This past weekend, October 11-13, 2013, saw Can*Con 2013, the 33rd Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature, held in Ottawa, Ontario. This year, Can*Con also hosted the Aurora Awards, celebrating the best in Canadian science fiction and fantasy. Can*Con is small compared to media conventions such as Anime North, Toronto FanExpo, and the San Diego ComicCon, but the size helped focus the direction of panels towards readers and writers of speculative fiction.
The conference had three panel tracks plus a special events track. The panels were aimed at authors both published and aspiring and at readers. Fan works, webcomics, graphic novels were also part of the mix; Can*Con acknowledged the breadth of formats available on paper and the web for speculative fiction. The special events track included the Auroras plus readings by guest authors and pitch sessions held by Canadian publishers. Friday and Saturday evening featured concerts and filking*.
There was a small dealer’s room with tables piled with books where authors and publishers sold their works. The diversity of the wares went from comics and graphic novels to anthologies to novels both light and dark.
The Aurora awards took place Sunday. The winners were:
Robert J. Sawyer – Lifetime Achievement Award
Best Novel – English**: The Silvered, Tanya Huff[link]
Best YA Novel – English: Under My Skin: The Wildings Vol. 1, Charles de Lint
Best Short Fiction – English: “The Walker of the Shifting Borderland”, Douglas Smith, On Spec #90
Best Poem/Song – English: “A sea monster tells his story”, David Clink, The Literary Review of Canada, July/August
Best Graphic Novel*** – English: Weregeek, Alina Pete
Best Related Work – English: Blood and Water, edited by Hayden Trenholm
Best Artist – Erik Mohr, cover art for Chizine Publications
Best Fan Publication: Speculating Canada blog, edited by Derek Newman-Stille
Best Fan Filk – Kari Maaren
Best Fan Organizational: Randy McCharles, Chair and Programming, When Worlds Collide, Calgary
Best Fan Related Work: Ron Friendman, conception and delivery of the Aurora Awards voter package.
Takeaways from the convention: Canadian speculative fiction authors, published and aspiring, would do well here. The panels are informative, there’s a chance to network with other authors, with publishers, and with fans. Fans can easily mingle with writers; panels existed for fan activities. The convention was open and welcoming, and small enough to be intimate. I will be returning.
* The singing of popular songs with the words changed to a more geeky version. The name is derived from folk music.
** The French Aurora Awards ceremony will be held at Boréal in Montreal.
*** Four webcomics were up for Best Graphic Novel – English.