Pixel Scroll 12/3/20 Scrolls Are Seldom What They Seemeth, Mithril Masquerades As Scrith

(1) DISCON III ASKS QUESTIONS. Should DisCon III, the 2021 Worldcon, move its date, should it emphasize virtual or in-person participation? The committee has launched a survey to find what fans think:  

We’re working hard to figure out the best path forward for our Worldcon next year and we need to hear from you! Please take this brief 2-question poll which seeks your preference between shifting DC III to December 15-19, 2021, with a high probability to be an in-person Worldcon, or keeping with our existing August 25-29, 2021, which would be mostly virtual with the potential for limited in-person activities.

Anyone is welcome to take the DisCon III Date Survey – you don’t have to be a member.

(2) STOKERCON CONTINGENCY PLAN. For now, the Horror Writers Association is planning on StokerCon 2021 being an in-person event next May in Denver – but what if that changes?

…As of now, we intend to hold the convention as scheduled. At the same time, we are working on contingency plans should that not be possible. We are discussing the issue on an ongoing basis with The Curtis, who are sensitive to the situation and the needs and concerns of our attendees. 

If for some reason we cannot hold the convention as planned, any change will be announced more than sixty days before May 20th so that those who wish to change their plans may still obtain a refund for their registration fee and change or cancel hotel reservations and alter travel plans. We recommend those planning long distance travel who wish to purchase airfare or other tickets in advance look into refundable options and travel insurance. 

If for some reason we cannot hold StokerCon™ 2021 in person, we will look into the possibility of a virtual convention and have begun investigating options. This contingency is too far into the future to make concrete plans, though we will work to ensure a complete and enjoyable convention….

(3) EREWHON BOOKS: THE PUBLISHER ANSWERS QUESTIONS. Glitchy Pancakes episode 119 interviews Liz Gorinsky, Hugo-winning editor who’s now publisher of Erewhon Books.

[GLITCHY PANCAKES] Why don’t we start out and talk about your most recent venture Erewhon Books. This is really interesting because what i was personally curious about is after so many years working as an editor what made you want to take the leap and like hang out your own shingle and go into like the full scale publishing?

[LIZ GORINSKY] So yeah it was a tour of basically my entire adult career before that I did one internship in the industry which is DC Comics and then a long time at Tor, and it was great but I guess it was a combination — Publishing is intensely cyclical we had a three season schedule so just imagine doing the same thing three times a year for 15 years and like even if it’s doing a thing like working on books that you love, it is, you know, kind of repetitive in some ways. And i think it was also, you know, many great things were going on but I think that like around the time that i was working there there was like I guess a drive towards becoming a little bit more professional and a little bit more corporate and, I think, ultimately to the benefit of the company, but I felt like sort of cowboy territory when I started that we were just like a bunch of science fiction weirdos, and they still are to be sure, but there was also kind of a like let’s fit a little bit more into the greater Macmillan culture. So I was basically at the point where I could consider kind of working independently for a little while. So i was attempting to leave and go freelance and try to do some freelance editing for a while to focus on some other things that I was interested in exploring, just not do the same thing over and over again for a little while. Then some folks found me and they said would you like to start a new speculative fiction company that will be funded and you can do whatever you want, basically. I spent a little while wrestling with imposter syndrome about that and then, basically, like, you know, enough people said some variations on how can you not do that that. I kind of figured that i had to do that and that’s where we started…

(4) CONDENSED CREAM OF CONZEALAND. Morgan Hazelwood has completed a series of reports on some of the panels at CoNZealand, the 2020 Worldcon.

Here’s the list of panels I managed to squeeze in:

  • Cultures and Their Myths
  • Accessible Magic
  • World-Building: Economics
  • What’s In A Name? Characters in Fiction
  • Stranger in a Strange Head: Imposter Syndrome
  • Spirits Abroad and At Home
  • Fairy Tale Contract Law
  • Constructed Languages
  • Writing SFF From The Margins
  • What Fanfiction Can Teach Genre Writers
  • Writing For Young Adults
  • and last, but certainly not least!
  • In Space No One Can See You Hide The Evidence: Crimes in Space

(5) THICK AS A BRICK: David Langford has added his vast compilation of a decade’s worth of Ansible (2011-2020) to the TAFF ebooks library. It’s a free download, however, if you feel moved to donate to the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund that would be a good thing.

