Our Programming Goals & Philosophy

ApolloCon strives to offer exciting, diverse program choices to our members. We celebrate Science Fiction, Fantasy, Dark Fantasy and Horror in various forms: literature, media, visual art, comics, music, games, performance, and spoken word. We explore the culture of our community, related scholarly and critical fields, and the sciences and technology that inform us and interest us. We examine the overall tapestry of our fandom, and the threads of our beloved genres in the fandoms of others. Programming strives to present a range of activities and a spectrum of ideas. Our goal for ApolloCon is a varied programming schedule showcasing diverse viewpoints, one that is interesting, educational, and fun.

The programming model used by ApolloCon likes to mix things up. We combine or cross over genres in discussion topics. We offer demos, lectures, workshops, panel discussions, games, and media showings. We mix different kinds of people on panels and cross the lines between pros and fans and between reators and their audiences.

What that means in practical terms is that some items are tightly focused with a single presenter or a homogeneous panel, while others examine ideas in a variety of contexts with a panel representing diverse interests, perspectives, and opinions. The underlying philosophy is that diversity strengthens community and increases interest. The model views both creators and audience as parts of the same community, and ncourages participation from the whole community.

Programming FAQ

Is everyone on programming a guest?

No. While our guests do stellar duty providing the core of our programming, we also include many non-guests on programming. Some are community members who are specialists in an area of interest to our attendees such as science. Some are specialists from outside the community who are brought in for specific programming items.

Does everyone on programming get in free?

No. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone working on a con gets in free. In ApolloCon's case, not even the Department Heads (who spend hundreds of hours a year working on the con) get in free. Individuals who do a certain number of hours of programming may be eligible for a comp. Not all of those who are eligible choose to accept a comp, preferring to pay their own way to help support ApolloCon. The overwhelming majority of non-guests on our programming have paid for their own membership, either because they were planning to attend anyway, or because they want to support ApolloCon and help us grow. Some members feel that doing one or two panels over the course of the weekend is an enhancement to the con experience, and a great opportunity to interact with guests!

Can people other than writers be on programming?

Heavens to Murgatroyd, Yes! We love writers, but we also like to put artists and musicians on programming. And scientists, technologists, gamers, readers, performers, editors, agents, conrunners, hobbyists, collectors, and well-spoken fans. And really, just about any kind of person who is interested, interesting, and able to contribute to items on the programming schedule.

Who comes wp with all the ideas for programming?

The programming department, the concom, the guests, the program participants, the local clubs, and the community at large all contribute ideas to programming. Some of the ideas are sent to programming individually, others are generated during public brainstorming sessions. Currently, programming has a collection of over 500 suggestions, developed over the last four years, and we are always looking for more.

Who decides what gets on programming?

The programming head and assistant, in consultation with the conchair and guests, with input from gaming, media, art show and filk, decide on the final program.

How does the programming department decide which ideas to use?

A number of tests are applied to each idea: Does this sound interesting? Does this support our mandate? Do we have the resources to mount this? Do we have any guests/program participants who want to do this? Do we have any similar items already in place, and how many? Has this been done-to-death either here or anywhere nearby in recent times? Is our GoH allergic to this? Anything that can survive that has a fighting chance of being on programming.

I have this great idea for a programming item. What do I do?

Send it to the Apollocon Programming Director. Remember the more information you can give us, the better the chance your idea might be used. Be sure to tell us if it is something you would like to be part of presenting,

Download the Programming Grid for ApolloCon 2014 now!

Addenda and Corrections will be posted around the Con.

Panel Descriptions

Al Greigo's Con Running Panel
Al Griego will lead a panel of veteran conrunners as they share stories from the trenches. Learn what it takes to put on a con, and how you can get involved!

Amtgard Demo
Come learn about the Live Action Role Playing game, Amtgard.

Amusements and Diversions in the Age of Steam
Artist Guest of Honor Theresa Mather presents a visual history of Victorian entertainment and oddities.

