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Panels

Explore 2020’s schedule.

There are two days packed with panels running from 10AM – 4PM. Enjoy Q&A session with special guests, insightful conversations with local experts and influencers, and gossip sessions where we gush about our favorite shows, authors, and genres. Discuss, dissect, and gossip to your heart’s content at RoberCon.

Please note: All programs take place in EST.

Participation in panels requires a $15 purchase of a Virtual Badge.

 

FRIDAY

8PM EST

FREE: Dr. Pants Live Concert

Register: https://us04web.zoom.us/meeting/register/upwsd-ysqD0pGdUjggPd9V9igGFKKF6OSOrd

Dr. Pants is the stage name of Oklahoma City-based composer/guitarist/vocalist David Broyles, whose style can best be described as “nerd power groove rock.” If Weezer and Beck made a baby with Frank Zappa, that baby would be Dr. Pants.

Over the past 20 years, Dr. Pants has released a series of albums, EPs and singles that have spanned genres from rock and funk to electronica and experimental. A scan through Broyles’ catalog shows a strong geek influence.

Band Camp link

 

The following programs require a virtual badge to attend.

SATURDAY

10AM EST

Role-Playing with Fate: Creating Your Own Worlds

Presenters: Paul D. Smith (moderator), Kat D’Andrea, Zachary Smith, Kenzie Shields, Brian K. Palmer, Jacob C. Weinstein

With so many published tabletop RPGs out there, sometimes it is still difficult finding one that fits the genre you love. What if there was an RPG system that you could wrap around whatever type of campaign you are looking for? The Fate Core RPG may be just the answer. Join our panelists as they walk you through what Fate Core is and how they have used it to roleplay a variety of scenarios.

The Future is Here: Saying One Last Farewell to ‘Steven Universe’

Presenters: Julie Bartolotto (moderator), Vincent Ackley, Joseph Picalila

Calling all Steven Universe fans! The show might be over, but there is still a lot to discuss. Talk about the episodes leading to the show’s finale and the finale itself. Discussion will include characters, theories and much more. Then we will sing the theme song at the end of the panel!

Writing Workshop

Painless Novel Writing: Set Goals for Your Characters — and Yourself

Presenter: Jen Bokal 

To many writers, a novel plan is akin to a soul-killing outline learned in grammar school, complete with Roman numerals and indentations. Yet, to sit down at a computer and begin working without any intention — other than to write a novel — often ends up with an unfinished manuscript and a frustrated author. From her series Painless Novel Writing, Jen Bokal will discuss how to develop characters and their goals, along with exploring how they can reach those goals in a dramatic and engaging fashion.

 

11AM EST

Let’s Get Schwifty: ‘Rick & Morty’ Pushes the Boundaries of Sci-Fi

Presenters: Chris Kocher (moderator), Matt Gaska, Jacky Qin, Kate Vander Voort Wilson, Persephone Dawson

Over four seasons, Rick Sanchez and his grandson Morty Smith have journeyed across the multiverse battling bizarre aliens, time paradoxes and — maybe most of all — themselves, both literally and metaphorically. The show has been called "a never-ending fart joke wrapped around a studied look into nihilism," but it also plays with sci-fi tropes in fresh new ways. Let’s talk about favorite episodes and ideas in this wild animated series.

The Mandela Effect: Is It Real or Just False Memories?

Presenters: Paul Benkovitz (moderator), Amanda Benkovitz, Sarah Hower, Christina Strong

Some people remember South African leader Nelson Mandela dying in prison and seeing his funeral on TV in the 1980s. They were shocked to find later that he became president of South Africa in 1994 and died in 2013. The Mandela effect is named after the phenomenon of remembering things that are different from reality. Other examples will be discussed, along with possible causes. Are they just false memories? Find out if you’ve been affected.

