DisCon III Chair Lawhorn Resigns

DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, announced today that Bill Lawhorn has resigned from his position as Convention Chairperson of DisCon III, effective immediately.

The Baltimore-Washington Area Worldcon Association (BWAWA) has begun the process of finding a permanent replacement. Until the position is filled, the DisCon III Division Heads and staff will continue with the business of the convention.

The committee’s press release said: “We wish to thank Bill for his hard work and dedication in bringing Worldcon to Washington, DC, and his contributions to DisCon III.”

119 thoughts on “DisCon III Chair Lawhorn Resigns

  1. I’m terribly sorry to hear Bill Lawhorn resigned. My wife and I met him when she was GOH at the last Capclave before the shutdown. We found him to be a very nice man, who chaired a wonderfully run convention. I had high hopes for Worldcon with him a chair. His resignation is the con’s loss.

  2. Isn Moore say Presumably this is linked to the kerfuffle over the now-rescinded message to Hugo finalists that team entries would only be able to have up to four people and plus ones at the awards ceremony and the resignation of the Hugo administration team earlier in the week.

    And you know this how? Has this actually been confirmed by anyone officially? Or is this just a rumor? Everyone keeps talking about what was done but I haven’t seen any official statements.

  3. You’ll need to point out to be where he addresses this in that message as I don’t see that. Maybe I’m being as oblivious as a house cat…

  4. Cat Eldridge: It’s the paragraph where he talks about reviewing a letter this past week. I’m inferring it’s the letter that was emailed to Hugo finalists.

  5. Mike Glyer says Cat Eldridge: It’s the paragraph where he talks about reviewing a letter this past week. I’m inferring it’s the letter that was emailed to Hugo finalists.

    Ok, so do we have proof that the limitations in the letter that Bartimaeus most kindfully gave me a link to were officially rescinded? Have any of the Hugo finalists shared this letter?

    Now listening to Alastair Reynold’s Absolution Gap as somehow I seemed to have never read or listened to it before.

  6. Cat Eldridge: Adri Joy is part of a Hugo finalist team, so if you need a finalist to have shared the letter, voila.

  7. Mike Glyer says to me: Adri Joy is part of a Hugo finalist team, so if you need a finalist to have shared the letter, voila.

    Oh excellent. Thanks much.

  8. In his letter, Lawhorn writes requesting that “Bob Silverberg gets his virtual panel so he can continue his streak of attendance.”
    Does that mean Silverberg is unable to attend in person? And if so, any idea why?

  9. @DB: Bob’s 86, almost 87 at the time of the con, and possibly closing himself in a metal tube of recycled air for several hours during a maybe-continuing plague to go to a cold area in the winter is… something he might not be keen on doing?

    Just a guess.

  10. lurkertype: sure, but I’m looking for something more concrete than a guess. If I wanted a guess, I could have supplied that one and several others myself.

  11. DB: See, I would have guessed you were the kind of guy who likes there to be a splash when he drops a rock in a well. Not just silence.

  12. FWIW, when people take on the job of chairing a Worldcon, it dominates their lives for several years. Bill Lawhorn has lost his passion for the job, so maybe this is for the best. He is completely on target when he says a Worldcon chair needs the passion for it.

  13. Mike: yes I do, but when there’s nothing to say I prefer not to say it. Starting rumors is something I deliberately try to avoid.

  14. DB on June 25, 2021 at 8:10 pm said:

    lurkertype: sure, but I’m looking for something more concrete than a guess. If I wanted a guess, I could have supplied that one and several others myself.

    Why is it so important to you? With everything that’s been happening over the past couple of years and the dates being moved to December, Bob Silverberg probably just doesn’t want to travel. That’s his business.

  15. I want to thank Bill Lawhorn for all his work, even if he resigned for unknown reasons. He’s put in an enormous amount of work and has been forced to handle both a pandemic, losing their venue and had his co-chair resign upon him. This must have put an enormous amount of stress upon him and I’m quite understanding of how hard it is to make the best decisions under such circumstances.

