2017 Panel Descriptions & Schedule

Download the Draft Schedule: Can-Con Schedule 2017 – draft Oct 9 (PDF)

Can-Con 2017 Panel Descriptions

2017 Scientific Discoveries Thunderdome: My Exoplanet Beats your Moisture Vaporator – Each panelist comes to this prepared with the scientific discovery they think writers and fans of SFF most need to know about from the past year, ready to make their case.  Debate ensues!  Everyone learns things!  There may be ten rounds of bare-knuckle boxing.

Absurdist British Speculative Fiction – What has been the role of authors like Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams in the larger world of SF? How important is the ridiculous and the comedic, when most of what we see today is dour and grim?

Acquiring and Representing Novels – How does an editor or agent find the limits of what they’ll acquire? Where’s the line between what you like and what you know you can sell? And how can an author get picked up by an editor/agent?

Adaptation: Turning your Novel into a Script, and Vice-Versa – Learn how to transfer your core ideas from one medium to the other — not just expanding and contracting but completely reimagining a work to best use its strengths in a new form. Rob is past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America and a member of the scriptwriting unions Writers Guild of Canada and Writers Guild of America. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his Aurora Award-winning novel of the same name, and he was one of the scriptwriters for that series. He recently completed a commissioned screenplay adaptation of his bestselling novel Triggers, and his 23rd novel, Quantum Night, started as an adaptation of a TV pilot script he wrote.

Advice to Aspiring Writers on the Craft – Established pros discuss their hardest lessons, the watershed moments in their careers (both creative and business), and offer their tips and tricks to emerging and aspiring writers.

Alien Creation Slapdown – Fancy building an alien for your fiction? Our expert panelists discuss the different concerns when creating an alien species, followed by an improvised alien-creation slapdown – complete with audience involvement!

Alternate History Live Challenge – Is there anything that can’t be used to build an alternate history story? Our panelists accept the challenge of coming up with obscure or difficult historical events, people, etc., and then lobbing these ideas at each other to see who they can stump from creating a pitch.

Anatomy of bribe: What every writer needs to know about bribery and corruption – Hardly a week goes by without a headline in Canada or around the world about a company, executive or politician being investigated or accused of Bribery and corruption. Corruption is at the root of many social ills and is the fuel that facilitates organized crime, terrorism, money laundering and most other criminal activity. The costs and consequences of corruption on people, businesses, economies, the environment and the social fabric of many developing countries is enormous. Recently retired RCMP Sgt Pat Poitevin, a 35 year veteran and subject matter expert in Anti-Corruption and the co-founder of the Canadian Centre of Excellence for Anti-Corruption will provide participants with an overview of the mindset, motivation, schemes and impact of corruption and how it can serve as a foundation for great stories – Bring your questions and token of appreciation to the speaker to incentivize him to share his knowledge !

An Illustrated History of Chinese Science Fiction – Derwin Mak discusses the development of Chinese science fiction from the early twentieth century to today. Come see how history, politics and a changing society have shaped this growing area of SF.

Ancient Grimoires, Occult Texts, and Dusty Tomes: The Book as Object in Speculative Fiction – From precious treasures kept in imperial vaults to disposable amusements we abandon in airport terminals, through the centuries the book has transformed in appearance, status, and function.  What parts of this long history are of most use to writers of the fantastic, and why do they appeal to audiences?  Has the book’s position in contemporary society removed its power as a symbol and an object of drama?  Fresh from the finis Africae, this panel will examine why the book has been the star of so many stories, and whether changing technology threatens, or perhaps reinforces, this position.

Animal Fantasy – Animal characters provided a unique vantage on human society, as well as new ways to analyze our own psyches. Aesop’s Fables, Animal Farm, Watership Down, and others treat animals allegorically, telling stories about our origins or raising concerns about our society. As we experience the sixth mass extinction what, if anything, are fiction writers doing to give animals a voice? Have readers stopped identifying with animal characters, or are we clinging tighter to creatures in fantasy?