Fanthropy: The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Presenters: Keir Hansen (moderator), Brian Biggs, Kat Miller, Gretchen Roesch

Fan philanthropy — as exemplified by such organizations as Magic Wheelchair, the 501st Legion, the Harry Potter Alliance and Random Tuesday Inc. — harnesses the power of geek enthusiasm and fan passion to apply it to altruism. From fighting hunger and illness, to protecting animals and the environment, to helping veterans, the homeless, and the disadvantaged, geeks know what a better world could be like.

Black Panther and Beyond: People of Color as Heroes in Comics

Presenters: Brian Daniel (moderator), Peter B. Gillis, Jarvis Sheffield

There is a rich but controversial history of diverse characters in comics, starting as far back as Ebony White in The Spirit to current characters such as Static, Ms. Marvel, Amadeus Cho and Blue Marvel. This panel will discuss the portrayal of these characters, both good and bad, and how it has evolved over the decades — with inside perspective from comics writer Peter B. Gillis, who wrote for Marvel from the 1970s through the 1990s, including Black Panther.

Speculative Poetry: Tips for Writing the Best Verse in the ‘Verse

Presenters: Jennifer Crow (moderator), Brian Hugenbruch, Akua Lezli Hope, Wendy Van Camp, Valerie Valdes

Speculative poetry has been part of our storytelling fabric for thousands of years. We’ll explore the boundaries of the genre, share tips for writing and preparing your poems for submission, and discuss how speculative poets use old myths or fables and weave them into something new. Also: Join us for our speculative poetry reading at 3 p.m. Saturday!

 

12PM EST

Spooky Town: ‘Night Vale’ and Other Fantastical Podcast Realms

Presenters: Andrew Haggerty (moderator), Heather Kriesel, Persephone Dawson, Brian Hugenbruch, Natalie Freeman, Skylar Weltner

Welcome to Night Vale began as a podcast in 2012, and it has since expanded — like the Glow Cloud (all hail) — its macabre yet strangely familiar universe to include live shows, novels and an entire podcasting network. In this panel, we will explore the quaint little town of Night Vale and discuss its denizens: its community radio station, school board, librarians and Sheriff’s Secret Police. Everyone is welcome, from first-time visitors to those well-versed in the dark and terrible secrets of the Dog Park. We’ll also talk about other podcasts that Night Vale fans might enjoy.

They Killed Kenny (Again!): The Snarky World of ‘South Park’

Presenters: Jo Tokarcik (moderator), Mandy Ingraham, Jana Kucera, Matt Gaska, Kris Radder

Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s animated sitcom has run for a remarkable 23 seasons, satirizing American life from almost every angle. Discuss favorite moments and characters as well as South Park’s music, Cartman’s schemes, the many times Butters was grounded, old characters that we miss, and — of course — poor Kenny and the many times he died in the show.

Colour Fiction, Colour Film: H.P. Lovecraft’s ‘Colour Out of Space’

Presenters: Dan Harms (moderator), Esko Suoranta, Peter Hower, Michael Sharpe, Kevin Kreiner

Writer H.P. Lovecraft’s favorite story, “Colour Out of Space” foretold nuclear devastation through a lens of cosmic horror. Nicholas Cage starred in its adaptation last year — but four others came before. Talk with us about this famous horror story and the five films it inspired.

Let’s Talk Potter: Wizarding Topics Pulled from a (Sorting) Hat

Presenters: Amy Hogan (moderator), Kat Miller, Gretchen Roesch, Sophia Jenkins, Meg Scott, Nicole Olmsted

It's been over 20 years since The Sorcerer’s Stone. We've read the books and watched the movies countless times, but there's still plenty to talk about. Join us for a bit of organized chaos, with panelists discussing topics shuffled up and pulled out of a hat. We'll revisit moments from the books and films of the Wizarding World, draw new comparisons, hash out long-debated arguments, and simply enjoy the magic that's brought us back to these stories time and time again.

