the Big Five U.S. publishers to announce it would not attend this year’s rescheduled Bologna Children’s Book Fair, scheduled for May 4–7,

Shelf Awareness has a growing list of book fairs and bookstore events that have been called off, or adjusted their plans: “COVID-19 Update: More Cancellations & Postponements”.

SHOW UP BUT KEEP YOUR DISTANCE. Events that are proceeding have instituted whatever safety measures they think are appropriate.


UPDATE: Ace Comic Con Northeast (March 20-22), which had publicized their decision to go on, has now cancelled. Note that the following segment was written before the announcement.


Despite fannish complaints, ACE Comic Con Northeast is running March 20-22 in Boston, and chirpily told the Boston Globe: “ACE Comic Con is still on. Just don’t touch the Chrises (Hemsworth or Evans).”

…Ace Comic Con, which is hosting a Northeast fan event from March 20-22 at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, will go on as planned, despite coronavirus concerns, according to organizers. That said, there are some new rules regarding social distancing, posted on ACE’s Facebook page:

“During Photo Ops & Autographs – Handshakes, hugs, requests to hold props during Photo Ops, and physical contact will not be permitted. No gifts, letters, or cards will be accepted by celebrity guests so we ask that you do not bring in those items.

…Of course, some have fans have posted complaints on Facebook. They bought special autograph packages expecting to get hugs and handshakes from stars.

“I am coming from FL and I wanted a hug from both Chris’. Now I’m gonna stand side by side with them? How is that fair? … I honestly don’t want to come anymore,” one Facebook user said.

FALLOUT. The economic consequences from not holding events will ripple far beyond the hotels and committees. For example, the SXSW cancellation has caused major layoffs:

On March 6, SXSW canceled its 2020 festival due to concerns surrounding the recent coronavirus outbreak. It marked the first cancellation in the annual Austin event’s 34-year history. Now, SXSW’s parent company SXSW LLC has laid off roughly a third of its 175 year-round employees, according to a new report by local paper the Austin American-Statesman,

DECISION TIME. To hold the con or not?

Nerd & Tie’s Trae Dorn agrees that “Every Convention Staff Needs to Have the COVID-19 Conversation”.

…The fact is we are dealing with a disease where it’s possible that some infected people can be contagious while appearing healthy for weeks. Transmission happens when people are in close proximity, and since this is a new form of the disease, odds are if you’re exposed you’re going to get it. And you can talk about how mortality rates as a percentage are only slightly higher than the flu, a lot of people don’t get the flu. There are plenty of people who walk our convention halls who have a good chance of dying if they get infected.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a fan of having none of my convention’s attendees die.

So yeah, it’s time to talk. How drastic your conversation is depends on how bad things are where you are physically along with who might come to your event. If you’re an event like SXSW where people come from all over the world… consider not holding your event immediately. Postpone it if you can, but no event is worth people’s lives. If you’re a regional event, you need to look at the landscape. If you’re in a city or area with an active outbreak, do not hold your event, I beg of you.

And Chuck Wendig has written several virus-related blog posts in the past 10 days, beginning with “Running A Con, Conference Or Festival In The Age Of A Burgeoning Pandemic!” These are things that convention guests will have on their minds:

e) Recognize that we’re probably anxious about this. Many of us will go to our events via two or more airports, likely international ones. We will then be at your event with hundreds to thousands of people. If we’re writers, we’re gonna be theoretically up close and personal with folks, signing their books, some want photos — and trust me, writers are already a pretty anxious lot. Our brains are carousels of crawling ants. We’re already imagining worse case scenarios. (Seriously, have you read Wanderers?) You talking to us about that before we have to talk to you about it would be very nice.

f) Recognize too we don’t want to get stuck anywhere. We have families! Pets! Extreme introversion! Note that some people who have traveled overseas have found themselves in exactly this scenario. Best case scenario, it’s a travel delay. Worst case, it’s full restriction or quarantine. Who knows how the fuck this current administration will bungle this up — they might not do anything, or they might clamp down hard when it’s not needed. Either way? We don’t wanna find out. So, what happens if it does? Are you gonna cover our hotels if we’re guests? One night? Ten? Certainly your responsibility ends somewhere, but I’d sure like you to be thinking about that.

Right now, all the choices are hard.

2020 Jack Williamson Lectureship

The 44th Annual Jack Williamson Lectureship will take place Friday, April 3, 2020 at Eastern New Mexico University with Guests of Honor James Patrick Kelly and Rebecca Roanhorse along with other writers, friends and fans from across the region. Connie Willis returns as Mistress of Ceremonies.

  • James Patrick Kelly has won the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards. His most recent publication is the collection, The Promise of Space, published in 2018. He writes a column on the internet for Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine and recently retired from faculty of the Stonecoast Creative Writing MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine where he taught for 15 years.
  • Rebecca Roanhorse is a Nebula and Hugo Award-winner and the recipient of the 2018 Astounding (Campbell) Award for Best New Writer. Her novel Trail of Lightning won the Locus Award for Best First Novel and is a Nebula, Hugo and World Fantasy finalist. Her short fiction can be found in Apex Magazine, New Suns, The Mythic Dream, and various anthologies. She lives in Northern New Mexico.

The lectureship, named for the prolific sff author and academic, was established by the university when Dr. Jack Williamson retired from his position as professor of English at Eastern New Mexico University in 1977. Ever since then writers, editors, artists and other speakers have gathered at ENMU every spring to share ideas, insights and their work with students, readers, viewers, creators, collectors and fans.

