Pure Spec 2019 is Nigh!

Pure Speculation is nigh! This Friday marks the Festival’s fifteenth year celebrating nerdery in Edmonton, and we’re excited to see everyone!

The panel and demo schedule is up now, and while there are always last minute adjustments it should remain pretty solid. There are some excellent panels you won’t want to miss. Our Guests of Honour are bringing you some truly exciting discussions and presentations. And all the panels surrounding the GoH presentations are strong, presented by local nerd experts.

And for the first time in a while, we have tabletop role-playing back at the Festival. You can sit in and play with our GoH Mike Perschon, or check out a game by local RPG designers Mikey Hamm and Cat Mcdonald. If you’d like to play in any of them we recommend emailing us to book your seat (pure.speculation@gmail.com), but you can certainly show up and take your chances. There will also be board games for you to grab and play if you just need to pass time between panels.

As well, Peter Daly from the Edmonton Reptile & Amphibian Society will join us to display some delightful creatures. This is their second year at the Festival, and we love having them and their animals out for folks to see and learn about. As we mention elsewhere, because they are displaying their animals we can’t allow outside animals into the Festival, excepting service animals.

A special treat for us and you: we overlap Dine the Ave this year! The 118th Avenue area has some great restaurants, and Dine the Ave gives you some great deals at those places. So if you love nerdery and food, this is your chance to visit with us and then drop in at your favourite (or brand new) eatery to enjoy some of Edmonton’s best food.

Everything is shaping up to be a great Festival this year! I hope we’ll see you out, and if you have any questions in the meantime, you can catch us at pure.speculation@gmail.com.

See you Friday!

Get Ready!

Hello, Spectacles! With Pure Speculation 2019 a few scant weeks away, I wanted to thank everyone who is taking part in the festival this year! We have an amazing day-and-a-half planned for you all, and I think you’re going to have a great time.

First, a big thank-you to our three Guests of Honour for 2019: Rhonda Parrish, Mike Perschon, and S.G. Wong.  I could gush for paragraphs about how amazing a trio of creativity they are. But I don’t have to because you’ll have a chance to see for yourself at the festival! Their panels are up on the 2019 Panels & Demos page. In addition, you’ll have a chance to play some role-playing games with Mike (and other area GMs) in our tabletop area in the Merchant Hall.

In addition to panels and events with our GoH, we have a line-up of other excellent panels, demos, and special events from community members. You can see some of them on the 2019 Panels & Demos page, with more coming. And we have room for a few more, so if you’d still like to present something at Pure Spec this year, please fill out the Panel/Event Proposal Form. Space is filling fast, though, so please don’t wait too much longer.

We also still have some tables available in our Merchant Hall! This has always been a popular part of the festival, getting nerdy artists, merchants, and social groups from around Edmonton in touch with all of you. You can check our current line-up on the webpage, and if you’d like to book a table of your own, please fill out the Vendor Registration Form. We’d love to have you!

Last but not least, a huge shout-out to our volunteers, all of whom help us run the festival smoothly and safely. This is a great option if you’d like to get a bit more hands on with your festival experience, and you can volunteer for as little as two hours. We have some excellent perks for our volunteers as well, which you can check out on the Volunteering page. There you’ll also find the form you need to fill out to volunteer for this year’s festival.

I’d also like to give a big thank-you to the Alberta Avenue Community League for hosting us again this year. They are a wonderful and accommodating community hall, and have been a great home for the festival for the last three years.

Check back on Friday, when I’ll talk about more about some special events we have going on at the festival this year! And as always, if you have any questions please contact us at pure.speculation@gmail.com.

Thank You

As I write this, it’s the Monday after the 2018 Pure Speculation Festival.

It’s always bittersweet when the festival closes for another year. I’ve poured so much energy into this event and I am equal parts proud and humbled when it comes off. It’s this thing I’ve helped shape that exists for a day and a half, and then is gone. And the hole it leaves when it passes surprises me every year.

Maybe it shouldn’t though. Getting to spend a weekend with the Edmonton nerd community, sharing the things we love all together in one space like that, those opportunities are rare. Missing that when it’s over shouldn’t be surprising at all, and yet here I am.

