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.

New for 2020: start looking for rough versions of our program schedule much earlier than in previous years. We’re hoping to stir your creative juices and generate even more great programming ideas.


Dungeons and Dragons and Philosophy
Ever wonder how (and if) the laws of physics and the rules of D&D interact? Curious about the cosmology underlying the D&D world? Wondering how killing goblins could cause a character to know more about history? Well join us for a discussion of what early philosophers could teach us about dungeons and dragons (and maybe how D&D can give us insight into these philosophers).

Suggested by Alexander Johnson on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 22:43:16


46 Years in 46 Minutes: A Brief History of Dungeons & Dragons
Join a DM who has run all 10 version of D&D (yes, 10), as he takes you through a whirlwind tour of the D&D editions, and the stories behind their creation. (note: will need to be scripted, so this is a 1 panelist panel)

Suggested by Alexander Johnson on Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 22:28:59


Are we living in New Atlantis?
Francis Bacon, the English philosopher, scientist, and Courtier left an unfinished scene fiction novella called "New Atlanis" when he died. It was fixed up, published, and became a classic even without a good literary ending. What it did have at its end was a list of "Magnalia Naturae" things that Bacon thought human beings would someday be able to do if they understood how nature worked. Let's go through the list and see where we are. The format would be a brief presentation (circa 10 minutes) followed by discussion with panelists or just the audience.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 01:40:27


Title: When will Betelgeuse blow up and what would it look like?
Description: Panel: Human beings may be around to see a daytime star! Are there any other good supernova candidates? Why are they so rare? How would a relatively nearby supernova affect Earth?

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 01:27:31


Getting to Mars and Back
Why Musk's astronauts don't need nine months to get there and why they shouldn't, how H.G. Wells stole Jules Verne's cannon and gave it to the Martians, Heinlein's classic Moon-Mars passage, how fast New Horizons could have gotten to Mars if launched at the right time and direction; an introduction to the real, messy, universe of mission planning and orbital mechanics.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Tuesday, January 14, 2020 at 01:21:10


For the Love of Miniatures
Let's talk about miniatures! Featuring an array of miniature enthusiasts with a combined sixty years of experience in the hobby. We discuss painting, prepping, collecting, what's old, what's new, and what needs to be made. How to use miniatures to enhance your game. Kitbashing and customization, 3D printing and Kickstarters. Q and A with our audience, slideshow of our work in the background, and handouts on many topics.Come share your enthusiasm and help this hobby grow!

Suggested by Laura Thurston on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 19:23:32


Is the Federation...Good?
Star Trek is widely praised for its seemingly progressive depiction of equality and acceptance. But is that praise deserved? Is the Federation really as benevolent as it seems?

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 18:13:57


Tea with the Professors
A private party as a thank you for all those who have donated funds to support the Harry Potter party room. Scones, Cucumber Sandwiches and Butter Beer tea will be served. A ribbon designating you as a Harry Potter party room Patron(us) will be given out to our special guests.

Suggested by Rae Lundquist on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 09:12:36


Harry Potter for kids
a Harry Potter themed party for kids 12 and under. Butter Beer and gingersnaps served. Games offered (including Dobby Sock Toss. Sign up at the Harry Potter party room on Friday. Party on Saturday AM in the room.

Suggested by Rae Lundquist on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 09:09:39


Sewing tips and tricks for newbies
Giving basic sewing suggestions to those who are just starting out making their own costumes. From selection of materials, to finishing methods, The DreamStitcher will field questions, and offer suggestions.

Suggested by Rae Lundquist on Monday, January 13, 2020 at 09:06:43


A Peek Into the Indie Writer World
What's an indie writer? What are some reasons writers choose to go indie? What are the pros and cons of choosing this over a traditional path? How does this even work? What tricks, tips, and tools are helpful? What pitfalls exist to be avoided?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 13:48:14


Writing Exercises for Those Short on Time and Motivation and Those Seeking to Work Through Weaknesses
There are a lot of great exercises and activities out there for writers who are well beyond the basics of storycrafting. We're going to focus on some that are useful for writers who have found themselves short or time or motivation (hey, life interferes, we can work with that). We're going to explore some things you can try if you're working through a writing weakness but don't want to spend a year focusing on a novel that you're going to scrap as an exercise. We'll also talk about how to jump start your creativity if it's taken a walk. Writing sprints, prompts, trades, relays, even fanfiction may come up as we discuss ways to get out of a slump and improve as a writer.

