Sci-Fi on the Rock? Yeah. It Rocked.

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Okay. So.

This winter has been a blah one. Have you noticed? It seems like anyone who’s regularly affected by seasonal depression has been hit hard, and even those who aren’t have found it… well, blah. Since December I’ve wanted nothing more than to wrap myself in a cocoon of blankets, lose myself in my fictional realities, and forget that the grey, cold, frequently unkind world outside my house exists. I haven’t felt like I had much to offer in newsletters, and I’ve backed away a bit from social media so I could avoid the anxiety it so often brings.

But one must emerge some time–or so my family insisted when they found out I’d been invited to share a vendor’s table at Sci-Fi on the Rock, Newfoundland’s biggest Sci-Fi and Fantasy convention.

Was I excited? In theory, yes. In practice? HECK no. I knew there would be people there. My poor melancholic, introverted heart shuddered at the very thought of that many strangers packed into one hotel for three long days. And anyone who knows me knows I’m not so keen on the promotion and SELLING parts of the writing business. So while I loved the idea of the convention itself, the practical details of planning the trip and interacting with people in person (I’m actually quite happy chatting through email) had me more than a little nervous.

And besides all of that… People can often be scary, intimidating, or just downright disappointing. Whether it’s politics, food choices, or Facebook posts, many of us seem more interested in judging others based on the things that divide us than in embracing what we have in common–and the world of Sci-Fi and Fantasy can seem at times like it’s no better than anything else our species has to offer, especially online. That can be disheartening, especially because fandom should be about embracing what we love, not bashing what we hate (and not about hurting people for not loving something enough or for doing it in what we think is the wrong way).

But attending SFotR reminded me that there’s another side of humanity that’s so much bigger than a few loud, nasty voices.

I saw cosplayers in professional-looking costumes that took my breath away or brought me to tears with their beauty… and I saw them mugging for photos with anyone who asked, complimenting costumes at every skill level, and being extremely open and gracious.

I saw a weekend-long event where respect was the expectation, where everyone was accepted, where social awkwardness was okay, and where people wore and celebrated whatever they wanted without worrying about judgements based on gender, body type, or physical appearance.

I saw people drawn together by what they love, not divided by what they hate.

Now, I was stuck behind my vendor table for most of the event. I didn’t see everything. But what I did see–from vendors and presenters supporting each other to the way people’s faces lit up when we complimented their costumes as they walked by–was kind of magical.

Oh, and the panel on Worldbuilding that I hosted with Candace Osmond and JJ King was a blast! We had an hour to fill, and the audience had so many questions that we could easily have stretched it to at least an hour and a half. I love talking about writing, and I’m so thankful that we had that opportunity to answer questions and help other writers with their worlds and approaches to their stories.

The highlights of my weekend were definitely that panel… and seeing a complete stranger flaked out on a chair, deeply absorbed in one of my books. Pretty amazing.

Yeah. I’m glad I went.

The event is over now. Spring hasn’t arrived here in Newfoundland, and won’t for some time yet. I picked up a nasty cold while I was having such a good time being around people. Things still look pretty blah in the world at large. But my faith in humanity has been maybe a little bit restored–or at least I’ve been reminded that we’re more than the hateful voices who somehow always manage to grab the megaphone. And as I sit here at my desk and try to focus on getting back to work on my pen name’s ongoing series, I’m glad I’ve got some fun new memories to keep me warm…and a few new books to read.

…Because my TBR pile wasn’t already big enough. ^_^

-Kate

Want to see some of those costumes I mentioned? Photographer Riche Perez has some incredible photos posted here, or  click here for the Facebook video of CBC’s live coverage of the costume contest! The audio’s not perfect at the beginning of the video, but it gets better.

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About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with a Mountie, two kids who take turns playing Jeckyll and Hyde, two cats, an intentional boxer and an accidental chihuahua. She's the author of the bestselling Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy). www.katesparkes.com View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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