Scintillation in Montreal, Part One.


Way back on Monday of last week, I got back from Scintillation, the brand-new small convention in Montreal that Jo Walton started up via Kickstarter.

For years Jo had been throwing a  big yearly event called the Farthing party (after one of her novels), and this year she wanted to convert it into a more formal convention.  Using Kickstarter to fund it, she managed to get enough interest to keep it going for the next couple of years.

So: success!

The event itself was delightful.  After going to so many humongous conventions across the years, it was nice to attend one that wasn’t overwhelming, but was still interesting at every turn.  It was a great bunch of guests (not least of whom was the amazing Jo herself), plenty of opportunity to both hold forth on a panel and chat informally, a pleasant hotel, and a brand-new city to visit.

I  did not catch any of Ada Palmer’s panels, but I did get to hear her and her Sassafras companions perform on Saturday night.  They did some Renaissance tunes and selections from Ada’s Norse mythology song cycle, “Sundown”.   Jo added to the entertainment by reading a selection of her poems.  The woman seems to just generate sonnets spontaneously — I don’t know how she does it.  Makes me a bit jealous, actually.

I had some lovely conversations with friends old and new, like Ruthanna Emrys and her wife Sarah. I caught Ruthanna’s reading, where she read first from  Winter Tide, Book 1 of the Innsmouth Legacy; and then a bit from her upcoming novel, The Fifth Power (link has slight spoilers!), which was really quite a treat.  I’ve already fallen in love with the characters — protagonist and spouse had to pause to change the baby’s diapers while investigating an alien fortress.  My kinda people.


Winter Tide (The Innsmouth Legacy) by [Emrys, Ruthanna]

Jo read from an upcoming work, as well, one scheduled for release next year:

Without giving too much away, it’s about Savanarola, who was apparently not the S.O.B. you thought he was.  The part Jo read made me smile, and at a couple of points laugh out loud.   Really looking forward to this one.

Sabine and I also had a nice dinner and conversation with Alison Sinclair, who I met a couple of years ago at and before Worldcon in Kansas City.

You really should check out Alison’s Darkborn Trilogy; she’s used such an interesting setup for her world and society.   I’ve only read the first one, and really enjoyed it — but Sabine’s read them all and can’t say enough good things about them!

Another discovery of Sabine’s:

Arabella of Mars (The Adventures of Arabella Ashby Book 1) by [Levine, David D.]

I bumped into David at the giveaway table — literally, as I physically bumped into him, and also knocked all his books off the table as I was setting up mine, causing him to view me askance as I dithered through an apology.  But Sabine glommed onto his first book, and fell in love instantly.   She got all the sequels, and is now full of enthusiasm about how delightful they are.  High adventure!  Plucky heroine!  You  should take her advice and check them out. I plan on doing exactly that myself.

As for me: I had three panels and a reading.   I read the bits that I previously read at Readercon, so if you went to that, you didn’t miss anything new…

But the panels were an interesting selection –  and I’ll say more about them tomorrow (running out of time today)…  Let’s just say that the words “chuffed” and “gobsmacked” both apply.




5 Responses to “Scintillation in Montreal, Part One.”

  • RogerBW Says:

    Well, I loved Winter Tide and enjoyed Arabella of Mars (book two is rather more downbeat but given David’s personal circumstances at the time that’s not entirely surprising), so clearly your recommendations are at least roughly correlated with what I enjoy. (Plus your own books, obviously.) So I’ll give Darkborn a go, even if the publisher has dressed it up to look like an urban fantasy. (And if I don’t like it it’s All Your Fault, naturally. 🙂

    Many years ago at a World Fantasy Convention a group of us took pity on a young author whose first novel had been dumped by the publisher on the freebies table (without warning her); we took her to dinner, and were generally friendly. She was Jane Routley and the book was the excellent Mage Heart.

    • Ben Says:

      Exactly my thoughts; our tastes seem similar so it should be worth a try, but it looks like those generic glossy romance/paranormal romance covers … well, they do say not to judge a book by its cover ^^;

      • Rosemary Says:

        I have to say, if I had only seen the cover I would never have picked up Alison’s book. But I had met her first, and so enjoyed her company that I wanted to know what she wrote! Darkborn happened to be the one I grabbed. She has two other series — her blog has sample chapters, too, at

  • Lindig Says:

    Sounds great! I, too, love smaller cons where there’s not a huge gap between stars and peons. I wonder if there’ll be a video of the panels online, esp. the one about you and your fabulousness. I’m going to jot these recommendations down and try them out. Right now, I’m doing my annual re-read of the Miss Fisher Murder Mysteries (great fun) by Kerry Greenwood. So glad you had a good time, and all hail to Jo Walton.

  • Jo Walton Says:

    There won’t be video of recordings of the panels, for two reasons. One is that it’s expensive to do in terms of equipment and human effort. But the more important one is that I think it matters to have conversations sometimes that are not in front of the whole world and “on the record”, but with the people right there in the room.