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:52:34


Writing Craft: Plot
Plot is clearly an important aspect of any story, but if this isn't a piece of writing that comes naturally to you, it can feel like a vague and nebulous concept that's hard to pin down. Let's see if we can make this more clear and come up with some ways to strengthen our plot skills. At its core, what is plot? Are there diagrams, infographics or formulas that can make this easier to understand? How do you make sure your story has a plot? How do you support or bolster weak plot? How much plot do you need? In rewrite, how can you address a buried plot? If you feel comfortable with a simple plot, how do you move on to more complex styles with nested subplots?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:52:01


Writing Craft: Character Development
Characters are an essential part of the stories we read and watch. Writing compelling characters doesn't come easy to everyone, so let's talk about how we can do this better. What purpose do characters serve? What techniques can writers use to give their characters depth? What is a character flaw and why can these be important? How do other aspects of writing such as dialogue, description, and narrative tie into development of characters? How much back story do we really need, and how much should we show?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:51:30


Timing and Pacing
What does timing have to do with writing? How do you know where to put your action/dialogue/sex scene? How can you tell if you have it in the wrong place? What is pacing in fiction? How do you make your story move at the right pace? How does this differ between novels and shorter works? What horrible things can go wrong? Why do writers groups have trouble gauging pacing in novels? Is there such a thing as too fast in pacing?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:50:44


Midwest Mythologic Creatures
Why do writers look for monsters and magical critters elsewhere, when we have so many amazing creatures here? The US has all sorts of interesting creatures, and the Midwest is chock full of hodags, hoop snakes, windigo, sprinter cats, and agripelters.

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:50:05


Group Speed-Write
Let's get together and have a writing sprint party. Everyone can pull a prompt from the hat. Spend 2 minutes plotting or planning and then spend 25 minutes throwing words at the page. When we're done we'll talk about how this kind of exercise can help you work through a block or fit in writing when you don't have a lot of time. We'll talk about ways this can boost your confidence in your writing and even work into your regular longer story and novel process.

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:49:25


Fight Scenes in Spec Fic
Fight scenes are an almost necessary element in SF/F (both in film and print media). Why are these included? What do they bring to the story? What is the difference between a real fight and a good film or literary fight (what doesn't play out well on film or on paper)? What elements does a writer need to include and be able to do well, and what should a writer avoid? How does this differ from what can be done in film? What can go wrong with fight scenes? Both adult and YA spec fic include female characters and children who fight, some as a means of survival and some as a way of life. Do/can women fight the same as men? Given the biological differences in size and strength, how can we be true to the real experience; what excuses can we use to negate these (and which excuses have we seen too often)? How do we avoid making these heroes unrealistic (and essentially men dressed as women)? What needs to be done differently when writing younger fighters versus adults? Can kids and teens realistically fight off adults and monsters? What can be done to make this work in a way that feels authentic?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:47:46


Dealing with rejection
It's a part of the game. If you're an artist of any kind and you actually want to get read, or perform, or have your art displayed, you have to learn how to handle the inevitable and innumerable rejections that follow the submission/audition process. What works? What doesn't? Even if you have a good way of dealing with it, are there times you end up in a funk? How do you recover from that? Bring your best and worst rejection stories.

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:46:15


Critique Groups - Forming a productive writing group
The essentials of a strong critique group: What is necessary for a group to work/function successfully? What may be beneficial to some groups but not required for all? What is counter-productive in a group? Knowing when it's time to call it quits or find another group. Recruitment strategies: How do you find new members for existing groups or to start a new group?

Suggested by S.N.Arly on Friday, January 10, 2020 at 12:44:53


Funny stories! Fiction out loud
Funny stories! Funny writers read their comic fiction.12/19 mars conv Need a laugh out loud break? Come and hear some fabulous authors read from their own short stories (many with geeky themes!) You might find your next favorite writer.