ApolloKids: Federation Ship Building
Build Star Trek Federation ships with guidance from members of USS Zavala. ApolloKids programs are geared for our members under 12, who must be accompanied by an adult.

ApolloKids: Origami
Learn how to fold paper into fun shapes. ApolloKids programs are geared for our members under 12, who must be accompanied by an adult.

ApolloKids: The Sky
Learn about the sky with a visual presentation. ApolloKids programs are geared for our members under 12, who must be accompanied by an adult.

ApolloKids: Story Games
Play storytelling games. ApolloKids programs are geared for our members under 12, who must be accompanied by an adult.

Appropriate Adult Costuming
Our panelists discuss how to handle costumes at an all-ages event in a way that balances loyalty to the character with practicalities like full coverage or getting that painted-on look without actual paint.

The Art of the Confidence Man
Come learn about the history and roots of con men tricking you into giving them your money. We will discuss “The Long Con”, “The Short Con”, and of course “The Con Game”. Seems simple enough, but rest assured, you won’t win.

The Art of Theresa Mather Presentation
A look at the art created by our Artist Guest of Honor, Theresa Mather, presented by the artist.

Art Auction
It's time to bid on that piece you just can't let out of your sight! Come down and watch or buy at our art show and charity auctions.

Art Show Party
Everyone is welcome at this meet-and-greet in the Art Show with our Artist Guest of Honor and some of our displaying artists. Learn who is making that fabulous art.

Artist Demo
Artist Guest of Honor Theresa Mather offers a demonstration of some of her techniques for creating her art.

Artist Trading Card (ATC) Workshop Make and Take
Come on down to make a tiny work of art, the size of a baseball card, with our Artist Trading Card makers and their collections of collage supplies. Bring your own magizines or paper if you like, or use what we provide. Take home your card when you're done, or trade with some of your new ATC friends!

Back Alley Steampunk [Ages 18+]
We know all about steamy pirates, daring ladies and dashing gentlemen, but what about the underworld of Steampunk? Take a trip into the shady underbelly of the world, as we discuss the more risque environments found during the Victorian era and their reflection in the modern subculture. Conversation will include the exotic and the erotic, so be please come prepared for mature subject matter.

Bad Boys vs Good Guys
Are bad boys and villains really more interesting and fun to write? Are good guys boring? Is it possible for a character to be too good to be believed? Too bad to be redeemed? Our panelists will take on this eternal debate.

Be the One and use the Force
Spirituality has a long history is speculative fiction. Logic and science often meet faith in these stories. Let's discuss a few movies with a spiritual factor. After the discussion, be like Yoda: reset your battery with a brief meditation, geek-style.

The Big Blue Box: Doctor Who
Do you enjoy watching The Crazy Man in the Big Blue Box? Join our panelists and fellow fans as we review all the wibbly-wobbly, timey-whimey excitement of Classic and New Doctor Who.

Breaking into the Marketplace
Authors discuss the process of making a sale, including short fiction and novels. How long does it take? How does it work? What can an author do once published to get the word out? What makes a saleable manuscript these days?

Dystopian Fiction
Ah, the dystopia. So beloved of so many writers, especially in today's thriving YA market. Fans and writers discuss the ways that this genre has changed over time, and what it means to be a dystopia, from The Time Machine to The Hunger Games.

Chain Maille 101
Learn how to make a simple chain maille weave.

Corsets 101
Learn how to choose a corset, how to buy a corset, and how to wear a corset.

Cosplay with Disabilities
A round table discussion of individual problems faced by those with disabilities or medical devices when purchasing or making costumes, with a focus on possible solutions.

Costuming Q&A
Problems making your costume? Come talk to the Steamstresses about sewing and costuming.

The Craft of Writing
Sit down with some writers and critiquers to discuss what makes good prose. How do you choose the words to tell your story? What are some tricks and tips for expressing emotions or translating action to the page? How does language influence the story you are telling, and how can we manipulate language to give us the outcome we desire?

