This year’s World Fantasy Convention, which I will be attending, has just announced its policy of charging an additional five-pound fee to attendees of its Kaffeeklatsches. A few notes:
1. I, like several authors of my acquaintance, had previously and privately declined to participate in this Kaffeeklatsch track, for all the reasons John Scalzi talks about here. I don’t come from a con-going tradition of charging added fees for these things; as many convention veterans have pointed out on Twitter, it is usually the business of cons to plan for this sort of fairly routine programming item in their budgets rather than tacking on fees after the fact. The fact that WFC has such relatively expensive memberships in the first place made the added charge seem all the more strange and uncomfortable. In short, I agree with all of Scalzi’s points and I have commented on his Whatever post.
1a. The con folks I have spoken to about this in private have not been evil or discommodious; in the main they’ve been very civil. They extended a polite invitation, I discussed my reservations and objections, they attempted to persuade me otherwise, and in the end I had to disagree, and they left it there. That said:
2. I am not at all charmed by “We are again charging £5.00 per person to cover coffee and biscuits, and to dissuade people from not showing up.” This is an actual quote from WFC Program Update #19. It strikes me as needlessly punitive and petty. Industry professionals with dozens of years of con-going and Kaffeeklatsching experience have already expressed their bemusement or disbelief on Twitter. For most of the con-going world this problem, if and when it exists, has been solved with waiting lists. The imputation isn’t a pretty one– that potential attendees for these WFC Kaffeeklatsches are assumed to be such flighty deadbeats that a pre-emptive enforcement mechanism has to be clamped to them. I don’t appreciate it.
3. I have also just discovered that these Kaffeeklatsches are to be held in an area of the con hotel that is not wheelchair-accessible. I am actually quite ashamed that I had not thought to check on this at the time I was asked to participate. I am annoyed at my own naive assumption that I wouldn’t need to check.
4. I will be working to arrange a get-together for readers of the Gentleman Bastard sequence (and anyone else who wants to hang out) somewhere in Brighton, off-site from the convention, accessible to those without con memberships and, ideally, accessible to those with mobility issues. Stay tuned for updates on this.