Shore Leave 42 schedule!

Con, ho!

With the past two years spent conducting our business in the virtual realm, Shore Leave – the actual, in-person, in-the-panel-rooms, in-the-bar-after-hours experience – is back! After pandemic-induced exile for the 2020 and 2021 shows, I am so very much looking forward to reconnecting with so many people I only get to see at this convention.

(Here’s hoping the gods overseeing air travel allow Kevin and me to make a successful transit there and back.)

So, yeah! Shore Leave is happening this weekend at the Delta Hotels Baltimore Hunt Valley Inn, and thanks to the wonder that is scheduled blog posting, I’m writing this on Monday, July 11th so that it can be posted the morning of Friday, July 15th, while I’m either sleeping or wandering around somewhere in the Baltimore area.

With only a couple of exceptions, I’ve been attending this con for nearly twenty years. Along with our annual jaunts to Denver for StarFest, this is my favorite con to attend. In addition to being a fan-driven show run by a dedicated group of volunteers rather than some corporate entity, I’m fairly certain it’s also the largest gathering of Star Trek writers of every sort. And as I’ve already said, it’s one of the few times even when we’re not dealing with pandemics that I get to see many of my friends and colleagues who call the East Coast (mostly New York and points nearby) home.

As is usually the case, the convention is boasting a pretty solid roster of media guests, including (as I write this…subject to change) Brandon Routh (Superman Returns, Legends of Tomorrow), Adam Baldwin and Summer Glau from Firefly and Serenity, Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Robert Duncan McNeill (Star Trek: Voyager), Aimee Garcia (Lucifer), Jessie Usher (The Boys), and Eddie McLintock (Warehouse 13, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).

There are also more author and science guests than you can shake a lightsaber at. Check out the con’s main Guests Page for all the details.

Meanwhile, you can for sure find this particular author guest at the following locations and times during the weekend. Plan your stalking accordingly:

Friday, July 15th

Small Screen Dominance – 7pm-8pm – Salon A
Star Wars and Star Trek have both had incredible new lives on the small screen, with multiple series thriving on TV. What does long-form storytelling enable that’s limited by two-hour movies? I’ll be joining Robert Greenberger, David Mack, and Laura Ware.

Meet the Pros – 10pm-Midnight – Hunt/Valley Foyer
The con’s annual mass author autographing event! Bring your books and whatever else you might want signed by any of the convention’s author guests. You should be able to track down a particular author throughout the weekend, but this is the main event. A local bookseller will also be on site all weekend, with plenty of new release and backlist titles from all the attending authors.

Saturday, July 16th

Worldbuilding and the Star Trek Universe – 12pm-1pm – Derby
Encompassing all of what’s new in Star Trek, from the shows to Star Trek Online to tie-in properties like comics, novels, this IP is expanding, with new creators and production designers bringing fresh perspectives. I’ll be on the panel with Derek Tyler Attico, Christopher L. Bennett, Greg Cox, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Amy Imhoff.

What’s Coming in Star Trek Fiction – 3pm-4pm – Salon E
Pretty much what it says! For this panel, I’m hanging with Christopher L. Bennett, Greg Cox, David Mack, and Scott Pearson.

Sunday, July 17th

Indy’s Back! – 11am-12pm – Derby
After changes of director and writers, Indiana Jones 5 is done shooting, in post-production, and due in theaters June 2023. What do we know about it, and are we excited about one last adventure—or dreading it? I’ll be cracking the whip with Rigel Ailur, Kevin Dilmore, T.J. Perkins, and Howard Weinstein.

In and around all of the scheduled activities going on all weekend, I’ll be checking in on other panels, checking out the vendors room, and hopefully spending some time chatting with people I don’t get to see nearly often enough. And after each day’s obligations are met? Be sure to find most if not all of us in the hotel bar. It’s not just tradition; it’s a moral imperative!

Maybe I’ll see you there!

shoreleave-logo

StarFest, here we come!

Thanks to the wonder that is scheduled posting here on the blog thing, by the time you read this my hetero life mate Kevin and I will be on our way to Denver for the annual StarFest Convention!