Creating a Character for Role-Playing Games
Take your character creation and portrayal to the next level. Covering everything from conceptualizing a character for the given world you are entering, to understanding the balance necessary for good game play, this panel will help beginners get started or experienced players level up. Audience participation is expected as we create characters for the exciting world of LARP. Panelists are experienced role-players and character builders and will do their very best to help every single person willing to advance to a higher level of cosplay, tabletop gaming or LARPing.

Crochet Make-and-Take
Learn some basic crochet stitches. Learn how to make a crochet hat in the round. Charge of $5 for supplies. . (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office) Those wishing to watch, or who bring their own supplies may watch for free.

Dear Aspiring Author
Editor Guest of Honor P.N. Elrod shares some of her most entertaining tales from the slushpile.

The Dirty Details: What Gets Left Out in Fiction
Where are the bathrooms? Does anybody ever get gas or allergies? Who takes care of the plumbing on that spaceship? Why doesn't anybody on a quest ever pack soap? Our panelists discuss the underbelly of being human and how it relates in speculative fiction.

Drop Spinning Make-and-Take
Learn how to spin using a drop spindle. Nominal fee for supplies. (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office) Those wishing to watch only may attend for free.

Dungeons , Dragons, & an Enclycopedia Salesman: Stories From the Game Table
Al Griego shares tales from 36 years of gaming, and yes, you can tell us about YOUR character, too!

Fantastic Viewing: Fantasy on Television Today
Are we living in a golden age of fantasy on television? Magic, wizards, dragons and fairies aren't just limited to specialty networks. They've made it to prime time on the major networks and pay cable. Our panelists will discuss their current favorite fantasy shows, take a look at what may be coming and suggest other properties that would make good series.

Farewell to Warehouse 13
Warehouse 13 was an amazing show that ended before its time. At times comic, tragic, creepy, and silly, it was a creative (and Steampunky!) new twist on some great tropes. Let's gather and talk about what we remember from this beloved show.

Feedback Session
The ApolloCon Organizing Committee comes together to hear from you, our members, about what you liked, what you hated; what went right and what went wrong this year. Come to offer your feedback - it's your ApolloCon, and we want to be sure you enjoy it!

Friends of Fandom Corporate Meeting
Friends of Fandom is ApolloCon's corporate parent. All members of the public are welcome to attend this meeting to see how the corporation works and find out how you can become a part of the engine that keeps our Con running.

From Cap to Kitty: Marvel at the Movies
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is expanding quickly, and there are all kinds of exciting developments on the horizon from Disney and Marvel Studios. Meanwhile, other studios are still churning out their takes on beloved characters. Join our panelists to discuss Captain America: The Winter Soldier, X-Men: Days of Future Past, The Amazing Spider-Man 2, and other films, and to speculate and geek out about upcoming projects like the new Fantastic Four, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and Marvel's Phase 3.

Game of Thrones
Join our panelists as they discuss the critically acclaimed hit HBO's Game of Thrones, and the books that inspired it. Relive the life, and more then likely death, of your favorite characters as we discuss current story lines, and possible outcomes in future books. Debate who is your favorite character of the series while praying to the old gods and new that George R R Martian does not hear you. In the end, this panel always pays its debts.

Getting Started with Leather Making
This is a basic introduction to working with leather, with emphasis on tooling/carving vegetable tanned cowhide. Includes information on start-up costs and materials. This is not a hands-on workshop.

History of Scifi: Victorian & Edwardian Tales
Join our panelists to discuss the great historical stories that set the stage and laid the groundwork for our modern ideas of science fiction. Maybe you'll discover a whole new set of authors to read!

History of Spinning
Come learn about the origins and history of spinning roving into yarn.

Houston Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Group Meet & Greet
The Houston Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers' Group from Meetup.com is a large and vibrant collection of writers of all levels, from the hobbyist to the published professional. The Group offers regular social gatherings, workshops and presentations. Come hang out and meet some of the members, or find out about our upcoming events.

