Posts Tagged ‘Farpoint’

Why I’ve withdrawn from Farpoint Con 2022

This is an open message to my friends and colleagues who plan on attending Farpoint Convention in Hunt Valley, Md., next month (Feb. 25-27).

Though I have been looking forward for some time to seeing you all there, I regret that it currently appears I will not be attending the con.

I was recently made aware that Farpoint’s concom has decided not to require guests, staff, volunteers, or attendees to provide proof of vaccination or a recent (< 72 hours) negative result on a reliable COVID-19 test, per its online statement:

Farpoint 2022 COVID-19 Guidance

On Tuesday, January 11, I emailed Farpoint via the programming chair, Cindy Woods, to express my concerns and reservations concerning this lax approach to health and safety. My message read, in part:

“Per item 2, I am seriously troubled by the concom’s decision to not require proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test for attendees, guests, and staff.

“The proffered explanation that this decision was made out of concern about the privacy of attendees’ private health information rings hollow. Many other small, fan-run and volunteer-supported conventions are managing to check vaccination and test status for their attendees without it being an undue burden on them or an imposition on their attendees and guests.

“I would strongly urge the Farpoint team to reconsider this section of its COVID policy immediately, and to plan for verification of attendees’ vaccination statuses and/or recent negative test results.”

Cindy replied that the Farpoint committee intended to discuss the matter again during its next meeting, scheduled for the weekend of January 15-16, and that she would share with them my concerns and inform me of their conclusions.

Their response and final decision was, to be blunt, disappointing. On behalf of the Farpoint concom, Cindy wrote back to me this past Monday, January 17, 2022, with this reply:

“We value your opinion on this issue, and appreciate your candor. Unfortunately, it’s a tough decision to make. With breakthrough infections increasing even among vaccinated persons in the wake of the Delta and Omicron variants, we do not want to send the message to attendees that an all-vaccinated con will be free of Covid. Because the reality is that cannot be guaranteed, especially in a facility that is not requiring vaccinations for guests not attending the convention. Marriott’s policy makes it impossible to establish a safe bubble.

“If people are going to choose to accept the risk of attending a public event—and it is a risk—we want them to understand that risk, and we want them to follow the safety protocols recommended by Maryland and the CDC that stand the best chance of keeping them infection-free: increased sanitation, social distancing and masking. We are implementing these recommendations.”

To say I found this reply discouraging would be an understatement.

In reply to their assertion about what message such a policy would send, I shared my opinion that the message conveyed by a strong vaccination/test policy is “We are doing everything reasonably possible to provide the lowest-risk environment we can for our guests and attendees, as well as the general public.”

Regarding their excuse that because the hotel is not enforcing such a policy on non-convention guests at the hotel that weekend, it is not possible to create a “safe bubble,” I responded,

“You’ve applied the wrong standard. You’ve let the perfect become the enemy of the good.

“For starters, hotel guests who are not con attendees are not likely to have any significant prolonged contact with con attendees. The most likely places of overlap between these two groups, based on historical patterns, is the front lobby and the lounge area. Both of those spaces are relatively open and well ventilated; the former has a high ceiling, and the latter has good spacing on its seating options.

“Those are not high-risk areas, and the con should not be concerned about them.

“The highest-risk areas are those that, for the weekend, WILL be under the con’s exclusive control: the Tack rooms, the Salons, and the Hunt-Valley Ballroom. The Tack rooms and Salons are small enclosed spaces that, if attended by an individual who happens to be contagious, could turn into petri dishes.

“Likewise, because of the sheer crowd density in the Hunt-Valley Ballroom for headliner events, even a single contagious person in that space risks turning it into a superspreader venue.

“Allowing access by unvaccinated and untested individuals sharply increases those risks.”

I offered, as a further criticism of their policy, my observation that it places “all responsibility on the guests and attendees, which is not only unfair, it’s irresponsible, especially considering the number of children who attend the con.

“It is appropriate to ask all attendees to observe those practices for communal safety while in the convention and public areas of the hotel,” I continued, “but the con has a responsibility to do what the attendees cannot, either individually or collectively: screen out the highest-risk persons for the good of the community as a whole.”

The concom’s decision not to revise its policy for a safer one, regardless of their rationale, is one that I consider to be medically unsound. I think it creates an unnecessary degree of risk by omission of action.

Consequently, I have informed Farpoint that, barring an official revision of its COVID-19 safety protocols to include a requirement for all staff, volunteers, guests, and attendees to be either fully vaccinated (2x + booster) or to present a negative COVID test processed in the 72 hours preceding the start of the convention, I will not be attending Farpoint 2022.

