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Tag: Archon

the logo for Archon science fiction convention

Because Archon’s Doing it Right

By Jan S. Gephardt

I am happy to report that I’m going to Archon 44 after all. Why? Because—and only because—Archon’s doing it right.

The Email That Changed Everything

At left, a vaccination map of the US, shows Missouri’s vaccination rate is less than 55%, and Illinois is less than 70%. At right, the most current chart available at publication time shows that on Sept. 20, 2021, there were 207,974 new COVID-19 cases in the USA.
The vaccination map at left is by Josh Renaud, courtesy of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The chart at right is from The New York Times, via Google.

You may recall that a few weeks ago, I very reluctantly decided to withdraw from this year’s FenCon, a Texas science fiction convention that my son and I have come to love. I had been watching the COVID-19 trends in the St. Louis area and growing more and more convinced I’d have to do the same with Archon. But then I got the Email That Changed Everything.

“The Archon Chairs have decided to require vaccination OR a negative COVID test within the previous 72 hours,” the email said. “Documentation is required for both. . . There are no exceptions to this policy.” This is such an unusual and—sadly—BRAVE position to take in this part of the country that I actually gasped.

Archon 44 Co-chairs Alan DeVaughn and Scott Corwin are boldly going where many regional convention chairs have feared to go. And while they’re at it, they’re going “all the way.”

The state of Illinois has mandated masks for indoor public spaces for anyone older than 2 years old,” they wrote. “The mask must cover your nose and mouth, unless you are eating or drinking. If you are asked to put your mask on by an Archon staff / committee member and choose not to comply, you will be asked to leave. There are no exceptions to this policy.”

At left, protesters hold up signs with slogans opposing vaccine requirements. At right, protesters from a different group hold up signs with anti-mask slogans.
At left, protesters demonstrate against vaccine mandates (photo by John Lamparski, via The Atlantic). At right, anti-mask protesters in Kalispell, MT (courtesy of the Flathead Beacon).

Archon’s doing it right.

Yes, Archon’s doing it right, and I couldn’t be more pleased. I plan to honor their commitment to follow both science and good sense in the best way I know how: by coming with my books, my artwork, and my work ethic. I’m scheduled for nine events and panels—and I plan to show up for all of them as well-prepared as I can possibly be.

I’m also going to do everything in my power to promote their event—for example, on this and my other blogs, and on every social media platform where I have a presence. Because Archon’s doing it right, they have earned my heartfelt gratitude and loyalty.

If anyone reading this was on the fence and wavering about coming to Archon, please make this policy your deciding vote for going!

Oh, and a word to the wise: book your hotel reservations (use the link on their homepage to get the convention rate) as soon as possible. Historically, they fill up fast!

This montage shows views from Archon 42 and 42, held in 2018 and 2019. Above are two art panels. Below, two views of the Gateway Center, one in sunshine and the other in rain.
Top L, artists Brent Chumley, Rachael Mayo, and Allison Stein discuss creating fantasy creatures in 2019. Top R, Rachael Mayo and several attendees discuss art materials at a 2018 panel. Below, R-L, we had much sunnier weather at the Gateway Center in 2019 than 2018. (All photos by Jan S. Gephardt).

I Have History with Archon

As I noted in the article on my Events Calendar, Archon has been around for a while.

The “44” in Archon 44 means this annual convention has been around for a while. G., Warren, Pascal and I all went to earlier Archons when we were just starting in fandom. And a few years ago, Ty and I started going to them again. If you follow my blog, you might remember posts I’ve written about hall costumes at Archon 42 and 43, and the Art Show.

It’s a well-established convention, run by people who generally know what they’re doing and find excellent ways to make it a good weekend for attendees.

After years in the funky, rambling, since-demolished Henry VIII Hotel in St. Louis proper, the convention has found an excellent new home in the Gateway Convention Center and DoubleTree Hotel in Collinsville, IL.

Throughout my career, I’ve had some great moments, and met some wonderful people at Archon.