(Be sure to click on the link and check out the guest line-up. Terry Farrel. Michelle Hurd. Brent Spiner. Nick Creegan. Eddie McClintock. Zach McGowan. Dr. Erin MacDonald and Dr. Ken Carpenter along with a big ol’ gang of science speakers. Rick Sternbach! Authors! Artists! Me and Kevin! And many more! Not to mention, StarFest is also something of an “umbrella con,” with separate tracks/”mini-cons” for ArtFest, ComicFest, GameFest, HorrorFest, KlingonFest, ModelFest, and ScienceFest!)

COVID-19 saw to it the 2020 and 2021 cons were cancelled, so while this will be our 18th trip to Denver, 2022 marks our 20th anniversary of hanging out with the StarFest family as guests of the con. Regular readers know that this show and Shore Leave are my two favorite conventions to attend, and the two I make every effort not to miss. Indeed, I make sure to lock in my availability for these shows before committing to anything else. It will be wonderful to see all the faces we’ve missed since the 2019 show, while also being bittersweet. In addition to toasting absent friends, we’ll also be commemorating this, the final StarFest. It’s gonna get blubbery, y’all.

BUT! Not before we have a full weekend of great fun.

What’ll we be up to this weekend? The usual sorts of convention shenanigans. We’ll have our tables in the author/artists alley, of course. A curated selection from our backlist (a fancy way of saying, “Whatever we can cram into Kevin’s car) will be on hand, all ready for the autographing and such. Naturally, we’re also up for signing whatever you bring with you at no charge.

We’ll also be participating in programming, including the guest meet-n-greet on Friday night, followed by introducing for the HorrorFest crowd that absolute 1985 classic, The Return of the Living Dead! We normally help out with judging the big costume contest on Saturday evening, but this year the con has asked us to emcee the event. While we cannot possibly replace our dear friend Kevin Atkins, who sadly left us last year, we will do our very best to make him proud.

Beyond that? I’m sure we’ll find some kind of trouble to get into.

If you’re reading this and planning to attend the con, be sure to swing by and say hello!

Planet Comicon 2022 is here!

Today’s the big day, y’all! The largest pop culture convention in the Kansas City region is launching today, promising three epic days of comics, games, cosplay, creators and stars from TV and film, authors and artists, and just about anything you can think of that’s geeky and cool. For more than 20 years, Planet Comicon has been the place to be.

As it has for the past several years, the convention is at Bartle Hall in downtown KC, just up the street from the city’s popular Power & Light District. There will be activitites and events on and off site all through the weekend, so for those of you planning to attend? Be sure to stretch, hydrate, wear comfortable shoes, and pace yourselves.

Kevin and I are thrilled and honored to once again be invited back to the con as author guests. You’ll be able to find us all throughout the con’s three days of shenanigans at tables/booths 1639 and 1641 on the main exhibitor floor. We’ll have copies of various titles from our backlists for purchase and signing, but please do bring anything you might already have with you, and we’ll happily sign such items free of charge. New for this year’s show? I’ll have on hand a limited number of copies of Star Trek: Coda, Book I – Moments Asunder and (I hope!) Jurassic World: The Official Cookbook.

We’ll also be participating in programming during the weekend. You can find both of us at the following panels:

What Makes A Great Science Fiction Book? – Room 2505A – Friday, 2:30pm – 3:20pm

Galactic wars in a galaxy far far away, dystopian machine futures, space exploration? Planet Comicon special guest authors Claudia Gray (Star Wars: The High Republic), Kevin Dilmore (Star Trek), Dayton Ward (Star Trek) and Stephanie Hansen (Altered Helix) as they discuss the genre and give advice for aspiring writers.

Star Trek: Page and Screen – Room 2505B – Saturday, 1:00pm – 1:50pm

Hosted by Best Selling Star Trek authors Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore and moderated by former Star Trek: Deep Space Nine TV series writer Robert J. Bolivar. Star Trek has transitioned from screen to printed page and back again many times. Each iteration of the franchise is unique unto itself. What works in a script or teleplay may not cut it as a novel, and vice-versa. Hear how the the dynamics differ from the folks who have penned Star Trek across multiple mediums, and find out how these stories were approached.

