Can-Con – The Campaign!

We decided to try something a little different this year, a sort of in convention game. Can-Con is now not only a convention, but an RPG Game! Your name badges are now character sheets. There will be stations with dice so that you can roll up your character. And even a couple of monsters to fight!  Who will gain the most experience points and find the best loot?

Can-Con 2016 badge preview

Can-Con 2016 name badge character sheet

Can-Con 2016 Adventure Campaign – Rules

Character Creation

Write your name and pronoun of choice.

Write in your class, if not already filled in (based on your registration): Attendee, Panelist, Vendor, Special Guest, Guest of Honour, returning Guest of Honour. You can be a dual class (ex: Vendor & Panelist).

Your Level is equal to the number of years you have attended Can-Con. If this is your first year, you are a level One.

To find your Health Points, add your Constitution Score and your Level.

To find your basic Defence Score, add your Dexterity and your Level

DMs (Co-Chairs) add +10 to their Health Points and Defence. Guests of Honour and returning GoHs add +5 to their Health and Defence.

To find your ability scores, roll a d20 once for each. If you have any of the following traits, add +1 to your roll for that ability. Dice are available at stations around the convention. Please leave the dice there for all to use.

  • Scientist/Writer: add +1 to Intelligence roll (Int)
  • Martial Artist: add +1 to Strength roll (Str)
  • Editor: add +1 to Wisdom roll (Wis)
  • Paper Airplane Maker/Flyer: add +1 to Dexterity roll (Dex)
  • Reader: add +1 to Constitution roll (Con)
  • Panelist/Guest: add +1 to Charisma roll (Cha)

Growing your character through the convention.

Whenever you make a purchase in the dealer’s room, you will be given a random piece of paper containing:

  • +1 to any Skill (these can be added to any of your skills, such as diplomacy, leadership and knowledge), OR
  • A piece of equipment (armour, sword, shield, etc) that adds a bonus to your Defence or Attack


You gain experience each time you fully complete one of the following activities:

  • Attend a panel = 20 points
  • Attend a reading = 50 points
  • Get a book signed by author/editor = 40 points
  • Visit the Exhibitor’s Room = 50 points per day, max 150
  • Attend a book launch = 75 points
  • Meet someone new = 10 points
  • Defeat Boss Monster = 25 points

You can exchange 100 XP for an additional +1 to one of your existing pieces of equipment (ex: making a +2 plate armour to a +3)


You must gain a minimum of 100 experience points to begin challenging Boss Monsters to fight. There are three Boss Monsters (con-comm: Nicole Lavigne, Brandon Crilly & Evan May) and one Final Boss (Can-Con Co-Founder Farrell McGovern). You can challenge each Boss Monster only once per day. You cannot challenge Boss Monsters during panels or if they are on their way to a panel/event (they’ll let you know and ask you to see them later).

To fight, Boss Monster and Challenger both roll a d20 (Boss Monsters will have dice, or you can visit the character creation station). Add your roll and your total attack bonuses from equipment and compare to your opponent’s total defence (basic defence + equipment). If your total attack is higher than your opponent’s total defence, you hit. If only one person succeeds in their attack, they win. If both attack successfully, subtract your opponent’s total defence from your total attack to find how much you each succeed by. The one who succeeds by a higher value wins the fights. If you tie, you survived the encounter but failed to defeat the Boss Monster. If you lost the battle, attend a panel, reading, book launch or visit the dealer’s room to heal before you challenge a different Boss Monster. If you defeat the Boss Monster you gain 25 XP and will be given one random treasure.

Combat Example: Boss Monster has a basic defence of 15 and +5. You roll an attack of 19 and add +2 (sword) for a total of 21 and succeed by 1. The Boss Monster rolls a 17 with a +5 for an attack of 22, your basic defence is a 15 with a +1 (armour) for a total of 16. The Boss Monster succeeds in attack by 6. The Boss Monster wins.

skills preview

Skills Sheet

Science Workshops – $20 each!

