Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on August 4, 1996 · Page 161
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 161

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Sunday, August 4, 1996
Page 161
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VN-3 MARSHALL PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE B SUNDAY, AUGUST 4, 1996 A confluence of interest in science fiction More than 400 science fiction t buffs gathered last weekend for ' Confluence '96, the ninth annu-l alspeculative fiction convention ; held in the Sheraton Inn Pitts-: ' burgh North, Marshall. The - . event is sponsored by the Pitts-; ' burgh Area Realtime Scientific-l" tion Enthusiasts Club, orPAR-: SEC. I ; The convention primarily fea-i; tures dozens of authors, books, :'; entertainment and science-fic-:' tion art. But it's not all fiction. Confluence '96 also featured several astronomers and scientists who participated in panel discussions on topics ranging from new planetary discoveries to the Hubble Space Telescope. J, Convention organizer John Schmid of Shadyside tries to bring such diversity to Conflu- ence. Schmid, 33, works as a sys-y terns administrator for a Nation- . alAerotiautics and Space : Administration regional technol-; ogy center in Pittsburgh. He says ! he has been hooked on science fiction since he was 1 1 when he read the book "Dune" by Frank . Herbert. Schmid still reads plenty of science fiction, and his goal is to keep the convention and other PARSEC activities focused on the literary aspects of the genre. Schmid, a member of PAR-SEC for 10 years, talked with free-lance writer Kelly D. Burgess about the success of Confluence and his interest in the worlds of the imagination. PARSEC is just a group of like-' minded people who gather to talk about science fiction, fantasy or just plain science, and the word "scientifiction" is an interesting old term that was first used back in the 1930 when the first science-fiction pulp magazines started coming out., I think it was from Amazing Stories, but I'm riot sure. It is a combination of science, science fiction, and fiction; we thought it was just a neat word so we decided to use it. We meet monthly, and we usually have a planned program with a speaker. Nine years ago a number of us decided that it was time Pittsburgh had another science fiction conference the last one had been in the 1960s. We decided to call our convention "Confluence" for a couple of reasons. One of the definitions of confluence is "gathering," and a convention certainly is a gathering. 'a.V - f X W L I . v v .v DELUXE ESTATE 8x10x8 $749 8x12x8 $839 10x10x10 $1,019 10x12x10 $1,150 Gall for Dealer Nearest Super Summer Sizzler Sizzler Includes Free 58 Treated Floor 8x8 $599 8x10 $679 8x12 $749 : I A ; w ' ; , ' , -i . - Joyce MendelsohnPost-Gazette John Moorman of Mendon, Ohio, looks at the artwork on display at the Confluence '96 Workshop and Convention at the Sheraton Inn Pittsburgh North. Also, Pittsburgh is right at the confluence of three rivers, so we felt it kept the flavor of Pittsburgh, something that was important to us. The key of what we have been trying to is to keep the emphasis is more on the writing and reading than anything else. I first became a fan of science fiction when I was 11 and read "Dune" by Frank Herbert. If you spoke with most of our members, you would find that the" - stories are very similar. For many of them, their first interest in science fiction and fantasy was sparked through reading, and most of us are still very avid readers. One of our most popular sessions at the convention is our writers' workshop. It is limited to eight attendees, but we have at least twice that many people apply. Everyone who participated submitted a story beforehand and a copy was given to all of the other participants. At the, workshop, the stories were discussed and critiqued, not only by the attendees, but by published authors, too. We also have a short story contest every year. The entries are judged by PARSEC members and the winner receives $100, and their story is published in the convention program. But the writer's workshop is merely one facet of our convention. We have a wide range of guests and attendees. Some of our speakers are internationally known scientists from fields such as HEAKTMND HOME OF THE YARD BARNm SNCE HEARTLAND INDUSTRIES (other . . . A I I L A K. I r'AIJAf t in foiof Int Viiniorr In IfiCAI I ltTPv -" -"r ' TACKROOM 10x8x8 12x8x8 12x10x8 16x10x8 $829 $930 $1,119 $1,379 You 1-800-924-2271 Prices Good Thru 81598 Lawn Furniture. Complete Line V -ON SALE- astrophysics or nuclear fission. There are also editors from professional publishing houses such as Tor and St. Martin's Press. And because there is so much emphasis on literature, we have a lot of science fiction and fantasy writers attend. Our guest of honor this year was Michael Swanwick, who is very well known in the science fiction field; he has been writing since the mid-1980s. Another of our guests was Gene Wolfe, who has been writing for twice as long. Most of our seminars are held in the form of a panel discussion. We invite people who are well known in their field and tell them ahead of time what the subject will be. There are usually up to five people on a panel. They begin by discussing the subject among themselves, or by lecturing, and gradually the audience input begins. Because much of our interest is literature-based, our members tend to be very knowledgeable about the subjects in which they are interested. One of our seminars this year was led by George Gatewood, a Franklin Park resident and the director of Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh's Riverview Park. He essentially discovered that in the nearby star system, Lalande 21185, there was at least one planet orbiting a star at an approximate distance that may support life. So far, no one has been able to poke holes in his data. We also had two people 107S 1996 STANDARD FEATURES: Concrete Slab , All Wood Construction Wall Studs -1 6" O.C. 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We also have an art show and a dealer's room where artisans and booksellers come in and sell their wares. They sell anything from books that can be found anywhere to rare, first-edition books that are sealed and can't be obtained nearly anywhere else. This convention represents a confluence of fantasy, science and science fiction, so we try to have something for everyone's interest. For more information about PARSEC, call 344-0236. .. HOT HOME EQUITY LINES OF CREDIT For Today's Needs and Tomorrow's Dreams5" APPLY NOW FOR YOUR SLICE OF THE PIE . . . ALLISON PARK BRIGHTON ROAD NORTHWAY PERRYSVILLE 366-1200 734-2675 367-9010 364-3200 Special fixed rite of 6.85 is effective through March 31, 1997. As of April 1, 1997. interest rate will be equal to Wall Street Journal prime !'. The annual percentage rate may vary Special rate available only on new lines of credit opened A $15 fee may be charted for accounts inactive for one year. A Mi T.&C. 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