Monday, December 29, 2008

Some New Year Plans!

Once more traveling on our remarkable little planet we are about to complete another circuit around our G-class, life-giving helium factory, the Sun. As we do every year at this time, our thoughts in OSFES turn to activities we can or should pursue in its coming circuit. Let me throw out some ideas and see if there’s any interest in these group events:

If you are part of a group involved in creating or re-creating fannish costumes and would like to dust them off for some community goodwill, why not tour Omaha’s bookstores and libraries in character doing readings from genre literature? I know members of the Omaha Public Library are interested in scheduling such events. If we can find enough interesting characters, we should also be able to work our way into some of the major bookstores in the area.

What you would read would be determined by the costume you were wearing. If you were portraying a Star Wars character, you’d read from a Star Wars novel. If you were dressed as a character from Star Trek, you’d read a passage from a Star Trek novel, and maybe read the first few passages in Klingon if you were dressed as a Klingon. If you were dressed in a medieval costume for a Renaissance fair, you’d read something by Tolkien or from one of the Dragonlance books. If you were doing anime cosplay, you’d read from a particularly interesting manga. If you were dressed for a live-action version of Vampire: The Masquerade, you’d read something by Anne Rice or Laurell K. Hamilton. What you read should reflect both who you’re portraying and what’s on the shelves of the establishment where you’re doing it.

Yes, there’s a promotional motive to this: First, we’re promoting literacy. Second, we’re promoting books in the establishment we’re in. And third, we’re promoting ourselves. Members of the various groups doing the readings should be recruiting for new members for their groups while helping OSFES get the word out about its activities. If we do this right, we all win.

But this promotional cosplay doesn’t have to be limited to reading and books. Another possibility would be to have some of the anime fan groups show up in costume to attend the February 5th showing of the movie “The Sword of the Stranger.” This one-night event, happening at 7:30 PM and would be a great opportunity for those of us who love anime to let the theaters know we exists as a community and want to see more such films.

In this same vein, Starfleet marines and legions of Klingon warriors could turn out in force and in costume for the May 8th premiere of the new Star Trek movie. If we coordinated these events properly, the press coverage could go a long way to identifying our fannish presence in the community and presenting us in a positive light.

Okay, you’d like to take part in these activities, but you don’t have a costume. Would you be interested in taking part in a one-day costuming workshop that would help you and your fellow attendees create your own costume to dress up in, whether at a convention, a Renaissance fair, or just for the fun of it? I know there are cosplay groups and master-level costumers in the greater metro area who have the know-how to teach neo-costumers the basics and then direct their efforts into actual accomplishments. We in OSFES would be willing to find a location for such an event if we can find instructors willing to give of their time and talent.

So what do you think? I want your comments. Do you want to get together with other fans and make our next trip around the sun a more entertaining one? What would you like to do during our next roundabout of the Sun?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Message From Space

Since the theme for OSFest 2 is the 40th anniversary of the Apollo Moon Mission, it is appropriate to look back at what happened 40 years ago this week.

NASA had held up the Apollo mission for 22 months delay to rework the problems that had lead up to the disastrous events aboard the earthbound Apollo 1. A command module fire swept through the cabin and took the lives of Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom, Ed White and Roger B. Chaffee. Finally a successful Apollo 7 mission relaunched the program. 40 years ago this week, on December 21, 1968; Frank Borman, James Lovell, and Williams Anders blasted off aboard Apollo 8 with enough speed to reach escape velocity and became the first humans to break free of Earth’s gravitational bounds and journey to another celestial body. Though their mission was not to make the actual landing, they were the first people to see the far side of the moon, the side that never presents itself to we mere Earthbound observers. I remember thinking at the time what willpower it must have taken to not divert their space craft and make that landing even knowing they would not be able to return from it. But they followed the mission profile, completed their circuit of the moon and snapped one of the most iconic photos ever taken. The image of a small planet Earth coming up over the moonrise. And on Christmas Eve, as they came back into radio contact with the entire world watching their broadcast, and after having taken turns reading from the Book of Genesis, they ended their transmission with these words; "And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with good night, good luck, a merry Christmas and God bless all of you, all of you on the good earth."

These were men that built the dreams of many a young man of my generation. I salute you kind sirs, your deeds were truly heroic!

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Omaha Anime Festival has been cancelled!

The Omaha Anime Festival had to be cancelled due to a very low number of preregistrations. Having run conventions and set up events in the Omaha area, I know how expensive these things can be and in particular the terror of an organizer when registrations do not pour in as the “go/no-go” deadline approaches. So the question I pose in today’s blog is: Why did the Omaha Anime Festival not achieve its registration objectives?” I invite people to submit their answers and comments, so all the local event organizers can learn from this experience.

