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.

Does a Duluth area spaceport make sense?
Short background presentation and Panel piscussion about a Minnesota spaceport.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 13:26:32

Even a Partial Dyson Sphere/swarm is a game changer.
Recent advances in time stamping photons make astronomically sized synthetic aperaturs, i.e. REALLY BIG Telescopes theoretically possible. This will change a lot of the assumptions of SETI, interstellar exploration, interstellar weaponry and so on. Short presentation and discussion.

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 13:20:32

88 Starship Interstellar Exploration Update
Update on various technologies supporting at least an uncrewed probe to Proxima Centauri circa 2110. Well look at Starshot and other beam-based propulsion, Space made solar cells, robotic manufacturing, tech needed for autonomous bases, lunar and maritian precursors and anything else we have time for. Some slides, mostly discussion

Suggested by G. David Nordley on Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 13:06:34

the seven modern dystopias, in increasing order of likelihood.
It's all over, isn't it? Chaos and end times. Doom and rising seas, a million zombie voters clutching at the last vestiges of civilization while binging "the Price is Right at night." How does it all end? Come and see. darkly humorous panel of pure dread.

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Thursday, February 08, 2024 at 19:49:45

How to write badly...and why you should
You should write more badly! Not just for fun but to free your inner editor and the ghosts of English teachers past! Come and learn how to write usefulness and get more done! Damn the nominative case and full speed ahead!Battle perfectionism with terrible writing!Free exclamation points will be handed out!

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Thursday, February 08, 2024 at 19:46:08

comedy writing
How do you make a character funny? A story? Or even an introduction? Come and learn how to find the humor in the world from a professional comedy writer.Teens welcome

Suggested by Dave Walbridge on Thursday, February 08, 2024 at 19:43:12

Hentai Game Show
Hentai Game Show is a fun 18+ panel/event where audience members play fun adult-themed games and compete for prizes. We have put this game show at Marscon in the past, and it was a huge success. Here is our official description for the Marscon program: Join us for an adult 18+ game show where contestants compete for prizes. Volunteers from the audience compete and play adult-themed games. These fun naughty games are for aliens and humans alike. Come show us your bawdy side, or just be a voyeur!

Suggested by Kevin Doheny on Sunday, February 04, 2024 at 23:29:49

Twin Cities Maker: Your Local Maker Space
Twin Cities Maker is a 501(c)3 educational non-profit that runs a Maker space in Seward, Minneapolis, at 3119 East 26th street. We have over 10,000 square feet of space, and over 400 members, and all the tools needed for the Making of Things, including a full wood shop, metal shop, machine shop, blacksmithing shop, 2 large laser cutters, a bevy of 3d printers, screen printing, textile work, and more! Come learn about our org, our space, and the Maker scene! Our site: TCMaker .org

Suggested by Riley Harrison on Saturday, February 03, 2024 at 14:34:30

Children's Fantasy & SF
We don't seem to have any panels on children's books, and every year I read a bunch for the Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards, and have been for decades, back to my own childhood reading. Anyone want to talk about recent books, or trends, or on the other hand, the books you loved as a kid? Sometimes, writing for children focuses a writer into some of her/his finest work, something Terry Pratchett told me, years ago in Minneapolis.

Suggested by David Lenander on Sunday, January 28, 2024 at 22:13:58

Book discussion with guest of honor T. Aaron Cisco
Seems like we should talk about our guest of honor's work as an author. I'm going to try to read more before the 'con, but I'm not sure which work to highlight here--whichever book(S) he or others would like to talk about. Maybe the recent short fiction collection, _Nowhere Sleeping_?

Suggested by David Lenander on Sunday, January 28, 2024 at 00:28:24

Cosplay Under Cover
Whether you're modifying a costume for movement or trying to bring some sci-fi into your work day, every day is a little more fun with fandom. We'll talk design inspiration, practical tips, buying/making resources, and more to bring your cosplay into the every day.

Suggested by Amber Raden on Wednesday, January 24, 2024 at 17:35:59

ZARGS: Still a Threat
Many of the threats in science fiction fit into one of the ZARG categories: Zombies, Aliens, Raptors and Graboids. How do we prepare for these threats and defend against them?

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 00:42:06

Gun Play
Erik Pakieser from SciFirepower will discuss the best (and worst) depictions of guns in film. What tropes do we keep seeing, what do they get right, what do they get wrong, and how can they do better?

Suggested by Erik D Pakieser on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 00:39:25

Arming Your Costume
Want to "accessorize" your costume with weapons, but aren't sure where to start? Erik Pakieser of Scifirepower will demonstrate tips and tricks for acquiring and building prop weapons on a budget, and keeping your weapons con-friendly.

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 00:33:54

Scifirepower Tour
Erik Pakieser of Scifirepower will provide a prop-by-prop tour of the Scifirepower collection on display in the Prop-A-Torium.

Suggested by Erik D Pakieser on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 00:30:55

Live Painting Demo
Erik Pakieser of Scifirepower will do a live demo of his techniques for painting prop blasters.

Suggested by Erik Pakieser on Monday, January 22, 2024 at 00:29:16

If They'd Only Just...
Every year there are films and tv shows so horrible you wonder how they ever got a greenlight. But if they'd only just changed that one plot point, or if they'd only just cast so-and-so instead of whats-his-name, it could've been something really groovy. This panel discusses some terrible films and shows, and how they could've been improved if they'd only just...