I offer this information not to sway anyone else’s decision, but to make sure that my friends and colleagues who choose to be part of this year’s Farpoint Convention clearly understand all of the risks that will be involved. Each of us needs to make our own informed decision whether the increased level of risk that will be present at Farpoint Convention is merited and acceptable.

For those who choose to attend in spite of this lax admission screening, I wish you a happy and healthy convention weekend — but if you choose to attend Farpoint (or any other large event that features gatherings in small windowless rooms, and isn’t verifying vaccination or negative-test results), please take all possible precautions.

Farpoint Convention 2021 – My Virtual Schedule

For those of you taking part in next weekend’s virtual Farpoint Convention, I’ll be on two of their Zoom-based virtual panels:
 
SAT 2/20 at 1PM–2PM ET
“Got Enough Science?”
with Christopher Ochs and Phil Giunta
 
SUN 2/21 at 1PM–2PM ET
“How Does Star Trek Thrive?”
with Derek Tyler Attico and Keith R.A. DeCandido
See the convention’s full schedule here.

My Farpoint 2020 Schedule

Here is my schedule for this year’s Farpoint Convention, being held once again at the Delta Hotel by Marriott (formerly known as the Hunt Valley Inn) in Hunt Valley, Md. At times not listed here, the most likely place to find me is — big surprise — the hotel bar.


FRIDAY | 21 February

7:00 PM — Tales of Woe … and Healing
Salon C (Moderator)

10:00 PM to Midnight — Meet the Pros (aka Book Fair)
Hunt-Valley Corridor


SATURDAY | 22 February

Noon — Author Signing
Autograph Table 2

2:00 PM — Killing Characters 101
Salon C (Moderator)


SUNDAY | 23 February

11:00 AM — Writer Hobbies
Salon C (Moderator)

Noon to 1:00 PM — Author Signing
Autograph Table 1

 

See you at the con, folks!

#SFWApro

My Farpoint 2019 Schedule

If you’re coming to Farpoint in Hunt Valley, Md., Feb. 8–10, 2019, here is my schedule of panels and other events. At times not listed here, you can usually find me in the hotel bar, attempting to drink myself unconscious.


FRIDAY

Writing Projects Gone Awry – 5:00 PM – Salon C

Farpoint Book Fair – 10:00 PM – Hunt Valley Hallway

 


SATURDAY

Autographing (Davie; Mack) – 11:00 AM – Autograph Table 2

Readings (D. McPhail; D. Mack; Ransom) – 1:00 PM – Salon E

Publishing in 2019 and Beyond – 3:00 PM – Salon C

 


SUNDAY

Writing Genre Mash-ups – Noon – Salon C

Autographing – 1:00 PM – Autograph Table 2

 

See you at the show, kids! (Reminder: Don’t bother me when I’m eating.)

My Farpoint 2017 Schedule

For those of you attending Farpoint 2017 in a few weeks, here’s where you’ll be able to catch up with me at the show. The convention will take place Friday, February 17, through Sunday, February 19, at the Radisson Hotel North Baltimore, in Timonium, MD. The full schedule and program book are available online.


Friday — 17 February

“Robot/AI or Slave?”
5pm — Chesapeake 1
In much of science fiction, robots are thinking beings designed and programmed to be servitors. That sounds a lot like slavery. When we talk about robot/AI uprisings, are we talking about slave revolts? From the Butlerian Jihad in the Dune books, to Asimov’s laws of robotics, to the Terminator, are stories of rebellious synthetics actually tales of slaves who decide not to be slaves?
David Mack, Jay Smith, T. Eric Bakutis, Jim Werbaneth

Farpoint Book Fair
10pm–Midnight — Dulaney/Valley 1
Meet and mingle with the authors at the Book Fair! Bring copies of my work for autographs, or just stop by to say “hi!”


Saturday — 18 February

Reading
12:40pm – Chesapeake 3–6
I will be reading a short selection from my upcoming original novel The Midnight Front.

Signing
1pm–2pm — Main Atrium
If you have any of my work you’d like autographed, bring it with you. Or just stop by to chat.

“The Shape of Stories”
2pm — Chesapeake 1
Kurt Vonnegut once theorized that there are only six basic shapes that stories can take. Other writers have developed their own theories about the universal structures that every story in the world can fit into. This panel will discuss various aspects about story theory, from what these categories are, how to use them to write insanely great endings, and how writers can incorporate this knowledge into their own plotting.
Don Sakers, Stephen Kozeniewski, David Mack, Susanna Reilly

Signing
3pm–4pm — Main Atrium
If you have any of my work you’d like autographed, bring it with you. Or just stop by to chat.