1) Did you know about the event?
     - Was the publicity campaign not thorough enough to let you know what was going on and where?
     - What is the best way to present new events to you: websites, mailings, emails, or some other way? How would you like to receive information about fannish happenings in the Omaha metro area?
2) Was the timing bad?
     - Did you already have too much on your plate with the holiday season itself or with other fannish-related activities already scheduled this month?
     - Was the weather a factor? Given that December weather can be unpredictable; did you think you would be unable to attend the event?
3) Was the price too high?
     - Was the discounted value of preregistration not enough to encourage you to purchase a membership?
     - Was the preregistration cutoff date set at an inconvenient time for you? Would you have preregistered if you had known better as to when the cutoff date was?
4) Was the event something you didn’t care for? If you’re just not into anime, are there other films (or events) you would like organizers to look up and bring into the area?
5) Are you willing to come to an event, see a movie and talk with other fans about it afterwards, or is a film festival something whose day has passed?
     - Is watching anime or SF/F programming something you would rather do from your home these days?
     - Or was it just the choice of films that didn’t really grab you? If the listed movies weren’t to your liking, what anime movies would you rather see?
6) Was the reason you didn’t register that you didn’t know enough about anime to want to come?
     - If the problem was lack of knowledge about the subject, what would you like to know and how best can we present that information to you to encourage you to come out in the future?
     - Do you know about the anime fan clubs in the Omaha metro area?

I really do want people to submit comments. If you have your own blog and want to leave a more extensive talk about this subject, then please post a link to it in your comment. Thank you for your thoughts.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Happenings this weekend (Dec. 5-7)

If you have finally become tired of the high-pressured shopping this season, there are a couple of other activities available this coming weekend:

It is a time of shortage in the midlands. In these dire economic times food pantries have become depleted and need help. Stepping up to the plate is the Game Shoppe with a three day gaming event to raise canned items to help fill those shelves. The weekend of Dec. 5th-7th, they are hosting a 60-hour non-stop gaming event in their Bellevue store (1406 Harlan Drive Bellevue, NE 68005 402-292-4263). And they have devised some interesting ways to part people with cans of food. Most of the games being played have had their rules altered. Some of the things you can do are; pay a canned food item and reroll a bad die roll, pay 5 canned items and steal an opponent’s card, use unfinished figures in some games if you fork over a whole bunch of cans. You had better come prepared.
They have posted these special rules on their website - - along with many of the games they will be hosting. Check it out and have a good time for a great cause.

Not into gaming? Then check out the quarterly Friends of the Omaha Public Library book sale. It will be at the Swanson Branch of the Omaha Public Library which is located at 90th and Dodge both Friday Dec. 5th from 10AM until 8PM and Saturday Dec. 6th from 10AM until 5:30PM. I have heard that this sale will include a large collection of science fiction and fantasy books and magazines. They’re cheap and it helps fund the library’s purchases of new material. And you never know what you might find, I’ve found several autographed books at past book sales.

Finally, if you are into either anime or costuming there is the monthly Otaku Get Together on Saturday at Delice Bakery, 1206 Howard Street in the Old Market Section of downtown Omaha. For more information go to: http:/

So while it may be cold outside, there is still plenty to do with like minded fannish friends. So in the words of Splinter the Rat; “Go. Play!”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Omaha Anime Festival

Do you want to spend the day watching movies? Animated movies? Animated movies with fantastical themes? From Japan? Well on December 13th the people that brought you Otaku Omaha are bringing the Omaha Anime Festival to the MidAmerica Center. It’s been a long time since I could spend the whole day watching movies and not worrying about the outside world.
As with any festival there has to be some classics and something you have never seen. While the organizers still do not have the entire list of movies they will be showing nailed down. Justin has assured me that the classic SPIRITED AWAY and the recently released THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME will be a part of that lineup.

SPIRITED AWAY won the 2003 Oscar for the Best Animated Feature Film. It was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, who also gave us PRINCESS MONONOKE, MY NEIGHBOR TOTORO, and most recently HOWL’S MOVING CASTLE. It has a running time of 125 minutes and well worth the viewing.

THE GIRL WHO LEAPT THROUGH TIME (時をかける少女, Toki o Kakeru Shōjo) is a 2006 release of a Japanese animated film from the novel by Japanese SF writer Yasutaka Tsutsui. It follows the adventures of 17-year-old Makoto Konno who gains the ability to “leap” backwards through time. She first uses these powers to improve her grades and avoid social mishaps but soon learns that changing the past is easy and must rely on her powers to shape her and her friends future. I am looking forward to watching this 98 minute movie.

