I was at Boskone 59 in Boston two weeks ago, in person. Let me say, first, that it was a great convention. The organizers did a terrific job to put on a hybrid con. Everything (to my eye) ran well. I enjoyed the panels and the kaffeeklatsches. All of that said, I would put the in-person attendance – and this is only my estimate from what I saw – at about 500. Maybe a little less. That’s lower than the attendance pre-pandemic. I don’t know how many were online but I am willing to bet it was a lot more. So, where are we going with conventions? There is a great attraction to the online (or hybrid in-person + online) model even if, in the future, we no longer need to consider COVID. You don’t have to travel, with all the cost and inconvenience involved. The number of attendees can go up substantially. On the downside, however, a hybrid convention is challenging for the organizers from a technical perspective. Discord and Zoom are not the same as being able to meet spontaneously and have conversations with people you have never met before. It does not work well for Author’s Alley tables and (I don’t think) for dealers and artists because the foot traffic is down. Which brings me back to the question: where are we going?
Heliosphere – this year in Parsippany NJ, will be in-person March 25 – 27. I will be there. The Nebulas in May will be virtual only. I believe that Worldcon in Chicago and World Fantasy in New Orleans, both in the fall, will be hybrid. Against this backdrop, the Wesleyan Writer’s Conference, which I have enjoyed in the past, has been canceled for the third year in a row. I don’t have a handle, now, on how all of this will come out. I do think, by the end of this year, we will know. I’m hoping that in-person events don’t fade away. We’ll see.