Another year, another day of social media full of outrage about something the World Fantasy Convention has done. How tiresomely predictable.
For those who are late to the party, Sarah Pinsker has a lot of inside track on what went on, having tried to save them from their stupidity. Mike Glyer has a round of of Twitter reactions. And Foz Meadows has a lengthy blog post. An earlier blow-up about this year’s convention is reported by Jason Sanford.
You may also want to refresh your memory of some of the previous drama, because this convention sure has history.
Foz concludes her piece as follows:
But we know all that. We’ve said it before. What else is there to say?
I have much sympathy. We’ve been here before. I don’t doubt that we’ll be here again. Some people, however, are bravely trying to do something about it.
Some people have been busy contacting the up-coming WFCs in San Antonio (2017) and Baltimore (2018). This has some promise. The San Antonio event is being run by the people who run Armadillocon which does at least have a harassment policy. I’m hearing some good things on Twitter about the Baltimore event. However, this is only a short term solution. The World Fantasy Board appoints a different group to run each year’s event. They can, and will, continue to give that job to people who produce the sort of convention that they want, rather than the sort of convention other people might want.
Over on Facebook, Tempest Bradford has suggested boycotting the convention. Again this has some merit. The problem is that, as a high profile professional networking event with a membership cap, WFC generally has no trouble attracting attendees. People, and especially aspiring young writers, feel that they need to be seen there. If going to WFC is important to people’s careers, and the only people who go are people who are comfortable at an event aimed primarily at straight cis white men, well I think you can see the problem.
Tempest suggests ghosting the convention (i.e. not buying a membership, but getting a hotel room and joining the bar conversations). She’s absolutely right that this is where all of the action happens. WFC programming has been crap for as long as I can remember, so most people don’t got to it. As a con-runner I’m always a bit nervous about ghosting because it can cause financial problems for the organizers, but if the event is sold out that’s a different matter.
Other people have been suggesting having an alternative convention, perhaps online. I’m certainly interested in that, but the networking really on happens at meatspace events. If you want networking and can get to US events, the Nebula weekend seems to have been going from strength to strength since people with an eye on the future took over SFWA. The Locus Awards weekend is also chock full of leading industry folks. Personally, of course, I would like something more international. Sadly this year’s Eurocon in Barcelona is sold out, otherwise I would suggest y’all come over here instead.
The only way we will get real change, I think, is if the people at the top of the field stop supporting WFC. The convention can only be good for your career if people you want to network with are going to be there. That means publishers, their editors, top writers and so on. We need those people to stand up and tell WFC that they will stop attending unless the event stops being an embarrassment to the industry.