Photos from the “writing side” of Archons 42 and 43, held in 2018 and 2019. These photos show a variety of people engaged in panel discussions, readings, and demonstrations.
At left, EMT Kevin Hammel conducts a highly informative 2019 presentation on gunshot wounds, for writers who want to get it right. Top center, a 2018 panel on Diversity in SF, which included, L-R, Jennifer Stolzer, Kathleen Kayembe, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer (M). Top far right: I prepare for my reading in 2019. Below center L-R: Donna J. W. Munro, Marella Sands, and Christine Nobbe chat with the audience before their readings in 2018. Below R, Jennifer Lynn discusses Shamans, Druids, and Wise Women in a 2019 presentation. Photos by Jan S. Gephardt, with the exception of one (guess which) by Tyrell Gephardt.

But that was then. What about Now?

ecause Archon’s doing it right, I’ll have an opportunity to show off my new book (readers who’ve followed this blog in recent weeks probably noticed I have one) sooner than next February (looking at you, Capricon 42). And I’ll get to display my artwork in an in-person display for the first time in almost 2 years.

“A Bone to Pick” by Jan S. Gephardt, envisioned as an ebook on the left and as a trade paperback on the right.
Jan’s new book A Bone to Pick became widely available in a variety of formats after Release Day, September 15, 2021. Cover artwork © 2020 by Jody A. Lee.

I’m scheduled for an autograph session on Friday, a reading on Sunday, and seven panels (several of which I’m moderating). I love doing those things, because they give me opportunities to have great conversations with other panelists and audience members. I get to meet creative, interesting new people (and so can you, if you’ll join us at Archon). And I also get to re-acquaint myself with people I haven’t seen for a while.

I’ll come equipped with an expanded collection of S.W.A.G., badge ribbons and bookmarks for all (or—if that last order doesn’t arrive in time, at least most) of the books and stories Weird Sisters Publishing has produced so far. If you’re a subscriber to my monthly newsletter, and you tell me so at Archon, I’ll even have an exclusive-offer “I’m a Member of the Pack” badge ribbon for you.

Here’s Jan at her Autograph table, surrounded by S.W.A.G.
Jan at her Capricon 40 autograph table (photo by Tyrell Gephardt).

Introducing “Stripped ‘Scripts”

Also because Archon’s doing it right, my son Tyrell will have a first opportunity to present his new service to authors, called “Stripped ‘Scripts.” Through it, he’ll bring his skills as a developmental editor to a new audience.

What’s a developmental editor, and why would a writer need one? In the movie industry they’re sometimes called “script doctors.” While that name gets applied to services from high level plot-revision to hands-on rewriting, the idea is basically that when a plot or a manuscript has gone off the rails, dead-ended somewhere, or developed another kind of structural dysfunction, all hope may not be lost.

A good developmental editor can look it over and offer an analysis. They’ll often have a better idea of what’s wrong and how to turn it into a structurally sound story than an author who’s “written themself into a corner” and run out of ideas. I’ll freely admit that my stories have benefitted from Ty’s “big picture” view. I also appreciate his fresh takes on cultural adjustments to varied technical innovations, and his martial-arts expertise.

Here’s a photo of Ty, along with his business card for Stripped ‘Scripts
Photo and developmental editing business card design are both courtesy of Tyrell Gephardt.

Because Archon’s Doing it Right, We can Relax and Have a Great Con

I know I’m not the only science fiction fan who has missed going to conventions. I’ve blogged elsewhere about why I love science fiction conventions. Not rubbing shoulders with other writers and the fans who keep us afloat has been disappointing, but necessary during the pandemic.

But although it seems as if it’s taking forever, it’s now in our power to make this fourth wave the last one. It’ll be a bit longer, no thanks to the purveyors of an unprecedented flood of misinformation. But we can do it. Spread the word. Speak up in support of those who are doing it right. Kindly (if possible) help to educate those who are sincerely confused.

Science, technology, and government services (sometimes government really isn’t the problem!) have given us the tools we need. They’ve placed research, growing understanding of this virus, and three phenomenally effective vaccines within our grasp. We’re the taxpayers who’ve underwritten much of this historic work. We now have the right and privilege to avail ourselves of these new tools and understandings.

And because Archon’s doing it right, we now can do it at a science fiction convention!

IMAGE CREDITS:

Many thanks to Archon’s Facebook Page, for the logo header image. The map showing vaccination rates in the United States was created by Josh Renaud for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The chart of COVID-19 cases in the United States is regularly updated by The New York Times, accessed 9/21/2021 via Google.

