Thanks for Making 2017 our Biggest Year Yet!

We knew we were in for something different when we checked our pre-registration numbers and saw that we had 100 more than last year. A hundred!  And then people kept registering on site.

We busted out of our venue, to say the least. People were kind and accommodating, but they sat on the floor and they remained standing.  And we had no more chairs to give.

All in all, we were more than 350.


That’s a far stretch from our max attendance of 275 last year!

We’ll now refer to this as our boom year. What was the magical ingredient?  Was it our impressive lineup of Guests of Honour (Steven Erikson, Sheila Gilbert, Kim-Mei Kirtland)?  Our Special Guests who are just as amazing?  Our extensive list of panelists, who are also amazing?  Our kickass, targeted programming? Our welcoming and responsive volunteers? Our quirky tweets? Our central location? Our glitter signs that acted like a bright beacon in downtown Ottawa?

Although we’re certain all of these things helped, because amazing(!), when we asked, we heard it was word of mouth. People are talking about Can*Con, sharing their experiences, and coming in eager to learn and network.

So, it’s all thanks to you, you wonderful people. Thank you!

The Can*Con team is already planning next year, from venue to programming and guests. We’re hoping to announce dates and some fun details as soon as possible! Keep an eye on this space!

As always, we’re dedicated to making Can*Con a safe and welcoming environment. To newcomers, please never hesitate to approach any of the organizers with questions or concerns. We’re thrilled you came – we hope you come back!

If you’d like to provide us with feedback, suggestions or ideas, please do so via this form:

AND, if you’d like to be a part of our amazing team of volunteers, please head here:

Can*Con is still growing and will continue to do so thanks to amazing community support, and its tireless organizing committee. This year’s committee:

Derek Künsken, Co-Chair, Programming
Marie Bilodeau, Co-Chair, Corporate
Nicole Lavigne, Logistics and Website Coordinator, and RPG Game Guru
Brandon Crilly, Program Coordinator
Evan May, Program Coordinator
Kate Heartfield, Accessibility Liaison
‘Nathan Smith, Outreach Coordinator
Gisele Thomson, Social Media Support
Lisa Toohey, Outreach Support
Jaggy Sue (Susan), Volunteer Coordinator
Caycee Price, Con Suite Jedi
Etienne Price + high school students, Con Suite volunteers (Caycee’s Army – like Dumbledore’s but with more snacks)
Marie-Pierre, Registration Rockstar
Dario, Everywhere Rockstar
Tyler Goodier, AV Runner/Dragger
Tim Sellmer, OPS Support

We are ever grateful to you all, and hope to continue being a destination for writers, readers, and just lovers of freaking awesome stuff. We will strive to keep on getting better and better, and are grateful to the people who help us make this possible!

We’ll see you next, and we can’t wait!


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


Aurora Nomination

As Co-Chairs of Can*Con, we are overwhelmed to have received our third straight Aurora Award nomination in the category of Best Fan Organizational. Can*Con is a little con that is consistently punching above its weight. Can*Con 2016 was proud to feature four Guests of Honour: Tanya Huff of DAW Books (Author), Sheila Williams of Asimov’s Magazine (Editor), Sam Morgan of the JABberwocky Agency (Agent), and Eric Choi of the Canadian Space Technology Field (Science).

The entire ballot of the 2017 Aurora Award is very strong and we are humbled to be sharing the ballot with so many luminaries. We would like to congratulate past and present Can*Con guests and panelists! Congratulations to Gerald Brandt, Madeline Ashby, A.M. Delamonica, Robert J. Sawyer, Brent Nichols, Ed Willett, Robert Runté, Hayden Trenholm, Amal El-Mohtar, Kari Maaren, Dominik Parisien, Mike Rimar, Claude Lalumière, Mark Shainblum, Susan Forest, Lucas Law, Dan O’Driscoll, S.M. Carrière, Derek Newman-Stille, Chadwick Ginther, Sandra Kasturi, Matt Moore, Nicole Lavigne, Charles de Lint, and Steven Erikson!

There are too many volunteers to list individually, but special thanks to Nicole Lavigne, Brandon Crilly, Evan May, Caycee Price, Morris Rothman, Hayley Halloran, Jaggy Sue, Dario Sciola and many others! You make the conference happen! 🙂

Last year was the first time we’d brought an Agent Guest of Honour (and the second time we’d brought a New York editor!), because we believe that the writing community in Ottawa deserves to meet New York industry professionals. And we brought Tanya Huff and Eric Choi because Ottawa fans ought to be treated to the best and brightest of Canada’s fantastic literature and science communities.

We are very pleased to be welcoming to Can*Con in 2017 our Guests of Honour Steven Erikson (Author), Sheila Gilbert (Editor) and Kim-Mei Kirtland (Agent) over the weekend of 13-15 October, 2017. Please spread the word and bring a friend to the fun!

Derek Künsken                          Marie Bilodeau
Co-Chair (Programming)        Co-Chair (Corporate)

Announcing our 2017 Agent Guest of Honour

Continuing our tradition of bringing New York publishing to meet Ottawa, Can*Con 2017 is delighted to announce that Kim-Mei Kirtland, a new agent at the Howard Morhaim Agency in Brooklyn, will be our Agent Guest of Honour. This is the second year that we’ve flown an Agent Guest of Honour to Ottawa, because we believe it is invaluable for Ottawa writers to meet agents, and to hear directly from them how traditional publishing works.

Ms. Kirtland is looking for clients, and some time will be set aside for her to hear pitches, so we advice those who are interested to sign up for her kaffeeklatch and attend her panels, and then maybe say hi in a more relaxed setting at one of the evening receptions.

