I’ve waited until the convention was able to update its site and break the news to share this:
It is with deep regret that I have canceled my appearance as the Author Guest of Honor for this year’s MidSouthCon, because of the impossibility of verifying the vaccination/negative test status of attendees, staff, guests, and volunteers as a condition of attendance.
This would have been my very first time as an Author Guest of Honor at any con, and this invitation meant a great deal to me. However, protecting my health and that of my family against unnecessary risks during a pandemic, especially in the face of an extremely contagious COVID variant such as omicron, must take a higher priority.
I will be reimbursing MidSouthCon for any and all out-of-pocket costs they have incurred on my behalf.
At the time MidSouthCon and I made our plans, we had no idea the pandemic was coming. We certainly could not have known in 2019 that the Tennessee state government would pass a law that actually makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.
That fact is the key difference between this cancellation and the one I announced last week regarding my planned appearance at Farpoint Convention. The state of Maryland has no law at this time that prevents events and venues from requiring proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and/or service. The state of Tennessee, unfortunately, does. Whereas Farpoint could have chosen to apply a stronger standard for the protection of its guests, et al., but chose not to, the concom of MidSouthCon had no such option.
I have already done so privately, but I would like to publicly thank the entire team at MidSouthCon for being so understanding about this matter. They have been wonderful hosts through this entire long process, which began when my original appearance in 2020 had to be postponed because of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. With regard to this latest decision, they invited me to air my concerns, they took my input very seriously, and did their best to find a solution. Unfortunately, their hands were tied by Tennessee state law.
If blame is to lie anywhere in this unfortunate mess, I will lay it at the feet of the Tennessee state legislature and governor, who wrote and enacted this law that only makes it harder to keep people safe from infection.
Again, I offer my apology for this late cancellation to all the fans who were hoping to meet me at MidSouthCon for conversation, panels, and/or autographs, but under the current circumstances I must put my health and that of my family above all other concerns. Autographed book plates will be available at the convention, and copies of my books will be sold at the table of fellow Star Trek author John Jackson Miller, in the vendors’ area.
At this time, the only upcoming convention appearance on my schedule is Shore Leave, scheduled for July 15–17, 2022. As of this writing, Shore Leave has a posted COVID-19 policy that will require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry/service to the convention’s designated areas and functions. As long as that policy remains in effect, I will look forward to attending Shore Leave this summer.
To preempt further confusion, I have updated my website’s Contact page with a statement making clear that I will not participate in person at any event held in a state (which currently includes Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Arizona, Texas, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alaska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Alabama, and Utah) that legally bars venues and events from requesting proof of vaccination as a condition of entry and service.
On that note, I send my best wishes to one and all: stay warm this winter, and stay healthy.