WisCon 44 was scheduled for May 22-25, 2020 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison WI, with Rebecca Roanhorse and Yoon Ha Lee as guests of honor. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the convention was converted to a virtual event, their first “all-online con,” held on the same dates, with additional events on the evening of the 21st. Roanhorse attended virtually, but Lee was unable to take part.
There were 1,084 attending memberships sold. WisCon replicated their usual slate of events as best they could and featured eight live panels, readings by eight authors, and seven academic presentations. Other highlights included Rebecca Roanhorse’s guest-of-honor speech; the Gathering, held via Discord chat channels; and online parties including the ever-popular Floomp dance party, this year with the theme “Robots!”. On Thursday night, there was a virtual reception with readings by Rebecca Roanhorse, followed by a concert by The Doubleclicks, pre-recorded specifically for WisCon.
Co-chair Kit Stubbs told us, “This was the first year WisCon has done Anything Online Ever, so to go from zero to All Online in the space of a couple of months was a huge undertaking.” Stubbs thanked the ConCom for their exceptional efforts, especially “the folks in the all-new Online Con department.” Stubbs acknowledged some tech hiccups, but said in general members reported having a good time, and people were patient with the difficulties. Some WisCon traditions, like the dessert salon and writing workshops, couldn’t be held.
Fundraising efforts brought in a total of $2,575, with more than $2,000 coming from the Otherwise Auction (formerly the Tiptree Auction), hosted once again by auctioneer Sumana Harihareswa. There was no traditional dealer’s room or art room, but the convention featured 17 artists in their virtual art show, and 36 vendors in their virtual dealer’s room.
WisCon 45 will take place May 28-31, 2021 at the Concourse Hotel in Madison WI, with Zen Cho and Sheree R. Thomas as guests of honor. Since this year’s guests of honor could not attend in person, Roanhorse and Lee are also invited to attend if their schedules permit. For more: <www.wiscon.net>.
Photos by WisCon 2020.
This report and more like it in the July 2020 issue of Locus.
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