Issues 282 to 401 of the infamous Hugo-winning SF/fan newsletter. First published from January 2021 to December 2020 and archived online here. Compiled into an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 3 December 2020, with cover logo (compressed second-series version) by Dan Steffan and artwork by Atom. 429,000 words.

(6) LETTERS FROM VONNEGUT. In “Satirist to the Galaxy” in The American Scholar, Anne Matthews reviews Love, Kurt, a collection of 226 letters Kurt Vonnegut wrote during World War II to the woman he would marry, which give new insights into Vonnegut’s views about war.

…At SS gunpoint, Vonnegut dug Dresden’s dead from the rubble, an extreme tutorial in entropy and decay for the Cornell biochemistry major. He was only 22, raised in a prosperous German-speaking family proud of its Old World ties. The funeral pyres of Dresden became the core of his moral vision and the engine of his later literary fame, but the price of witnessing was nearly unbearable, and everyone who tried to love him paid it, too.

Two women kept him sane. His big sister Alice was his muse, a spiritual twin. His future wife, Jane Cox, a friend since kindergarten days, also a would-be writer, became his literary umpire. “One peculiar feature of our relationship is that you are the one person in this world to whom I like to write,” he told her in 1943. “If ever I do write anything of length—good or bad—it will be written with you in mind. … And let’s have seven children xxxxxxx.” Two weeks after V-J Day, they married and raised, yes, seven children, three of their own plus four young nephews, orphaned after their father’s commuter train fell into Newark Bay two days before Alice died of cancer….

(7) FLING CAUTION TO THE WINDS. James Davis Nicoll finds “Five Stories Driven by a Disregard for Basic Safety” for Tor.com readers.

Nothing delivers unrequested adventures quite like normalization of deviance. It works like this:

Suppose one has a safety protocol. Suppose one decides that this protocol is onerous for some reason: it consumes extra time, it requires extra effort, or worst of all, it costs money. So, one shaves a step here and a precaution there. And nothing happens! Clearly, the whole shebang was not necessary in the first place. Clearly the thing to do here is to keep skipping steps until circumstances line up wrong and you’re looking at a trip to the emergency room or a burning pile of expensive rubble.

The end results of normalization of deviance are undesirable in reality. But…the process is oh-so-irresistible for authors looking for ways to drop their characters neck-deep in a pig lagoon. Take these five examples…

(8) TRAILER TIME. Wetware will be released December 11.

WETWARE is set in a near future where there are tough and tedious jobs no one wants to do – and people down on their luck who volunteer for genetic modifications to make them right for this work — in slaughterhouses, infectious disease wards, landfill and other hard jobs. With business booming, programmers at Galapagos Wetware up the stakes by producing high-end prototypes, Jack (Bret Lada) and Kay, for more sensitive jobs like space travel, deep cover espionage or boots on the ground for climate or resource conflicts.Galapagos genetic programmer Hal Briggs (Cameron Scoggins) improvises as he goes on what qualities to include or delete in his gene splicing for Jack and, especially, Kay, to whom he develops a dangerous attachment. Then word gets out that Jack and Kay have escaped, before Briggs has completed his work. As Briggs scrambles to track his fugitive prototypes, he makes a provocative discovery that changes everything.

(9) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.

  • December 3, 1965 — Fifty five years ago this evening, The Wild Wild West’s “The Night of the Human Trigger” was first aired on CBS. It starred Robert Conrad as Jim West and Ross Martin as Artemus Gordon with Burgess Meredith as the guest star this episode. He’s a mad scientist named Professor Orkney Cadwallader that’s using nitroglycerin to set off the earthquakes of horrendous size. The episode uses a number of genre tropes including Chekhov’s gun, mad scientist, deus ex machina and soft glass.  You can legally see it here, though oddly enough it’s not up on the CBS All Access app.

(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.

