I had the pleasure of attending the Farpoint Convention for the first time this past week. Though personal circumstances permitted me to only attend part of the con, what I was present for was an excellent time.
Farpoint bills itself as a “science-fiction media convention,” meaning that it’s focus is on genre television and film in terms of its main guests and panels. Normally, this is not the type of con I’m greatly interested in going to, as it represents a side of fandom that I’m less involved in. However, Farpoint has been expanding its new media track of late, and several friends who are podcasters and authors attended and were involved therein. It also has the advantage of being a smaller gathering, compared with the absolute zoo that is Dragon*Con, or tamer chaos of Balticon. As a result, the panels were cozy and relaxed, and the after-hours socialization was brilliant. If I were to attempt to list all the wonderful people I got to hang with, I will invariably leave someone off, so to everyone I reconnected with or met for the first time – it was awesome to see you all!
I was able to make three of the panels, all of which were highly entertaining:
- New Media Author Readings – This was the last panel of the track for Saturday afternoon, and featured readings and discussion from four exceptional new media authors. These included the original founder of Farpoint, and current architect of the new media track, Steven Wilson (of Prometheus Radio Theater), who read from his novel Taken Liberty; Tee Morris (of Imagine That! Studios, and numerous podcasts, novel series, and projects) orating from Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword; and J. R. Blackwell (of the 365 Tomorrows flash fiction project) and Jared Axelrod (of the Voice of Free Planet X and Aliens You Will Meet podcasts), both of whom spoke from stories-in-progress. The panel was an entertaining hour of storytelling, and a great way for me to start the con.
- Sci Pie – This was the showcase panel of the track on Sunday morning, and an interesting idea. Devised by Paul Fischer and Martha Holloway (of the ADD Cast and the Balticon Podcast) along with Tee Morris, Sci Pie was conceived to be a segment conducted regularly at conventions, where guests at the con are interviewed and pie is eaten. The intent is to record these live and release them as a video podcast series. Despite some communications issues and guest illness, the hour came off rather well, with actress Erin Gray (most remembered for her roles on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century and Silver Spoons), podcaster Marc Bailey (of Grailwolf’s Geek Life), and author Terry Lee Rioux (author of the Deforest Kelley biography From Sawdust to Stardust). Tee did an stellar job of assembling the accompanying visuals, including the incorporation of an excellent introduction to video podcasting by Earl Newton (of Stranger Things). The dessert involved was a wonderful pumpkin cheesecake and a delicious gluten-free pecan pie, provided by “Mrs. Command Line.”
- What’s On Your Mind? Blogging, Audio Blogging, and Podcasts – Some excellent discussion was engendered on this, the last new media track panel for the con. Participants included Thomas Gideon (of Command Line), Paul Fischer, Steve Kramer and Lisa Mendel of The Secret Frequency, and Michele and Brian of the Galactica Quorum. Afterwards, J.R. and Jared spontaneously orchestrated the following image:
L to R: Paul Fischer, Martha Holloway, J.R. Blackwell (standing), Heather Bailey, Thomas Gideon, Steve Wilson, Tee Morris, Jared Axelrod, Laura Burns, myself, Marc Bailey
Finally, I met two people for the first time who deserve particular mention. The first was Marc Okrand, who I was introduced to by Marc Bailey (clearly, there’s some sort of “Marc” club thing going on) as the con was winding down on Saturday. Okrand is the inventor of the Klingon language and the author of the Klingon Dictionary, among many other accomplishments. While my Star Trek geekery of days gone by has long since waned, the sheer academic coolness of his contribution to Trek lore is such that this was a definite “squee” moment. The second person was Brand Gamblin of the Calls for Cthulhu video podcast series. Calls for Cthulhu is hilarious fun, and it was great to meet the main architect of the show and find him to be a nigh-scary fit into our podcastery collective. Brand currently plans to do a live episode at Balticon… attendance on my part will be quite mandatory.