Schedule

The schedule of panels, showings, and games can be found here!



Friday

6-6:50 Con Etiquette 101. Constaff. How to make everyone's congoing experience a fun, safe, and meaningful one. This panel will cover correct panel behavior, how to respectfully compliment a cosplay and ask for pictures, how to read tone of voice and body language (someone is hurrying passed you with a panicked look on their face = probably not the best time to glomp them), and, most importantly, how to not be creepy.

6-6:50 Pop Culture As High Culture. Ellie Hillis and Barack Blackburn. What defines "low art," and who has the right to define it? In this panel we look at the "lowest common denominator," pop culture. Popular culture is fast becoming a driving force for our society. Is it really low art still? Superhero movies are some of the biggest grossing blockbusters, blogs and twitter are creating thriving cultural icons, books, and content, heck, even grumpy cat has her own manager! So, does this make pop culture high culture?

6-6:50 Bad Endings to Good Books. Kelly Turnbull. “Well, that was anticlimactic!” Come and discuss when authors don’t know when to leave well enough alone.

6-6:50 Three Things from a Hat Jane Yolen and Andrea Hairston Pull three ideas from the Hat of Wonderment and create a story from them. Think it’s easy? Think again!

6-6:50 Female Protagonists/ Female Villains. Tamora Pierce, Anna Erishkigal, Jennifer Allis Provost, and Annette Curtis-Klause. Why aren’t there more of them, and why are the ones we have all alike? Do women always have to be sexy -- or sexual interests? Can they be sexy and still be characters? How many fail the Bechdel test? Is making a “female version” of a character beneficial or harmful? Come for the discussion, stay for the ranting!

7-11:50 The Smithee Awards Back once again from the grave- the Smithee Awards! Given Annually to the worst movies they could find, the Smithee Awards will be screening  this year's "winners."

7-7:50 Master Level GM-ing. Barack Blackburn. How to get the most out of your game, talk with other GMs, learn fun and creative ways to make the lives of your PCs miserable, as well as tips on how to populate your world, choose a system, and tons of other fun stuff!

7-7:50 Welcome to Welcome to Nightvale. Sarah Hodge Wetherbe. In July of 2012, a strange little podcast hit the internet almost unseen. A strange blend of NPR type narration and twilight zone events, Welcome to Nightvale has exploded onto the fan community. What is this show? Why is it so popular? And what indeed is lurking in the dog park? You’ll have to come to this panel to find out.

7-7:50 Self-Publishing & Self-Editing. Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and Anna Erishkigal. Come talk about the ins and outs of both the self-publishing industry and of self-editing as it relates to both self-publishing and the professional publishing industry.

7-7:50 Exploiting Your Library’s Resources for the Glory of Geekdom. Kate Zdepski. What do you need? I'll give you a quick and dirty guide to the room of requirement that is your library. Whether you want information for your fanfic, space for your tabletop, or to read the rest of that comic you saw on tumblr (you know, where Spiderman, Iron Man, and Hulk dog sit Cerberus?), the answers can be found beyond the shelves of your library.

8-8:50 Evil Robots. Andrea Hairston and Sheree Thomas. From RUR and Metropolis to 2001 a Space Odyssey and The Terminator to Robopacalypse, why are there so many evil robots and wicked AI's who want to destroy humanity and reign over a universe without their creators messing up paradise? Of course we also have our cute and cuddly robots--R2D2 or WALL*E, EVA & crew, or heroic, altruistic, helpful robots--The Terminator again and Interstellar. How do we see ourselves in our robots?

8-8:50 Fandom and Criticism. Steampunk Family and Kelly Turnbull. As fans, how does our fandom affect our ability to judge and reason about our favorite (and least favorite) series? Can we—and should we—think critically about all of the media we consume?

8-9 Boston Sprockettes Medicine. A medicine show, one of the traveling entertainments popular in the United States in the 19th century, sold obscure and often times dangerous cures and tonics for all the things that frightened people of the time. A mix of authentic old pitches and comedic spoofs, with live music, song and dance in between the pitches.