This year, though, I’m not feeling the absence as strongly. For me this year’s festival marked a turning point for the festival. During the times I got to walk the floor, and in the panels I sat, the festival felt more energized than it had in previous years. More than I have at any previous event I really felt attendees coming together as a community. Attendance was up this year, but it was more than just having extra bodies in the space (though I will never complain about more people coming out, believe me). This year I really felt like folks were getting the type of event we’re trying to present, and that’s a good feeling. It fills me with hope for the future of the festival, and the future of our geeky community in Edmonton.

As I said several times during the festival I don’t do this alone, and so I have so many people to thank.

First and foremost, a huge thank-you to our volunteers who stepped up and helped us keep the festival running smoothly. Every one of them made the work of running a successful event a little less like work. A special thank-you to the Klingons of IKV Swifthawk who provided our security. This marks the first time our security had to do a little bit more than wander and look imposing, and they stepped up admirably.

Thank-you to the vendors and artists, returning and new, who filled out our main hall this year. It never ceases to amaze me at the sheer number of talented people who live here and do nerdy, artistic things. I’m thrilled that so many of you join us for this celebration; as much as anything else at the festival, folks come to see you. And well they should.

Thank-you to all our panelists and demonstrators, another major part of the festival’s attraction. Every year I’m excited to see what will show up in our panel proposals, and you never let me down, Edmonton nerds! We covered such a broad range of topics this year, funny to serious, sci-fi to fantasy, and every blend in between. And though it’s a low bar as these things go, we didn’t just have gender parity this year, we had an almost 2:1 ratio of women/non-binary presenters to male presenters. Probably the single best thing about that ratio? It felt good and normal, so normal that no one commented on it during the festival itself. While I have plans to improve our inclusivity, I’m very proud of the strides we’ve taken.

And how can I adequately thank our Guests of Honour, Krista D. Ball, Candas Jane Dorsey, and Sam Maggs? Asking someone to be a Guest of Honour is basically saying, “You are the face of the festival this year”. I would have been happy to have any one of these three amazing women as the face of Pure Speculation; getting all three of them at once was a dream team. Based on the reactions from attendees I know you all agree with me. Thank-you from the bottom of my heart for coming out to share your time and thoughts with the Edmonton community.

Thank-you to our sponsors, new, old, and returning. On Spec Magazine has supported us from the beginning in ways I can’t count, and that support has been valued. Edmonton Nerd List returned as a sponsor this year, and in Kelly Froese we get a sponsor just as excited by all the nerdy goings on in Edmonton as we are. And of course, our new sponsor in the City of Edmonton, helping us to fit into the community of Alberta Avenue.

A big thank-you to Mike Kendrick of Ironclad Folly, for his excellent work on the art for this year’s poster, and the next year’s as well. He took my ideas of “building something together” and “taking a journey together” and ran with them, and I’m thrilled with the results.

Thank-you seems too small a word to give my fellow organizers, and yet they deserve it perhaps most of all. Every year they come on this mad little journey with me, shouldering a great deal of the burden, and with so little complaint it humbles me. We are looking for a few more folks to join their ranks, but know that you have some stellar examples to live up to.

And finally, I want to thank the community. We do this festival for you, and ultimately couldn’t do it without you. You bring your enthusiasm and energy to this festival, and you are all of you an invaluable part of this event every year. I hope you’ll keep taking the journey with us.

We’re all going to take a little break, and then start updating things for next year. Look for updates to show up relatively soon. In the meantime, thank-you, and enjoy your summer, Edmonton nerds!

O, for a Voice Like Thunder!

It’s just under two weeks until the Pure Speculation Festival kicks off for 2018! Our event schedule is up along with all the panel and demo descriptions. Our Vendor Hall is full again, and we have a wonderful array of new and returning merchants and artists for you to check out. The festival recently chose YESS as our new charity partner, and we have some amazingly fun and easy ways for you to donate to them. There’s an open gaming area, the back garden area is open to just relax and watch some demonstrations, and we have the Edmonton Reptile & Amphibian Society joining us this year with their interactive display. And it all wraps up with the return of the Internerd BBQ Saturday night. There’s going to be so much for you to see and do this year, so much wonderful stuff on display from our community, I’m honestly excited to show it all off!