The montage images from Archon 42 and 43 are all by Jan S. Gephardt except for one, taken by Tyrell E. Gephardt (of Jan’s reading). Ty also took the one of Jan at her Capricon 40 autograph table. Moreover, he provided the photo of himself, along with the image of his “Stripped ‘Scripts” business card.

Many thanks to all!

This is the header for Capricon 40. Its bright, tropical colors and lettering reflect this year's theme "The Tropics of Capricon."

Looking forward to Capricon 40

My “sf convention year” kicks off in February. I’m looking forward to Capricon 40 on Valentine’s weekend, Feb. 13-16, 2020, in Wheeling, IL. And I’m already preparing for panel discussions and the Art Show.

My first Capricon was Cap 30, when my friend Lucy A. Synk was their Artist Guest of Honor. She invited me to attend as her guest. I had a lot of fun, but wasn’t able to go back for several years after that.

Blogging a panel

This image bears the words "Blogging a Panel - Writing about Forensics," superimposed over a montage of four images: ballistics-matching photos, forensic examiners in a lab, a cop interviewing a witness on the street, and a fingerprint being scanned.
Montage by Jan S. Gephardtto represent her Blogging a Panel post from the Capricon 37 she wasn’t able to attend.

I tried to go back in 2017, but a combination of countervailing events forced me to cancel so late in the process that I’d already been scheduled for panels. Unfortunately, one panel for which I’d been scheduled, Writing about Forensics, only had two panelists. The other, Jen Haegeralso had to cancel late in the process, so Writing about Forensics suddenly also got scrubbed.

Jen and I had been communicating online, and we decided that even if we couldn’t goto Capricon and present the panel in person, we still could present the panel virtually. This led to Blogging a Panel on this blog (I think it was paralleled on Jen’s blog and also that of Capricon’s parent group, Phandemonium).

Since then, I haven’t had to resort to such drastic measures

This blog has followed my adventures at Capricon 38 and my Artworktravel follies, and reflections upon Capricon 39.

Looking forward to Capricon 40

This is the header for Capricon 40. Its bright, tropical colors and lettering reflect this year's theme "The Tropics of Capricon."
Image courtesy of Capricon

I plan to have my artwork in the Art Show, and of course I’ll be on panels. I even have my schedule already! So I’m really looking forward to Capricon 40.

They called the one set for Thursday at 5:00 p.m.Detectives in the Wild (I moderate). We’ll talk about detectives in science fiction (as opposed to urban fantasy, where they more often turn up).

May 24, 2019. Books, badge ribbons and bookmarks at the
Mad Authors' Salon co-hosted by Jan S. Gephardt, Lynette M. Burrows, and Dora Furlong, at ConQuesT 50 in Kansas City, MO.
Photo by Ty Gephardt, taken May 24, 2019. Books, badge ribbons and bookmarks at the
Mad Authors’ Salon co-hosted by Jan S. Gephardt, Lynette M. Burrows, and Dora Furlong, at ConQuesT 50 in Kansas City, MO.

On Friday my panels are Pronouns and SF/F at 2:30 p.m., and Weird Hobbies for Immortals at 4 p.m. (I moderate that one, too). I’m in the Indie Author Speed-Dating event on Friday at 5:30 p.m. It should be interesting. I’ll bring badge ribbons and bookmarks to hand out!

Saturday starts early (for me). I’m scheduled to autograph at 10 a.m. I’ll read from What’s Bred in the Bone at 1 p.m., sharing the time slot with Dorothy Winsor. That evening at 7 p.m. I’ll facilitate the Creating a Tropical World workshop.

Finally, on Sunday at 10:00 a.m. I’ll join the conversation on Religion and Ethics in an Age of Artificial Intelligence. That also ought to be an interesting discussion. I promise I’ll come with coffee in hand, so I’m coherent.

Beyond programming items

Of course I’ll also bring paperback copies from Weird Sisters Publishing. Certainly I’ll have copies of What’s Bred in the BoneIf all goes well, I’ll also have paperback copies of my sister’s Deep Ellum Pawn novelette (as I write this, it’s still only available via Kindle)! 

