On August 2-3, 2013, a core group of self-professed nerds are going to try something a just a little bit terrifying — we’re going to hold a conference just for people of faith who love science-fiction, fantasy, and all their odd offshoots.
One might ask if there’s really any demand for such a thing — on the surface, Realm Makers looks a lot like a typical writers conference, except many of the classes will speak directly to the writers of “weird stuff.” For example, we’ll be talking about world-building, fight choreography, Star Wars, science, and magic.
A little over a year ago, a group of speculative fiction enthusiasts were talking online about science fiction and fantasy conventions, and how many of us would like to attend one, but how the pervasive presence of scantily-clad “booth girls,” the glorification of dark and evil ideals, and the sometimes-antagonistic tone toward Christianity made an otherwise awesome environment too uncomfortable for some fans. Half-jokingly, I suggested we needed a “con” of our own. One where we could talk about the stories we love, but conduct the discussion through the filter of our worldview. One where there might not be so many chain mail bikinis. Though I expected people to laugh, they didn’t. They agreed with me. The enthusiasm and excitement about the idea began to boil.
In order to keep the first attempt at Realm Makers manageable, we pared the idea of a full-blown convention down to a writers conference, since my main area of contact is with the fiction community. The long-term goal, however, is to expand the vision to bring together not only authors, but filmmakers, illustrators, comic book and graphic novel artists, and fans. It’s my hope that some of the discussions during this first year will help generate the momentum to forge toward this goal.
For this year, even with just us writers, we have some exciting content lined up. Jeff Gerke of Marcher Lord Press/Hinterlands will serve as our keynote speaker, and we’ll have courses taught by industry professionals such as Bryan Davis, Kathy Tyers, Chila Woychik, L.B. Graham, Grace Bridges, and a host of others I can’t squeeze in here.
You can expect the conference to tackle some of the tough issues of being both a Christian and a fan of the speculative arts. Where is the line between appropriate, realistic content and glorifying mankind’s sin nature? Does the world still need books about upstanding heroes? Can and should a Christian artist work in the mainstream market? How can we reach beyond simplistic allegory and sermonizing in our stories? What’s on the horizon for established franchises as well as newcomers to the publishing world?
Around the beginning of April, we will finalize the cost of attendance at the event, but the expectation is that the registration will run somewhere between $150-$200. Registration will open in May. The accommodations for the conference are right on the campus of the university, so while they might not be glamorous, the price will be right. And you can guarantee the company will be excellent.
It’s my hope that this first instance of Realm Makers will begin an annual symposium where great ideas and even greater relationships can take shape. Keep an eye on FaithandFantasyAlliance.com for developing details.