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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 2017 (Nov 10–12, 2017)
Next event November 16–18, 2018
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.


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.[1] 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:[citation needed]

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.[2] 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 claim that the 1936 Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference, a.k.a. 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,[3] organized by the Leeds Science Fiction League, which was specifically organised as a conference, with a program and speakers. Out of this came the first incarnation of the British Science Fiction Association.

Philcon Worldcons[edit]

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

Philcon 2016[edit]

[needs update] The 2016 Philcon will be held at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey from November 18–20, 2016.[4]

The Principal Speaker is science fiction author C. J. Cherryh, making her first East Coast appearance in a number of years.

In 1975, Donald A. Wollheim purchased two manuscripts Ms. Cherryh had submitted to DAW Books, Gate of Ivrel and Brothers of Earth. The two novels were published in 1976 and won her immediate recognition and the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 1977.

In 1979, her short story "Cassandra" won the Best Short Story Hugo Award. She has since won the Hugo Award for Best Novel twice, first for Downbelow Station in 1982 and then again for Cyteen in 1989.

Her novels are divided into various spheres, focusing mostly around the Alliance-Union universe, the Chanur novels, the Foreigner universe, and her fantasy novels. In addition to her own fictional universes, Ms. Cherryh has contributed to several shared world anthologies, including Thieves' World, Heroes in Hell, Elfquest, Witch World, Magic in Ithkar, and the Merovingen Nights series, which she edited.

Cherryh was the Guest of Honor at the 56th World Science Fiction Convention in Baltimore (1998), and in February 2017, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) selected C. J. Cherryh as the 32nd Damon Knight Grand Master. The Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award is given by SFWA for “lifetime achievement in science fiction and/or fantasy.”

Planning for Philcon 2016 is ongoing, but the convention will include:

  • A diverse program, examining such topics as literature and publishing, art, mass media, popular culture, gaming, science, costuming and cosplay.
  • Philcon's famous Masquerade, where costumers from all over presented their creations.
  • An area for open gaming, where fans enjoyed their 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 finds with other fans.
  • A diverse track of children and family programming, where the young and young at heart could explore their inner creativity.


  • Bristol, John (Jack Speer), Fancyclopedia, Fantasy Foundation, 1944.
  • 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.


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ Frederik Pohl. The Way the Future Was:A Memoir, 1st ed., 1978, Del Rey Books.
  3. ^ Mike Glyer. "THE FIRST EVER CONVENTION," The Story So Far (Worldcon, 1987).
  4. ^ Philcon 2016 Official website

External links[edit]