With all of this, I hope that you, like me, will be looking forward to Capricon 40–either at the convention in Wheeling, or perhaps here in follow-up blog posts.

This photo shows Jan S. Gephardt's Art Show display at Archon in Collinsville, IL as it looked October 6, 2019.
Photo by Jan S. Gephardt. This is my Art Show display at Archon in Collinsville, IL as it looked October 6, 2019.

Please note: My next XK9 story, a prequel novella titled The Other Side of Fear, will be available in March 2020. The second novel in the XK9 “Bones” TrilogyA Bone to Pickis set for release this fall.

IMAGE CREDITS: 

Jan S. Gephardt made the “Blogging a Panel” header with images courtesy of Reference,  Belleville News-Democrat National Institute of Standards and Technology, and Criminal Justice Degreelink

The half-header for Capricon 40 is courtesy of the Capricon Website

The photo of my book display at the May 24, 2019 “Mad Authors’ Salon” at ConQuesT 50 is by Ty Gephardt, and used with his permission. 

I took the photo of my art display at Archon, October 6, 2019 myself. you may re-post or re-blog any of them with correct attribution to the creators and a link back to this post.

Archon 43 had a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

In the halls of Archon 43

Artdog Images of Interest

The hall costumes are always amazing at Archon, and Archon 43 was no exception. I wandered around in the halls of Archon 43 on Saturday of the convention, and I think I got some fun “crowd photos.” I apologize that, because they’re all group shots and overviews, I wasn’t able to get the names of anyone in these photos.

Two views of costumes photographed at Archon 43: everything from Renaissance costumes to futuristic bounty hunters joined the parade.
These photos were taken near the main entrance of the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL.
Here's a look at some of the costumes and vendors in the "Authors' Alley" end of the Collinsville, IL Gateway Center at Archon 43.
Here’s a glimpse of the “Authors’ Alley” end of the main corridor at Archon 43.
The crowd was just as colorful in the "Artists' Alley" end of the main hallway at the Gateway Center during Archon 43.
Here’s a view of the “Artists’ Alley” end of the main Gateway Center hallway at Archon 43.

I’ve previously written about the costumes that wander the halls of Archon. But every year brings new visions from the convention’s dedicated costumers. They flourished in the halls of Archon 43 just as faithfully and flamboyantly as ever.

Everything from media cosplay to social commentary was on parade in the halls of Archon 43.
Everything from media cosplay to social commentary was on parade in the halls at Archon 43.
Here's another view of the central hallway in the Gateway Center during Archon 43.
Here’s another view of the central hallway in the Gateway Center during Archon 43.
Yet more of the costumed throng in the halls of Archon 43 at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL.
Yet more of the costumed throng in the halls of Archon 43 at the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL.

All of these photos were taken October 5, 2019 inside the Gateway Center in Collinsville, IL. I hope you’ve enjoyed these glimpses of the passing parade from the halls of Archon 43!

IMAGE CREDITS: Once again, I apologize for the fact that I recognize none of these costumed persons, although I am humbled by their creative prowess. Jan S. Gephardt took all the photos shared here, in this little virtual stroll in the halls of Archon 43. Repost and re-blog freely, but please cite the source and provide a link back! Thanks!

Archon 43 had a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville?

It’s early October, so it’s time for Archon! Will I see you in Collinsville?

This year’s convention is the 43rd iteration of “The Midwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Event.” After a hiatus of more than a decade, Ty and I returned for last year’s Archon, and quickly decided we wanted to come back.

Will I see you in Collinsville? Archon 43 has a lot to offer. Here are visual hints.

Will I see you in Collinsville? There’ll be a lot to see and do there. What will you miss, if you can’t come?

Artwork

As you know if you’ve followed this blog for any length of time, I always want to be in the Art Show of any convention I attend. This one’s no exception! I’ll bring my own paper sculpture, including a newly piece that I’ve been working on–for real!–since 2012 (My Beloved is downstairs matting it, as I write this post).