And it’s also invaluable to study what Ms. Kirtland represents, so we recommend taking the time to read some of the authors she names (a quick google scan will find you some short fiction by those authors in podcasts). If you like what she likes, that’s a good sign. If not, you can still ask questions about the business.

If you don’t have a novel ready, but you think what you write would be a good fit, you can also ask for her card and submit when your novel has been edited and polished to perfection 🙂

Derek                                                             Marie
Co-Chair (Programming)                          Co-Chair (Corporate)
Can*Con 2017                                              Can*Con 2017

Kim-Mei KirtlandKim-Mei Kirtland joined the Howard Morhaim Literary Agency in 2013. She is a lifelong reader of science fiction and fantasy, particularly hard science fiction in the vein of Greg Egan and Peter Watts, and is actively looking for fiction in those genres. Other areas of interest to her include literary fiction and serious nonfiction, particularly in the areas of history, biography, business, and economics. She lives in New York with a slowly growing collection of houseplants.

Announcing our 2017 Writer Guest of Honour

We are delighted to welcome Steven Erikson, New York Times Bestselling author of the Malazan epic fantasy series as our 2017 Author Guest of Honour. We’ve had a number of science fiction guests over the past few years, and we wanted to make sure we also showed some of the extraordinary work being done in the fantasy field. Mr. Erikson is a key part of that for 2017, and in addition to our normal science expert programming, we’ll be trying to find local history professors to talk about fascinating parts of the past from which so much of the epic fantasy aesthetic is mined 🙂

Be sure to tell your friends that Steven Erikson will be in Ottawa in October for Can*Con!

Derek                                                             Marie
Co-Chair (Programming)                            Co-Chair (Corporate)
Can*Con 2017                                              Can*Con 2017

Steven EriksonSteven Erikson is a Canadian Best-Selling novelist living in Victoria, BC. Steven was trained as an archaeologist and anthropologist, and also graduated from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His best-known work is the ten-volume fantasy series Malazan Book of the Fallen, which by 2012 had sold over 1,000,000 copies worldwide. SF Site has called the series “the most significant work of epic fantasy since Donaldson’s Chronicles of Thomas Covenant,” and Fantasy Book Review described it as “the best fantasy series of recent times.” Fellow author Glen Cook has called the series a masterwork of the imagination that may be the high water mark of the epic fantasy genre, while Stephen R. Donaldson noted the subversion of classical tropes, the complex characterizations, and the social commentary in the Malazan series.

Announcing our 2017 Editor Guest of Honour

Can-Con is very pleased to announce our first Guest of Honour. Sheila Gilbert, Hugo Award winning editor of DAW Books, will be flying in from New York to be our Editor Guest of Honour for 2017. She will be involved in programming on editorial voice, novel acquisition, working with authors and other topics. We’re so delighted that she accepted our invitation. DAW Books has published thousands of fan-favourite fantasy and science fiction novels over the years. And as far as developing Canadian talent, we feel it is tremendously valuable for writers to be able to meet the senior editors of the SFF field. Other Guest of Honour announcements will be happening soon! We hope that everyone takes the opportunity to make it to Can*Con!

Derek                          Marie
Co-Chair                     Co-Chair
Programming            Corporate

Sheila Gilbert

photo by Ed WIllett

Sheila E. Gilbert began attending science fiction conventions 54 years ago, and still enjoys the opportunity they provide to interact with other fans of the genre. She has worked in publishing since 1970, starting at Ace Books, then moving to NAL in 1972, where she ran the Signet Science Fiction and Fantasy line. She also worked as a free-lancer for Dell, Warner, and Doubleday. In 1985, Sheila joined DAW Books, becoming a partner in the company and co-publisher with Betsy Wollheim. Sheila works closely with her many authors and art directs all her titles. Among her authors are a number of Canadians, including Tanya Huff, Michelle Sagara West, Fiona Patton, Violette Malan, Ed Willett, and Gerald Brandt. Over the years, she has been a guest at a number of regional conventions and writers’ conferences. In 2016, Sheila won the Hugo Award for Best Editor Long Form. Visit DAW’s website:

Mark your calendars!

Ottawa’s twice-Aurora-nominated literary science fiction, fantasy and horror conference will run 13-15 October, 2017 at the Sheraton in downtown Ottawa. The Sheraton is more accessible and has more space for us to grow, and we especially worked hard to get a larger dealer’s room. The Sheraton is 4 blocks from Elgin, 4 blocks from Parliament and the river, 7 blocks from the market, and is right on the bus routes!

We’ll be announcing our Guests of Honour over the coming months, but you may want to book your room now. Our room block last year filled and we had to ask for additional rooms! For information on how to book your hotel room right away, visit our Location page! For American attendees, as of the time of this post, if you take about 25% off all the costs, you get pretty close to the cost in US dollars.

Marie and Derek are sharing the chairship again this year, with Derek as Co-Chair of Programming and Marie as Co-Chair Corporate. We’ll be streamlining more of our processes, so we’ll need people helping on marketing, fan and community outreach, a website team, on-site con-running, drivers, supply-getters, tech support, etc. If you’d like to volunteer, please write to with a listing of why you’d be great for a particular spot!

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 🙂  We’ll have an Author GOH, an Editor GOH, and a Literary Agent GOH, and we’ll continue to have a strong expert track of university professors and researchers!

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, come say hi: ChiSeries in Ottawa, Ad Astra in Toronto, Boréal in Québec, the Nebula Conference in Pittsburgh, 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!

Can-Con Team