Con Review: Stellarcon 35

stellarcon2011 by Michael D. Pederson

 

Stellarcon 35
March 4–6, 2011
High Point, North Carolina

If I could give points for “Well, they tried” Stellarcon would get an A+. They’ve been having some staffing problems the last few years but this one brought them a little closer to a solid staff. They still have some work to do though.

Booking Guests of Honor Todd McCaffrey and Larry Elmore was a brilliant first step in revitalizing a con that seems to be having a midlife crisis. Todd and Larry are both friendly, out-going guests that give good programming. Bringing back Jackie Cassada and Nicky Rea as Gaming GoHs after a long period of involuntary GAFIAtion was another great idea as well. As usual, I got to run my Inside the Stellarcon Studio interviews—this year I interviewed Cassada and Rea as well as Fan GoH Bill Mann, who was nothing but fun. That’s always a real highlight for me and the interviews were all very well attended.

Great guests and creative programming were, without a doubt, this year’s high points. On the downside though… As good as the panels were, there could easily have been more. There were several major chunks of dead time scattered throughout the schedule. With six rooms for programming, and a total of 29 hours of programming time to fill my rusty math skills tell me that they could have slotted up to 174 hours of events. There were a mere 88 events on the program grid, roughly half of what they could have done (by comparison, MarsCon—in a smaller hotel and still building up from being a relaxacon—had 83 events). I greatly enjoyed everything I did at Stellar this year, I just wish there had been more.

 

Con Review: StellarCon 34

stellarcon34by Michael D. Pederson

 

StellarCon 34
March 5–7, 2010
High Point, North Carolina

This year’s StellarCon was something of a letdown. Problems started early. Guest invitations weren’t sent out until a month before the convention and my schedule wasn’t sent to me until two days before the convention (with a note saying that some panels were still in need of panelists). This might explain why there seemed to be far fewer programming guests than in years past, as well as fewer panels to attend. That’s a true shame because StellarCon has always put together an extremely good programming grid. In addition to having fewer panels to choose from, the organization was horrible. Information on the pocket program seemed to be randomly listed; believe me, we tried to make sense of them but activities weren’t grouped by times, rooms, genre or alphabetically. According to the pocket program, there was one panelist who was supposed to be in three places at the same time. It made for a very confusing weekend.

That’s not to say that there weren’t a few highlights. StellarCon booked a trio of Star Wars authors as their main Guests of Honor—Aaron Allston, Michael Stackpole and Timothy Zahn—and the three were highly visible and very accessible all weekend. The guest roster was rounded out by Doug Chaffee (Art GoH), Steve Long (Gaming GoH) and Regina Kirby (Fan GoH). From a personal standpoint, I was very excited to see the return of Inside the StellarCon Studios. This was the fourth year that StellarCon has run the panel—after a two-year hiatus. It’s a fun and interesting format for the GoH presentations and it doesn’t hurt that I always get to host it.

Also on the plus side, it was clear that next year’s concom knew that there were problems. As early as Friday afternoon they were running around making plans for next year and assuring people that things would be better. Their first formal act was to book Todd McCaffrey as next year’s Author Guest of Honor.

 

Con Review: StellarCon 29

Stellarcon29by Michael D. Pederson

 

Stellarcon 29
March 11-13, 2005
Greensboro, North Carolina

I love this con. There are few cons that I have more fun at than Stellarcon. Maybe more cons should be run by pirates.

This year’s Guests of Honor included Lani Tupu (Media), Janny Wurts (Writer), Don Maitz (Artist) and J.D. Wiker (Gaming). And what a great bunch of guests. I know because I was asked to host an Inside the Actor’s Studio-style interview with them (with the exception of Don Maitz, who presented his own slide show instead). It was a great concept that the audience and the guests all seemed to enjoy. I know I had a blast!

Frankly, the rest of the con is a blur.

There were a few drinks in the bar Friday night with John Ringo and company. Then lots of prepping on Saturday to make sure the interviews went smoothly. I’m pretty sure that I did a panel or two somewhere in there. And, of course, I hosted our usual Nth Degree party on Saturday night. One of our best yet, I might add (thanks go out to Patrick Vanner for helping with that).

Other than that it was a typically exciting Stellarcon that is best recalled in snapshot images: Lots of pirates and stormtroopers. A HUGE number of familiar faces. A 2:00 panel on Friday afternoon that almost didn’t happen but turned into loads of fun. Great hall costumes (go to the website and check out the Dolls). Some scary activity at the room party. And lots of giggly Carolina Scapers at the Lani Tupu interview.

Next year’s Stellarcon is being moved from March to February. I’m giving everyone lots of notice on this. I don’t want to hear any lame excuses about not knowing that they changed dates. See you there!