8-10 Pantheon High. Ellie Hillis and Barack Blackburn.

System: "BFFs: Magic, Adventure, Sparkles, and Hugs" (beta testing)

Up to 5 Players

2 hours

The children of famous Gods and Goddesses all go to school together at Pantheon High. But when something goes wrong, it's up to these Godlings to save the school...and possibly the world! Come be a part of RPG history in the making with the first roleplaying game that is all about friendship and hugging!

8-8:50 Xenobiology. George Claxton. My alien is better than yours! It’s blue! But does that matter? Can you have a planet of shapeshifting goo? What makes sense for alien biology and how would it work? Is it reasonable? Find out why life on other planets might evolve very differently, and yet share much with lifeforms Earth.

9-9:50 Race in SciFi and Fantasy. Andrea Hairston and Sheree Thomas. Race in Sci-fi and Fantasy will involve examining portrayals of people of color in Sci-fi and Fantasy novels and the underlying assumptions that accompany those portrayals. For example, in a genre of fiction often used to explore alternate histories, why is North America always successfully colonized by Europeans?

9-9:50 Utopia/Dystopia. Sharyn November. In the future, everything is perfect...wait, that’s never true. At least, that’s never as interesting. Discuss your favorites, things done wrong, things done right, and that possibility where this could all come true if…

9-9:50 Romance, Eroticism, and the Demon Lover. Genevieve Iseult Eldredge and Anna Erishkigal. The demon lover is a popular fantasy trope, from succubi to “dealing” with the devil to the modern vampire. Come discuss the appeal. 18+ panel.

9-9:50 I Want to Believe: The Cases Behind the X-Files. Sarah Hodge Wetherbe. In 1993, the X-files attracted a huge fan base with its smart writing, interesting co-stars, and dark humor. For many fans, part of the fun was knowing the paranormal cases the show was referencing. Come and see what in the real world inspired the fiction, and find out if you believe.


Saturday

9:00-9:30 Medieval Sword-and-Buckler Combat from the Walpurgis Fechtbuch Salem Trayned Band

The world's oldest surviving swordplay treatise is Royal Armouries Manuscript I.33, an illustrated Latin handbook circa 1320 that shows sword-and-buckler fencing between a priest and his students. Amazingly, it also shows the priest fencing with a woman, Walpurgis, who gives the book its other name: The Walpurgis Fechtbuch. Watch this demonstration of techniques from the oldest documented fencing system, performed, as is only right, by a woman and a man.

9-9:50 Women in Anime. Sarah Hodge Wetherbe. Women and girls have a strong presence in Anime, but how are they portrayed? How has anime influenced women in fan culture? We will look at both fictional anime women, and the women who love anime.

9-9:50 Editing. Lisa Evans and Sharyn November. Wondering what goes into making a rough draft a published book? Attend this panel to find out!

9-9:50 Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading. Broad Universe. A Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading (RFR) is where 5-10 Broads get together to read snippets from their works. Audience members can expect to hear the latest in science fiction, fantasy and horror from this group of talented women. For more information, please visit http://broaduniverse.org/.

9-9:50 Uncle Abdul’s Planet Emporium. George Claxton. How do planets work and what makes sense when you are building a world setting for literature or gaming? Come and discuss what works, what doesn't and what to do to make your world more consistent and more realistic.

9-11:50 Welcome to Nightvale Tabletop RPG. Cas and Laura A fairly casual homebrew tabletop game taking place in the mysterious town of Nightvale. Maximum of 8 players.

10-11:30 Women in Comics. Ellie Hillis, Sarah Hodge Wetherbe, Barack Blackburn, and the Steampunk Family. There's so many comics out there, where do you start? Come to this panel to get a basic idea of women in comics: the good, the bad, and the poorly written. We'll provide a list of amazing titles worth checking out, and discuss some of the founding women of comics, both characters and creators.

