Nurturing creativity with art, animals, and science fiction

Tag: panel discussions at science fiction conventions

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

Detectives in the Wild

The Capricon Project – Detectives in the Wild

My first panel at Capricon  40 was one of the three I’m scheduled to moderate, “Detectives in the Wild.” In it we explored the many ways that mystery stories show up in speculative fiction.

"Detectives in the Wild" panelists, L-R: Jan S. Gephardt (Moderator), Deirdre Murphy, Mark H. Huston, and Clifford Royal Johns. (photo by a kindly audience member who didn't share his name).
“Detectives in the Wild” panelists, L-R: Jan S. Gephardt (Moderator), Deirdre MurphyMark H. Huston, and Clifford Royal Johns. (photo by a kindly audience member who didn’t share his name).

Deirdre MurphyMark Huston, and Clifford Royal Johns joined me as co-panelists. All of us have written, or are writing, speculative fiction mysteries. Just between the four of us, we covered the mystery sub-categories of CoziesAmateur SleuthDetective, and Police Procedural.

L-R: Jan S. Gephardt's What's Bred in the Bone and soon-to-be-released The Other Side of Fear feature crime-solving, super-smart police dogs. Mark H. Huston's Up-Time Pride and Down-Time Prejudice takes an alternate-history look at Austen. And Clifford Royal Johns' Walking Shadow explores the implications of a memory-erasing procedure. Unfortunately, Deirdre Murphy's book, Murder and Sea Monsters, isn't out yet. (See below for full image credits for these covers).
L-R: Jan S. Gephardt‘s What’s Bred in the Bone and soon-to-be-released The Other Side of Fear feature crime-solving, super-smart police dogs. Mark H. Huston‘s Up-Time Pride and Down-Time Prejudice takes an alternate-history look at Austen. And Clifford Royal Johns‘ Walking Shadow explores the implications of a memory-erasing procedure. Unfortunately, Deirdre Murphy’s book, Murder and Sea Monsters, isn’t out yet. (See below for full image credits for these covers).

The panel’s description made it seem as if mysteries in the speculative genres that range outside of urban fantasy are hard to find. But between us and the audience, we came up with a bunch. We quickly found ourselves sub-categorizing them, too.

Alternate History 

“Detectives in the Wild” aren’t hard to find in the alternate history genre. It’s so flexible, it can encompass any number of co-genres. Our panel’s alternate history point-person Mark Huston gave us an excellent overview. 

Mark writes in Eric Flint’s 1632 Universe.  Here are just a few of the recommended alternative history mystery novels we came up with.

Randall Garrett, Georg Huff and Paula Goodlett, Julie McElwain, and Michael Chabon all have entries in this category. Garrett and McElwain each created a series after publishing their series-openers shown here. (See below for full image credits).
Randall GarrettGeorg Huff and Paula Goodlett, Julie McElwain, and Michael Chabon all have entries in this category. Garrett and McElwain each created a series after publishing their series-openers shown here. (See below for full image credits).

Noir 

No discussion of mysteries would be complete without the Noir Mystery category. For some people, it’s the first kind of mystery they think about when they hear “mystery fiction.” The Noir sub-genre has its own tropes and unique characteristics

These often extend into speculative fiction categories in distinctive ways. We included stories with the feel and general optics of traditional Noir, but which the authors have played for laughs or to make a different point. Here are some of the Noir-style novels we touched on.

Some panel- and audience-recommended recommended examples of Noir-style mysteries in speculative fiction. Authors are Richard K. Morgan, Jonathan Lethem, David Carrico, and Glen Cook. (See below for full credits).
Some panel- and audience-recommended recommended examples of Noir-style mysteries in speculative fiction. Authors are Richard K. MorganJonathan LethemDavid Carrico, and Glen Cook. (See below for full credits).

Paranormal

Yes, we know we weren’t supposed to get into urban fantasy. But the line between it and paranormal stories is blurry. We kept coming up with so many good ones! With our active, engaged audience, we shared ideas about books that are well worth reading. Many in this line-up are the first books in enduring and well-loved series.

