SFContario Announces Two-Year Hiatus

After people questioned its dormant social media and with just three weeks left before the con was schedule to begin, SFContario announced on Facebook today they have cancelled the 2018 con and will also skip 2019.

The main issue is money. Two issues affect us. Hotel rental has increased by more than 40% in Toronto since our first event in 2010. Membership numbers were below expectations last year, and we just don’t have cash in the bank to cover deposits this year. We need to recapitalize to come back to the convention scene.

They also say it has been a difficult year personally for some of the fans on the committee.

The con had been planned for November 16-18 in Toronto.

We also apologize to our community for the delay in announcing this news. We’ve tried for a while to find a workable solution to financial issues. After that, we faced difficulty getting our core committee together at the same time to have a conversation on how to proceed; this discussion really has only begun and we have a lot to work through.

…We are taking a hiatus of at least two years as we reorganize and plan for the future. It takes about eighteen months to plan a convention from scratch and we don’t see ourselves getting this sorted out by next spring.

They have offered to reimburse memberships on request, or roll them over to their next event.

2015 Prix Aurora Awards

Aurora Award

Aurora Award

The 2015 Prix Aurora Awards were presented November 22 at Canvention 35, hosted by SFContario 6 in Toronto.

Best English Novel

  •  A Play of Shadow by Julie E. Czerneda, DAW Books

Best English YA Novel


  • Lockstep by Karl Schroeder, Tor Books
  • Out of This World by Charles de Lint, Razorbill Canada

Best English Short Fiction

  • “Crimson Sky” by Eric Choi, Analog, July/August

Best English Poem/Song

  • “A Hex, With Bees” by Tony Pi, Wrestling With Gods: Tesseracts Eighteen, EDGE

Best English Graphic Novel

  • It Never Rains by Kari Maaren, Webcomic

Best English Related Work

  • On Spec published by the Copper Pig Writers’ Society

Best Artist

  • Dan O’ Driscoll, covers for Bundoran Press and On Spec magazine

Best Fan Publication

  • Speculating Canada edited by Derek Newman-Stille

Best Fan Music

  • Kari Maaren, YouTube Channel

Best Fan Organizational

  • Sandra Kasturi, Chair, Chiaroscuro Reading Series: Toronto

Best Fan Related Work

  • Derek Newman-Stille, Speculating Canada on Trent Radio 92.7 FM

The voting statistics [PDF file] are available. A total of 173 ballots were cast.

(While Brian Z. doubtless would prefer to see William Gibson’s The Peripheral as the winner, he can feel justified by its finishing a close second to the Czerneda novel, 58-54.)

[Via John Scalzi.]

Taral: Three’s A Charm

By Taral Wayne: It had gotten so difficult for me to get to SFContario that, when November rolled around and it was time for the third year’s con, I had decided not to attend. My plans were thwarted, however, by the announcement that Chris Garcia was the Fan Guest of Honour in 2012. I had always wanted an opportunity to spend some time with Chris, since both times I’ve met him it was impossible to make him sit still long enough to talk to. So, I went to SFC anyway, despite expecting to have a thoroughly miserable time.

In fact, I did have a thoroughly miserable time … but it was the travel to and from the convention that was the source of it. Two hours each way, with three connections. By day the traffic getting downtown was impossible. The driver actually warned the passengers, still quite some distance from the subway entrance, that progress would be so slow and that we might prefer to get out and walk the rest of the way!

All in all, I spent one hour in transit for every one I was at the con.

Under the circumstances, I think you’ll understand why I skipped Sunday. Anyway, people customarily leave early Sunday, and all I was likely to miss was the dead dog. Compared to the prospect of a long sleep, and no public transit, there was no doubt in my mind I made the right decision.

For the first two years, I felt SFContario was a little too small and maybe a bit pokey, but this year I enjoyed myself virtually every moment. Whether that’s entirely because the con had reached critical mass or not, I’m not sure. Partly, I may just have been in a more receptive mood. But I felt welcomed from the start, recognized more faces and found more things to say to them. I ran into one of the guests, Jon Singer, almost immediately and caught up with many, many years since we had last seen each another. I had arrived late enough to miss all the programming, thankfully, and could ease into partying mode right away.

Saturday was much the same. I arrived late, in spite of trying to arrive earlier. But among other delays, that day there was a police incident on the streetcar. I barely walked into the con in time for my scheduled program event at 6.

