Program Ideas Page

It’s never too early to suggest cool things that should happen at MarsCon 2024. As always, 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…

This plan has served us well for a few years now, so... 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 our online “blue sheet” and tell us about it.

By getting beginning programming suggestions online fairly early we’re hoping to stir your creative juices and generate even more great programming suggestions.

Biden Space: The Year in Space Review
What new cool tech has launched, and what is happening in space exploration right now?

Suggested by BH on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 11:28:39

A Brief (Non-classified) History of Spy Satellites
They are all over the skies. And, if you know where to look, you can see them in the night sky with your naked eye.

Suggested by BH on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 11:24:23

Radio: For Pleasure? For Public Service? Or for Spying?
When all other lines of communication are down, itâ s nice to know a Ham. Amateur radio is a wonderful hobby and a public service. Bounce your signal off the moon, spot tornadoes, chat with people all over the world and contact astronauts in space. Although HAM operators technically do not engage in spying activity, radio has been used for such purposes. Join us.

Suggested by AJ on Sunday, December 10, 2023 at 11:18:17

Geeks v Sportsball
Geeks have inherited the world (at least the parts the uber-wealthy oligarchy will allow them to inherit), but there is still lingering tension between the geek community and sports fans. Why are some sports like football hated by the geek community and others like Roller Derby loved? A panel of people who move in both worlds and a curious audience will discuss.

Suggested by Michael Merriam on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 19:34:06

Don't Harsh the Squee
Why canâ t we seem just to let people like what they like? If Pumpkin Spice everything brings people happiness, who are we to complain? Donâ t like Superhero movies? Hate Holiday Music? Fine, but why do people need to sneer and snarl at things other people enjoy?

Suggested by Michael Merriam on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 19:32:36

Spec Fic Spies
Discuss our favorite science fiction and fantasy spies in media. From Miles Vorkosigan to James Bond, who are some of your favorites? What authors do it well?

Suggested by Michael Merriam on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 19:30:55

Spycraft in Star Trek: From Gary Seven to Garek
From the Tal Shiar to the Obsidian Order to Section 31, let's explore the gritty spycraft side of the Star Trek universe.

Suggested by Michael Merriam on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 19:28:57

Weird Western/Steampunk Spy Thrillers and Mysteries
The genre of Steampunk and Weird Westerns would seem to lend themselves to spies and detectives. Letâ s talk about some of our favorite media in the genre.

Suggested by Michael Merriam on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 19:26:56

Get Smart!
Sorry about that, Chief. Not the Cone of Silence! From 1965-1970, Get Smart, created by Mel Brooks and Buck Henry and starring Don Adams and Barbara Feldon, used satire, comedy, slapstick, and parody to serve the best in spy humor. Let’s talk about why it still makes us laugh.

Suggested by Eric M. Heideman on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 12:56:11

Remote Viewing and the Gateway Experience
A brief presentation on top secret above black remote viewing and the Montauk Project. Plus a timeline of events and suggested references for those interested in pursuing remote viewing.

Suggested by Joe Swenson on Monday, December 04, 2023 at 00:23:06

Godzilla: Through the Decades
This will be a deep dive conversation about the â King of the Monstersâ who was awoken 70 years ago. Best, worstâ ¦and everything in between.

Suggested by CL on Friday, December 01, 2023 at 15:03:56

Pandemic 101: Real Life Lessons in Surviving a Pandemic
Sounds like science fiction, but we have recently turned the corner on a devastating group experience. Discussion of the coping strategies, new habits and lessons learned which got us to this point.

Suggested by CL on Friday, December 01, 2023 at 14:06:06

Streaming and Fan Service: What Has Streaming Done for Fans Lately?
Discussion of what’s currently out there on streaming services, where to find the good stuff, with clips and recommendations.

Suggested by CL on Thursday, November 30, 2023 at 06:02:34

Missing the Point
A discussion of fight choreography and action in sci-fi, fantasy and mainstream films. Our panel consists of award winning fight choreographers, producers, actors and stunt people with stage and screen experience. We bring an arsenal of stunt weapons and film props as well as backgrounds in military, law enforcement and martial arts (including a national champion) aside from performance experience

Suggested by Lee Fillingsness on Thursday, November 09, 2023 at 21:58:33

Secret Wars and Supernatural Southeast Asia
As more stories turn to Southeast Asia, particularly set during the Vietnam War and the US Secret War in Laos, there are many opportunities to work with a fascinating range of folklore and myths involving the supernatural. How do weretigers and serpentine nagas, spectral phi and shapeshifting man-eating giants fit into it all? We’ll take a look at historical examples and ways to incorporate these and similar moments into your own works sensitively and imaginatively.

Suggested by Bryan Thao Worra on Monday, October 23, 2023 at 20:09:38

Basic Kimu and Sword Techniques
Come and learn some basic Haedong Kumdo (sword) techniques along with some basic Kimu (similar to Tai Chi) forms.

Suggested by Steve Erickson on Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 19:03:27

Haedong Kumdo demostration
Haedong Kumdo (formally Haidong Gumdo) Come and watch some of our old and new Korean Sword forms. We will be demostrating single sword, two handed sword, and a cutting demostration.