Arrowdreams 20th Anniversary Panel – The first anthology of Canadian alternate history was released in 1997, edited by Mark Shainblum and John Dupuis. Join the editors and some of the contributors on this reunion panel to discuss the anthology, its place in Canadian speculative fiction, and what the next twenty years might have in store.

Art of the Mosaic – A mosaic story takes a series of seemingly disparate stories or vignettes and ties them together, either through theme or setting or something more. How exactly do authors construct these complex narratives and what literary effects do they achieve with this technique? Can the same be done for a short story? Which authors are the best (or worst) examples of this very distinctive literary form?

Asexual Identities and the Interrelationship in Fiction Between Love and Sex – As asexual voices continue to struggle to be heard even within the queer community, a discussion of the conflation of love and sex in fiction, and how ace representation can both challenge and enrich the narratives of relationships.

Benefits and Challenges to #ownvoices Writing – #Ownvoices fiction was coined by author Corinne Duyvis to describe stories “about diverse characters written by authors from that same diverse group” — and has filled a major gap in the young adult reading landscape. As well as its unique joys and perspectives, writing #ownvoices fiction means working with a unique set of craft and marketing challenges. Join authors writing #ownvoices work for a practical discussion of the creative, personal, and business aspects of writing people like you — and how the process differs from handling other kinds of fiction.

Beyond the Flesh – Is Our Future Virtual? – The late Marvin Minsky called the brain “a computer made of meat”. In Simak’s City people abandon Earth and human form to become Lopers, basically seals living in a perceptual paradise on Jupiter. At the end of the game Mass Effect 3 one of the outcomes is for humanity to become a hybrid with AI, both our own and alien. In Independence Day: Resurgence an alien entity assisting the humans has given up biology to become purely virtual. How close are we to this?

Black Gate Magazine Interviews Steven Erikson – Since the 1999 release of his first Malazan novel, Gardens of the Moon, Steven Erikson has become one of the best regarded and most acclaimed fantasy authors Canada has to offer. BlackGate.com reviewer Brandon Crilly sits down with Steven to discuss his career, his influences, and what’s next for this prolific writer.

Book Launch: Monsters in My Mind – Ada Hoffmann’s debut collection, Monsters in My Mind, features non-neurotypical fairies, apocalypse velociraptors, soul-eating lamprey people, and Mothers of All Squid – among many other acclaimed stories and award-nominated poetry. The book launch will include a short reading and signing, delicious home-baked desserts for all, and loads of monstery door prizes.

Book Launch: The Multiverse is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There – The fifth book in Ira Nayman’s humorous sci-fi Multiverse series will have its North American launch right here at Can-Con! God and Sobey’s willing, there will be cake. But even if there isn’t, you could learn what it’s like to be a whale. And who hasn’t wanted to learn what it’s like to be a whale?

Book Party: Brave New Girls 2: Girls Who Science and Scheme – Come out and help us support girls whose passions lie in STEM fields! Contributors Lisa Toohey and A.A. Jankiewicz will be in attendance, and they’re bringing nachos. Proceeds from the Brave New Girls anthologies go to a scholarship fund by the Society of Women Engineers.

Charles de Lint Talks About The Wind in His Heart – Come and help Charles de Lint celebrate the release of The Wind in His Heart, his first adult fantasy novel in eight years. Called “beautiful, elegant, and remarkably kind” by Seanan McGuire, this is the product of three years of writing, and capitalizes on the creative freedom of independent publishing. Charles will be ready to answer your questions—and you might even win a free copy!

Claude & Dave: The Conversation – Claude Lalumière and David Nickle interview each other about their new books (Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment and Volk: A Novel of Radiant Abomination) and about the paths their careers have taken since their debut collections (Objects of Worship and Monstrous Affections) launched together in 2009 at the Montreal WorldCon.

Claude Lalumière presents Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment – Ottawa-based writer Claude Lalumière presents his new book, Venera Dreams: A Weird Entertainment, a surreal history of a fictional and fantastical European city-state, inspired in part by Venice, The Arabian Nights, and the architecture of Antoni Gaudí. The author will read from the book, talk about the creation of the work as a whole, and answer questions.

