Conventions Go Virtual

The global pandemic is affecting a lot of the ways in which we live our lives, and science fiction conventions are no exception. Many events, including this year’s Eastercon, have been cancelled, but others are going virtual. On Sunday SFWA announced plans for their annual Nebula Conference to be an entirely online event. And yesterday CoNZealand said that Worldcon too would be a virtual event.

This is good for me. I’d been expecting to have to miss Worldcon this year because of visa issues. Now I can play a full part in it (assuming I can stay awake theough the night). It is also good for SFSFC. Kevin was due to chair next year’s Westercon, and had selected a site in Tonopah, Nevada which is dirt cheap but 200 miles from the nearest airport. We’d been planning a lot of online content for those people who couldn’t make it. Lots of people had derided the idea, but the pandemic has made things that were previously viewed as radical and impossible into things that are necessary and not as hard as people said.

First thoughts, of course, should be for Kelly, Norm and their team who have been working incredibly hard for 10 years on bringing Worldcon to New Zealand. I was there at the covention in Wellington in 2010 when the bid was first officially discussed. This will have been incredibly hard for them, and hugely disappointing. But in the long term I think this will be good for conventions, because it will open them up to lots of people who previously had no chance of attending.

I’ll have more to say about this in Salon Futura next week.

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