2017 Toronto SpecFic Colloquium

By Chiaroscuro Reading Series (other events)

Saturday, March 25 2017 9:00 AM 6:00 PM EDT

This year's guest of honour is bestselling SF author CORY DOCTOROW!

"I Can't Let You Do That Dave": How the worst internet law ever is turning science fiction's least-plausible dystopias into imminent reality. Lawmakers around the world have been convinced of the scientific nonsense that solving our social problems is best accomplished by regulating which programs people may run on their computers. With laws like 2011's Bill C-11, governments have felonizing tampering with locks that supposedly protect copyright, even for legitimate purpose, with the totally predictable effect that companies are now using these locks to prevent their customers from doing legitimate things, like buying third-party printer ink or getting their cars serviced by independent mechanics. This is an improbable form of dystopia: one in which entertainment law is used to usher in an era of government and corporate panopticon -- it's being Huxleyed into the Full Orwell.

Cory Doctorow ( is a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing ( and the author of many books, most recently IN REAL LIFE, a graphic novel; INFORMATION DOESN’T WANT TO BE FREE, a book about earning a living in the Internet age, and HOMELAND, the award-winning, best-selling sequel to the 2008 YA novel LITTLE BROTHER.

With additional guest speakers & topics:

Special guest Julie Czerneda: “It’s a Wrap, Folks.” If a story is a conversation between author and reader, the final pages are where we make our last—and hopefully lasting—impression. Or ruin everything for someone. Knowing how and when to end a story is part skill, part practicality, but, most of all, it’s a deeply personal choice. Never has that been clearer to me than now, as I write the final chapter of my Clan Chronicles series and end the story that began my career. Join me for some of the skills, a whole bunch of the practicality, and a glimpse into the personal. Of endings.

Madeline Ashby: "Abandon All Hope, Eh?: Lessons Learned from the Company Town Tour" Company Town has taken Madeline Ashby from the crowds of San Diego Comic Con to the tiniest and most literate town in Newfoundland. Her foresight work has taken her to London after Brexit, and Dubai after Trump. During the garbage fire that was 2016 and into the uncertainty of 2017, she's heard from readers of all ages and backgrounds about their hopes and fears for the future. This talk is a reflection on those questions. What is happening? What could happen? And how can Canada survive, thrive, and lead?

Robert Boyczuk: "Why You (Still) Can't Teach Writing" Robert Boyczuk has spent more time than any reasonable person should in writing courses, writing workshops and writing groups. He’s attended Clarion West, George Brown College, The Second City, The Humber School for Writers (twice), and several semester courses at both the University of Toronto and Ryerson University. Has any of this helped him develop as a writer? He’s dubious. Which has led him to ponder the following questions: Can creative writing be taught? Can creative writing be learned? What do people expect to learn in creative writing courses? What is being taught in creative writing courses? What is being taught that can’t be learned? What can be taught that can be learned? And, most importantly, how can he break the insidious cycle of his workshop addiction?

Vicki Clough: "Alternate Realities in Art" The realm of Speculative Fiction spans the breadth of creative practice, not least of all in the depiction of alternative narratives in the visual arts. From Kent Monkman to Saya Woolfalk, artist engage our sense of wonder and the surreal, often challenging our own roles in the world we inhabit. How do contemporary artists communicate these complex ideas of fantasy in their work? How much truth is inherent in the "fictional" art form and what questions do they raise? 

Jason Taniguchi: "Long Ago and Far, Far Away: Falling Hard for Fictional Worlds" What is it about the Star Wars universe that has enchanted so many of us for so many years, and keeps us coming back for more – even when we should maybe know better? Why is it that some books, movies, and TV shows hook us, not just with their story and characters, but with the whole universe around them? What is it about some worlds that reach deep into our imaginations, while other worlds leave us cold? Come on a tour through some of the worlds we fall hard for, as we try to pin down the reasons that we swoon.

Books will be sold by Bakka Phoenix Books and ChiZine Publications. The Annual Toronto SpecFic Colloquium is run by the Chiaroscuro Reading Series, and sponsored in part by the Toronto Arts Council. Please see our website for a list of this year's corporate donors.