The panel was on fanzines and fanzine writing, and the other participants were Chris Garcia (the moderator), Neil Jamieson-Williams and myself. Colin Hinz joined us late, after the panel began. The audience wasn’t large, but it was attentive and friendly, which is half the battle. When I posted photos on Facebook that night, I described Chris as “The Wild Man of Fandom” — which is too self-evident to need explanation. Neil I described as the “Punk Academic of Fandom,” which does need explanation. Neil is a sociologist who feels a duty to describe fandom to itself in ways that make anthropologists happy, using words like “matriliteral,” “polyfrenetic,” and “diverse etherealcentrism,” which mean little more than we already know about ourselves but are vastly more educated. But he also publishes a fanzine using a type font that literally cannot be read, and consciously rejecting any illustration or layout tricks that would make the experience of reading “Swill” more pleasurable – a “punk” attitude if ever there was. I captioned myself in the photo as “Supreme Being of Fandom,” a truism you need not question. Since Colin came late, he wasn’t in the shot and has no caption.

I thought the panel was more successful than most I’ve been on. We seemed to know what we wanted to say, said it, didn’t repeat each other, but avoided name-calling and fisticuffs throughout. Afterward, the audience had a few questions that we did our best to answer.

Someone else will have to write about the other programming. I believe there was some. Arriving as late as I did, I never saw the artshow or dealers room either, though the program book assures me that SFContario had one of each. For me, it was once again party time.

Highlights among the parties were the Detroit NASFiC bid, the Kansas City in 2016 and Spokane in 2015 Worldcon bids, the birthday bash for Yvonne Penney and the festivities in Robert J. Sawyer’s room (both nights). Also notable, but not for everyone, was the Mike Glicksohn Memorial poker game. I found Chris Garcia, David Clink (a poet), Carolyn Clink (rob Sawyer’s wife) and several others deeply immersed in their poker faces when I arrived to take a picture. Okay … in reality they were laughing and gesticulating like madmen, and I didn’t see a poker face among them.

For me, the highlight of the con was Saturday night, when I bought a funny hat from the Kansas City bid people. It was a dapper little number in black and pinstripes just like Sammy Davis Jr. used to wear, and was supposed to remind one of gangsters in the 1920s. It was too modern for that – real gangsters in the Roaring ‘20s wore snap-brimmed Fedoras, or even Derbies. I was able to convince myself I wouldn’t look too silly in one, though and since I had sold a small number of my CD-ROMs, I felt I could afford an extravagance that weekend.

Also, Diane Lacey had brought my Hugo pin to give me. At last, I had all eleven!

This year Geri Sullivan ran the con suite and was present almost around the clock. She did step out at least once, and when she returned I collapsed at her feet and whimpered something like “Where were you, I had to fill the coffee machine with water myself” … which she seemed to find excruciatingly funny for some reason. Geri had had bought about 6 flavours of gourmet potato chips and a Canadian cheese to put out. There was hot pulled pork, candies and soft drinks as well, keeping everyone well fed. Unlike some cons I remember, there didn’t seem to be a mass exodus of fans from the hotel around dinner time, leaving a few broke unfortunates or alienated loners behind. This was a good thing, as I am both kinds of fan.

I don’t want to appear wildly optimistic, but having had a surprisingly good time at SFContario 3, I may have to consider returning next year … The guests will be Seanan McGuire (author), Dave Kyle (fan) and Chandler Davis (science). Dates are November 29 to December first. http://sfcontario.ca

Friday photo montage: 1. Jon Singer (background Jo Walton); 2. Geri Sullivan; 3. Jo Walton; 4. Chis Garcia; 5. Cathy Specht, Ctein, and Jon Singer in the background, right; 6. Diane Lacey


Saturday photo montage: 1. Chris Garcia, Neil Jamieson-Williams, Taral Wayne; 2. Hope Leibowitz & Chris Garcia; 3. Chandler Davis; 4. Mike Glicksohn Memorial Poker Game; 5. Penney Birthday Party; 6. Catherine Crockett (co-chair)

SFContario 2 Photos

Taral Wayne sent along a few snapshots from SFContario 2. Click on the thumbnails for full-sized pictures. Here are his captions:

(1) “In Memorium – remembering Mike Glicksohn”. (L to R), Diane Lacey in back, Colin Hinz, Catharine Crockett, Hope Leibowitz, John Mansfield, Murray Moore, stranger to me, Ken Smookler.


(2) The other members of the panel. Andy Porter (R) showing 1960s photo of Mike at some east coast con. I was sitting left of Andy.


