Panel Descriptions for ConQuesT 54 panels are now available. We look forward to seeing you! Note:

50 Years Ago Today: Science Fiction/Fantasy in Cinema, 1973: A presentation and discussion over the SF/F films of 1973 including Soylent Green, Fantastic Planet, Idaho Transfer, Battle for the Planet of the Apes and Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

Animal Personalities: Domesticated animals have character. Share your stories of real life farm animals and pets expressing their individuality. How can this be incorporated into speculative fiction?

Becoming a Professional Artist: What you need to go from being a fan artist to breaking into the professional world of arts? What types of careers are available? What are art directors looking for in a portfolio? How do you get an introduction?

Book Signing, Janci Patterson: Bring a book to be signed by one of our Guests of Honor, or buy one at the con.

Book Signing, Mary Robinette Kowal: Bring a book to be signed by one of our Guests of Honor, or buy one at the con.

Build-A-Tiara with Sara Felix: You know you want to. Come and build your own Tiara with our Artist Guest of Honor. Signup sheet at Registration or walk ins welcome if room is available. Materials fee of $15 to be paid at time of panel.

Comic Book Movies: What Would You Want to See?: Some comic books have yet to be adapted and others have failed so profoundly that they need a proper adaptation. What would you like to see turned into a movie? What should never be adapted?

Costuming Literary Characters: How would you even begin to go about coming up with a costume to represent a character from your favorite story when no image of that character has been prepared for you? Where in the story do you find the clues that tell you what they would wear, the fabrics and colors they’d choose and how they might accessorize their outfits?

Costuming on a Budget: Costuming can be an expensive hobby, as the elements of a costume and the supplies needed to create them can add up quickly. We’ll discuss how to get the most out of your dollar through the use of inexpensive fabrics and notions, alternative techniques or materials, and how to plan ahead so you can find time and ways to save the most money. We’ll discuss thrifting, upcycling, downcycling/distressing, and how to choose versatile base items that can be used in multiple costumes.

Cyberpunk in the 21st Century: Some say that cyberpunk is dead. We say that it has a new role to play in our modern world.

Does Asimov Hold Up?: Alongside Heinlein and Clarke, Asimov is considered one of the giants of the Golden Age. Does he deserve the reputation? Are his books still compelling? How did he change the genre? Would you still recommend him?

Face & Body Paint for Cosplay: Join a professional face painter as she discusses what kinds of face & body paints are available for use with your cosplays, and when you should use each type.

Fantastical History: Putting fantasy elements into historical settings is something authors have been doing for some time. Discuss settings and series where this worked well and maybe others where it didn’t.

Fantasy Foodstuffs and Imagined Elixirs: What are some of the most delicious cuisines and devious drink making you’ve read or seen on the screen? Share tips to recreate them in your own kitchen.

Fiction that Makes You Want to Read History: What fiction have you read or seen that made you want to learn about the actual history? Did you start reading about Egyptian history after seeing “The Mummy”, or reading about the early space program after reading the Lady Astronaut novels?

First Contact in Movies: Arrival, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Star Trek, 2001, and Contact have handled first contact situations in different ways. Which ones worked for you and which ones didn’t?”

Food and World Building: How do different cultures express themselves through food? What does a country’s favorite recipe say about its people? What are the food taboos? What does it say to break the taboo? What world building can we convey through what our characters eat?

Future Noir: What makes a science fiction story noir? Discuss noir tropes in a science fictional setting, such as emotional baggage, McGuffins, conspiracies, wise-cracking characters, and so on. What are your favorite examples of science fiction noir?

Gender and Sexuality in Science Fiction: A discussion of how science fiction is particularly situated to address gender and sexuality.

Gender Identity in AI’s: As we near the time of self-aware AIs, the question of gender becomes more and more relevant. Who decides what gender an AI has? Is it fixed? Flexible? Necessary? Discussion with other SF authors regarding how they use AI in their stories, their thoughts, and some good/bad examples in existing media.

Great American Eclipse of 2024: The next total solar eclipse to visit North America will be April 8, 2024 and will be visible in southeast Missouri. Its duration of totality will be up to 4 minutes and 27 seconds, almost double that of the Great American Eclipse of August 21, 2017. Learn where and how to see this special event.