Lee Killough's Garreth Mikaelian, Charlaine Harris's Sookie Stackhouse, Laurel K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, and Jim Butcher's Harry Dresden all anchor satisfying series. These are covers for the first book in each. (See below for full credits).
Lee Killough’s Garreth MikaelianCharlaine Harris’Sookie StackhouseLaurel K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, and Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden all anchor satisfying series. These are covers for the first book in each. (See below for full credits).

Robots and AIs

Speculative fiction’s detectives aren’t always human. The unusual capabilities of extrapolated and imagined artificial intelligences–whether they’re in the form of androids, robots, or other things–have made these creations a favorite for speculative fiction writers, especially since Isaac Asimov’s classic team of R. Daneel Olivaw and Elijah Baley. Panelists and audience came up with several highly-recommended titles and series.

From left to right, these covers represent the Isaac Asimov classic The Caves of Steel, A. Lee Martinez's The Automatic Detective (with distinctly Noir-ish cover art to reflect the adventures of Mack Megaton, an investigative robot), Guy Haley's Reality 36 (a cyborg and an AI team up as investigators), and Donna Andrews' cozy mystery You've Got Murder, the debut outing for Turing Hopper ("a computer with the heart of Miss Marple"),
From left to right, these covers represent the Isaac Asimov classic The Caves of Steel, A. Lee Martinez‘s The Automatic Detective (with distinctly Noir-ish cover art to reflect the adventures of Mack Megaton, an investigative robot), Guy Haley’Reality 36 (a cyborg and an AI team up as investigators), and Donna Andrews‘ cozy mystery You’ve Got Murderthe debut outing for Turing Hopper (“a computer with the heart of Miss Marple”),

General Science Fiction

But not all science fiction mysteries fall into easy categories. That’s the nature of the genre–it’s grounded in the unexpected. We couldn’t complete our survey of “Detectives in the Wild” without talking about some that defy confinement in traditional mystery categories.

These covers represent some of the unique places science fiction can go with a mystery. Lee Killough's The Doppelgänger Gambit explores the nature of a "perfect alibi" in a world where one's digital privacy has reached a new dimension. Kristine Kathryn Rusch explores questions of justice in a world where the presence of aliens changes the rules, in The Disappeared (first in the Retrieval Artist Series). Mur Lafferty's Six Wakes is the ultimate closed-room mystery in which seven crew members of a starship awaken to discover their previous bodies were murdered--by one of them. But they don't remember who is the murderer. And in Arkady Martine's "interstellar mystery" A Memory Called Empire, an ambassador must discover who killed her predecessor (everyone swears it was an accident) before she meets a similar fate.
These covers represent some of the unique places science fiction can go with a mystery. Lee Killough‘s The Doppelgänger Gambit explores the nature of a “perfect alibi” in a world where one’s digital privacy has reached a new dimension. Kristine Kathryn Rusch explores questions of justice in a world where the presence of aliens changes the rules, in The Disappeared (first in the Retrieval Artist Series). Mur Lafferty‘s Six Wakes is the ultimate closed-room mystery in which seven crew members of a starship awaken to discover their previous bodies were murdered–by one of them. But they don’t remember who is the murderer. And in Arkady Martine‘s “interstellar mystery” A Memory Called Empirean ambassador must discover who killed her predecessor (everyone swears it was an accident) before she meets a similar fate.

I’m sorry I couldn’t transport all of my readers into the panel room itself. This little overview has only scratched the surface of our discussion. I have to give a lot of credit to the breadth and depth of our panelists’ knowledge–and also to our stellar audience. It took all of us to create what was for me a fun and informative panel. I hope they enjoyed “Detectives in the Wild” as much as I did.

IMAGE CREDITS:

First of all, many, many thanks to the kind gentleman from the audience who volunteered to take our picture for me. He didn’t identify himself, but he has my deep gratitude! 

