From November 18 through November 20, the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society sponsored the 80th annual Philcon, the longest running science fiction convention in the United States, which was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, NJ — just across the river from Philadelphia. Activities began at 4:00 pm on Friday and concluded at 4:00 pm on Sunday.
This year’s convention featured Principal Speaker C. J. Cherryh, multi-Hugo Award winning author, Artist Guest of Honor Dave Seeley, whose fabulous artwork has graced the covers of many well-known science fiction and fantasy novels as well as the Philcon program book, and Special Guest, L. E. Modesitt, Jr., author of over seventy science fiction and fantasy books.
Numerous authors, scientists, artists, gamers, costumers, and professionals in other fields sat on panels that discussed a variety of topics. In addition to the panels, activities included: the Art Show; the Dealers’ Room; the Sandy Swank Memorial Masquerade; open gaming; video screenings; open filking; fan tables; author signings and author readings; remembrances for Dave Kyle, a very active fan who attended the first Philcon and many other conventions, and Neil S. Lerner, a long-time Philcon attendee who worked in the Print Shop and Art Show; a celebration of the 50th anniversary of Space and Time magazine; the Con Suite, for those who need a snack or a place to relax; and much more.
Here’s a sampling of some of the panel topics:
- Anime: Anime You Should Be Watching; Anime Opening and Closing Themes; AMV Hour; Making Your Voices Heard; Anime for the Little Ones
- Art: Drawing for Comics and Graphic Novels; Art Creation and Disability; Artwork Tour with Dave Seeley
- Comics: Women In Comics; The Marvel Cinematic Year In Review; Supergirl’s Super TV Series; DC Comics: Getting the Band Back Together; The Black Panther
- Costuming: Safe Bleaching and Dye Removel from Fabric; A Beginner’s Guide to Hand Embroidery and Beading; Dressing for the SCA; Using Stencils on Fabric; Wigs: Styling, Care, and Feeding; Cosplay Basics; Sourcing Your Material
- Diversity: Cultural Representation vs Cultural Appropriation; Representation of the LGBATI and Queer Characters in Recent SF & F; How Diversity in Fiction Impacts Everyday Life
- Fantasy: Foundations of Worldbuilding: Sustenance and Economics; Vampire Fiction in Modern Eras; Effectively Lampshading Anachronism in Fantasy; Intrusive vs Immersive Fantasy; Developing Cultures and the Historic Rise of Civilization
- Gaming: Why Gaming is Important to Fandom; Taking Your Game from Concept to Creation; Shared Storytelling in Games; Rolling for Special Skills: Interactive Media and Interpersonal Development; Augmented Reality Games; Tabletop Games for Families
- Media: Post 9/11 TV and Film; Things to Know Before You Write the Script; The Changing Media Landscape
- Miscellaneous: Russian and Soviet SF; The State of the Hugo Awards; Sherlock’s Siblings: The Other Works of A. C. Doyle; Everything Is SF
- Photography: Seeing the Wild: Animal Photography, Art, and Conservation; How to Take Headshots for Author Bios
- Podcasting: An Auditory Introduction: Welcome to Night Vale
- Reading: Stories That Haunt Us; Everything You Know About Fairy Tales Is Wrong; Slooow Books; What Should I Read Next?
- Science: How Do We Make Science Education More Engaging?; The Gardens of Space; Telling Science from Pseudoscience; The Future of Work; The Unsung Heroes of Science; Space Colonies: Can We Meet the Challenge?; The Cloak of Invisibility; Stargates: The Theory and The Practice
- Science Fiction: Can Interplanetary Governments Really Work?; Environmental SF; The Prehistory of SF; The Best of Military SF; Hardboiled SF & F; Utopias That Make Us Cringe; Writing for Aliens: Constructing Languages; Generating a Balonium Field: Pseudoscience in SF Storytelling
- Star Trek: Where Has It NOT Been Boldly Going?; The Impact of Star Trek on Literary SF
- Writing: Writing for Media; Speculating With Respect: Using Religious Texts as Inspiration for Fiction; What to Do When Real Science Outpaces Your Current SF Project; Continuing Your Series After the Original Conflict Is Resolved; Writing Hand-to-Hand Combat; Time Management for Writers; Writing Relatable Heroes; Giving and Receiving Criticism; Marketing Multi-Genre Works
Also available were:
- Contests: Young Writers Contest; Songwriting Contest
- Demonstrations: Dryer Lint Art; Watercolor Painting; 3D Printing; Designing Quilts
- Workshops: Origami Spaceships; Writing Workshop; Writing Dialogue; Make-N-Take Encaustic Monoprints; String bracelets; Reading Your Work Aloud
I attended the panel in the photo above and thought I’d share a few of their book and author suggestions:
- The Rivers of London series by Ben Aaronovitch [detective stories with magic]
- The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency series by Jordan Stratford [middle grade]
- Naomi Novik’s Uprooted
- Gail Carriger’s YA steampunk
- Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthsea series
- Timothy Zahn’s Dragonback series [young adult] and Conqueror series
- Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword [young female protagonist]
- Steven Harper’s Blood and Iron series
- Mary Gentle’s fantasies
- Robert A. Heinlein’s Glory Road and young adult books
Next year’s Philcon will be November 10th – 12th, 2017, and will feature Principal Speaker Seanan McGuire (Mira Grant). Register early for the best price.
Hope I’ll see you at Philcon next year!