2019 Panels, Demos, and Gaming

(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. We have filled all our panel slots for this year and you can see the events scheduled below. Panels are listed by day and then time and room. You can also see a Panel One-sheet here.

If you have any questions, please contact us at pure.speculation@gmail.com.

As well, we have added tabletop role-playing games to this year’s festival, for the first time in several years. You can scroll down to check out the games on offer. If you’re interested in signing up for a game, or want to run one of your own, please email us at pure.speculation@gmail.com to sign-up or give us details for your game.


2019 Tabletop Gaming

In addition to the scheduled games below, you can grab a board game from our collection to play with friends.
Slugblaster! (TTRPG Playtest) (Friday, 6-9pm, Merchant Hall)

Solder up your raygun, print some armor in your dad’s garage, grab your hoverboard, and watch out for meta-terrestrials as you try to make a name for yourself in the highly competitive, punk rock world of interdimensional action sports. It’s dangerous. It’s stupid. It’s got parent groups in a panic. And for the bored teenagers living in the small prairie town of Hillview, it’s the coolest thing ever. Perfect for beginners, everything you need to play will be provided. 4-6 players. Game Master: Mikey Hamm

Tales from the Loop (Friday, 5-9pm, Merchant Hall) Table Full!

In 1954, the Canadian government ordered the construction of the world’s largest particle accelerator. The facility was complete in 1969, located deep below the pastoral countryside of Parkland County. The local population called this marvel of technology The Loop. In this  game, you play teenagers in the late Eighties, solving Mysteries connected to the Loop. Choose between character Types such as the Bookworm, the Troublemaker, the Popular Kid and the Weirdo. Everyday Life is full of nagging parents, never-ending homework and classmates bullying and being bullied. The Mysteries let the characters encounter the strange machines and weird creatures that have come to haunt the countryside after the Loop was built. The kids get to escape their everyday problems and be part of something meaningful and magical – but also dangerous. 4 players Game Master: GoH Mike Perschon

All That I Am (Saturday, 10am-2pm, Merchant Hall)
In this occult horror, play as Renaissance heretics who face execution for a crime they absolutely did commit – the crime of selling their souls to demons. Will your newfound power be enough to save you from the flames? Up to 5 players, mostly-premade characters Game Master: Cat McDonald
Star Wars The Force Awakens Beginner Game (Saturday, 2:30-5:30pm, Merchant Hall)

The perfect entry into the Star Wars roleplaying experience for players of all skill levels, The Force Awakens Beginner Game introduces a complete, learn-as-you-go adventure that carries you from the sands of Jakku deep into the heart of a mystery that could change the course of the galaxy. You don’t need any previous knowledge of role-playing to get started. 3-5 players. Game Master: GoH Mike Perschon

Heroic Chord (Saturday, 2:30-6pm, Merchant Hall)

Under the Veldt, the remnants of the last war are sleeping, fitfully. Until you can work together, weave your magic, and put them to rest for good, the world will never belong to humanity again. Up to 4 players, premade characters. Game Master: Cat McDonald

2019 Panels and Demos – friday

The Ins and Outs of Anthologies (Friday 4:30, Multi-Purpose Room)

Have you ever wanted to edit an anthology? Wanted to learn the secrets of having your work accepted into one? Prolific anthologist, Rhonda Parrish, will walk you through her process for creating an anthology–from initial idea to publication–and offer some tips to maximize your chances of being included.

Northern Nerdcast Live! (Friday 4:30pm, Lounge)

Join Dan for a live recording of the Northern Nerdcast Podcast!

Author Incognito (Friday 5:30pm, Multi-Purpose Room)
…[A] rose / By any other name would smell as sweet. But what about an author publishing under a pen name? Is there some shady business afoot here? If a writer wants to publish and make their work known to the public at large, then why the nom de plume? Panelists discuss the ins and outs of sustaining an alternate professional identity, as well as the reasons for—and against. Panelists: S.G. Wong, Rhonda Parrish, Natasha Deen, Joseph Halden
#MeToo and the Witching Hour: Contemporary Feminist Discourse on Witchcraft in Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Time: Friday 5:30pm, Lounge)

This panel focuses on the intersections of current sociopolitical anxieties and how they relate back to Netflix’s new show. This panel only discusses episodes from season 1 so this presentation is spoiler free for season 2. Panelist: Dani Prince

Mommy, Where Do Indie Games Come From? (Friday 6:30pm, Multi-Purpose Room)

Join Cat McDonald of the Cat’s Cradle Podcast and Brent Jans of Renaissance Gamer for a look at indie TTRPGs, where they come from, and what the scene looks like today.