The images of our book covers come from varied sources. The cover art for Jan S. Gephardt’s What’s Bred in the Bone is © 2019 by Jody A. Lee. Cover art for Jan’s forthcoming novella The Other Side of Fear (watch for it in late March 2020!) is © 2020 by Lucy A. Synk

The cover image for Mark H. Huston’s Up-Time Pride and Down-Time Prejudice is courtesy of Amazon. Many thanks to Goodreads for Clifford Royal Johns’ Walking Shadow cover image. Unfortunately, Deirdre Murphy’s Murder and Sea Monsters isn’t yet available online.

ALTERNATE HISTORY and NOIR Covers:

Many thanks to Goodreads, for the cover of Randall Garrett’s Murder and Magicthe first Lord Darcy book. I also wish to thank Ring of Fire Press for the cover image for A Holmes for the Czar. Many thanks to Goodreads again, for the cover image for Julie McElwain’s A Murder in TimeFinally, thank you to Abe Books, for Michael Chabon’s cover image from The Yiddish Policemen’s Union

I’m grateful to Book Depository, for the Altered Carbon cover art on Richard K. Morgan‘s book. Many thanks to Wikimedia for the first edition cover for Jonathan Lethem‘s Gun, with Occasional Music. Gratitude and thanks to Amazon for the Magdeburg Noir cover image, from David Carrico of Ring of Fire. NoteCarrico has showed up previously on Jan’s Artdog Adventures blog. Last but not least for the Noir section, I am indebted to Abe Books for a good image of cover art for Glen Cook‘s Sweet Silver Bluesfirst of the Garrett Files series.


PARANORMAL, ROBOT/AI and GENERAL SF Covers:

Many thanks to Amazon for the cover of Lee Killough‘s Blood Huntand to Goodreads for the cover images of Charlaine Harris‘s Dead Until DarkLaurel K. Hamilton‘s Guilty Pleasuresand Jim Butcher‘s Storm Front. 

I’m grateful to Amazon for the cover of Isaac Asimov‘s The Caves of Steel, and to Goodreads for cover images for A. Lee Martinez‘s The Automatic Detective, Guy Haley‘s Reality 36and Donna Andrews‘ You’ve got Murder

Finally, many thanks to Amazon, for the covers of Lee Killough‘s The Doppelgänger Gambitand Mur Lafferty‘s Six WakesI’m grateful to Goodreads for the cover of Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s The Disappearedand to NPR (nice interview there, too!) for the cover of Arkady Martine‘s A Memory Called EmpireI literally couldn’t have created this post without y’all! Thank you!

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

The Capricon Project

Let me tell you about The Capricon Project. As I noted on this blog Feb. 1, I’m planning to attend Capricon 40 this week (God and the weather willing).  While I’m there, my publishing company and I hope to join forces (and blogs) to cover the event.

As you may know, I’m the Weirdness Manager for Weird Sisters Publishing LLC (I’m half of the partnership. The other half is my sister, G. S. Norwood).  As Weirdness Manager, I also write most of our posts for The Weird Blogand I’m in charge of preparing and posting all of them. But I can only split “me” into so many fragments. 

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

What is The Capricon Project?

Artdog Adventures and The Weird Blog will join forces for The Capricon Project. I propose to take lots of photos and do a lot of things at the convention (followers of Artdog Adventures are familiar with my process). 

I like to highlight things I’ve seenpeople I’ve metand panels I’ve attended or helped present. We plan to cross-post the short profiles, photos, and other items I generate, to both blogs and some of our social media.

What’s the plan?

I have a pretty ambitious schedule for Capricon 40. I’m scheduled for eight programming events, including five panel discussions (three of which I moderate), an autograph session, a reading, and the Indie Author Speed-Dating event. 

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.

I also have two display panels reserved at the Art Show. I’ll have a few copies of What’s Bred in the Bone with me, available for sale at the con (reduced at-con price is $13, or almost $2 off the regular trade paperback price).

