Ad Astra: Navigating the Stars of Fandom

Humans have long navigated this world by gazing up at the night sky, following the patterns and constellations shining down upon them. Similar to how we have relied upon the stars to guide our way, we are fortunate to have dedicated fans to guide us towards a greater enjoyment and appreciation of conventions.

Sam Lubell, a longtime convention attendee and newsletter editor for last year’s DisCon III, has generously provided these definitions for new Worldcon members! These interpretations will be especially helpful as new attendees join us over the weekend.

Con Suite: Place where convention members can find free (soft) drinks and light munchies. These are not meant to replace a meal but instead provide a quick snack. Please take your food next door to the con suite eating area.

Fanzine: Sometimes just called a “zine,” a fanzine is a publication put out by one or more fans. Some are written entirely by one person (a perzine or personal zine) while others resemble a magazine with articles by different authors. The Fanzine Lounge (pictured below) is a good place to read fanzines and learn about how to get your own copies.

Filk: The “music of fandom,” these are songs on subjects of interest to fans ranging from space exploration to cats and computers. These songs are often sung to tunes borrowed from folk music (or other sources) and sometimes to original music. It is called filk because someone many conventions ago made a typo (it was supposed to be folk music) and it stuck. Conventions frequently have filking in the evenings. The Chicon Guide has filking in ROOM starting at TIME.

Table Talks: These are sometimes called Kaffeeklatches. These are small group conversations with a guest, ranging from talking about an author’s latest books to anything the guest (and the audience) want to discuss. This is a good way to learn more about an author, or take a chance and sign up for a table talk with someone whose name you don’t recognize. This could be a way to make a new friend and learn about what new authors/editors/publishers go through in today’s market.

Let’s look back on some of the memorable moments shared by our members! If you would like to share your Chicon 8 experiences, photos, and “Out of CONtext” quotes, please email

A few photos from this morning’s outdoor venture, Stroll with the Stars

Tananarive Due Reading

Some lovely photos from CoNZealand 2020, featuring Nelson Cates and Kelly Buehler

Suited up for The Diverse Histories and Futures of Comics with James Bacon!

Jamie Culpon: “Doctor Who 13-14 study from a few months ago while I was working on getting more accurate stuff from the initial announcements in the UK.” (Prepared for Chicon 8)

Daily Daisy: “Please be patient with me. The Con Office is here for your needs. I just can’t get the Wi-Fi to work. Wish I had opposable thumbs…”

Special thanks to Sam Lubell, David Hirsch, Maria Eskinazi, Alison Scott, James Bacon, Jamie Culpon, and Michael Nelson for contributing to this edition of Ad Astra.

About Rex Allen Hughes

Newsletter Editor and Team Lead, Chicon 8