Collaborative Creating – Writing can often feel like an isolated activity, but once you start connecting with other creators, collaborating on a project can be an eye-opening and liberating experience. From pairing with another writer to produce a poem or short story, to the potential chaos of a TV writers’ room, what are the benefits and pitfalls to working with other writers? How can you make sure the process works for you and your collaborators?

Colonizing Titan: What Would It Take? – A.C. Clarke’s Imperial Earth explored the idea of a colony on Titan. Since then the idea doesn’t seem to have received much attention, although Titan has some interesting things going for it. Scientific American discussed it. What would it take?

Consult a Copy Editor! – Experienced copy editor Richard Shealy has worked with traditional publishers and self-pub authors of various genres to hone their manuscripts and bring them to the next level. Swing by the Programming Table in the dealer’s room for his open office hours to discuss his side of the writing world and what a copy editor can do for you. (see schedule for times)

Countdown to NaNoWriMo – Every year in November, writers of all shapes, sizes and genres come together to tackle the beast that is National Novel Writing Month. Our veteran NaNo organizers describe the Novel Writing Month process and strategies to keep yourself from being driven insane by the written word.

Economics of Traditional Publishing – What are the economics around traditional publishing? Small press, mid-sized and Big 5 publishing houses have very different advances, print runs and sell throughs, but traditional publishing can open up opportunities with secondary sales like Audible and translations.

Farewell to Sira and Morgan – Welcome to the exciting launch of To Guard Against the Dark, the ninth and final installment in Julie E. Czerneda’s acclaimed Clan Chronicles seriesJoin Julie with her editor and publisher, GoH Sheila Gilbert of DAW Books, as they discuss everything from Sheila’s decision to buy Julie’s first novel (and why!) through a collaborative process that has resulted in over a million words of SF adventure. Whether you’re longtime fans of the Trade Pact, or simply curious about the writer/editor/publisher relationship, this panel is for you. Plus, you could walk away with your own copy of the book!

Finding a Home for Your Queer Tales – Queer presses continue to put forth great content, and there is a call for greater diversity among mainstream presses. How does that translate to finding a place for a queer story? A discussion of paths taken and available, and challenges still in place for writers of queer fiction. Bring questions.

Homophobia and Monster Stories – Be it queer coding of a villain or an outright queer as monster, the “evil queer” has done damage, much like ‘Bury Your Gays.’ How do we reclaim and rehabilitate queer roles in horror without falling back on tired homophobic tropes? What titles have done this well, and what are pitfalls to watch out for?

How I Wrote the Malazan Series – Join acclaimed Canadian fantasy author Steven Erikson for an in-depth look at his process for writing the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, and how the background world for a roleplaying campaign became a sweeping, award-winning epic.

How to Interact with a Bookstore or a Library – What are the best ways for a writer to approach a bookstore about readings or promotional events? What unexpected complications can a writer plan for and avoid?

I’d Rather Have a Beer with the Villain – Like Darth Vader in Star Wars, some villains become so interesting that we end up fixated on them and not the protagonist. Which villains have become more interesting than their heroes? Is this a bad thing and are there fixes? What does it say about readers/audiences?

I’m Submitting, but Novel Publishers and Magazines Aren’t Saying Yes – Have you submitted and toiled and still aren’t finding markets for your work? Don’t lose heart. Come learn from slush readers and editors as they discuss the various reasons why writers’ submissions don’t get accepted.

Kaffeeklatsch with Agent Guest of Honor Kim-Mei Kirtland – Get the chance to sit down for coffee/tea and light snacks with Kim-Mei Kirtland, literary agent with the Howard Morhaim Agency in New York. Sign-up at registration.

Kaffeeklatsch with Author Guest of Honor Steven Erikson – Get the chance to sit down for coffee/tea and light snacks with Steven Erikson, author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen and Willful Child series. Sign up at registration.