Can*Con is pleased to announce two new science workshops this year! This is part of a programming pattern designed to help Ottawa writers have the tools they need to write great science fiction. Since 2012, we’ve had a strong science track with practicing Canadian scientists and science journalists.

For three out of the last four years, we’ve had Editors Guests of Honour from the science fiction field to expand the networks of aspiring scifi writers: Bundoran Press, Analog Science Fiction and Fact and Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine.

Those editors are looking for science-grounded science fiction because high-tech and visionary futures sell. Science fiction on other worlds and in strange parts of the universe sells. And you don’t need to have a science background to write great scifi.

This year, we’ve asked Science Guest of Honour Eric Choi, and Gillian Clinton, to talk about the space technology of today. Attendees to this workshop will leave with a good sense of how to portray (and research) space technology.

We’ve also asked water ecologist Nina Munteanu to give a workshop on what a writer would need to think about to realistically portray an underwater civilization in science fiction or fantasy. The literary metaphors and possibilities of including mythic symbolism in underwater worlds are too numerous to count. My own first sale to Asimov’s was a story set on the bottom of an extrasolar ocean and my first novel includes a lots of underwater scenes, because those are some of the safest places around once you leave the Earth. And don’t forget the possibilities of underwater settings in fantasy 🙂

Each of these science workshops are 2 hours long and only $20. Check them out and take advantage of these experts we’re bringing in! Register here!


What Can*Con Offers Science Fiction Writers at Can*Con 2016

Are you a science fiction author looking to get published? May I offer a recommended package of programming activities at Can*Con to anyone gunning for the next level of their science fiction writing career?


  • Friday 7pm: Ursula K. Le Guin: Contributions and Legacy – this is a no-brainer. Ursula Le Guin’s impact on the field is still enormous.
  • Friday 8pm: Tough choice. Do you want to hear what Sheila Williams, the editor of SF’s most famous magazine talk about story structure, or do you want to hear from biologists and MDs talk about recent advances in disease and our response?
  • Friday, 9pm: Hit the publisher receptions. Grab a pop or a drink and mingle. If you don’t know anyone, ask Evan or Brandon to introduce you to people. The receptions have publishers, editors, agents, writers and readers 🙂


  • Sat, 10am: Weird and Different Sensory Perception in Animals – if you’re making up aliens, they should at least be as innovative as animals that already exist on Earth. OR  Hit the “How to Build an Amazing Reading List from Juried Awards” to get to know the range of the science fiction field.
  • Sat, 11am: Brave New Baby – all sorts of medical advancements have transformed pediatrics and what is possible in infancy.
  • Sat, 12pm: Bundoran’s Political SF Focus – if you can’t name 3 authors who do political SF and why they do it, you may be missing out on a huge part of the field and opportunities. Bundoran specializes in political SF and just won another Aurora Award! OR go eat something. If you don’t want to miss anything, go quickly to the ConSuite and grab a quick piece of fruit and run back to the panels!
  • Sat, 1pm: You have a problem. You could go to the First Great Terraforming Project, or you could listen to Sheila Williams and three of her Award-winning authors discussing three Asimov’s stories. You choose. I hope you ate already, If not, text a friend to bring you food. Or tweet for help. Mention @CanConSF when you complain about hunger 🙂
  • Sat, 2pm: Not exhausted yet? Good! Because SF writers Ed Willett, Tanya Huff and Julie Czerneda (all from DAW Books) are reading for you! If nobody brought you more food, hurry and grab more, or tweet hashtag #sohungry.
  • Sat, 3pm: You have a problem. No, it’s not that you’re not be as savvy as you want on Quantum Mechanics. We brought in Professor Peter Watson from the Department of Physics at U of Ottawa to fix that with a rundown of what quantum mechanics is and isn’t. The problem is you have to choose between Professor Watson’s talk and “Parachuting into Labs Across Canada,” by science journalist Pippa Wysong. She’s going to talk about the cutting edge science being done in Canada. Whatever you do, take a break. Get some food. Hydrate. Eat supper. Sit somewhere quiet. Then…
  • Sat, 9pm: Hit the publisher receptions again! And ask Evan and Brandon to introduce you to more people.