How Movies Choose Story Over Science Roundtable
Join our panelists to discuss the ways in which movies tend to muck up scientific facts in favor of advancing the plot. How have movie-based viewer expectations shifted the way we think about space travel, extraterrestrials, and even modern weaponry? Professional scientists and educated fans poke holes in movie science - lovingly, of course.

How Science Fiction Changed My Life
How did science fiction change your life? Did it help you find your career, or open up your circle of friends? What about your personal trajectory seems to have been most influenced by your love of the genre? Professionals in several different fields speak up.

In Conversation with David Gerrold
Author Guest of Honor David Gerrold discusses whatever comes to his mind or our moderator's, in this hour highlighting his life and work.

In Conversation with P.N. Elrod
Editor Guest of Honor P.N. Elrod discusses whatever comes to her mind or our moderator's, in this hour highlighting her life and work.

In Memoriam
Remembering the lives and work of those we’ve lost in the past year, including Jack Vance, Frederik Pohl, Richard Matheson, Iain M Banks, Lucius Shepard, Neal Barrett, Jr., Aaron Allston, Michael Shea and Jay Lake.

Indie Gaming Industry
Let's talk about self-publishing RPGs, board games, and card games. Where to start, how to get things done, mistakes we've made so you won't have to. Success is waiting for those who dare!

Instant Costuming
Glenda Boozer will work her magic by creating a costume on you before your very eyes! It won't win a prize, but you'll look amazing!

Intro to Ballroom Waltz
This panel teaches 3 - 4 basic Waltz steps and is designed to have non-dancers holding their own in 3/4 time at the end of the hour.

Intro to Ballroom Foxtrot
This panel teaches basic Foxtrot steps and is designed to have non-dancers doing the Foxtrot by the end of the hour.

Intro to Corset Making
Learn the basics of making your own corset.

It Learns While you Play: AI in Scifi
How has the image of the artificial intelligence changed over the years in science fiction? How does the AI change to reflect contemporary computing and networking, and how have science fiction authors of the past gotten it right, or more interestingly, gotten it wrong? What can we predict about the stories of tomorrow, given what we know today? How shall we prepare for our computer overlords?

Earlybird programming. Come relax and visit with our Guests of Honor before main programming begins.

Knitting Make-and-Take
Learn how to knit increases and decreases on a pot holder (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office) Those wishing to watch only may attend for free.

Liar's Panel
Which ones are lying? Which ones are telling the truth? In the spirit of "two truths and a lie," or "tall tales," we challenge our Guests of Honor to come up with the most entertaining whoppers they can, and the audience to vote on who they think is most truthful! We may never know for sure.

Mad Hatter’s Tea Party
There is always time to enjoy afternoon tea. Dress in your Victorian best for loose-leaf tea and light snacks. Dressing up is not required, but highly encouraged. You may even catch a glimpse of the Mad Hatter or Alice! Tea will be served from 4 PM to 5 PM at the Con Suite Saturday Afternoon. The tea party is a production of Perilous Journeys Publishing.

Our Annual Costume Contest will take place Saturday night.

Medical Concepts in Science Fiction
Our panel of medical professionals will discuss how to make your story's references to medicine and public health more realistic, whether you're writing modern day, ancient history, epic fantasy, or far-future science fiction.

Outfitting the Victorian Man on a Budget
The Steampunk/Neo-Victorian Community is plagued by costumes which do not, in any way, represent the period. Often the shortcomings of these costumes are based on limited funds. The tragedy is that with a bit of planning, better-looking costumes can be acquired for less money. Come learn how to achieve a sound Men's Victorian look without breaking the bank, and why you should bother. Our appearance is our first line of communication. Make your message a good clear one.

New Digital Landscapes of Storytelling
Narrative powers more than just novels. Video games, music videos, and graphic novels are all examples of a rising culture of innovative digital storytelling. How are these new vehicles being approached in the age when vast numbers of consumer are holding their portable entertainment in their hands?