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Monday, December 23, 2019 at 17:27:08


Learn all about Comedy writing.
Want to write the funny? Come and learn the techniques and tools for writing jokes, scripts and books. Hear from the pros how its done - we might even be funny. It's as simple as one, two, badger.*

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Monday, December 23, 2019 at 17:23:48


Future Space & Alternate Crewed Space Visions
Discussion includes reference to For All Mankind, The Expanse, Lost in Space, Wandering Earth, Mars by National Geographic, and Salyut 7

Suggested by Christine on Sunday, December 22, 2019 at 15:49:08


Charge more: 16 ideas for successful creatives
- Let's talk about your career: how do you mix creativity with business success? Whatâ s the difference between a skilled creator and a profitable one? Come hear from a successful creator with more than 30 years of business success. (For artists, writers, musicians, performers, actors, puppeteers, crafters, and etc.) (from his forthcoming book)

Suggested by David Otto Walbridge on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 22:22:35


Funny stories live readings!
Funny stories! Funny writers read their comic fiction. Need a laugh out loud break? Come and hear some fabulous authors read from their own short stories (many with geeky themes!) You might find your next favorite writer.

Suggested by David Otto Walbridge on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 22:16:06


Bite sized writing: creativity in the (very) short forms.
No time for a novel? Come and learn to write little stuff; jokes, slogans, micro-fiction taglines, buttons and more. We might even discuss creating characters fast.

Suggested by Mr. Dave on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 21:24:03


Heinleinâ s rule of writing
Robert Heinlein was a very successful and very prolific writer from science fiction's golden age. He wrote books, short stories, and even a fantasy novel. He lists 5 rules explicitly and implies 4 more. If you want to write commercially - and successfully- you may want to stop by.

Suggested by Mr. Dave on Sunday, December 15, 2019 at 21:22:01


Heinleinâ s rule of writing
Robert Heinlein was a very successful and very prolific writer from science fiction's golden age. He wrote books, short stories, and even a fantasy novel. He lists 5 rules explicitly and implies 4 more. If you want to write commercially - and successfully- you may want to stop by.

Suggested by Mr. Dave on Friday, December 13, 2019 at 13:09:40


Stop The Bleed
A bleeding injury can happen anywhere. Weâ ve all seen it happen too oftenâ on the news or in everyday life. Life-threatening bleeding can happen in people injured in serious accidents or disasters. This nationally-certified course will help you learn the basics of how to treat life-threatening bleeding.

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 15:01:07


Sci-Fi Armory
Erik Pakieser will provide a walkthrough and discussion about his collection of sci-fi movie props and weapons from Aliens, Blade Runner, Predator, Star Wars, John Wick, The Expendables and more!

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 14:57:08


All Things John Wick
Discussion of the John Wick universe. Speculation about the High Table, the Continental, John's past, and where the series may go, as well as the production and behind-the-scenes of these films.

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Tuesday, December 10, 2019 at 14:54:28


Natural 20; how to prepare for being lucky.
Is luck something you prepare for?What can you do to ensure the odds are ever in your favor? â Chance favors only the prepared mind.â How do you prepare for chance meetings. good days and lucky breaks in life? Are you ready for success? We will discuss everything from the rules of Improv to what to keep in your go bag.

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Thursday, December 05, 2019 at 21:31:26


Wicked Wenches: Mario Godfather
Join us for a game you can't refuse or else you'll be sleeping with the fishes, capisce? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The Story Mario and his brother Luigi are two loyal "plumbers" to the Koopa Family. Disaster strikes when their beloved Princesses Peach and Daisy are kidnapped! Now they must navigate the dangerous underground world of New Shroom City to find their loves before it is too late! With the help of La'Toad and Birdo they confront ghostly villains, and monkey fiends! And what will become of our brothers when they discover a traitor in their midst? ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This 8 Bit vaudevical (vaudeville musical) incorporates a variety of dance styles including Burlesque, Aerial Arts, Modern Dance, Pole Dance, Belly Dance, Circus Arts and More!

Suggested by Kit Vicious / Jenna Lory on Thursday, November 21, 2019 at 15:33:56


UFO Talk
I would like to propose 3 different 50 minute talks. One about well known and Minnesota UFO or abduction incidents,one about Ancient Gods according to a book by Dr.Rita Louise and one about characteristics of abductees and the different types of encounters and sightings.I could change the duration or number of talks if requested.

