I spent the weekend at the Conference on Canadian Content in Speculative Arts and Literature, more commonly known as Can-Con. It is a relatively small – but high quality – science fiction and fantasy (and horror and more) convention held in Ottawa every October. I’ve been attending for a number of years and it is one of my favorites and not merely because I’ve been a Guest of Honour there in the past. It’s always great to see old friends and meet a few new ones.
The convention has a fairly serious tone with a lot of discussion of the history and future of speculative fiction, discussion of current trends in the field and lots of advice for budding writers as well as a lot of entertaining content for fans. It has a strong academic track, as well, with scientists and academics from local universities presenting on diverse topics such as the history of space travel to the guide to the culture of Venice (vital to those writing historical fantasy). There is also a long running – and highly hilarious – paper airplane competition and plenty of readings from authors from Ottawa and much farther afield.
And of course there is a dealers’ room where you can buy books, jewelry, books, artwork, specialty coffees and, of course, books. As the publisher and managing editor of Bundoran Press I particularly appreciate the book selling part of that.
This year we – that is, the Press which consists of me, my wife, Liz Westbrook-Trenholm and partner, Mike Rimar – hosted a party where we launched two books: an anthology of stories from around the world about Second Contacts – what happens 50 years after first contact — and a novel, Falcon’s Egg, by the Convention’s Author Guest of Honour, Edward Willett from Saskatchewan.
I spent a lot of my time this weekend sitting on panels, talking about the editorial process with Trevor Quachri, editor of Analog Science Fiction and Fact, Gabrielle Harbowry, editor of Dragon Moon Press and various other editors and authors. It was both entertaining and enlightening. Even after 30 years of going to SF conventions, I still learn something new about the business every time I go to one of these events. My list of things to do just got a lot longer based on the new things all the members of Bundoran Press learned this weekend.
I particularly liked talking about how I’m finally beginning to see the results of the last three years. When I bought the company, I decided to focus our company on a particular branch of speculative fiction, that is science fiction (rather than fantasy and so on) and particularly SF with a political bent. My colleagues and many of my readers now clearly know what it means to say that THIS is a Bundoran Press book. While focusing on a specific type of book has its risks, it also has its advantages. We have become a brand and those who like that brand seem to like it a lot.
Besides, as they say, you can’t please everyone, so you might as well please yourself. And these days, I’m pretty pleased with the books we publish and the work we do.
And that’s ten minutes.