I also plan to attend other panels and readings, and tour the Dealers’ Room. If they agree, I’ll take pictures or short videos of dealers whose work I can recommend, and post them on my social media (Artdog Studio is on Facebook and PinterestJan S. Gephardt-Author is on Facebook and Twitter, and Weird Sisters Publishing is on Facebook), as well as collect them for possible blog posts.

I hope you’ll follow my posts, and see how well The Capricon Project turns out!

IMAGE CREDITS:

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.

One among the panels and readings at SpikeCon, this is a photo of the "Write what you don't know" panel.

Panels and readings at SpikeCon

Panels and readings are among my favorite things to do at science fiction conventions

This is a screen capture of the opening images from the SpikeCon website's homepage. It includes the list of four different conventions that came together in Layton Utah July 4-7, 2019, and shows photos 15 headliner guests, including authors, artists, editors, fans, and others. Many of them did both panels and readings.

Yes, I know this makes me “sercon” (oldstyle fan-speak for “too serious to be any fun”). But I’ve decided I’m just gonna have to “own it.” Diss me if you must, but I like going to panels and readings where I can get new ideas and listen to interesting stories more than I like going to parties where I can’t hear what anyone is saying and most of the people are drunk.

This is the "Editing vs. Beta Reading" panel at SpikeCon. Yes, there is a massive difference, and it was well explored by the panelists. They are, L-R: Multimedia author Dan Wells, Headliner Editor Susan Chang, freelance editor Melissa Meibos, author C.H. Hung, and author/freelance editor Joe Monson.
This is the “Editing vs. Beta Reading” panel at SpikeCon. Yes, there is a massive difference, and it was well explored by the panelists. They are, L-R: Multimedia author Dan WellsHeadliner Editor Susan Changfreelance editor Melissa Meibosauthor C.H. Hung, and author/freelance editor Joe Monson.

I’m happy to report that there were some excellent panels and readings at SpikeCon this year. As I sometimes do, I discovered that I kept bumping into some of the same interesting people over and over at this convention. Of course, that’s partially because many of us have similar interests, and partially because, although some 1,100 memberships were sold to SpikeCon, for a variety of reasons only about 850 people showed up.

The "Privilege and Passing in Genre Fiction" panel at SpikeCon provided a lively and informative discussion of the ways in which characters in our genres reflect (or sometimes misrepresent) issues faced by many people in real life. The knowledgeable and wise panelists are, L-R: Inez Aguilar R., Aften Brook Szymanski, Jayrod P. Garrett, C.H. Hung, and B. Daniel Blatt.
The “Privilege and Passing in Genre Fiction” panel at SpikeCon provided a lively and informative discussion of the ways in which characters in our genres reflect (or sometimes misrepresent) issues faced by many people in real life. The knowledgeable and wise panelists are, L-R: Inez Aguilar R.Aften Brook SzymanskiJayrod P. Garrett, C.H. Hung, and B. Daniel Blatt.

This explains why several of the people in some these pictures are the same people as the ones in other pictures! In fact, the identical same group was scheduled together for two different panels I attended. Lucky for their growing group of devoted followers, they had a range of different things to say each time.

