Long Overdue Post About Ad Astra – Part One

As this post’s title suggests, it is late. I’m talking a month late. Anyways, here’s what I have to say about my Ad Astra experience the weekend of April 8th, 9th, and 10th. For those of you who aren’t aware, Ad Astra is a Science Fiction and Fantasy convention that takes place in Toronto every year. Buckle up, this is going to be a LONG post. Actually, seeing how long it’s really going to be, I’ll split it into three separate posts, one for each day. 🙂

First of all, I went with Steph from my writing group, the Underground Writers. We had a blast. We stuck mostly to panels about writing (I’m sure you’re shocked… ;)). It was my first Ad Astra experience – but it will definitely NOT be my last!!! Here are the various panels we attended, what I thought of them, which authors spoke on the panels, and all that. If there’s anything someone wants more information about, just let me know!


Critiquing Groups

Panelists: Suzanne Church, Megan Crewe, Lorne Kates, Matt Moore, David Nickle

The gist of it: Basically they discussed how their various writing groups worked, and gave advice about participating in critiquing groups.

What I got out of it: It was awesome to see that the Underground Writers are doing a lot of things right. Steph and I kept turning to each other going “yeah, we do that!” throughout the panel. We also got some cool information about auditioning potential new members that I found quite interesting.

Same Old Settings

Panelists: Derek Kunsken, Karl Shroeder, Karina Sumner-Smith, Rick Wilber, Gregory A. Wilson

The gist of it: This panel touched on what settings were overused and underused in sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. Also, some interesting settings in published works.

What I got out of it: It was very interesting to get the panelists’ takes on where they would like to see sci-fi/fantasy go. Some were against clichés while others liked the idea of re-exploring relatively familiar territory.

World-Building – A Balancing Act

Panelists: Erik Buchanan, Ed Greenwood, Rob St. Martin

The gist of it: The panelists discussed how much world-building is necessary, what kinds of information should be included in works, and when it’s overkill.

What I got out of it: This was an interesting panel for me, because this is something that I have difficulty with in my current WIP. I’m working on a fantasy novel, and I find myself not including enough background information. It’s not because I don’t have the info – I do… I’ve done a lot of research and I have tons of pictures of what my settings look like – it’s just that I have a hard time inserting it into my story.

Disasters and Apocalypses

Panelists: Jason Bourget, Stephen B. Pearl, Karina Sumner-Smith

The gist of it: Basically the panelists talked about all the different kinds of apocalypses that are found in literature/film, and why some are used more than others, which are cliché.

What I got out of it: Well, frankly, it was just a really interesting panel to attend. Although it doesn’t apply to my current work-in-progress, there are some ideas kicking around my head that do have post-apocalyptic settings.

As explained above, the rest of my Ad Astra experience will be detailed in two other posts.

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