10-11:30 Character Building 101. Anna Erishkigal, Kelly Turnbull, Kristi Peterson Schoonover, Slake Saunders, and Tamora Pierce. The nice thing about fiction is that you can fill the world with fascinating people you’d like to meet. Learn to round out your characters, from Our Hero(ine) to Bar Patron #3 to the talking alligator in the swamp

10-10:50 Faeries. Jane Yolen, Craig Davis, Jennifer Allis Provost, and Trisha Wooldridge. From Elves to the Sidhe to the Wee Free Men, fantasy is rife with various descriptions of the Fair Folk.

10-10:50 Vampires: Why won’t they just die already? Genevieve Iseult Eldredge. Despite the glut of vampire books, movies, and shows, fan interest in vampires is higher than ever. Why is this? What is behind the lure of the vampire? Come talk about the progression of the vampire trope from the days of Dracula and before all the way up to Twilight, Vampire Academy, and beyond. What has caused the vampire to go from terrifying to sexy? What's next?

11-11:50 Urban Fantasy. Annette Curtis Klause, Jennifer Allis Provost. Pixies gamboling on a mossy knoll, vampires swooping through ancient castles, and elves serene in a sylvan wood... No wonder they’re cranky when they find themselves navigating subway maps and breathing smog. Magic continues to flourish in metropolitan settings, perhaps, but it twists, darkens, and changes in oh-so-unique ways that both captivate and horrify.

11-11:50 A Study in Nope. Amy Tayloe and Kate Zdepski. Popular media over the past --well, forever --is obsessed with romance. Characters tend to meet via destiny, develop a psychic link, and then face one of three options: the star-crossed tragedy. the happily ever after, or the will-they-or-won't they. Can we ever escape the pull of the meet-cute?

11:00-11:30 am German Longsword Combat Salem Trayned Band

Do you think a strong arm is all you need to use a sword? Well, it isn't so. Experience the subtleties of the German tradition of longsword combat, in this demonstration of techniques from Joachim Meyer's groundbreaking combat treatise of 1570.

12-12:50 Stuck in the Middle. Trisha Wooldridge. When people speak of children's literature, they often think of picture books or first-chapter books. And then there is YA on up... but what about the "middle grade readers"? Books that need to be challenging enough but not as edgy as Young Adult literature can be. Writing and marketing to this group has its own set of challenges and rewards; readers who aren’t checking out MG books might be missing some gems. Let’s talk about Middle Grade!

1-2:30 Women in ScifiFantasy. Andrea Hairston, Sarah Hodge Wetherbe, Tamora Pierce, and Lisa Evans. Sick of the airheads in chainmail bikinis? Come to this panel to discuss the way women are portrayed in science fiction and fantasy. (Both as clichés and the way you wish they were written.)

1-1:50 Writing Believable Fight Scenes. Genevieve Iseult Eldredge, Anna Erishkigal, Julie Holderman, members of the Salem Trayned Band. On a dusky field, two warriors stood ready...but where to go from there? Learn the ins and outs (and hacks and slashes) of swordplay, jousting, and good old-fashioned fistfights.

1-1:50 Girl Meets Girl Meets Boy Meets Robot. Ashley Hatfield and Talia Levy. Creators often use fantasy or sci-fi to explore unusual political structures, or change the laws of physics, but yet keep the happily-ever-afters surprisingly constant. Come to discuss works with more unusual romances and partnerships.

1-1:50 Dark Matters. George Claxton. Although we have seen people of color in science fiction as early as the 1960s, recent portrayals may be regressing in how such people are depicted. Join us to examine portrayals of people of color in Sci-fi and Fantasy and the underlying assumptions that accompany those portrayals and how to make them better in your works.

2-2:50 Getting into the Industry. Sharyn November, Kelly Turnbull, and Jennifer Allis Provost. While the stereotypical nerd is a skinny white boy, women are also an integral part of the professional world of nerdery. This panel discusses some helpful ways to avoid misogyny in the nerd’s workplace.

2-2:50 This Thing Called Found Footage. Kristi Peterson Schoonover. Ever since three "student filmmakers" Blair Witched it in 1999, found footage has become (to the delight of some and the chagrin of others) a staple in the horror film industry. Why are more coming out every year? What does this say about our changed "selfie"-oriented culture, and how has it changed the way we expect stories to be told? On the flipside, how is this phenomenon reviving the old-school unreliable-narrator tale and true magic realism? We invite you to come and discuss these questions, share your faves and flops, and why you love found footage films...or hate 'em.