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 12:44:29

Superhero Fatigue...Fatigue
The age of Superheroes isn't over-you're just not watching the right stuff. Our panel discusses superhero-centric shows/movies that are interesting, innovative, and sometimes insane

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 12:39:04

Fun & Free Writing tips (You can actually use)
Character Matrix? Post-It Plotting? 10 second goals? explore these and other fun writing tips, that you can use without buying software or supplies- and share your own...

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 12:37:56

2023 Movies you Missed
Reviewing and discussing underrated and/or overlooked cinematic gems released over the last year

Suggested by T. Aaron Cisco on Tuesday, January 16, 2024 at 12:36:53

Klingon Belching Contest
Can you belch like a Warrior, or do you burp like a Redshirt? Members of the IKV Rakehell will rate your performance awarding points based on volume, duration, and style with bonus points for recognizable words. There will be a trophy for best Belch.

Suggested by Sqotty MacKlingon on Monday, January 15, 2024 at 12:23:38

Discussion with Michael Merriam of his novel, _Last Car to Annwn Station_, and or his other fiction
Merriam is a guest of honor, and I think readers should have a chance to discuss his fiction with him. If he doesn't want to , then maybe we can talk about his books without him! This is a fine story, set in Minneapolis with streetcars.

Suggested by David Lenander on Thursday, January 11, 2024 at 21:46:02

CHAPEA and other Habitats or "How to hang out with your friends for a year"
NASA is 8 months into a simulated year long Mars mission called CHAPEA 1. Living in a 3D printed habitat, 4 researchers are studying the different factors of long term isolation and life "in space". These types of Analog missions are key to determining what factors need to be accounted for before long duration space missions can be undertaken. Join Mike Urvand, NASA JPL Ambassador for a discussion about these types of missions and what we can learn from them.

Suggested by Mike Urvand on Sunday, January 07, 2024 at 21:34:05

60s Spy Shows
Time to discuss Mission Impossible, The Man From UNCLE, The Avengers, The Prisoner, I Spy, Danger Man and moreâ ¦

Suggested by Steve on Sunday, January 07, 2024 at 09:59:55

Panel Karaoke
Hosting a panel is so hard! You have to pick a theme, apply for a time slot, build a presentation, rehearse, then haul all your equipment to the con. So instead, I've made a bunch of mini-panels for the audience to come up and host. Fair warning that the content (and quality) of that panel is up to the luck of the draw.

Suggested by Passthecass on Friday, January 05, 2024 at 23:15:02

Can Anime Get Weirder?
Has it been a while since you've checked in with anime? Are you just trying to get into it and everything's...really strange? Is this normal or is it extra weird? Maybe the answers are out there somewhere

Suggested by PasstheCass on Friday, January 05, 2024 at 23:14:54

Craziest Japanese Commercials
What do you get when you mash pasta aliens, the length of candy, and absurdism? A curated hour of the funniest or weirdest commercials from Japan!

Suggested by Viga on Tuesday, January 02, 2024 at 23:31:30

Otaku TV
If you ever wanted a show about your interests in a meta sort of way, shows about Otaku are just that! Come see this almost time warp experience of seeing otaku culture through the lens of anime about otaku.

Suggested by Viga on Tuesday, January 02, 2024 at 23:30:10

MST 3K: The Right People Will Get This
A celebration of the 35th (or 36th if you count KTMA) anniversary of the most creative TV show to ever come out of Minnesota.

Suggested by Darlene Polsean on Tuesday, January 02, 2024 at 18:06:48

AI: separating fact, fiction, and good 'ol copyright infringement
AI might be a lot of things. It might enslave us all. It might usher in a new era of post-scarcity abundance. Or it might just be the next big tech innovation that was going to change everything to get rolled over by big copyright. (Who still remembers Napster, Bittorrent, or the Pirate Bay)

Suggested by Technomagik on Monday, January 01, 2024 at 20:05:02

SF Wriiting Groups: The 2024 Scene
Since 1986, the Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers' Alliance has held an annual meeting--currently at MarsCon--at which solo science fiction/fantasy writers who are looking for a writing group get a chance to connect with SF writing groups that are looking for new writers. Eric M. Heideman, convenor

Suggested by Eric M. heideman on Thursday, December 28, 2023 at 10:50:24

SF Wriiting Groups: The 2024 Scene
Since 1986, the Minnesota Imaginative Fiction Writers' Alliance has held an annual meeting--Currently at MarsCon--at which solo science fiction and fantasy writers who are looking for a writing group get a chance to connect with SF writing groups that are looking for new members. Eric M. Heideman, mod.

Suggested by Eric M. heideman on Wednesday, December 27, 2023 at 16:57:07

Good Things in Small Packages - Small Press and Indie Publishing in the Here and Now
Panel discussion of small press publishing benefits and obstacles, where we see things going in the near future, what we'd like to see more of and less of.

Suggested by Catherine Lundoff on Monday, December 18, 2023 at 20:59:00

LGBTQ+ Fiction and Media - What's New and What's Next?
A panel discussion about what shows and books have great queer rep and are worth tracking down to enjoy.

Suggested by Catherine Lundoff on Monday, December 18, 2023 at 20:51:39

Distant Calling Pictures showcase
Would love to return for the annual showcase of Distant Calling Pictures locally made films

Suggested by Nathan B on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 17:31:32

Everything You Wanted to know about Filmmaking (but were afraid to ask)
Would love to return to MarsCon 2024 with our tried-and-true panel of experts to talk about all things filmmaking.

Suggested by Nathan B on Wednesday, December 13, 2023 at 17:29:19

D&D: The Edition Wars
A look at Dungeons & Dragons, and how it has changed over the years.

Suggested by BL on Tuesday, December 12, 2023 at 18:46:59

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.

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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.


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MarsCon 2024

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

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