  • Sun, 9am: Have you ever wondered what the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) can do for you? Two members of SFWA’s Board are going to talk to SFWA members and are inviting non-members to attend to see what we talk about! Light refreshments.
  • Sun, 10am: Designing Habitats for the Clouds of Venus – this is a great panel with aerospace engineers and hard sf writers. Many of the principles of habitat building for Venus will also work for gas giants. Take notes! Imagine setting your next story on Venus.
  • Sun, 11am: I can’t overstate how broad the SF field is in voice and perspective. You should check out the “Book-Clubbing Foreign Works of SF Translated into English”. In the program description are links so you can read the works too!
  • Sun, 12pm: Eat again. And drink something. Or, eat while listening to the readings from Clockwork Canada! Steampunk is a sub-genre of scifi!
  • Sun, 1pm: This is not for the faint of heart. This is experimental sf. Try it if you want: “Can Mathematics be the Basis of Hard SF.” Many story ideas might come out, things that could be mixed with other ideas.
  • Sun, 2pm: Last panel of the weekend. You’ve got to pick “Quantum Computing and Quantum Cryptography” with Dr Phillip Kaye of the Tutte Institute or “Amazing Books in the Different Sub-Genres of SF”.
  • Sun, 3pm: Please come to the end and give us feedback!

Note: For people who really want to dig deep, we’ve also lined up some intensive workshops. These cost $20 and happen on the Friday afternoon before Can*Con. And we’ve lined up two especially to help make Ottawa a science fiction writer powerhouse:

  • Eric Choi and Gillian Clinton will give a 2-hour workshop in space science and tech (yup, rocket and satellite science).
  • Nina Munteau will give a 2-hour workshop on the considerations to setting stories, civilizations and ecosystems underwater.

Workshop Registration Now Open!

After last year’s successful workshops, Can-Con is happy to be offering four new workshops this year from some of our fantastic panelists, special guests and guests of honour!

Learn how to create underwater civilizations from Nina Munteanu; strengthen your plotting with Julie Czerneda; or delve into the mythic in a modern context with Derek Newman-Stille. Still to come is a workshop about aerospace from Eric Choi and Gillian Clinton (registration for this one will be available after the workshop description has been finalized).

Find out more and get the link to register from our Workshops page.

Announcing: Science Guest of Honour Eric Choi!

We are pleased to announce that Eric Choi will be joining us this year as our Science Guest of Honour!

Eric Choi

Photo by Jim Hines

Eric Choi is an aerospace engineer and award-winning writer and editor. His space engineering career includes work on the Meteorology (MET) payload on the Phoenix Mars Lander, the Canadarm2 on the International Space Station, the RADARSAT-1 Earth-observation satellite and the MOPITT (Measurements of Pollution on the Troposphere) instrument on the Terra satellite. He holds a bachelor’s degree in engineering science and a master’s degree in aerospace engineering, both from the University of Toronto, and he is an alumnus of the International Space University. In 2009, he was one of the Top 40 finalists (out of 5,351 applicants) in the Canadian Space Agency’s astronaut recruitment campaign. He co-edited the hard SF anthology Carbide Tipped Pens (Tor) with Ben Bova and the Aurora Award winning anthology The Dragon and the Stars (DAW) with Derwin Mak. Please visit his website or follow him on Twitter @AerospaceWriter.

Announcing: Agent Guest of Honour Sam Morgan!

We are pleased to announce our third Guest of Honour, agent Sam Morgan!

Sam Morgan is the Right Hand of Darkness at JABberwockySam Morgan. He is a native of Shelby, North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a B.A. in Communications – Media Studies and Production. Before joining JABberwocky in late 2012, Sam worked throughout New York City as a television critic, pizza guy, and several other glamorous positions. He’s an active nerd across all media from British television (Doctor Who and Black Mirror), to videogames (Injustice and Nintendo), to SF and fantasy novels (Prattchett, Adams, Gaiman), to college basketball (Go Heels, Go America). Sam is also active in the New York comedy scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater and making his own little rinky-dink videos in his spare time. He is ridiculously handsome, gut-busting witty, and prone to hyperbole. Also, he has a beard now. He feels this is important to know.