Kaffeeklatsch with Editor Guest of Honor Sheila Gilbert – Get the chance to sit down for coffee/tea and light snacks with Sheila Gilbert, editor with DAW Books, one of the largest publishers of science fiction and fantasy in the world. Sign up at registration.

Kaffeeklatsch with On Spec Magazine editor Diane Walton – Get the chance to sit down for coffee/tea and light snacks with Diane Walton, managing editor of the acclaimed Canadian SFF magazine On Spec. Sign up at registration.

King of the Dead: A Retrospective Discussion of George Romero – The late George Romero’s films changed our imagined worlds forever, spawning an entire genre of zombie horror and inspiring a generation of writers, directors, and actors. This panel will feature a discussion of Romero’s works, their importance for the horror genre, and their influence, both cinematic and literary, on the stories that have followed them.

Laksa Media Presents: The Making of an Anthology – Ever wondered how an anthology goes from concept to finished product? Want to meet the people who decide what gets included? The editors of Strangers Among Us, The Sum of Us (an anthology of caregiving and caregivers), and Where the Stars Rise (an anthology on identities, belonging and choices) discuss the construction of each anthology, what they look for in a story, and the various ins and outs of their side of the business.

Laksa Media Presents: Learn the Stories Behind the Stories – What is the story behind an author’s story? And how does the author’s perspective mesh with the perspective of an editor? Join the authors and editors of The Sum of Us: Tales of the Bonded and Bound (an anthology on caregiving and caregivers) and Where the Stars Rise: Asian Science Fiction & Fantasy (an anthology on identities, belonging, and choices) for a lively conversation and Q&A about their insights into two unique collections.

Levelling Up Your Writing with Formal Courses – Previous participants in courses like Clarion, Odyssey, Taos Toolbox, MFAs, etc. discuss (1) the benefits and drawbacks of residential vs. online writing courses, (2) how they got in, (3) what they learned there vs. other places to learn.

Mark Swims with Whale-Sharks and Burns Steaks in a Volcano: Sneak TV Previews – The Weather Network’s Mark Robinson stops stormchasing long enough to show some recent footage and talk about his newest death-defying experiences.

Mental Health, Neurodiversity and Creativity – The relationship between creativity, mental health and neurodiversity is a complex one, and often the subject of damaging popular assumptions, from the Romantic association between madness and genius to the stigma writers and artists living with a mental illness must struggle against in their professional lives. Panelists discuss the different ways they experience connections between their creative work, mental health and identity.

Myths You Maybe Haven’t Heard Of – Panelists discuss the non-Anglosphere myths they learned at home and the traditional tales of various people around the world.

No, You Can’t Actually Do That with a Computer – The wonders of computer technology never cease, not just in SF but in other genres as well. But what is the actual line between fact and fiction when it comes to today’s technology? What are computers actually capable of in 2017, and what is still theory or, dare we say it, fantasy?

On Spec Magazine: 25 Years of Canadian SFF – Since 1989, On Spec has been a powerful voice in cutting edge Canadian science fiction and fantasy, and continues to highlight some of our greatest established authors and the newest voices in short genre fiction. Managing editor Diane Walton and contributors who got their start with On Spec discuss writer vs. editor perspectives, the editorial process, and how an issue of On Spec is put together. If you’re an On Spec fan or it’s a market you want to crack, do not miss this panel!

One-on-One Meetings with Mark Leslie Lefebvre of Kobo #1 – talk one-on-one with Kobo’s Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations about your work and the opportunities that may be there. Sign-up at registration.

One-on-One Meetings with Mark Leslie Lefebvre of Kobo #2 – talk one-on-one with Kobo’s Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations about your work and the opportunities that may be there. Sign-up at registration.

Open Chat with Julie E. Czerneda and Charles de Lint – Fresh off the release of their newest novels, award-winning authors Julie E. Czerneda (To Guard Against the Dark) and Charles de Lint (The Wind in His Heart) quiz each other about their latest and forthcoming work, their respective careers, and their creative processes. With audience Q&A!

