Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Singing the Bouchercon Blues

I’m saddened but not surprised by this development: Bouchercon 2021 organizers announced today that, due to the spread of the COVID-19 delta variant—especially among the unvaccinated—this year’s convention in New Orleans has been cancelled.

“The death knell,” observes Deadly Pleasures Mystery Magazine editor George Easter, “was struck by the New York Times article that named Louisiana (and New Orleans) the hot spot for COVID right now. Cancellations started flooding in and the organizers could see that there was no hope for an in-person convention this year. I have some idea as to the work that went into preparing for this convention and the high hopes that the organizers had. I feel very bad for them. They will now have to spend many days and hours cleaning up the issues that arise because of the cancellation.”

A notice sent out today by Bouchercon 2021 co-chairs Mike Bursaw, Heather Graham, and Connie Perry says that while the Crescent City—which last hosted this crime-fiction convention back in 2016—is losing Bouchercon this year, it will have it back in 2025, assuming the pandemic is history by then. “Our Guests of Honor will remain the same,” the notice states. Those honorees include Michael Connelly as Lifetime Achievement Guest of Honor, Steph Cha as Rising Star Guest of Honor, and The Rap Sheet’s Ali Karim as Fan Guest of Honor.

In her own post about this cancellation, Janet Rudolph explains: “A virtual Bouchercon at this late date is untenable. However, there will be an Anthony Awards ballot sent to those registered attendees (as of July 1) and an Anthony Awards ceremony will take place at a future date.” Registrants should receive their Anthony ballots by August 11 (presumably via e-mail); they’ll have to cast their votes by August 14.

Regarding registration reimbursements, today’s notice says:
We will be offering full refunds for registrations. Soon, you will be given the option to receive this refund or donate all or part. We are sending a registrant survey to each of you with the choices of:

1. “You may keep my registration fee,”
2. “I would like to give a portion of my registration fee” or
3. “I want all of my registration fee back.”

This will help us establish how much money we need to cover expenses.
I had originally planned to attend Bouchercon in New Orleans this year, being a big fan of both the event and that city, but was forced to bow out in May. I was actually looking forward to hearing from other attendees how many wonderful things I’d missed. Oh, well.

Let’s hope we can all get together in Minneapolis in September 2022!


Kevin R. Tipple said...

It seems to me that "the death knell" was over the weekend when the Mayor announced that their hospitals were full and the EMS system was overwhelmed with patients and calls. All the NYT did was report the same news that other media companies had reported for two weeks.

It also seems to me that they should have planned for the possibility of virtual only all along. We have all lived this nightmare for more than 18 months. Moreover, we have all known that Delta and other variants were coming and would cause new cases. Once the CDC and others got the idea to drop the mask mandates and trust that those who refused to get vaccinated would still wear masks, everything was doomed. I have neighbors who have bought in on all the conspiracy nonsense and will never be willingly vaccinated. They took the dropping of the mandates as governmental permission to not mask and have been traveling and living their best lives.

Meanwhile, because of my health issues, I never stopped masking. By mid June it was clear to me this event should be cancelled as things were going downhill. I knew there was no point in registering as there was no way I could go even if they did the event anyway.

I said at Dallas that it was very likely my one and only Bouchercon. I had a blast. I was hoping to do this one as, with my health issues which making flying medically impossible, this one was close enough to have a chance. Whether or not I will be around for 2025 is a real question, so time will tell on that. I hope that the next one comes off without a hitch.

Rick Robinson said...

Kevin is so right on all counts. It’s the anti-vaxxers and their foolish, mistaken, anti-science, social and political beliefs that their “freedoms” give them the right to threaten the health of the rest of us that creates this mess. I’m vaccinated, I mask all the time I’m not home. Yet the rest of us can’t do what we’d like. Grrr.