Dragon Con 2020 Goes Virtual

Dragon Con’s Literary Guest of Honor John Scalzi broke the news: “Dragon Con Going Virtual in 2020”.

As the 2020 Literary Guest of Honor for Dragon Con, I fully support this decision on the part of the convention. As much as I would have loved to see everyone in Atlanta this year, it’s just not feasible or practicable.

On the con’s website is a section of “Dragon Con Updates” which begins:

After many months of hand-wringing, sleepless nights, and more Zoom meetings than we can count, we have decided that Dragon Con 2020 event will not be held in person. Trust us, we are just as bummed as you are, but know we did not make this decision lightly. Above all else, we want to thank you, our fans, our partners, the ACVB, and the city of Atlanta for the support you have given us over these past few months.

Their Update Q&A includes this strangely defensive exchange between the committee and….themselves?

Finally! Took you long enough to cancel.

First off, rude. Secondly, not a question. We are so heartbroken that we cannot, in good faith, host a 2020 event. We truly did everything possible to remain positive and exhaust all options – some extremely creative in nature – understanding that a large part of our fan base and key partners truly needed an event to enjoy after the year we have all had.  Along the way, we have said that if we did not feel that we could host a Dragon Con quality convention that also kept our fans and community safe, we would make the hard and necessary decision that we announced today. We are looking forward to 2021 when we can all meet again in person.

Part of our intense work on exploring all options was out of respect for our partners, who are going through an unprecedented and painful time with many key people being displaced indefinitely.  These people are a major part of the Dragon Con family.  If you are local to Atlanta please go out and support our beloved hotels and businesses when it is safe to do so. After all, who doesn’t need a drink at their favorite bar or night away from home at this point?

This year’s convention, scheduled for September 3-7, was originally projected to attract some 90,000 people to downtown Atlanta.

What about the Dragon Awards? A post on the convention’s Media Relations website assures readers:

The Dragon Awards, a fan’s choice awards program to recognize the very best in science fiction and fantasy literature, comics, gaming, and filmed entertainment, will continue as planned.

Ballots are due to be released August 1. Fans can anticipate the awards ceremony will be part of the virtual convention.

Update 07/06/2020: Revised to include con’s Dragon Awards statement.

Columbus 2020 NASFiC Updates Cancellation Post

When the Columbus 2020 NASFiC cancelled its in-person event last month, some of the committee’s statements about the refund policy and publication plans triggered considerable criticism. There’s been a clarification posted at the NASFiC website.

Chair Lisa Garrison, Vice Chair Dale Mazzola, and Treasurer Kim Williams are minimizing any expectations about membership refunds:

Like so many conventions affected by Covid-19, NASFIC has been involved in some very challenging negotiations. Because Ohio is trying to open up its economy, we are likely to have some heavy cancellation fees imposed by our facilities. Therefore, we are unlikely to be able to offer any meaningful level of membership refunds.

There won’t be a printed Souvenir Book:

We originally felt that any small residual amount could be spent on a low-cost book celebrating our Guests or passed along to a future event to benefit fans in general. We were wrong. If we gave the impression that we were prioritizing the Souvenir book or pass-along funds over the needs of our members, even those in hardship, we’re sorry.

They apologized for some aspects of the original statement.

We were also wrong to make such an announcement on a likely outcome before the actual negotiations were finalized. We apologize for those misjudgments, as of now negotiations are still ongoing.

Their approach to refunds now is this:

If refunds can be offered, we will. We will also ask anyone who can waive a refund requests do so. We hope to give those most in [need] a more meaningful amount. As soon as we know the amount left over, we will post a refund process.

Although we will absolutely not produce a physical Souvenir / Program Book, we will look into an electronic publication instead.

We understand people will be disappointed by the news that we will probably not be able to make more substantial refunds. We are negotiating in good faith, with our other partners in town, to seek the best possible settlement. I wish I could be more optimistic, but I’m staying realistic and hoping for the best.

[Thanks to Rich Lynch for the story.]

World Fantasy Convention 2020 Goes Virtual

World Fantasy Convention 2020 has joined the ranks of virtual sff events. The convention had been planned for October 29–November 1 in Salt Lake City, but last week their hotel cancelled all in-person meetings for the rest of 2020, forcing them to move online.

