Interested in learning the finer points of parasol dueling? Or perhaps you’d like to join other festival goers in eating cereal and watching cartoons? For those who love science fiction and fantasy, Pure Speculation Festival has a new home this year at Alberta Avenue Community League from July 28-29.

Brent Jans, festival chair, described the festival as “a small fan-organized speculative fiction science fiction fantasy event, but we will talk about anything the Hugo gives awards for: TV, movies, or graphic novels.”

The festival began in 2005 when Jans realized there were not many science fiction or fantasy events in Edmonton.

“If I wanted there to be something in the city for nerds to enjoy themselves at, I would have to start it,” Jans explained. He organized Pure Speculation Festival with a few friends and held the first festival at a hotel. “From a financial standpoint it tanked, but people were excited,” he said. Since then, the festival draws 200-300 people every year.

Organizers chose not to hold the festival last year. It normally takes place in late October, but weather played a big part in attendance. If it snowed, people often chose to stay home. Jan said people didn’t necessarily feel comfortable going to a hotel for the festival, either. The organizers decided summer was a better time to hold the festival, and waited until this year to hold it again.

“It’s a mark of how much people enjoy it when I got inundated with email when it didn’t take place last year,” he said.

The festival often gets compared to the Edmonton Expo, but they’re a smaller event focused on local authors and artists from Edmonton and Alberta such as Barb Galler-Smith and Anne Marston.

“We want the festival to be as much about the local community as possible,” said Jans.

Like the Expo, organizers feature panels with authors and artists. For example, musician Vanessa Cardui will be holding a panel to how to write filk music (culture, community, and musical genre associated with science fiction and fantasy).

However, organizers are also open to community members running a panel. Those interested in doing so should visit and submit their ideas through the link supplied.

But the festival isn’t just about panels; there are also demos and performances. Madame Saffron Hemlock’s Parasol Dueling League will be running a demo and the Kita Kaze Budo Association will feature kendo and naginata demos. As for performances, festival goers can watch Overtime: The Musical, based on the novella by Charles Stross.

And if you’re an early riser, you’ll be in for a treat. On Saturday at 8:00 am, enjoy all-you-can-eat cereal and watch cartoons.

“People can come in their pajamas or not,” Jans said.

Vendors, booksellers, craftspeople, and local artists will also be in attendance and local Klingon group IKS Swifthawk will be the festival’s security.

Admission is free. “We want to remove as many barriers to people coming as possible,” he said, explaining that organizers felt it particularly important for youth to be able to access the festival.


July 28-29

Friday: 4-11 pm (no minors after 8 pm)

Saturday: 9:30 am to midnight (no minors after 8 pm)

Alberta Avenue Community League (9210 118 Ave)

Featured Image: Local authors, artists, and vendors will attend Pure Speculation Festival. | Michelle Earl