In addition to films there will be a Cosplay Contest. Since this is primarily a film festival, I am interested to see how they work this into the days activities. Advance tickets are $12 (plus tax) which saves you $5 over the at the door price of $17 (plus tax). They are available online at: So forget about holiday shopping for 8 hours and come watch some memorable anime. I know I will be.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

AnimeNebrasKon 2008

Guest Report by Rodney Ruff

Anime NebrasKon (, held November 14-16, 2008 at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Student Union, was my first anime convention, and it was a good one.

Put on by Otaku Jinrui (,, Anime NebrasKon is in its fifth year and has grown large enough to look for bigger quarters. Voice actress Tiffany Grant returned for her fourth year, bringing along her husband, ADV Films founder Matt Greenfield, and fellow voice actress Kira Vincent-Davis. Other guests were the husband-wife team of writer Richard and artist Shannon Townsend and webcomic creator James Hatton.

I attended Anime NebrasKon on Saturday with friends and anime afficionados John Schlosser and John Russo. As anime fans tend to be younger than other fen, the con was infused with more youthful energy than other cons I’ve attended; also more of those attending were dressed in costume. (Unfortunately, due to its starting during the dinner hour and because I had to prepare for the “Anime Gyparody?” contest I hosted after it, I missed the cosplay contest. However, I did talk to many of the otaku in costume and got pictures of the ronin, schoolgirls, maids, and video game characters that peopled the crowd.)

I attended panels on Japanese myths and legends and how they were represented in anime, a “Name That Tune” contest of anime theme songs, and the ramen-eating contest (as a spectator, not a participant). I caught bits of the anime concert and would like to have witnessed the cosplay chess game had it not been scheduled opposite other panels and to have taken part in the date auction had I had the disposable cash. (One young lady, dressed as the bunny girl Fran from Final Fantasy XII, fetched $110.) I also attended the late-night karaoke, confining myself to being a spectator, as I have yet to filk any anime theme songs. (I did, however, entertain the crowd by performing an exorcism on one idol singer whose song seemed dedicated to the crowd Devil Hunter Yohko fought.)

The dealers’ room saw plenty of traffic during the morning and into the afternoon, offering a mixture of books, manga, video, foodstuffs, and other paraphernalia. (Anime fans are fond of such snacks as Pocky, a sticklike candy, and Ramune bottled soda.) Outside the dealers’ room was Artist Alley, where the Townsends and James Hatton shared the room with such local artists as Jeff and Diana Delgado, Nick Dinges, Dana Gutierrez, and Kimberly White. (I collected contact information from most of them, which should soon be available on the OSFES website,

Non-anime fans had plenty of things to interest them as well. The Society for Creative Anachronism put on a demonstration in the morning, Isis of Bellevue’s Anime Hoshii and her Bedouin Star belly dance troupe conducted a workshop in the afternoon, and members of the 501st Legion and the R2-Central Builders Club were in attendance. Cosplayers even included Heath Ledger’s version of the Joker and Hiro Nakamura from Heroes.

The con staff was helpful overall, both in providing assistance for Anime Gyparody? and in providing a workaround for a problem caused by our ad being printed too small to be readable in their program book. There are a few things I’d like to see done differently or better, but my biggest regret was only being able to attend for a single day instead of all three.

This entry to the Omaha Sci-Fi Scene blog was written by OSFES Publications Officer Rodney Ruff. For more of Rodney's AnimeNebrasKon 2008 photos go to the OSFES’ MySpace page at

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Omaha Zombie Walk 2008

Today Legend Comics sponsored the Omaha Zombie Walk as a benefit for the Omaha Food Bank. While they had a few people show up in zombie costume, a local makeup artist grabbed some pancake syrup, chocolate syrup, and red food coloring; and proceeded to create several more zombies from willing spectators.

Zombie Walks throughout the country are an outgrowth of World Zombie Day™. Like SF/F conventions, World Zombie Day™ is a chance for the fans of zombie culture to come together and share views, experiences, and tips on being a better (or should that be grosser) zombie. I got a chance to meet and talk with a lot of people in the few hours I huddled in the Legend Comics store to stay warm - it was a cold day outside.

Around 3PM those brave soul-less bas----- stumbled out onto the sidewalks and made their way down Leavenworth. Even some of the youngest zombies I had ever seen.

Adam Tibits, the organizer, promised that he will do a 2009 Zombie Walk in a time of the year when it was guarenteed to be warmer. So keep an eye on his MySpace page;

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

2 Halloween Events

With the approach of Halloween, two separate costuming events are happening in the Omaha SF/F community.

This Saturday, October 18th, Anime Hoshii is sponsoring a costume ball at the Bellevue University Student Center from 6PM until 10PM. The admission charge would be $5 if you don’t have a costume, it is free if you do. They will have “Music, dancing, food, costume contests, beverages, B&W horror films on a big screen, and lots-o-fun!” They list three award categories: Best Halloween Costume, Best Anime Costume, and Funniest Costume. With prizes available for each. So take some time to go down to Bellevue University and do a little cosplay.


