2018 Panels & Demos

(L to R) Ann Marston, Vanessa Cardui, and Barb Galler-Smith wrap up a day of panels with the GoH Megapanel. Photo courtesy of Ron Sannachan.

Panels and demos have always been the heart and soul of the Pure Spec Festival, and this year is no exception. Our schedule for this year’s panels and demos is live! Check it out and start making your plans. We’ll also update the list below with the dates and times in the next few days. (Schedule updated June 3, 2018)

* * *

Demonstrations (scroll down for Panels)


Parasol Dueling (Back Garden, 10am-11:30am)
Let the duels commence! Parasol dueling at Pure Spec. Photo courtesy of Ron Sannachan.

Gentlefolk! Join the Ladies of Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Dueling League to learn about the history and rules of this ancient and honourable Lady’s sport. Come and see the sport of Queen Victoria’s Ladies in Waiting, a sport of which Her Majesty was both a patron and accomplished practitioner. Parasol Dueling is safe and no contact. Bring a parasol, or borrow one of ours, and join in the fun! An elegant sport from an elegant time!

Quidditch Demonstration (Back Garden, Noon-1pm)

Truly the Sport of Wizards, join members of the champion Edmonton Aurors quidditch team as they demonstrate this exciting and skillful sport. You’ll have a chance to test your skills, and maybe become a beater, keeper, chaser, or seeker your own self.

Nightmare Circus Performers present Learn to Thriller! (Back Garden, 1:30-3pm)

Come learn the steps to MJ’s Thriller, get some free zombie makeup done, and learn about our group and opportunities for flash mobs with our group throughout the year. With head zombies Pocky Rodgers, Sara Brooks, Angie Rodriguez, and Jocelyn Watson.

Amtgard LARP Demonstration (Gymnasium, 2-3:30pm)

A demonstration of the Amtgard LARP system. Come on out and learn to fight with foam!



Paradise Lost: Preservation and Revitalization of Archaic Programming Languages (Multi-Purpose Room, 4:30-5:30)

Language shapes the way we understand and perceive of the world around us. Programming languages are no different: they influence how developers create games, exposing the design philosophies and hardware limitations of their era. As hardware decays and new technological advances emerge, these programming languages effectively become dead languages. This talk explores the importance of language/hardware preservation and revitalization from both an anthropological perspective as well as its benefit to modern game designers. Panelist: Christopher White

How to Sell What You’ve Wrought – The Basics (Lounge, 4:30-5:30pm)

Maybe you’ve written a book or a game, or made a Cool New Nerdy Thing™ and now you want to sell it to the world. What are your first steps? Join Guest of Honour Krista D. Ball as she goes over the very basics of marketing and selling your product online.

So, You Want to Make a Language? (Multi-Purpose Room, 5:30-6:30pm)

Some make up languages for noble purposes, like epic fantasy and world peace. Others because they were bored and needed something to do (your presenter, Thea van Diepen, is a guilty party). Whatever your reason, we’ll go at it from three directions: how /not/ to make a language, how to make a language that fulfills your goal, and how to grow your language using Ikea instruction manuals… among other tricks. May the conlanging bug bite you hard!

Overcoming a Lonely, Hostile Childhood (Lounge, 5:30-6:30pm)

We’re well past “sticks and stones”. Many geeks were bullied or friendless in childhood, and those experiences can affect everything from the way you walk to the quality of your intimate relationships. New research on the effects of childhood bullying, not to mention the effectiveness of well-intentioned “anti-bullying” campaigns, has called a lot of old wisdom about bullying into question. Join Provisional Psychologist Carolyn Davies on a tour of the explosion of new research about brain development, social bonding, and getting past your past.

Many Facets of Publishing (Multi-Purpose Room, 6:30-7:30pm)

The publishing world has undergone changes and there are different challenges depending on how you approach the industry. Join On Spec publisher Diane Walton, Tyche Books publisher Margaret Curelas, self-publisher T.K. Boomer, and others TBA as they discuss the many aspects of modern publishing.

Star Trek Trivia Contest (Lounge, 6:30-7:30pm)

Love Star Trek? Want to flaunt your Star Trek knowledge and possibly win cool prizes? Join Minister Faust for this panel which is actually a game show, and test your Trek knowledge. The Prime Directive will be in effect (which really means nothing) and no underage tribbles allowed!