The committee announced today:

The membership fee to participate in this year’s virtual World Fantasy Convention is $125. Plans have already begun to transition many of the traditional physical experiences you’ve come to expect from World Fantasy Convention. We’ll be ironing out the details in the coming months, but we hope to provide a variety of online offerings, including:

  • A full schedule of panel discussions by professionals in the fantasy genre
  • Readings by your favorite fantasy authors
  • Demonstrations by fantasy artists
  • Spotlight interviews with our honored guests: Stephen Gallagher, David Cherry, Anne Groell, CJ Cherryh, Cindy Pon, Stephen Graham Jones, Brandon Sanderson, and Tracy and Laura Hickman
  • The ability to interact in a small group setting with some of the authors, editors, agents, and artists who participate in the World Fantasy Convention program
  • Lots of time to chat with other World Fantasy Convention members online
  • An exhibit hall with links to our dealers
  • An art show, with the opportunity to purchase artwork directly from fantasy artists
  • A collector’s item souvenir book that includes high-quality artwork by our artist Guest of Honor David Cherry, fiction by our honored guest authors, appreciation articles, bios, World Fantasy Convention history, and more
  • The World Fantasy Award ceremony, which recognizes outstanding people, fiction, art, semi-professional and professional contributions in the fantasy and horror genre
  • We’re even working on ways to get autographs for your favorite fantasy books!

Information about how they’re handling reimbursements and cancellations is on their website.

WFC 2020 Chair Ginny Smith concluded:
 
We share the disappointment many of you feel as you read this announcement. We wanted to throw a party – a huge, fabulous, fun party! – with 900 friends who share our love for the literature and artwork of fantasy and horror. We’re going through a period of grieving as we watch our plans crumble. But we are in a unique position to do something inventive, innovative, and really, really fun in a virtual World Fantasy Convention. We hope you’ll join us!

[Based on a press release.]

Capricon 40: The 40th Anniversary of The Empire Strikes Back

Recorded and Archived by Chris M. Barkley: In October 2019, I was invited by Tammy Coxen to be a program participant at Capricon 40, an annual sf convention held in the Chicago area. The author Guest of Honor was Tobias Buckell and the 2020 theme was “The Tropics of Capricon” – exploring SF from Central and South America and other balmy climes, and the science of climate change. 

Among the most exciting items on the schedule was a panel on the 40th anniversary of The Empire Strikes back, considered by many to be the best of all the Star Wars films AND one of the finest movie sequels of all time.

I remember the memorable evening I saw a preview of Empire in a local Cincinnati, packed with fans, radio station ticket winners and local media. It was a rollicking, fun night as the audience was thrilled amazed…and then ultimately shocked by a story revelation that, so far in my opinion, no filmmaker has managed to match in the decades since.

The panel was held on Thursday, February 13 at 3:30 p.m., which was very early in the programming schedule. I and the other panelists, our moderator, Shaun Duke, and local fans Toni Bogolub and Megan Murray, were worried that the attendance would be sparse, at best.

AT-ATs advance, shooting laser bolts, toward the defending Alliance troops during the Battle of Hoth.

But, as it turned out, we all underestimated the interest in this panel and had well over fifty people in attendance.  

What has been documented here is the wild and undying love for Star Wars and our unbridled opinions about the best and worst of things about it.

I hope you enjoy our panel discussion: “40th Anniversary Empire Strikes Back.mp3”

(L) David Prowse (as Darth Vader; voice: James Earl Jones), (R) Mark Hamill (as Luke Skywalker)

Authorities Unexpectedly Greenlight Florida Con; Elsewhere Cancellations Mount

With at least 200 comic, sff and pop culture conventions having cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak, Tampa NBC affiliate WFLA’s report today that “Tampa Bay Comic Con gets green light to go on in July” was an unexpected piece of news.

Tampa Bay Comic Con has received the green light to go on as planned in July, after months of uncertainty due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Tampa Bay Comic Con will be held from July 10-12.

In a post to their Facebook page on Tuesday, Tampa Bay Comic Con confirmed it has received confirmation from the Tampa Convention Center and Tampa Fire Marshal that TBCC 2020 will move forward with numerous health measures to keep everyone safe.

