Coronavirus has upended so much of our daily lives, and obviously convention season is no different. With restrictions on large gatherings in place across multiple states, not to mention the necessity of social distancing, many conventions have been forced to postpone to later in the year or cancel outright.
However, a growing number of sci-fi and fantasy events have moved into the virtual space to cater to fans in these particularly difficult times, and there are plenty of online conventions to attend summer 2020 from your home.
Conventions are something many of us look forward to all year – they are an opportunity to reconnect with friends, immerse ourselves in sci-fi/fantasy fandom with unabashed zeal, and interact with our favorite authors and creators.
There really is nothing quite like the convention experience. Whether it’s a massive pop culture event like Comic-Con, major mid-size cons like Emerald City, or any number of small regional events, it’s tough to replicate the feeling of community and commiseration that comes with these geek celebrations. However, during these difficult times, the below online events are a safe second-best-thing.
2020 Nebula Conference
Organized by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the annual Nebula Conference features the prestigious Nebula Awards ceremony.
Originally set for the end of May in Woodland Hills, California, the three-day event is always a major one in the SFF community. With all manner of panels, forums, and discussions, there’s basically something for everyone, from sci-fi/fantasy fans of all stripes to aspiring writers looking to learn from the best writers in the business.
While the in-person event has been sidelined due to coronavirus, the SFWA is planning a robust virtual presence from May 29th-31st.
For a $150 ticket, fans can expect everything they’ve come to love about the Nebula Conference be it the panels, workshops, or mentorships — and this year's event also includes a virtual dance party hosted by John Scalzi. A portion of this year’s proceeds will go to assist SFWA members impacted by Covid-19.
Dates: May 29-31
The Hugos are administered annually by the World Science Fiction Society, with a ceremony held at Worldcon.
This year’s ceremony was scheduled for the 78th Worldcon in Wellington, New Zealand (CoNZealand). Unfortunately, coronavirus restrictions in New Zealand have forced the event online.
CoNZealand announced in April that the event would partner with the Fantasy Network to pull together an immersive, five-day Worldcon virtual convention experience across iOS, Android, and Roku in a new Worldcon channel.
Attendees can expect everything from panels to late-night networking sessions, plus the Hugo Awards ceremony itself.
Participation in CoNZealand does require an Attending Membership with Worldcon, which is around $180 U.S. for an adult ticket ($300 New Zealand).
Attending Membership comes with participation in the five-day event, and the right to vote in the 2020 Hugo Awards. Alternatively, members interested in voting but not attending the convention can purchase a Supporting Membership at $75 New Zealand (around $45 U.S.).
Note that Worldcon lowered membership rates to reflect the move to a virtual convention, but if you’ve previously purchased a membership at the original price, Worldcon is offering refunds here.
Dates: July 29th through August 2nd
[Note: This article previously stated that the ticket price was $300 U.S, rather than $300 New Zealand, and misrepresented the price required to vote in the Hugo Awards. The Portalist regrets the error.]
With Covid-19 throwing the convention ecosystem into disarray right as con season moves into high gear, GalaxyCon is adjusting its approach to the idea of a virtual comic-con to give fans a more personalized and focused experience.
GalaxyCon live will bring fans the opportunity to join in private chats with celebrities and stars from their favorite pop culture/sci-fi and fantasy properties.
The planned events for GalaxyCon Live will feature two-minute one-on-one video chats, Q&As, and interviews. A full list of upcoming events – which include Ralph Macchio, Martin Cove, and William Zabka from Cobra Kai and castmembers from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild – can be found here.
Dates: May 13th, 16th, 24th, 30th
On the regional convention front, the Baltimore Science Fiction Society is now offering its annual Balticon as a free virtual event over Memorial Day Weekend (May 22nd-25th).
The virtual Balticon will feature a variety of panels and discussions alongside a series of webinars, readings, and concerts.
It’s also a great opportunity for enthusiasts of filk music — folk music informed by speculative fiction — to come together in a virtual space, as the convention will additionally offer a number of open filking sessions. Fans can also enjoy hosted watch parties along with a variety of virtual tabletop gaming and RPG sessions.
Dates: May 22nd-25th
Origins Game Fair has long been one of the premier conventions for fans of tabletop gaming and RPGs.
While this years Origins Game Fair has been postponed to October, fans can fortunately get their gaming convention fix a few months earlier at Origins Online.
Built for fans to enjoy from their devices, Origins Online will feature an exhibit hall, online demos, seminars, and panels.
Additionally, Origins is working to create Origins TV in conjunction with Origins Online. Origins TV will feature a network of five streaming channels with exclusive interactive content covering all facets of the major game types at Origin. Details for Origins Online are still coming together, but you can find some more information here.
Dates: June 19th-21st
Featured photo: Annie Spratt / Unsplash