[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]

  • Born December 3, 1922 – Donald H. Tuck. From his home in Tasmania with help from fans round the world he built a great card index, published A Handbook of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Special Committee Award, Chicon III the 20th Worldcon), then The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy (Best Nonfiction Book, L.A.con II the 42nd Worldcon – Australia’s first Hugo).  Guest of Honor at Aussiecon One the 33rd Worldcon, though he could not attend.  Big Heart, our highest service award.  (Died 2010) [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1937 – Morgan Llywelyn, age 83.  A score of novels, three dozen shorter stories for us; much other work in historical fiction and nonfiction.  Exceptional Celtic Woman of the Year award.  Nat’l League of American Penwomen Novel of the Year award, Irish-American Heritage Committee (she then still lived in the U.S.) Woman of the Year award.  Two Bisto awards, Reading Ass’n of Ireland award.  A horsewoman; missed the U.S. Olympics team in dressage by .05 per cent.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1949 – Malcolm Edwards, age 71.  Fanzine, Quicksilver.  Edited FoundationInterzoneVector.  A hundred fifty essays, letters, reviews there and in The Alien CriticNY Rev of SFSF CommentarySF Monthly, Bleiler’s SF WritersSpeculation.  Guest of Honour at Loncon 3 the 72nd Worldcon.  Chair of SF at Gollancz (retired 2019), edited its SF Masterworks.  Not his fault that Peter Weston knowing no better wrote earlier as “Malcolm Edwards”, which we eventually sorted out.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1953 – Doug Beason, Ph.D., age 67.  Eight novels with Kevin Anderson, one with Ben Bova, two more, a score of shorter stories, for us; five novels, two nonfiction books, on next-door topics.  Science columns in Analog and SF Age.  Retired Air Force colonel.  Fellow of Amer. Physical Society.  Nat’l Defense Univ. President’s Strategic Vision award.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1955 Stephen Culp, 65. His first genre appearance was in Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday followed by being in the much different James and the Giant Peach. His next role is as Commander Martin Madden in the extended version of Star Trek: Nemesis, before showing up in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Congressman Wenham. He also had a recurring role on Enterprise as Major Hayes. (CE) 
  • Born December 3, 1958 Terri Windling, 62. Author of The Wood Wife, winner of the Mythopoeic Award for Novel of the Year, she has deservedly won has won nine World Fantasy Awards, the Mythopoeic Fantasy Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and The Armless Maiden collection was on the short-list for the then named James Tiptree, Jr. Award. Along with Ellen Datlow, Windling edited sixteen volumes of the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror  from 1986–2003. (Yes, the first volume is actually called Year’s Best Fantasy. I do have a full set here so I know that.) She is one of the core creative forces behind the mythic fiction emergence that began in the early Eighties through her work as an  editor for the Ace and Tor Books fantasy lines, and they also edited a number of anthologies such as the superb Snow White, Blood Red series which collected the very best in contemporary fantasy. I’m very fond of her work with Illustrator Wendy Froud, wife of Brian Froud, on the Old Oak Wood series about faeries living in the Old Oak Wood.  She interviewed one of them, Sneezlewort Rootmuster Rowanberry Boggs the Seventh, for Green Man here. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1959 – Shawn Lamb, age 61.  From her Allon Books, a dozen novels for us; also historical fiction; television screenwriting.  Family Review Center Editors’ Choice and Gold Award for The Great Battle.  [JH]
  • Born December 3, 1960 Daryl Hannah, 60. She made her genre debut in Brian De Palma’s The Fury, though she’s better known as Pris in Blade Runner. And she was the mermaid Madison in Splash. In a decidedly unfashionable role, she was Ayala in The Clan of The Cave Bear before being Mary Plunkett Brogan in High Spirits where she was nominated for a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Supporting Actress. Was she really that bad in it?  Last genre role I think was in the Sense8 series as Angelica Turing. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1965 Andrew Stanton, 55. Director, screenwriter, producer and voice actor, all at Pixar. His work there includes co-writing A Bug’s Life (as co-director), Finding Nemo and its sequel Finding DoryWALL-E (Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form at Anticipation) and over at Disney, he directed John Carter. He also co-wrote all four Toy Story films and Monsters, Inc. (CE) 
  • Born December 3, 1968 Brendan Fraser, 52. The Mummy and The Mummy Returns are enough to get him Birthday Honors. Though he’s been in Monkeybone based on Kaja Blackley’s graphic novel Dark TownSinbad: Beyond the Veil of MistsLooney Tunes: Back in ActionJourney to the Center of the EarthG.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and being Robotman on the Titans series that now airs on HBO. (CE)
  • Born December 3, 1981 – Alyson Noël, age 39.  Sixteen novels, two shorter stories for us; half a dozen more novels; nine NY Times Best-Sellers, eight million copies in print.  Has been a flight attendant and a T-shirt painter; has kept pet turtles and tarantulas. Learned to read with Horton Hatches the Egg; favorite maybe The Catcher in the Rye.  Motto, Don’t believe everything you think.  [JH
  • Born December 3, 1985 Amanda Seyfried, 35. She plays Ed Zoe, the lead Megan’s best friend in Solstice, a horror film. Another horror film, Jennifer’s Body, shortly thereafter, finds her playing Anita “Needy” Lesnicki. Red Riding Hood, yes, another horror film, had her cast has as Valerie. She plays Sylvia Weis, a role within In Time in a dystopian SF film next and voices Mary Katherine, Professor Bomba’s 17-year-old daughter in Epic which is at genre adjacent. She’s Mary in an animated Pan, a prequel to Peter Pan which sounds delightful. Lastly, she has a recurring role as Becky Burnett on Twin Peaks. And did we decide Veronica Mars was at least genre adjacent? If so, she has a recurring role as Mary on it. (CE)

