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Science fiction and fantasy at the Tucson Festival of Books

Tucson Festival of BooksThis coming weekend (March 12-14) is the 2nd Annual Tucson Festival of Books being held on the University of Arizona Campus. The first one held last year was a big success and drew in the neighborhood of 50,000 people and they are expecting an even bigger crowd this year. It has quickly become one of the largest book festivals in the country and far exceeded in its first year anything that had been done in the state before. With over 400 authors participating, there’s definitely something going on for anyone of all ages interested in books and reading and especially so if you read science fiction or fantasy with over 30 authors who write in those areas.

The festival kicks off on Friday night with The Author’s Table dinner with a keynote speech by NPR’s Scott Simon. Several of the participating authors will be on hand although the only genre author I’m aware of is Jeff Mariotte.

On Saturday and Sunday, the festival takes over the University of Arizona campus from 9:30 am to 5:30 pm with hundreds of exhibitors and over 30 different events taking place each hour over the two days. There are discussion panels on a variety of topics, solo interviews and talks, and multiple chances to get your books signed. The science fiction and fantasy authors include Jennifer Ashley, Elizabeth Bear, Frank Beddor, Emma Bull, Laurie Brooks, Terry Brooks, Charles de Lint, Amanda Downum, Karen Joy Fowler, James Frenkel, Alice Hoffman, Nina Kiriki Hoffman, Janis Ian, Jane Lindskold, Jeff Mariotte, Cheyenne McCray, Dennis McKiernan, Sarah Monette, David Morrell, Yvonne Navarro, Weston Ochse, James A. Owen, Jon Scieska, Will Shetterly, Janni Lee Simner, Jeanne Stein, Vickie Lewis Thompson, Joan D. Vinge, John Vornholt, Catherine Wells, and Timothy Zahn.  There will also be hundreds of other authors on hand representing all the different literary genres.  For a full list of authors attending, check out the festival’s Author page.

One of the highlights is a group panel at 2:30 on Saturday by the creators of the Shadow Unit online shared fictional universe, described by Elizabeth Bear as “the website for a serial drama in internet form. Or possibly it’s a fan site for a TV show that doesn’t exist.” She will be joined by Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Sarah Monette, Amanda Downum, and Leah Bobet. The “show” just entered its third season and is well worth checking out.

Solo spotlights include ones with Terry Brooks and Frank Beddor, there will also be writing workshops with James A. Owen and Nina Kiriki Hoffman and an editing workshop with James Frenkel. Discussion panels include Science Fiction Today, Young Adult Fantasy for Everyone, Culture and Mythology in Fantasy, and Married to an Author. Signings will take place in specified locations following each panel as well as additional signings at the Mysterious Galaxy (#73-75) and Leprecon, Inc. (#76) booths. Other booths of interest to science fiction and fantasy readers include TusCon Science Fiction Convention (#77), Heroes and Villain’s Comics (#84, #85 & #27), Hi De Ho Comics (#82 & #83), and Gamadin Sci-Fi Adventure Series (#81). For a full roundup of science fiction and fantasy happenings at the Tucson Festival of Books, check the Tucson Festival of Books Page. It will be updated as new information becomes available.

The official festival web page has a fully searchable schedule, a map of the festival and you can even download an iPhone/iPod Touch application to help you keep track of what you want to see. If you are in Tucson, this Sunday’s edition of the Arizona Star has a multipage insert with details on the Festival. It should also be available onsite as the Festival guide. It looks to be a fun event and I’ll be there manning the Leprecon, Inc. booth. Stop by and say hi!

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About the author

Lee Whiteside

Lee Whiteside has been writing about science fiction and fantasy in various forms online since before the WWW existed. His website,, keeps track of genre TV shows. He also is quite involved with organized fandom, having chaired CopperCons (16 & 23), LepreCons (28 & upcoming 36), The 2006 Nebula Awards, and the first North American Discworld Convention. And he runs the official Connie Willis Website at