The Silver Lady Appears. Jan S. Gephardt worked on this paper sculpture off and on from 2012 through 2019. It will be on display for the first time at Archon. Will you be in Collinsville to see it?
The Silver Lady Appears, 2012-2019, by Jan S. Gephardt

This season from ConQuesT on, I’ve been acting as an agent for Lucy A. Synk’s artwork, too. She has been developing an interesting series of “Dirty Pour Planets,” which actually include moons, stars, nebulae, and other astronomical objects, as well as imagined planets. She explains her technique briefly on her “Planet Series” webpage

This painting of an imagined planet and moon by Lucy A. Synk is called "Boreas and Khione," in reference to a Greek myth.
Boreas and Khione, 2019, by Lucy A. Synk

But you really should enjoy these originals in person, for the full effect. With all the iridescent paints, mica chips, and other cool elements in her bag of tricks, no photograph or image scan really does them justice. So, will I see you in Collinsville?

My Reading

I love readings at conventions. I love listening to them from other authors, and I love doing them myself, reading from my own work. It’s an author’s way of giving out free samples (and who doesn’t like free samples?). 

Jan S. Gephardt will read from her novel "What's Bred in the Bone" at Archon. Will she see you in Collinsville?
My reading at Archon 43 is scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:00 p.m., in the Gateway Center Cahokian Room (“The Authorquarium”).

It’s also a great way to learn about new books and authors. A significant portion of my towering “TBR Pile” (to-be-read) may be laid at the doorstep of going to readings at cons

I’ll be part of a three-author panel that also includes Howard Andrew Jones and Marella Sands. We’ll each present a reading at 6:00 p.m. on Saturday evening (Oct. 5, 2019) in the Gateway Center’s Cahokian Room (aka “The Authorquarium”). 

I’ll probably read from What’s Bred in the Bone, unless enough of the audience is interested in hearing an excerpt from A Bone to Pickthe second novel in the “Bones” Trilogy (due to be released in 2020). Will I see you in Collinsville?

Panels

I’m scheduled on six panels, other than my reading (I’m pleased! I get to moderate about half of them!). Here’s my schedule:

Friday

4:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – The Viability of Being an Artist Can art be a viable career in today’s world?

5:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Salon 4 – “Why do Stories of Children Captivate us? It, Harry Potter, Stranger Things, etc. Stories about children grab our attention. Is it good writing or nostalgia?

At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our "Art on a Budget" panel. She'll be on a panel with me in 2019, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, fellow panelist Rachael Mayo interacts with audience members after our “Art on a Budget” panel.

Saturday

Noon – Gateway Center Salon 1 – “Will the Robots Rebel?” It’s a popular plot device, but what’s the likelihood of this actually happening? 

1:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Bright Colors I have bright colors and I’m not afraid to use them! (artist panel)

5:00 p.m. – Double Tree St. Clair A and B – “LGBTQ+ Representation in Fandom The representation is getting better, but what can happen to make it amazing and standardized across the board? (I’ll have to sprint across the “causeway” to the Gateway Center after the end of this panel to get to my reading at 6:00 in the Gateway Center).

8:00 p.m. – Gateway Center Illini A – “Creating Covers Book covers are the first thing to pique the reader’s interest! Learn how to create dynamic book covers to complement great stories!

Will I see you in Collinsville? It ought to be an excellent weekend at Archon 43.

At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed "Alternate Paths to Publishing." There will be interesting panels at the 2019 event, too. Will I see you in Collinsville?
At Archon 42, L-R, George Sirois (“SEAR-oy”), Brad R. Cook, Camille Faye, and Debbie Manber Kupfer discussed “Alternate Paths to Publishing.”

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to the Archon website (artwork by Mitchell D. Bentley of Atomic Fly Studios) for the “Archon 43” banner. The cover artwork for my novel What’s Bred in the Bone is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee.

The photo of my art show panel from the FenCon XVI Art Show, and the photo of my new work The Silver Lady Appears, are by me, Jan S. Gephardt, of my own artwork. The photo of the painting Boreas and Khione is by Lucy A. Synk, as is the artwork itself. Used here with permission from the artist.

The two “reading” photos that flank my book cover in the “readings” montage are by (L) Judith Bemis (taken at NorthAmericon ’17) and (R) Dolly M. Dgrafe (taken at FenCon XVI). The two photos from Archon 42 are by Jan S. Gephardt, and originally were published in the “Glimpses of Archon 42” post on this blog.

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