(11) COMICS SECTION.

As Lise Andreasen translates this Politiken cartoon:

Elon Musk is building a star ship.

“Thank God we got away.”

(12) THEY’RE BACK. Another monolith, this one in California. “Mystery Obelisk Appears on Pine Mountain”. The Atascadero News says it’s not the identical to the one found in Utah.  

In late November, a mysterious 9-foot obelisk appeared in Utah, sparking world-wide awe as many made a pilgrimage to see it in San Juan County.

The Utah obelisk was illegally installed without cooperation with the Bureau of Land Management.

On Black Friday, it disappeared as mysteriously as it appeared, leaving a triangular divot in the ground.

On Wednesday morning, a similar monument appeared at the top of Atascadero’s Pine Mountain, and sparked similar patronage. Dozens of local hikers made the trek to the top of Pine Mountain to view the object. (The object has since been removed)

The three-sided obelisk appeared to be made of stainless steel, 10-feet tall and 18 inches wide. The object was welded together at each corner, with rivets attaching the side panels to a likely steel frame inside. The top of the monument did not show any weld marks, and it appears to be hollow at the top, and possibly bottom.

Unlike its Utah sibling, the Atascadero obelisk was not installed into the ground (however it was attached with rebar), and could be knocked over with a firm push. The Atascadero News estimates it weighs about 200 pounds.

(13) BYO POPCORN. You won’t have to leave the house for these move debuts if you’re subscribed to HBO Max — “Warner Bros. Announces ‘Matrix 4,’ ‘Dune,’ and All Its 2021 Movies Will Debut on HBO Max and in Theaters”. Includes Dune (October 1, 2021) and The Matrix 4 (December 22, 2021). Could it spell the end of movie theaters? (If COVID-19 hasn’t done that already?)

In a move that some may have suspected was on the horizon while most will consider it quite the shock, Warner Bros. has announced plans for its entire 2021 roster to debut simultaneously on the HBO Max streaming platform and in theaters.

Per a press release shared on Thursday, WarnerMedia Studios and Networks Group CEO Ann Sarnoff is calling this approach a “unique one-year plan,” which points to the possibility of it indeed being a single-time rollout strategy inspired solely by the difficulties facing theaters across the country as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

“We see it as a win-win for film lovers and exhibitors, and we’re extremely grateful to our filmmaking partners for working with us on this innovative response to these circumstances,” Sarnoff said.

(14) LIBRARY ON A ROLL. Here’s something for booklovers: “Round Top Yano Design Washi Tape – Debut Series Natural – Bookshelf”.

This cute roll of washi tape is die-cut to highlight the shape of its bookshelf print.

