2021 FIYAHCON Report
The second annual FIYAHCON took place online September 16-19, 2021, held via Airmeet and hosted by FIYAH magazine. Guests of honor were Vita Ayala, Malka Older, and Njeri of Onyx Pages. The original event was conceived in the midst of protests and the COVID-19 pandemic, and the inaugural Ignyte awards were conceived following the 2020 Hugo Awards ceremony. Organizer L.D. Lewis, in her 2020 FIYAHCON retrospective on her website, described the original concept: “…it would, as all things FIYAH, prove to the community that such a thing as an inclusive, accessible, diverse, dynamic convention where people and entities have their names properly announced and see more than one brown face on a panel at a time on anything other than a Diversity Panel, could exist.” Registration sold out quickly. There were 1,072 registered members and 956 attendees from 6 continents and 46 countries, compared to 2020’s 1,128 registered members and 978 active attendees. Attendees received a Digital Swag Bag with “395 MB worth of free stuff.”
The online event offered 81 programming options (excluding Aquarium Calm Rooms) with 256 speakers, compared to 2020’s 55 programming options and 153 panelists. Opening ceremonies kicked off the weekend on Thursday at 7:00 p.m. ET. Despite a briefly rocky start, where technical issues kept some attendees from going into panels, main programming began Friday at 8:00 a.m. with a morning “Write-in” hosted by Danny Lore, followed by panels “Worldbuilding: Political Systems” with Roseanne A. Brown, George Jreije, C.L. Polk, Aurelius Raines II, and K.S. Villoso, and “What Does Justice Look Like?” with Brittney Morris, Bethany C Morrow, Zin E. Rocklyn, and Cadwell Turnbull. Panels covered a range of topics, such as “Word, Sound, Power: Publishing Stories that Sound Like You” with Zen Cho, P. Djèlí Clark, Daniel José Older, Eden Royce, and Sydnee Thompson; “Law in SFF, and Why It Matters” with Marguerite Kenner, Njeri, Karintha Parker, and Sameem Siddiqui; and “Folklore as Liberation and Empowerment” with Kat Cho, Maria Dong, Daphne Lee, Miyuki Jane Pinckard, and Sonia Sulaiman. Other options included Calm Rooms provided by the Monterey Bay Aquarium, 32 industry professionals offering office hours, three workshops, and live readings by 20 authors. FIYAHCON hosted 22 virtual vendor booths, which had 350 unique visits.
FIYAHCON also offered BonFIYAH, previously called “Fringe”, free programming content featuring and designed for members of the community in other countries. BonFIYAH had 88 panelists, 24 panels, and 1,598 total attendees, whose members overlapped with the core FIYACON membership. BonFIYAH programming began Friday at 8:00 p.m. with “Found in Translation: Fan Subs, Fan Translations, and Other Labors of Fannish Love” with Iori Kusano, Brandon O’Brien, Jeannette Ng, Charles Tan, and Eliana González Ugarte, and “Decolonizing Narrative Structures” with Whiti Hereaka, Iori Kusano, Daphne Lee, and Yilin Wang. A wide range of topics were offered, such as “The C Word: Climate Change in SFF” with Amin Chehelnabi, Dilman Dila, Sigrid Marianne Gayangos, Alexander Popov, and Yudhanjaya Wijeratne, and “What We Talk About When We Talk About Monsters” with Joel Donato Ching Jacob, Haralambi Markov, Teodor Reljic, Sara Saab, and Neon Yang.
The second annual Ignyte Awards, which seek to “celebrate the vibrancy and diversity of the current and future landscapes of science fiction, fantasy, and horror by recognizing incredible feats in storytelling and outstanding efforts toward inclusivity of the genre,” streamed live Saturday at 4:00 p.m., hosted by Ashia Monet. The livestream was watched by 265 viewers. Awards winners and finalists received medallions. Closing ceremonies began slightly late on Sunday, just after 9:00 p.m. After the con, many of the panels were made available for members in the FIYAHCON archive.
FIYAHCON was financed through ticket sales and $17,648.00 in sponsorships. This year’s sponsors included Library Reads, Scholastic, DisCon III, Fierce Reads, The Dream Foundry, Speculative Literature Foundation, Ryan Van Loan, CatStone Books, Simon & Schuster, Angélique Roché, Glasgow 2024, Worldbuilders, Uncanny Magazine, DongWon Song, Elise Matthesen, and Escape Artists.
Lewis said, “As of right now, there is no plan for a future FIYAHCON. We are all busy and tired and were met with a lot of harassment this cycle and are in need of a break.”
For more information see the convention site.
This report and more like it in the November 2021 issue of Locus.
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