History has stopped. Is renaming awards a good thing?: There has been a trend to rename literary awards (such as Campbell Award and Lovecraft award) to right the wrongs because these writer and editors were racist, fascist, etc., and not to acknowledge the influence they had in literature and other authors in their respective genres. Are we re-writing history (ala 1984), and missing an opportunity to discuss SF&F checkered history of our very flawed forefathers (warts and all) and acknowledge the past to move forward towards positive change.

History of the Cape in Fashion and Comics: What is the reason for wearing capes and why have they gone in and out of style, both in fashion and superhero costuming? How have capes changed over time?

I just want to write my book, why do I need to spend a year world-building?: World building is one of the most beloved panel for authors and readers at any convention. Many writers wonder why world building is necessary and think “Why can’t I just write what I envision?” In this (almost) post-COVID world, we see more evidence than ever that the science and art of world building is the backbone of any speculative novel… or work of any form or length. Join published world-building authors, artists, publishers, and industry professionals to explore just how this skill has become more critical than ever in successful story-telling.

Intro to Kumihimo: Kumihimo is the art of Japanese braid-making. In this class, students will learn to make the basic 8-warp round braid. A $5 materials fee is payable to the instructor.

Kumihimo, the Art of Japanese Braid-Making: Kumihimo is the art of Japanese braid-making. Worked on a loom, the braided cords were once used in Buddhist temples and to assemble samurai armor, and in recent history to make the ties that secure the obi over kimono. This lecture will present an overview of the history and cultural significance of the art, as well discuss applications in the modern costumer’s wardrobe.

“Let Me Tell You About My Guy!”: Creating evocative characters for TTRPGs: A great player character or NPC can make or break any role-playing game. Let’s talk about how to make memorable characters, how to stretch our character-making muscles and what makes an evocative role-playing game character… and, of course, swap stories about our favorite characters and NPCs!

Lightsaber Combat 101: Explanation of Rules and Hands-on Practice: The lightsaber combat class begins at 11:30 am with an explanation of the rules and techniques of lightsaber combat. The instructor will introduce the basic principles, stances, and movements involved in lightsaber combat, emphasizing safety precautions and proper form. This session is suitable for beginners and those new to lightsaber combat. Participants will be provided with lightsabers for practice during the class. These lightsabers are specially designed for training purposes and are lightweight practice sabers to prevent injury. The instructor will demonstrate various combat techniques and allow participants to practice them under supervision. This hands-on practice session aims to familiarize participants with the fundamental movements and build their confidence in wielding a lightsaber.

Lightsaber Tournament for All Level Fighters: After the explanation and hands-on practice, the class progresses to the tournament session at 1:00 pm. This tournament is open to all participants who have attended the class or another class outside ConQuesT, regardless of their skill level. The tournament serves as a friendly competition where participants can showcase their lightsaber combat skills and apply what they have learned. To ensure fair matchups, participants will be divided into skill level brackets, such as beginners, intermediate, and advanced. Each bracket will have its own round-robin or elimination-style tournament format, depending on the number of participants. The instructor will oversee the matches and ensure adherence to the rules and safety guidelines. Lightsabers will be provided for the tournament as well. Participants can choose from a selection of lightsabers suitable for their preferred combat style or use the same training lightsabers used during the class. Safety gear, such as protective gloves and goggles, will also be available for those who do not have their own. Note: Participants must be over 13 years old to participate in the lightsaber combat class due to safety considerations. Younger individuals may attend as observers and take the class, but they will not be allowed to actively participate in the tournament.


Name That Tune (ConQuesT-style): We play music from sci-fi/fantasy/horror shows, the audience tries to Name That Show (or song). Tootsie Roll Midgies will again be thrown with bad aim to the first one with the correct answer. There may even be another Grand Prize for the one with the most TRMs.

Neurodiversity in Science Fiction and Fantasy: Using the developmental disorder centered definition of neurodiversity, this panel will discuss its role in science fiction and fantasy, ranging from books to television and movies.

“No One Can Hear You Scream: Space and Horror”: Outer space and space travel have been fertile ground for horror for decades. From Forbidden Planet to Alien, Solaris to Sunshine, the void of space has been seen by many as a perfect place to populate with our darkest fears. Let’s talk about space-borne horror in fiction, movies and role-playing games and look at what these stories can tell us about the changing nature of our fears.