In addition to all of that, there’s rarely one of these shows that goes down where we’re not pulled into something extra on an ad hoc basis, so who knows what this weekend will bring? Kevin and I will both be posting to Twitter and Facebook throughout the con as circumstances warrant or even if we just feel like screwing with people or the lines for the food trucks are too long. Stay tuned, and we hope to see you there!

Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re back.

Previously on The Fog of Ward:

Yes, it has indeed been mighty quiet around these parts for quite some time. I promise it has nothing to do with anything bad, but rather just my being busy on various fronts. My consulting work comes in fits and starts, with tasks arriving from multiple sources and often with competing deadlines or at least competing time frames in which action is required. It’s nothing that isn’t manageable, at least in and of itself. However, couple that with a major writing project with which I must admit I struggled in a way I haven’t experienced in a rather long time, and the time crunch starts to assert itself.

Then there were the usual sorts of other tasks demanding attention such as my regular volunteering stints at the museum plus some fun things like a school trip for our oldest child to Florida. Their orchestra, band, and choir were afforded a tremendous opportunity to participate in a workshop with musicians from Disney down at Disney Studios, and the school built a pretty fun mini-vacation into the mix. We spent four full days at the Magic Kingdom, Disney Studios, and Universal Studios taking in all the attractions and other fun, and yes, I even snuck away when the Starship Enterprise wasn’t looking in order to visit space vessels from another galaxy. You know….the one far, far away.

What a piece of junk, amirite?

With the weather warming up, that means more time spent outside, either working in the yard or tending to other things around the house, or enjoying extended walks around the lakes in our neighborhood. It also means convention season, with the first of those coming up later this week when I venture northward for Star Trek: Mission Chicago. I’m actually leaving for that event later today, and it promises to be a busy next several days. Later this month, Kevin and I will be guests at Planet Comicon here in KC, and a few weeks after that we’ll be on our way to Denver for what has only been recently announced as the final Starfest Convention. After missing in-person conventions for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m truly going to miss our annual pilgrimage to Colorado. We’ve been attending that show as guests since 2003 and have made so many friends with whom we enjoy reconnecting each year. This will be a tough one, especially when considering friends who’ve left us during the past two years, but we’re bound and determined to have a blow-out party for the ages as we gather one last time.

So far as summer conventions go, Shore Leave is of course a big one. As it did with Starfest, the pandemic kept me from traveling to Baltimore to hang out with friends and colleagues I might only see at this show, and there also will be some folks whose absences will be keenly felt. Perhaps for that reason above so many others, I’m grateful to reconnect with my East Coast extended fam and enjoy each other’s company while remembering absent friends.

Summer also brings with it the summer swim league for our neighborhood kids, and our youngest is still keen to participate. That means lots of practices during the league’s six-week season and six (hopefully not too hot) Wednesday evenings when we get to hang out with neighborhood friends. There’s also the museum, at which I’m still regularly volunteering, and hopefully a family vacation somewhere in the midst of all that…even better if it ends up being with my sister and her family, which is the current plan we’re hatching.

And yes, I plan to get back to littering this space with my usual brand of…well, whatever it we want to call what I do here. Writing and book release announcements and related musings, of course, but I also have a few ideas for the “Tuesday Trekkin'” and “Tied Up With Tie-Ins” recurring features, and a few other ideas percolating. If there’s something you’d like to me to spend a bit of time babbling about, drop your suggestions in the comments.

But first? On to Chicago!

Come see us at Planet Comicon this weekend!

At long last, after traversing the odyssey that has dilated time beyond all ability to comprehend, Kevin and I are finally attending our first in-person convention in nearly two years. We’re emerging from our hidey-holes today and venturing into the (hopefully) warm and welcoming environs of Bartle Hall in downtown Kansas City for this weekend’s Planet Comicon, the Midwest’s largest pop culture convention!

(No, they didn’t pay me to say that.)

What will be doing all weekend? Most of the time, we’ll be manning tables in the Artist/Creator Alley area of the con’s main exhibitor floor. If you’re attending the show, feel free to stop by booths 1639 and 1641 and say “Howdy.”