2:00-3 pm Massachusetts Bay Colony 1630 Pike Drill Salem Trayned Band

When the first English colonists came to America, they expected to have to fight. Muskets and pikes dominated the battlefields of Europe, and would soon decide Britain's fate in the English Civil Wars. See the Salem Trayned Band, a re-enactment unit portraying the militia of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in its earliest years, demonstrate how the colonists brought this military technology—including sixteen-foot pikes—to the New World.

2-5 Salem Academy Orientation RPG. Barack Blackburn and Ellie Hillis. Buffy wasn't about fighting vampires and demons, it was about high school and all the drama that comes with it. You're a student at the mysterious and elite boarding school, New Salem Academy (Invenire Te), located in beautiful Central Massachusetts, but behind the ivy covered walls, all is not as it seems.

2:30-4 Dragons are Awesome. Mookie, Jane Yolen, and Craig Davis. A field guide to dragons, from Smaug to Tiamat to Puff.

3-3:50 Women of Doctor Who. Doctor Who Club of Western Mass. This ConBust we'll focus on several of The Doctor's female companions who really held their own against our favorite Time Lord's dominant presence. This is also your chance to discuss the revelation of a female Master and appreciate The Rani (another female Time Lord).

3-3:50 Vs. Genevieve Iseult Eldredge. As geeks, we constantly argue over who would win in a fight or a battle of wits. Who would win between Batman and Superman? Hermione or Katniss? Bugs Bunny or Rocket Raccoon? Panelists will argue, debate, cajole, and convince the audience that their chosen hero(ine) would come out on top.

3-3:50 Badass Ladies of History. Madeline Klein. Need inspiration to create awesome women characters? This panel will be an exploration of the extraordinary accomplishments of women throughout history. We will be looking at both the well-known “badass ladies” and the legions of not so well-known “badass ladies”.

3-3:50 Cosplay Prop Making. Steampunk Family. Come and get advice and pro-tips for making the perfect props to accompany your amazing cosplay. Materials from wood & cardboard to foam & thermo-plastics, creation, modding, finishing techniques, and found object assembly.

4-4:50 Culture in the Round. Tamora Pierce, Kelly Turnbull, and Annette Curtis Klause. For many readers, the people and cultures make up the most important parts of a sci-fi or fantasy novel. But world building is a formidable task. How do you create reality?

4-4:50 Bad Endings in Anime Smithee Awards. Sometimes even the best of anime ends on a sour note. Sometimes, even the worst anime ends on an even worse note. Come hear about the worst endings in all of anime

4-4:50 Inexpensive Costuming. Sarah Hodge Wetherbe and the Steampunk Family. That gorgeous gown in the latest fantasy movie.  The captain's uniform on the cover of our favorite space epic.  The Victorian elegance of the perfect steampunk adventures, the undead cowboy's duster and hat, the inhuman beauty of an anime heroine....there's nothing more frustrating than dreaming of a million dollar costume on a student budget.  Fabric, clothing, accessories, and makeup aren't cheap.  What's an aspiring customer to do?

4-4:50 Everything but the Writing. Jennifer Aliss Provost and Trisha Wooldridge. We stress and struggle over the muse and our beautiful word choice, but the career of “author” goes far beyond the final manuscript and book. Authors need to find the right publishing path for them, they need to run their own business (and file taxes for it!), and they need to market and promote themselves. This workshop will go over the important business decisions authors have to make if they want to make writing their career and the resources they can find to help them make the best decisions.

4-4:50 Critters and You. George Claxton. Horses are not motorcycles, they need to be fed and cared for. Riding a dragon is all fine and good, until it gets hungry. Come and explore what is reasonable for the animals in your world.

4:00-4:30 pm Medieval Dagger Combat Salem Trayned Band

Fighting in the Middle Ages could be brutal, and never more so than when combatants faced each other armed only with daggers. See the skills needed to survive a medieval knife fight, as taught in contemporary combat manuals.