    I wish him well.

  16. FWIW as far as news goes, this is one of the first sites I go to for more comprehensive news. Between the posts and the discussions I usually get as much Information as anyone has.

    And at this point that information is this is a situation that’s still developing. We will probably find out more about the circumstances in the next week or so. At this point speculation while fun, is missing big chunks of information. That’s why taking a wait and see attitude.

  17. Whenever a controversy occurs in fandom, there are always lots of people demanding, and feeling they have the right to, ALL THE DEETS.

    But this isn’t the cutthroat corporate world, it’s fandom, and the goal is to not leave a bunch of bloody bodies behind on the floor.

    My expectation is that what we’ve been told is all that is going to be disclosed. People who know someone on the inside may be able to get more information, but I expect that this is all most of us are going to get.

    The public lessons have been “If you say you’re going to do something, then you need to do it or come up with a good explanation as to why you won’t” and “cons need to have at least one person skilled in communications and public relations who can review all comms before they go out and identify potential problems before they occur”. Someone who is skilled at negotiation, and has the ability to get people to understand why and accept it, if they aren’t going to get everything they want, would also be an important team member.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how things progress from here, and taking notes based on my own observations and conclusions.

  18. ’tis a strange thing, on a fannish news site, to be chided for asking for some fannish news.

  19. Whenever a controversy occurs in fandom, there are always lots of people demanding, and feeling they have the right to, ALL THE DEETS.

    But this isn’t the cutthroat corporate world, it’s fandom, and the goal is to not leave a bunch of bloody bodies behind on the floor.

    I live in the corporate world, and I promise you, all the deets never, ever get out in personnel matters. My own employer is very public about things like accidents and injuries, but personnel matters we simply can’t be, for liability reasons.

  20. The question is always where you want to get information. You asked about Bob Silverbergs reason not to be at Worldcon in person. I am not sure if anyone not named Bob Silverberg has that information. Lurkertypes reasoning is a good posibility, it could have somethink to do with the timing of the con. The reason is not an isue for the con, exspecially since Bob plannes to be a member, beeing on a virtuel pannel.

    Re Bills resigning, I remember him on last years virtuell conparty. He had a lot of entusiasm for the con. I am sad to hear that he lost it. Can we have at last next year less drama and trying to solve the problems(that will happen) without it become such strong isues and stress for all involved? Worldconorganisators should not be not the enemys of nominees and vice versa.

  21. DB said:

    looking for something more concrete than a guess. If I wanted a guess, I could have supplied that one and several others myself

    Are you and Farber going to do a “Fannish Entitlement 101” panel at the next Worldcon?

  22. Why are we beating somebody up for being curious about Robert Silverberg not extending his long run of in-person Worldcon attendance? It’s a famous bit of Worldcon lore.

    All DB was seeking was anyone who might have seen somewhere where Silverberg explained his decision, such as his hangouts Fictionmags or FAPA.

  23. Whenever a controversy occurs in fandom, there are always lots of people demanding, and feeling they have the right to, ALL THE DEETS.

    Personally I didn’t want to know all the deets. I wanted to know what aspects of running the Hugos became so contentious that it led to all these resignations. Maybe some of that could be handled by new policies enacted at the WSFS business meetings so that future Worldcons don’t go through what DisCon is going through.

  24. So rcade says Why are we beating somebody up for being curious about Robert Silverberg not extending his long run of in-person Worldcon attendance? It’s a famous bit of Worldcon lore.

    Because it’s none of our damn business why he’s not attending, period. End of story. And it’s just plain rude to natter on like magpies high in an autumn tree about it. Just accept that he’s decided that being part of this Worldcon via Zoom is best for him and let it go.

  25. rcade: All DB was seeking was anyone who might have seen somewhere where Silverberg explained his decision, such as his hangouts Fictionmags or FAPA.

    Sure. And apparently since people didn’t have that info they were supposed to say nothing, or else invite a tetchy answer. Now we know.