A number of our writing friends will also be in attendance, including our neighbors on our Artist Alley aisle, Jeni Frontera and Jason Arnett. Located elsewhere on the floor will be Kevin J. Anderson, Keith R.A. DeCandido, and John Jackson Miller, with them and others setting up shop at the Bard’s Tower booth. And we can’t forget Elizabeth C. Bunce, Dennis Young, and the incomparable Timothy Zahn, who will have their own tables in the alley.

As I write this, Kevin and I are confirmed for at least one discussion panel: “My Search History Is Interesting.” Conjured and to be moderated by Jeni Frontera, this one promises to be informative and funny as hell as we recount the trials and tribulations of being a writer while conducting research by tunneling into the deepest, darkest corners of the internet. Elsewhere, during past Planet cons Kevin and I sometimes have gotten drafted into other activities such as playing announcer/host for trivia contests, costume contests, and the like. I have no idea if anything like that will happen this time around, but I’ve learned to never say, “Never.”

Other than that? Pushing books, and wandering the con seeing what’s what. I have one daughter who’s absolutely beside herself that members of the cast from the Supernatural TV series will be in attendance, and another who just loves the vibe of a good con.

For those of you traveling to Kansas City for the con, please note that our mayor has re-instated a mask mandate for all indoor public activities, and this certainly qualifies. Masks will be required for all attendees, including staff and guests. No worries, though. I’m ready to receive visitors.

Welcome to Kansas City, Earthlings.

Maybe we’ll see you there!

Shore Leave 41.6 panels via the Tube of You!

For those of you unable to join us during this past weekend’s Shore Leave 41.6 Convention, you probably know the whole thing was conducted virtually. One of the upsides of this online undertaking is that all of the panels were recorded, which makes them available for future viewing long after the con itself is over and we each meander back to our regular lives.

The fine folks involved with supporting the con this past weekend have done a whole truckload of extra good deeds by uploading videos from the various panels to the Shore Leave YouTube page. That’s right, folks! Come see what all we talked about. And there’s also bonus content with each video in the form of awkward pauses, scratched noses, extreme closeups of beverage consumption, wandering eyes as attentions are distracted by other screens, phones, pets, or family members moseying past cameras, and whatever else happens when you do these things live and leave everything to chance.

And although I suspect at least some of the various panelists participated in their respective discussions while not wearing pants, I was not one of them. Or, was I?

Speaking of my panels, here are links to each of the four discussions in which I took part:

“The New Age of Star Trek – Moderated by Keith R.A. DeCandido, and featuring fellow authors Derek Tyler Attico, Kirsten Beyer, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and David Mack.

“40+ Years Later: Is Star Trek: The Motion Picture Better Than We Recall?” – Moderated by Howard Weinstein, and featuring Derek Tyler Attico, T.A. Chafin, Kevin Dilmore, and David Mack.

Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game Update” – Moderated by Jim Johnson, and featuring fellow STA contributors Derek Tyler Attico, Christopher L. Bennett, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Scott Pearson.

“What’s New In Star Trek Literature” – Moderated by Scott Pearson, and featuring Christopher L. Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, David Mack, John Jackson Miller, and James Swallow.

And of course there are so many other awesome panels featuring these amazing friends of mine along with so many other wonderful people I wish I’d gotten to see at some point over the weekend. Be sure to check out the Shore Leave YouTube page for all of those.

I can’t say it enough, but I offer my sincere thanks and appreciation to Aaron Rosenberg, who helped wrangle me and other writer guests into little herds for our panels, Inge Heyer for doing her usual bout of heavy lifting to make sure we all got where we needed to be, and to the rest of the Shore Leave technical support team and other volunteers for all of their tremendous hard work over the weekend.

Here’s hoping we all get to gather next July in Hunt Valley and make up for all of this lost time!

My Shore Leave 41.6 schedule!

“41.6?” I can hear someone calling out from the nosebleed seats. “What the heck is that about?”

So, it’s like this. The annual Shore Leave convention has been navigating some tricky obstacles over the past…what? Fifteen or sixteen months? At least? The 2020 show was supposed to have been Shore Leave 42 but when it morphed into a virtual event thanks to COVID restrictions on mass gatherings, the online edition of the con was dubbed “Shore Leave 41.5,” with the expectation that this year’s show would be given the official “42” designation, and we could celebrate Life, the Universe, and Everything as originally intended.