5-5:50 Creating Believable Heroes and Villains. Mookie, Tamora Pierce, Sharyn November, and Andrea Hairston. ‘I do it because I’m evil!’ or ‘I do it because I’m good!’ Well, there’s more to it than that. When writing, how do you go about creating heroes and villains with flaws and depth? This panel will help you with ideas and techniques for writing believable good -- and bad -- guys.

5-5:50 Children’s Fairy Tales Jane Yolen and Sheree Thomas. “Once upon a time...” there was a panel involving brave orphans, lost princesses, evil witches, and a fuzzy talking animal. The story continues...

5-5:50 Hero, Protagonist. Slake Saunders and Craig Davis. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, from the plucky-and-honorable-but-not-so-bright kid with a magic sword, to the short angry redhead with everything to prove, to the brooding former villain one step away from darkness.

5-5:50 Doctor Who: Then, Now, and In-Between. Doctor Who Club of Western Mass. We'll compare and contrast the two main eras of Doctor Who, Classic (1963-1989) and the Reboot (2005-present). Has the Doctor become over-sexualized? Is he a sociopath or was he just written that way? Was the 1996 movie part of the classic era or reboot? The Reboot has greatly expanded the fandom but is there a divide between fans of the Classic Series and New? We'll also mention some "forgotten" parts of the Who Universe, such as Shakedown, comics, games, etc.

6-6:50 Anthropology in Scifi/Fantasy. Andrea Hairston and Annette Curtis Klause. Why do bug-eyed aliens act like humans? Why are werewolves sexist? And where is the planet of the hats, anyway? To build a believable world, you must also have believable cultures to live in that world. A look at anthropology will help you create societies that live and breathe and fit the world that they live in. Join us for talks about the ‘universal’ nature of humanity, or rather, not.

6-6:50 Suspension of Disbelief. Kelly Turnbull, Julie Holderman, and Kristi Peterson Schoonover. You’ll believe he’s an ungodly superhero but you won’t believe that he showers with his katana? How much is too much?

6-6:50 Tools of the Trade. George Claxton. What weapons make sense in what context. Why would anyone even try to invent a light-saber? How do firearms work? Why is a giant key the worst idea for a combat device even in a fantasy setting. Come and discuss what works and what doesn't and why.

6-6:50 When Comics and Books Become Movies. Ellie Hillis and Barack Blackburn. The biggest blockbuster movies are based on comics and ya fiction. What does that mean for the movie industry?...

6:00-7:00 pm Salem Zouaves: Civil War Bayonet Drill Salem Trayned Band

In the mid-nineteenth century, a military fashion craze swept Europe and the United States. Known as Zouaves, they were originally French-Algerian light infantry famous for their colorful Turkish uniforms, athletic precision drill, and ferocity with cold steel in battle. The Salem Light Infantry, an elite militia company from Salem, Massachusetts, went Zouave in April, 1861. This demonstration will feature the uniforms and the bayonet-fencing drills practiced by the Salem Zouaves. The drills will be shown on video with muskets and bayonets, and then performed live with brooms, an actual practice in the nineteenth century.

6:30-7:30 Boston Sprockettes’ Cabaret Show

7-7:50 Geeks in Love. Steampunk Family. Love is complicated, especially in spandex. Come for a discussion of dating and relationships in the fandom world.

8-8:50 Homestuck: Late Night: Ask A Troll (18+). Caroline Womack. Join Dave Strider and the rest of your favorite trolls in an attempt to answer some of your deepest (and possibly most terrible) questions. Experience the crying, screaming, and desperate attempts to retain dignity at this late-night (18+) Homestuck panel!

8:00-8:30 pm Lightsaber Combat of the Sword Masters Salem Trayned Band

Many of the lightsaber techniques we see in the Star Wars movies are based on Japanese katana and European longsword traditions. Watch as we present a lightsaber demonstration based on historically accurate European swordplay techniques used in the Renaissance. May the Force be with you!