Here's the "Write What You Don't Know" panel at SpikeCon, and no, your eyes do not deceive you. This is the exact same group of panelists from the picture above. Some of them traded seats just to mess with us. But they were every bit as wise and interesting when they talked about doing your research and seeking new understandings as they were on the previous panel. For the record, they are, L-R: Aften Brook Szymanski, C.H. Hung, Jayrod P. Garrett, Inez Aguilar R., and B. Daniel Blatt.
Here’s the “Write What You Don’t Know” panel at SpikeCon, and no, your eyes do not deceive you. This is the exact same group of panelists from the picture above. Some of them traded seats just to mess with us. But they were every bit as wise and interesting when they talked about doing your research and seeking new understandings as they were on the previous panel. For the record, they are, L-R: Aften Brook SzymanskiC.H. HungJayrod P. GarrettInez Aguilar R., and B. Daniel Blatt. 
This was possibly the most valuable panel I attended at SpikeCon."After the Action" discussed the trauma writers inflict on their characters in terms of realism in fiction and the effects of trauma on real people. The discussion also quickly ranged into the effect of our fiction on real people--our readers, who may themselves be trauma survivors or have loved ones or associates who are. The uniquely qualified panelists are: L-R: Amy White, an author, librarian, and puppeteer with a trauma survivor in her family; Retired Marine Col. Jonathan P. Brazee, prolific author of military sf; psychologists and social workers Cerin Takeuchi and Anna Marasco; and author and sworn law enforcement officer Griffin Barber.
This was possibly the most valuable panel I attended at SpikeCon.”After the Action” discussed the trauma writers inflict on their characters in terms of realism in fiction and the effects of trauma on real people. The discussion also quickly ranged into the effect of our fiction on real people–our readers, who may themselves be trauma survivors or have loved ones or associates who are. The uniquely qualified panelists are: L-R: Amy White, an author, librarian, and puppeteer with a trauma survivor in her family; Retired Marine Col. Jonathan P. Brazee, prolific author of military sf; psychologists and social workers Cerin Takeuchi and Anna Marasco; and author and sworn law enforcement officer Griffin Barber.

I was on several panels, myself, but you’ll notice they aren’t featured here. I don’t have pictures of panels I was on, or of my reading at SpikeCon (though it was gratifyingly well-attended! Thank you!!).

I may not have a picture from my own reading at SpikeCon, but I did get photos of the authors who read before and after me. Mike Substelny, L, read his as-yet-unpublished but wildly funny and satisfying time travel story, "Plan Madison."
At R, Erika Kuta Marler read a story from an anthology in the Eden's Outcast universe.
may not have a picture from my own reading at SpikeCon, but I did get photos of the authors who read before and after me. Mike Substelny, L, read his as-yet-unpublished but wildly funny and satisfying time travel story, “Plan Madison.”
At R, Erika Kuta Marler read a story from an anthology in the Eden’s Outcast universe.

This is largely because it’s hard to photograph oneself in such situationsTyrell Gephardt, my son and regular convention partner who usually photographs my events when possible, was almost invariably scheduled on his own panels at the same times. 

But trust me. They were brilliant. And there’s always a chance the topics of some of those panels and readings will turn up someday as the subjects of blog posts in the future.

IMAGE CREDITS: Many thanks to SpikeCon’s homepage for the graphic gestalt of when, where, and who were headliner guests. All other photos in this post were taken by me, Jan S. Gephardt, with the permission of their subjects. If you wish to re-post or use them, please include an attribution to me as the photographer, and if possible include a link back to this page. Thanks!

Some characters and character-creators of Capricon 39

When you talk about science fiction and fantasy, you’re going to meet a lot of memorable characters.

And that’s just the people who write it.

Beguiling as the fictional characters might be, they have to be dreamed up and written about, by someone. And a science fiction convention such as Capricon 39 is a great place to meet writers.

Meeting a writer is sometimes as startling as meeting your first radio personality, but the wit, the knowledge, the humor and the perceptiveness you enjoy in their fiction didn’t come by accident from that person. Most of the writers I know are interesting in their own right.

And some of them are a particular pleasure to be on panels with or to listen to on panels you’re not on. In this post I’d like to feature three writers who made this year’s Capricon a particular treat for me. I’ve included links and some of their covers to give you an idea of what they write. Perhaps you’ll find something that’s right up your alley.

Megan Mackie

Megan Mackie

Megan was on a couple of panels with me, “Book Reviews vs. Literary Criticism,” and “Things Authors Always get Wrong!

She brought perceptive comments from personal experience with a troll to the “Book Reviews” panel, and discussed unrealistic descriptions of women, their behavior, and their bodies, to the “Authors Get Wrong” panel.

I found her to be well-informed and well-spoken, altogether a positive addition to our panel discussions.

And no wonder. Her website reveals she’s a podcaster (The Princess Peach Conspiracy) as well as the author of a growing series of urban fantasy books.