  26. Personally I didn’t want to know all the deets. I wanted to know what aspects of running the Hugos became so contentious that it led to all these resignations. Maybe some of that could be handled by new policies enacted at the WSFS business meetings so that future Worldcons don’t go through what DisCon is going through.

    WSFS and the Business Meeting don’t run the Hugos. They make the rules for voting, but not for the details of how to handle the ceremony and banquet. (IIRC, there is in fact no requirement to have either, just custom, but I could be wrong.)

  27. Sure. And apparently since people didn’t have that info they were supposed to say nothing, or else invite a tetchy answer.

    I second your mockery of that response and applaud your use of “tetchy” to describe it. That’s an underrated word.

    Because it’s none of our damn business why he’s not attending, period.

    No one said it’s our business if Silverberg hasn’t chosen to share the reason.

    Before the pandemic he attended every Hugo ceremony in person since 1953. It’s a legendary bit of Worldcon fanlore that also made me curious when Lawhorn mentioned him. I would’ve asked the same question if DB hadn’t beaten me to it.

    Defending the propriety of being curious about something on File 770 is a drag. I got a nice hiding after the news of J. Michael Straczynski being Harlan Ellison’s executor led me to ask here about the fate of Last Dangerous Visions submissions. A month later Straczynski announced the anthology would be published and I had a satisfying internal dialogue with myself about how I was right all long — right, I tell you! — to ask my question at the time I did.

  28. While we’re being curious about things, I’m curious about the hypothetical relationship between Silverberg’s long-running record of Worldcon attendance and Silverberg begin given a virtual panel appearance. I mean, attendance is attendance and programming is programming. Someone doesn’t “fail to attend” Worldcon if they don’t happen to participate in programming. I totally get the attachment to fannish traditions, but if the tradition is “Silverberg attends Worldcon” that’s up to him, given that virtual attendance is on the table.

  29. WSFS and the Business Meeting don’t run the Hugos.

    I think it’s more accurate to say that the WSFS runs the Hugos but delegates everything not spelled out in the Constitution to that year’s Worldcon committee. There is a line in the Constitution that says “The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the Awards.” However, this seems contradictory given all the other parts telling the committees how to run the awards.

    If the DisCon executive exodus this year is because of how finalists are treated when they have an exceptionally large number of contributors, the WSFS could spell out how we want that to be handled. We don’t have to make the committees find their own way through that minefield.

  30. Someone doesn’t “fail to attend” Worldcon if they don’t happen to participate in programming.

    Do any panelists get comped an attending membership? If I was calling myself an attendee of Worldcon when I didn’t have an attending membership, that would seem weird. But so would buying an attending membership if I was only going to be there virtually.

  31. Heather Rose Jones: I’m curious about the hypothetical relationship between Silverberg’s long-running record of Worldcon attendance and Silverberg begin given a virtual panel appearance. I mean, attendance is attendance and programming is programming. Someone doesn’t “fail to attend” Worldcon if they don’t happen to participate in programming.

    I think that Silverberg has actually been a part of Programming at every Worldcon, even if it’s only to do 1 panel or present one of the Hugo Awards. And since I think it highly unlikely he will be permitted to participate in the Hugo Awards again after the events of recent years, a panel seems to be how that would have to happen.

  32. rcade on June 26, 2021 at 10:13 am said:

    I think it’s more accurate to say that the WSFS runs the Hugos but delegates everything not spelled out in the Constitution to that year’s Worldcon committee. There is a line in the Constitution that says “The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the Awards.” However, this seems contradictory given all the other parts telling the committees how to run the awards.

    It would perhaps be more accurate to say “The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the Awards, except as specified elsewhere in this Constitution.” However, that’s just a restatement of the general rule at Section 1.6:

    Authority and responsibility for all matters concerning the Worldcon, except those reserved herein to WSFS, shall rest with the Worldcon Committee, which shall act in its own name and not in that of WSFS.