Sunday — 19 February

“Writing for the Eye vs. the Ear”
Noon — Chesapeake 1
An old bit of advice most writers hear at some point is that we should read our work aloud, supposedly to help us recognize awkward bits of phrasing. But does it work? Taking the question further, does this work better with dialogue than with description? Better with fiction than non-fiction? Is it possible for a writer who delivers effective readings to miss the fact that their prose, absent their performance, is dead on the page?
David Mack, Don Sakers, Aaron Rosenberg, Lauren Harris

#SFWApro

My Farpoint 2016 Schedule

farpoint_art

If you’ll be attending Farpoint Convention 2016 in Timonium, Md., less than two weeks from now, and you’re wondering where to find me (other than at the bar or in the game room playing poker), here’s my schedule of panels and signings.

Friday, February 12

5pmGenres Within Genres
Chesapeake 1

As authors explore more ways to mix and match different tropes and genres, it’s becoming a challenge for some readers – and some authors – to describe exactly what niche some books fit into, if any. Is this a good thing for SF/F literature, or a path to chaos?


Saturday, February 13

Noon to 1pm – I’ll be signing books in Dulaney 1 with Ben Anderson, Michael Jan Friedman, and Heather Hutsell.

2pm – Readings: I, along with Gregory Wilson and Heather Hutsell, will be in Dulaney 1, reading selections from our published writings or our works in progress.

3pm to 4pm – I’ll be back in Dulaney 1 to sign more autographs, alongside Michael Ventrella and Gregory Wilson.

5pmFall and Redemption in Fantasy & SF
Chesapeake 1

Examining the themes of heroes falling and being redeemed. Compare Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones and Star Wars, for example, and the Hero’s Journey paradigm.


Sunday, February 14

1pmCollaborations
Chesapeake 1

Are two heads really better than one? Our panel will discuss the pros and cons of working with other writers.


That’s all the information I have regarding the schedule at this time. All listed events are tentative and subject to change. I hope to update this post with more information, including rooms and panel participants, as soon as I receive that info from the convention.

I hope to see you all there!

 

My Farpoint 2015 Schedule

If you’ll be attending Farpoint Convention this coming weekend and would like to hear me speak on one of my panels, or catch up with me during my signing times, here’s my handy-dandy schedule for the show. Use this information wisely, my stalkers.

 

Friday, Feb. 13

FARPOINT COCKTAIL PARTY
7pm–8pm, Greenspring Ballroom
Come have a drink and be sociable!

FARPOINT BOOK FAIR
10pm–Midnight, Dulaney 1 & 2
This will be your prime opportunity to buy some of my backlist titles and get them autographed.

 

Saturday, Feb. 14

AUTHOR READINGS
10am-11am, Dulaney 1
I’ll be offering a short reading from one of my recent or upcoming works. Also reading during this time block will be fellow authors T. Eric Bakutis, Don Sakers, and Steven H. Wilson)

WAR AND PEACE IN FANTASY & SF
11am–Noon, Chesapeake 1
Wars in speculative settings are often presented as inescapable and morally unambiguous; it’s hard to be a pacifist when the enemy is a group of vampires or aliens bent on human extinction. What can be done in military settings that can’t be done in civilian ones? And how do we make space for pacifism and critiques of militarism as well as battlefield action and military strategy?

AUTOGRAPHING
1pm–2pm, Dulaney 1
I’ll be selling and signing books alongside fellow scribes Michael Dougherty and Janine K. Spendlove.

COPING WITH DISCOURAGEMENT
3pm–4pm, Chesapeake 1
I will moderate this panel about one of the less-discussed aspects of the writing life. As writers, we learn very early on to handle rejection, but how do you handle it when a story you’re sure is good is rejected by 20 different publications? Or when your carefully crafted novel is shrugged off by five different agents? Or your self-published novella is bought by only 25 people, all of them friends and relatives? Or your fantasy novel disappears from public view after a couple of weeks? Our panel of authors will discuss their personal strategies for dealing with disappointments, rejection, and other setbacks.

 

Sunday, Feb. 15

A FUTURE FOR FANTASY
11am–Noon, Chesapeake 1
I will moderate this discussion that asks, Why are there so few futurist fantasies? And why are so many of those that exist predicated on the return of magic to a world that has lived without it? What does the return of magic to a technological setting symbolize? Often, the return of magic is depicted as the harbinger of an imminent apocalypse; why isn’t it a herald of salvation?