Writing Workshop

Who Are These People?: Putting Character in Your Characters

Presenter: Paul D. Smith

All authors are presented with the challenge of writing characters their readers can identify with and, hopefully, become attached to. This workshop will discuss the tools that writers can use to add some dimensions to their characters that will engage readers. Please bring a character idea you are working on!

 

12:30PM EST

Special Guest Q&A: Paul McGann

Moderator: Chris Kocher

For more than four decades, actor Paul McGann has appeared in numerous roles in films and on television: Withnail and I (co-starring Richard E. Grant), Empire of the Sun, Alien 3, Queen of the Damned, Hornblower, Luther and many more. For sci-fi fans, though, he’ll always be the Eighth Doctor from Doctor Who, a role he played in the 1996 BBC/Universal/Fox TV movie and on audio for Big Finish Productions starting in 2001. He returned to our screens as the Doctor during Doctor Who’s 50th anniversary in 2013, during the mini-sode Night of the Doctor. In this Q&A, we’ll discuss the TV movie’s approaching 25th anniversary, his starring role in the “Time Lord Victorious” audios being released later this year, and much more!

 

1PM EST

Unseen World: A Q&A with Empirical Paranormal

Presenters: Deborah Overfield, Gina Caprari, Dominic Caprari, Will Jenks

Empirical Paranormal is back at RoberCon! The Binghamton-based team will talk about what its members do to investigate otherworldly phenomena. They’ll share evidence, talk about the situations that led to that evidence and talk about other experiences. A Q&A with audience members will round out the panel.

Scenes from Space: NASA CineSpace Film Finalists Screening

The CineSpace film competition offers creators around the world a chance to share their films inspired by and using NASA imagery. This year's finalists include real and fantastical stories about people going beyond — testing their own limits and imagining how humans will survive in space. Join us for this RoberCon first!

Live Podcast Recording: PuffCast

Hosts: Julianna Coughlin, Melanie Silvennoinen

PuffCast is a Hufflepuff podcast that aims to bring an extra portion of joy and kindness to the world! In this episode, we will discuss the Hufflepuff house colors (black and yellow) and what they mean in general as well as to us and the Wizarding World fandom at large. We’ll also touch on the use of colors in the Harry Potter stories, along with two silly segments just for fun!

Hellooooo, Travelers: Exploring the Twisted Universe of ‘Borderlands’

Presenters: Persephone Dawson (moderator), Vittoria Gibson, Jessica Holbrook, Jo Tokarcik

Join us, loyal minions, as we delve into the delightfully demented depths of Gearbox Software’s "role-playing shooter." We’ll open up Pandora’s box of adventures over the past 11 years, including a discussion of favorite characters, the return of Psycho Krieg in a downloadable content pack to be released in September, and where we think the video game series should go next.

Spooky and Sexy: The Resurgence of Paranormal Romance

Presenters: Jen Bokal (moderator), Deborah Blake, Roni Denholtz, Rasha Scheel, Michaela Stoughton 

Do you love stories about witches, werewolves, vampires and other creatures that go bump in the night? Paranormal romance used to dominate the bestseller lists and is now getting renewed interest. Chat with our paranormal romance authors about their insider tips in writing for this genre.

 

2PM EST

A Pioneering Mind of Television: The Life and Times of Rod Serling

Presenter: Lawrence Kassan

Rod Serling, one of the early pioneers of broadcast television, was proud to call Binghamton his hometown. This presentation will highlight his childhood, his war years and the role he played in television’s “Golden Age.” Also explored will be the corporate interference and censorship that led to one of the medium’s iconic television series, The Twilight Zone.

Carry On: One Last ‘Supernatural’ Ride for Sam and Dean

Presenters: Crystal Sarakas (moderator) Kirstin Clinton, Sarah Hower, Lynn Bedard Gagne, Persephone Dawson

The spring of 2020 was supposed to be when we would finally say goodbye to Sam and Dean, as Supernatural came to a close after 15 seasons. The pandemic stopped production, though. Now, the final seven episodes are set to air starting in October. We aren’t quite sure just how their adventures will wrap up, but that won’t stop us from speculating! Join us for a discussion about everything we love about the show and how we think it’s all going to turn out.

