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This is the fourth in a semi-regular series of answers to some of the most common questions we receive about Farpoint convention. If there’s a particular question you’d like answered, please let us know either here on our blog or by sending an email to us at contact at farpointcon dot com.

Question: I would like to do a presentation/panel/talk on [INSERT SUBJECT]. How do I get on the schedule? If I get on the schedule, am I a Guest that gets in free?

Answer: Getting on the schedule is as easy as sending a description of your program idea to us at programs at farpointcon dot com. Your idea will be classified into one of our program tracks (science, new media, children/youth, authors, movies/TV, or live performances) and the manager of the track will be in touch with you to continue making arrangements. Anyone submitting a program idea should be aware that while we make every effort to stage your idea as presented, we reserve the right to make changes such as combining your idea with a similar one into a single event. We do this to maximize our resources (time, room space, equipment) and avoid duplicating panels.

Would you be a Guest if your idea is placed on the schedule? The answer ranges from Maybe to No. Fan run conventions like Farpoint rely on our members wanting to participate at the convention; if every person who pitched a program idea got in to the convention at no charge, your favorite convention wouldn’t be around because there would be no money to pay the bills. (We are your favorite convention, right? You’re reading our blog, after all!)

What constitutes a Guest is based upon the guidelines in the Farpoint Operations Manual. The criteria breaks down to whether you are invited by the committee to appear at the convention because of your celebrity or expert in the field status, or you volunteer to discuss a topic of your own interest and the committee accepts your idea for inclusion in the program. Farpoint has 4 categories of program participants:

– Celebrity guests are publicly-known in their field who are invited to appear at the convention. Examples are actors, producers or directors from television and movies or Hugo award-winning authors.
– Individual guests are experts in their field who are invited to appear at the convention. Examples are science fiction and fantasy authors, podcasters, and scientists.
– Groups are composed of more than 2 individual guests who meet the Guest criteria. Examples are film production groups and live performance groups.
– Panelists are convention members who put forward an idea for a discussion panel or offer to speak on a panel created by another. Panelists normally volunteer and are not invited convention guests.

The program participant category you/your idea is placed in is not meant as an insult to you or your idea. On the contrary, some of our best programs have come from volunteer panelists who ask for nothing more than a chance to share their passions. It simply comes down to the economics of staging a convention. We bank on invited Guests having sufficient name recognition and/or expertise in their field to be of interest to potential attendees and bring them in the door. Paying attendees provide us the funds we need to pay the bills and keep coming back every year.


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Farpoint is almost here!

We’ve been posting announcements and previews of events coming up at Farpoint on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Farpoint-Convention/171777342838129. We started a month ago and are continuing from now until Farpoint . One thing to note – dates and times may change between now and the final schedule publication in early February so make sure to double check the final schedule.

From 1/28/14 until now, we’ve learned about:

– Prometheus Radio Theatre will be performing on Friday evening as part of the Opening Ceremonies, with our guests Melissa McBride and Phil LaMarr scheduled to guest star.

– Talk about what you love or hate about the new Star Trek movie at the “Star Trek: Into Darkness- One Hell of a Khan Job” panel discussion! Friday at 2 PM!

– Our friends from Crazy8 Press will be speaking on Saturday at 1pm. Come learn about their exciting new projects!

– Sunday at noon is a great panel for Children & Youth, “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?” Our youngest members can create a costume representing their own special secret identities.

– Our members will once again be able to “Donate An Hour” to help out at the convention. Your generosity in sharing an hour of your time helps us put on a whole weekend of fun for all. Thank you in advance!

– A photo album of some of the items available at this year’s Charity Auction is up on our website and on FB. Check them out!

– The 2014 Volker/McChesney Award will be given to our beloved Marty Gear. He was eligible for the award after his resignation from the Farpoint committee in 2013, and we will be honored to present this award to his family as a thank you to them for sharing him with all of us in fandom.

– Speed Dating returns, Saturday evening at Farpoint! Contact us at contact@farpointcon.com if you’re interested in participating.

See you soon!

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Being at MarsCon last week put us behind a bit on our summaries.

We’ve been posting announcements and previews of events coming up at Farpoint on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Farpoint-Convention/171777342838129. We started two weeks ago and are continuing from now until Farpoint next month. One thing to note – dates and times may change between now and the final schedule publication in early February so make sure to double check the final schedule.

From 1/12/14 until now, we’ve learned about:

– On convention Sunday, our Science track will include a panel on “The History, Art and Science of Making Beer”.

