Culture & Conversation

Out Of This World

Worldcon is here. One of the biggest events in the SF and fantasy community, it brings together writers, artists, publishers and, of course, fans to share their works, ideas and passion for the far-out fiction we love to love. The five-day event, Anticipation, hosts more than 500 participants and thousands of dedicated followers. Programming includes an art show, a masquerade ball, numerous panels and free workshops. The prestigious Hugo Awards will be presented along with Canadian counterparts, the Auroras.

If you like to mix a little star power with your prose, you’ll be delighted to hear that Neil Gaiman is this year’s guest of honour. He’s the bestselling author of American Gods, the creator of the DC Comics series Sandman and the award-winning writer of the children’s novel Coraline. And he will be an active participant in this year’s festivities. For example, he will take part in a discussion on influential writer John M. Ford; he will talk about his life, writing and career with Gary K. Wolfe; and – my favourite – there’s the fittingly named panel “Private Passions: The Many Interests of Neil Gaiman” where he will talk about “the many things that interest him.”

Fans of the Smashing Pumpkins and Hole will recognize bassist Melissa Auf der Maur. She will be launching her new concept album that includes a CD, a short film and a comic. In addition to her live performance and panel participation, her sci-fi flick called OOOM will be screened on Friday at 10 pm. Directed by Tony Stone, the film is an Official Selection of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.

Worldcon will also be the venue for the launching of local writer/anthologist Claude Lalumière’s debut collection Objects of Worship. It’s taking place Saturday evening at 7:30 pm at the Delta Hotel Centre-Ville. Though part of Worldcon/ Anticipation, the event is free and Lalumière’s is one of five books being launched by Chizine Publications. For more details, go to Chizine Publications.

The Dealers Room is always a big draw at the event. It’s where people sell their books, artworks, movies, jewellery, costumes, weapons, games and comic books. These aren’t going to be your typical wares either: fighter pilot helmets, warrior swords, rare books, twelve-sided dice, etc. No shopping list is too fantastical here.

The World Science Fiction Convention has been happening every year since 1939 (with the exception of the years spanning WWII). This is the 5th time it has been held in Canada and the first time Montreal has hosted the event. Last year it was in the USA and next year it will be in Australia, so local SF and fantasy lovers really ought to take advantage of this experience.

And if that isn’t enough to get you out, don’t forget about the drinking, eating and parties. Every nearby bar and pub will be overrun by conventioneers. These meeting spaces have a culture all their own. Friendships are sparked, feuds are fuelled and serious discussions about SF take place over pints of bitter stout. It really is going to be a magical time.

The 67th World Science Fiction Convention takes place at the Palais des congrès de Montréal today through Monday, August 10th. For more information, check out Anticipation. Note that the workshops are free but participants must register for them..

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