8:30-10 Happy Hour Burlesque

9-Midnight One Dance to Rule them All


Sunday

10-11:30 am. YA Fiction. Julie Holderman,Sharyn November, Tamora Pierce, Sheree Thomas, and Jane Yolen. While Young Adult fiction often gets a bad rap, many of us feel that science fiction and fantasy written for children and teens is some of the best of the genre. Come discuss your favorites!

10-10:50 am. Webcomics. Mookie, Kelly Turnbull and Slake Saunders. We’re famous on the Internet! Come learn about webcomics, production, and popularity from some of the pros.

10-10:50 am. Libraries and Librarians in Fantasy. Annette Curtis Klause and Kate Zdepski. Books, libraries and librarians often find their way into science fiction and fantasy, from the wonderful titles on the library shelves of Mr. Tumnus in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, through the censorship portrayed in Fahrenheit 451, to the demon in Evil Librarian by Michelle Knudsen. What roles do books play in books? Do the portrayals of librarians and libraries in fantasy and science fiction support or subvert the stereotype? What is your favorite literary library?

10-10:50 am. Drop Spinning 101. Miriam Roberts. Learn to spin roving (combed wool) into yarn using a drop spindle.  We will cover the basics of spinning, spindles, and plying, and will briefly discuss advanced techniques. $28 fee includes: 1 Schacht Hi-Lo Spindle and approximately 4 oz wool roving

10-10:50 am. "MY FEMINISM IS INTERSECTIONAL OR IT WILL BE BULLSH*T!". Trisha Wooldridge. Flavia Dzodan titled this essay on her tigerbeatdown blog. What does it mean to be intersectional? How can we see past our various privileges and be aware of the struggles of women from different backgrounds, ethnicities, sexualities, body size, income level, geographic location etc. from us? How do we make strides for women’s rights for ALL women? Let’s discuss what it means to be “intersectional” and why that is an important part of modern feminism.

10-10:50 am. Cosplay 101. Steampunk Family, Ellie Hillis and Lisa Evans. While it may seem intimidating at times, the world of cosplay can be easily navigated when armed with a little knowledge. Whether you’re an old hat to the cosplay scene or bright as a new button, discover some new tips and tricks for bringing your fandom to life.

11-11:50 am. How Magic Works. George Claxton, Anna Erishkigal and Jennifer Allis Provost. Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from science, but what can you do to balance dramatics and believability? Is there a happy medium between literary magic and modern skepticism?Join us to discuss how to make a magic system that functions within the context of your world and is not just a black box from which you can pull whatever you need to solve the problem of the moment.

11-11:50 am. Comics 401. Ellie Hillis and Barak Blackburn. Let's get down to the nitty gritty. The comics industry is a boy's club, full of misogyny and poorly drawn breasts. In this panel we'll dive deep into the realm of women in comics and explore the good (and bad) of women, characters of color, and different sexualities in modern and classic comics. Be warned, this panel is not for comics beginners.

11-11:50 am. Interstellar Governments. Mookie. Politics...IN SPACE! Well, there’s more to it than that. Come and discuss the differences in other-world diplomacy.

11-11:30 am. Phoenix Swords Demonstration. Phoenix Swords will demonstrate a series of weapons and styles taken from manuals ranging from 1320 through the 1700s.

12-12:50 pm. Time Lord Biology. Doctor Who Club of Western Mass. Guest lecturers from the Unified Intelligence Taskforce (UNIT) Science Division will teach you the main differences between human and Gallifreyan anatomy; regeneration, reproduction, physiology, and DNA. We'll also discuss the distinction between Time Lord and Gallifreyan. Presented by Doctor Who Club of Western MA.

12-12:50 pm. The Publishing Industry. Annette Curtis Klause, Kristi Petersen Schoonover, Sharyn November, Trisha J. Wooldridge, and Jane Yolen. Don’t be intimidated by the scary editors in suits! Act like the hero you wrote about and come to this panel to learn the tricks of making a living with storytelling.

12-12:50 pm. Writers’ Anonymous. Miriam Roberts."Hi, I'm Miriam, and I have a problem with named characters . . ." Come chat with other writerly types, complain about your current problems, and discuss strategies for avoiding various writing challenges.