With COVID restrictions and guidelines lingering far enough into 2021, a decision had to be made at some point a few months back, and with the information available to them at the time the valiant members of the con’s committee made the hard decision to keep things within the virtual realm again this year. Hence, “Shore Leave 41.6,” and we all hope we can be back together in the real world for 2022’s show, where we really can celebrate, Life, the Universe, Everything, and everything else we’re not getting to do this year.

And so it goes.

Anyway, a pretty stuffed schedule has been put together to fill out the con’s two days of programming for this coming Saturday and Sunday (July 10th and 11th), and I glance at the doc sent my way tells me I’ll be on four discussion panels – three on Saturday and one on Sunday. These and all of the other panels will be available for viewing via Zoom, Discord, or other “webinar” platforms, with links and such to be provided as we get closer to the con. I’d suggest bookmarking the Shore Leave Programming Page so you don’t have to keep hunting for such things, as that’s where you’ll find all the juicy deets.

Meanwhile, here’s a rundown of the mischief and shenanigans for which I’ve enlisted this weekend:

(All Times Eastern)
Saturday, July 10th

“The New Age of Star Trek” – 11am-12pm: Join the authors as they discuss the new age of Star Trek we’re living in, and talk about Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Strange New Worlds, and Prodigy, and how these new series connect to the legacy series and carry the torch for new generations of fans. Moderated by Keith R.A. DeCandido, and I’ll be joining fellow authors Derek Tyler Attico, Kirsten Beyer, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and David Mack.

“40+ Years Later: Is Star Trek: The Motion Picture Better Than We Recall?” – 5pm-6pm: The Motion Picture: Better than we recall, or worse? The answer is “Yes,” but sure; let’s talk about it for an hour. Moderated by Howard Weinstein, and I’m hanging with fellow guests Derek Tyler Attico, T.A. Chafin, Kevin Dilmore, and David Mack.

Star Trek Adventures Roleplaying Game Update” – 7pm-8pm: Modiphius Entertainment’s Star Trek Adventures RPG heads into its fifth year. Check in for the latest news on current and upcoming releases and Q&A with the STA project manager and several STA writers. Moderated by Jim Johnson, and I’m joining fellow STA contributors Derek Tyler Attico, Christopher L. Bennett, Kelli Fitzpatrick, and Scott Pearson.

(All Times Eastern)
Sunday, July 11th

“What’s New In Star Trek Literature” – 3pm-4pm: Authors of current and upcoming Star Trek titles discuss their work. This is where we’ll chat about the various novels and other publications coming out over the next several months, and also discuss what was published since last year’s show. Moderated by Scott Pearson, I’ll be there along with Christopher L. Bennett, Kirsten Beyer, David Mack, John Jackson Miller, and James Swallow.

One programming note for this Sunday panel: I’m also doing my volunteer thing at the National World War I Museum and Memorial that morning, so I’ll be racing home to get back in time for the panel. Worry not, though: the team sitting in for this one can more than cover for my silly ass if I happen to be running a few minutes late.

And there we go! Many, many thanks to the good folks at Shore Leave – in particular, Inge Heyer and Aaron Rosenberg – for navigating the thankless task of organizing the programming and making sure the rest of us make it to our appointed places at the proper time. If any of us show up without pants or whatever, you can rest assured that won’t be Inge or Aaron’s fault.

(Okay, we might still blame Aaron, but not Inge. Never Inge.)

I hope to “see” a bunch of your smiling faces sometime during the coming weekend, and I’m very much looking forward to an in-person con next summer!

Shore Leave 41.5: the virtual con!

Among the many mass gathering events impacted by the ongoing COVID-19 situation are comic and pop culture conventions. Whereas I likely would have attended at least a couple of such events by this point in the year, all of my 2020 con appearances have been cancelled or at the very least postponed until a date “to be determined.” Among those shows falling victim to this are two of my favorite cons: Starfest, held each year in Denver, Colorado, and Shore Leave, which takes place every summer in Hunt Valley, Maryland (just north of Baltimore).