(3) Other members of panel — photo taken by Colin Hinz for me. (L to R), Yvonne Penney, Lloyd Penney, David Warren, Andy Porter. Colin took another shot that cut Yvonne out but included me. Unfortunately, Colin moved and the photo was badly blurred.


(4) Registration area just after Glicksohn panel. Facing the camera, (L to R), is Eugene Heller and Rene Walling. The “crowd” you see quickly broke up. Registration is long closed, but an unknown staff member is taking a seat There is an enclosed walkway between buildings in the immediate rear. It connects registration as well as a L/R oriented hallway to the part of the hotel where the ball room, and dealers area were.


(5) Hallway in front of registration area. A set of spiral stairs to the left leads down to the lobby. An elevator off camera also to the left takes people to the 3rd. floor con suite. At the back of this arm of the hall are two panel rooms. The Glicksohn panel was in the left hand one. That’s the Penneys… um… possibly counting their pennies.


(6) The spiral stairs in front of the registration area. Neil Jamieson Williams L, Diane Lacey (staff) center, CUFF winner Kent Pollard R. Although this is staged, Kent actually did take Neil’s photo in just this situation only seconds before.


(7) Diane got out of the view of the camera so I could take a second shot.


2011 CUFF Nominations Open

The Canadian Unity Fan Fund (CUFF) is looking for a fan from western Canada to send to CanVention, being held in conjunction with SFContario 2 in Toronto November 18-20.

CUFF alternates sending a fan from eastern and western Canada to CanVention, the annual convention of the Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy Association. This is a “western” year, so the CUFF delegate must come from nominees residing in Manitoba and the provinces farther west.  

Diane Lacey, last year’s Canadian Unity Fan Fund (CUFF) winner, writes, “The delegate is welcome, even encouraged, to stay longer than just the convention and hang out with the local [Toronto] fans. In fact our Third Monday pubnight, a regular gathering of local fans happens to fall on the Monday immediately following the convention.”

Any fan wanting to be nominated for CUFF must apply by March 31, 2011. The application should contain a letter from the fan with a self-description, plus a statement about why selection as the CUFF delegate would be beneficial for the fan and his/her community. And it must have at least three references from people in eastern and western Canada. Send the application to to d dot lacey at gmail dot com.

Once one or more nominees have been identified, voting will run from April 5 through May 31. This long lead time allows the successful candidate to work with SFContario’s program organizers and plan the trip.

[Thanks to Diane Lacey for the story.]

Taral Wayne: SFContrario Observations

SFContario has come and gone, leaving me with very mixed set of feelings.
On the whole, the con seemed well managed, though somewhat on the lavish side.  I wondered how they would pay for it all, on a budget of three hundred or four hundred members, tops.  For example, all the concom had their own special staff t-shirt –  there seemed to be more than one design, in fact.  The con gave out recyclable fiber bags with their logo on one side.  I think that must have been paid for mainly by advertising on the other side.  The program book looked considerably better than Torcon 3’s.  As well, the consuite was generous in providing cheeses, soft drinks, bagels and spreads, hot food and veggies.
If I were to make a complaint, it’s that there was too much program.  Usually there were two major and two minor events at all times during the bulk of the day, running to late at night.  If you were the sort who absolutely must hear some talking heads at the front of the room discuss SF and the environment, or fandom vs. the internet for the 8th time, there wasn’t much time left for hanging out and talking with your friends. Strangely, most people in fact seemed to me to have their noses buried in the program schedule an awful lot of the time.  It must the growing stuffiness of fandom – even the older hands seemed to be sitting to hear the same old sercon that was more or less familiar from thirty years ago.  Oh well…  they do call themselves science fiction fans.

All I saw of the program, myself – and of some of the Con Guests, even Michael Swanwick – were the Opening Ceremonies and one panel.  I wanted to stay through to the end of a panel on SF and science that Bob Wilson and Robert Sawyer were on, but I couldn’t follow the discussion. Sawyer rang loud and clear like a bell.  Bob, naturally soft-spoken, came through about 50% of the time.  But I know as well as the next person how bad my hearing is and was resigned to leaving early.  Mikes might have been a big help, even in that modest sized program rooms.

Taken in its entirety, the convention hotel was well-located in regard to transportation and restaurants.  The con suite and other rooms I saw were or reasonable size, though somewhat eccentric.   Because of the layout, you could not really reach the bathroom or other sitting room without going through the middle of the main room and interrupting whoever was talking there.  Program facilities were more than adequate, though spread out surprisingly far for a small hotel.  The one exception to adequacy was the tiny, wretched, ill-lit hole under the lobby stairs that had been set aside for the art show. 

