A few days late, but here we go!
This was our eighth consecutive trip out to Denver for this con, one of a few to which we look forward every single year. We never fail to have fun at Starfest, and this time was no exception.
We took off from Kansas City last Thursday afternoon for the 9-hour drive. What should have been an uneventful journey filled with the sounds of two geeks talking and listening to various shit on the radio was interrupted only once, WHEN WE ALMOST GOT KILLED. Boogeying westbound on I-70 near Salina, Kansas, we were cruising along in the right lane when we crested a hill in time to see another car becoming visible up ahead and in the left lane. It too was cresting another small rise, which Kevin and I both found odd at first, until we realized that he was traveling east at 80 mph in the westbound lane.
He zipped past us and was gone pretty much in the time it took Kevin and I to say something to the effect of “HOLY SHIT!!!!” After checking our respective shorts for signs of involuntary releasing of body fluids and other icky matter, Kevin called his stepdad in Abilene, who’s a former municipal court judge and also has a police radio to which he likes to listen on occasion. He was able to tell us that state troopers managed to pull over the bonehead before he was able to kill anyone. It’s too bad he couldn’t just take out himself, and rid the gene pool of one extra donor for the shallow end.
We finally arrived at the con hotel in Denver around midnight, and checked into our room without incident (the Starfest con staff always look out for us). Friday morning began with me doing something I do on rare occasions, like when planets align or aliens visit the National Mall: I slept in. Once Kevin and I dragged our tired asses out of bed, we took care of a couple of bits of work (handed in an article for Star Trek Magazine, etc.) before heading out to Dave & Busters for lunch. After pounding down some bar food, we availed ourselves of the restaurant’s expansive gaming arcade. I don’t remember the name of the game we played, but it featured us having to wield nasty-looking plastic rifles and shoot and blow up all kinds of shit. My kind of game.
With that out of our system, we returned to the hotel and commenced setting up our tables in what has become our usual haunt, the “Author’s Alley” located just outside the dealer’s room. We were quickly joined by friend and fellow Starfester Christie Golden as well as her friend, Kirby. Things got going at 6pm Friday night and stayed fairly busy until most of the con’s scheduled activities for the evening concluded at 10pm. As has become customary, we were greeted at our table by friends old and new. New for the con this year was the recently released Star Trek: Seven Deadly Sins as well as the brand-spankin’ new Counterstrike: The Last World War, Book II. I also had a stack of my new “Texas Pride” chapbook, which garnered decent-enough interest (I still have some leftovers, so maybe some of those will make the trip with me to Shore Leave in July).
The day moved along at a pretty rapid clip, about which Kevin and I remarked that evening, “Where the hell did the day go?” We only had one panel, rather than the three or four we’ve often been given in years past, due to an atypical lack of panel room space for the convention, so we took the best bits of what we might’ve done with multiple panels and crammed them all into a single offering we called “Dayton & Kevin’s Panel About Absolutely Whatever.” We talked Trek, writing and publishing, and whatever else the audience wanted to discuss, and the hour flew by like Steve Austin running after Bigfoot. We didn’t get to do perform an installment of “Kevin and Dayton’s Bleeding Ear Theater,” during which we would’ve read something, but we still had plenty to keep us busy.
After the main part of the day was over, we grabbed some dinner in the con suite (did I mention the Starfest con staff really looks after us? Well, they do). and then headed to the main events room for what has become one of our favorite parts of the convention: judging the annual costume contest. Along with the con promoter, Stephen Walker, as well as a couple of folks who actually know what they’re doing with regard to this stuff, Kevin and I had our usual blast watching as a bunch of very talented folks showed off their latest costuming creations. The winner of the “Best in Show” award this time around was a lone gent who had created – by hand and from scratch – an Iron Man “War Machine” costume, complete with retracting face plate and a shoulder-mounted mini-gun that pivots and rotates. Two words: FRAKKING AWESOME.
As it did last year, the day started with a talent show, for which Kevin once again acted as emcee while I took up the duties of one of the judges. The surprise of the show was the kid we bounced from last year’s contest for being…well…a dumbass. When he showed up to enter this year’s contest, we all looked at each other, wondering what he might do this time around, but he floored us all by turning in a stellar singing performance and taking top honors in his age bracket. Talk about your total redemption. That was actually pretty cool to see.
The rest of the day consisted of us selling and/or signing books at a steady pace, though things definitely petered out as the afternoon wore on. Once the con wrapped up around 6pm, we packed up our stuff and headed out for what has become another annual tradition: dinner with friend and writer Kevin J. Anderson and his lovely wife Rebecca Moesta for dinner. On the menu this time? The Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, which is a favorite of Kevin’s. It was a nice way to wind down the day, after which we returned to the hotel in time to crash the con staff/volunteer after party, once again exercising our standing invitation to join in on the festivities. We got there a bit later than we usually do this time around, but were still in time to say our good-byes to the rather large group of friends we’ve amassed over the years.
While I’m sure there were a few minor glitches as there always are at cons of this size, from where I sat, Starfest 2010 went off in the same fine manner we’ve grown used to seeing each year. We greatly enjoyed the opportunity to reconnect with our seemingly always-growing contingent of Denver-based fans and friends, and we once again offer our sincere thanks to the Walker family — Stephen, KathE, Steve, and Mike — along with Susan, Kelley, Treecy, Phil, Cynthia, Carol, Judy, Jeremy, Kevin Atkins, David and Debby, and everyone else for taking care of us just like they do every year. While I’m sure the con staff and volunteers would rather wait a bit (you know, like a year, Starfest 2011 can’t get here soon enough for me.