On Sunday October 26th, Legend Comics is sponsoring the 2008 Zombie Walk as a benefit for the Omaha Food Ban, it is being organized by Adam Mikael Tibbott & Revenant Media.
What is a "Zombie Walk"? It is a gathering of two or more people dressed and made up to look like the undead, limping or otherwise mimicing the gait of a zombie. These events also go by the names: a zombie mob, zombie march, zombie horde, zombie lurch, zombie shuffle or zombie pub crawl. This will be the first time Omaha has participated in WORLD ZOMBIE DAY.

The event begins at noon at Legend Comics 5131 Leavenworth St Omaha, NE 68106-1343 (402) 391-2377 and will run until 6PM. Non-perishable food donations for the Omaha Food Bank are encouraged and refreshments will be available as well as prizes for Best Costume, best "Zombie Shuffle" and Best Zombie Groan. So dress up in your most decayed outfit and come walk with other zombies for a ghoulish good time. If you need help putting together a zombie costume, head down to Mangelsen’s. I checked with them the other day and they have make-up and zombie make-up kits you can use to give your features the look of death warmed over.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

A Fan Art Exhibit

Are you aware that the Omaha Public Library has an art gallery on the main floor of the W. Dale Clark Library (a.k.a. the downtown branch)? Well they do, and for the month of November they are planning a Fan.Art.Fusion exhibit. If you are a new artist, an established artist looking for new fans, or just someone who is a talented dabbler, bring your science fiction, fantasy, comic books, manga (yeah, I know that’s just the Japanese word for comic book and so I repeated myself), or anime art downtown and show it off. There will be no charge for participating. As an added incentive there will be an awards ceremony on Saturday, November 22nd at 2 PM. Prizes have been donated from OSFest, OtakuOmaha, Dragon’s Lair and Krypton Comics. So do you think you’re good enough?

For the general public, this will be a free display, open anytime the library is during the month of November. While they have festivities planned for November 22nd, anytime is a good time to view art. So plan a trip to the Michael Phipps Gallery on the main floor of the W. Dale Clark Library, 215 South 15th Street and escape into the imaginary worlds of fellow fans.

For more information contact either: Manya Shorr or Rachel Lee

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The end of a busy summer.

It has been a very busy summer, leaving me with no time to post these conventional updates (pun intended). June saw me in Orlando for 2 of the Star Wars Weekends at Disneyworld. In July we hosted the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival. And August found me in Denver for the 66th World Science Fiction Convention; Denvention 3.

The Star Wars weekends were a pleasant diversion before the real heart of the summer. In July, OSFest ’08 brought SF/F conventions back to Omaha after an almost decade long absence. While most people had a great time there were some problems. We didn’t communicate where activities were sufficiently, equipment issues with the hotel, policy issues we hadn’t thought to deal with, and more. If you can believe this, this was actually the first SF/F convention many of the OSFest staff had ever attended. They all did a wonderful job and we will iron out those problems before July 17, 2009 when we open the doors of the Comfort Inn again for OSFest 2: Another Small Step. So please, if you attended and saw any problems you think we need to address let me know. Drop me an email at: or post a comment to this blog.

Next time I will begin bringing you up to date on our plans for next summer. Until then check out our website at: . And while you’re at it please support the fall conventions in the area: Nuke-con, ICON, Contraception, and AnimeNebrasKon.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Just what is a Con Suite?

A Con Suite is a Hospitality or party room hosted by the staff of a convention where the members of that convention (like the upcoming Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival or OSFest in Omaha, July 11-13, 2008) can sit down, relax and just enjoy themselves.

  • There are free sodas and snacks.
  • It is a place to get away from the fast pace of the convention and slow down to talk with friends for awhile.
  • It is a place where special events happen that are more intimate than what is going on in the main function rooms, like author readings and "Coffee with the Guests of Honor."
It is available at virtually all hours of the convention. Barely closing during the wee hours of the morning to allow for restocking and letting our volunteers get some sleep. For you to party, they have to be working!

What a Con Suite has to be is a place where fans can go to meet friends in a relaxed atmosphere and talk about subjects that interest them; it is the party room that the convention committee has put together for the members of the convention to kick back and just have a good time. It is available to every member of the convention. Since it is a low key activity, you have to know that one exists and sometimes even seek it out. Often it is not even listed in the program book, because “everybody knows where the Con Suite is”. I attended almost a dozen conventions before I ever heard of one.