Those measures include:

  • Mandatory temperature screenings for all occupants prior to entering the convention center
  • Increased cleaning and disinfection procedures in high-traffic areas of the convention center
  • Hand santizing stations through the pre-function space and high traffic areas
  • Interior occupancy of the exhibit hall, ballrooms and meeting rooms will be strictly limited, with one-way entrances and one-way exits of all interior spaces

Nevertheless, the trend for now is strong in the other direction, as cancellation announcements continue to mount.

Major gaming convention Gen-Con cancelled on May 19. The event was to be held in Indianapolis, IN on July 30-August 12. Peter Adkison, the event’s co-owner and chairman of the board, began his statement —

This decision will not be surprising to many of you, but due to health and safety concerns related to COVID-19, we announced today that we are canceling Gen Con 2020 in Indianapolis and planning an online event in its place.

This will be the first time in the 50+ year history of Gen Con that we will miss the chance to see each other in person, and it hurts, but nothing is more important to us than the health and safety of our attendees and the communities they hail from….

Others that went public with a decision this week include events in Mississippi, South Carolina and Missouri.

“2020 Mississippi Comic Con canceled due to COVID-19” was announced May 18.

“Because of the uncertainty surrounding the current state order and the overall lack of certainty surrounding the safety of our patrons, guests, vendors, and staff for Mississippi Comic Con, we are forced to cancel our 2020 event. After speaking extensively with the management at the Trade Mart, and advisement from the Mississippi State Department of Health, we have rescheduled Mississippi Comic Con for June 26-27, 2021. We are in the process of trying to re-book some of this year’s guests for those dates but nothing is certain at this time,” said AVC Conventions co-owner Greg Hanks.

The announcement that South Carolina’s “Soda City Comic Con canceled due to COVID-19 pandemic” also was made May 18.

On Monday, officials announced the cancellation of this year’s Soda City Comic Con.

The popular event, which has been held since 2015, was set to take place at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center on August 22-23.

“Given the current environment and with a heavy heart, we have decided to cancel the 2020 Soda City Comic Con,” event officials wrote in a message posted on the Soda City Comic Con Facebook page. “We do not take this decision lightly, as many hours have been dedicated to planning the 2020 event.”

In Missouri, reports that a “St. Louis comic con event postponed” went public on May 15.

Wizard Entertainment Inc. has postponed its Wizard World St. Louis convention, originally set for June 5-7 at America’s Center. The event will now take place March 12-14, 2021.

Wizard World is a convention for fans of multiple genres, including science fiction and fantasy, comic books, movies and digital media. Fans who purchased general admission or VIP tickets for the original dates may use those same tickets for the rescheduled event, officials said.

The US/Canada Convention Status Sheet (Google docs) tracks almost 300 comic, sff and pop culture cons. Nearly 200 events on their list have already cancelled or postponed. All the events through June (with a single exception) have been shuttered. For the next three months beyond that, the number of events that have yet to be called off amount to 17 in July (vs. 13 cancelled), 15 in August (vs. 5 cancelled), and 18 in September (only 1 cancelled).

The lone September cancellation so far is Rose City Comic Con in Portland, OR, which decided a few days ago:

As a consequence of the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic, Rose City Comic Con, originally scheduled to take place on September 11-13, 2020, will now be held at the Oregon Convention Center, Portland on September 10-12, 2021.   

Columbus 2020 NASFiC Cancelled

Lisa Garrison, Chair of the Columbus 2020 NASFiC, announced their con, too, has fallen victim to the coronavirus outbreak, but they intend to have a virtual event over the same weekend:

This is the statement I have been hoping we would not have to make, but it is with a heavy heart that I and the executive committee, in consultation with Hotel management and the local Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, announce that we have made the decision to  cancel the Columbus 2020 NASFiC.  Due to the uncertain health situation and the unreliable travel restrictions, it was decided by all that hosting the NASFiC at this time would be unwise.

We will not be offering any refunds but, that being said, we still plan on publishing a souvenir book for all attending and supporting members. 

We may have a virtual event  on the weekend of August 20 -23.  We’ll update everyone on that later once we have some plans. 

