I’ll be on Mars, well, in Mars, Pennsylvania, starting on Friday (25 July) through Sunday (27 July) for Confluence, at the Sheraton Starpoint.

Here’s my preliminary schedule (*updated to included panel descriptions and add 2 panels):

FRIDAY, 25 July
6pm – Marshall
Is SFWA Still Relevant?
[Panelists: Denise Verrico (m), Sarah Goslee, Elektra Hammond, Christie Meiers]
The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America – SFWA is a professional organization for authors of science fiction, fantasy and related genres. With a stated intent of supporting its members in a multitude of ways, does it manage to keep itself open to the needs of today’s writers, or has it become an exclusive club of snobs?

7pm – Pine
Why I’m a Fan
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Ken Chiacchia, Alan Katerinsky, Larry Ivkovitch]
We love the genres, whether it’s Science Fiction in all its electronic, beeping, gear-meshing wonder, Fantasy and each magical quest or Horror with every shadow lurking behind an innocent façade. How did we get here and what about it all keeps us?

8pm – Board Room
Reading
[Panelists: me!]
I’ll be reading from “In the Form of a Question,” in which Norse Gods play Jeopardy!. It appears in the parody anthology TV Gods–copies will be for sale in the Huckster’s Room from the Fortress Guys.

SATURDAY, 26 July
5pm – Marshall
Why did Steampunk?
[Panelists: Matt Betts (m), Danielle Ackley-McPhail, Elektra Hammond, Jeff Young]
Lately, it is being recognized as a separate and distinct genre of fiction. Why did it happen, what about it captured the imaginations of so many, what about it continues to gather forward momentum (build up a head of steam?)?

8pm – Pine
SF Series – What’s worth it and what doesn’t make the grade
[Panelists: David Hartwell (m), Eric Leif Davin, Elektra Hammond, Charles Oberndorf]
Not specifically SF — all series are fair game here. Writers have done multiple visits to the same worlds/universes. From John Carter and Tarzan to Game of Thrones, which ones are worth the time and which are a questionable use of paper or digital memory?

9pm – Marshall
Movies as Series – good and bad
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Michael Arnzen, Ken Chiacchia, Jon Sprunk]
Just as there are novels that are series, there are movies that were series. A discussion of good series, bad series and OMG-I-can’t-believe-there-was-a follow-up-to-that-dog.

9pm – 525
There is a book launch (yes, I know it conflicts with my panel!) for Fortress Publishing’s latest endeavor TV Gods. I’ll be dashing there after the panel is over.

SUNDAY, 27 July
12 noon – Marshall
How do you find the Right books to read? (Needle in a haystack?)
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Tim Liebe, Jeff Young, Alan Katerinsky]
With all the choices available now, where can you find the right mix of Hard SF and character, how about suspense and break-neck plotting, whimsical fantasy and learning from mistakes? You can’t always trust the back blurbs and sometimes the covers have nothing to do with what’s on the inside. Is there a resource or group you can trust?

1pm – Crawford/Venango
Tom Smith Live!
If you’re looking for me–I’ll be here, listening to the World’s Fastest Filker.

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The Purge: Anarchy is ambitious dystopic near future, with a few too many plot lines crammed in. It gives you a glimpse into a frighteningly possible world, from the rich who do whatever they please to the poor who try to survive, and the politicians who run things. My full review is at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
The Purge: Anarchy is bigger than the first film, but not necessarily better. There’s a solid look into the world here, this time focusing on the disadvantaged–those who can’t afford to hide behind expensive security systems, with all the safety money can buy.

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Detcon1, the North American Science Fiction Convention (NASFiC) will be from Thursday (17 July) to Sunday (20 July) in Detroit, Michigan at the Renaissance Center Marriot. I’ve got several panels on Friday, and I’ll be spending the rest of the weekend promoting the DC in 17 Worldcon Bid. Look for me at our fan table and parties.

Here’s where you’ll find me:

FRIDAY, 18 July
10am – Mackinac West
Going from Book to Movie: Adaption
[Panelists: Lisa Padol (m), Al Bouchard, Elektra Hammond, Steven Barnes]
Why does Hollywood have trouble translating books, comics, etc. into
movies & TV shows? Is it inherent in the original texts or in the
process/constraints of adaptation? Which have succeeded and which have
failed? What would we like to see adapted?

1pm – Ambassador Salon 3
Writing Humor and Comedy in SFF
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Jim C. Hines, Oz Wilson Jr., Cath Schaff-Stump, Sam Morgan]
Our panel discusses the challenges of writing humor and comedy in SFF. Is it as easy as it looks? Or as hard as some people say it is?

6pm – Joliet A
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond (m), Roberta Rogow, Ellen Denham]
Readings by members of Broad Universe. I’ll be reading from “In the Form of a Question,” in which Norse Gods play Jeopardy!. It appears in the parody anthology TV Gods–and I’ll have copies for sale.

P.S. It’s a popular weekend to be going to Detroit–Joe Biden and I are arriving at just about the same time . . . .

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This summer’s tentpole movies have been kind of hit-or-miss so far, with some high points in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and X-Men: Days of Future Past, and some serious meh in Transcendence and Maleficent.

Michael Bay’s Transformers: Age of Extinction, the latest in everyone’s favorite toy robots disguised as cars, trucks, etc. franchise falls solidly on the meh side of the line, but in a very compelling way. Even as you search for a plot, you’ll be distracted by the shiny special effects, numerous explosions, and wholesale destruction. My full review can be found, as always, at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
I love a movie full of explosions and good special effects, but even I want some plot once in a while. There’s some fun here, but it’s pretty mindless. Make that extremely mindless, with whipped cream and an explosion on top.

