Program Ideas Page

MarsCon programming is driven by our attendees. Please share in the fun by posting your ideas for programming here—talks you’d like to hear or give, presenters/performers you would recommend, subjects or activities of interest to you and other fans…

If you’ve submitted ideas in years past you already know the plan: read the ideas list… if you see a program event you want to help with drop us an email. If you have an idea for an event that isn’t yet listed jump to the form and tell us about it.

Starting around January our programming staff starts getting in touch with those who have offered suggestions to see if they’re still game for the event and to work out details. As always, MarsCon depends on our attendees for much of our programming.

Know Your Hardware or Does Your Television Watch You
In our brave new dystopian reality show, Samsung issues a warning to customers about discussing personal information in front of their smart television set. This wasn't 1984. This happened recently in 2015, and hackers that know your hardware know how to listen to you. The truth is out there, come learn how to find it and secure your privacy.

Suggested by Technomagik on Monday, February 20, 2017 at 18:40:07

Steampunk LARP
I have written a steampunk fantasy adventure, based on my book Azure Rising or actually the LARP idea came first and Azure Rising was based on the story. :-) Would be willing to share and play if anyone was interested. I have a couple of players already. But would need more for a decent LARP round.

Suggested by Stephanie Taylor-Dillard on Saturday, February 18, 2017 at 21:51:26

Writing in Itsy Bits: fitting writing into your busy life
Ted Chiang, possibly the greatest short story writer of our generation, has published only around 15 short stories and one collection, yet has influenced and transformed the genre far more than others who are much more prolific. Sometimes, less is more. And sometimes, busy lives do not leave room for reams and reams of manuscript pages. How do you fit in writing as you work, parent, and live? How do you make your work matter more?

Suggested by Haddayr Copley-Woods on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 17:12:50

Emerald City TV and the Oz Books
What do you think of the NBC show Emerald City? If you know the Oz books fairly well, how do you think the series draws from the books for material and expands on them? If you aren't as aware of the series, how does the show stand on its own?

Suggested by Haddayr Copley-Woods on Wednesday, February 15, 2017 at 17:01:52

A discussion of the "Crowd Sourcing possibilities" of real-time enhanced Analog Station activities for going to Mars. Taking the Talents of maker spaces and amateur radio into practical projects that could actually be used on the Red Planet. The target audience would be amateur radio clubs, aerospace enthusiasts, maker spaces, students of science & education, Charter schools, even The Mars Society. Discussed are the techniques or Communications, Power Generation, Telemetry, Geodesics, Remote Robotics, Mapping, and more.

Suggested by Dave Duca on Saturday, February 04, 2017 at 01:33:19

Martian 2 Motion Comic Book/Q&A
Captain Courageous helps Martian and Terra battle a space dragon. (7min)

Suggested by Mark Starks on Friday, February 03, 2017 at 13:36:46

Marvel on Netflix
Discuss the entire Marvel slate on Netflix. How does it compare to the cinematic universe.

Suggested by Romeo A on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 14:51:28

Best/Worst Movies of 2016
Each Panelist brings top 5 or 10 best/worst movies to discuss

Suggested by Romeo A on Tuesday, January 31, 2017 at 14:49:06

Cory Doctorow and that story about the moral hacker
A recurring theme in Doctorow stories is the plucky group of nerds pitting their mad skillz against a much better funded (but ethically deficient) government and/or corporation. Is Doctorow living in a dream world, and how can I get there?

Suggested by Rich Brown on Wednesday, January 25, 2017 at 22:19:01

Addressing Sexual Harassment in Our Community
Sexual harassment & safety at cons is not a new topic, but has been in the spotlight in recent years. Many cons are taking steps to increase safety, and mottos such are "Cosplay is not consent" are becoming more widely used. What are some of the best ways to make conventions safer? How can current strategies be improved?

Suggested by Scott on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 02:48:17

Beyond the Spandex
Comic books are full of spandex-wearing superheroes, but comics as a medium can offer so much more. Discuss your favorite non-superhero comics & what can be gained by bringing them to a wider audience.