So this is where I ask all of you for a little help. If you’re reading this, you probably spend at least a little time on social media. I would love to see as many folks posting about the festival on social media over the next few weeks as possible! If you’re on Twitter, tweet about something you’re excited to see at the festival and use the hashtag #PureSpec2018 so we can see it and share it. If you use Facebook, consider sharing the Event so your fellow nerds hear about it. In these final few weeks we not only want to make sure we spread the word about the festival, but keep it firmly in people’s eye so they don’t forget about it in all the noise online.

And we’ll be doing our part, tweeting and posting from now until the doors open (and all weekend long as well). So if you see any of those posts, please share them and help us spread the word!

In short, while we here at the festival can shout loud, all of you together can shout much louder! So lend us your voices like thunder, and let’s make sure everyone knows about the Pure Speculation Festival!

Internerd Returns!

A while ago Pure Spec helped host and organize a BBQ in Hawrelak Park for various nerd groups around Edmonton. It was a potluck, casual affair, where the many flavours of Edmonton geekdom could get together, maybe toss around a Frisbee, play some games, eat BBQ, and hang out in the fresh air for a while. A few years back, however, we stopped organizing it because we just didn’t have the organizer bandwidth to carry it out any more.

So I am delighted to report that the Internerd BBQ will return at the 2018 Pure Speculation Festival! Saturday night, starting at 6pm, we’ll move the festivities to the Alberta Avenue Hall’s back garden. Everyone at the festival is invited: attendees, volunteers, panelists, vendors, everyone. This is your chance to relax with your fellow nerds after an already great weekend of nerdery. And if you couldn’t make it to anything else, arguably this is an event not to miss.

We’ll supply the hot dogs (and veggie dogs) for free, condiments, paper plates, and napkins, and our concession and bar will be open for business. The rest of the food will be potluck, in the spirit of our past Internerds, so if you want to contribute feel free to bring a dish to share for about 8-10 people. We encourage you to sign-up with what you’re bringing, so we can avoid having twenty bags of the same chips, or one bag of chips and nineteen different dips.

We’ll also have some entertainment for you, and the Second Annual Pure Speculation Ultimate SF&F Quiz (this year with a trophy for the winner and prizes for the top three finishers). If you took part in last year’s SF&F Quiz you know it’s going to be a tough one, so start brushing up on your lore now.

Seating is extremely limited in the garden, as no indoor chairs can be used on the lawn. We’ll have a space indoors to sit and eat, but if you’d rather sit outside in the fresh air please bring a lawnchair or blanket for sitting.

As always, if you have any questions about our events, shoot us a message. We’d love to hear from you!

Spring has Sprung and So Have We!

In case you missed any of the posts on Facebook, we are back, Edmonton! We’re busy gearing up for June as we speak, and this year is going to be a huge celebration of Edmonton’s science fiction and fantasy nerdery! We have new events coupled with the return of some old favourites (Internerd BBQ, anyone?), all packed together in the Alberta Avenue Community Hall. And attendance is still free.

We are still looking for folks to take part and help us put on a great celebration. There are many ways to get involved:

Volunteer: Our volunteers are the backbone of the festival, and we couldn’t do what we do without them. If you’d like to help out, even for just a few hours, consider filling out the volunteer form and joining our team!

Panelist or Presenter: Have a nerdy topic you want to talk about? Are you an author looking to show off your work to an appreciative crowd? Have a geeky talent you’d like to demonstrate or teach? We want you! Fill out the event proposal form and let us know something about yourself and your event idea, and become part of the celebration!

Artist or Vendor: Do you make or sell something local nerds will love? We want to hear from you! Fill out the vendor application form and secure your spot in our Merchant Hall. (Hurry! Of the 25 available spots, only 8 are currently left, and that number may drop very soon!)

And of course the last, and arguably the best, way to be part of the festival is to attend! Grab some friends and come on down, have lunch, take in a panel or two, play a game, see some demos, get your face painted, pick up some nerdy swag and books…there is so much to do, packed into a day-and-a-half.

In the meantime, keep checking the website for updates. And look for our posters, popping up all over Edmonton.

Done and Done!

The Goblin King (Peter Daly) serenades the crowd on our open mic. Photo courtesy of Ron Sannachan.