    So the section about “all matters concerning the Awards” can be read as, “…including the design of the base of the Hugo Award trophy and the organization of the Hugo Awards ceremony, should the committee elect to hold one” and a bunch of other things that may be traditional, but that are not required.

  33. Carl on June 26, 2021 at 9:32 am said:

    WSFS and the Business Meeting don’t run the Hugos. They make the rules for voting, but not for the details of how to handle the ceremony and banquet. (IIRC, there is in fact no requirement to have either, just custom, but I could be wrong.)

    That is absolutely correct. And there hasn’t been a Hugo Awards banquet since before I started attending Worldcons more than thirty-five years ago. You may be thinking of the pre-ceremony reception, which is not a sit-down banquet but a reception with light snacks and one free drink (you pay if you want more). But given facility catering prices, it’s likely the convention is paying more for those light snacks and drinks than most people would be paying for a sit-down dinner.

    I have seen in multiple places people who seem to think that the pre-event reception is a big sit-down banquet. I certainly hope that no finalists were expecting such a thing, because if they were, they were going to be disappointed. The main purpose of that reception is to try and get all of the finalists in one place prior to the event in order to make last-minute announcements, get them settled into the preferred seating area (not just “the front row” the way some people seem to be saying), and possibly get a little bit of food into them so they don’t have blood sugar meltdowns.

    Incidentally, that preferred-seating area may be seen as a perk for the finalists, but it’s also in the convention’s best interest in order to make it easier to get winners up on stage, because you generally know where they are and you don’t have to worry about them being in an upper balcony and needing ten minutes to make it to the stage.

  34. @rcade:

    If the DisCon executive exodus this year is because of how finalists are treated when they have an exceptionally large number of contributors, the WSFS could spell out how we want that to be handled. We don’t have to make the committees find their own way through that minefield.

    We could, certainly (though it would not bind Chicon 8). I just meant to say that we have not.

    @Kevin Standlee: Thanks. I’ve never attended the reception, and of course no non-existent banquets either, so I got confused. As a former Hugo admin, you inevitably know more than me.

  35. It would perhaps be more accurate to say “The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the Awards, except as specified elsewhere in this Constitution.”

    That explanation works for me. It also avoids making WSFS sound like the boss of each Worldcon.

  36. Kevin Standlee: …and needing ten minutes to make it to the stage.

    That seems very much in everyone’s interest. If one is looking for a shorter ceremony, QED, and even if not, time spent traversing the hall is not being spent speaking.

  37. In Dublin, the first six or seven rows were reserved for finalists and presenters with one row kept free to allow winners to get to the stage and back to their seats quickly without having to climb over multiple people.

    And the Hugo reception is just as Kevin described it. You get a free drink or two (and most finalists don’t drink alcohol before the ceremony, because no one wants to be the person who fell off the stage drunk) and there are snacks and nibbles. Dublin’s were quite nice, but again finalists don’t eat a whole lot, because everybody is nervous and doesn’t want to soil their party clothes. There are photos and finalists are then ushered into their reserved seating without having to queue up with the rest of the membership.

  38. All the DEETs

    If it’s a question of personality conflicts, or one time issues, there is no particular reason for us to care or want details. I am only interested if the underlying issues are potentially recurring. It is better to avoid things which lead to conflict that causes multiple resignations of volunteers from important roles. While Mike and others rejected it, it was for this reason that I look to the constitution if such problems arise. This affair gives off the whiff of something deeper and possibly recurring. If it doesn’t, it’s for people to manage themselves. In fact, when such problems occur, it may be a good idea for those resigning without explaining to say, “I believe the problems which led to this decision are individual personality conflicts, and not a systemic problem for the community” because it seems some of us will wonder if this is not made clear.

    I hope it’s not true that Silverberg will never be invited to another Hugo ceremony. I would like to imagine that this community is both not unified in its opinion on him, and is a community of forgiveness even if it were unified. As was oft discussed at the time, it is easy to go on and on when there is no audience in front of you, and easy for those assembling recordings to ask they be shortened if too long, or if not, to play them back at 1.5x speed to shorten them with modern technology, which you can’t do on a stage!