Suggested by Scott on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 02:31:24

The Games That Made Us Who We Are
What games touched you in an unexpected way? Games can inspire you, help you make connections, or get you through hard times. Come talk about the games that have a special place in your heart & the lessons that these games taught.

Suggested by Scott on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 02:26:39

The Villainous Perspective
Not all villains are evil simply for the sake of doing evil. Sometimes they have good reasons for doing what they do. Let's talk about our favorite villains whose plans actually make sense. At least, from a certain point of view.

Suggested by Scott on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 01:55:22

DC on TV: The Arrowverse
Greg Berlanti's DC TV shows - Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, & Supergirl - have been generally successful, arguably more so than the DC cinematic universe. Now that all four shows are on the same network, we'll take a look at recent events, discuss the crossovers, & talk about futures of these characters.

Suggested by Scott on Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 01:48:23

Let's make an Oregon Trail to Mars!
Discuss writing an Oregon Trail to Mars game. Game play, monsters, travel, and living issues. What does your ship look like?

Suggested by Joe Swenson on Sunday, January 08, 2017 at 18:31:59

The Art of the Snapshot
Taking good photos with your phone, and only showing the good ones.

Suggested by Con Survey on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 21:31:43

After the success of last year's panel, we return to take another look at the cyberpunk genre: Where it is today, where it has been, and where it is going. Long time fans as well as people just discovering the genre welcome.

Suggested by David Stegora on Wednesday, January 04, 2017 at 03:26:35

Clans and Families in Space
Extended family stories aren't uncommon in science fiction - Elizabeth Moon has the Vatta universe and the Serrano universe, David Weber has the Honor Harrington series and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller has the Liaden Universe. What is the appeal of these stories? Who are some of your favorite family members?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 13:07:56

What Next for Doctor Who?
A chance to discuss the Christmas episode and thoughts on Moffat's last season.

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Saturday, December 10, 2016 at 12:12:14

Interstellar Trade
Trade between planets and tradeships have been a staple of science fiction for decades. Andre Norton's Free Traders and James Schmitz's Karres stories are examples of early stories, while recent series such as Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War and Sharon Lee and Steve Miller's Liaden Universe continue the tradition. What are some of the elements behind the appeal of these stories? What are some of your favorite stories?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Friday, December 09, 2016 at 21:18:32

Interplanetary Space Transport
Panel: Moving hundreds of people to Mars is only one possibility for this huge reusable rocket system. It's big, but what else is new and different about it. Also, what is NOT new and different and why does SpaceX think the risk is low. Can it really get to Jupiter?

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Thursday, December 01, 2016 at 01:31:23

Red Dragon
Panel: SpaceX hopes to land a new Dragon capsule on Mars, carying some NASA instruments. What makes the new Dragon different from any other US space capsul? How much will it be able to land on Mars? When (if ever) might we expect this to happen.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Thursday, December 01, 2016 at 01:16:35

Adzul and Company
Pane Discussion: Adzel and the Trader Team. In the mid 50s, Poul Anderson crewed his (artificially) intelligent Polysoltechnic League ship Muddlin' Through with a human, a felinesque alien and a huge Bhuddist space dragon, Adzel. We'll reminisce on stories like the three cornered wheel and discuss some of the technological anticipations.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 22:09:41

Will 2051 be the new 2001?
panel discussion: Is astronautical engineering finally catching up to Clarke, or even surpassing him here and there? Cost barriers might be yielding to new technological paradigms. Can we expect rotating space hotels, Mars colonies, and manned Jupiter missions by 2051, or will the football get pulled away from us again?

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 21:47:22

Relativistic Space Travel Fiction
panel: Now that there's at least a semiserious project to launch microsails to Alpha Centauri at a third of the speed of light, and the literature on beam-pushed spacecraft (going back at least to Bob Forward the 60's) might be gaining some traction, we look ahead to what kind of interstellar civilization might result from ships able to go close too, though not faster, than light. While there are some literary examples from people like Haldeman, Forward, and Anderson, it's largely virgin territory for writers. If we dump the FTL and Generation ship tropes, what have we got?

