20,000 Leagues Under the Spec!THIS WEEKEND, I'LL BE ATTENDING one of the annual SF conventions I never miss, the Pure Speculation Festival held every November, here in Edmonton. With Arthur Slade and Gail Carriger as our GoHs, I'm looking forward to it. I also want to credit Diane Walton, our Managing Editor of On Spec Magazine, for it was she who brought the literary side of the convention to life. I asked her to comment on Pure Spec's beginnings, why she got involved, and why she continues to be an instrumental force.
ON SPEC (and I) BECAME INVOLVED WITH THE PURE SPECULATION FESTIVAL as a vendor, the first year Pure Speculation ran in a huge, cold, hotel convention space. It had come to my attention through social media, although I did not know any of the organizers, especially Brent Jans, whose dream it was to revive the convention tradition in Edmonton. Back in the 1980's and 90's, I was heavily involved with the annual NonCon Science Fiction convention, and I made dozens of good and long-lasting friends, many of whom I would only see once a year. A new convention on the block was something I could welcome with open arms. I immediately offered our services to enhance a comics and gaming event with some literary content. On Spec had a moderate budget for marketing and promotions, and so we agreed to sponsor the festival by paying the costs to have a Canadian author guest. Pure Speculation operates on a sponsorship model, so a business, group, or individual who wants to have a specific guest is more than welcome to subsidize the travel and accommodation costs, and be included in the planning for the festival.
I head the team that decides on the Literary stream of Pure Speculation programming, and I have made a point of including members of the academic community as well as writers and poets. We are blessed in having a strong writing community in Edmonton, and it is fun to stretch them a bit by offering new challenges in programming topics. The joy of Pure Speculation is that we tackle topics ranging from the serious (racism and discrimination in the SF community), to the educational (panels about the techniques of genre writing), to the absolutely outrageous (great discussion about exactly how you'd get a woman's underwear off when writing a Victorian or Regency sex scene). Anything goes!
People who read and enjoy science fiction, fantasy, horror and the like, are often solitary in this pursuit, but nothing compares to the joy you find when you are in a room full of people who instantly know the answer to the Ultimate Question about Life, the Universe, and Everything. Cheers!
(Thanks, Diane. And if you'd like to read Diane's Bio, you can find the link to it here, on the post she wrote for Suzenyms on the Geek Girl Con held in Seattle.)
AS FOR ME, I'M ON THE FOLLOWING PANELS:
On Saturday, November 16th, at 3:15 PM: Writing Slipstream or Cross-Genre Fiction, with writers Marty Chan, Natasha Deen, and Sandra Wong.
On Sunday, November 17th, at 11:30 AM: Pure Spec Idol, with writers Billie Milholland, Barb Galler-Smith, and Sandra Wong.
...then on Sunday at 3:00 PM: Writing History Based Fantasy Fiction, with On Spec co-editors/writers Barb Galler-Smith and Ann Marston.
If I'm not participating in or attending a panel or reading, I'll be at the On Spec booth, where I'll be representing both On Spec and Five Rivers Publishing. Copies of The Tattooed Witch, among other Five Rivers' titles, will be available for purchase.
If you're attending Pure Spec, I hope to see you there!