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Confluence 2020 Postponed to July 23- 25 2021

COVID-19 is touching all of our lives and at this time our primary concern is the safety and well-being of our Confluence attendees. Since our last announcement on April 10, the United States has become an epicenter for COVID-19. The Governor of PA has prohibited large gatherings during the yellow phase of the reopening and no one is sure how long this phase may last. Experts predict that continued social distancing efforts may be required until such time as there is an effective vaccine, a milestone we are not expected to reach this summer.

It is for these reasons that the Confluence committee has decided to postpone Confluence until next year. It will now be held July 23-25, 2021 at the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel.

Our Featured Filk Guest, Tim Griffin, and our Writing Workshop coordinator, Rachel Swirsky have agreed to join us in 2021. Unfortunately our scheduled Guest of Honor, Martha Wells, will not be able to join us in 2021. We will post updates as they become available.

If you have already purchased a membership for Confluence 2020 it is still active and will automatically roll over to 2021. If you plan to attend in 2021 you don’t need to do anything. Everyone who has a membership for 2020, has a membership for Confluence 2021.

Registration will remain open at the pre-registration rate until April 15, 2021. If you know someone that wants to attend Confluence 2021, now would be a great time to purchase a membership!

If you have already purchased a membership for 2020, but will not be able to attend the rescheduled convention in 2021, please send an email to by December 31, 2020 so we may issue you a refund. (However, like all fan-run conventions, Confluence is facing a financial loss due to this postponement. If you are able to do so, we request that you consider allowing us to roll your membership over to next year or transfer it to someone else.)

If you have already made a hotel reservation, in the Confluence room block, at our hotel, it has been cancelled.  No action is required.

We would like to extend our thanks to the Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel for allowing us to cancel our 2020 event without a penalty. We will post a link when the hotel is ready to take reservations for 2021.

This postponement has been an exceedingly difficult decision for us to make.  However, our program committee is hard at work brainstorming ways in which members of our community might still come together and connect during this strange and difficult time.

Tentative plans are being made for hosting a virtual Confluence music track over the weekend of July 24-26. This would feature online concerts by several of the performers who had been set to appear at Confluence 2020 as well as online open filking.

Virtual literary program items might also be possible, although discussions about such items are very preliminary.

We hope to have more information for you in the following weeks. Watch our websiteour Twitter accountour Facebook page and Facebook Group  for updates. If you would like to receive important Confluence updates, please sign up for our newsletter!

We appreciate your patience and understanding during these unprecedented events. Our hearts go out to all those affected by the virus and the disruptions it has caused. Even if we cannot be together this July, we remain optimistic that the situation will soon improve. I know we are all very worried about the impact that COVID-19 is having on our loved ones and daily lives.

Please take care of yourselves and each other,
The Confluence Conference Committee

Recommended resources:
Sheraton Pittsburgh Airport Hotel cancellation Policy during Covid 19
Sci-fi/Fantasy conventions canceled so far –
PA Governor, Life sustaining business FAQs
Coronavirus—COVID-19 (CDC)
Steps to Prevent Illness (CDC)
Hygiene Etiquette & Practice: Coughing & Sneezing (CDC)
Stop Germs! Wash Your Hands (CDC)

Triangulation Update

Because of the recent pandemic, we here at Triangulation: Extinction are running a bit behind schedule. If you are waiting for a response on a story you submitted, no worries! We plan on responding to all submissions by the end of May. We have received many great stories and want give them all equal consideration. If you have not heard back from us by June 1, please contact us.

We apologize for the delay, but look forward to finalizing the anthology!

Book of poetry by Mary Soon Lee

Mary Soon Lee, a well-loved poet and member of Parsec, has published a book containing the entire story about King Xau as told in poems. The first fifth of the book, “Crowned,” was published in 2015 by Dark Renaissance Books.

Mary’s comment: The pandemic made me anxious to get the whole story published, and it’s now available as an ebook, from Kindle, Nook, Apple Books, Kobo, and Google Play. I’m donating any money I get from 2020 sales to charity (Doctors Without Borders, The Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, and The Trevor Project).

Her webpage for the book – The Sign of the Dragon – includes a recording of her reading the opening poem. [Note: This is definitely worth listening to, as Mary is very good at reading her poems.] 

