In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, authors like myself – who once identified as introverts – found themselves craving the company of like-minded writers off-screen and in person. Fortunately, convention staff across the country have been busily laboring to relaunch multiday events, some of which offer hybrid programming for those who still prefer to remain at home.
Speculative author L. Marie Wood, author of The Realm series, believes attending conventions can help speculative fiction writers in numerous ways. “You can sell a few books and gain some exposure that way, but there is so much more involved if you open your mind to it,” she says. “The growth of your network, the topics you can learn about, the opportunities to share your own expertise – these are the things that a writer should consider when attending functions like these.”
Wood particularly looks forward to panels at conventions. “The panels at many of these events are more than just entertaining – they are informative,” she notes. “Whether I have participated as a panelist or attended as a guest, I have always learned something from those experiences.”
She’s also eager to network with people working in the speculative genre. “You will meet writers at every stage of their career at conventions, many of whom are there to talk, to mentor, to help people on their journey,” she says. “You may find yourself in a position to do the same. Don’t discount how fulfilling the nature of service can be.”
Here are a few of the top speculative conventions that we can look forward to in 2022, plus one that already took place. Check each event’s website and social media pages for the most up-to-date information on featured speakers and events.
This annual three-day convention focuses on science fiction and fantasy, horror, gaming, and cosplay. Attendees can attend panels, workshops, book signing, and dance parties. They can also participate in cosplay showcases, karaoke, and speed-friending. “The Geeky Gathers” helps people from various fandoms find one another for conversation. Participants can browse and bid on speculative-themed artwork and hang out in the gaming hall with fans of tabletop, strategy, and role-playing games. Three particular tracks – science fiction, fantasy, and horror – offer deep dives into genre on the page and on the screen.
→ In 2022, Multiverse takes place October 14-16 in Atlanta, Georgia. Guests include artist Nilah Magruder and authors Sheree Renée Thomas and Mary Robinette Kowal. multiversecon.org
Realm Makers Conference
This three-day annual conference focuses on Christian speculative writers, artists, and filmmakers. Participants can attend faith-friendly workshops and panels on craft, publication, and marketing of science fiction and fantasy storytelling, as well as an awards dinner and a book festival. Attendees can register for one-on-one appointments and paid manuscript critiques with top agents, editors, and mentors. They can also register for pre- and post-conference workshops with top industry professionals.
→ In 2022, Realm Makers takes place July 21-23 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as well as online. Guests include Afrofuturist and teacher Maurice Broaddus, author and marketing expert James L. Rubart, and authors Tosca Lee and C.J. Redwine. realmmakers.com/annual-conference
This four-day annual feminist science fiction and fantasy convention takes place in Madison, Wisconsin. Programming offers academic and gaming tracks, as well as programs for children and teens. Participants can attend panels, parties, and readings, as well as workshops and small critique sessions for short fiction and novel chapters. The conference provides safe spaces for discussion among people of color, people with disabilities, and trans and genderqueer people. “The Gathering” invites participants to a fun, free event that includes activities such as galley sales and tarot card readings.
→ In 2022, WisCon took place May 27-30 in Madison, Wisconsin. Guests included Sheree Renée Thomas and Rebecca Roanhorse. wiscon.net
Worldcon is the yearly five-day convention of the World Science Fiction Society. The Hugo Awards take place during Worldcon; participants can meet the finalists and winners of this prestigious award for speculative fiction writing. The multiday event also spotlights artist and writer guests of honor, with a focus on their work and contributions to fiction and fandom. Participants can attend readings and autographing sessions, an art show, and a dealers’ room in which attendees can purchase speculative story-related merchandise. Numerous programming tracks include workshops, panels, conversations, and academic talks on topics ranging from the business of writing and speculative theater and gaming to comics and graphic novels and a dedicated children’s and young adult fiction track. Each year, Worldcon hosts a masquerade in celebration of fandoms, with awards for costume craft and presentation.
→ In 2022, Worldcon takes place September 1-5 in Chicago, Illinois. Guests include illustrator Floyd Norman, sociologist and poet Dr. Eve L. Ewing, and artists Gene Ha and Eric Wilkerson. worldcon.org
World Fantasy Convention
The highlight of this four-day annual conference is the World Fantasy Awards Banquet celebrating outstanding achievements in fantasy fiction. Attendees can watch the ceremony and participate in an autograph reception as well as numerous live readings. Panel topics range from how to write fantasy for television to fantasy and horror by Black authors. Guest artists lead sketchbook tours, and participants can enter a juried art show and sell books and meet authors and artists in the dealers room.
→ In 2022, the World Fantasy Convention takes place November 3-6 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Guests include Victor LaValle, Ginjer Buchanan, Andrei Codrescu, and Iris Compiet. worldfantasy.org
Contributing Editor Melissa Hart is the author, most recently, of Daisy Woodworm Changes the World. melissahart.com