Interview with Rhonda Parrish (Friday 6:30pm, Lounge)

Spend some time getting to know Guest of Honour, Rhonda Parrish. Editor, author, anthologist and publisher, Rhonda juggles a lot of roles in this industry across several genres. Find out what the heck she’s thinking and why she calls herself a Hydra-slayer in this fun interview, conducted by Margaret Curelas.

Can We Still Love Buffy and Mal? (Friday 7:30pm, Multi-Purpose Rooms)
This panel will be a discussion of the work of Joss Whedon, now that he’s been outed as a misogynist. We’ll talk about blind spots in his world view that led to his being outed–and blind spots in the world view of fans (this includes me!) who loved his work. Plus more, of course. Panelists: Eileen Bell, Danica LeBlanc, Margaret Curelas
-punk’d: progressions (and digressions) in/of a genre (Friday 7:30pm, Lounge)

Cyberpunk. Steampunk. Post-cyberpunk. Bio-punk. Dieselpunk. Tidalpunk. Solarpunk. Lunarpunk? Hope-punk? Come and learn about the progression of these -punks (and maybe more!) as genres, learn about some of the -punks’ political and ethical leanings, and ponder their irregular entanglements with philosophies and aesthetics. What makes a genre worthy of the -punk suffix? Can any writing be -punk? Panelists: Ariel Kroon, Maxwell Dickeson

2019 Panels and Demos – saturday

Useful Troublemakers: Social Retrofuturism in the Novels of Gail Carriger and Cherie Priest (Saturday 10am, Multi-Purpose Room)

Steampunk’s retrofuturist gaze is almost uniformly associated with technology; consequently, steampunk retrofuturism rarely realizes the historical aspirations of the nineteenth century, which were often more concerned with social reform than building better steam-powered gizmos. While steampunk retrofuturism often takes the shape of dirigibles and clockwork automatons, it  has the potential to reimagine the social spaces of the past, as Cherie Priest and Gail Carriger’s steampunk novels do with women in the nineteenth century.  Panelist: GoH Mike Perschon

Interview with a (Small-v) Vampire (Saturday 10am, Lounge)
S.G. Wong is no Lestat, but she does share one very interesting characteristic with him and his ilk. Join interviewer Annette Wierstra and get acquainted with our Guest of Honour in this exuberant conversation about her imaginary worlds, what sparks her return to them time and time again, as well as a host of other topics about writing, publishing, being a working author while parenting, and anything else that might come to mind—including why this session title isn’t really a euphemism…
Apparition Proposition (Saturday 11am, Multi-Purpose Room)

Just about everyone LOVES a good ghost story—whether it’s fiction or not. Storytellers have used apparitions and spirits for centuries as metaphor and symbol in service to the grander tale. Why? What makes ghosts such useful literary devices? What makes them easy or difficult to write? Why are they so appealing to the literary imagination? Discover the highs and lows of writing apparitions as our panelists converse about how ghosts have helped and hindered their storytelling efforts. Panelists: S.G. Wong, Rhonda Parrish, Premee Mohamed, Eileen Bell

Genres: What the Heck are They Anyway? (Saturday 11am, Lounge)

Genre fiction is becoming more and more mainstream, but what is a genre anyway, and how useful are they as a producer of entertainment? The panel will discuss the presenter’s ideas of what makes a genre and what uses they serve. Panelist: Colin Neilson

Don’t Bother Me, I’m Reading! (Saturday Noon, Multi-Purpose Room)

This is for the introverts in the crowd. Get together in a quiet spot, and read from a selection of back issues of On Spec, Canada’s longest-running journal of the Fantastic. The copies are free for the taking when you leave! And an On Spec editor will be on hand in case you have any questions about the editing process. Moderator: Diane Walton

Your Focus Determines Your Reality: Star Wars, Canonicity, and Burning Down the Jedi Tree (Saturday Noon, Lounge)