The work of only four or five artists was on display, and none was original that I could see –  only digital print-outs and lithographed repros.  The Artist GoH – Billy Tackett –  had one end of the room for his prints.  They were what you would see on his website –  paintings of Dracula or Tor Johnson rising from the grave, except even more ghastly looking, if possible.  The artist himself was thin, dressed entirely in black and wore a “bad-ass” cowboy hat… also black.  Actually, he looked more the sort who would be more comfortable in a cinder-block biker bar with a neon Coors sign in the window.  He was from rural Kentucky… where that may well be the general fashion sense.

The dealers room had at most ten dealers.  I can recall eight or nine, but will allow for another one or two that I don’t remember.   Bakka was there, three or four small press reps and the authors they published kept a vigil, and a collector or two who was selling his surplus pretty much filled the room.  They were almost all in the book business, one way or the other.  One dealer was filk-singer – whose name meant nothing to me – with his DVD’s.  One other table that was nothing but hand-made Victorian jewelry.   I have no idea who buys that sort of thing –  costumers?   Gypsies?  I don’t think business was brisk, but Bakka assured me that they would do alright.
As small cons go, I’d say SFC was top-heavy with costuming and filking.  There was a prominent Steampunk event.  There was at one time two simultaneous filk events.  As well, the con featured a spin-off of Dr. Horrible’s “sing-along-whatever.”  I counted three anime panels — in fact, I was on one of them, which was surprisingly lively and one of my personal favorite hours during the con.  The bottom line is that SFC was more “literary” than Ad Astra has been for years, but not quite as “literary” as it seems to me they had been presenting themselves.
Mike Glicksohn and Susan Manchester attended on Friday, but not Saturday or Sunday.  He’s looking well, considering his chemotherapy.
I did four panels, and was exhausted by Saturday evening.  I won’t go into the details of what’s wearing me out so easily, but by the time I had finished my last panel I felt I had seen everything and had nothing left to do.  People at the con seemed constantly busy, so trying to work up a small talk in the halls was often wasted effort.  I seemed to be meeting actual discouragement from some of them.  Apart from helpful staff, the con suite was occupied by a couple of the usual bores whose stories I had heard the day before.  I really didn’t know what to do with myself at that point.  I left for home at a surprisingly early hour – 8 p.m.
For me the con was a bumpy ride with several ups and downs.  I loved being on the Studio Ghibli panel with René Walling and some English dude from Anime North.  We obviously all knew the subject well, were passionate about the films of Hayao Miyazaki, and had the desire to communicate that passion.  Another of my panels, on the effect of digital technology on pubbing, went fairly well, I thought. Several usable suggestions were made that Bill Burns needs to hear about.  A third panel – on why fans accept some movies and TV shows as legit SF but not others –  I think could be counted a success.  The most fannish panel I participated in was the one I ended up being least enthusiastic about.  It was a round-robin in which good fanwriting was demonstrated by readings and discussion.  While the other participants were probably pleased with the proceedings, I thought we were largely going through the motions. 

When I enjoyed myself at SFC, I really did.  What does it say, though, that my peak experience may have been going around the corner with Bob & Sharry Wilson to have a hamburger?  (It was the only time I ate out at the con, in fact.  No one asked, and I didn’t notice anyone leaving either.)  Other moments, though, were like those recurrent bad memories I have of cons from the Old Days – SFC was often exactly like some of the dullest, most pointless times I spent at cons in the 70s and 80s, when I was desperate to engage in small talk with perfect strangers at 2 a.m. …because otherwise there would have been nothing to do at all.
I think I may have just outgrown that sort of thing…  Maybe outgrown conventions, even.  At some age, a good hamburger or a good night’s sleep becomes better than any con. 

SFContario next year will be held at the same Ramada Plaza on Jarvis Street, November 19-20, 2011.  Guests already confirmed are John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Gardner Dozois and “Toyboat.”  http://sfcontario.ca/home-2011

SFContario Comes to Toronto in 2010

SFContario will gather sf fans in downtown Toronto over the November 19-21 weekend in 2010 for a “big tent” type of convention offering guests of honor Michael Swanwick, author of Bones of the Earth and winner of five Hugo awards; Karen Linsley, writer and performer of the Mars Society anthem “Pioneers of Mars”; Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden; and Geri Sullivan.

The full press release follows the jump.

[Thanks to Murray Moore for the story.]

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