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!

Miscellaneous Goings On

We’ve talked about the big things happening at Pure Spec: the panels, the demos, artists and vendors, and the oh-so-important parties! And you might think that would be it, we couldn’t possibly fit more in one-and-a half days of festival. Lucky for us all, you would be wrong. So here are few more things to look out for at Pure Spec this year, when you have time between panels.

Open Gaming Tables

While tabletop gaming isn’t one of our focuses any longer, it’s still an important part of nerd culture. Plus tabletop gaming gives you something to do when you need a break from the panels, or even instead of panels. Elements Games Collectibles & Apparel has graciously agreed to look after our open gaming area, and they’ll have a library of games for you try out with your friends (and possibly purchase afterward, if you like it).

As well, we’re lucky enough to have a demos for a brand new RPG by an Edmonton creator. On Saturday Adam Tuttle will be set-up in the gaming area to demo sessions of his new game Race of Man RPG. You can sit in on the Noon or 3pm session, enjoy a new game, and give Adam your feedback.

Silent Auction

Our silent auction table will be set-up in the main hall, with proceeds going to support the Pure Speculation Festival Society. We’ve assembled an impressive collection of items for you to bid on, ranging from bundles of goodies from On Spec Magazine to Star Wars and Star Trek collectibles. There’s a little something for everyone, and the silent auction is a great way to get something cool and nerdy, and support the festival at the same time. Bidding will start on Friday and cut-off at 5pm Saturday, when the winning bids will be announced.

Open Mic

We’ll have a microphone set-up in the main hall. If you are so inclined, please use it to talk nerdy to us: read a passage from your favourite sci-fi or fantasy work, read us something you’ve been working on, sing us a song, whatever you’d like to share. When deciding what to share, please do keep in mind there may very well be children present; maybe keep the f-bombs in the f-firecracker range. To show you how it’s done and as an extension of one of our panels, there will be hourly readings from the work of Zenna Henderson (if these readings pique your interest, check out the panel at 4pm on Saturday).


The venue has a beautiful kitchen available, and while we won’t be doing much in the way of cooking this year, we will have a concession running all weekend long. Besides the usual assortment of soda, chips, and candy, we’ll also have coffee, tea, some cold treats to beat the (hopefully) warm weather. And while the cereal is mostly for the Saturday Morning Cartoons, if we have any left I’m certain we could scare you up a bowl later on. Speaking of cartoons…

Saturday Morning Cartoons

This is definitely for the nerds who want to get an early start on the Festival. Join us at 8am Saturday morning in the Lounge for all-you-can eat cereal and cartoon watching. We took a poll over at the Pure Spec group on Facebook, and it looks like we’ll be watching some Gargoyles, Looney Tunes, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Animaniacs, and Clone High. Yes, some of those are not technically Saturday morning cartoons, but hey, why be picky? Time permitting, we may sneak in a surprise cartoon show or two as well. All-you-can eat cereal is $4, and includes coffee or tea. And because I know someone will ask: the cereal ends when the cartoons do (believe me, I’m sad about that, too).


So that’s a few of the things we have going on at the Festival, that don’t involve panels. It’s all part of the free admission to the Festival, so we hope you’ll come down for an hour or all day, and bask in the warm glow of Edmonton nerdery!

Party Like It’s…Well, 2017!

If Pure Spec is nothing else, it’s a celebration of Edmonton’s nerdery. And what would a celebration be without a party? Would it be more awesome with two parties? Good, because we happen to have two parties.

Friday night, the Opening Night Party starts at 8pm in the main hall. This party features the geeky belly dance creations of Eclipse Fusion, keynote addresses from our Guests of Honour, and a high-energy lightsabre forms performance from Echo Base Temple. I’ll also yak for a bit about the festival, but hey, you can always get up and hit the cash bar around then. We’ll have some hors d’oeuvres available, and the concession will also stay open in case you get the munchies later on. This is also the perfect time to peruse the Silent Auction table and sneak in some bids.

Photo by Bastard Photography

Saturday night, the Concert Party also starts at 8pm, also in the main hall. The evening will feature a concert by Guest of Honour Vanessa Cardui, as well as a Trivia Contest with cash and other prizes. Again, there will be some closing remarks from me; see earlier note about hitting the cash bar. We’ll have more hors d’oeuvres and the concession will also be available.

We are trying something new at this year’s Pure Spec parties, and I hope it becomes an annual tradition. Conceived of by local nerd and friend of the festival Devin Bruce, Pure Spec’s very own cocktail, The Grand Nagus, will debut at out parties this year. We’ll serve both an alcohol and non- version so nobody has to miss out on the fun.  You’ll have to come to the parties to find out what’s in it (you know how the Ferengi guard their trade secrets) but we promise* either version will be a delicious summer treat.

Due to the cash bar, both parties are strictly 18+ only. We’re working on making them all-ages next year, but for this year, no minors.

Short and sweet this time. So short and so sweet, I’ll be back with another post tomorrow. Talk to you then, Spectacles!

*From the Ferengi: The word “promise” is not used in any legally binding matter. Price of the drink is non-refundable.

Calling All Volunteers!

Volunteers are the life-blood of community conventions and festivals. Look around at any of the nerd-related cons in Edmonton, whether it’s GOBfest, Animethon, KefCon, IntrigueCon or others. If you took away the volunteers, none of those events could function. The cost of having to hire employees to fill volunteer roles would make these types of events impossible for any not-for-profit group. And Pure Spec is no different.

Granted, at the smaller end of Edmonton’s nerd events we don’t have a huge volunteer footprint. But we still need them, and we still love them. Let’s face it, anyone crazy enough to come help me put on a day-and-a-half long festival of geekdom is aces in my books!

Of course it’s easy to say we love our volunteers. But we can’t just talk about it, we have to show it. So our volunteers get a chance to win some extra special swag, as well as a few items given to all the volunteers. Our volunteers also benefit from our festival-long Muffins for Minions™ program, which ensures no volunteer is without a muffin if they want one (we wouldn’t force muffins on our volunteers, that would be cruel). And throughout the rest of the year we plan to hold one or two volunteer-only events, to say thank-you and to get to know our volunteers a bit better.

So if swag, muffins, and our undying love which will outlast the sun all sound cool, you might be wondering how you can get on-board. Conveniently we have created an online form that allows you to tell us a bit about yourself, as well as when and how you’d like volunteer. We need volunteers to help out at Registration, work the concession (no cooking required), monitor panel rooms, and help out with any odd jobs that come up. Shifts are broken up into 2-hour blocks, which allows a lot of flexibility.

And if you’ve ever thought about wanting to help us out organizing events throughout the year, or even helping to organize the festival, volunteering with us is a great way to start. If I’m looking for folks to help out, I tend to start with the people who have already stepped up for us; at least then I know you’ve got some enthusiasm for what we’re doing.

If none of this has scared you away, and you’d like to help us throw a great nerdy celebration in a few weeks, please fill out the on-line form. And if you have any questions about volunteering, or anything else about the festival, drop me a line at

Your muffin is waiting.