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 21:43:43

Missions of Gravity
Panel: Despite years of writing about it, we really don't know much about how well people will adapt to fractional g in the long term. Is rotational gravity worth the time and cost to engineer it. How do we find out before someone makes a big mistake?

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 21:36:27

The Ultimate State of the Universe
Panel: Big Rip, Big Crunch, Heat death, or some future engineered status quo, the ultimate destiny of everything can go go in various directions. Does this matter to us? Do we matter to it? Come here our panelists discuss the really big questions.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 21:32:02

Proxima Centauri b.
Panel: Our new and closest planetary neighbor is a mixture of paradigms old and new. It appears to be a "meridianal world" like Ellison et al.'s "Medea," but courtesy of big data crunching we know a lot more about such worlds, and there are some surprises. How big is Proxima b? What else is in the Proxima system? How soon will we find out more? What about getting there? [I am interested in being on this as a panel, or could do this as a solo presentation.]

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at 21:28:41

Psi Powers: Science Fiction or Fantasy? Or Both?
Psi powers used to be a mainstay of science fiction. Andre Norton's stories, Marion Zimmer Bradley's Darkover series, Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders and Rowan series, James Schmitz's Agent of Vega series and others all had psi powers as a future development of human evolution. Then psi shifted over to being considered magic and those books with it are labelled fantasy. The Liaden Universe has psi powers in an otherwise science fiction universe. Has labelling shifted back or did it ever really change?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Monday, November 21, 2016 at 09:48:42

Dance like a Dragonrider
There is much music and dancing to be had on PERN, all of which has earthly heritage. Much of this music has celtic, medieval and renaissance roots. Come enjoy some dancing. We will perform some dances, and we will teach some dances to those willing to learn.

Suggested by Natasha Krentz (Terpsichory Courtly Dance Troupe) on Monday, November 21, 2016 at 00:53:49

Paralon Security Musical Performance
Paralon Security is a original Minneapolis punkish/power pop/psychedelic band which actually played at Minicon 21 in the 1980's. We are playing again and making a new record for GoJohnnyGo Records. We are weird/colorful/sci fi-ish and we have a light show *LOL*. We play a lot about town. we are also playing Animinneapolis in May 2017. I also semi regularly attend MarsCon ;- )

Suggested by Michael Morley on Wednesday, November 16, 2016 at 21:55:19

The Dragons of Middle-earth!
A fun discussion about Smaug and other dragons that plagued Middle-earth, including their origins and what we know about them!

Suggested by Dan on Tuesday, October 18, 2016 at 16:50:50

zombie literature
once not too long ago zombie lit was not so easy to find. These days it is pretty much everywhere. What's good? What's bad? What books are your favorite? Come discuss what zombie lit to read and what to avoid.

Suggested by Patrick Koozy on Thursday, July 07, 2016 at 20:47:29

Star Trek
A talk about the last 51 years of Star Trek, all 6 TV Shows, and 13 Movies

Suggested by Tony on Saturday, June 04, 2016 at 00:54:54

Come talk about 20th anniversary of Harry Potter as we reflect back on all 12 Books, 9 Films, A Stage Play, Wizarding World of Harry Potter Parks, The Studio Tour, Pottermore. We look to the future with Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Then and the fandom here then and now.

Suggested by Tony on Saturday, June 04, 2016 at 00:53:48

Marvel Cinematic Universe
Catch up on all Marvel films and TV shows.

Suggested by Tony on Saturday, June 04, 2016 at 00:53:19

The book vs. the movie
Which is better, the book or the movie/TV show based on the book? We'll provide some examples; bring your own ideas to discuss.

Suggested by Rich on Friday, June 03, 2016 at 23:23:06

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If nobody suggests it, it won’t happen. Thanks for your suggestions.

MarsCon 2017
Dragons In Space

March 3-5, 2017

Hilton Minneapolis/St Paul Airport/Mall of America
3800 American Blvd. E.
Bloomington, MN 55425

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