Announcing: Writer Guest of Honour Tanya Huff!

We are pleased to announce our second Guest of Honour, Tanya Huff!

Tanya HuffTanya Huff lives in rural Ontario, Canada, with her wife Fiona Patton, two dogs, and, as of last count, nine cats. Her 30 novels and 75 short stories include horror, heroic fantasy, urban fantasy, comedy, and space opera. She’s written four essays for Ben Bella’s pop culture collections and the occasional book review for the Globe and Mail. Her Blood series was turned into the 22-episode Blood Ties and writing episode nine allowed her to finally use her degree in radio and television arts. Her latest novel was a new Torin Kerr book, Peacekeeper #1: An Ancient Peace (Oct 2015), and her next will be Peacekeeper #2: A Peace Divided (Spring 2017). She can be found on twitter @TanyaHuff, on fb as Tanya Huff, and she occasionally blogs at LiveJournal, although as she links those occasional blogs to both twitter and fb, don’t worry about lj. Four collections of her short stories, as well as six of her older novels, are available pretty much wherever ebooks are sold.

Announcing: Editor Guest-of-Honour Sheila Williams

We are very pleased to be welcoming New York’s Sheila Williams as Can*Con 2016 Editor Guest of Honour. Of the current editors of the professional science fiction and fantasy magazines, Sheila is the longest serving, having taken over as Editor of Asimov’s Science Fiction in 2004. She’s been nominated for a Hugo for editing every year since 2006 and won the Hugo in 2011 and 2012.

Sheila has influenced the science fiction and fantasy field with her own taste in literature, showcasing in Asimov’s Science Fiction such talents as Mike Resnick, Paul Cornell, Kij Johnson, Mary Robinette Kowal, Nancy Kress, Robert Reed, Greg Egan, Kelly Robson, Connie Willis, Elizabeth Bear, Matthew Johnson, Paolo Bacigalupi, Ian McDonald.

Sheila has also been a leader in two influential awards on the field: the Asimov’s Reader’s Award and the Dell Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. The later helps promote new young writers, and includes such talents as Ottawa’s Eric Choi, who was a Dell Award recipient early in his career.

We’re very fortunate to have Sheila’s voice on panels at Can*Con to discuss publishing, editing and to provide her perspective on the state of the science fiction field.

Announcing Can-Con 2016!

Welcome to Can*Con 2016, Ottawa’s Aurora-nominated Literary Science Fiction and Fantasy Conference. We’ve just launched into high gear with a series of announcements coming up.

First of all, Can*Con 2016 will run on the 9th – 11th of September, in downtown Ottawa at the stunningly beautiful Novotel, one block from Ottawa’s historic Market, the Rideau Center, the Canal and public transit. You can book your rooms online or by calling 613.230.3033 and mention Can-Con for our special rate!

Secondly, Marie Bilodeau is taking on more responsibility on the Can*Con team as the Co-Chair, Corporate, while Derek Künsken will focus on programming as Co-Chair, Programming. This is going to be an all-star, if wacky team. If you’d like to volunteer, please write to

Thirdly, we will be making a series of guest announcements in the next weeks and months so stay tuned to this website, the Can*Con Facebook page and the @CanConSF twitter feed. The programming team will be confirming panelists and sending out information on what to get ready for.

Lastly, the Can*Con Co-Chairs, special guests and volunteers will be promoting the conference in a number of places in the coming months, so if you’re at any of the following, say hi: ChiSeries in Ottawa, Ad Astra in Toronto, Boréal in Mont-Laurier, the Nebula Conference in Chicago, Limestone Genre Expo in Kingston, and When Worlds Collide in Calgary.

This year is going to be even better than last and we can’t wait to make our announcements!


Derek Künsken                                        Marie Bilodeau
Co-Chair, Programming                        Co-Chair, Corporate

Ps: Sixthly, the program Easter eggs were so popular last year that we’ve added some into our website. Some people call them “typos,” but not us. We call them Easter eggs.