Creating A Writing Group (Multi-Purpose Room, 7:30-8:30pm)

Methods and pitfalls of creating and maintaining a work-shopping and critique group for writing. With panelists Brad Glenn, Darcy Rust, Samantha Mick, and Mary Duncan.

Behind the Words: Getting to Know Sam Maggs (Lounge, 7:30-8:30pm)

Well known for her work as an author, writer, and pop culture historian, and her (as far as we know) unrequited love of Jeff Goldblum, Guest of Honour Sam Maggs is well on her way to becoming a Canadian nerd icon. Join Brittney Le Blanc as she talks to Sam about her work, her nerdy passions, and probably Jeff Goldblum.

Speculative Fiction, Pop Culture, and Sexuality (Multi-Purpose Room, 8:30-9:30pm)

Sexuality has been portrayed in a variety of ways throughout pop culture and SF, and sometimes been conspicuous in its absence. Join panelists Pauline French, GoH Krista D. Ball, and GoH Sam Maggs, as they explore sexuality in genre media; how it affects us as nerd consumers, and our effect on how it’s portrayed.

Life as we Know it: Discussions on Exobiology (Lounge, 8:30-9:30pm)

An overview of the possibilities of life on other worlds – what could be out there, where would it be, and what would it be like? We’ll cover such topics as the potential for life based on other elements, how common the humanoid form might be, what alien senses could be like, and much more. Panelist: Biologist Peter Daly


Which Book Stays on the Island? (Multi-Purpose Room, 10-11am)

You’re stuck on a deserted island, plenty of food and water…BUT ONLY ONE BOOK! What is that book? Join our Guests of Honour Krista Ball, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Sam Maggs as they answer this critical question, and then you will vote and decide which of their choices stays on the island. Moderated by Diane Walton of On Spec Magazine.

The Games We Play (Lounge, 10-11am)

Want to know just how much math you actually interact with every day? You’ll be surprised just how many daily interactions you have with it so come and hear what happens when math dares to dream about being philosophy! Panelist: Kyle King

Finding Your Niche: Starting and Running A Special Interest Bookclub (Gymnasium, 10-11am)

Dreaming of starting a club for people with niche interests but not sure where to start? Join Amanda Mullins and Kelsey Jones of WTF+ (Edmonton’s Intersectional Feminist Comic Book Club for women, femme, and non-binary feminine-minded people) to talk tips on how to start your club and keep it running smoothly (along with a solid helping of comic book talk).

A Taste of Tyche (Multi-Purpose Room, 11am-Noon)

Tyche Books is one of Alberta’s most prolific publishing houses, with an amazing history of SF publishing. Join Margaret Curelas, Krista Ball, Eileen Bell, and Rhonda Parrish to talk about Tyche Books past and present, and get a little taste of what Tyche is cooking up now.

More Seats at the Table: a tool for diversity (Lounge, 11am-Noon)

More Seats at the Table is an email newsletter that highlights analogue games created by folks with marginalized genders, like trans folk, non-binary folk, and cis women. Join Kim Lam as she talks about how the newsletter came into being, why it’s important, and how it can help you add diversity to your gaming table.

Songwriting Hows and Wherefores (Gymnasium, 11am-Noon)

Join our Vanessa Cardui for an examination of songwriting methods, tips, and ideas that have served her well over five albums of work and many original compositions. Questions from the audience are encouraged, and collaboration is the name of the game! This panel is a safe space to share works in progress and discuss with fellow songwriters.

Behind the Words: Getting to Know Candas Jane Dorsey (Multi-Purpose Room, Noon-1pm)

One of Edmonton’s most prolific and talented SF authors, writers, and editors, Guest of Honour Candas Jane Dorsey is a fixture in the local literary community, and known over the world. Come along as Rhonda Parrish talks to Candas about the journey there, and what comes next.

Archaeogaming 101 (Lounge, Noon-1pm)

Is an archaeology of video games possible? Worthwhile? Yes! So what is archaeogaming? We’ll be looking at popular games to find out!  Attendees will gain an understanding of how non-archaeologists can still be archaeogamers, and how gamers can help support archaeogaming projects. We’ll also be looking at how a lot of gamers are already archaeogamers without even knowing it (through Let’s Plays, fan participation/theories, etc). Panelist: Brieal Moireabh-Tetlock

Aliens and Autism (Gymnasium, Noon-1pm)

Science Fiction author T.K. Boomer learned that he was on the autism spectrum three months before his 65th birthday. The diagnosis meant a re-evaluation of his life and his art. Audience Q&A will follow this presentation.

