Sunday, August 30, 2009

Toulouse and Nina Go To Montreal—in Anticipation of the 2009 World SF Convention

“We want to see a hero who works to achieve an environmentally sustainable world through innovation and creative technology,” said Tom Doherty, publisher of Tor Books, beside me at a panel on alternate energy. I was delighted to hear that Tor was officially embracing a new kind of hero along with a new paradigm for storytelling. One based on intelligent innovation, creativity and cooperation.

So, what was I doing sitting next to Tom Doherty at a panel on alternate energy? Truth be told, it was Toulouse’s fault.

Several weeks ago, Toulouse enticed me to embark on a book/convention tour that would last a month. The starting point was Montreal, Quebec (my old digs when I went to university). We went there to participate in the 2009 World Science Fiction Convention. These guys put me in a pile of cool panels on top of doing readings and signings for my latest books, Darwin’s Paradox and The Fiction Writer (Darwin’s prequel, Angel of Chaos, is still in pre-production, so I didn’t even have a cover for it yet to show). I participated in science/ecology, writing and SF panels with rock stars like Tom Doherty, Julie Czerneda, and new faces like Bruce Rockwood, David B. Coe, Peter Cohen, John Kessel, Jason Tuell, Kristin Norwood, Bob Sojka, Mike Gallaher, Michael Sestak and many others.

On the alternate energy panel, besides Tom and I there were science experts Bruce Lindsay Rockwood, Peter Cohen, and Charles Stross. The panel was hot with intelligent and lively discussion as we pursued topics that included solar and wind power, nuclear power and alternatives to hydro-electric power. Tom brought up Craig Venter and Shell Oil’s current venture with genetically modified algae to produce diesel oil, which fueled further debate on future ethical questions.

The other panels were also lively, contentious in some cases, erudite and fun. What struck me about the science panels at this particular convention over previous cons I’ve participated in was the level of commitment and knowledge shown by both panelists and those who attended.
I measure the success of a con through its surprises as well as by how many old friends I visit with and new friends I make. This one was a resounding success because I met so many weird—eh—wonderful people and encountered many thrilling surprises. The list is too long to give here but I’ll include some unexpected highlights.

  • • The rockin’ Tor party (held at a penthouse suite in the Delta Hotel): where the bathroom had been converted into a wine and beer cellar…
    • attending another one of Robert J. Sawyer’s awesome readings (Woot!)
    • meeting L.E. Modesitt and his wife at the rockin’ Tor Party; they had to be the most elegant couple there (more on him later)
    • sharing an awesome world-building panel with Julie Czerneda, who’s joy for the craft, boundless energy and humor made the workshop fun as well as instructive
    • the rockin’ Tor party (where rumor has it that the bathroom was raided by strange ladies intent on having a shower AND a beer, possibly at the same time...hey, I'm just reporting what I hear, folks)
    • seeing Cory Doctorow in a tux (for the Hugo Awards)
    • getting “abducted” by a group of Romanian writers who took me to an ”Old Montreal” cafe to interrogate me using devious means like roasted wild duck and local cider (they were successful, btw)
    • meeting Gabrielle Harbowy, editor at Dragon Moon Press, who I hope to work with on a book soon. We explored Old Montreal and shared an awesome meal with local cider and she even laughed at my jokes (bonus!)
    • the rockin’ Tor party (where someone who shall remain nameless jumped on the bed and didn’t spill a drop of his drink!)
    • doing the rounds at the Con parties and slumming through old haunts in Montreal with cool dudes and old friends like Hugo and Nebula Award winning SF author Robert J. Sawyer, poet Carolyn Clink, Virginia O’Dine and Dominic McGuire of Bundoran Press , Karl and Stephanie Johanson of the Aurora Award-winning Neo-Opsis Science Fiction Magazine, SF author Alison Sinclair (Darkborn), Rick LeBlanc (photographer), fantasy author Marie Simonne Bilodeau , SF author Michele LaFramboise, Heidi Lampietti of Redjack Books, Diane Walton (On Spec), Claire Eamers, Peter Halasz and other members of the SF Canada crowd
    • the rockin’ Tor party (…well, I won’t go there–you’ll have to attend the next con to find out for yourself!)
    • sharing a reading with John Kenny, of Albedo Magazine out of Ireland who gave a stirring reading from his short story, Encore, from the anthology Emerald Eye
    • seeing Julie Czerneda navigate her way through an all-French panel: merveilleux, Julie!
For more adventures with Toulouse, check out his very own blog: Toulouse LeTrek, the COOL Travel Cat!

1. Tom Doherty, Nina Munteanu and Peter Cohen discuss alternate energy (photo by Karl Johanson)
2. Montreal Convention Center (photo by Nina Munteanu)
3. L.E. Modesitt, Jr. and his wife, Carol Ann adding class to the Tor party (photo by Nina Munteanu)
4. Marie Simonne jokes with Larry Niven at the Tor party ... before the bathroom incident (photo by Nina Munteanu)
5. Aurora Award winning author Michele LaFramboise shows Toulouse her cool books (photo by Nina Munteanu)
6. Cory Doctorow wears his tux to the Hugo Award ceremony. You should do it more often, Cory! (photo by Nina Munteanu)
7. you guessed it, the Tor party crowd...before the bathroom incident (photo by Nina Munteanu)
8. those Romanian rascals take Nina to Old Montreal for food and cider: from left to right are Calin Giurgiu, Elena Rusu, Vali Gurgu, Costi Gurgu and Nina Munteanu

Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit Visit for more about her writing.


Jean-Luc Picard said...

What illustrious company you had there, Nina. I'm sure they said the same when seeing you!

Karl johanson said...

Was a good one. Sorry I missed the alternate energy panel.

Nina Munteanu said...

LOL!! Jean-Luc... what they said about me can't be published here, I think... hehe... :)

Nina Munteanu said...

Karl... you should have been ON that panel!

Heather Dugan ("Footsteps") said...

Sounds wonderful Nina!

Nina Munteanu said...

Thanks, Heather! It was rich.

Toulouse LeTrek said...

I had a great time too! During costume night, someone asked me what character I was playing? LOL!

Toulouse :-3