Set in a magical alternate Chicago (Megan just happens to live in the Chicago of our space-time continuum), her “Lucky Devil Series” seems to be off to a strong start.

Finder of the Lucky Devil is the first in Megan Mackie’s “Lucky Devil” series, followed by The Saint of Liars.

Chris Gerrib

Chris Gerrib

Chris was on the “Space Opera” Themed Reading panel with me, as well as the “Things Authors Always Get Wrong!” panel with Megan and me. He is the author of the “Pirates of Mars” Trilogy.

He, too, hails from Chicago, and his cover story is that he’s an IT director at a Chicago-area bank, with only a small, manageable Mars obsession.

He read selections from the first book in his “Pirates of Mars” seriesThe Mars Runfor the “Space Opera” Themed Readings.

In the “Things Authors Always Get Wrong!” panel, he discussed the ways that authors who don’t do their homework can be tripped up by actual facts that readers may know in the realms of the way military organizations work, logistics, and economics

Chris Gerrib’s “Pirates of Mars Trilogy” is available in print or e-book format from Amazon.
The Thursday panel, “Publishing and Marketing for Indie Authors,” featuring (L-R) Lance ErlickJim PlaxcoBeverly BamburyBlake Hausladen, and Jonathan P. Brazee.

Jonathan P. Brazee

Jonathan P. Brazee

I first met Jonathan Brazee at Northamericon ’17 in Puerto Rico, and we’ve been bumping into each other periodically ever since. I have enjoyed his comments on many different panels. 

At Capricon 39, I particularly enjoyed the panel discussion “Publishing and Marketing for Indie Authors.

He is the highly prolific author of “more than 75 titles,” including 44 novels. But don’t let that high output fool you about the quality of his work. 

In 2017 he was a Nebula Finalist for Weaponized Math.” In 2018 he was a Nebula Finalist for Fire Antand a finalist for the Dragon Award for Military Science Fiction or Fantasy Novel for Integration

He also is an active member of SFWA, the esteemed  Science Fiction Writers of America organization.

Jonathan Brazee’s nominated works from 2017 and 2018, L-R: for the NebulaWeaponized Math (2017) and Fire Ant (2018); for the Dragon Award for Military Science Fiction or Fantasy NovelIntegration (2018).


IMAGES: Many thanks to Capricon 39 for the convention’s header, which I cropped for size. I am grateful to Megan Mackie’s website for her author photo and her two book covers.  Many thanks to Chris Gerrib’s Amazon Author Page for his author photo, and to the individual Amazon pages for The Mars RunPirates of Marsand The Night Watchfor their book covers. Many thanks to Jonathan Brazee’s Amazon Author Page for his author photo, and to his Amazon listings for Weaponized MathFire Antand Integrationfor the cover images.

Impressions from Denver

Preliminary reflections on Westercon 71/MALCon 6

I’m freshly back from Denver, and the 71st Westercon, hosted by Myths and Legends Con 6, a Shiny Garden event. The first panels and an opening reception began on Wednesday, July 4, 2018; the last events and Closing Ceremonies came on Sunday, July 8.

The reception on the 12th floor of the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 on the first night (July 4, 2018) gave us a panoramic view of several municipal fireworks displays in Denver and along the Front Range of the Rockies. They went on for at least an hour.

intend to devote at least one more post to the programming (possibly more), but I’m still waiting on a couple of things, so today I’d like to give some more general impressionsAs I noted last week, I managed to miss connecting with the Programming folks. As a result, this was a very unusual con for me in one way–no panels to prepare for or moderate! 

