Stellarcon 37, sponsored by the Science Fiction Fantasy Federation of UNCG (University of North Carolina at Greensboro), took place at a new venue, the Greensboro-High Point Airport Marriott in Greensboro, from Friday, March 1 through Sunday, March 3. The new location offered more space, as well as free parking and a restaurant open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner — a definite plus.
Featured at this year’s convention were Literary Guest of Honor Eric Flint, Gaming Guests of Honor Bully Pulpit Games, and Artist Guests of Honor Richard Case, Chris Kemple, and Kelly Yates from Artist Alley Comics. Other guests included artists, authors, costumers, game designers and developers, musicians, podcasters, historians, editors, publishers, scientists, graphic designers, and more. Performing and exhibiting groups included Aether Realm, The Blibbering Humdingers, Brush 4 Hire, Carolina Ghostbusters, European Medieval Arts of Arms, Hawthorn and Holly, and Mon Frere.
Programs, which included a series of “How Does It Work?” panels and the popular SONAR (Symposium On Nerdy Academic Research) series, began at 4 pm Friday and ended with the Con in Review at 3 pm Sunday.
Here’s a sampling of the panels and special programs:
- Comics: Bring Me the Head of Stan Lee, Inside Stellarcon Studio with Artist Alley Comics, Comics — How Do They Work?, The New 52 — Eighteen Issues Later, Cartoons Cut Short
- Demonstration: Futuristic Swordfighting
- Fandom: Dagobah by Steamboat Willie; The Hobbit, Filler, and You; The British Invasion; Conventions — How Do They Work?, Fandom — How Does It Work?
- Gaming: Gaming 101, Gaming Balance — How Does It Work?
- Horror: Historical Horror — Horror through the Ages; Blood, Love, and Vampires — A Retrospective
- Miscellaneous: Food in Fantasy and Sci-Fi, Alternate History — How Does It Work?
- Music: Wizard Rock and Rocking Wizards
- Paranormal: Busting Ghosts, Feeling Good — How Do These Things Work?
- Performances: Sketch Comedy with Mon Frere, Aether Realm Concert, Wizard Rock
- Podcasting: Gallifrey Pirate Radio, Podcasting — How Does It Work?, Pendragon Variety Podcast
- Publishing: The Sky is Falling, Editors — How Do They Work?, Publishing: How Does It Work?
- Science: Magnets — How Do They Work?, Why Rorschach Was Wrong
- SONAR: Whatever Happened to the Six Million Dollar Man?; Descateres in Greyhawk: Mind-Body-Soul Trialism in 3.5 Dungeons & Dragons; Coffin Coolers, Weeping Veils, and the Death Watch: Gothic Tales of Woe or Victorian Funerary Customs?
- Steampunk: The Squalor of Steampunk
- Writing: Working Class Heroes; Working in a Shared Universe; Reader Expectations and Stories; Naming Names, Titling Titles; Mysteries — How Do They Work?; Endings — How Do They Work?; Underutilized Love Story Monsters; Sex, Religion, Politics, and Aliens
- Workshops: Allen Wold’s Writing Workshop
- Special Programs: Authors vs. Artists SFF Pictionary, Klingon Karaoke, the Baen Traveling Road Show
Additional activities included the Dealers’ Room, the Art Show, gaming, the traditional costume competition, and the charity auction. In addition to the Hotel’s Brush Creek Lounge & Grille, hungry convention goers could find light meals and snacks in the ConSuite — I’m not a big fan of macaroni salad, but I had seconds at lunch on Saturday. Attendees could also check out the Carolina Ghostbusters’ vehicle on display outside the hotel.
Although the convention doesn’t have as many choices of activities as larger conventions, it was well worth the visit. All the programs were informative, interesting, and/or fun. The demonstration of lightsaber techniques a by the European Medieval Arts of Arms instructors and students and the SONAR presentation of Victorian funerary customs were especially fascinating. So were the panels about publishing. In fact, the panel The Sky Is Falling was so engrossing that although I wrote down the panelists’ names — Karen McCullough, Laura Haywood-Corey, and Barbara Friend Ish — I forgot to take any photos! I had to go to a little extra effort to get the names of the panelists for my photos because the panelists did not have name placards and their names were not listed in the program, but the placement of the site map on the back of the program was a real plus, making it unnecessary to flip through the program continually to find it.
Now I have to wait a whole year for the next convention!