World Fantasy Convention 2012

November 15, 2012

At the beginning of November, I attended the ultimate event for a fantasy literature fan, the World Fantasy Convention (WFC). I decided that it would be a great event to share as my introductory post on the TP1 blog. I hope you enjoy it!

Each year, near the end of October, the WFC takes place in a different location around the world. The WFC is an annual gathering of people interested in the fantasy genre, both in literature and art. This includes professionals (writers, editors, publishers, artists, etc.), as well as collectors and readers. The convention lasts four days, during which participants can attend conferences, buy books and art, have books signed by authors at a special reception and attend the World Fantasy Awards ceremony. Each conference has a theme and several honour guests.

This year, the WFC took place in Toronto. As a life-long reader of fantasy, I was very eager to attend the convention for my very first time. The theme this year was “Gothic and Urban Fantasy”, and among the authors attending, there were many of my favourites, including Patrick Rothfuss, Jo Walton and Marie Bilodeau, as well as honoured guests Elizabeth Hand, John Clute, Richard A. Kirk and Gary K. Wolfe. People came from around the globe to attend, and this is something I loved. You could talk with people you had never met, but with whom you shared interests, learning about a new book or an author you didn’t know about. I was ready for four days full of fantasy.

The first surprise was upon arrival. After picking up my credentials, the organizers told me to go to another room to pick up my “bag’o’books”. There was a bag full of books (around 20) for each registered participant and some of the books were early releases of novels that would only be published in a few months. Aside from printed books, the bag also included special codes for downloading e-books. If you didn’t like one, or you had it already, you could put it on the swap table and take as many as you wished in return (I ended up bringing home around 40 books, plus the electronic ones).

Each day, there were different panels scheduled, addressing different subjects. Some of them were about the convention’s main theme, “Gothic and Urban Fantasy”, while others talked about “Humour in horror and fantasy literature”, “New trends in fantasy”, “The best of 2012” and other more generic subjects. Aside for that, there were several panels centered on Young Adult fantasy. This seems to be a trend right now in the genre, with the success of the Harry Potter series, the Inheritance Cycle and the Hunger Games trilogy. This kind of writing not only attracts young adults, but a wider group of adults as well, and the participants discussed the reasons for this, as well as other characteristics of the genre.

One of the most interesting panels I attended was centered on the figure of the Wanderer and how this character type can lead to a whole set of stories. Some famous literary wanderers discussed in the panel were Gandalf from “The Lord of the Rings”, Kvothe from “The Kingkiller Chronicles” by Patrick Rothfuss (who was one of the panelists) and, more in the sci-fi genre, Doctor Who.

Other activities scheduled were readings and interviews with the guests of honour. I attended a few of them, including ones with Patrick Rothfuss, Brandon Sanderson, Aliette de Bodard and Mary Robinette Kowal, who read from the fantasy anthology. “Epic. Legends of Fantasy”, edited by John Joseph Adams, also in attendance.

When tired, you could go to the Hospitality Room, where free refreshments, food and alcohol were served throughout the day, and chat with the people already there. Or go to the dealer’s room to find a first edition, or go to the art show and admire the work of many fantasy artists (and if you had enough money, buy some originals).

The activities didn’t stop at night. There were official ones, such as the autograph reception, where you could have your books signed by your favourite authors, and the unofficial ones, like parties by book publishers, book launches or individual authors throwing their own parties.

The last event of the convention was the World Fantasy Awards Ceremony. This is when they give out awards for the best fantasy works from the previous year. There are several categories, such as novel, novella, short story, artist, etc. You can read the full winner’s list here. They also announced the recipients of the Lifetime Achievement Award, given this year to Alan Garner and George R.R. Martin.

For me, the best part was having the chance to talk to authors, learn about their creative process and get sneak peeks of their future works directly from the source. For example, I confirmed that Brandon Sanderson is planning to write once again of the universe featured in one of my favourite books, “Elantris”.

To end this post, some book recommendations:

  • “Among Others” by Jo Walton, winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards this year, and nominated for a World Fantasy Award.
  • “The Name of the Wind” by Patrick Rothfuss, Book 1 of the Kingkiller Chronicles
  • “The Way of Kings” by Brandon Sanderson, Book 1 of the Stormlight Archive
  • “Seraphina” by Rachel Hartman”
  • “Storm Front” by Jim Butcher, Book 1 of the Dresden Files
  • “Libriomancer” by Jim C. Hines
  • “The Princess of Light” by Marie Bilodeau, Book 1 of the Heirs of a Broken Land trilogy

The WFC is an event that any fantasy literature fan would love to attend. Four days of interacting with the people who create the lands and creatures that live in your mind and make you experience so many happy moments is a one-of-a-kind experience. See you next year in Bristol, UK!

Image credits: Crystal Calhoun alias Madetobeunique