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

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.