– See a strange skeleton at the Dinner and a Movie, Saturday 6:00 pm, featuring “The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra” hosted by “Lattis” and “Kro-Bar”!

– Give your idea wings with the panel discussion “Crowdfunding Your Project”, Sunday at 11am!

– The BATMOBILE will be at Farpoint Convention all weekend. Take photos with your own camera at no charge or treat yourself to a professional photo with your favorite crime fighting vehicle!

– We will be hosting a “Remembering Marty” event for Marty Gear on Saturday at Noon.

– May the Force be with our “A short time from now, in a galaxy called Disney panel” on Friday afternoon.

– There will be un-moderated Early Bird and Late Night open discussions for our early risers and night owls! Check the convention schedule page for topics & locations!

– Learn how maximize the value of your spare cardboard at the Costuming on the Cheap Panel, Sunday at Noon!

– Bring a pet toy to donate at the Baltimore Area Rescue and Care Shelter’s Toy Drive at Farpoint.

– There is SCARY TALK to be had at the Paranormal Research panel,  Saturday at 10 AM!

– Test your bravery in the Fan Factor contest to be held convention Sunday! Sign ups will be taken at the con.

– In our Authors track, see if your story is up to snuff at the “I’ve finished my first draft, Now What?” panel! Friday at 5 PM!

See you soon!



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This is the second in a semi-regular series of answers to some of the most common questions we receive about Farpoint convention. If there’s a particular question you’d like answered, please let us know either here on our blog or by sending an email to us at contact at farpointcon dot com.

Question: What kind of convention is Farpoint? Is it a media convention? Autograph show? Comic Con?

Answer: Good question!

Farpoint is a science fiction convention organized by volunteer fans for the fan community, staged annually in February. We consider the fan the true guest of honor and strive to reflect the variety of fan interests through our mix of programming and guests. Every fan, no matter their age, sex, ethnicity, orientation or personal interests, is welcomed and encouraged to participate as much or little as they care to in the activities. We want our fan members to make connections with us as an organization and with each other, and to learn more about their current or new interests.

What does this mean? Farpoint is planned and organized to reflect as much of the diversity of our members’ science fiction interests as can be scheduled in a three day weekend. The diversity of fan interests means that we include some of the best features of all kinds of conventions. We offer 200+ hours of programming on topics ranging from books and authors, science, comics, gaming, costuming, art and artists, etc., etc., etc. across the diversity of science fiction topics and universes. Farpoint showcases local live performers, writers and artists to introduce them to new audiences. A large percentage of our programs are organized and staged by other fans. We are glad to welcome program contributions from our fan members!

We always invite celebrity guests to Farpoint to give fans a chance to meet some of their favorites. Like our programming, our celebrity guests are drawn from the diverse offerings of science fiction media outlets. We choose to keep the number of celebrity guests to 3 or 4 most years in order to allow space in the schedule for program offerings created by our fan members. This can mean that an individual fan’s TV show or movie interests may not be reflected in our celebrity guest lineup one year, but fans can be assured that the overall program schedule for each year includes discussion topics and presentations on favorite shows and movies even if a representative celebrity could not be accommodated that particular year. Fans can also be assured that “missing” a celebrity from a popular show or movie in a particular year means that the Farpoint committee will include those “missing” shows/movies in the celebrity lineup very soon. For example, our celebrity guests for our 20th anniversary celebration in 2013 were drawn from the worlds of “Star Trek”, “Chuck”, “Once Upon A Time”, “Revolution”, “Breaking Bad”, “The Guild”, multiple animated series and internet media. For 2014, our celebrity guests represent “The Walking Dead”, “The Mist”, “Futurama”, “Samurai Jack”, “TMNT”, and the diverse worlds of Alan Dean Foster’s science fiction novels that includes the original “Star Trek Logs” series of books. Next year, who knows? We always welcome ideas for guests (celebrity and otherwise), so feel free to send us your ideas!

Our 2014 program schedule will be published around February 1st or 2nd. Please take a look at it when it comes out to see the wide range of activities for all fans to enjoy. We challenge each of you to try out a new program or event this year. Who knows? You may find a new favorite! We look forward to seeing everyone soon!

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Farpoint 2014 autograph news for our FARP Fanatics!.

