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Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Confluence 2011 - a con review

Sorry for the long break between posts. The sad reality is that when you read and craft as much as I do it's hard to remember to put everything down and write about all of it! I promise I'll do better in the future...

Confluence is the annual science-fiction/ fantasy writers and readers convention in western PA, organized by members of Parsec, the area's sci-fi/fantasy organization. The event features panel discussions, readings, signings, concerts among other offerings. It's one of the smaller (and more enduring) conventions in the genre, but it is also highly praised by the author guests for it's friendly atmosphere. Parsec members present a play each year, as well as organizing an art show and sale, there is a yearly writing contest and special sessions for members of Alpha, the young writers development program coached by authors affiliated with Parsec. (And bravo to them for the Alpha program!!)

This year's fiction theme "Last Contact" was developed into a winning story by Matthew James, who detailed an encounter between an invader from the ocean and an everyday guy trying to save his species. Next year's theme is "The Morning After", and I'll be happy to pass entry information on to any interested writers.

The brightest points were, of course, the authors. I don't want to neglect any of these lovely, lovely, wonderful people but I can't cover everyone so here are a few notes on the brightest stars:

Lawrence C Connolly was a sharp panelist and moderator, I ended up sitting in a few panels I was iffy on because he was speaking. I liked what he talked about enough to buy the second book in his Veins Cycle. I'd like to review it here, but I feel like I will be doing a disservice to the book if I don't go back and read the first book in the cycle so I can figure out the plot. For now I promise he's a writer that horror readers will love. He's also wordsmith, and aspiring writers will benefit from studying his crisp style.

Geoffrey Landis and Mary Turzillo were the heart of the Vogon poetry writing session, and Mary hunted me down after the session broke up to get me a copy of the poem in the correct format for my computer. Geoffrey is another of those speakers who endlessly fascinates me and draws me into otherwise boring panels. Geoffrey and Mary both write science fiction and poetry and both are award winners (Nebula, Hugo...the big ones)

John Alfred Taylor is just super. I don't know how to explain it, he's funny, he's weird, he's got a fantastic t-shirt collection. Go to Pseudopod.com and listen to one of his short horror stories.

Michael Swanwick is a science fiction fantasy author whom I am sad to say I haven't read. (I'm working on it!!) He was the only speaker I took notes on. Brilliant.

Finally, the entire crew at Fortress Publishing Inc deserves both my acclaim and a big hug. Brian Koscienski and Chris Pisano write themselves into science fiction and horror stories, their reading had me laughing so hard I was tearing up. Soon, they will be signing at Eljay's, so stay tuned for more on that as it develops! For now you'll have to content yourself by buying a copy of their book at Eljay's.

The con had a few weirdly lined-up panels and some less than enthusiastic moderators (and one panel that was a string of little arguments between two panelists....including one on the validity of dowsing) but overall the speakers were so smart and interesting that even the panels that wandered entirely off topic had something interesting to offer.

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