Pure Speculation Festival 2017 is in the can for another year, and myself and the other organizers are taking a well deserved rest. But don’t worry, we’ll be back at it soon enough with the first of our smaller events coming at the end of September.

Thank-yous are in order, many, many thank-yous. This festival could not happen without the involvement of many people, so I want to take a moment to thank:

  • The vendors and artists who filled our main hall, and took a chance that our little festival would be a worthwhile venture for them. Several of you have told me that the weekend was successful for you, which is gratifying. More so, a few of you have already asked for tables next year, so thank-you for that;
  • (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.

    Our Guests of Honour: Ann Marston, Barb Galler-Smith, and Vanessa Cardui. The three of them were the jewels in a somewhat rough hewn crown, and I’m so pleased that we were able to feature them this year;

  • Our panelists, who took the time to fill our empty rooms with shared nerdery;
  • Our good friends of the Festival, On Spec Magazine and Edmonton Nerd List, for being so active and vocal in your support of our event. It means the world that On Spec is still with us, and that Nerd List whole-heartedly embraced us;
  • The volunteers who helped the festival run smoothly. We hope the muffins and the fun made it worth while, and I owe you all a volunteer thank-you party (details coming soon);
  • Let the duels commence! Parasol dueling at Pure Spec. Photo courtesy of Ron Sannachan.

    To the Alberta Avenue Community League for hosting us amidst their renovations. We were very happy in our new home, and I look forward to next year with anticipation;

  • To my fellow organizers. Thank-you for the hard work, especially once we arrived at the venue. You should all be proud of this thing we built together;
  • And finally, a huge thank-you to everyone who came out to enjoy the festival, took in some panels, bought something in the dealer hall, maybe picked up a membership. This festival is all for you, and I cannot tell you how gratifying it is that so many of you came out and enjoyed the event. I hope we continue to give you a festival you can enjoy for many years to come.

Stay tuned, Spectacles! We have plenty more nerdery to share with you through the year.

The Final Countdown

The Festival Chair in more care-free days…

Three days! Three short days… Whoo, is the room spinning for anyone else?

Seriously, we’re looking forward to the festival and we’re excited to run it for the first time during the summer. Not having to factor snow-fall into our planning has made a big difference (though it’s the prairies, so who knows). The weather this weekend is looking good, and even if the projected showers happen, it will still be a mostly sunny day that is not, and I cannot stress this enough, below zero.

We’ve updated the schedule and the website, and have been diligently working behind the scenes putting everything in place for this weekend. If you haven’t checked things out in a while, I recommend taking another look so you don’t accidentally miss anything.

In the first of many thank-yous, I want to say thank-you to our organizers and volunteers. Without the involvement of our volunteers in both the planning and execution of the festival, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do. We’re still looking for a few more volunteers just to round out the schedule for this year, so if you’re interested in helping out and getting in on the Muffins for Minions(TM) program, please fill out our Volunteer form. We’ll put you to work!

Thank-you to our Guests of Honour: Ann Marston, Barb Galler-Smith and Vanessa Cardui. We’re truly happy to have you join our us and let yourself be the focal point of the celebration. Thank-you to all the panelists and community groups which are joining us to show-off their knowledge and skills, the festival wouldn’t be very festive without you. Thank-you to our artists and merchants for bringing their work to the festival, and taking a chance on a small fan-run event (we are working toward being a larger fan-run event, so we hope you’ll stick with us).

And thank-you to all of you, who are planning to come out and enjoy the fun! I’m excited to meet all of you; I’ll be the big, blonde guy who constantly looks concerned about something. Also I have a badge with my name, so there’s that. And while you are welcome to bring any issues you have the the Registration table, you can also track me down if you want to talk. I’ll give you as much time as I can, and if I’m in the middle of something else, I’ll at least set some time to talk with you later.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. Otherwise I’ll see you at the Festival!

Pure Spec on Northern Nerd!

If you missed us live last night, I sat down with the gang from Northern Nerd to talk about SDCC movie trailers, and everything Pure Speculation. It’s always a good time when I get to talk with them, and you should definitely show them some subscription love if you want to stay on top of nerdiness around Edmonton.

You’ll likely see them roaming around the festival filming this and that. Make sure to say hello!