Cons & Cons

Chicagoland Conventions

Focused on conventions in or reasonably close to Chicago, with an emphasis on literary programming. There are many more comic/game/etc.-focused cons than included here; I'll try to tack on any that have bookish programming. Also check the Upcoming Events for some one-off conferences that may not make it onto this page.


  • Hosted by Phandemonium, usually includes a few book discussions and a lot of good programming.
  • February: Wheeling, IL.

Chicago Comic & Entertainment Exposition

  • C2E2 is a huge, professionally-run expo. Expect massive amounts of comic-themed things--tons and tons of vendors, artists, panels. There will be celebrity guests from all corners of geekdom, high-quality cosplay, SF/F writer talks, and probably representation by local groups like the Chicago Nerd Social Club.
  • April: McCormick Place, Chicago.

Windy City Pulp & Paper Expo

  • Primarily for collectors and sellers, this expo has lots of SF/F & related genera. Besides the seller's floor, they also do a film festival and various talks.
  • April: Lombard, IL

DePaul Pop Culture Conference

  • These one-day, free-and-open conferences are really well done. Each year has a different focus (they've done Star Trek, Dr. Who, the Whedon-verse, etc.), and they run programming that's a mix of academic, fannish, and creator-based. Highly recommended.
  • May: DePaul, Chicago.


  • Wiscon is a feminist SF convention held in beautiful Madison, WI. It usually has outstanding programming, and my impression is that it has a higher percentage of reader-based programming than many cons.
  • May: Madison WI.
  • Click here for Positron posts about Wiscon.

Chicago Zine Fest

  • "A celebration of small press and independent publishers. CZF’s mission is to showcase the culture and accessibility of zine-making through workshops, events, and an annual festival that welcomes artists and creators to share their stories, knowledge, and love of zines."
  • May: Chicago.

Chicago Alternative Comics Exposition

  • Or "CAKE" if you squint a little. Lots of independent comics & artists. It's free!
  • June: the Center on Halsted, 3656 N. Halsted Ave., Chicago.


  • A family-friendly con with an emphasis on children's literature & youth programming. Did not have a 2016 convention, may return in 2017.
  • June: Wheeling, IL.


  • "MuseCon is a weekend-long convention for artists, musicians, inventors, gadgeteers, makers, tinkerers, and creative people of all ages."
  • August: Itasca, IL


  • An SF con in Lombard, IL, easily accessible by train from Chicago. Usually host to book discussion groups by Chi-SF and Phandemonium.
  • November: Lombard, IL

Other Notable Cons

That may be a bit further away.


  • An SF/F con featuring a "near-total focus on the written word" and excellent programming and guests.
  • July: Quincy, MA


Academic Conferences

International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

  • "A scholarly organization devoted to the study of the fantastic (broadly defined) as it appears in literature, film, and the other arts." A lovely scholarly conference with some fannish programming as well.
  • March: Orlando, FL

Campbell Conference and Awards

Fan Studies Network Conference

  • Focused on all areas of fandom scholarship. The FSN site & Twitter is also a great place to keep up with CFPs and other academic points of interest.

Science Fiction Research Association 

  • The SFRA is the premier and most active academic organization dedicated to SF/F & allied literature. Their annual conference moves around and sometimes dovetails with a convention (2014's SFRA/Wiscon was a delightful match).
  • June/July, moves around. 2017 is paired with the Eaton in Riverside, IL.


  • "The goal of Fantastika Journal and its annual conference is to bring together academics and independent researchers who share an interest in this diverse range of fields with the aim of opening up new dialogues, productive controversies and collaborations. We invite articles examining all mediums and disciplines which concern the Fantastika genres."
  • Usually July, April in 2017. Lancaster, UK.

Academic Conference on Canadian Science Fiction and Fantasy

Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association

  • The PCA/ACA is a large scholarly organization that looks at all facets of popular culture. SF/F & related genres in written form, film, television, comics, and video games are common topics. They have a whopping 7 regional conferences as well as a National Conference each year.

Eaton Science Fiction Conference

  • Held in Riverside, California. An excellent scholarly conference. UCR's Eaton collection is the largest publicly-accessible collection of SF/F & related literature. It's also a beautiful campus, and a relatively quick jaunt from LA. Has been held intermittently the last few years.
  • June/July: Riverside, CA.


  • The annual conference of the Mythopoeic Society, which focuses on the work of Tolkien, Lewis, the other Inklings, and related literature.
  • July/August. 2017's will be held in Champaign-Urbana, IL.

Modern Language Assocation

  • "The MLA promotes the study and teaching of languages and literatures through its programs, publications, annual convention, and advocacy work." The MLA is a BIG organization, and their annual convention will typically include quite a few SF/F panels and papers.
  • January, moves around.

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