The World Fantasy Convention took place this year in Toronto from Nov. 1-4. I try to attend every couple of years but I feel that it might have been four years since the last one. Before I got to the convention the previous Sunday saw the SpecFic Colloquium sponsored by ChiZine Publications.It was a day of short lectures on the topic “Beyond the Human.” Featured lecturers were Helen Marshall, Peter Watts, Robert Runte, Scott Bakker, Karin Lowachee, and special guest from England Rob Shearman. All the speakers were interesting but Rob’s talk was interesting and humorous and he had us all listening through to the end. It’s worthy checking out for next year.
I also did a successful reading at the Art Bar Poetry Reading series held at the Pauper’s Pub on Bloor St. (an aptly named pub for most writers). There were four of us as featured readers and then an open mic where people had three minutes to read. Surprisingly most of the open mic pieces were good, something that can be very hit and miss when you don’t know the level of writing. Since it was the night before Hallowe’en I read mostly speculative poetry.
The World Fantasy Convention (WFC) started on the Thursday and is one of several professional conventions and one of three “world-class”conventions. The other two are the World Horror Convention (also professional) and the World Science Fiction Convention, which is large and has an extensive fan track. By professional, it means the convention caters to those in the profession of writing and publishing so there are many authors, editors and publishers present.
Correspondingly, there were numerous readings, and panels on various subjects from e-publishing to urban gothic fantasy, the theme of this year’s convention. World Fantasy is capped at around 850 people and the convention had only two tracks and two readings at the same time. Still there were many events I wanted to tend but is often the case at these conventions I was lured into chatting with people and having drinks at the bar. I did listen to Rob Shearman and read a well executed and somewhat sad tale about god, and Cat Rambo read a very bizarre tale about a planet that has porcelain people. I attended one panel on urban gothic but the convention rooms were so cold that I couldn’t sit through a full hour.That was one fault with the hotel, thinking it was still summer. The other was not fathoming that writers drink and being perpetually understaffed at the bar.
However, as far as the convention went, there were more panels that I wanted to attend than I could get too. The dealer’s room was large and the room parties abounded. Publishers and various groups will host a party at this convention and everyone is invited. The hospitality suite was well decked out with free meals all day and beer and wine in the evenings. I’ve only ever seen this type of spread done at the WFC that took place in Minneapolis. The Chizine party on Saturday night was packed with wall to wall people and even an event I missed called “writers in tub.” You couldn’t move at one point. The party was fairly epic.
I met many people at the convention and for the first time ever, attended an awards banquet, which took place on Sunday afternoon. Chizine Publications was up for a World Fantasy Awardunder the special professional category, but alas did not win. However, while everyone was moving slower on Sunday, it was a very good convention overall, with many new people that I met and great panels. Truly one of the better ones I’ve been to. Check out the World Fantasy convention. It’s a great place to meet authors and publishers.