If you like writing about science, whether science fiction or science fact, you might want to keep May 24 to 27 free.

This is when science writers from all over Canada will be gathering in Whitehorse to attend this year’s Canadian Science Writers’ Association conference, being held North of 60 for the first time ever.

The conference is open to anyone who’s interested, says a busy Claire Eamer, a Whitehorse author and co-chair of the local programming committee.

“In terms of local people attending, it’s a really good professional development opportunity,” she says.

“There will be editors of national-level magazines, producers from the Discovery Channel, from CBC. People like that. Writers whose names you see in bylines in the Toronto Star, theGlobe and Mail, the Vancouver Sun. There will be loads of chances to talk to them and to ask questions.”

Called Science Under the Midnight Sun, the conference takes place at Yukon College and is packed with Yukon content.

“I think we’re going to really amaze the people who are coming to this. They have very little idea of what the Yukon looks like, let alone what’s happening here,” says Eamer, who admits with a grin that she was very much part of the initial idea to hold the conference here in the Yukon.

“Sunday is going to be focused on Yukon science and Yukon scientists and the Monday is focused on the International Polar Year, but as it links to the Yukon,” she says.

There will also be a family afternoon and a field trip to Haines Junction which is being planned in partnership with the Champagne and Aishihk First Nations.

Eamer herself writes about science in all sorts of ways. She has just published a factual book called Super Crocs and Monster Wings: Modern Animals’ Ancient Past which will be on sale at the conference.

Aimed at young readers, Eamer’s book avoids the well-trodden dinosaur path and describes creatures such as rabbit-sized camels, flies as big as chickadees and ground-dwelling sloths tall enough to nibble the tops of trees.

Eamer also has a science fiction story in Polaris, an anthology short-listed for the 2007 Science in Society young adult award which will be presented at the conference.

“It’s got four Yukoners in its pages,” explains Eamer. “Me, Marcelle Dubé and then two young Yukon scientists wrote the introduction, Amber Church and Tyler Kuhn. They’re both involved in the science writers’ conference too.”

Church has organized a panel of young Yukon scientists that Eamer describes as the “here are your hot young stories of the future” pack.

A journalist with two English degrees, Eamer doesn’t see a huge amount of difference between writing science fiction and science fact.

“It’s all story telling,” she says. “That’s what you’re doing with science writing; you’re turning it into a story that people can understand.”

Registration for the conference is online at www.sciencewriters.ca/conference2008 where Yukoners can take advantage of a Sourdough Special rate.

PHOTO: TIM KINVIG