– Melissa McBride from The Walking Dead will be signing at a formal session on Saturday and Sunday. The line for these sessions will be organized by your badge number (the earlier you register for the convention the lower your badge number and the sooner you will be called for the autograph line). Each convention member will receive one signature on an item they present for signing at no additional charge on Saturday and Sunday. This is part of your weekend or daily membership! Weekend members will get one signature on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday and Sunday members will be one signature on the day they attend. Melissa will also be available at other times throughout the weekend to sign/sell additional items and take at the table photos. Cost for additional signatures and items will be announced closer to the convention.

– Phil LaMarr from Futurama/Samurai Jack/TMNT will be signing throughout the weekend. He will be charging for his signature and will accept either items you bring or an item you purchase at his table for signing. Phil will also be available for at the table photos. The price list for Phil’s signatures will be announced closer to the convention.

– Our authors will be available on Friday evening at our Book Fair to meet, greet and sign. They will sign your book at no charge. The authors will have copies of their latest books for sale and will sign your purchased books as well. As of now, all of our author guests (including Alan Dean Foster, Crazy 8 Press and Firebringer Press) plan to attend the Friday Book Fair. There will also be additional signing times for individual authors throughout the weekend, which will be included on the program schedule.

– A special feature at the Friday Book Fair will be a table dedicated to Ann Crispin and her books. Plans are in development for this and other memorial events at Farpoint. Please let us know your ideas on honoring Ann and her memory, and we will announce more details as plans come together.

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We are pleased to announce the addition of Alan Dean Foster, IAMTW Grand Master, as a guest at Farpoint 2014! Alan will be at Farpoint Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and will be signing at no extra charge.

Foster’s work to date includes excursions into hard science-fiction, fantasy, horror, detective, western, historical, and contemporary fiction. He has also written numerous non-fiction articles on film, science, and scuba diving, as well as having produced the novel versions of many films, including such well-known productions as Star Wars, the first three Alien films, Alien Nation, The Chronicles of Riddick, Star Trek, Terminator:Salvation, and both Transformers films. Other works include scripts for talking records, radio, computer games, and the story for the first Star Trek movie. His novel Shadowkeep was the first ever book adapation of an original computer game. In addition to publication in English his work has been translated into more than fifty languages and has won awards in Spain and Russia. His novel Cyber Way won the Southwest Book Award for Fiction in 1990, the first work of science-fiction ever to do so. He is the recipient of the Faust, the IAMTW Lifetime achievement award.

Alan’s next project, The Moaning Words, is scheduled for release very soon – before Halloween! The Moaning Words is a game at the crossroads of books and video games. It is set in the infamous Cthulhu Mythos, The Moaning Words is a tribute to a writer he is deeply in love with: H.P Lovecraft. It will be a free to play game, available on smartphones, tablets (Android and iOS first), and web browsers.

You can keep up with him on his website, http://www.alandeanfoster.com.

Alan Dean Foster

Alan Dean Foster, photo courtesy Michael Melford

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MartyAs many of you have already heard, fandom lost a giant on July 18 with the passing of Marty Gear. Marty was a member of the Farpoint committee, managing our charity auction up through this past February. He and his late wife Bobby were the second recipients of the Volker/McChesney Award for service to fandom. Marty was also a long time member of Costume Guild and the Baltimore Science Fiction Society and ran the Masquerade for their annual Balticon. He was seen onstage hosting each Balticon masquerade in his trademark vampire attire with his non-stop patter of bad vampire jokes.

A visit to Marty’s home was always a delight. Marty and Bobby had collected amazing treasures during their travel, which were lovingly displayed throughout the house. Any object you could point to had a story attached to it. Marty’s travels started when he was young and began attending science fiction conventions. I remember sitting in his living room being absolutely jealous as Marty told the story of how he met one of my personal favorite writers, Isaac Asimov, at one of his first worldcons.

Marty’s generosity was as large as his store of bad vampire jokes. He could always be counted on to share his home, possessions, time or money when there was a need. A few years ago, we needed a last minute location for a Farpoint meeting and Marty volunteered his house. I arrived to Casa Gear to be treated to a huge pile of boxed and bagged snacks on the kitchen counter. “Marty, the committee doesn’t eat THAT much!” I said. Marty replied, “Oh, it’s okay. I just got back from the store. Most of this is for tonight’s meeting at the BSFS clubhouse.” Marty had decided to completely over-schedule himself in order to accommodate with a grocery shopping trip and two separate committee meetings in order to help us out. That’s the kind of guy he was.

Marty, your many friends will miss you terribly but we take comfort in our memories of you and the knowledge that you are now reunited with your beloved Bobby.

Sharon VanBlarcom, Farpoint convention co-chair

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