2018 Panels & Demos

Panels and demos have always been the heart and soul of the Pure Spec Festival, and this year is no exception. We have opened for panel, demo, and event submissions for this year; if you’re interested in presenting at this year’s festival please submit your proposals with our Proposal Form. Someone will get back to you withing two business days to confirm receipt of your proposal, and we’ll be in touch once we’ve chosen events and begun scheduling.

In the meantime, please see below for panels and events for this year. Dates and Times are currently TBD, so stay tuned.

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Demonstrations (scroll down for Panels)

Amtgard LARP Demonstration

A demonstration of the Amtgard LARP system.

Kendo Panel and Demonstration

The Kita Kaze Budo Association brings together the Japanese Martial arts of Kendo, Naginata, and Iaido in the city of Edmonton. These arts have a strong influence on many popular culture staples, from anime and manga to popular science fiction movies. They promote serious study of the arts first and foremost, while still taking the time to have a whole lot of fun while doing it. The Association will run both a panel discussing the various aspects of kendo, followed by a demonstration of the techniques and skills.

Nightmare Circus Performers present Learn to Thriller!

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.

Parasol Duelling
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!



Aliens Among Us: what nature can teach us about exobiology

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.

Archaeogaming 101

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

Babylon 5 and the Impact of Longform Storytelling

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.

Beyond the Gutter: Digging Deeper Into Comics

“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.

Books Are Not Games – the Differences in Writing for Each

Exploring the differences between writing fiction and writing for games.

Brown Bag Panel

This one is all you! Bring your lunch or a snack, sit down with your fellow geeks, and talk about whatever you want. Get your nerd on over food with whoever shows up, and get ready for the rest of the afternoon. And if you’d prefer to sit quietly, we recommend the Introvert’s Lunch Break.

Creating A Writing Group

Methods and pitfalls of creating and maintaining a workshopping and critique group for writing.

Edmonton Nerd Networking

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.

Guest of Honour Megapanel!

Did you miss a panel with one of our Guests of Honour? Have a question you just never got to ask them? This is your chance! Join Krista Ball, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Sam Maggs as they talk about anything and everything you want to talk about. Moderated by Brent Jans.

Introvert’s Lunch Break

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 checking out the Brown Bag Panel.

Overcoming a Lonely, Hostile Childhood

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.

Preserving Imagination: Collecting Roleplaying Games

Since Dungeons & Dragons was published in 1974 there have been a multitude of roleplaying books published by a myriad of companies. Finding, collecting, and preserving these out-of-print tomes of imagination can be a challenge. Join Brent Jans of the Canadian Library of Roleplaying Games as he talks about some of the tips and tricks of collecting things that were not meant to be collected.

So, You Want to Make a Language?

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!

Star Trek Trivia Contest

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!

Still Trekkin’ After All These Years

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.

Which Book Stays on the Island?

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.

Witches in Fiction

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.