50 Years of ConQuesT

Ken Keller and other previous chairs talk about the history of the con. Favorite memories and hotel struggles, etc.


Attack of the Killer Bees

Watch out for killer bees- in this case, B movies! Those great (and no so great but fun) grade B movies that people love to build up and tear down. What’s your favorite B movie?


Behind the GM Screen

You and your friends want to play a tabletop RPG. You could go to your local game store and join a group (Roll a charisma save to interact with strangers) or … you could host your own game. Sooner or later, you realize if you want to play (D&D, Pathfinder, whatever) someone is going to have to step up and GM and it might as well be you. Or maybe you’ve just watched a bunch of Critical Role and have gotten the itch. There’s no “one way” to GM. It’s as varied as the type of games you might play, and the players you can play with. In this panel we’ll discuss helpful hints, tricks, and resources to help you run your first campaign. Roll for initiative.


Biotechnology in SF  

Human enhancement based on such technologies as cloning; stem-cell research; and cybernetic implants have been a trope of science fiction for many years. Sometimes those speculations have involved alien technology. Discuss the history of biotechnology in science fiction.


Body Horror: The Last Ewwww        

A panel on the definition, history, and ethos of Body Horror in literature and film.


Bowie on the Big Screen       

David Robert Jones, aka David Bowie, would have been 75 in 2022 were he still alive. His movie ‘Labyrinth’ returned to US cinemas for its 35th anniversary in 2021. Discuss his portrayal as Jareth the Goblin King, Nikola Tesla, and other cinematic roles.


Building with Batman’s Billions       

Billionaire Bruce Wayne wants to thwart crime in Gotham City, so he uses his wealth to fund his Batgear. What would happen if he bought up the abandoned warehouses & property and used his fortune to effect actual social change?


Business of Freelance Art

How to become a freelance artist and succeed.


Cats in space  

Ripley has Jones. Data has Spot. Would cats really thrive in space? What genetic modifications might they need?


Climate Change Fiction        

Climate change fiction (cli-fi) deals with climate change and global warning that may take place in the world as we know it of in the near future.


ConQuesT – Name That Tune (or Show)      

Exploration of Sci-Fi/Fantasy movie scores and the ConQuesT version of Name that Tune.


Curiouser and Curiouser      

Heroes try new things. They embark on adventures, explore new places and people and generally wander through the world with their eyes wide open. How does the curiosity of characters within a story drive the storytelling process?


Cursing Creatively in Storytelling    

Sufferin’ succotash! Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries! Expletives and cursing usually involve obscenities, but not necessarily. How can a writer spice up their dialogue with insults and swearing in novel ways? How much is normal, and when does it just become lazy writing? What are some examples from non-Western cultures that can be incorporated in the narrative?


Dating Advice from Disney Princesses         

A discussion of dating tips (both good and bad) that we can learn from the Disney Princesses.


Designing a Great Book Cover         

You see a book; you pick it up. Why? What was it that caught your eye? You could say that the cover is its own story; readers are looking at it as a way to help them make a purchasing and reading decision. Learn some of the basics of book cover layout.


Designing Magical Systems in Worldbuilding         

Worldbuilding is more of an art than a science, especially when designing a rational magic system. What makes a magic system believable to the reader? What elements/themes do your favorite magic systems contain? What types of limits do those systems need to have?


Extraordinary Children in SF/Fantasy          

Extraordinary child figures are uncommon in fantastic fiction until World War II, and suddenly became popular in the 1940s/1950s. The 1960s saw unusual children (e.g., the Midwich Cuckoos) becoming more common in TV and films. Discuss the history of this trope in speculative fiction.


From Nemesis to Ally/Friend/Lover

The transition from enemy to friend (or even lover) has been used extensively in literature and pop culture. Some examples include Belle & the Beast, Buffy & Spike, and Batman & Catwoman. How can this tradition be used without negative predictability to keep the reader/viewer engaged?


Gender Identity and Artificial Intelligence  

Humans may assign gender roles to AIs and digital assistants. Also, Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a robot (Sophia) who has privileges not granted to human females. Does an AI’s gender identity need to be binary? How do AIs handle gender identities in humans?


How to Avoid the Plague

Avoid the plague? You’re soaking in it! Even before COVID-19 people would return after a fun convention weekend with the dreaded CON CRUD. Hints, tips, and tricks to keep yourself as safe and healthy as possible when venturing out among the masses. NOTE: This panel is not to discuss COVID itself, and certainly not to encourage argument, political or otherwise. Be polite to other attendees and panelists, please.


Illustrating a Book    

How involved are the author, editor, and art director in deciding how to illustrate a book with a series of images? Who chooses what passages/incidents to illustrate?


Indie Author Buffet

Not sure what new fiction you might like? Want a literature sampler platter to try out some new authors? Come check out the Indie Author Buffet and hear several short readings from multiple authors. You’re bound to hear something you like!


Intro to 3D Printing  

Have you been curious about 3D printing but don’t know what it entails? Do you want to do resin printing or filament printing? What’s the difference? What do you need to get started? This would be a good primer panel for how to get started with 3D printing and where to go from there. Ideal for absolute beginners who have been thinking about getting a printer or wondering how they could use one for nerdy things.


It Was So Good, and Then You Messed It Up          

Sometimes a long-running TV or film series has a disappointing finale. Is trying too hard to please everyone resulting in endings that aren’t satisfying? Discuss endings that didn’t work and what could have been done differently to satisfy the fans.


One-on-One Combat

The close-combat scene may be one of the most difficult tasks in writing a narrative. What are the basic rules that apply to close combat?