Washi tape is a Japanese craft masking tape that comes in many colors and patterns and has tons of creative uses. Use it to add whimsical, creative accents to scrapbooks and cards, or stick it on your wall calendars and personal planners to mark important dates. The tape is removable, which means that you can easily stick it on, unpeel it, and move it to a different spot—this is especially convenient when marking ever-changing schedules. It can be cut with scissors to create a clean edge or torn by hand to create a more textured look.

(15) MORE HOLIDAY IDEAS. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] Projections from Hingston & Olsen Publishing is an original anthology edited by Rebecca Romney in which the 12 stories are individual pamphlets in a collectible box.

They also have an “Advent calendar” of short stories that includes Sofia Samatar but I don’t know how many of these stories are sf or fantasy.

For the past five years, the Short Story Advent Calendar has lit up libraries and living rooms around the world with shimmering smorgasbords of bite-sized literary fiction. But all good things must come to an end. So grab the emergency schnapps from the back of the liquor cabinet, and join us for one last holiday hurrah.

You know the drill by now. The 2020 Short Story Advent Calendar is a deluxe box set of individually bound short stories from some of the best writers around.

(16) PASSING FANCIES. “Jupiter and Saturn will look like a double planet just in time for Christmas” – CNN tells us when to look.

The two largest planets in our solar system are coming closer together than they have been since the Middle Ages, and it’s happening just in time for Christmas.

So, there are some things to look forward to in the final month of 2020.

On the night of December 21, the winter solstice, Jupiter and Saturn will appear so closely aligned in our sky that they will look like a double planet. This close approach is called a conjunction.

“Alignments between these two planets are rather rare, occurring once every 20 years or so, but this conjunction is exceptionally rare because of how close the planets will appear to one another,” said Rice University astronomer and professor of physics and astronomy Patrick Hartigan in a statement.

“You’d have to go all the way back to just before dawn on March 4, 1226, to see a closer alignment between these objects visible in the night sky.”

(17) WILDCATS ARE BIGGER, OF COURSE. Did you know? At Literary Hub, John Gray says “House Cats and Wild Cats Aren’t Actually That Different”.

…Unless they are kept indoors, the behavior of house cats is not much different from that of wild cats. Though the cat may regard more than one house as home, the house is the base where it feeds, sleeps and gives birth. There are clear territorial boundaries, larger for male cats than for females, which will be defended against other cats when necessary. The brains of house cats have diminished in size compared with their wild counterparts, but that does not make house cats less intelligent or adaptable. Since it is the part of the brain that includes the fight-or-flight response that has shrunk, house cats have become able to tolerate situations that would be stressful in the wild, such as encountering humans and unrelated cats….

(18) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] “Mad Max:  Fury Road Behind The Scenes Documentary” on YouTube is a 2017 film, directed by Cory Watson, originally titled Going Mad:  The Battle Of Fury Road, which is a behind the scenes look at the 2015 Mad Max:  Fury Road.  The documentary reveals this film had an extremely long gestation, as George Miller originally had the idea for the film in the late 1990s,  Production was shut down in 2002 in Namibia because the US dollar tanked in the wake of 9/11, wiping out a quarter of the film’s budget, and halted a second time in Australia in 2010 because of floods shortly before shooting which turned the desert set into a lush flowery landscape. The documentary includes interviews with stars Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron and many behind-the scenes looks at the mixture of feminism, car crashes, and gratuitous consumption of fossil fuels that led to six Oscars in 2016.

My favorite behind the scenes bit:  dozens of bald-headed extras preparing for their day of being weirdoes by singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.”

[Thanks to Lise Andeasen, Michael Toman, JJ, N., Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, John Hertz, Cat Eldridge, John King Tarpinian, Contrarius, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Daniel Dern.]

30 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/3/20 Scrolls Are Seldom What They Seemeth, Mithril Masquerades As Scrith

  1. (1) I’m glad they are thinking ahead. It’s still a tough decision, of course.

  2. (6) Because someone will surely see this, it might as well be me: “Kurt Vonnegut wrote to his daughter during World War II” is probably not what you meant to say. The book of letters, however, is edited by one of his daughters, Edith, who long ago was married to Geraldo Rivera (as unlikely an event as in many of KV’s books, perhaps). In any case, I think the book review is outstanding.