Optimizing Your Sales and Maximizing Your Revenue at Kobo – Join Mark Leslie Lefebvre, Director of Self-Publishing and Author Relations for Kobo as he covers both the basics not only of setting up a digital title on Kobo geared for global success, but also making the title most attractive to Kobo merchandisers and how your professional title set-up as well as promotional behaviour can properly “catch the eye” of the merchandising and promotions team members. Learn the various price points for different territories that sell the best and see the strategies that Kobo Writing Life’s best-selling authors are using to chart their own unique paths to publishing and selling success.

Ow! Ow! Ow! Hot! Acidy! Ow! Lightning! What Is Weather Like on Venus? – Can we extrapolate meterology to a planetary surface that’s 450°C, with a pressure similar to 1,000m below the surface of the ocean, a place where the lead sulfide frost line is about 2,000m and surfuric acid rain dissociates 15km before ever reaching the planet? Our panelists try!

Play Reading: DINKS by Hayden Trenholm – What happens when a panicked couple rents their neighbor’s baby to appease a visiting family member? Find out in a live table read of DINKS by returning special guest Hayden Trenholm.

PodCastle Live! With Charlotte Ashley – Join PodCastle co-editor Jen Albert and author Charlotte Ashley for a live-recorded episode of the popular fantasy fiction podcast. Charlotte will be reading “Zilal and the Many-Folded Puzzle Ship,” a new story set in the world of her Archipelago project. The whole panel will air as a special “Live at Can-Con” episode of PodCastle this winter.

Politics in Canadian SF – Since its beginnings, Canadian SF has dealt with political themes: relations with the United States and Great Britain, relations within the country between English and French, forms of government, and so on. How have these questions been dealt with in Canadian SF during the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries? What common themes can be found? In this presentation, Professor Allan Weiss looks at both universal and very Canadian political questions in the history of Canadian fantastic literature.

Queer Comics – Queer comics have had a complex history, beginning with Fredric Wertham’s “Seduction of the Innocent” and the subsequent Comics Code Authority trying to reduce the “threat” to young people’s heterosexuality. Since that time, queer comics have survived and thrived in a variety of forms, leading to current comics that explore sexuality and gender identity, like The Wicked and the DivineBitch PlanetRat Queens and others. The titles keep going and going, and it’s time for some out-of-the-panel thinking.

Readings: Trevor Quachri Presents His Analog Authors – Since 1930, Analog has been at the forefront of short science fiction, and continues to pave the way, featuring new and exciting works by today’s top writers. Special Guest Trevor Quachri, editor of Analog since 2012, is delighted to host readings and discussions by writers Susan Forest, Rich Larson, and Derek Künsken.

RecipeArium at Can-Con – Declared by The Word as “the most original piece of fiction in modern literature,” RecipeArium by Costi Gurgu is not a book to pass by. Come celebrate its release in the con suite, and enjoy alien delicacies and an introduction from special guest Julie Czerneda.

Schmooze with Scientists – Have you ever wanted to meet a chemist, or aerospace engineer, or scientist from another field and ask them your burning questions about science? Come to the con suite to chat with our on-site experts and fulfill your thirst for both knowledge and snacks.

Science Fiction of DAW – Editor Guest of Honour Sheila Gilbert discusses DAW Books’ history of science fiction with contributing authors. From space opera to near-future and everything in between, our panelists dig into a critical analysis of DAW and its contributions to the world of science fiction.

Short on Wacky Ideas? Peanut Butter and Chocolate: SF/F Mashups We Wish Existed – You got your Greek mythology in my space opera! No, *you* got *your* space opera in my Greek mythology! Mashups are like mixing peanut butter and chocolate together and realizing they’re awesome. Here’s the panel where we discuss the nerdy peanut butter cups of our dreams. All ideas generated in this room are free for anyone to use, just in time for NaNo!

