This weekend (July 29-31) I attended my first Confluence in Pittsburgh, and I’m so glad I did!
Confluence is a small but incredibly fun, welcoming & inspiring conference that brings together writers, editors, readers & fans of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It’s organized by Parsec, Pittsburgh’s speculative fiction organization, and I highly recommend it. I had a blast.
Here are some highlights.
Meeting friends, old and new
Writing can get lonely, and I haven’t been to any writerly event since the pandemic started, so the biggest highlight of the conference for me was the people (isn’t it always?).
I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to catch up with old friends, see some of my Twitter friends face to face for the first time, and make new friends & connections. (I wish I remembered to take more photos!)
It was lovely to finally meet Susan Kaye Quinn, a scientist-turned-science-fiction-writer like myself, and my long-time inspiration and role model in the indie publishing world. Like Susan, I crave and try to write science fiction that’s hopeful & optimistic, at least to some degree, including solarpunk. After all, science fiction can do more than identify problems and warn of dangers ahead. It’s also a laboratory for ideas and a testing ground for solutions. (In my excitement, I forgot to take a photo with Susan. Next time!)
It was also terrific to hang out with my writer friend Marie Vibbert; to talk short fiction with Scott H. Andrews (editor of Beneath Ceaseless Skies), Neil Clarke (editor of Clarkesworld), and Charlie Oberndorf; to swap novels with Shannon Eichorn (I can’t wait to read Rights of Use); to chat about the writing life with Herb Kauderer; to play board games with Michelle Steiner and Mowgli Assor, both librarians extraordinaire; and to meet so many other amazing writers, editors, publishers, and fans.
Another highlight of the conference was the programming. Lots of fun & informative sessions to attend! But don’t take my word for it – see for yourself. The full Confluence 2022 schedule can be found here.
I had the pleasure of moderating two panels (with thanks to the Confluence organizers for trusting me with the job!):
- “Reading Short SF: Why You Should Be Reading Short Fiction, Both Classic and New“ – with panelists Neil Clarke (Confluence’s Guest of Honor) and Michael Swanwick, and moderated by yours truly
- “Suspended animation, FTL, AI: Which common SF ideas may become reality (and which are unlikely)” – with panelists Marianne Porter, Alan Katerinsky, Charles Oberndorf, and Barton Paul Levenson, and moderated by yours truly
Finally, I participated in “Your Story’s First Five Pages” writing workshop taught by Scott H. Andrews, and it was excellent! A lecture on short-fiction craft from a long-time editor is always a treat, but we also submitted, read, and discussed each other’s work (the first five pages of a short story, as the name of the workshop suggests). Thank you, Scott! The workshop was super helpful. Now to apply it to my own short fiction…
In conclusion, I can’t wait for Confluence 2023!