The plot summary is as follows:

As the fourth-born prince of Meqing, Xau was never supposed to be king. But when his three older brothers are all deemed unfit to rule and eaten by a dragon, as is the custom, Xau suddenly finds himself on the Meqinese throne. The early years of his reign are marred by brutal earthquakes and floods, and the long-simmering tension with the neighboring country of Innis finally erupts into war. Worst of all, demons rise out of legend to walk the realm again, leaving death and destruction in their wake. In a desperate gamble, Xau must broker an uneasy peace with his former enemies and hope their combined strength is enough to vanquish the demons before it’s too late.

Parsec: A Community

For over three decades, Parsec has been the premier speculative fiction organization in Pittsburgh. It’s been granted 501c3 charitable status because of the broad educational component and the high number of volunteer hours. The Parsec mission is “to promote awareness of the richness of speculative fiction as literature, art and music; further general education in the sciences and arts, support contributions–both scientific and artistic–to society.”

  • Confluence is the annual, three-day, science fiction conference in late July.
  • Alpha, the SF/F/H Workshop for Young Writers is a twelve-day, residential workshop for teenagers 14 to 19 years old at UPG.
  • The CMU student club Partners in Speculative Fiction co-hosts a lecture series with Parsec. Local and national authors share the stage for the public to enjoy free writing workshops and talks several times a year.
  • The meeting group hosts free, open monthly club activities.
  • Annually, the small press Parsec Ink publishes the Triangulation series and runs the Parsec Short Story Contest, a no-fee, genre contest with cash prizes ($200, $100, $50).

But Parsec is more than the sum of its parts, it’s a community. I’ve seen members meet and marry, help each other through rough medical issues, find each other jobs, new friends and living quarters, help with moves, co-author and critique each other’s work, jointly celebrate and mourn, grow up and grow old together.

Opportunities have been created for people to use this system we’ve built, and Triangulation is a prime example, since it was designed to rotate editorship among local writers as a learning experience. This year nearly twenty students joined the editorial team as slush readers. They were given access to the submissions system Submittable and could read stories as they came in, rank and comment on them. They quickly learned something that’s hard to believe until one experiences it firsthand. Most stories submitted anywhere are awful. What a boost that was to their self-esteem. They saw the same mistakes over and over. It’s hard to create those kinds of teachable moments. We had lively discussions about story technique and they learned quickly what not to do in their own writing. Of course, many of the hundreds of submissions were brilliant and those were analyzed, too. The students saw our procedures and contracts, how we raised the funds necessary and pulled together art, design, layout and advertising material. SFWA gave us a grant for this teaching experience. These students also will be sent copies of the anthology and run release parties in their areas, the full experience.

The 2019 theme was suggested by a CMU Metro21 grant to study light pollution in Pittsburgh. The phrase “Dark Skies” to astronomers is a way to put a positive spin on light pollution, which is the excessive artificial light at night that inhibits observation of stars. Light pollution can have serious environmental consequences for human health and wildlife, and wastes billions of dollars a year. 99 percent of the people in Europe and the US can’t experience a natural sky where they live because of skyglow, which is easily preventable, education being key. Shield lights so they don’t shine up into the sky, use lower wattage, lower temperature bulbs, set timers, dimmers or motion sensors or just turn the lights off when they aren’t needed.

Dark skies are what we should be seeing, skies full of stars. Triangulation has always benefited from authors interpreting the theme in whatever way they want, using artistic license to its fullest. Therefore, the stories are all thoughtful, creative interpretations of the theme. The hope is that this issue will spark interest in seeing dark skies, encourage authors to incorporate more realistic, scientific scenarios into their fiction and “storify” important issues to create a deep, lasting reader experience. 

In this vein, Isaac Payne (former Alpha students and editorial assistant on the Dark Skies issue) will be editing the 2020 edition of Triangulation on the theme Extinction. His Kickstarter is up now to pay the authors 3 cents a word, a decent sum for a small press anthology. Won’t you consider helping? Deadline, Saturday, November 30th.

It takes a community.

Speculative Fiction Lecture Series with Writing Workshop

Saturday, April 6, 2019
10-12:00 Workshop by YA author Megan Lynch

Feminism in Sci-Fi and Fantasy Writer’s Workshop: Learn about the evolution of feminism in genre fiction, begin to analyze stories through a feminist lens, and start to weave your perspective on gender issues into stories of your own. Bring a notebook and pen.