  39. Brad Templeton: I’m not in charge of inviting anybody to participate in Hugo ceremonies, but I also don’t want to read that Silverberg will be involved in another one unless he addresses his role in helping GRRM cram John W. Campbell down people’s collective throats during the very next ceremony after Jeannette Ng’s acceptance speech and the changing of the award name. He could have participated in a way that was sensitive to what was happening in the community, but this is what he wanted to do instead.

  40. I have been in the pre-ceremony reception a few times, generally because I’ve been one of the administrators. There have been times when I could have been there due to a position I had on the committee but have declined to do so. I’m usually too busy getting ready to set up for TheHugoAwards.org’s online coverage of the event anyway. So I try to force myself to have dinner fairly early before I go put on my nice clothes, and I usually try to remember to carry a food bar and a bottle of water with me. I’m a diabetic and having a blood sugar meltdown in the middle of the ceremony would be a Very Bad Thing.

    I think the last time I was actually in the reception, I spent my time trying to organize photographs of the various groups of finalists (another reason for having everyone in that reception; it’s easiest to get group photos then). I have a difficult time socializing in such ceremonies because while the finalists are fretting over whether they’ve won, I’m usually fretting about whether all of the technical parts will go right.

  41. A word for the Astounding Award: This renaming also honors Harry Bates, the first editor of the magazine, and F. Orlin Tremaine, who taught Campbell how to edit. It was Bates, in the Clayton Astounding, who instituted the policy of 2 cents per word, payable on acceptance, as opposed to the competition’s half cent per word, payable on publication (if then–occasionally it was “payable on lawsuit,” in at least one case). Tremaine and Campbell continued this policy because it got them good stories, which contributed to good circulation.

  42. Or – as in the case of Weird Tales outstanding payments to Robert E. Howard – payable six years after the author’s suicide, to which the missing payment at least contributed – after the late author’s father kept hounding Weird Tales until they paid up.

  43. Rcade, professionals attending Worldcon who are on panels or other programming have to purchase a full con membership. However, if the con makes enough money, they frequently refund the membership costs afterwards. It’s important for an author to be on some type of programming because it can make it easier to take the trip off their taxes as a business expense.

  44. @rcade

    All DB was seeking was anyone who might have seen somewhere where Silverberg explained his decision, such as his hangouts Fictionmags

    Expecting someone to pass on information gathered from Fictionmags might not be productive, in that Fictionmags has a pretty robust “What happens on Fictionmags stays on Fictionmags” policy.

  45. I hope Silverberg will not be given any more opportunities to insult members of the community for not being among his aged cronies and narrow range of acceptability.

    Enough is enough. “Tradition” is a terrible reason to continue giving platform to backward-facing behavior.

  46. rcade: There is a line in the Constitution that says “The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning the Awards.” However, this seems contradictory given all the other parts telling the committees how to run the awards.

    There was a proposed change passed at Dublin which reads:

    The Worldcon Committee is responsible for all matters concerning their Awards.

    Because of the CoNZealand Business Meeting continuance of Business Passed On, it is up for final ratification this year at DisCon III.

    I don’t see that statement as being incompatible with the awards as defined by the WSFS Constitution. It’s “Here are the specified rules for the Hugo Awards, everything else is up to each individual Worldcon.”

  47. @ KTO

    I hope Silverberg will not be given any more opportunities to insult members of the community for not being among his aged cronies and narrow range of acceptability.

    From what I know, Silverberg was among the first SF authors to accurately portray homosexuality as it is in the 1972 novel Book Of Skulls—a natural condition that you are born into—though that particular book portrays a gay man’s internalized self-loathing as well. It was nominated for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards.

  48. From my point of view, Silverberg has been reliably offensive for years now. I’ve learned to brace myself or try to tune him out during Hugo ceremonies.

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