Puppetry Costumes and Props: Not all stage performers are human. Costumes & accessories are an integral part of the appearance of puppet performers. What techniques & materials can be used to make a puppet/enhance its performance & movement on the stage or in stop-motion animation?

Queer Representation in Speculative Fiction: As society moves in fits and starts toward being more inclusive, Speculative Fiction has been and can continue to be a leader in queer representation. But it’s not always a smooth road. On this panel, we’ll discuss why it’s important in SF; what stumbling blocks exist; strategies to avoid them; and good and bad examples from current literature.

Rabbit Hole du Jour: Show us what fascinates you! What subject is distracting you today? Is it random or research-related? Do you have a favorite, or one in particular that can always catch your attention? Why do many wild animals have white bellies? What would a turtle do if it had only one leg? (NO POLITICS PLEASE)

Rendezvous With Rama – 50 Years Later: Rendezvous With Rama, published in 1973, is about a large cylindrical alien starship that enters the solar system. Arthur C. Clarke’s book won Hugo and Nebula awards for Best Novel. How has it stood up over time? What STEM lessons can be learned from the novel?

Review of SF&F TV shows that premiered in 2022: Every year new Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror TV Shows debut. Do they have the staying power to continue in a glut of streaming services, cable and regular TV shows?

Science in Science Fiction – Fact or Fiction: Some science fiction and fantasy gets their science right, while others, don’t quite fair so well… A discussion of the real science underlying your favorite science fiction!

Space Travel: Fun vs Facts: How to balance the needs of an entertaining story vs. real sciences vs. made-up science. Knowing when to give just enough real details that readers will accept the made-up bits for the stories to work. From living on the Moon to traveling with teleportation, telling stories about space requires a fine balance.

Spy Culture in Speculative Fiction: Spying is stressful and often the stakes are high, especially in settings where shapeshifting, psionics, or magical powers are the norm. Discuss the various subgenres of the espionage thriller in science fiction and fantasy settings.
Story in a Bag: Start your day creatively! Write a short story in one hour using prompts drawn from a bag. (That’s why we call it “Story In A Bag”!) Each participant draws a set of writing prompts from a bag, then they have one hour to write a short story using those prompts. We’ll provide lined notebook paper, pens, and pencils, but if you have a favorite writing utensil, bring it! Entries (without names!) will be in the Dealers Room to read and vote on until 2 p.m. Sunday. Fan favorites will be recognized at Closing Ceremonies.

The blurred lines between fantasy and horror: where does one begin and the other end… or do we care?: Join fantasy and horror authors, publishers, and industry professionals to explore the collision of dark fantasy and horror. Where does Elric of Melnibone end and Hannibal Lecter begin? Does this line apply anymore in a world of NetFlix cross-overs and genre-bending publishers?

The Unquiet Dead: Ghost stories, stories about ghosts and how to tell the difference: Some of our oldest stories have been about ghosts and the unquiet dead. Let’s talk about ghost stories, stories about ghosts and the difference between the two, as well as exploring our favorite ghost stories.

Tips for Writing Infiltration Techniques: Whether it’s computer hacking, lock picking, or fibbing your way into a restricted space, infiltration techniques are a great way to advance a story. How do you make the method seem plausible? Discuss resources for researching applicable technical skills and social engineering techniques.

Tips to Artists for Reading Contracts: A discussion of the different clauses that appear in typical contracts for artists, such as licensing, payment, and jurisdiction. What are some red flags to look for?

Vacations in Space: What locations in space would you visit on a futuristic vacation? Authors have imagined dancing, swimming, and Laser Tag in space. What activities would you want to do to make your space vacation truly bonkers?

Views on Arts Versus Crafts in Costuming: Costumers create wearable art through leatherwork, sewing, makeup, embroidering, etc., yet cosplay is not widely considered to be an art. How does society view arts vs. crafts? How does the history of industrialization & colonialism influence these views?

Why do I need a publisher or editor in today’s world of Amazon publishing?: Amazon opened the flood-gates for authors to realize their dream of seeing their work in print and (hopefully) generating sales. So why should an author seek a publisher if she can do it herself? This panel of experienced publishers, authors, and industry professionals will explore the implications of going it alone on the river “Amazon” versus the benefits of working with someone… anyone!

World Building Rookie Mistakes: What did you do as a rookie author or gamemaster that you would do differently now?