The New Star Wars
Are you excited about the new upcoming Star Wars movie? How about the seemingly endless novels or the cartoons? Panelists try their hand at predicting new developments and speculate about stories to come as Disney expands the Star Wars film franchise.

Once Upon a Fairy Tale
Fairy tales, mythology and folklore provide the basis for a number of fantasy novels, graphic novels, television series, movies and games. What's the timeless appeal of these tales, and how can they be twisted, mashed up and updated for today's audiences?

Opening Ceremonies
Con Chair Russ Ault officially opens the Con and introduces our Guests of Honor for 2014.

The People Who Brought Us The Modern Solar System
Discover the scientists throughout history who made discoveries or presented ideas that gave us insights to understanding what objects are parts of the solar system, the nature of those objects, and how the whole system works.

A Private Venture to the Moon
Are you familiar with the Golden Spike project? Its goal is to get humans back to the Moon using private funding. The Golden Spike company was founded by well-known planetary scientist Alan Stern. Larry Friesen will present a powerpoint about the venture.

Promotions in the Age of Twitter and Wordpress
Let's face it, the world wide web has completely changed the way we think about promotions and marketing. How do authors deal with this new landscape? How do publishers? What tools are available in the Age of Twitter to help or hinder the new writer or the veteran as they try to become a bestseller?

The Real Deal on Publishing: Indie, Self, Big Press
Publishing is a complicated business no matter who is doing it. Join our panelists to discuss the ins and outs of traditional publishing with large houses, small press publishing, and self-publishing. What are the pros and cons for each? How are they changing the way books get to audiences?

The Rise of the Paranormal in Fiction
From romance to mystery, the paranormal is breaking out of its bounds and crossing genres all over the place. What is the paranormal when it comes to these genres? How is paranormal romance different from paranormal mystery? Where do they overlap? How are elements of the paranormal sneaking in to other genres as well?

Robots, Vampires, and Kaiju, Oh My! Trends in SFF Media
There's a lot happening these days in SFF Media - movies, TV shows and video games are addressing all sorts of trends - from kaiju to vampires, robots to superheroes. What trends are repeats of past greatest hits? How has the media changed over time? And what predictions will our panelists make about the next big thing?

The Science of Adhesion
Much more than "use glue xyz to stick this to that," this lecture explains in lay terms why adhesives and paints do, and sometimes do not, stick where we want them. Come learn how and why to use different materials for different jobs, and enjoy a fun lesson in chemistry useful for hobbyists and cosplayers.

The Science of Victorian Firearms
Fact is stranger than fiction. Take a look at the real history of firearms throughout the Victorian era. See the evolution of firearm technology. Find out what kind of gun a given person might be found carrying at any given moment in history, and why the kind of uniformity depicted in most fiction is misleading.

Scotch Tasting Circle: TBA
Our intrepid Scotch geeks want to share their private cache of Scotch, chosen in some arcane fashion that only they know at press time, but which will be revealed in due course. But, really, the Scotch geeks are coming out to play; do we really care what the game is? (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office.)

Scotch Tasting Circle: Whatcha got there?
Our intrepid Scotch geeks want you, yes YOU to share your gems of the Water of Life with them. (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office)

Short Fiction: Still a Thriving Market
Short fiction authors discuss the current status of the market, including the many new venues for sales and the way that short fiction sales have changed with the advent of epublishing and other new distribution systems. Find out where to submit work and what kinds of stories are selling fast.

Someone Else's Universe
David Gerrold and P.N. Elrod share tales from the world of franchise tie-ins, discussing the pitfalls and rewards of working in Someone Else's Universe.

Sound & Fury: Podcasts, Videoblogs & Audio Fiction
Who says radio is dead? In a fantastic twist right out of a novel, the world of audio and video short fiction is making a comeback. From podcasts like Welcome to Night Vale to audio magazines and video blogs for short films and series, we're in the midst of sound revolution. Where can you find great original stories to listen to, or discover intriguing short films? Our panelists discuss their favorites and invite audience recommendations as they discuss this old art form turned new again.