So I did what any truefan would do: I volunteered when possible, to help out. Science fiction fandom runs on volunteer power–and the best way to get to know people is to participate

Here’s a photo from the Art Show setup at Westercon 71/MALCon 6 in Denver. We had a pretty small space but Art Show Director Bruce Miller (far L, white hair with his back to us) and his MileHiCon Art Show Team who could make it–some were ill, sadly–have this setup thing down to a process. My son and traveling companion Tyrell Gephardt (3rd from right in the background) and I helped as we could. I can’t see well enough to identify the guy in the middle by the doorway, but the woman in the foreground right is Lizzie Newellfellow paper sculptor! (although her work and mine are different). At far right in the background you can see about half of Robert Pechmanna mainstay of Bruce’s Art Show Team.

Mostly, I volunteered in the Art Show. Having been the Art Show Director at ConQuesT for three years, before gratefully turning it over to the capable and talented Mikah McCullough, and having been involved in art shows since the early 1980s (including co-writing the original version of the ASFA Art Show Guidelines with Richard Pini, in intense consultation with Teresa Patterson, who is writing now but was running art shows then), art shows at sf cons are my “natural environment.” I like to think I helped, this weekend.

Here are two views from above: at left are fan tables and several general-interest booths; at right is a view from the catwalk above, of gamers enjoying tabletop games inside the atrium at the Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center.

As noted above, at least one more blog post in this space will deal with the panels I attended at Westercon 71/MALCon 6, but in more general terms I’d like to quote from a journal entry I wrote on Saturday of the convention (July 7, 2018), about my experience:

“I feel as if I’ve been attending an intensive writers’ and artist’s immersion experience this week. My typical day has been a wake-up into immediately thinking about my book, working on the book, then working in the Art Show, surrounded with amazing art and interacting with some of the people who made it, going to panels that are (at their best) almost like graduate-level seminars on the topic of the panel—frequently thought-provoking, even when they don’t reach that pinnacle. Evenings have been spent reviewing the day’s events and input, discussing experiences with Ty, and more writing.”

To my surprise and delight, theArt Show Judges (independent from any influence by the Art Show Staff I’d become a temporary part of) awarded me with a First Prize in the 3D category. The picture they honored was the one-of-a-kind “Spiny Ridge” version of the multiple original Common Cliff Dragon–Male. As I explained to Bruce, I don’t intend to tie up my time with anything that intricate again! We’ll see how long that resolve holds out.

After the better part of a full week at the convention, I must say my mood was divided. Part of me wanted to linger longer (maybe get more work done), but we also needed to get home!

Heading out on Monday, July 9, 2018: My little green Subaru fit right in, with the Denver crowd. The Hyatt Regency Denver Tech Center has a lot of glass in that atrium.

IMAGES: All photos in this post were taken by Jan S. Gephardt, including the one of Jan’s own artwork. Please feel free to re-post, reblog, share, or tweet any of these photos, but please include an attribution and a link back to this page. Many thanks!

Preparing for ConQuesT 49!

Will you be in Kansas City this weekend? 

Memorial Day Weekend is the perennial date for my “home” science fiction convention, ConQuesT–put on each year by the Kansas City Science Fiction and Fantasy Society, of which I am the Communications Officer.

The Art Show

I’ll be showing new work at the ConQuesT 49 Art Show: on Friday, look for the first two of my new Gerberas & Gold series, which will pair up as this week’s Image(s) of Interest. I’m not showing them in this post because (1) They’re debuting at ConQuesT 49, so convention Art Show-goers get to see them first, and (2) my mats aren’t in yet.

In all, I’ve reserved three panels this year, for a total of 12 pieces of fantasy paper sculpture.

Here’s a glimpse of maybe a quarter of the 2014 ConQuesT Art Show.
Here’s a section of the 2015 ConQuesT Art Show.

As a member of the KaCSFFS Executive Board I’m technically on the Concom (Convention Committee), but I was much more “hands-on” as a Concom member when I was the Art Show Director, 2011-2013. In more recent years, that joy has fallen to the much more efficient Mikah McCullough, who has expanded the show and dramatically streamlined the money-handling. I’m happy to say our Art Show is one of the largest and most diverse in the region.