We were very much looking forward to hosting the North American Science Fiction Convention this fall with you and regret that it cannot happen. 

Westercons 73 And 74 Postponed For One Year Due To Covid-19

The 2020 and 2021 Westercon committees have agreed to roll their events forward a year. They announced the decision today on the Westercon.org site:

Due to government orders prohibiting large gatherings having been extended into July 2020, Westercon 73 in SeaTac WA has been obliged to postpone their event. After consultation with Westercon 74 in Tonopah NV and with the Board of Directors of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, the two conventions have agreed to postpone both of their events for one year. Westercon 73 will now be held in 2021 and Westercon 74 in 2022. There will be no Westercon held in 2020.

Sally Woehrle, chair of Westercon 73 SeaTac, said that Westercon 73 could not take place as originally scheduled in 2020 due to Washington state’s COVID-19 restrictions on large group events. The SeaTac Doubletree Hotel has agreed to move Westercon 73 to 2021. Current hotel reservations have been cancelled and can be rebooked after July 20, 2020. Westercon 73’s new dates are Thursday, July 1 through Sunday, July 4, 2021.

Westercon 74’s new dates are Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4, 2022 at the Tonopah Convention Center, Mizpah and Belvada Hotels, and other area hotels in Tonopah, Nevada. Hotel reservations were not yet open for the convention’s original dates. Westercon 74 will announce plans for hotel reservations later. Membership rates previously announced as increasing in July 2020 will be frozen at their current level until July 2021.

No bids filed the necessary documents to appear on the ballot for Westercon 75 by the original April 15, 2020 deadline. Site Selection for Westercon 75 will now be for the year 2023 and will be still be conducted by Westercon 73. All deadlines for site selection for Westercon 75 will be postponed one year from the originally published dates.

Kevin Standlee, chair of Westercon 74 Tonopah, said that Tonopah’s facilities were very flexible and were willing to reschedule Westercon 74 to take place a year later. He cited the town’s flexibility regarding hosting Westercon as a major factor in allowing both conventions to be rescheduled.

The two seated Westercons consulted with the LASFS Board of Directors (owners of the Westercon service mark), who agreed that the “Westercon Two-Step” was the best plan for ensuring continuity of Westercon operations and minimizing overall disruption to both seated conventions.

Both conventions will contact their members directly with additional details about their respective postponements. For questions about specific impacts upon each convention, contact Westercon 73 through their web site, www.westercon73.org, and Westercon 74 through their web site, www.westercon74.org.

[Thanks to Kevin Standlee for the story. And for rapidly updating the Tonopah logo!]

2020 NASFiC Wants to Know Who’s Still Coming

The Columbus 2020 NASFiC’s Kim Williams asked File 770 to signal boost the message posted on their website yesterday:

We would like to announce that at this point in time, April 25th 2020, we are STILL planning for the NASFIC in Columbus OH, to occur – live – on the weekend of August 20 – 23, 2020. 

With various states lifting stay in place rules/orders/recommendations the hotel thinks that everything will be just fine.

What we (your NASFIC team) desperately need from you (our Members) is to know if you are still planning to attend. If you are NOT planning to attend, then please cancel your hotel reservation. It’s the only real way we have to know how to proceed.

Registration prices will stay at $100 until we welcome you to the Sheraton, then the at-the-door price will be $125.00.

If you have any questions, feel free to email me at finance@columbus2020nasfic.org

Before comments begin: We have a Force Majeure clause. As we said in the post, the corporation is Marriott and they feel that unless the Governor Dewine keeps numerical limits on gatherings, it will be “just fine”. They are using GA (Dragon Con) as their evidence. 

Pennsic War Postponed to 2021

Pennsic field battle, 2006. Photo by Kevin D, Hartnell.

The Pennsic War, the Society for Creative Anachronism’s largest event, has been cancelled and rescheduled to 2021 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The annual medieval encampment draws more than 10,000 people from all over the world to witness the mock war between the SCA’s Kingdom of the East and the Middle Kingdom. The event was originally planned for July 27-August 7.