  3. (1) DISCON III ASKS QUESTIONS.

    Sadly, I think they’re dreaming if they believe they’ll be able to have an in-person con next December. Even if a vaccine has been rolled out by then, not enough doses will have been created for a sufficient number of the population to have been vaccinated by then, and it’s still not going to be safe to travel by air or hold a big in-person convention. 🙁

  4. Charon Dunn: There you go — and I’m heading over to Google and research where to find sausage in the wild.

  5. JJ says Sadly, I think they’re dreaming if they believe they’ll be able to have an in-person con next December. Even if a vaccine has been rolled out by then, not enough doses will have been created for a sufficient number of the population to have been vaccinated by then, and it’s still not going to be safe to travel by air or hold a big in-person convention.

    More importantly, I can’t imagine that anything is going to have settle down enough through the end of next year for contracts to be safely signed for spaces, hotel rooms and everything else associated with a Con, let alone that those going to it are going to risk air fares and such on something that might get canceled if local authorities tighten up on what’s allowed at the last moment.

  6. I’m pretty confident Dec 2021 will be possible in person, at least for those in the USA. Everyone higher risk should be vaccinated by June. I don’t know what the state of international travel will be though, there may still be quarantine requirements and restrictions.

  7. bookworm1398: I’m pretty confident Dec 2021 will be possible in person, at least for those in the USA. Everyone higher risk should be vaccinated by June.

    There are a couple of problems with that.

    Pfizer says that it can get 12,500,000 people vaccinated by the end of this year, Moderna another 7,500,000.

    The vaccines take 2 doses. Just vaccinating those who are 65 and older is more than 100,000,000 doses. 60% of Americans (including aged 65+) have at least 1 chronic health condition — that’s 400,000,000 doses.

    And another problem with that it that it has turned out that a lot of people who aren’t considered “higher-risk” have died anyway. I’m not considered higher-risk and I certainly won’t consider flying anywhere until I’m vaccinated.

    To achieve some sort of herd immunity — assuming that one round of vaccine does the trick, despite mutations — 70%, or 230,000,000 people (460,000,000 doses) in the U.S. would have to be vaccinated by December 2021.

    I think it is extremely unrealistic to assume that anywhere near that percentage of the American population will have received 2 doses of vaccine by next December.

  8. Whether a con happens or not isn’t dependent so much on whether the situation at large is safe, but rather if enough people perceive safety. By next December, there will be a significant fraction of the population that is vaccinated and/or has antibodies through previous exposure. If a few hundred of them want to get together and have a convention, who’s to stop them?

  9. 15) The “boxed set of pamphlets” isn’t a new idea. Radix Media’s FUTURES: A SCEINCE FICTION SERIES BOX SET came out last year; seven individual chapbooks with a story apiece. Available here: https://radixmedia.org/product/futures-box-set/

    (There have probably been other, even earlier, boxed sets of short fiction; just can’t point at any right now.)

    Radix is an interesting small-press publisher, worker-owned and very socially aware. A lot of their work is still produced via old-style letterpress. I get a vibe similar to the 60s/70s underground publishing scene from them.

  10. So I don’t have to feal bad that I voted for personal reason for August (December would even virtuel be a nope)?

  11. The UK is starting vaccinations next week, but it’s unclear what the timeline will be for people under 50 with no major health issues. The government wants to vaccinate the bulk of the entire adult population (at least 55 million people) by Easter, which would be very aggressive but maybe doable assuming no major supply bottlenecks.

    It does sound like DisCon were in a position of having to pull the trigger now on hotels and the convention centre, which is why the choice is an in-person con in December or a virtual con in August. I’m assuming this may also buy them time: if in another 3-4 months it looks like vaccinations are going too slowly, they could also switch to a virtual con in December (or revert to a virtual con in August).

    It does raise the question about site selection. It seems rough on Memphis (because that’s what the choice will overwhelmingly likely be) that they lose 3-4 months of prep time for the con, so it might be worthwhile for them to consider hosting the site selection vote as planned in August anyway.

