To sum up this year’s Ad Astra in one word: laughter.

Derek Künsken, Robin Riopelle and I took a detour to retrieve Robin’s new book Deadroads from Fedex purgatory.

It began on the car ride down on Friday with Derek Künsken and Robin Riopelle. Things could have turned ugly when we learned the Robin’s copies of her new book Deadroads—which should have been shipped to her home on Monday—had made it to the FedEx depot near Pearson Airport. But, Fedex would not ship them to the convention hotel. So, we made a detour to the Fedex depot, got lost, found our way, and rescued the books. Rather than get mad, we considered it an adventure.
Friday was dinner, panels and catching up with friends, but capped off by an hour-long live podcast with Adam Shaftoe, Madeline Ashby, Candice Lepage and Nick Montgomery. Despite my Chuck Palahniuk-like rants about Baby Boomers and Steampunk cosplayers, I think we all had a good time. The audience certainly seemed to laugh.
Saturday I did a reading that followed Marie Bilodeau‘s. Marie read from her new novel Destiny’s War and “The Kevlar Canoe” from the Masked Mosiac anthology. Since Marie was bright and bubbly as always, I needed to segue people into my dark fiction. Using my 100-word shocker “The Wall of Gloves” as a palette cleanser, I then read from my short story collection Touch the Sky, Embrace the Dark and my Aurora Award-eligible short story “The Leaving“.
Marie Bilodeau read from Masked Mosiac, a Canadian anthology of superhero stories.

The day passed by attending more panels before sitting on the “Can the Author become the Critic?” and “What makes a Great Villain?” panels.
At 10:30, I read from The Empire Striketh Back on a panel about (bad) fanfic organized by Michael Matheson. There was much laughter as some read their Star Wars/Pacific Rim fanfic mash-ups and some pretty horrifying Harry Potter fanfic.
I spent a good deal of Sunday in the Green Room catching up with friends I don’t get to see that often. I’m especially pleased I got to talk to Derek Newman-Stille, who I met at Can-Con last year, about a number of topics, including the “armour” we introverts put on when speaking in front of groups.
And then it was over all too quickly.
A few things worth mentioning:

  • ChiZine Publications did not attend this year. After a busy 2013, co-publishers Sandra Kasturi and Brett Savory decided to sit this one out and rest. With most people knowing my involvement with CZP, there were many people asking where they were. I take that as a great sign of what a tent-pole CZP has become in the Toronto specfic community. As Adam Shaftoe put it somewhat facetiously:

  • Derek, Marie, Hayden Trenholm and I (all Ottawa writers) did quite a good job of raising awareness for Can-Con, Ottawa’s speculative literature convention in October. A number of Toronto-based writers committed to attending and many more expressed an interest. If you are anywhere near Ottawa, I invite you to come to the capital on October. I know Ottawa has a reputation for not being a fun place, but Can-Con will show you we know how to have a good time.

I posted some pics from the weekend on Instagram.