Surprise Tasting: Beer
A Tasting sponsored by DetCon1, the North American Science Fiction Convention being held in Detroit this July. Sample some tasty Michigan brews.

Star Trek:Reboots by the Dozen
How many ways can Star Trek re-invent itself? Find out with our panelists as they discuss, movies, TV, books, and all the action in between for Gene Roddenberry's groundbreaking series and its many spin-offs and reboots.

Common problems faced by plus-sized men and women when buying or making costumes and solutions for them. Includes Q&A for specific inquiries from individual costumers.

Steampunk 101
What is thing called Steampunk? Is it a genre? Is it a Scene? Is it a cosplay thing? Come listen to leaders in the Steampunk community discuss this thing we call Steampunk.

Steampunk and the Myth of the Maker
Intrigued by Steampunk but intimidated by the skills and tools you think you need to get the Steampunk look? Never fear - you don't have to be a Maker to be a Steampunk. We'll turn outfits from streetwear to Steampunk before your very eyes using tips and tricks accessible to anyone.

Steampunk Fashion Show
A display of elaborate and exquisite Steampunk fashions for the audience's delight.

Steampunk Ghost Hunting
With the Victorian’s fascination with death and the afterlife, ghosts are a Steampunk staple. Join author Maeve Alpin for an entertaining and haunting Steampunk ghost hunt.

Steampunk On a Dime
Yes, we know that those fancy steampunk costumes look like a million bucks, but they can be quite inexpensive with a little time and imagination. Discuss great places to find inexpensive clothing, fabrics, and great pieces of equipment to disassemble to begin making your own amazing and original steampunk gear and costuming.

Steampunk Tips and Quips
A discussion of steampunk in cross-genre writing. Published Steampunk authors discuss new cross-genre developments and variety in the sub-culture. Writers and readers will be encouraged to take a second look at Steampunk. You may find that Steampunk fits your writing voice in surprising ways. After all, a fictional genre that reaches out and inspires music, clothing, art, crafts, jewelry, films, television, performers, and even Mattel dolls has to have something special going for it.

Tarot For Writers
How to use Tarot cards as a writing tool, including brainstorming, block-breaking, character development, and plotting.

Tasting: Tea Time!
There’s more to tea than just green or black, hot or cold. Come experience the complex and unique flavors of this versatile beverage. (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office.)

Tasting: What Is This Thing You Call Cheese?
Sample a variety of cheeses and expand your palate. (Limited Attendance. Advance sign up required. Check Ops Office.) [Note: Food allergy warning.]

Tatting 101
Learn how to make a simple tatted motif, and learn about the art and its history.

Those Who Arrive Survive: The Walking Dead
Join our panelist as we discuss AMC's hit tv series "The Walking Dead." Relive your favorite characters and moments, as we talk about the current storyline of the show, theories on what direction it is headed, and compare and contrast events and characters from the show and comic books.

Toy-to-Prop Modification
This is a "make & take' panel that usually charges $8 - $10 (includes sales tax ~ buying the toy is optional). Plastic toy guns are prepped and ready for decoration. A short demonstration is given and, while paid participants decorate their new treasure, Thereyet & Cruize describe the plastic preparation process in detail.

Trivia Game with USS Zavala
Join members of the USS Zavala Star Trek Fan Club for science fiction trivia! You could be a winner!

What's Next? Writing Your Sequel
How is writing a series different from writing a stand-alone novel? And what happens when your stand-alone is so successful that your publisher requests a sequel? Our panelists discuss the challenges that come with the creation of a series.

What's the Score? Music and Storytelling in SFF
How does music inform the genres of science fiction, fantasy, and horror? From the powerful scores in movies and TV to the imagery of touring bands, and the many faces and styles of fan-based work, music is ubiquitous to the field, and yet so often overlooked. Our panelists discuss the music of games, shows, filkers, and bands from the professional to the hobbyist.

Writers' Workshop
For pre-registered participants only. If you missed the deadline, watch for announcements about next year's workshop.