Sir Gregory of Loch Swan, Mayor of Pennsic 49, told Facebook readers:

When I took on the office of Mayor of Pennsic 49, I promised to, and was entrusted with, the welfare and safety of the entire Pennsic Family. It is therefore with great sadness that I must inform you today that, we have decided to postpone Pennsic 49…

This postponement will come as heartbreaking news to many of you  and it has been an exceedingly difficult decision for us to make. Since the first Pennsic Wars at Cooper’s Lake we have been so proud to welcome people from all over the Knowne World to beautiful lands of Aethelmearc, but this year, sadly we cannot gather together as before.

As many of you have read in my previous COVID-19 updates, the impact of this terrible pandemic has effects that reach far past just those that attend Pennsic War….

Even if we cannot be together this July, we remain optimistic that the situation will soon improve. I know we are all very worried about the impact that COVID-19 is having on our loved ones and daily lives. My Pennsic team and I send you our very best wishes. We cannot wait to share time together at Cooper’s Lake again with you all.

Pennsic 49’s new dates are July 30, 2021 through August 15, 2021.

The first Pennsic was held in 1972. Now held annually at Coopers Lake Campground in Butler County, Pennsylvania, Pennsic’s annual impact on the local economy amounts to $1.8 million, with many local businesses citing the period during Pennsic being among their busiest of the year.

StokerCon 2021 Announces
Guests of Honor

The Horror Writers Association‘s StokerCon 2021 will be held May 20-23, 2021 at the Curtis Hotel in Denver CO. The convention’s guests of honor were revealed at the end of last night’s Bram Stoker Awards ceremony.

  • Maurice Broaddus: Maurice’s body of work goes back over twenty years, with multiple short story publications, several novellas, two anthologies, and five novels, including his Knights of Breton Court series. His anthology, Dark Faith, co-edited with Jerry Gordon, was a finalist for the 2010 Bram Stoker Award. He worked for twenty years as an environmental toxicologist and was formerly the executive director of Cities of Refuge Ministries. Maurice currently teaches middle school and has a middle school detective novel series, The Usual Suspects. His website is http://mauricebroaddus.com/.
  • Joe R. Lansdale has won ten Bram Stoker Awards, a British Fantasy Award, the Spur Award for Best Historical Western, and an Edgar Award. He has received the Raymond Chandler Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Horror Writers Association. His works include novels, short stories, screenplays, and television scripts. His novella, Bubba Ho Tep, was made into a movie and became a cult classic, while his Hap and Leonard novels became a successful television series. His website is http://www.joerlansdale.com/.
  • Seanan McGuire is a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus award-winning writer, who also received the John W Campbell Award for Best New Writer by the 2010 World Science Fiction Convention. A prolific writer, she has published novels under her name as well as under her pseudonym, Mira Grant. The latter includes the political thriller/zombie series Newsflesh. In 2013, Seanan received a record five Hugo Award nominations, two under her Grant pseudonym and three under her own name. Her website is http://www.seananmcguire.com/.
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia is a the author of the novels Mexican GothicGods of Jade and ShadowCertain Dark ThingsUntamed Shore, and a bunch of other books. She has also edited several anthologies, including the World Fantasy Award-winning She Walks in Shadows (a.k.a. Cthulhu’s Daughters). She is a columnist for the Washington Post. Her website is https://www.silviamoreno-garcia.com/blog/.
  • Lisa Morton is a screenwriter, author of non-fiction books, and award-winning prose writer whose work was described by the American Library Association’s Readers’ Advisory Guide to Horror as “consistently dark, unsettling, and frightening”.  She is the author of four novels and 150 short stories, a six-time winner of the Bram Stoker Award®, past President of the Horror Writers Association, and a world-class Halloween expert. Her website is https://lisamorton.com/zine/.
  • Steve Rasnic Tem: A Colorado native, Steve is, according to fellow guest of honor Joe Lansdale, “a school of writing unto himself.” Steve is a past winner of the World Fantasy, British Fantasy, and Bram Stoker Awards (incl. 2014’s Blood Kin for novel). His short fiction work is legendary, with over 450 short stories published in a 40+ year career. You’ll find some of his best in Figures Unseen: Selected Stories. His latest is The Night Doctor and Other Tales. His website is http://stevetem.com/.