Discon III

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The 79th Worldcon, and fifth in the Baltimore/Washington area, Discon III (DC3) will be held December 15–19, 2021, at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC. The con is sponsored by the Baltimore Washington Area Worldcon Association ("BAWAWA").

GoHs: Author GoH, Nancy Kress; Artist GoH, John Harris; Fan GoH, Ben Yalow; Editor GoH: Toni Weisskopf; Special Guests, Malka Older and Sheree Renée Thomas. Chair: Mary Robinette Kowal, who joined the concom and took over after the June 2021 resignation of Bill Lawhorn.

The DC in 2021 bid was selected at Dublin 2019 in an uncontested race and will conduct 2023 Worldcon Site Selection.

In November 2020, the concom announced it would implement a special Hugo Award category for “Best Video Game” in the 2021 Hugo Awards.

Website.

Disasters[edit]

The con has been so fraught with troubles it may go down in fanhistory as Discon Disastrous.

Covid-19[edit]

It was to have been held August 25–29, 2021, at the Marriott Wardman Park and Omni Shoreham. Because of the Covid-19 epidemic, it will not be held as scheduled but postponed to December.

The con conducted a poll in December 2020 to determine fan preference, but did not release the results until April 7, 2021, due to legal issues over its hotel contracts. Two-thirds of the respondents said they preferred a live Worldcon in December over an earlier online event. However, the Worldcon will offer virtual memberships and events in addition to the in-person convention.

Hotels[edit]

In the summer of 2020, the Marriott Wardman Park announced that the hotel, which had been closed since March due to Covid-19, might shut down permanently, with a final decision scheduled for sometime in the Fall of 2020. Subsequently, the Wardman Park’s owners filed for bankruptcy, announced the hotel’s permanent closing, and their intent to sell the property.

Covid-19 Policy[edit]

On August 21, 2021, DC3 announced that everyone attending must present proof of vaccination. Children too young to be vaccinated and others who cannot be vaccinated will not be permitted to attend. Masks will be mandatory.

Controversies[edit]

The convention had announced Baen BooksToni Weisskopf as Editor GoH. However, after what many viewed as toxic content on her company’s online user forums was publicized by Jason Sanford on February 15, 2021, the concom announced it was “monitoring” the situation. Weisskopf took down the forums the next day, promising to investigate. However, Discon issued a statement on February 19, saying, in part:

DisCon III condemns the violent and hostile content found within Baen Books’ forums. We also cannot condone the fact such content was enabled and allowed to ferment for so long. We want to make it clear abusive behavior is not, and will not be, tolerated at DisCon III. Such behavior goes entirely against our already established policies concerning inclusivity and creating a welcoming environment for our members.... As a result, after discussion with her, we have notified Toni Weisskopf we are removing her as a Guest of Honor for DisCon III.

This marked the first time a Worldcon had ever removed a GoH. The decision was controversial, to say the least. Several concom members and volunteers resigned in the wake of the announcement and some con members said on social media that they would not attend.

Other controversies included Hugo Awards policies and the concom’s decision to discard the tradition of publishing names of preregistered members.

Resignations[edit]

Bill Lawhorn and Colette Fozard were originally co-chairs, but Fozard resigned in January 2021 due to abuse from the online community over the Worldcon’s (quickly rescinded) announcements regarding limits on certain credits for large teams receiving Hugo nominations. She issued a statement on File 770.

Other resignations included Jared Dashoff, the WSFS Division Head (explained here), the Hugo Administrator and several others. Then, in June 2021, the subsequent Hugo Administration team resigned en masse.

Shortly afterward, a beleaguered Lawhorn resigned, according to an announcement on June 25, 2021.

Latinx Fanhistory Error[edit]

On September 3, 2021, DisCon III announced that Marguerite Smith and Lauren Raye Snow were joining the concom as vice chairs, describing Snow as “the first Latinx to serve as a Vice Chair.” This is untrue, as Fred Duarte was a vice chair for LoneStarCon 2 in 1997.

Not every Worldcon has vice chairs, nobody maintains a historical listing of fans who held the title, nor have conventions generally highlighted the ethnicity of their concom members, so the initial mistake might be forgivable poor research. However, Karen Meschke, chair of LoneStarCon 2 and the late Duarte’s ex-wife, immediately contacted Discon to correct the error, asking, “Could the wording be changed to first female Latinx Vice Chair and Fred be added as a footnote?” After Meschke notified two different Discon advisors and got no action, she went public on October 19 in a guest post at File 770.

After others intervened, the online announcement was amended, with Fred mentioned in a footnote, but no correction was sent out separately.

See also:[edit]



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