StarFest - Jim's Report

Hello readers.  As you may have gathered from my Professional Gamer article this week, I’ve been at StarFest this weekend.  More specifically, Crystal and Chris have had a table set up to sell art and plexiglass, and while I have gone to a few panels and talked to a lot fans.  In the end, Chris spent a fair amount of time away from the table to take pictures, so I was often filling in for him to help run the table.  Helping run a table for a whole weekend, is not the perspective that I am used to at a convention.  In this case, it meant that I got to watch the convention crowd walk past me, rather than being part of that crowd myself.

In total, I was able to attend three panels/events.  The first was on Saturday in Avistrum, a kid-friendly Harry Potter themed space.  While I was there, an “instructor” presented a lecture on the History of Magic as it related to lucky charms and talismans.  He talked about the various symbols associated with luck around the world, then provided the kids with materials to craft their own talismans.  The kids all seemed to be having a lot of fun with the whole event.  It is really welcoming to see a convention that is not just kid-friendly, but makes an effort to have dedicated spaces and events for kids.  This was something that I haven’t seen in the other Denver area conventions, but I think it would be worthwhile for more of them to include this type of programming.

The second panel I attended was about recent and future exploration of Mars.  The panel was presented by Carrolyn Collins Petersen with help from engineers Christopher Grasso and Pieter Kallemeyn.  The panelist discussed recent missions, including Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix and Curiosity, as well as the upcoming mission, Insight.  This happened to be the first time that I had heard anything about Insight, but it sounds like a very interesting and scientifically promising mission.  At its crux, Insight will help us to define the inner structure of Mars.  The mission will include three primary scientific instruments: a seismometer, a thermal probe, and an X-band radio transponder.  The planned mission has a 700 day duration in order to collect the detailed measurements required to characterize the inner structure of the planet.

The third panel that I attended was called “Star Wars as Story”, and included local authors Betsy Dornbusch, Carrolyn Kay, and Lisa Manifold, and was moderated by David Boop.  The panel looked at Star Wars and Campbell’s “The Hero’s Journey”, and discussed how the authors applied these story elements in their own writing.  The authors noted that in most cases, these story elements come out naturally in dramatic writing and therefore, authors who push against the norms tend to be more interesting.

Finally, in sitting around and watching the crowds go by I got to see a lot of great costumes.  The most surprising to me was a guy wearing a Starfleet uniform based on Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  I, like many others, have never been very fond of the movie, but I still enjoy the costume design (at least for the male Starfleet crew and officers.

In conclusion, the convention was well run.  Staff and volunteers were easy to find and friendly.  Being in the Crowne Plaza is a blast from the past (NDK used to hold their convention here).  The fans were fun and full of passion.  I’m planning to come again next year, and hope to meet a lot more fans and creators.