AboutSF at ConQuesT 46

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This past weekend, AboutSF participated in the latest iteration of ConQuesT, Kansas City’s (MO) longest-running science fiction convention, at the Kansas City Marriott Downtown. For CSSF Director Chris McKitterick and other associates of AboutSF, this convention has been a long-running commitment for years now. For myself and fellow volunteer coordinator Christina Lord, however, this was our first trip.

Christina and I participated in several panels, including a panel sponsored by AboutSF that discussed the importance of a strong relationship between education and science fiction, and how one can play an important role in augmenting one’s relationship with the other. We came away from that panel encouraged by convention attendees’ ideas regarding the place SF can play in education at a variety of levels (K-12, college, etc.) and found out about a few cool stories in a variety of mediums that we can’t wait to study for ourselves and implement in classrooms later.

Other highlights of ConQuesT 46:

  • The AboutSF Benefit Auction: While I cannot share exact figures here, suffice it to say the benefit auction was a rousing success! Much thanks are due to Ruth Lichtwardt and her fantastic staff of fellow volunteers, who helped keep everything neat and smoothly run. Many a rare and beautiful item went home with generous donors, including but not limited to an author-signed first edition hardback copy of A Game of Thrones, a slipcase hardcover of Grand Masters’ Choice signed by editor Andre Norton (yes, that Andre Norton), and a Shinto Shrine for home use, donated by KU faculty member and CSSF affiliate Kij Johnson.
  • The Guests of Honor: While Christina and I were too busy to get to meet with the various Guests of Honor at ConQuesT, we did regularly see them meeting fans throughout the Downtown Marriott, signing books and chatting with people in general. I also ran into George R.R. Martin in an elevator while I was leaving a panel I had just participated in, shortly after I learned he had donated some amazing items for our benefit auction (including the afore-mentioned A Game of Thrones hardback). Much to my surprise, I was not totally struck dumb and actually chatted with him a bit. You can learn more about this year’s Guests of Honor by visiting ConQuesT’s information page. Please do read more about them: visit their websites, or read their books and artwork where possible.
  • ConQuesT Attendees: Speaking from my experience in the non-AboutSF panels I participated in – “Superhero Overload: Comic Books are taking over Television and Hollywood!,” moderated by David J. Pedersen, and “The Horror, The Horror: Dark Fiction and Society,” moderated by Jack Campbell Jr. – ConQuesT panel members and attendees are equally interested in fun, thought-provoking dialogue about the things they love. The range of ConQuesT panels is actually quite impressive, ranging from fun fort-building competitions to more serious literary discussions about nascent trends in publishing and storytelling. The notable thing about ConQuesT, which I noticed early on and saw running through the convention, was how open it was to embracing fan dialogue about a variety of mediums. ConQuesT has a significant contingent of gamers, and by that I mean card games, board games, LARPing, and other non-video game versions of gaming. Attendees discussed their favorite games right alongside their favorite comic books, movies, books, and other stories, without batting an eye or stopping to justify their opinions. Their frankness and unapologetic enjoyment of SF stories in many forms was refreshing, especially to someone who has spent the better part of the prior academic year reading and discussing SF works in a more strict academic sense.
  • The Iron Throne: Yes, it was there, and yes, I sat in it. It’s comfier than you might think.

Many thanks to all who visited ConQuest this year and participated in or supported AboutSF and the benefit auction! The fondness of the local community for our organization is quite evident, and for that everyone at AboutSF is incredibly grateful.