Confluence is a fan convention that offers a wide diversity of its programming, ranging from Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror. The main attraction of this three-day convention is its relaxed and friendly atmosphere.
This year, Confluence will be taking place at Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel during August 4th-6th. We interview committee volunteer staff Karen Yun-Lutz on what makes Confluence stand out, and what can attendees expect from this year.
Confluence is focused on sci-fi, fantasy, and horror in literary, musical and visual arts. Are there any particular works that are always popular, or does the content change from year to year?
The conference changes every year, in that the programming is always new and exciting and yet the main features of the conference remain in place.
Confluence is a part of Parsec, a 501c3 organization. There are four branches to Parsec: 1. Confluence, the annual Conference. 2. Alpha, the young writer’s workshop. 3. Parsec, the group that meets once a month at the Squirrel Hill Library in Oakland PA. 4. Parsec INK, the publishing house. One of the things Parsec INK does every year is publish a semi-pro paying anthology of speculative fiction stories called Triangulation. The book launch for Triangulation is held during Confluence weekend, and many of the writers that attend Confluence submit their stories for consideration in the anthology.
What is it about the atmosphere of Confluence that makes the experience so comfortable for attendees?
However, what sets Confluence apart from other conferences and conventions is the comfortable, relaxed atmosphere. Many of our guests, guest authors, musicians and artist that attend Confluence return year after year to catch up with old friends and hopefully meet new ones.
Many cons lean towards being vendor-driven where the primary purpose is for producers to sell their wares to the public. Although Confluence does have a dealers room, it is not the primary focus of the con. The guests you meet in the Confluence dealer room are there as much to acquaint you with their work, as they are to interact and share their love and excitement about the SF/F/H genres. Confluence holds small discussion groups where authors can share a coffee or beer and talk round table style to the guests that sign up for their chats and writing workshops and panels on writing where budding authors can learn about writing. Many of the panel discussion held during Confluence are socially interactive. One panel that comes to mind is Vogon Poetry… the third worst poetry in the Universe. Guests are asked to help create an atrocious poetic opus that will become the new, third worst bane of the universe.
How is the relationship between guests and attendees during the convention?
Confluence provides a chance for fans to meet and talk with the people who originate and tell the stories we read and watch. Although social media does have its place, it can’t replace real human contact and face-to-face social interaction. There’s something much more satisfying and memorable about meeting someone, shaking their hand and being able to speak to them in person, than pinging them through a social media message board. Confluence offers guests a place to do just that. Guests will not only meet and have opportunities to sit and chat with the authors but also with budding authors, fans, artists, musicians and other like-minded people. We have a hospitality suite where guest authors and paying members can sit and hold discussions with anyone on anything that piques their interest and is willing to offer an opinion.
Speaking of which, could you talk a bit about this year’s Guests of Honor, Sharon Lee and Steve Miller from the Liaden Universe novels, and the band Consortium of Genius?
The writing team of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller published their first novel in the generation-spanning saga of the Liaden Universe in 1988; the nineteenth and latest volume are due out in May 2017. They have also published a fantasy duology (Duainfey and Longeye), as well as many works of short fiction and nonfiction published in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines. Married since 1979, the authors currently live in Maine and act as staff to several cats.
For more than twenty years, our Featured Music Guests for 2017, Consortium of Genius (a.k.a. “the CoG”), have been entertaining… er, terrorizing the inhabitants of New Orleans and the surrounding countryside with their insane experiments in nerd rock and world domination. The CoG have performed over 200 concerts…. um, given over 200 lectures throughout the Southern U.S. in an attempt to back up the claims of their megalomaniacal leader, Dr. Milo T. Pinkerton III, who states that “My theories are totally sound, and the SOUND is totally LOUD!”. A dozen of the band’s songs have received worldwide airplay on The Dr. Demento Show, including such warped classics as “Placebo!”, “Science Fight,” “Zombie Apocalypse Barbecue,” “They Said I Was Mad,” and “All About the Wookiee.” We welcome our learned but crazed new overlords as they make only their second-ever appearance outside the Gulf Coast states. Come! Listen!! Bow to the CoG!!!
What types of activities and conferences can the public expect to find this year?
During the weekend we hold readings and panel discussion with authors and editors, music concerts, poetry readings, and panels, autographing sessions, writing workshops, literary beer author discussions, writing exercises, beer tasting, and science presentations. We have an art show, a dealers room, and a hospitality suite where members can relax, find refreshments or just chat with guest authors and other members of the conference. This year we will be holding a cosplay contest and panel presentation.
Confluence offers so much in just three short days! Is there anything else you want to tell us about Confluence?
Although Confluence is widely promoted as a Sf/F/H Literary conference, we also include a substantial music track every year. During programming hours from early Friday evening through Sunday afternoon, you will be able to sample from an almost continuous schedule of concerts of different types of genre music. Those styles range from “filk” (the traditional music of SF fandom) to “dementia” (fannish comedy music) to Harry-Potter-themed “wizard rock” to tunes by the bards of the Society for Creative Anachronism. There is always a variety of live music on hand, so there’s bound to be some sound during the weekend that will please your ears.
Want to be a volunteer? Confluence is entirely produced and staffed by volunteers, so if you are interested in working with other fans, you can send an email to email@example.com.