Signings at Can*Con! – On Saturday, various authors will be available at the Chapters table in the dealer’s room to sign their books. Titles will be available for sale by Chapters, but no purchase is necessary – feel free to bring something with you to sign, or just chat with your favorite authors! (see schedule for more details)

So This is Your First Con – Never attended a literary SF convention? Well, this isn’t Comic Con.  You’re going to meet a bunch of people, hear amazing insights from professionals on panels, and have a chance to sit with pros over coffee or drinks. Learn what Can-Con is and how to get the most out of it!

Spam Meet – Everyone gets spam. The stranger and sillier it gets, the more we can turn it on its head to spin a story. Our panelists will take samples of spam with the challenge of producing a story – and the audience gets to join in! A short reading of the resulting masterpieces will follow, and someone might even win a prize.

Spooning with Spoonies: Disability and Sexuality – Disability is often represented as the antithesis of sexuality and disabled people are often portrayed in our literature only as friends. But disabled bodies are sexual bodies and bodies that have to adapt and be fluid in bed. This panel will explore the representation of disabled sexuality and give a sense of context to disabled sexual encounters.

Stories of the Northmen – The myths and sagas of Norse society are filled with compelling characters and a unique perspective on the world, and enjoy an enduring popularity in Western society. Why do these ancient tales appeal to a modern audience, and what can contemporary writers draw from the stories of the Norse people? Our panel climbs out of their longship to discuss these issues.

Subjugation or Collaboration? A.I. in Education Today and in the Future – All too often popular S.F. focuses on the horrors technological advances can reap. What we can lose? What will replace us? And how? It’s time to ask what A.I. and other ‘controversial’ technologies can do for us in both the near and more distant future. How might expert one-on-one tutoring with A.I. help struggling students in crowded classrooms? Can student-teacher dynamics be applied to student-A.I. interactions? What might be accomplished if we focus on ‘deep’ rather than ‘big’ data for adapting to and understanding students’ needs? Dr. Jason Harley will draw on research, including his own, to answer these and other questions about the future of human-computer interaction.

The Books We Don’t Admit to Reading – Everyone has guilty pleasures, and readers are no different when it comes to books. Our panelists openly discuss what they read besides New York Times bestsellers and the latest hot authors, and why they love it.

The End is the Beginning: First Nations Post-Apocalyptic Fiction – Join author and journalist Waubgeshig Rice and writer, artist and television producer Jay Odjick as they discuss how to end the world – only in writing, we swear! – and the intersection between First Nations issues and post-apocalyptic fiction.

The Fantasy Writer’s Guide to Beer – Your protagonist walks into a bar, and … what’s on tap? Find out as we explore brewing methods from Mesopotamia to the Victorian era. Discuss beer in various cultural contexts, speculate about ancient flavours, and discover which brew is right for you! (Samples not provided.)

The Illusion of History – When constructing the history of a fictional world, how much work should a writer do? Panelists will discuss how much history they develop for a single book, whether that history grows as a series develops, how to “fake it” and make it seem like there’s a richly developed history behind the scenes, etc.

The Influence of the Two Campbells – Fantasy story-telling is heavily influenced by Joseph Campbell’s ideas about the Hero’s Journey. Science fiction story-telling is heavily influenced by the ideas of John W. Campbell, probably the most influential editor of SF short fiction in the 20th century. Together, the two Campbells have given us certain ideas about what makes for a “good” protagonist, which today’s writers are challenging. Is the Campbell legacy something SFF should shake off?

The Magic and Power of Epic Fantasy – Since the days of the all-powerful Tolkien, epic fantasy has been a mainstay of speculative fiction, with a lasting power that comes from a combination of familiar tropes and ongoing evolution. Our panel of editors and authors from the frontlines of epic fantasy discuss what’s on the cutting edge of the genre, which tried and true staples they adore, and where epic fantasy needs to go next.

The Many Angles of Scriptwriting – Various art forms need scripts: plays, TV, movies, comics, graphic novels. How are the mechanics of a script different from prose, in terms of exposition, pacing and visuals? And once you have a completed script, what do you do with it?

