Mysticon 2016 — a convention for fans of fantasy, science fiction and all sorts of speculative fiction, horror, gaming, independent film, art, costuming, writing, podcasting, and more — was held at the Holiday Inn Tanglewood in Roanoke, Virginia, from February 26th through February 28th. Membership for the convention’s sixth year sold out before the opening day (for the third year in a row).
Mysticon’s special guests were Convention Guest of Honor George R. R. Martin, Artist Guest of Honor J. P. Targete, Gaming Guest of Honor John Watts, Independent Film Guest of Honor Jaysen Buterin, Fan Guest of Honor Linda Shuping-Smith, Musical Guest of Honor Bella Morte, and returning Master of Ceremonies Rich Sigfrit. This year’s Mysticon Scholarship Winner was Justin Nicely.
Traditional activities at the convention included author readings, author signings, the Costume Masquerade, the Scholarship Auction, the Dealers’ Room (packed full of odd and intriguing stuff to buy), the Art Show (an impressive display — no photos allowed), 10 Forward Food Concessions (for snacks, drinks, and inexpensive fast food), the Hospitality Suite (a place to sit, enjoy snacks and drinks, and view the fabulous convention cake), the Independent Film Festival, music (the Dance Party, the Mysticon Musical Extravaganza, the Steampunk Jamboree, and the Percussion Circle), a non-denominational service with Gray Rinehart (Sunday morning), and all sorts of gaming, including LAN gaming, video gaming, Strange Aeons LARP, SHLARP, and many more scheduled games.
Special programs this year included the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Aunt Geek’s Road Show (for appraisals of your Geek Schwag), and The Needs of the Many: Remembering Leonard Nimoy.
Podcasting fans could enjoy the Gallifrey Pirate Radio Podcast; Geek Radio Daily Podcast; and the Baen Traveling Show and Podcast.
Attendees could participate in workshops — Leatherworking with Matthew Penick; Roanoke Robotics Workshop and Demonstration; The Plot Workshop with Allen Wold; One Hour Screenwriting School with Shawn Walton; The Writing Workshop with Allen Wold; The Art of Henna with Anita Bruckert; and the Fandango Puppet Workshop with Mark MacDicken — or attend demonstrations: the Digital Character/Creature Design Demo with Brian Sunderlin and J. P. Targete; the 3D Scanning Presentation and Discussion with Brian Sunderlin; and the Dryer Lint Art Demonstration with Heidi Hooper.
Those interested in a little friendly competition could try the Match Game; Geek Trivia for Chocolate; Doctor Who Trivia; and a Game Show with the Gaming Guy, Derek O’Leary.
Other fun activities included First Contact Improv; Write a Song with Bella Morte; Iron Author; The Eye of Argon; the Flabbergast Magic Show; and the Popup Panel.
If those weren’t enough to keep attendees busy, there were panels on many topics. Here’s a sampling:
- Art: The Future of Professional Artists; Art Collecting in the Digital Age; Fine Art or Illustration?; Fandom Art
- Comics: The Year Comics Grew Up; Superhero Universes: It’s Getting Crowded in Here
- Costuming: Armor Patterning; Iron Costumer; Functional Costuming: Making Your Costume Fit YOU; Thermoplasticity: The Art of Heat Forming Costumes
- Fantasy: Mythology: Beyond Greek and Norse; Contemporary Fantasy: Setting the Fantastic in the Everyday World; Fantasy Creatures and Where to Find Them; Beyond Western Europe — Other World Cultures for Fantasy
- Film: The Best Shorts of Mysticon 2015; Fan Flicks and Web Series; Fundraising and Pitching Panel and Workshop; Horror Shorts; Remakes, Revamps, Revisits; One Hour Film School; Special Effects on a Budget
- Gaming: Introduction to LARPing; Etiquette for Gamers; Beginning Roleplaying
- Horror: Fangs for the Memories: Has Vampirism Hit Its Twilight?; Are You Sure You Want to Go There?; A Touch of the Macabre; Renaissance Horror; Things That Go Bump in the Brain; Horror: Seen versus Unseen
- Media: Bringing the Comic Book World to the TV or Big Screen
- Paranormal: Spirit Communication; Dark Journeys: Exploring Urban Legends; Haunted Landscape
- Science: The Art of Science; Scouting New Horizons: Pluto, Our Solar System, and Beyond; Hacking the Brain; Women in Science and Technology; The Science and Psychology of Andy Weir’s The Martian
- Science Fiction: The Star Wars Expanded Universe; Reawakening the Force
- Self-Publishing: Self-Publishing 2.0: Maximizing Your Profits with Amazon.com; Judging a Book by Its Cover
- World Building: Alien Worlds and Races; Fantasy Worldbuilding; How Much Worldbuilding Does an RPG Need?
- Writing: YA Lit Insanity; That’s NOT Romance; Beta Readers and their Authors; Genre Blending: SciFi, Fantasy, and More; Them’s Fighting Words; No Sympathy for the Devil: Protagonists Beyond Redemption; Writing Up Close and Personal
- The Writing Business: The Long Game: Planning a Sustainable Creative Career; Marketing 101 for Authors; Building Your Brand; Writing a Query That Sells; Copyright and Its Discontent
- Youth Programming: Spiffy Spacey Balloons; Face-Painting; Knight Club; Kid-safe Zombie Makeup
Interesting facts I learned:
*In addition to bone loss, long-term living in space affects vision and the senses of smell and taste.
*Fire behaves differently in space.
*While colonizing the surface of Venus would pose considerable difficulties, a colony floating 55 kilometers above the surface — where the air pressure is one atmosphere, the gravity close to Earth’s, the heat more manageable, the cloud cover thin enough to allow production of sufficient solar power and thick enough to protect people from radiation — could be feasible.
*The first person to walk on Mars has probably already been born. (Daniel Wallace)
Interesting tips for writers:
*A successful career in writing (or any creative art) requires persistence, resilience, a growth mentality, a long-term view, professionalism, and an awareness of the value of your product. (From an excellent presentation by Rob Balder)
*A writer needs to live and then put his feelings and vulnerabilities on paper. (George R. R. Martin)
*A query letter should be clever, but not too clever. Only submit to one agent in an agency. If you go to conventions, do not mention this in your query letter.
*Copyrights extend to 75 years after an author’s death and cannot be renewed.
*There are two types of writers: architects and gardeners. (George R. R. Martin)
I saved George R. R. Martin’s observation about the types of writers for last because I like the images and the terms so much more than “plotters” and “pantsers.” He admits that he’s a gardener — which means that he and I have something in common besides New Jersey and hats!
Next year’s convention will be held February 24th through 26th. The Author Guest of Honor will be David Weber. If you’re a fan, register early because the convention will likely sell out again!