OSFest, July 11th through 13th, will be creating its own take on the Con Suite. We will be getting in a keg (or two) of 1919 Root Beer as our specialty drink. Munchies or hand snacks will also be available, free of charge to all attendees, which just means anyone wearing their name badge. We will also be having our authors doing their readings in the Con Suite, as well as our informal “Coffees” with the Guests of Honor. Just so you don’t have to search, it will be located on the 3rd floor of the Comfort Inn & Suites, right off the elevators. The third floor has been designated our "Party Floor" where in addition to our Con Suite various room parties will be hosted by various fan groups both Friday and Saturday night. You can also find additional function space there such as a video room, and game rooms - so you can't miss it!

Come, eat, drink and be merry with like minded friends this summer at OSFest, The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. 3-day memberships are available on line or by mail, with the form available on our website. I hope to see you there.

Monday, May 19, 2008

OSFest Fan Groups - part 2

Nevermore Paranormal Research and Investigations

Interested in things that go bump in the night? I mean on purpose, not because you kicked over your nightstand again. There is a group of researchers here in Omaha looking into ghostly apparitions and manifestations with the goal of documenting, communicating and explaining what is going on. And they are coming to OSFest to talk about what they do.

Nevermore Paranormal Research and Investigations is a Non-Profit Corporation based in Omaha, Nebraska. While its members all share and enjoy an interest in all aspects of the paranormal we specialize in the area of the supernatural; specifically ghost hunting. They use a mix of traditional and modern methods while investigating paranormal phenomena. As any good research group, they are continuing to experiment and pioneer new methods and techniques based on the evidence they gather and the theories they develop.

They will present a panel called “Ghosthunting 101”, in which they will:
--- 1) Provide a brief foundation and context to help understand and appreciate the field of the supernatural, including concepts of the soul, consciousness, personality, sentience, and the metaphysical constructs that make up the theory of what a ghost is.
--- 2) Discuss the misconception that it is the job of “Science” to disprove the existence of ghosts and why it’s really the job of the Paranormal Investigator to prove that they exist.
--- 3) Explain the terminology of ghosts and the nomenclature of the paranormal field, including orbs, vortexes, and various manifestations.
--- 4) Give a brief explanation of the various tools used in ghosthunting and the theories behind using them or document or communicate with the dead.

Join the Nevermore Paranormal Investigations Team and other researchers, writers, artists, and fans at The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. 3-day memberships are available on line or by mail, with the form available on our website. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

OSFest Program Participants - part 8

Omaha’s Own – Matthew S. Rotundo

Not all the writers coming to The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be from out of town; award winning author, Matthew S. Rotundo lives right here in Omaha.

At eight years of age, Matt wrote his first story; "The Elephant and the Cheese". It was the first time he had ever filled an entire page with writing. To his young mind this was really something. He soon decided that writing stories was what he wanted to do with his life.
In 1998, Matt attended Odyssey Writing Workshop where he studied under the expert tutelage of famous writers such Harlan Ellison (this emotional photo was taken by his wife, Tracy). This six-week workshop for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror led directly to his first sale; "Black Boxes," in Absolute Magnitude. In 2002, Matt won a Phobos Award for "Hitting the Skids in Pixeltown," which appeared in the anthology of the same name. In 2008, his short story, “Gone Black”, was a first quarter winner in the Writers of the Future Contest. His fiction has appeared or will soon appear in Orson Scott Card's Intergalactic Medicine Show, Cosmos, Prime Codex, and Paradox.
Matt also plays guitar and has been known to sing karaoke. He married his lovely wife, Tracy, in 1992. He has husked corn only once in his life, and has never been detasseling, so he insists he is not a hick.He pens his own blog at

Join Matt and other writers, artists, and fans at The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival, July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. 3-day memberships are available on line or by mail, with the form available on our website. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

OSFest Program Participants - part 7

Carrie Vaughn - Meet Miss Kitty

Plans are moving together with an increasing pace as we approach our July Festival weekend. Carrie Vaughn, a co-attendee of the Odyssey Writing Workshop with Matthew Rotundo, has just agreed to become another one of our Program Participants. Meaning she will be available to do some panels, readings, and generally be available all weekend. Her photo is courtesy of Timony Siobhan

Carrie currently lives in Boulder Colorado with her dog, Lily. She was a member of the Odyssey Writing Workshop class of 98, where she was under the tutelage of Harlan Ellison. Since then she has had stories published in Realms of Fantasy and Weird Tales. Recently she has published a series of novels about a werewolf, Kitty Norville, who is the host of the radio talk show, 'The Midnight Hour’. Check them out on (but remember to go through the link on the OSFES website to help fund our convention.) Then bring them to OSFest, track her down, and politely ask her to sign them. Just remember, it is looking like we will have a full moon that weekend.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. 3-day memberships are available on line or by mail, with the form available on our website. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Great Book Giveaway