Note: You will be expected to participate.

1-1:50 pm. Religion in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Jane Yolen and George Claxton.  Religion is an important part of life in Earth cultures, why should this be any less true when we venture forth into the stars? Join us for a talk on when and why one should include the Powers That Be in literature and gaming.

1-1:50 pm. How to be an Evil Overlord. Amy Tayloe. Good evening.  I've been expecting you.  I should warn you, this panel will be full of discussion on how to run your little corner of the universe, and wrest control from your rival rulers.  Bring questions, and your best note-taking minion.  Be prepared to cite other's flaws and your own meager successes.  Bribery, as always, is encouraged.

1-1:50 pm. I Sing the Body Eccentric. Ashley Hatfield and Talia Levy. A discussion of how authors use physical characteristics, sometimes thoughtfully and sometimes problematically, to either deepen or cheapen their characters.

1-1:50 pm. Torturing Your Characters for Fun and Profit. Genevieve Iseult Eldredge.They say that only conflict is interesting. But what kinds of conflict make for a good angsty hero(ine)? What kinds of torture and dark doings can you integrate into your characters' backgrounds and story to raise the stakes, increase reader/viewer interest, and make your heroes and villains sympathetic? How has this been done well (and poorly) in books, movies, video games, etc.

1-1:45 pm. Phoenix Swords Workshop. Phoenix Swords will be teaching a series of plays or maneuvers from the smallsword manual -Le Sieur de Liancour, Le Maitre D'Armes, 1692 No equipment is required, we will be providing wooden approximations of a smallsword. Partners will be guided through hand and foot positions and at least two basic plays. We would request that participants be 18 years of age or at least 16 with a parental waiver. Anyone wishing to look at the manual online it is available here: http://www.umass.edu/renaissance/lord/pdfs/Liancour_1692.pdf

2-2:50 pm. Steampunk 101. Sarah Hodge-Wetherbe. For all its appeal, steampunk can be a very hard genre to define. In this panel, we discuss the various ways steampunk is identified, look at how it developed as a genre, and see how it is influencing everything from literature to fashion. This includes a reading list of both speculative and steampunk fiction for folks just starting to get interested in steampunk.

2-2:50 pm. Writing Tarot and Divination. Trisha Wooldridge. Throwing bones, reading runes, Tarot cards, listening to stars, crippling visions, dousing... there are many way authors love to inform (or misinform) their protagonists about the future. What methods of divination are out there that we can throw at characters? Who has used them well? How can you use / represent them properly/respectfully in your writing? How do you make up your own divination process for your alien planet or fantastical world? Discuss ways we can see (or try to see) the futures of our characters. Panels>>How can you tap into the Tarot to unlock a story scene, inspire you, or get past a stuck point? How can you use writing to read your own Tarot? This class will give specific tools through a hands-on session with the cards. Bring paper and pen, and leave with the beginnings of story in your hands!

2-2:50 pm. Black Vampires in Science Fiction. Sheree Thomas. With his new Kickstarter-funded movie, "Da Sweet Blood of Jesus," (released February 13, 2015), Spike Lee reimagines Bill Gunn's classic arthouse indie black vampire film, GANJA AND HESS. Made in 1973 during the height of Hollywood's Blaxploitation era, GANJA AND HESS defied expectations, subverting stereotypes to create a sensual, fascinating film that explore's addiction, class, and black women's agency. In this session, we will discuss these pivotal films as well as vampire novels by black writers that challenge traditional notions of the Nosferatu. From Octavia E. Butler's final book, FLEDGLING, to former slaves, flapper women, and 80s black club kids, we will consider how there is more to black vampires than BLACULA.

Convention Times:

Friday: 5:30pm-12am
Saturday: 9:30am-11pm
One Dance to Rule Them All: 9pm-12am
Sunday: 9:30am-4pm

Artist/ Dealer Room Times:

Friday: 7pm-9:30pm
Saturday: 9:30am-8pm
Sunday: 9am-4pm