Suggested by Michael Harris on Wednesday, October 23, 2019 at 09:51:02


Our Future Astronomical Vision
We're on the leading edge of an astronomical frontier where we will match unprecedented telescopes on land and in space with gravitational wave astronomy, where we will be returning a sample from Mars and deploying a rover on Titan. What plans does the astronomy and planetary science community have in the pipeline? In fifty years, what discoveries will we have already made? What is the future of our vision of space?

Suggested by Jessica Ennis on Monday, October 21, 2019 at 16:17:28


2019 Movie Retrospective
Was Joker worth the hype? Was Endgame a satisfying closing chapter? Were It, Child's Play, and Pet Semetary worth remaking? A look back at the overlooked, overrated, best, AND worst films of 2019

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:45:04


Chronic Hollywood Tropes
No studio would release a minstrel show film, but why is every Black kid onscreen the first in their family to go to college? Why is every white kid from the suburbs? Why are there no ACE or Bi people? Times have changed and yes, things are better than they were, but thereâ s still a lot of work to be done.

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:42:29


DIY, But Didn't Die
Contemporary Afrofuturism author T. Aaron Cisco along with other local, indie, spec fic authors read excerpts, share stories, and share insights into the indie author scene...

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:39:41


COSTplay Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
Techniques and methods for creatinf great, fun, and recognizable Cosplays on a shoestring budget. From buying a costume piece that can fit five different characters to quick and easy alternatives to sewing, and cheap construction techniques for building props, let's talk about making financially-friendly cos!

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:35:08


Doctor Who? Doctor What if...?
Explore the What Ifs of the Doctor Who universe! What if Nine faced the Weeping Angels, what if Three traveled with Donna, what if Eight had gotten a series? Not to mention, the real-world possibilities (in terms of casting, writing, directing, etc)...

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:30:14


Comic book movies BEFORE the MCU
A look at the big budget, blockbustering, box office smash superhero films that paved the way for the modern day juggernaut that is the Marvel/Disney machine. From Donnerâ s Superman and Burtonâ s Batman to Dick Tracy, Meteor Man, Blade, Darkman, and more, let's compare and contrast the forefathers of our spandex-clad, cinematic world.

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:26:17


You can launch a TV show, Yes You
This is the platinum era of television, and it's even easier to get a show in front of audiences! Here are comprehensive instructions on everything to take your idea or concept all the way to broadcast. From streaming options, producer affiliations, marketing, casting, funding, pitching, representation, and everything in between, if you've ever thought to yourself, "Hey, I've got a great idea for a show" this is one you won't want to miss...

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Wednesday, October 16, 2019 at 17:23:18


Everything you wanted to know about making movies but were afraid to ask
The Distant Calling Pictures film team would like to return to MarsCon 2020 to host another panel on how to make a short film on a limited budget. We are proud to have had standing room only at our panel in 2019. We were proud to have a diverse panel that included almost all women, a young female minority and a LBGTQ representative. We were hoping to have a bit more time than last year as we ran out of time to answer all of the questions. If possible, we'd love to do a 90 minute session OR two back-to-back 1 hour sessions, we could simply add I and II to the name of the panel. Gratefully, Nathan Block Distant Calling Pictures Founder

Suggested by Nathan Block on Monday, October 14, 2019 at 17:54:13


Psi Powers: Science Fiction or Fantasy? Or Both?
Psi powers used to be a mainstay of science fiction. Andre Nortonâ s stories, Marion Zimmer Bradleyâ s Darkover series, Anne McCaffreyâ s Dragonriders and Rowan series, James Schmitzâ s Agent of Vega series, Zenna Henderson's The People 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 were labelled fantasy. The Liaden Universe has psi powers in an otherwise science fiction universe. Other recent works have aliens with psi powers. Has labelling shifted back or did it ever really change?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Friday, September 27, 2019 at 17:32:01


The New Doctor
If the new season of Doctor Who has started, a chance to discuss the episodes. If not, a look back at the previous season and discuss what hints have been given for the 2020 one (writers, directors, announced stars).

