As many of you may have already heard, the Seattle Westercon 73 committee today announced that they are no longer able to put on the convention and that they are shutting down. For the summary of what happened and a copy of the full statement from the Seattle committee see this post on the Westercon web site
that is just one of a whole lot of things I wrote on web sites and social media today. Because I am the lead maintainer for both westercon.org and westercon74.org, everything I did for one site I had to do for the other, with slightly different tone for each announcement/posting. The same goes for the Twitter feeds and Westercon 74's Facebook page. I'm rather surprised that throughout all of that, I only seem to have mis-numbered a convention once, and that's since been corrected.
Let me stress that this does not directly affect Westercon 74
. Westercons, like Worldcons, are independently operated. Westercon 73 was a committee of SWOC, just as Westercon 74 is a committee of SFSFC, and our two groups are legally and financially firewalled from each other. Westercon 74 in Tonopah will continue as Westercon 74 on our revised July 1-4, 2022 dates.
While the separate Westercon 73 in Seattle is now defunct, there will still be a Westercon 73, at least nominally. As LASFS is the "court of last resort" for Westercon (they own the service mark), they also are responsible for it should a committee fail. They've exercised that authority to transfer the technical aspects of the 2021 Westercon from the Seattle committee to Loscon 47, scheduled for Thanksgiving weekend in Los Angeles. Thus Loscon 47 will also be Westercon 73 in name. That also means that the 2021 Westercon Business Meeting (which I hope won't be complicated) and the election to choose the site of the 2023 Westercon (Westercon 75) will be held at Loscon, with all of Loscon's members eligible to participate. LASFS has also agreed to honor the memberships from Seattle's Westercon except for such people who request refunds from the Seattle committee. How this will actually work in practice is still being discussed between SWOC/Seattle and LASFS/Loscon. Fortunately, we have several months to work it out.
There is only one filed bid for Westercon 75 (2021): Tempe. Unlike Worldcon, the filing deadline for Westercon bids to be on the ballot is hard-coded in the Westercon Bylaws as April 15, so that does mean that the election is going to be longer (but not especially more energetic) than usual. It may take more time than usual to work out all of the specifics on how to run this election, but we do have time to do so. OTOH, it does mean the Westercon and Worldcon are only going to be three weeks apart from each other this year. This combined with Lisa and my plans to make the trip to Worldcon in DC by train, is why we've had to cancel our plans to attend SMOFCon in Portugal as I mentioned recently.
More than twenty years ago (I can't find the exact date because the Westercon records are less good than I wish they were), Bruce Pelz asked me to write a rule that was incorporated into the Westercon Bylaws as Section 1.9 that outlines what happens in case of a committee failure. (This was similar to a rule in the WSFS Constitution, but somewhat simpler to write because the name "Westercon" is owned by an ongoing legal entity, the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society.) There's never been a Section 1.9 failure before, but because of Bruce's foresight, we had a rule to turn to when it was necessary.
To be honest, I was expecting today's announcement for about a week now. Because of my Westercon rules knowledge and because I had the relevant contact information, I put the leadership of Seattle's committee in contact with the member of the LASFS Board of Directors most concerned with Westercon (in this case Christian McGuire), and between the time they talked and the official announcement today, they were able to work out what might be called the "Heads of Agreement" that were announced today, with more to be determined later. I had to try and stay in the middle of this not so much because I'm chairing next year's Westercon but because as the Westercon.org webmaster, I needed to know what to tell people once Seattle formally pulled the plug.
It's been a busy day here with me trying to balance a bunch of Westercon stuff and get all of the different announcements out to affected people and groups. It hasn't gone completely perfectly, but it did go overall better than I feared it might.