Power Dynamics in Storytelling       

How do social structures and culture determine a character’s place in a story? What is the importance of such aspects as family, wealth, gender, race, and training? How can power structure change between characters over time?


Resurrection in SF & Fantasy

The concept of death in superhero comics is sometimes farcical, but there have been examples where resurrection has been handled well. Often the process of resurrection involves restricted knowledge; sometimes the concept of identity is treated more like a technological commodity. What makes resurrection in SF/fantasy acceptable to fans?


“Say Goodnight to the Bad Guy”:  Making memorable antagonists         

We know that players are often their own worst enemies, but there’s always space for a good villain to help move the story along. Let’s talk about what makes a good antagonist in RPGs and how to build memorable opponents for players.


SF/Fantasy Creators Deserving of a Biopic/Biography       

Some science fiction and fantasy creators have led interesting lives and deserve their own biography or biopic. Who are your candidates? Which ones are commercially viable for a biopic?


SFF Film Adaptations: The Best and the Worst       

Film Adaptations of Books have a checkered history in Hollywood, giving us both masterpieces and stinkers. Panelists would share their favorite and least favorite adaptations and why they think they succeeded or failed.


Story in a Bag

“The challenge, should you choose to accept it: Write a story in less than an hour, using random prompts you’ve drawn at random from a bag.  It doesn’t matter if you are a published writer, a frustrated writer, a closet writer, or a writer-in-training: anyone can participate in ConQuesT’s Story In A Bag contest.

Join us on Saturday morning for our infamous one-hour creative writing exercise/contest sessions. This event is open to all ConQuesT attendees, regardless of past publication status or age. During the session, each writer selects a series of random prompts from our bags of prompts, which include plot elements, setting, character, first lines, and objects. (The Young Fans division has its set of age-appropriate prompts.)

You will have the remainder of the hour to compose and edit your story. You MUST use ALL of the prompts you’ve drawn from the bags, including using the first line to kick things off. You story must be no more than five pages if handwritten or three pages if typed. (If typed, you MUST have a way to print the story and return within the hour.)  Remember, short and sweet! All stories written in the “Story In A Bag” sessions will be posted anonymously in the Con Suite, where members of the convention will vote for the stories that they like most in each category (Science Fiction, Fantasy, Horror) and division (Professional, Amateur, Young Fan). NobleFusion Press and the NobleFusion writer’s collective will facilitate the “Story In A Bag” sessions and help select the winning stories. Winners will be announced at Closing Ceremonies.”


Stupid Writing Tricks: Stylistic flourishes in fiction

Clear, concise prose should always be the goal of any good writer. Let’s explore the sort of artistic flourishes that elevate our fiction and take “good” to “great”… or, if they’re done poorly, “godawful.” The panelists will discuss their own work as well as writing from authors that hit the mark or fell a bit short.


Supernatural: People Saved, Things Hunted

Now that the Hunt is over let’s discuss 15 years of the fan favorite show Supernatural! There will be pie!


Terrible Parents in Science Fiction & Fantasy         

Cersei Lannister’s lifestyle doesn’t reflect well on her children. Carrie’s mom has issues. Is Captain Kirk a worse father than Darth Vader? SF and fantasy stories have a fair share of deadbeat dads and horrible moms. Discuss your favorites in this panel.


The Art of Magic the Gathering       

Donato Giancola will discuss his art for Magic the Gathering.


The Butterfly Effect  

A discussion of unintended consequences (“the butterfly effect”) in time travel.


The Fifth Element – 25 Years Later   

In 1997, Leeloo leapt off of a ledge onto the flying taxicab of Korben Dallas and began a series of manic pixie adventures centered on four mystical, elemental stones. The film was a British production that was heavily dipped into French pop culture and has since become a science fiction cult classic.


The Mandalorian: Western or Science Fiction?

Is the Mandalorian a western or science fiction adventure? Join your moderators in discussing the influences and differences of the latest chapter of Star Wars goodness. And yes, even The Child will be there!


The Reading Writer  

“I want to ask a panel of professional writers, what do they read?  And when in the active process of writing, whether a novel or short story, do they then read any differently?  And if so, how?  What do they avoid reading when actively writing?    How do their reading choices change over time? 

If you are doing research for a novel, does that influence what you read, above and beyond your research?”


The Sanderson Effect: Can it be Replicated?

Brandon Sanderson is one of the most prolific and well-loved writers of our generation, and his recent remarkable Kickstarter success (“Surprise! Four Secret Novels” earned almost $42 million) is the latest example of the impact a writer with skill, discipline and community can generate. Could anyone else do what he’s doing? Is it a fluke? Why is he so successful? We’ll break down what makes Sanderson and his company Dragonsteel Entertainment tick and see what lessons can be learned. Could any other author do this?


The Uncanny Power of Weird Fiction          

A history of weird fiction and how it has changed over the years.


To the stars! The new Ad Astra Center for Science Fiction & the Speculative Imagination

Be first to be in-the-know about the new Ad Astra Center at KU! Join science-fiction author and scholar Chris McKitterick and many others on a journey to the stars through an upcoming series of public year-round science and SF talks, seminars, creative workshops, masterclasses, and more.


Using Military Experience to Influence Storytelling

Authenticity is key to writing about the military well. What are the basics of shipboard life? What should you know when writing about ballistics? Join a discussion about the ways in which training and military experiences serve to influence storytelling.


World Fantasy Con   

Kansas City is hosting the 2023 World Fantasy Con! What is WFC and why is it important? How did this happen? Who’s running this thing, anyway?

Join the WFC 2023 co-Chairs and our WFC Board advisor to learn the answers to these questions and more!”