Suggested by Steve Erickson on Sunday, October 22, 2023 at 18:44:47

Quantum Leap: Rewriting the Past
The first season of the new Quantum Leap had the problem of another group changing what Ben had changed. How can you track a spy when they can be inside anyone? Second season started with the government still suspicious of the project. How much can you rewrite history?

Suggested by Kathryn Sullivan on Friday, October 13, 2023 at 10:04:32

Keeping the Monster in the Cage
Discussion of humanity’ s struggle to contain the beasts we create. Sci fi, horror and fantasy tales are rife with instances where, despite sometimes the best of intentions, we unleash monsters which have the power to destroy us. Consider The Fly, Alien, King Kong, Godzilla, Terminator, It and Jurassic Park. We defeat these monsters when we can. We study them in secret—think X-Files, Men in Black or Stranger Things. Of course, the real monsters are the scariest of all. What powers this behavior? What lessons will it take to keep the monster in the cage?

Suggested by CL on Sunday, October 08, 2023 at 20:04:22

Debunking the Myths of A.I. (Artificial Intelligence)
A.I. has long been a staple of science fiction, but now it seems to have hit its stride in popular culture and the business world. Is it the panacea that has been painted? Do its proponents and financiers truly understand what it is and how it works? What can realistically be accomplished with A.I.? Should we fear or embrace it?

Suggested by CL on Sunday, October 08, 2023 at 19:33:01

The Silly Side of Spying
In Top Secret, Nick Rivers managed to defeat the Nazis while maintaining his position on the top of the pop charts. When you heard a phone ring in Get Smart, it usually meant someone needed to remove a shoe. Audiences love the thrill of a spy movie, but they are equally drawn to parody which makes fun of those same epic tales of espionage. For every James Bond, there is a Derek Flint, a Matt Helm or an Austin Powers. And films like Spy Kids, FUBAR, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and True Lies cause us to seriously consider how spies manage to keep their secret identities with spouses and kids around the corner. We will discuss and laugh together.

Suggested by CL on Sunday, October 08, 2023 at 13:24:12

Women Spies and Assassins
Discussion of real life and fictional female spies, assassins and counter-intelligence. Thinking along the lines of Mata Hari, Harriet Tubman, Josephine Baker, Virginia Hall and Noor Inayat Khan, among others. As well as depictions in films like Gunpowder Milkshake, Salt, Mother, The Tourist, and The Long Kiss Goodnight.

Suggested by CL on Sunday, October 08, 2023 at 13:07:22

Oppenheimer vs. Barbie
Now that the dust has settled, letâ s get down to the serious business of discussing these movies, their cultural significance, the odd stroke of luck that brought them together for cross promotion at a time when cinema needed a lifeline, and the various reasons why one is â obviouslyâ better.

Suggested by CL on Sunday, October 08, 2023 at 12:48:36

James Bond: Sexy at 70
This fictional British Secret Service agent created in 1953 by writer Ian Fleming has left audiences â shaken, not stirredâ for generations. Known by the code number 007, Bond has also been adapted for television, radio, comic strip, video games and film. Discus and celebrate the best (and worst) of Bond.

Suggested by CL on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 12:33:00

Secrets of Andor
This complex spy thriller and prequel to Rogue One and the original Star Wars features Diego Luna as Cassian Andor, resourceful and reluctant recruit to the rebel cause. The intrigue is so skillfully crafted, it may persuade you to care about Mon Mothma. Remember her? Discuss, debate, devour.

Suggested by Christine on Saturday, September 16, 2023 at 12:15:28

Scenes From A Hat
Improv comedy (similar to Whose Line Is It Anyway?) with a MarsCon slant where we use sci-fi themes, costumes, etc. Just ask Ben. ;-) We are a full audience participation improv act.

Suggested by Steve Murphy on Sunday, August 13, 2023 at 20:47:50

Big dumb objects in science fiction
For this panel I'm thinking of relatively near-future big dumb objects (i.e. space elevators) and also far-future ones (Dyson spheres, Niven ringworlds, Banks orbitals, etc.). Are they possible? And if so, are they worth the trouble?

Suggested by Steve White on Saturday, April 29, 2023 at 13:33:42

Life on Jupiter?
(Life NEAR Jupiter, perhaps??) ESA's Juice mission is on the way to the Jovian system to explore icy moons, particularly Europa, which MAY have a life-friendly liquid water ocean under the ice crust. We will have plenty time to speculate; Juice isn't due to arrive until 2031

Suggested by Rich on Saturday, April 15, 2023 at 22:27:23

Those who cannot remember the past cannot rely on books
Publishers sometimes re-edit the works of authors who are dead or otherwise unable to defend their works. If you do your reading on an e-book the text on your device may change without notification and without your permission. How does this affect authors and readers?

Suggested by Rich

Online “blue sheet” - please offer your program idea.

(Real or Fanish) name:

Event title:


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Are you willing to Make This Happen?
If you are, what is the maximum number of events at MarsCon you could help run?
In an ideal world, what time or day during MarsCon would this event happen?
What time(s) or day(s) during MarsCon would not work for you running this event?

Set up information:
We will attempt to provide a basic video projector + screen setup in all programming rooms. Still, 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? The most important thing is to let us know in advance.


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

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MarsCon 2024

March 8-9-10, 2024
Hilton Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport
3800 American Blvd. E. / Bloomington, MN 55425

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