  12. bill says Whether a con happens or not isn’t dependent so much on whether the situation at large is safe, but rather if enough people perceive safety. By next December, there will be a significant fraction of the population that is vaccinated and/or has antibodies through previous exposure. If a few hundred of them want to get together and have a convention, who’s to stop them?

    What will stop them is if local or state governmental authorities are still not allowing gatherings over a certain size. Pfizer yesterday admitted that it may need to reduce by half the number of vaccines that can deliver, so that will impact how fast the entire population is vaccinated. And we still don’t how long the vaccination is good for.

    And factor in that if a large segment of the population refuses to take the vaccine that will mean the virus is still a major problem for a longer period of time.

    I’ll get mine when my NP says I should. Right now her company doesn’t know when they’ll be getting the vaccine,

  13. @bill–A “Worldcon” of only a few hundred people would be a Worldcon that was a massive failure. Going virtual for another year is the sane and responsible choice.

  14. Lis Carey says A “Worldcon” of only a few hundred people would be a Worldcon that was a massive failure. Going virtual for another year is the sane and responsible choice.

    I just don’t think that it’s likely we’ll be back to normal globally with freely occurring travel and mass gatherings being commonplace in the next year. It’s going to take a very long time to get this virus contained.

  15. I would love to have an in person Worldcon. I live in DC and would love to show off my adopted hometown to folks from all over the world.

    I’m just not sure enough people will be vaccinated and enough travel restrictions lifted to make it viable.

    For instance, when most states went to Phase 3 over the summer, DC stayed in Phase 2. Gathering size increased, but nowhere near what you’d need for a Worldcon, which would require Phase 4. And most folks from other states were and still are required to quarantine for 2 weeks.

    Also, while I hope things will change once Biden takes office, under the current iteration of Operation Warp Speed, DC has been allocated only 8000 doses of the vaccine for the first wave. That will cover maybe 10% of front line health care workers in the District.

    If there is an in person convention, will it only be for the vaccinated? Will non-vaccinated people be allowed to come as long as they agree to wear masks all the time? How are you going to enforce that? How are you going to manage a con suite if mask wearing is mandatory?

    Much as I want an in person convention, and DC can certainly use the tourism money, I’m just not sure it’s viable.

  16. Pfizer did say they had a problem with production, but that they’ve figured out a solution so that only the initial batch is affected. They say they’ll be able to increase the amount for future batches. Most experts are saying that there will be enough vaccines available that anyone who wants them can get them by next summer.

    The 70% of population number is what is needed to provide a form of protection for those who can’t be vaccinated. Even if science deniers refuse to vaccinate, science believers will get vaccinated and be safe to travel and congregate.
    Considering that half the states never closed down fully when nobody was vaccinated, I don’t think we’ll see venues in DC being forced to stay closed once general vaccination is available. The venues may require proof of vaccination by attendees, but that doesn’t seem to be a problem to me. I expect vaccination to be handled better and more consistently internationally, so even non-USians could attend. I doubt people not able to/not wanting to get vaccinated will want to attend anyway.

    Everything won’t be back to normal, or at least back to pre-Covid levels in terms of economy, etc. But the 2009 Worldcon happened despite a worldwide recession. Does anyone know the impact the recession had on it? That is the example I think we need to look to for a picture of what a December DisCon might be like.

  17. Adam Whitehead noted:

    “ It does sound like DisCon were in a position of having to pull the trigger now on hotels and the convention centre, ”

    DisCon 3 is not using a convention center.

  18. One problem for 2021 conventions, as I understand it (and I am NOT a lawyer), is that many or even most of them will have already signed contracts with hotels. (Conventions, as I understand it, often sign contracts for multiple years in advance… although that, obviously, doesn’t necessarily apply to Worldcon in particular.) Cons may not be able to get out of the hotel contracts short of Force Majeure (the government forbidding gatherings), and if they publicly declare that they’re going online before they have a legal “out” they may be liable for thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in broken-contract penalties. It’s a serious concern (again, as I understand it) for many, many conventions. So I’d suggest not judging any convention harshly, Worldcon or otherwise, for carefully tip-toeing around the subject of how or whether they’ll be holding a convention next year. At least some of them (as I understand it) cannot make an announcement prematurely without jeapardizing the future existence of their convention.