I’ve been attending both of these conventions for many years, now, and I’ve made many friends to whom I look forward to seeing every year. For Shore Leave, it means a rare opportunity to meet up with several of my fellow writer friends, particularly among those of us who write Star Trek stories in novel or comics or even gaming formats. While I understand and appreciate the commitment to safety for staff, volunteer, and attendees who participate in these and so many other conventions, I regret not getting to see those aforementioned friends and getting the chance to make some new ones.

However! All is not totally lost. The fine folks responsible for putting on Shore Leave each year have taken a page from other shows and are presenting an “online con.” Through the wonder that is the internet and video conferencing software, we’re gonna get together and talk really geeky stuff. The con staff has assembled a series of discussion panels spread across this coming weekend beginning the evening of Friday, July 10th and sprinkled through the afternoon and evening of the ensuing Saturday and Sunday. What’s that? You want to see a complete schedule? Well then BEHOLD:

Shore Leave 41.5 Scheduleshoreleave-logo

Kicking things off on Friday evening? A panel discussion devoted to Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, the new television series currently in development by CBS and Secret Hideout, Inc., who of course have already brought us Star Trek: Discovery, Star Trek: Picard, the (as I write this) upcoming Star Trek: Lower Decks animated series, and another animated series which also is in development but which has not yet been officially named or “announced.”

What about Strange New Worlds? Well, it’s set aboard the original U.S.S. Enterprise several years before Captain James T. Kirk commanded the fabled starship on its historic five-year mission of exploration as chronicled in the original and animated Star Trek TV series as well as enough novels, short stories, comics, video games, and other tales to account for pretty much every minute of those five years.

Cage-Pike-SpockThis show will focus on Kirk’s predecessor, Christopher Pike. For those of you who may not know (and really…what’s that about?), Pike was the Enterprise‘s captain in Star Trek‘s original 1964 pilot, “The Cage” (portions of which were incorporated into the two-part original series episode “The Menagerie”), and portrayed by the late Jeffrey Hunter, and who had serving under him a young Vulcan lieutenant named Spock and played by Leonard Nimoy. Only Nimoy was carried over from the unsold pilot when Star Trek was given a second chance, this time assigned as Kirk’s first officer, and so began the Star Trek we all know and love.

Greenwood-PikePike has featured in a number of novels and comic stories over the years and was played by actor Bruce Greenwood in 2009’s Star Trek reboot film as well as its sequel, 2013’s Star Trek Into Darkness. However, it was Anson Mount who helped bring the character back to prominence during Discovery‘s second season. Mount’s portrayal was one of the season’s true highlights, right alongside Ethan Peck playing a pre-Kirk Spock and Rebecca Romijn as “Number One,” Pike’s first officer. They along with an updated U.S.S. Enterprise which both evokes and effectively updates the classic 1960s ship had fans talking, and many clamored for Pike, Spock, and Number One to headline their own series. Well, BOOM. It’s comin’, y’all.

SNW-Big3(Awwwwww yisssssssss……….)

As for our discussion panel, since the show is still in its earliest development stages, we’re left to wonder aloud what we might expect once Star Trek: Strange New Worlds hits CBS All Access sometime in the (hopefully) near future. Like the panel description says: “What can we expect from the new Pike – Number One – Spock show? Is it just retreading old ground or will it provide a chance to explore more of the 23rd century with three compelling characters?

It’s going to be a fun discussion, made all the more so because I’ll be joining friends and fellow word pushers Christopher L. Bennett, Kelli Fitzpatrick, Michael Jan Friedman, Amy Imhoff, and John Jackson Miller. The panel kicks off at 7pm Eastern time via Zoom. Details will be available on the Shore Leave 41.5 virtual con’s schedule page.

Hope to “see” you there!

Starfest 2020…also postponed.

Concerns over COVID-19 continue to spur cancellations of everything from schools to concerts and bars, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, and sporting venues are closing their doors. It’s become a sort of weird watch party as we each wait to hear about such closures that affect us personally even as we all adjust our normal routines and habits and try to do each do our small part.

