Neil Gaiman and the Worldcon

Posted in fandom, fantastic literature, meetings at 1:19 pm by åka

Neil Gaiman is an interesting author, and we thought it would be fun to have a Neil Gaiman theme meeting now that he is coming to the Worldcon in Montreal and everything. What we will do is an open information and discussion night at the library. Here is the official invitation text:

This summer, Montreal will be hosting the 2009 World Science Fiction Convention (also known as Worldcon), the most important annual meeting on the science fiction and fantasy calendar. The prestigious annual Hugo Awards will be handed out at the convention.

Neil Gaiman, one of the masters of contemporary fantasy and the author of the ground breaking graphic novel Sandman, is a Guest of Honour this year. His writing has won him numerous awards and a new movie
based on his novella Coraline is scheduled to be released on February 6th.

Want to learn more about Neil Gaiman and the Worldcon? Then join us for an evening of information and discussion on February 11th at 7pm at the Central Branch of the Kingston Frontenac Public Library. This event is hosted by Fearless Fantasy Fans and KFPL.

(If you happen to read this on January 13, remember that there is also a meeting tonight, at 7pm at the Sleepless Goat.)



Convention in Montreal

Posted in fandom tagged , , , , at 8:22 am by åka

The next science fiction convention not too far from Kingston is Con*Cept in Montreal, October 17-19. One of the Guests of Honour is David Brin, author of among other things the Uplift books, about a future where humans have helped many other animals to reach conciousness and intelligence.

A fan-run convention is usually a very relaxed event, with lots of space to socialize and meet people. In contrast to the more commercial events, meeting people is actually the most important point. One way of getting involved and see things a bit from the inside is to volunteer. Usually it’s possible to volunteer for only a few hours, just to help out with some practical things — in that way you will not miss much of the programming.

At a convention, you can expect to see more discussion panels than lectures and readings. Here, pros and fans talk about a topic, and might also answer questions from the audience. Sometimes panels drift off the topic, and the quality of the discussion depends a lot on the moderator. If you know a lot about something, you can also volunteer for panels!

Many authors like to go to conventions, even if they are not invited as guests (not everyone can be a guest every time!).

You can also expect parties, of course. Especially if you stay at the convention hotel. And a masquerade, where people show off their costumes (see pictures on the convention website). Other common ingredients are the art show and a dealers room. Lots of fun!

I’m probably going. Are you?


Book group activities

Posted in fandom, meetings at 6:58 am by åka

Things I know that people do in book groups, especially SF/F book groups, and that we might also do if anyone is interested.

  • Visit used bookstores together. This is fun. The point is not to find the book stores, the point is to show eachother the good books we find and recommend them, or say everything we think about the bad ones. Very inspiring. You find things you would never have seen if you were there on your own.
  • Book dinner. Cook together, and talk about books (and everything else) over food.
  • Pub meetings. Meet at a bar, just to be social.
  • Invite a speaker, or an author to do a reading and signing. Perhaps together with a book store or a library.
  • Book auction, to raise money for a charity or a fan fund. Can be a way to reach out to new people and be visible, if we want to attract new members. And fun: we get to advertise the books we like! (The problem is to get book donations that are really good things that we want to sell…)
  • Go to a convention together.
  • Anything! We have no leader, anyone can have ideas, and then it only takes a bit of energy to make them real.

Remember: our next meeting is July 8, 7pm (note the time, there has been some confusion about that).


Link party!

Posted in fandom, fantastic literature, meetings at 7:42 am by åka

Well, a little one anyway.

The winners of the Canadian Prix Aurora Awards have been announced. Robert Sawyer has the whole list.

The Toronto Star had an article about steampunk style last Friday. If you’re interested, also take a look at the excellent article Steam Dream.

One of the most talked about new books at the moment is Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother. You can actually download the book from the website (yes, it’s made available by the author) if you are the kind of person who might read books on the computer screen. Also check out all the news and how-tos relating to the book.

About our group: the meeting was attended by only one person, so it was not really a meeting. Following our regular schedule, the next meeting will be on June 11, and I guess the topic from this month will be taken up at that meeting: catastrophies and the end of the world as it appears in fantastic literature. Bring a story or some examples that you find interesting. If you are not one of the regular members, make sure to get in touch with us before to make sure that you find us!



Posted in fandom tagged , at 5:27 pm by åka

Back from Ad Astra, full of energy and creative ideas! Temporarily I’m also a bit stunned, as usual, by the combined knowledge and creative skill of all fans coming together in one place. I’ll take the opportunity to write a little bit about conventions, what they are and how to find them.

When I talk about conventions, I always mean the fan-run conventions — those arranged by commercial interests don’t count in my book. A science fiction convention (as usual, I include fantasy and horror in my extremely wide definition of science fiction) is a meeting place for fans and pros, planned and run by fans because they like making things like this happen. The main thing is to get people to interact. You don’t “buy a ticket” to a convention, you become a member. This is something experienced fans often like to point out to newcomers, but you might have to attend a couple of conventions before you really get into it.

At a convention you can expect a varied program. The usual ingredients are panels, readings, maybe even lectures or presentations, movies if you want to get away and relax for a while, a masquerade where people show costumes they have made (some of them walk around in them all day), filk singing, workshops, competitions, and perhaps other things I have forgotten at the moment. There is usually also a dealers room, where you can buy books and other things. The con suite is where you go to sit down, have a snack and talk to people. At night there might be parties. Most conventions (at least on this continent) are held at hotels, and some people like to hold room parties. Great fun!

There are invited guests, but many of the participants in the program are fans like you and me who bring their own interests and expertise and share it with others. You will also have the opportunity to volunteer for helping out with something, from an hour or two watching a door or moving chairs, to spending the whole convention serving drinks. This is a great way to get to know people, especially if you are a bit shy and don’t talk to strangers in the con suite.

It’s usually possible to get to talk to the authors and other guests, at least if you are lucky to run into them. At smaller conventions it’s easier to meet the guest of honour and buy him or her a beer, while they might just disappear at a larger convention. At least it’s always possible to see them on a discussion panel or at a reading, and perhaps ask a question or two.

What have I missed? What would you like to know? Use the comment function and leave your questions if you have any.

Some conventions within reasonable distance in space and time:

  • Eeriecon, April 18 – 20, Niagara Falls, New York
  • Polaris 22, July 11 – 13, Toronto, Ontario
  • Con*Cept, October 17-19, Montreal, Québec
  • Anticipation SF, August 6th – 10th, 2009 (NB, next year), Montreal, Québec

Eeriecon seems to be a relatively small convention with literary focus (they promise lots of face time with the author guests). I would go there if I could afford it! Polaris is a “media con”, with actor guests (but authors as well) and more focus on tv-series and movies. Con*Cept seems to be a relatively broad convention with good literary program, I don’t know much about it. And Anticipation is The World Science Fiction Convention in 2009, an event you must not miss!

And if you happen to be interested in science fiction folk singing — filk — there is a convention already next weekend: Filk Ontario, Missisauga.