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 10:01:57


Through the Magic Door: The Appeal of Portal Fantasy
Stories where people are transported to other worlds, parallel dimensions or into virtual games are popular again. What are the appeal of portal fantasies versus secondary world fantasies? Are the current ones slanted more toward adult readers or children and teens?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Wednesday, September 25, 2019 at 09:50:59


Star Trek Universe
A talk about the last 54 years of Star Trek, We will cover all 12 shows and the upcoming shows, and even the 13 movies, There will be spoilers and will most heavily cover; Short Treks, Star Trek Picard, Star Trek Discovery season 3, Lower Decks, and the upcoming Section 31 and Nickelodeon animated series, plus mix in some good memorizes from Star Trek's past

Suggested by Tony Artym on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 23:34:12


Best Anime of the Last 10 Years Panel
We discuss the best Japanese Animated movies, TV shows and even Japanese RPGs in this panel.

Suggested by Susan Woehrle on Wednesday, September 11, 2019 at 16:26:16


Adrian Paul Sword Experience
Include an Adrian Paul Sword Experience as part of MarsCon. This could include him as a Guest of Honor. Check swordxp.com for his program info. You can contact him or I can continue as contact. Thanks.

Suggested by Robert Frankovich on Friday, September 06, 2019 at 14:20:35


Mold Making and Casting for Costumes and Props
Do you need 20 copies of that just-right button? Maybe a dozen ammo clips? Background copies of a hero-prop? A clear, lightable copy of something? Or just some lighter-weight version of that heavy, metal prop? Learn about the basics of making molds and castings in this demo. We'll look at common mold-making & casting materials and techniques. The first hour will cover making one-part and two-part molds. The second hour will cover making castings. Advisory: Some materials used in this session may be irritants for those with chemical sensitivities.

Suggested by Roger Sorensen on Monday, September 02, 2019 at 23:19:49


Kling Arthur
The D.O.O.M Squad (Rae Lundquist's group) has a mash-up skit, a King Arthur and Star Trek comedy piece, that we would like to present at MarsCon 2020. It is family-friendly. It is called "Kling Arthur". Right now it is the right length for the Saturday Masquerade Halftime Show. But we don't know if you have a Halftime Show yet. If you already do, we would definitely flesh it out bit more and would like to perform it on the Mainstage (Friday or Saturday would be great). We don't need a set and we will provide all the props.

Suggested by Erin McCanna on Saturday, August 24, 2019 at 20:22:50


classes for witches and wizards at Hogwart's
programming for kids 7-15, scheduled in the Harry Potter party room, for afternoons. Slime, wand making, potions, spells and similar 'classes'. (more to be determined).

Suggested by Rae Lundquist on Sunday, August 18, 2019 at 17:02:23


A Concert of Fan-favorite Music
The (Most Excellent) Ravenscroft Musicke Guild is an award-nominated chamber ensemble -- string quartet with harp and recorders -- that plays arrangements of themes from sf and fantasy movies, games, and television shows.

Suggested by Chris Mortika, director of RMG on Monday, July 01, 2019 at 13:27:47


Resounding Health 2
How you can help your body heal with Complementary Alternative Medicine. Those who have used some of these techniques have found cure Concrud, C. Diff., migraines, colds,and put into remission, fibromyalgia, and asthma. Sound, RF, Electrical,Reflexology,and Reike may be discussed among others.

Suggested by Joe Swenson on Monday, May 20, 2019 at 02:31:05



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Set up information:
Don’t assume all program rooms come equiped with a projector and screen: If your presentation will need video goodies tell us now. We are learning it works best if presenters bring their own computers—that way they can be pretty sure their presentations will work... We can probably come up with adaptors for whatever type of video output is on your computer if you tell us in advance. If you are unsure what you have, here is a picture of many types of display outputs. If your presentation will have sound we will need to know that as well—if your sound output is not a 3.5mm plug what is it?


 

If nobody suggests an event, it won’t happen. Thank you for your suggestions.


Midevil MarsCon

MarsCon is a fan-run science fiction convention for all ages held every March (sometimes in late February) in the Twin Cities area. At MarsCon you’ll find panel discussions, parties, guest of honor presentations, music of many kinds, our art show, film/anime room, science room, dealers room, charity auction, and masquerade. The Dementia track is virtually a con in itself, and attracts a nation-wide audience.

MarsCon 2020

“Visions of the Future”
February 28 - March 1, 2020
Hilton Minneapolis/St Paul Airport/Mall of America
3800 American Blvd. E.
Bloomington, MN 55425

Send questions about MarsCon to info23h@marscon.org, we’ll do our best to send answers!

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