My Panelist Schedule 

I also will be busy participating on (and sometimes moderating) a number of panels, as well as a reading from my to-be-published-later-this-year novel, What’s Bred in the Bone

If you’d like to see any of these panel topics turned into a blog post (or a series of several), I’d love to know. Please Leave a comment about it in the form below the post!

With fellow panelists Jonathan BrazeePaula Smith, and Mike Substelny on a panel at NorthAmericon ’17, in pre-hurricane Puerto Rico.

Friday May 25

  • 5-5:50 p.m. (Benton meeting room) For Your Listening Pleasure – An Exploration of SF and Fantasy movie scores.

Saturday May 26

  • Noon to 12:25 p.m. (Northrup meeting room) I’ll read from What’s Bred in the Bone – One or more scenes from my soon-to-be-released space opera/solarpunk/mystery, whose protagonist is a large, genetically- and cybernetically-enhanced police dog named Rex.
  • 3-3:50 p.m.* (Fremont meeting room) Where You Least Expect It – SF and Fantasy can be found in unexpected places, including classic literature (Milton, Shakespeare, and many others). Since I’m the moderator, I may take us into Art History as well.
  • 4-4:50 p.m.* (Empire C Ballroom) Author Speed Dating – I’ll be one of nine authors on hand to tell attendees about my book, and to answer questions.
  • 5-5:50 p.m.* (Benton meeting room) What Science Fiction Got Wrong – science fiction writers are often rightly celebrated for having predicted future trends and breakthroughs long before they happened. But what about the things they got wrong–sometimes glaringly wrong, now that we’re viewing them in retrospect?
  • 9-9:50 p.m. (Fremont meeting room) Bad Touch: Sex and Violence – We’ll explore how these topics are presented in the media, what messages they send, and how changing attitudes shift the way we look at some of the classics–as well as more recent work.

*Yes, they ARE back-to-back-to-back: I like a challenge (but don’t stand between me and the Ladies’ Room at 5:50!).

Sunday May 27 

  • 11-11:50 a.m. (Empire B Ballroom) Philosophy Fun – Must one be virtuous to be courageous? What’s more important, knowledge or imagination? We’ll ponder these and other questions as they pertain to our favorite stories, games, characters, and our lives in the “real world,” too. I’m the moderator for this one, and I promise to come loaded with provocative questions.
At a 2015 ConQuesT panel with Kristina HinerNeNe ThomasBradley Denton, and Barabara E. Hill.

IMAGES: Many thanks to ConQuesT 49 and The KaCSFFS Blog, for the ConQuesT 49 header; to The ConQuesT Art Show, for the photos from the 2014 and 2015 displays; and to Tyrell E. Gephardt, for the photos of a couple of the panels of which I’ve been a part. 

Where have I been?

apologize for the “radio silence” in this blog-space since the end of June. There just simply hasn’t been enough time to do everything, as I prepared for two major sf conventions. I showed new artwork, and was scheduled for numerous panels.

My art display at NorthAmeriCon ’17.

First came SoonerCon 26 in Midwest City, OK (metro Oklahoma City); then, less than two weeks later (time that included a lovely visit with a houseguest over the 4th of July weekend), came NorthAmeriCon ’17, the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

I strongly believe that people who come to my programming items deserve for me to be well-prepared and organized. It makes for much more in-depth and interesting conversations, if all panelists have done their homework beforehand! I plan to turn my notes from some of those discussions into blog posts in the future.

My “Who is Mary Sue?” panel brought us together for a lively conversation. L-R, Johnathan BrazeeJan S. GephardtPaula Smith (yes, she who coined the phrase!), and Mike Substelny.

Also, since Sunday afternoon, I’ve been taking full advantage of my short time window to see all I can of Puer

to Rico–or at least San Juan–while I’m here. You’ll see pictures from those adventures, too!

But for just a little longer, a tropical wonderland awaits. I’ll get back to you!

IMAGES: the photo of my artwork display is by me. The photo of the panel was taken on my phone, by an obliging member of the audience. Either may be re-posted online, as long as you include a link back and an attribution to this blog post. Thanks!

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