The Morality of Doctor Who Villains – This talk will describe the current state of the art of moral psychology and how the myriad villains in the Doctor Who universe can be described in terms of certain moral foundations as lacking or being hyperactive. Presentation by Jim Davies & Deirdre Kelly

The Role and Job of an Agent – Agents are a crucial component to the industry for a lot of writers. But what exactly does an agent do day-to-day, and how do they work with the writers they represent? Presentation by Agent Guest of Honor Kim-Mei Kirtland.

The Romance Tropes We Love – In the hands of a skilled writer, any trope can be used to move the reader emotionally – in theory. From the tortured hero to forbidden love to amnesia and beyond, our panelists discuss which tropes still work effectively in fiction and where others have been put out to pasture.

The Writing Life: Past, Present, and Future – Rob Sawyer sold his first short story in 1980, his first novel in 1990, and he has been a full-time writer for 34 years now. Join him as he looks back at lessons learned from decades in publishing and looks ahead to the future of how writers might continue to make livings in the decades to come.

They Told Me There Would Be Cocktails and Canapés: The Snakes and Ladders of Self-Publishing – Being any kind of writer is hard. Arguably, it’s even harder when you’re the publisher, art director, editor and salesforce. What are the trials and tribulations to being a self-published writer?

They’re More Like Guidelines: The Rules of Magic – One of the most obvious ways fantasy worlds differ from reality is the inclusion of magic. Must magic obey rules? Does the creation of an effective and convincing fantastic world require a firmly-conceived magic system? What rules of magic work best for an audience and for the creation of a compelling plot? Our masters of the arcane lore will tackle these questions.

Trek Out with Steven Erikson and Robert J. Sawyer – Did you know that two of Canada’s bestselling SFF authors are also gigantic fans of Star Trek? Between Steven Erikson’s Willfull Child novels and Robert J. Sawyer’s work on Boarding the Enterprise, both have injected their love of Roddenberry’s world into their creative work in fun and dynamic ways. Listen as they chat about Star Trek‘s influence on their careers and society in general.

Trapped in the Wrong Tropes: Representing Transgender Lives in Fiction – Writing about transgender lives has become more common as the experiences and information about transgender people has gained prominence in the media. All too often narratives of transgender people in fiction follow a handful of patterns and limited narratives. This panel discusses the wibbly-wobbly gender-bendery nature of transgender experiences and how to write more robust transgender characters.

Unpacking the Terror in Canadian Horror Films – There are some truly frightful and excellent things being done in Canadian horror film. Our panelists discuss what you should check out the next time you want a good scare.

Wands Up! The Power of SFF Fandom and ActivismFrom Nerdfighters to Dumbledore’s Army, science fiction and fantasy fans have been channeling their love for the genre into real life social change. This panel will explore how SFF literature enables readers to see themselves as heroines and heroes in their own narratives, and the role that authors play in crafting these stories.

What Makes Romantic Chemistry Between Characters? – Most writers, no matter the genre, at some time need to create romantic chemistry between two characters, whether this will be consummated or remain as ships passing in the night. The panel of writers will use examples from their own published works, as well as positive and negative examples from TV and movies to analyze romantic chemistry.

Would First Contact Go Horribly Wrong? – The first meeting between humanity and extraterrestrials must surely be one of the most-imagined scenarios in SF. There is also no clear consensus of what this meeting would be like, and what the consequences would be. What would be the hazards and difficulties of a ‘first contact’ scenario, and how could these be addressed? Would peaceful relations, or even understanding, be a realistic prospect? Our panel is at the bottom of the saucer ramp ready to answer these questions.

Writing Games: It’s Big Literature Now – Writing for RPGs or video games is a well-established part of the writing discipline and SFWA recently amended its membership requirements to recognize games writers for professional pay. What forms can game writing take and how do you get into the game writing industry?

You Should Have Read This in 2017 – Our expert readers discuss the cutting-edge novels and short fiction in science fiction, fantasy, horror and romance that you absolutely should have read. Bring your Goodreads app or a REALLY big notebook.

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