Still Trekkin’ After All These Years (Multi-Purpose Room, 1-2pm)

A discussion of Star Trek from its inception to today. Led by Colin Neilson and members of the U.S.S. Bonaventure Speculative Fiction Society, come share your love of one of fandom’s earliest franchises.

Witches in Fiction (Lounge, 1-2pm)

Witches have been part of our folklore and storytelling for hundreds of years and have been portrayed in many different ways. This panel will examine the different ways that witches are portrayed in popular media and what that means for our culture and our changing views on women. Presented by Vanessa Kirby.

Introvert’s Lunch Break (Gymnasium, 1-2pm)

Need a break from the crowd of the festival? Hey, we understand. Bring your lunch and take an hour to sit quietly, and recharge for the rest of the day. Quiet time will be politely enforced; if you want to chat over lunch we suggest taking your food out to the back garden.

Babylon 5 and the Impact of Longform Storytelling (Multi-Purpose Room, 2-3pm)

Join Minister Faust and Brent Jans as they discuss and explore the classic series Babylon 5 and the effect its longform storytelling had on the SF TV genre. If not for Babylon 5, maybe we don’t get FarScape, Season 3+ of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or a Battlestar Galactica reboot. We’ll talk about this and many other aspects of the show.

D&D and Schools (Lounge, 2-3pm)

The value of role-playing games to education is just starting to be explored, and the initial results are exciting. Hear how Marc Schubert is establishing a non profit society to bring role-playing games into Edmonton schools.

Chevrons are Locked: The Enduring Power of Stargate (Multi-Purpose Room, 3-4pm)

Inspired by the film released in 1994, the Stargate franchise was one of the longest running and well-loved set of series on television. With a diverse cast, exciting episodes, and excellent longform storytelling mixed with brilliant stand-alone episodes, Stargate brought us the universe (much of which looked like coastal Canada). Join Brent JansBrianne Battye, Patrick Weekes, and Guest of Honour Sam Maggs as they discuss the high points and the low of this iconic series.

Edmonton Nerd Networking (Lounge, 3-4pm)

Connecting the nerdy dots in Edmonton. Hosted by Kelly Froese, come learn about everything that goes into running a site dedicated to keeping Edmonton’s nerds connected.

Beyond the Gutter: Digging Deeper Into Comics (Multi-Purpose Room, 4-5pm)

“Beyond the Gutter” is a panel that focuses on reading beyond what’s on the page of a comic book. Focusing on the comic theory presented by Scott McCloud, this panel will look at McCloud’s theories of the gutter space, issues of time and liminality, the use of colour, and more in order to analyze different comics, like Chris Bachalo’s Doctor Strange and Joelle Jones’s Lady Killer. Through the use of these different components that make up a comic, the panel aims to study comics both academically and in a way to enhance the overall experience of reading comics. Panelist: Danielle Steinke

Aliens Among Us: what nature can teach us about exobiology (Lounge, 4-5pm)

A review of depictions of alien life in sci-fi, parallels in nature, and what we can realistically expect of aliens given our knowledge of terrestrial biology. Presented by biologist Peter Daly.

Meet the Klingons! (Gymnasium, 4-5pm)

Meet the local members of the Klingon Action Group, and find out what an action group is as well! You can ask questions, find out about the volunteer and service work they do, what events might be coming up, and learn what it takes to be a Klingon! Presented by members of the IKV Swifthawk (who you’ve also seen providing security throughout the festival).

Books Are Not Games – the Differences in Writing for Each (Multi-Purpose Room, 5-6pm)

Exploring the differences between writing fiction and writing for games.

Behind the Words: Getting to Know Krista D. Ball (Lounge, 5-6pm)

Exploring themes of love, trauma, and what it means to be a hero despite them, Krista’s novels are a stirring voice in SF literature. You’ve read her work (and if you haven’t, Tyche Books can set you up) now get to know the author behind the words. Join Rhonda Parrish as she talks to Guest of Honour Krista D. Ball about her work and life, as well as take your questions.