The Omaha Science Fiction Education Society, the non-profit organization running OSFest, has received two very substantial donations of science fiction and fantasy books. Enough books in fact that every full weekend attendee of the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will receive a free book when they receive their membership packet.
Since there are so many random titles in this collection, you may receive a book that you either have or have already read. No problem! We also plan to give out name badge ribbons that you can attach to your convention badge that reads “Book Trader”. Simply attach this ribbon on the bottom of your name badge and you will announce to the rest of the convention attendees that you are willing to trade your book.
Why are we doing this, you ask? (I know this is a blog and so I have to ask the questions of myself that you want to ask me if you could reach me through cyberspace as I write this.) Good question. This is our way of encouraging SF/F fans to talk to someone they have never met about the books they have, they like, and yes, even the ones they didn’t like. This is an excuse to go up to someone you have never met, with a similar interest, and talk about the genre you both love.
Can you bring your own books? Sure, the whole idea is to tap into the experience base of Midwest fandom, pass on which are the really good books and hopefully keep them circulating enough that they will stay in print.
The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. 3-day memberships are available on line or by mail, with the form available on our website. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Omaha Fan Groups - part 1

The R2-Central Builders Club

Since the days of the first Worldcon ™ in 1939, fans have recreated their favorite props from the movies and shows they enjoyed. I can remember seeing fans drive up at conventions in vans that had been converted into replicas of the LandRams from the first Battlestar Galactica series. I’m just guessing that they mounted the cannons after they got to the convention center’s parking lot.

We have a group here in Omaha that is coming to OSFest to show their love of building these props. The R2-Central Builders Club will show off their work, instruct you in how you to can have your own astromech droid, and invite you to partner with them in their dreams. They will present a split two-hour workshop (that means there is an hour break between them). In the first workshop they will be showing how to make various body parts out of different materials like wood, resin, and aluminum. In the second session they will talk about the electronics and motors and what they can make their droids do.

While the workshops are currently scheduled for Sunday, they will we around all weekend. In our dealer’s room they will have a fan table where you can find photo opportunities with their R2 units, view a DVD presentation on their other activities, and find more information about them, as well as how to join their group.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Shhhhhhhh, be vewwwy, vewwwy quiet; I'm hunting conventions, heheheheheheh. It's Convention Season

Winter is behind us, though in Nebraska you can never be sure until the next winter begins. That means it is time to get out of our burrows and travel to exotic locations for nearby activities. No wait, reverse that! Travel to nearby facilities for exotic activities, otherwise known as science fiction conventions.

Annually Willycon in early April is the convention that kicks off my convention travels. A mere two hours from Omaha, Wayne State College’s Science Fiction Club has been putting on a small intimate little convention for the past ten years. This is no relax-a-con though. Without the monetary hit of needing to purchase function space, these guys are able to kick more money into acquiring their lineup of guests. Authors have included; Jack McDevitt, Jullie Czerneda, Eric Flint, and James Hogan; Artists; Terese Nielsen, Frank Wu, John Kaufmann, and Lucy Synk. And believe me; being two hours from a major airport, this is no mean feat. And they do all this while keeping the at the door price down to 1980 prices; $20.

Their attendance is small but that means you have more time to spend one on one with the guests and you will never be one of a mob in a panel. Yes, they sometimes violate the panelist-audience rule; their panelists don’t switch places with the audience if they outnumber them. Their Art Show is on par with other local conventions three times their size and gaming is going on everywhere. I can’t even drag my kid back to our room at night from the video game room. So if you are looking for something to break out of the winter humdrums next year consider WillyCon XI. While the dates are yet to be confirmed, they are hosting; author M.R.Sellers, artist Maria William, and Lincoln fan Rod Vasek.

But this is just the beginning. Demicon and Conquest are in May, OtakuOmaha is the first part of June and The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival (OSFest) is July 11-13 at the Comfort Inn & Suites 7007 Grover Street here in Omaha. Come out, meet new fans along with ones you haven’t seen in a while, but above all get out of your winter burrows and have a great time.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

OSFest Program Partipants - part 6

Travis HeermanBlogging the Groove

Travis is a local author, born and raised in Nebraska. And like most good science fiction authors, went and got himself a science degree, electrical engineering to be exact. Though now he is working on a M.A. in English, he has taken courses in computer programming, linguistics, and Japanese language. I’ll bet the latter came in handy when he spent those three years in Fukuoka, Japan teaching English. Anyone need some Anime translated?

