Here's the story of why I'm not going to be at ToBeCONtinued
this weekend as Author Guest of Honor, and why I am livid at the convention's chair, Bob Palmer.
Palmer wouldn't let me buy my own plane tickets, and postponed buying them for me until -- well, until forever. The con starts in less than three days, and I am not coming. How did I find out that I wasn't coming? Why, when a friend -- a writer who lives in driving distance of where ToBeCONtinued is being held -- called me to say that the con had just offered my friend the chance to be Guest of Honor in my place. That's right: Bob Palmer didn't even bother to tell me that I'd been dumped before he started asking other people to take over as Guest of Honor.
As if that wasn't bad enough, he totally and completely lied to my friend -- and God knows who else -- about why I wasn't coming. The truth -- that he simply waited way too long to book my plane tickets, so that the price had risen to an astronomical figure -- is abundantly clear if you read the email exchanges between us here
As you can see, I was a complete pro, and a gentlemen. When the tickets reached triple what they would have cost had Palmer let me book them when I offered to do so, I wrote to him and said:
"I feel a moral obligation to offer to not come to your convention.
"Had tickets been booked in a timely fashion, they would have cost the con about one third of the current amount. I have no desire to bankrupt ToBeContinued. I was flattered to be asked to be GoH, and would happily consider coming in that role next year (with tickets purchased well in advance), instead, if that makes better sense for the convention -- or simply never attending at all.
"I'm not looking to blame anyone for the delays or lapses in communication, and have no anger or animosity -- and I don't want you to feel pressured to spend money the con can't afford. If it's better for the con for me not to come, given the airfares available at this late date, simply say so, and that will be the end of the matter."
Instead of taking me up on that offer, and telling people honestly what had happened, here's what Bob Palmer said in an email to the writer he wanted to have replace me:
"Robert J. Sawyer was suppose to appear as our Author guest and had to cancel due to travel restrictions from Canada entering the US."
What the fuck? Travel restrictions? I'm a US citizen -- and Palmer knows that. I told him so in email on April 26 -- I even gave him my US passport number. I have a US Social Security card, too; I can travel to, live in, work freely in, and even move to the United States anytime I wish, without restrictions.
Even if I weren't a US citizen, I'd still be able to freely travel to the States as a Canadian citizen (I am a dual citizen), unless the US government had imposed "travel restrictions" on me "entering the US" -- which it only would have if I had a criminal record; Palmer's message to my friend implies that I have one. But I don't: I've never been arrested or charged with any crime; hell, I've never even had a parking ticket.
My author friend who was asked to replace me knows I'm a US citizen, and so called Palmer on this, saying: "Just out of curiosity, what travel restrictions are preventing Rob Sawyer from entering the US from Canada? He's a US citizen."
Did Palmer come clean, admitting that the only reason I wasn't going to be at ToBeCONtinued was because Palmer himself had failed to buy my plane tickets in a timely fashion? No. Instead he replied:
"Without getting into the long drawn out story it basicaly has to do with the airline we were using not so much customs. He very much wanted to bring his wife along and it could not happen. Thats the basic problem."
Again, what the fuck? As you can see in the email transcripts
, I never once suggested or even hinted that ToBeCONtinued should pay for my wife to come, or ever made my attendance contingent on her being able to come. On April 20, I wrote to Palmer, saying I wanted to bring my wife along AT MY OWN EXPENSE:
"I know you've only offered to pay for my travel, but I'd like to bring my wife Carolyn Clink along at my own expense. Given that, it might be simplest if I booked my flight directly, and had you reimburse me for half the total (that is, for my part of the airfare)."
But Palmer wouldn't let me book the tickets. When the price had risen from Cdn$355 to Cdn$494 because of the delay imposed by Palmer, I told him I wouldn't be bringing my wife along, and said "I'm coming alone." There was no question about my attendance.
And as for the airline, I had merely said I had a preference for Air Canada, as I am a high-status member of their frequent-flyer program, but that I'd fly any airline at all if it was substantially cheaper, saying only "please don't bump me to another carrier just to save five or ten dollars."
My absence from ToBeCONtinued has NOTHING AT ALL to do with customs. My absence from ToBeCONtinued has NOTHING AT ALL to do with the airline the con was planning to use. My absence from ToBeCONtinued has NOTHING AT ALL to do with not being able to bring my wife along. And my absence from ToBeCONtinued has NOTHING AT ALL to do with "travel restrictions" on me entering the US. Every single one of those suggestions is a lie.
The sole and complete cause of my absence is Bob Palmer's failure to arrange for my travel to the con, despite many reminders by me over a period of weeks that he should do so.
Again, I apologize to any readers of mine who had hoped to see me at this convention.
-- Rob Sawyer