    (Yes, I’ve said “as I understand it” a lot. That’s because while I’ve talked to various conrunners about this problem casually, I am NOT a lawyer….)

  19. Nicholas Whyte: This POLITICO piece quotes Anthony Fauci as saying that most adult Americans could get the vaccine by May.

    Thanks for linking to that. It would be wonderful if those projections end up being true. I am going to avoid getting my hopes up too much, though — I’d rather be very happily surprised than devastatingly disappointed.

    I do think that Adam Whitehead is right, and that Site Selection needs to be held in August regardless of when and how DisCon III is held.

  20. Frankly, I think the December dates are about the worst possible time to have an in-person Worldcon.

    The proposed dates are over the fourth advent weekend (though they apparently just miss Chanukkah), less than a week before Christmas, when ticket prices are high and planes, trains, etc… extra full. And crowded pre-holiday planes and trains are a nightmare even without a pandemic.

    Furthermore, many people, especially those with families, will be busy with other things that close to the holidays and won’t have time to travel to a con, especially if it’s a significant distance. I wouldn’t even be keen on a virtual Worldcon in December, because I imagine panels interrupted by phone calls and visitors or me switching between holiday food preparation and panels. Plus, schools and universities usually don’t close down for the holidays until very shortly (2 or 3 days) before Christmas, which affects students, professors, people with school age children, etc… Honestly, I wonder if any of the organisers have families at all to even propose these dates.

    Also, even if a significant number of people will have been vaccinated by then, covid cases will likely rise again from whatever level they’re at by then, simply because it’s winter in the Northern hemisphere and respiratory viruses always surge in the winter. And if there still are quarantine requirements – well, forget about it – cause I doubt that anybody will waste four weeks to attend a four day con.

    I don’t envy the DisCon organisers or indeed any con organisers in the current situation at all, but I think the best solution would be to have another virtual Worldcon at the planned dates in August with some in-person content for US people, if possible, and then hopefully go back to in-person cons in 2022.

  21. I do think that Adam Whitehead is right, and that Site Selection needs to be held in August regardless of when and how DisCon III is held.

    Site selection should definitely be held in August to give the 2023 Worldcon sufficient time to prepare.

    There’s also the issue of the Hugos, because if the Hugos were to be awarded in December, this would draw out the 2021 Hugo voting period almost up to the beginning of the 2022 nomination period.

  22. gottacook: Thanks for fixing the Vonnegut mistake, which was my fault. The factoid that Geraldo Rivera is Kurt Vonnegut’s son-in-law is croggling.

  23. Mostly I was just responding to the pessimism about the Worldcon happening in person in Dec 2021. Even if “the” Worldcon doesn’t happen in-person then (I think it will), “a” non-virtual Worldcon could happen.

    Suppose that Worldcon ends up being planned as in-person for Dec 2021, and then in Oct 2021 for whatever reason it gets officially transitioned to virtual. Suppose further that, out of a few thousand members, several hundred of them, all of whom are either vaccinated, possess antibodies because they have already had and recovered from Covid, or just are healthy young adults who decide that their personal risk is low, suppose they decided to get together in person as a group over the same weekend, at a place that allows it (which may not be in DC), and set up a parallel in-person track and call it “Worldcon”. The con committee may not like it, but it doesn’t seem like it could do much about it.

    Or suppose that it is planned to be virtual in August. Something similar to the above could happen; or the minimal required in-person meetings could have a larger than expected amount of observers attending, and they all go out for beer afterwards.

    Officially, Worldcon is what the con committee sets up, but if the membership (or a significant fraction of it) does something different, then that is, at some level, also “Worldcon” (and for an example, for many folks, the Hugo Losers Party is just as much a part of the convention as many official events.)

  24. There’s also the issue of the Hugos, because if the Hugos were to be awarded in December, this would draw out the 2021 Hugo voting period almost up to the beginning of the 2022 nomination period.

    That would be very far from previous practice, of course, but it’s not clear that it’s actually a problem.

  25. For those wondering about vaccination timelines, here is a NYTimes simulation of where you would be in the vaccination queue.

  26. Pingback: Top 10 Posts for December 2020 | File 770

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