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SMOF News, volume 1, issue 15
Anime NYC makes too much news, SMOFCon report, and news in brief.
Anime NYC Is World-Famous
A couple weeks ago, Anime NYC seemed like a harbinger of the return of normality when it committed a typical line-management error. Then, on December 2, the Minnesota Department of Health announced that a Minneapolis resident who had just returned from the convention had tested positive for the exciting new coronavirus variant, omicron.
McGinn's infection was one of the first cases involving the omicron variant to be identified in the United States, and he's spoken out about it over the weekend — to the New York Times and other national media, because he didn't like "the stigma of COVID" and wanted to encourage others to take vaccinations seriously.
"I'm very pro-science, pro-vaccine," he said. "I do believe that the booster and getting the vaccine helps reduce the symptoms that I had. And I would definitely recommend anybody who, when they can, get the booster."
McGinn said that he felt safe at the conference -- and about 99.9% of people he saw kept their masks on -- but he added that the convention only required people to complete at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The convention's website notes, "You can attend immediately after your first dose."
McGinn, who said he would attend the convention again, said that next time he hopes the event requires attendees to be fully vaccinated, meaning they must be two weeks from having completed two doses of either the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or one dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
It may never be known whether McGinn was infected at, before, or after the convention, but many reports paint a picture of a severely crowded space. Despite his assessment of high mask usage, others differ:
Tian Chang, 29, one of the artists, said she felt safe from Covid-19 at first, with many attendees wearing masks, as the convention required. Still, her worries grew, as the crowds did. She recalled “an explosion of attendees,” with “crowds shoulder to shoulder in some areas.” From her table, she watched as masks came off while people ate, chatted with friends or found an empty corner to take a nap.
And there was the line pileup, which happened outdoors where masks were not required, though photos from the scene do show many people were wearing masks.
If you were at Anime NYC, the CDC requests that you contact your local test-and-trace department so that it can do some science on how omicron spreads.
SMOFCon Europe Highlights
SMOFCon (which this newsletter is not connected to in any official way) is a yearly get-together for the volunteers behind fan-run conventions. This year’s edition was based in Lisboa, Portugal, with tracks of both online and hybrid programming.
Most of SMOFCon’s programming is about the inner workings of fan conventions which are not of much interest to the general public, but a few items pointing the way to the future are worth mentioning.
“What's working in Covid-era in-person conventions?” took stock of the current situation. As with so many things brought to the fore by the pandemic, loss of attendees, loss of staff, and international travel restrictions have always been with us, they’ve just been increased exponentially in the last couple years. The immediate test of whether cons will survive the next year or two is how well they can handle shrinking. This stands in contrast to the last thirty years which have been defined by explosive growth in the convention world.
If you’re wondering why your local con doesn’t allow medical exemptions for vaccinations, the answer is that would be much more time-consuming to review them than it is to simply look at a vaccination card. And as for why your local con keeps emphasizing its policies over and over in e-mails and announcements, conrunners are finding that some people need repetitions to make them fully aware of the rules.
“Worldcon Q&A: 2023 Bids” featured two entirely different presentation approaches. Winnipeg’s, tailored to an audience of conrunners, focused on the deep bench of its experienced committee and the quality of its facilities, while Chengdu was more about how it was doing at generating online buzz. That buzz appears to be paying off; Worldcon membership statistics provided to File 770 show a dramatic increase in supporting memberships from China over past Worldcons. Although not every one of them may be voting for Chengdu, they have supporters in other parts of the world as well, and it seems a safe bet that site selection this year will have more votes for Chengdu itself than there were overall in 2016 when the previous bid for China went down in flames.
Steve Cooper’s presentation on “Finding the Right Space” looked at convention centers around the world which have not yet hosted the World Science Fiction Convention and evaluated how well they might work. This exercise proved so inspirational that two possible new Worldcon bids were being discussed by the end of it. One is for Lisboa itself, after Cooper spoke highly of its convention center, and the other is for a site to be determined in Poland, with the organizers initially leaning toward one in Katowice.
It was lamented shortly afterward that it was not possible to recreate the infamous start of the Australia in 2010 bid in a virtual space, as Discord does not yet include the ability to spontaneously fling $20 bills at people.
Next year’s SMOFCon will be in Montréal, Quebec, December 2-4, with the theme “Cirque des SMOFs”.
Site selection for the 2023 Westercon should have occurred at Westercon 73 this past weekend, but there have been no bids to choose from since one for Tempe disbanded in June. In lieu of a selection, a commission was formed to take proposals for running it. Interested parties should contact the commission by January 31.
James R. "Jim" Terry Jr., one of the founders of the long-running Doctor Who convention Gallifrey One, died December 1. Obituary from Gallifrey One on Facebook
Weekend of December 10-12
RADP 26 (Disney theme parks), Walt Disney World, Florida, USA
PAX Unplugged (tabletop gaming), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Anime Pasadena, Pasadena, California, USA
Tekko 2021 (anime), Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
Yama-Con 2021 (anime), Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, USA
Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo, Chicago, Illinois, USA
Ocean City Comic Con, Ocean City, Maryland, USA
TFCon Toronto (Transformers), Missisauga, Ontario, Canada
Weekend of December 17-19
DisCon III, the 79th World Science Fiction Convention, Washington, DC, USA
TwinConRPG (gaming), London, UK
Sac Gamers Expo (video games), Sacramento, California, USA
Power Up South Bend (video games), South Bend, Indiana, USA
Holiday Matsuri (anime), Orlando, Florida, USA
Con+Alt+Delete (anime), Rosemont, Illinois, USA
AnimeFest 2021, Dallas, Texas, USA
Comic Con Revolution, Ontario, California, USA
Fan Party vol. 5 (media), Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico
Weekend of December 24-26
Weekend of December 31-January 2
Comic Market 99 (amateur comics), Tokyo, Japan
Painted Desert Fur Con: Neo Tokyo (anthropomorphic), Phoenix, Arizona, USA
Ikkicon (anime), Austin, Texas, USA
OKiCon (anime), Norman, Oklahoma, USA
Weekend of January 7-9
Shadowcon XXV (relaxacon), Memphis, Tennessee, USA
GAFilk 2022 (music), Atlanta, Georgia, USA
SuperMAGFest (gaming/videogame music), National Harbor, Maryland, USA
OrcaCon 2022 (gaming), Bellevue, Washington, USA
Animé Los Angeles 17, Long Beach, California, USA
Taiyou Con 2022 (anime), Mesa, Arizona, USA
Anime-ZAP!, East Peoria, Illinois, USA
Fan Expo New Orleans (media), New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
You’re pronouncing “omicron” wrong (Wall Street Journal)
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