Travis has a solo novel out, though probably not still in print. If you’re planning on hitting any used book markets in the near future keep your eyes out for his 1996 novel, The Ivory Star. His second book will be out Spring 2009 entitled, Heart of the Ronin. He has published numerous works of short fiction, gaming supplements and magazine articles. In addition to running his own copywriting service, Travis has started a blog of interviews with various authors. Check out: Blogging the Groove, where if you scroll down you will find an interview with the Guest of Honor for this year’s ConQuesT: Joe R. Lansdale. He hopes to catch up with a few more authors this summer at OSFest, hopefully as a function at the convention. So be there and witness live action blogging.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

OSFest Program Participants part 5

Eric Coleman Songwriter - Singer - Curmudgeon
Filk is a word created by a misspelling of ‘folk singing’ in a convention program book that has stuck with us. A Filk Song is a song created by re-writing the lyrics of another song, or writing lyrics to their own music, that has a fannish theme. Filk songs will be about TV shows and movies, books and their characters, or even events that have happened within the fannish community. Learn all about creating filk songs and performing them in “Filksinging: From Word to Sung”, then come to our nightly After Hours Filk sessions to have a good time with your new skills. Like with anything else, it takes practice, practice, practice.

So who’s going to introduce you into this wonderful new world? Why Eric Coleman, of course. Who is Eric Coleman, you ask? “He has spent much of the last 3 years claiming that is not a comedy musician. It looks like he is losing that battle (or perhaps winning it) as more and more he becomes part of the Dementia Underground that will eventually take over the airwaves from the corporate scum who rule it now. He may end up a martyr in this, but he is definitely not leaving a good looking corpse.” His words not mine. It must be a songwriter thing, writing about yourself in the third person. So some spend the weekend with the self described curmudgeon, learn about and do some filk singing, and spend some time with a really great guy.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

OSFES' Ides of March Game Day

The Ides of March fell on a Saturday this year and since none of us felt like visiting our local Orange Julius purveyor – besides the fact that it’s illegal to assassinate a Roman Emperor these days - we celebrated the day with gaming at the Skutt Student Center on Creighton University campus! Though a different Empire made its presence felt. Mason Hatfield as Boba Fett, Imperial ID number BH-9545, escorted by Storm Trooper Sam Cheek helped keep the crowds under control, rousting out suspicious presences – wait that’s our video game coordinator, Mai Tran. Thankfully they grabbed another hostage, err rebel scum, and let her go.

On the RPG gaming side, we ran a basic Dungeons and Dragons session in tribute to Gary Gygax, the man who started on that quest. There was also TMNT, Fluxx and others. Thanks to Dave Rosser, Micheal Maley, Ann Towney, and Rodney Ruff for braving the Senate and coming out to Game Master. Also Dale Meier, whose chariot was in the shoppe, for organizing our table games.
But with all that going on the room seemed sparse compared to Smash Brothers and Halo events going on in the next room. Super Smash Brother Brawl was released just a week earlier and with several systems running the game, we had people waiting to play. Of course we had scheduled a tournament for both it and Halo 3. Rock Band and Guitar Hero were quite popular also.
I will take one thing away from this day, the tremendous numbers of people involved in console or video games have convinced me to add another suite to The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival. We will be having a video gaming room on our main hotel floor for those whose thumbs can handle it. It’s just our patriotic duty to train the virtual combatants of the future.
There will be another Game Day between now and OSFest along with the Family Fun Center evening we are organizing on April 10, 2008. Join us at 71st and Dodge, where a $10 donation will get you 20 tokens, food and a free attraction.
The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Friday, March 14, 2008

OSFest Program Participants part 4

Daryl Frazetti – Xenolinguistist
“Klaatu barata nikto” aside, what would an alien language sound like? Well Professor Frazetti is coming to OSFest to talk about Xenolinguistics and hold a workshop on alien languages.

Xenolinguistics is a structural and cognitive linguistics course that uses alien languages, such as those from Star Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, Futurama, as examples and case studies. There will be an overview discussion of the material, followed by a workshop (on Sunday so we can digest the big words we used on Saturday) going over the steps on how to create an alien language.

While Daryl was born and raised in Boston, he currently teaches Anthropology at Lake Tahoe College in California. With a background in physical anthropology and work in paleopathology, he has taught specialty courses in The Anthropology of Star Trek, Xenolinguistics, and The Anthropology of The Lord of the Rings. So when he wrote us that he would like to come to Omaha for OSFest, we jumped at the chance. Make time to talk to this guy about his courses, his convention experiences; just don’t forget to ask him about his cats.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Friday, March 7, 2008

OSFest Program Participants part 3

Fredd Gorham
It must take a strong sense of humor to grow up in this town, because like Mike Cole – our Artist Guest-of-Honor – Fredd is one of many comic artists to emerge from Omaha. He found work with Marvel Comics, DC Comics, CaliberPress, and Malibu Comics before becoming affiliated with Shocktrauma Studios.

Fredd also brings game design to OSFest. He has worked for several gaming companies: Iron Crown Enterprises, Hero Games, R. Talsorian, Steve Jackson Games, and FantasyFlight Games.

