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Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference
Status Active
Genre Science fiction
Venue Crowne Plaza Hotel, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Location(s) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Country United States
Inaugurated 1936
Most recent 2015 (Nov 20-22, 2015)
Next event November 18-20, 2016[1]
Organized by Philadelphia Science Fiction Society

Philcon, also known as the "Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference", is an annual science fiction convention, which has been held in or near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, nearly every year since 1936. The convention is run by the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society (PSFS). Usually held in November, its programming features a mixture of literary, science, gaming, film, anime, and costuming. There is usually an open Meet the Authors/Artists Party on Friday and a Masquerade on Saturday, as well as the usual programming mixture of literature, art, costuming, and gaming panels, an art show, a dealers' room, a masquerade, and movies.

Philcon 2013[edit]

The 2013 Philcon was held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey from November 8 through 10.[2]

The Principal Speaker is science fiction author Allen Steele. Steele’s early novels beginning with Orbital Decay and continuing through Labyrinth of Night. form a future history. Some of his early novels such as Orbital Decay and Lunar Descent were about blue-collar workers working on future construction projects in space. Since 1992, he has tended to focus on stand-alone projects and short stories, although he has written four novels about the moon Coyote. His short story, “Live from the Mars Hotel” is among the works included on the “Visions of Mars” disk aboard NASA’s Phoenix Lander, which landed on Mars in 2008.

The Artist Guest of Honor is Charles Vess, an American fantasy artist and comic-book illustrator who has specialized in the illustration of myths and fairy tales. He has contributed to Heavy Metal and National Lampoon and collaborated with Neil Gaiman (Stardust and Blueberry Girl), Terri Windling and Ellen Datlow (The Green Man, The Faery Reel, and The Coyote Road anthologies), and Charles de Lint (numerous projects).

The Musical Guests of Honor are The Heather Dale Band with S.J. Tucker. Canadian musician Heather Dale writes songs that tap into legends, mythology, history and fantasy, fusing Celtic folk tradition with a healthy mix of world music and rock influences. Arkansas-born S. J. Tucker writes songs that integrate elements of electronica, filk, spoken word, and world music.

The Fan Guest of Honor is Robert "Bob" Madle. Bob Madle is a founding member of the Philadelphia Science Fiction Society and was one of the attendees of Philcon I, the first science fiction convention ever held.

Philcon 2013 will include:

  • Presentations by Hugo Award-winning author Allen Steele, and Eisner Award-winning artist Charles Vess.
  • A live performance by the Heather Dale Band with S.J Tucker.
  • A diverse program, examining such topics as literature and publishing, art, mass media, popular culture, gaming, science, costuming and cosplay.
  • Our track of anime programming, with sponsorship by our friends at Zenkaikon!
  • Our Costume Ball, where you can dance the night away with other fans in your favorite fashions from your favorite era... real or imagined!
  • Philcon's famous Masquerade, where costumers from all over present their creations for you.
  • An area for open gaming, where you can enjoy your favorite war-games, board and card games, as well as RPGs, with other gamers.
  • The opportunity to meet with professional authors, artists and others from the worlds of science fiction, fantasy and horror and to find out about new writers, books, shows, movies, and events, and share your finds with other fans.
  • A diverse track of children and family programming, where the young and young at heart can explore their inner creativity.

Go to the Philcon website (see External links, below) for more information and to register for the convention.


In 1936, a half dozen fans came down from New York by train for the first intercity meeting of fans ever held. A picture taken of the group at Independence Hall has appeared in a number of the histories of science fiction fandom. They held a business meeting at the house of Philadelphia fan Milton A. Rothman, electing Rothman as chair and New Yorker Frederik Pohl as Secretary.[3] Since Philadelphia had been the site of the 1936 Democratic and Republican National Conventions, they declared themselves the Philadelphia Science Fiction Convention. Part of the group went to John Baltadonis' home to examine his art collection and the printing press used to publish the PSFS newsletter. At Rothman's house, the group talked about science fiction and played craps. On the way back to the train station, some of the attendees sang early filk songs. One of the attendees, John B. Michel published an account of the day, the first convention report, in a New York fanzine.

"Nine people attended the first Philcon in 1936. They were Ossie Train, Donald A. Wollheim, Milton A. Rothman, Frederik Pohl, John B. Michel, Will Sykora, David Kyle, Robert A. Madle, and John Baltadonis.[4] Pohl excluded Herbert Goudket, who took the picture shown. Others are thought to have attended, but they are not shown in the picture.

Some fan historians, as well as the PSFS, claim that the first Philcon was the first science fiction convention ever held. Others such as Fred Patten and Rob Hansen make this claim for the January 1937 event in Leeds, England, organised by the Leeds Science Fiction League, which was specifically organised as a conference, with a programme and speakers. Out of this came the first incarnation of the British Science Fiction Association.


The World Science Fiction Convention, or Worldcon, has been held in Philadelphia three times:


  1. ^ "Save the Date for Philcon 2016!". Philcon. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  2. ^ Philcon 2012 Official website
  3. ^ Sam Moskowitz. The Immortal Storm, A History of Science Fiction Fandom, 1st ed.,1954, The Atlanta Science Fiction Organization Press, Atlanta, GA, page 82. ISBN 978-0-88355-160-8
  4. ^ Frederik Pohl. The Way the Future Was:A Memoir, 1st ed., 1978, Del Rey Books.


  • Bristol, John (Jack Speer), "Fancyclopedia", Fantasy Foundation, 1944. Available online at [1]
  • Eney, Dick, "Fancyclopedia II", Operation Crifanac 1959.
  • Pohl, Frederick, "The Way the Future Was: A Memoir", Del Rey Books, 1978.
  • Moskowitz, Sam, "The Immortal Storm", Hyperion Press, 1974.
  • Wolkoff, Lew, "The First Philcon, An Oral History", Phanadelphia Corporation, 1985.

External links[edit]