The complete schedule of events will be posted soon. All events are open to the public and everything except the luncheon is free. The luncheon costs $10, payable at the door, but reservations are required by April 2. Contact planning.analysis@enmu.edu for lunch reservations.

2020 LA Vintage Paperback Collectors Show & Sale on 3/8

Get ready! The Los Angeles Vintage Paperback Collectors Show takes place Sunday March 8 at the Glendale Civic Auditorium (1401 Verdugo Rd.) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Daylight Savings Time – Starts today) Admission is $5.

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

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.

Get off the internet. Garage sale later. Come to the Paperback Show. It’s an amazing event that happens once a year.

More than 50 authors who will sign their books for free. (Regrettably, longtime guests William F. Nolan and Jason Brock have had to cancel — both say they will be back at next year’s show.)

Here is the full guest signing schedule.

  • Peter Atkins ………………………….11:00 A.M.
  • Steven Barnes …………………… …..2:00 P.M
  • Peter Beagle …………………………10:00 A.M.
  • Tracy L. Carbone ……………………….12:00 N
  • John DeChancie ………………. ……1:00 P.M.
  • Ashley Dioses ………………………11:00 A.M.
  • L. J. Dopp ………………………………1:00 P.M.
  • Kelly Dunn ………………………………2:00 P.M.
  • Joel Eisenberg ………………………..2:00 P.M.
  • Christa Faust ……………………….10:00 A.M.
  • Laura Freas ………………………….10:00 A.M.
  • Gary Gianni…………………….12:00 N-2 P.M.
  • Mel Gilden …………………………..11:00 A.M.
  • Tony Gleeson ………………………………12 N
  • Donald Glut ……………………………1:00 P.M.
  • Scott Tracy Griffin ……………… 10:00 A.M.
  • Barbara Hambly …………………..11:00 A.M.
  • Denise Hamilton ……………………1:00 P.M.
  • Odie Hawkins ………………………..2:00 P.M.
  • Gar Anthony Haywood …………….1:00 P.M.
  • Stephen Jared ………………………10:00 A.M.
  • Bruce Kimmel ……………………..11:00 A.M.
  • Tim Kirk ……………………………. .10:00 A.M.
  • Michael Kurland …………………………..12 N
  • Terrill Lee Lankford ………………. .2:00 P.M.
  • Richard Lupoff ……………………………..12 N
  • Jonathan Maberry……………..1:00 P.M.-3P.M.
  • Michael Mallory …………………… ……..12 N
  • R.C. Matheson…………………………..2:00 P.M.
  • Craig Miller……………………………………12N
  • Daniel Keys Moran ……………………….12 N
  • Lisa Morton …………………………..1:00 P.M.
  • Larry Niven ……………………………2:00 P.M.
  • Charles Nuetzel …………………….1:00 P.M.
  • K. A. Opperman…………………….11:00 A.M.
  • Gary Phillips ………………………….2:00 P.M.
  • Felice Picano …………………………1:00 P.M.
  • Tim Powers …………………. 11 A.M-1: P.M.
  • Harry Turtledove ……………….. ….1:00 P.M.
  • Scott Woodard…………………… 11 A.M.
  • Stephen Woodworth …………… ..2:00 P.M.

Agner Wins NESFA 2019-2020 Short Story Contest

The results of the 2019-2020 NESFA® Science Fiction & Fantasy Short Story Contest were announced at Boskone 57 on February 16, 2020.

The contest “encourages amateur and semi-professional writers to reach the next level of proficiency.”

Steve Lee says, “We got submissions from all around the world, including one in Russian (which we sent back for an English translation).”

Winner:

  • “Stick in the Mud” by Mary Alexandra Agner

First Runner-Up:

  • “Hope Chest” by Sarah Day

Honorable Mentions:

  • “Author of the Dreams of an Outer God” by Jonathan Bronico
  • “Deathtree” by Kit Harding
  • “The Gravity of Grace” by Carina Bissett

First readers: James Boggie, Ann Crimmins, David G. Grubbs, Chip Hitchcock, Mike Kerpan, Suford Lewis, and Kelsey Pouk.

Final round judges: Elaine Isaak, Tony Lewis, and Kim Stanley Robinson

Andrew Porter’s Boskone 57 Photo Gallery

Andrew Porter had writers, dealers and artists in his sights at this year’s Boskone. (Thanks to George R. Morgan for identifying the subjects.)

  • Ben Yalow and Michael Walsh
  • Brad “Chumley” Verter and Joe Berlant 
  • Sally Kobee of Larry Smith Books 
  • Stan “the Man” Musial, uh, Robinson
  • British artist Jim Burns – NESFA Press Guest  
  • Boskone artist GoH Eric Wilkerson 
  • Holly Black YA Fiction Guest 
  • Brad “Chum” Verter
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • First Fandom Experience guys; right is David Ritter, on left, son Daniel Ritter, both chums/creators of The Visual History of Science Fiction Fandom-Volume one the 1930s, available at Boskone 57
  • Bunch of early fans; page from the Ritters’ book (note name directory to left of photo)
  • Robert Wiener
  • L-R  William Hayashi, Mark Olson, Alexander Jablakov, Kim Stanley Robinson “The Consequences of Actually Finding Life on Mars” Panel
  • Tor paid for this cake