Star Wars fans were enraged at Disney’s rejection of the Extended Universe of Star Wars, which included officially sanctioned novels, comics, and other tie-in narratives. Leland Chee is the keeper of the Holocron, the repository of all Star Wars lore, and he once said that so long as he is the keeper of the Holocron, there will never be a Star Wars reboot. How is it that a narrative about rebellion against an oppressive regime is so invested in controlling the way that story is mediated, and even stranger, why do its fans adhere to this control? Why are we so devoted to “the original version” that we can’t imagine any other, and if we do, we must relegate it to the status of “non-canonical”? This talk explores the nature of narrative canonicity and adaptation, particularly within the universe of George Lucas’s Star Wars franchise, but with broad application to other transmedia storyworlds such as the Marvel and DC Universes, the Harry Potter franchise, and others. Panelist: GoH Mike Perschon

Crossing the Streams (Saturday 1pm, Multi-Purpose Room)

Join our Guests of Honour—DnD gamers with varying degrees of experience as PCs and DMs—for this engaging conversation about the whys and hows of creating compelling backgrounds for DnD PCs. Moderator: Brent Jans

Don’t Bother Me–I’m Listening! (Saturday 1pm, Lounge)

Want a nice quiet spot to just sit and listen to someone read to you? On Spec managing editor Diane Walton reads her all-time favourite OS story, “Muffin Explains Teleology to the Universe at Large” by James Alan Gardner. This will be an introvert friendly zone.

Continuity? What Continuity? (Saturday 2pm, Lounge)

A look at Star Trek and the ongoing debate over newer incarnations of the franchise. With members of the USS Bonaventure Edmonton Speculative Fiction Society.

Plotting Characters (Saturday 2pm, Multi-Purpose Room)

Ever hear someone disparage certain genres for being “plot-driven” as opposed to “character-driven”..? S.G. Wong strongly believes this opposition isn’t necessary. This hands-on workshop takes participants through exercises designed to create compelling and plausible plots using detailed character creation. It’ll be a whirlwind session with lots of ideas and practice, so bring your WIP, your best ideas, and whatever you need to write or type.

Hit Me With Your Best Shot (Saturday 3pm, Multi-Purpose Room)

Violence on the page is just another tool in any writer’s kit—or is it? Where do writers draw the line when it comes to depicting violence in their work? Does it matter who does violence? Or upon whom? Who gets to say that a line is even required? Come listen to writers in different genres, and at different points in their respective careers, in thoughtful conversation about the ways which violence impacts their work. Panelists: S.G. Wong, Rhonda Parrish, Krista D. Ball, Eileen Bell

So You Want to Make a Written Language? (Saturday 3pm, Lounge)

Some make up writing systems to unite nations or guard precious secrets. Others because writing is pretty and fun to play with (*cough cough* that would be your presenter, Thea van Diepen). Whatever your reason, we’ll talk about the different kind of writing systems beyond – it’s not just alphabets! – tips for making your letters and symbols look like something people would actually write, and whatever questions you have. May you fall in love with what you find!

Eclipse Fusion (Saturday 4-5:30pm, Multi-Purpose Room)

Eclipse Fusion is coming to Pure Spec to share their unique style of bellydance and creative process. This panel will include dance demos, costuming, musicality, and the creative process they follow, as well as a beginner dance tutorial. Whether you’re here for the bling and glitter, to expand your performance knowledge, or to further your conquest of the galaxy, there’s something here for everyone! (disclaimer: there will be no Infinity Stones at this panel) Panelists: Megan Gaines, Anita Bahry, Carla Noble, and Lavinia

Krista D. Ball: Readings and Questions and Answers (Saturday 4pm, Lounge)

Join Krista D. Ball as she reads from two of her latest works: her collection of essays entitled Appropriately Aggressive; and the first book in her new series The Ladies Occult Society, entitled A Magical Inheritance, a novel of magic and manners. There will also be a Q&A session.

Ripple Effect (Saturday 5pm, Lounge)
Like a stone landing in a pool of water, the flexion point in any alternate history story decides so much for the writer. How does technology or magic or science progress past this point in the alternate history? What about cultural mores and societal trends? Join our panelists for a lively discussion about the whens and wherefores of creating compelling, plausible alternate histories and how they serve their characters and the larger story. Panelists: S.G. Wong, Rhonda Parrish, Marty Chan