So seek Fredd out, find the fan table he is hiding behind, the panels and workshops he will be participating in. Talk to him about his many artistic avenues, including how you can make it in this world as a free-lancer. Oh and check out the art show where a panel of Fredd’s artwork will be displayed, admired and hopefully bid on.

The Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival will be July 11-13th, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites at 7007 Grover Street Omaha, NE. I hope to see you there.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

OSFest Program Participants part 2

Daniel C. Nielsen - The Man from Valhalla (Nebraska)
One of the reasons for, and special treats of, attending local conventions is to introduce new authors to the SF/F community. Highlighting the writers that actually live near their fan base. Daniel Nielsen is such an author.
A self-described writer of dark fantasy, he has two books to his credit: Darksteel Destinies and These Old Bones, as well as an assortment of short stories and poetry. After discovering the joys of world building at an early age and his community library to feed his mythological cravings, Dan took to regaling his classmates with his fantasy worlds while still in school. With literary influences such as C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and Glen Cook’s Black Company books, this is a new author you need to take the time to get to know.
So spend some time with Mr. Nielsen, attend a reading, corner him in the Con Suite, and participate in a panel he is on. Get a
Taste of Twilight and find out what makes our Man from Valhalla tick! See you at OSFest.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

OSFest's Featured Filmmakers: Shadow Creek Studios

Shadow Creek Studios located in Maple Grove Minnesota will be coming to this year’s Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival as our Featured Filmmakers. Christopher Mihm, head of the studio, along with members of the cast and crew are coming to talk about independent filmmaking and their movies.

They have recently completed Cave Women On Mars, their third film which is set in the future year of 1987. It will have its world premiere on April 12th of this year in Columbia Heights Minnesota at The Heights Theatre. On July 12th, they will screen first their earlier works: The Monster of Phantom Lake and It Came Form Another World before an evening showing of Cave Women. The studio's blurb is that these movies are "hilarious - and loving - tributes to 1950s B-grade horror flicks". I have talked to someone who has seen the first two and he argees with this assessment. Ah, the 1950's scifi genre, a time when science was invented, or at least stretched past the breaking point, to drive the story. A time when anything was possible and everyone had a great time escaping for a few hours.

So come and hang out with members of non-Hollywood, the filmmakers of Shadow Creek Studios. OSFest is July 11-13, 2008 at the Comfort Inn & Suites.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

OSFest Program Participants part 1

Tyree Campbell

Conventions have a main lineup of guests that are spectacular and draw new people into the door. But any regular convention goer knows that most of the work in providing the entertainment at the event comes from the cadre of ancillary guests the committee lines up. These guests provide the convention with the ability to have a wide array of panels, workshops, meeting, readings, and miscellaneous interactions that make up the fannish experience.

OSFest is starting to build that cadre. The first gentleman I would like to introduce everyone to is Tyree Campbell, who was actually the first to have enough faith in us. Tyree is the Managing Editor of a micro press publishing company: Sam’s Dot Publishing and is their face at conventions in the Midwest. You will find him behind a dealer’s table willing to introduce you to the works of new writers that he has found good enough to bring to print. Along with his own works of fiction.

What does he bring to OSFest? He has been part of the current wave of small, niche publishers that is helping to fill the void in the genre. A void created when the big publishing houses fail to take the risk of new voices in the field. He knows the business from the writing, editing, printing, and marketing perspective. He will provide synergetic viewpoint to the world of written science fiction, fantasy, and zombies. Three out of his five blogs on his MySpace page are about zombies.

So thanks for coming Tyree. And to everyone else, look him up at OSFest. He is a very easy man to talk to and is quick to become friends with.

Monday, January 21, 2008

OSFES' January '08 Game Day

It was a cold and stormy day on the Great Plains and those looking for relief from the frigid temperatures and chronic boredom of keeping warm had a place to go. OSFES had found a warm den and equipped it with the finest in console gaming and most excellent Game Masters and christened it a Game Day.

Saturday, January 19th, at the Skutt Student Center on the campus of Creighton University, OSFES organized both video and tabletop games for those brave enough to venture forth through the artic cold front that was gripping Omaha. This time we realized that the two types of gaming had to be separated to keep their respective noise levels from interfering with each other. And it worked. While some of the gamers got quite loud, it was never enough to disrupt the other side.

One of the members of the 501st Legion stopped by to interrogate the usual suspects, err, pose for pictures. Mason Hatfield as Boba Fett, Imperial ID number BH-9545, made his way through the crowd searching for rebel scum.

There is one more Game Day scheduled before the Omaha Science Fiction and Fantasy Festival this July and that will be on the Ides of March; March 15 at the Skutt Student Center on the campus of Creighton University.

We also plan to sponsor events at the local game shops over the next few months, though not as grand as our Game Days. To keep up on all our gaming activities, bookmark: Be there or be the round peg in that square hole.

May ye always roll a natural 20; John