1:00 pm Lecture by Connecticut fantasy author Tochi Onyebuchi


“The untranslatable & deeply felt pain-joy of sincerely, ceaselessly loving something (Star Wars, Firefly, Blade Runner, so many more) that uses the aesthetics, the language, the empty shell of your culture while tossing aside the ppl (& your humanity alongside it).”  

Partners in Speculative Fiction and Parsec are sponsoring this daylong event.

Book signing with both authors immediately afterward.

All events take place in the Studio Room of the Cohon University Center at Carnegie Mellon University, 5000 Forbes Ave. Free parking in the East Campus Garage, next to the University Center.  

Please join us for this free, public event. 

 Megan Lynch

Unregistered (Children of the Uprising, Volume 1)


Unafraid (Children of the Uprising, Volume 2)


Undone (Children of the Uprising, Volume 3)


Tochi Onyebuchi

Beasts Made of Night (Volume 1) (Hardcover)



Crown of Thunder (Volume 2) (Hardcover)


Triangulation needs more light pollution stories

Theme:  Triangulation: Dark Skies is a celebration of the natural beauty of the night sky. We’re into our third month, and we have seen an amazing array of speculative tales featuring skies full of stars. We’ve roamed the universe far and wide, but we need stories that explore the issue of light pollution more directly. Show us what it might mean for a sentient race to lose the ability to peer out into other worlds. If you need inspiration, head to the site of our partner organization, the International Dark-Sky Association, a group dedicated to raising awareness of the dangers of light pollution. Also, check out Duotrope’s interview with our editor

Neal Stephenson Lecture

Neal Stephenson comes to Pittsburgh with the sequel to his blockbuster techno-thriller Readme.

Fall; or, Dodge in Hell is a wildly inventive and entertaining science fiction thriller—Paradise Lost by way of Philip K. Dick—that unfolds in the near future, in parallel worlds.

When: Monday, June 17, 2019 at 7 p.m.
Where: Carnegie Library Lecture Hall; 4400 Forbes Ave, Pgh PA 15213

A book signing will follow the lecture. A selection of backlist titles and the author’s current book will be available for sale from Classic Lines.

Tickets are available at Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures. Price includes a hardcover copy of Fall; or, Dodge in Hell.

Parsec Short Story Contest

The 23rd Annual PARSEC SF/Fantasy/Horror Short Story Contest opened for submissions on January 1, 2019. The theme this year is NOIR. This can be conveyed in the setting, plot, characters, dialogue…the only limit is your imagination. Submit here:

Closes April 15, maximum 3500 words.  No entry fee. 

Parsec Holiday Party

The Parsec Holiday Party will be this Saturday, December 8, 2018 from 4pm-10pm at Greg’s house [2966 Voelkel Avenue, Dormont PA 15216].

So come one and come all, to enjoy fine conversation and games, look over the books, and taste the food. (People usually bring a dish or snack to share.)

Voelkel Avenue is parallel to the Red Line trolley. If you take that, get off at Potomac, walk away from Molly’s Pizza and the gas station, then turn right onto Voelkel. 2966 is at the far end of the block, near Hillsdale Ave. Look for the 10 foot dragon wearing a Santa hat.

Dark Skies in Pittsburgh & Triangulation

A new and unique outreach initiative will be a partnership with local literary non-profit Parsec. Aiming to facilitate the cultural shift through storytelling, the upcoming edition of Parsec’s annual fiction anthology Triangulation will consist of short stories centered around the theme Dark Skies.

Excerpts from the Tartan (CMU paper):

Roughly half of the stars visible in the 1990s can no longer be seen in Pittsburgh’s night sky. The stars aren’t going anywhere — so why can’t we see the Milky Way? Light pollution — the presence of artificial light that interferes with the natural darkness of nighttime — is on the rise in Pittsburgh.

…Stephen Quick of the School of Architecture’s Remaking Cities Institute and Diane Turnshek of the physics department will lead a project using quadcopter drones to create a high-resolution light pollution map of Pittsburgh, as the city seeks to evaluate the light pollution impact of new street lamps. In addition to the International Dark Sky Association, Quick and Turnshek will be working with the City of Pittsburgh and the Amateur Astronomers Association of Pittsburgh to implement the project and raise awareness for issues of light pollution within the city. …

Aiming to facilitate the cultural shift through storytelling, the upcoming edition of Parsec’s annual fiction anthology Triangulation will consist of short stories centered around the theme Dark Skies. Additional information about dark sky initiatives in Pittsburgh can be found at and