Sci-Fi on the Rock: 10 years of awesome, dysfunction, and kentamination for the win.

April 1-3 this year was the tenth consecutive year for Sci-Fi on the Rock, a science-fiction convention that has become one of the largest fan and volunteer-run conventions of its kind. The Sheraton Newfoundland Hotel was filled to — from my understanding — near capacity and it resulted in one of the best weekends for the convention ever, by many metrics.

But not all metrics are measurable. This was the greatest weekend Engen Books has ever had by many metrics, not the least of which: sheer joy and pride. I’m going to attempt to explain why in a very stream-of-consciousness way.

Kenneth Tam, Matthew LeDrew, and Ellen Curtis behind the Engen Books booth. Dreams = come true.

Life has an odd way — sometimes — of linking things back together in very cohesive ways. Life isn’t a narrative. Life isn’t narratively pleasing, everything circling back to form a complete story… except sometimes.

The return of Kenneth Tam to Sci-Fi on the Rock was one of those moments, on a personal level. Kenneth Tam was the first guest at the original Sci-Fi on the Rock in 2006, which is in and of itself an Engen Books anniversary. As Ken himself put it this year while we all attended the Most Dysfunctional Writing Panel: “Ten years ago Matthew LeDrew came to my panel on how to break into publishing and scribbled everything I said on a sheet of paper furiously. The next year he came back with his own company and novel. Now ten years later, we’re all in this room because of that.”

Which, to be fair, is a flattering lie. 😉 That is classic Ken Tam, because I think he knew I was planning on spinning all our individual successes back to him as the “root of all evil good” in the Atlantic Canadian small press publishing world, and turned it against me first. Kudos, Tammy. Kudos. (And thank you).

At one point I caught Ken surveying the Engen booth, chin clasped in his hand, in a look I mistook for maybe “where does the series continue” or perhaps “where are the links between series” and, after finishing with the customer I was speaking to, asked him what I could help him with. He said, if a far too-quiet voice: “Look at everything you’ve accomplished.”

He’s an amazing man whose accomplishments dwarf our own, but he still takes the time to think of others, congratulate others, and encourage others. If the measure of a man is in how he treats others, then Kenneth Tam is a giant among us.

Also, I give you the following greatest pun ever… “We have been Ken-Tam-inated.” [Drops the Mic].


Matthew Daniels and Sam Bauer, posing with “Sci-Fi from the Rock.”

Going from our oldest partner to our newest, I’m proud to say that we got to meet Sci-Fi from the Rock author Samuel Bauer as well. This young author — who wrote The Locket — seemed genuinely surprised who accepted he was in the indie-publishing community of Newfoundland and Labrador: sitting behind the table, talking about this work to fans, signing copies, and attending the unofficial tradition of the authors and artists picking a restaurant to go out to on Saturday night. Speaking on behalf of everyone Sam, the honor was ours.

This year’s Most Dynsfunctional Writing Panel Ever was our most-attended and filled our room to capacity, despite being at night, being 16+, being up against the at-least-equally-awesome Storytime with Fat Apollo, and featuring Matthew LeDrew. We feel we got more information across and were less dysfunctional than usual, and aren’t sure if that’s a win or a loss.

Authors in attendance included Ellen Curtis, Erin Vance, Kenneth Tam, Jay Paulin, and Scott Bartlett, all of whom also contributed to the Sci-Fi from the Rock 10th anniversary collection. At the event, we announced that next year Fantasy from the Rock was to be made a reality during Sci-Fi on the Rock 11.

Also I don’t think I can say much, but we have made great strides towards a visual representation of one of our stories with an artist I have been wanted to work with for some years. Nothing is set until it’s set, but I’m already getting sketches in and it seems like she will be a blast to work with. More on that as it unfolds.

There will be more posts on this wonderful event and the people there, but right now I’m still feverish with the con-plague and will post more at a later time. Y’all are lucky you got this month out of me. 🙂

Great job everyone who helped, and a big thank you to all our fans 🙂

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