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I have been terribly remiss in keeping up. Life sometimes gets the better of all of us. Several reviews have gone up on buzzymag.com and I haven’t shared! Here are links for your edification: X-Men: Day of Future Past, Maleficent, and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

Some tidbits–here’s what I had to say about Peter Dinklage playing the villain in X-Men: Days of Future Past:
A man who truly believes that mutants are a threat to homo sapiens. They will lead nations out of war with each other to unite in a common cause to destroy all mutants. He absolutely sells it. Trask Industries is a very real threat to mutants everywhere.

What I had to say about the acting in Maleficent:
Angelina Jolie is definitely the star of the show. She does a magnificent job with what she has to work with. This movie sinks or swims on her ability, and much of its success should be laid at her feet. She is by turns vulnerable, furious, vindictive, tender, naive, protective, and aggressive–the list goes on.

And a nibble about How to Train Your Dragon 2:
A great job showing what being able to travel dragon-back has done for the Vikings of Berk. The world is now a bigger place, growing the focus of the film to more than just Berk, and adding a bunch of characters. And a bunch of dragons. Lots of dragons. Tons of dragons.

Full reviews, as always, available at buzzymag.

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Godzilla plushie

The Toho Japanese monster movies were a staple of my childhood, and my love of them has never faded. This is a really fun updated version and I enjoyed every glimpse of the giant lizard (Blue Oyster Cult’s 1978 hit played in my head every time he showed up). See my full review at Buzzymag.

An excerpt:
All of the traditional characters are represented: the scientist who is looking for answers, the man who knows more than he’s willing to tell, the heroic family man stuck in something beyond his control, the stubborn military man, and even the obligatory cute kids.

Graphic at the top is a 50th anniversary plushie, complete with light-up eyes and Godzilla roar.

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Balticon 48 will be from Friday (23 May) to Monday (26 May) in Hunt Valley, Maryland at the Baltimore Hunt Valley Inn. Look for me at parties and book launches and stuffs! When I’m not scheduled, I’ll be at DC in 17 stuff.

Here’s where you’ll find me:

FRIDAY, 23 May
8pm – Belmont
Copy Editing Do’s and Don’ts
[Panelists: Holliann Russell Kim, Elektra Hammond, Sue Baiman, Cindy Young-Turner, John French]
Finding an effective copy-editor, what makes someone good or bad as a copy editor, and why you may not want to have someone close to you edit your work

SATURDAY, 24 May
1pm – Salon B
5 Books for the Last Town on Earth
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Brenda Clough, Larry Hodges, Cindy Young-
Turner, Amy Kaplan]
By some freaky quirk of fate, your little city survived a major cataclysm. As far as you know, you are all that’s left, but you DO want to survive. What five books will help you and your neighbors survive?

4pm – Pimlico
Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading
[Panelists: Gail Z Martin, Reesa Herberth, Jean Marie Ward, Elektra
Hammond, Michelle Moore]
Rapid Fire readings from some amazing women/authors.

6pm to 8pm – Frankie & Vinnie’s (Consuite)
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Mike D’Ambrosio, Jeff Young, Christopher Pisano, Brian Koscienski, Jon Sprunk, Eric Hardenbrook]
TV Gods book launch
Fortress Publishing, Inc. Presents TV Gods:
“Picture your favorite TV show! Imagine your favorite Pantheon! Mash them
together — What could possibly go wrong?” The great pantheons of the world run amok through eighteen tales of wonder and hilarity. Discover how the Egyptian gods use night court for judging the souls of the dead. What will happen when an office of Greek gods get downsized? Why are there Norse gods on a space ship?
Come join Fortress Publishing, Inc. in celebrating the launch of this exciting new anthology.

SUNDAY, 25 May
4pm – Salon B
They Play in Other Sandboxes
[Panelists: Elektra Hammond, Sarah Pinsker, Carl Cipra, Robert Glaub,
Jo Walton]
Panelists discuss successful and well-known SF writers who write in other genres and recommend some examples we might want to read.

MONDAY, 26 May
noon – Chase
How Hard Can it Be? Jumping out of Genre
[Panelists: KT Bryski (M), Elektra Hammond, Betsy Riley, Starla Huchton, Michael Hanson]
What do you do when you get a great opportunity…in a field in which you have NO experience? What are the advantages and pitfalls to writing in many genres? What are some strategies for leaving your comfort zone?

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a great movie for fans of the comic book–it’s got the “look and see” of traditional Spidey in all his teenaged angsty goodness. Both Spidey and Peter Parker pack a ton of growth into a really solid movie, with a great cast of supporting characters. See the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
It is not power-packed with action sequences, chases, and special effects (although all are present!), instead opting for a larger dose of character development. The result: like the Spider-Man comic books of old, the viewer is drawn into Peter Parker’s complicated, angst-filled life, where decisions are more complex than just how to defeat a particular foe, and every action has a consequence.

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While I was visiting with C.J. at Zenkaikon, a talented young man named John Salvino came by and did a quick pencil sketch, showing off C.J.’s iconic black hat. You can find more of John’s art on his blog–go check it out.


cj henderson by john solvino

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Transcendence is a good idea, with a great cast, that maybe didn’t end up the way the writer or the director visualized it. There are certainly some interesting concepts here, and some of the ideas will keep you thinking long after the movie’s over. For more, see the full review at buzzymag.

An excerpt:
Transcendence is one of those movies that mixes in a lot of philosophizing and responsibility-for-the-future content in with its story telling. Fortunately for the casual moviegoer, it keeps the message well camouflaged, and it isn’t nearly so preachy as Seagal’s archetypic On Deadly Ground.

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