 

Con Review: Stellarcon 28

Stellarcon12by Catherine E. Twohill

 

Stellarcon 28
March 19-21, 2004
High Point, North Carolina

Ah, Stellarcon. It will always be dear to me as, two years ago, Stellarcon 26 was my very first con. And what a way to be indoctrinated! Surrounded by a Garrison of mysterious men in stormtrooper gear. Hubba, hubba. Well, the 501st was back in even greater force this year. Along with others dressed in Star Wars attire, they collectively honored guest Timothy Zahn for his work in keeping the Star Wars stories going. Stellarcon’s Guests of Honor included Fred Saberhagen (Writer), Rowena (Artist), and Steven S. Long (Gaming). Rowena’s work gracing the cover of the program guide was really impressive.

StellarCon017

The cast of Disney’s next summer blockbuster or the entrants in StellarCon’s Masquerade? You decide.

Organized by the SF3 (Science Fiction Fantasy Federation from UNC-Greensboro) and held once again at the downtown High Point Radisson, Stellarcon’s overall program was just top-notch. Lots of well-crafted concurrent sessions, writer’s workshops, movies, a solid gaming track organized by the ubiquitous Ron McClung, and even an entire kids’ track all day Saturday. The Masquerade, while well-attended, was fairly average with most contestants literally running on and off the stage. And if one was looking for a quick break from the Con’s content, one could drop in to the hotel restaurant or bar and find writer John Ringo telling stories and holding court. Bill Mann, Jr., Stellarcon’s Chair, shared that plans for Stellarcon 29 are still a bit up in the air. As of this printing, their website (www.stellarcon.org) tentatively reports it will be held March 11-13, 2005, in Greensboro, NC. As a University-affiliated group, there are a number of rules they must follow to secure (hotel) contracts. They can only hope that the local businesses (hotels) support them in that process. We wish Bill and his great team the best of luck in getting next year confirmed and well-attended.

The after-hours social events at Stellarcon are always just as much fun as the daytime hours. As the date was fairly close to St. Patrick’s Day, the Nth Degree team couldn’t resist hosting a very green—and glowing!—shindig. Be sure to check out our next Con party to get your glow on. And I can’t end this review without givin’ the props to Bobba Fett. If swooning over a cold, somewhat sinister costume—and the stranger within—is wrong, I don’t ever wanna be right. And to think, two years ago, I was a Con virgin.

 

Con Review: Stellarcon 27

StellarCon27by Catherine E. Twohill

 

Stellarcon 27
March 14-16, 2003
High Point, North Carolina

High Point, NC proved to be a high point in Nth Degree’s 2003 Con Tour. While the year is barely half over, Stellarcon 27 gained such a laudable status by attracting hundreds of attendees, a garrison of Stormtroopers, Darth Vader, an Ewok, an over seven-foot tall Nazgul costume donned by a five-foot tall woman, and a kick-butt Nth Degree room party on Saturday night. (Special thanks to our neighbors across the hall for opening up their swanky suite to our guests. Those guys rocked!)

Organized by the Science Fiction Fantasy Federation (SF3), a UNC Greensboro Student Government Organization, Stellarcon 27 was held the weekend of March 14-16 at the Radisson Hotel in the heart of Furniture Country, USA. You couldn’t toss a droid without hitting a furniture store or a gamer. Lots of card, board, and battle gaming took up quite a bit of the available convention space. With four programming tracks and some incredible guests—including Jennifer Roberson, Catherine Asaro, Bill Fawcett, Eric Flint, William Fortschen, Jody Lynn Nye, John Ringo, and Daniel Trout—there was always something fun going on.

Stellarcon 28 will return to High Point, the weekend of March 19-21, 2004. The guest list already includes Aaron Allston, Timothy Zahn, and James Roberts. We can’t wait!

 

Con Review: Stellarcon 26

StellarCon26by Michael D. Pederson

 

Stellarcon 26
March 15-17, 2002
Greensboro, North Carolina

Stellarcon is another mid-size winter convention, one of the last before we start gearing up for the larger spring and summer cons. Though not a big con, Stellarcon is definitely a fun ride—throwing a con on St. Patrick’s Day weekend never hurts. Membership for this year’s Stellarcon was approximately 500, with a slightly younger average age this year than in recent years. This year’s Guests of Honor were Allen Wold and Charles Keegan, with Timothy Zahn, William R. Fortschen, and Simon Hawke also serving as guests. Stellarcon’s first real Con Suite was a major hit. They served sandwiches, chili, spaghetti, hotdogs, and their signature Cheerwine. On Saturday night, the Con Suite also hosted a party for the upcoming Dragon*Con that was very well attended. The dealers did well this year; some of the dealers commented that they did more business on Friday than they did all of Stellarcon 25. This bodes well for the economic situation at cons. Stellarcon’s Charity Auction raised approximately $1,950 for Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. StellarCon 27 is scheduled for March 14-16, 2003 in High Point, NC.