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I spent the weekend at Ad Astra, the annual Toronto SF convention now its twenty ninth year. I’ve been a regular attendee the last six or seven years and it’s always fun to see my many friends. Often it’s the only time I get to see many of them so I try to make the best of it.
Rob Sawyer and Carolyn Clink generously offered Liz and I accommodation in their condo, along with Buffalo friends Herb Kauderer, Isabelle Fournier and Al Katerinsky. Rob and Carolyn were staying at the Con hotel this year as he was one of the Guests of Honour.
Liz decided to spend the evening visiting her son, Steve, his wife, Amanda and their son James while I trundled off to the convention. I only had one panel Friday evening: “The Electric/Alternative Car.” My fellow panellists, Al Katerinsky and Stephen B. Pearl were lively and knowledgeable and we had great input from our audience of about 15 or so. Then it was off to the party rooms where I had a chance to talk to lots of folks, including aurora-winning author Doug Smith, David Nickle (Monstrous Affections from Chizine Publications) and Chris Jackson, author of Scimitar Moon.
Saturday was a busy day and began with a panel called “Each Character’s Voice.” I was joined by authors Grant Carrington, Karin Lowachee, Kate Story and Gregory A. Wilson. I learned a few new techniques for keeping characters distinct and shared a few of my own tricks of the trade. There was a good turnout for a Saturday morning and I think people generally were both entertained and informed.
I had a nice lunch with members of my writing group – Peter Atwood, Matt Moore Derek Kunksken and their partners/children. After lunch I chatted with Rob Sawyer, Rick Wilber and Nick DiChario for fifteen minutes or so before heading off to my next panel, another science topic: “The Energy Mosaic: Why we don’t need to freeze in the dark.” Al and Stephen from my first panel were joined by Don Shears. The room was packed and the sun was shining through the south facing windows, so none of us had to worry about freezing that day! The general conclusion was that we needed to move forward as quickly as we could with alternatives to fossil fuels (especially coal) but that success would largely depend on economics and government policy.
The most fun I had was participating in “The East block Irregulars,” which consisted of the six members of my Ottawa writing group, the three mentioned above plus Liz Westbrook-Trenholm and Marie Bilodeau. We chatted to a small but enthusiastic crowd about the pros and cons of writing groups and how we think our formula – professional, ambitious and dedicated writers all at the same level with a focus on the writing rather than the group – works well for us. It was a very comfortable session and reminded me again how much I like all these people. An autographing session followed where I got to share a table with fellow Bundoran author, Matthew Johnson. We both sold a few books and had some nice chats with fans.
That evening Liz and I had supper with Herb, Isabelle and Al, along with poet and punster, David Clink. We ate at the Mongolian Grill and the food and the company were both great. We checked in at a few parties – notably the one for the new Toronto Con, SFContario, which will take place this November.
Sunday started way too early with a 10am panel called “Writing the Future,” with Matthew Johnson and award-winning writer, Karl Schroeder. Another good crowd listened while we described how we crafted credible futures by projecting current trends and predicting possible shifts in technology, economics, the environment or social mores. Next, David Stephenson and I talked to a small group about the after math of the Copenhagen climate change conference. My last event of the day and the Con was a reading (time shared with Marie Bilodeau) from my new novel, Stealing Home, the first public presentation of the material. It was nice to see Nick Matthews who gave a great review to Steel Whispers. Then it was good-byes all around and the long drive back to Ottawa.
Hayden Trenholm is a playwright and novelist who lives in Ottawa, ON