The National World War I Museum is following local guidance and closing to the public at least until April 3rd, meaning I won’t be volunteering there for a while. My kids’ schools will be closing for the same period. My wife’s employer has cancelled public events.  Planet Comicon announced it was postponing its show that was due to dominate downtown this coming weekend, and yesterday I heard that Starfest, the con Kevin and I regularly attend in Denver, is also postponing its show that was scheduled for May 1-3.

Starfest2020LogoLike Planet, Starfest is one of those shows to which I most look forward to attending whenever I start putting together my convention schedule each January. Kevin and I have been guests of the con each year dating back to 2003. It’s one of the first shows to which I commit before entertaining other invitations. Admittedly, I don’t really get invited to all that many shows, but I love the ones I do attend because the people who run them are awesome.

This goes double for Starfest, as the people behind it have always treated us like members of the extended family that works so hard to put on a great show each and every time. After all these years, the idea Kevin and I won’t be making that drive to Denver to catch up with so many friends is just weird.

But, also like Planet, I’m assured Starfest 2020 isn’t cancelled. Nope. It’s postponed. The show promoters are working with the hotel to secure alternate dates. I have no doubt the logistics of retaining the current guest roster or putting together an alternate list that offers the kind of value fans have come to expect from the show is anything but an easy feat. I also know it’s totally in their wheelhouse to make it all work.

We all know these sorts of postponements–and cancellations, in some cases–are necessary. It’s ultimately for the best, but I look forward to learning about the new show dates and I hope Kevin and I can still make that drive later this year. As I said about Planet, Starfest is worth the wait.

Planet Comicon 2020…postponed.

Earlier today, Kansas City, Missouri, Mayor Quinton Lucas issued a state of emergency as a response to growing COVID-19 concerns. Among the preventative meaures he outlined and suggested for trying to stay ahead of the coronavirus, he ordered the cancellation or postponement of any public gatherings and events with projected attendance to be 1,000+ people. This had an immediate effect on the Big 12 college basketball tournament currently taking place at the Sprint Center in downtown KC.

Within my social media circle, people began wondering what impact this might have on Planet Comicon, our annual big blowout pop culture con scheuled to be held next weekend, March 20-22. It’s one of the largest such shows in the Midwest, and as it’s our “hometown con” Kevin and I were looking forward to attending as we always do.

pckc_fb_header-2020png
Mayor Lucas’s declaration made the postponing of the con a foregone conclusion; it was just a matter of waiting to hear whether the promoters would attempt to reschedule the show for later in the year or cancel it altogether and plan for 2021. About an hour ago, the con put out their official statement about the show’s status.

It is indeed postponed, and the promoters are working to secure alternate dates for the con later this summer or fall. Included in the statement is information about crediting admission purchases to the later show, or even the 2021 con, as well as the refunding of tickets for celebrity photo ops. I suspect these are but the first steps the con will be taking to make sure customers are taken care of while they work out all of the logistics and details involved with essentially undoing everything they’ve done to prepare for hosting a show that’s not gonna happen; at least, not for a while. Please give them time and room to sort through it all. I have full confidence they’ll do right by people to the best of their ability.

For me, this means I won’t get to catch up with friends I only see at this con. This includes fellow authors and other creators who journey here from other parts of the country. It means not putting faces to names for people I’ve met on social media and who were planning to attend the show. It means not being able to get my geek on with my daughters, both of whom were looking forward to attending the show. Guess we’ll have to fend for ourselves that weekend. And yes, I’ve been prepping for the con with a big box full of my brand-spanking Star Trek: Kirk Fu book as well as Kirk Fu posters to give away and plenty of copies of various other titles.

HOWEVER: KC-area Star Trek fans may have a chance to catch up with Kevin and me sooner rather than later. Games are afoot. Stay tuned as details firm up!

As for the con itself, let me tell you something about these folks: Kevin and I have been attending this show since the very first one. In those days, we bought tickets at our local comic shops and attended like normal people. They started inviting us as guests perhaps ten years or so ago, and we’ve had a blast every time the show rolled around each spring. While we obviously understand why it’s being postponed, I still feel bad for everyone involved in bringing Planet Comicon to life. There are a lot of people who bust their asses to make it better and better every year, and they’re finally getting some of the national notice they deserve. I hope this is just a bump in the road for them and that we’ll see a con later in the year.