Tesla and ‘Timeless Children’: Discussing ‘Doctor Who’ Series 12

Presenters: Adrienne Wise (moderator), Matt Gaska, Jana Kucera, Clarissa C.S. Ryan

Doctor Who’s Series 12 — the second with Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor — brought back old enemies such as the Master, the Cybermen and the Judoon, and it also featured historical figures such as Mary Shelley, Noor Inayat Khan, Lord Byron, Ada Lovelace, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison. There even was the long-awaited return of fan favorite Captain Jack Harkness. Most controversial, though, were revelations about the “Timeless Child” and the Doctor’s origins. What were the series’ best and worst moments? And where does it go from here?

Our Family Plays Games: And Yours Can, Too — Here’s How!

Presenters: Starla and Mik Fitch

Starla and Mik from the popular YouTube channel Our Family Plays Games will discuss with parents and families about how to dip their toes into board games that go beyond the standard Monopoly fare. They'll talk about how to pick the right games by doing research and learning the rules. More, better family game nights are right at your fingertips. Our Family Plays Games is here to help!

The Hows and Whys of Horror: Authors Give Their Scariest Opinions

Presenters: C.W. Briar (moderator), Kevin Lucia, Joe Sullivan, Mercedes M. Yardley

Take a behind-the-veil peek at horror and dark fiction, both for readers and potential writers. Where do the ideas come from? What makes for an effective horror story? Where is horror publishing headed in the future? And what have these authors learned about the horror-writing community?

 

3PM EST

Quick Draw: Cartoonists Improv with Pen and Paper

Presenters: Russell Swanger, Eric Maruscak (artists), Chris Kocher (moderator)

Our artists will sketch quick (and witty) cartoons based on moderator and audience suggestions. Audience members will watch the artists start with a blank paper and finish with a final cartoon because their work will be onscreen. Artists will be Russell Swanger (a.k.a. “cartoonicature” artist Russ the Big Guy) and Eric Maruscak (cartoonist and nationally renown chalk artist with clients such as Lucasfilm, Nintendo and Crunchyroll).

Ye Gods! Deities in Pop Culture: Ineffable or Despicable?

Presenters: Elaine Casella (moderator), Mary Rakas, Eric Swan, Kathy Moore, J.G. Huckenpohler

We will discuss the gods, deities and powers from selected science fiction/fantasy series (books, television or films) and their relationships with the beings of their worlds. Are the gods needed, trustworthy or deserving of respect? Or are they threatening, capable of making mistakes and prone to losing their powers?

Let’s Talk Cult Films: Seen Any Good Ones During Lockdown?

Presenters: Hildy Mica (moderator), Christina Strong, Paul Benkovitz

During the pandemic, we are all watching and re-watching our favorite movies. Some we love; some are so bad that we love them more. In this panel, we will discuss some of better-known films and maybe some others you haven’t seen. Cult or obscure movies have a home here.

End of a ‘Star Wars’ Era: Unpacking ‘The Rise of Skywalker’

Presenters: Anthony Borrelli (moderator), Matt Gaska, Tom Henderson, Jana Kucera, Sarah Eaton

The dead speak! Emperor Palpatine returned, and was destroyed again. Kylo Ren became Ben Solo. And Rey, a plucky scavenger, finally became a Jedi and a Skywalker to boot. There's a lot to unpack after The Rise of Skywalker, which brought the episodic Star Wars saga to a conclusion. Did it live up to expectations? How did it tie the entire nine-film series together, and were there any lingering questions when the credits rolled? Prepare for a discussion packed with spoilers! We'll tackle what thrilled us (and what didn't) about this highly anticipated movie that generated a lot of debate among the fans of this epic franchise.

Speculative Poetry Reading: Dramatic Journeys to Unknown Realms

Presenters: Jennifer Crow (moderator), Brian Hugenbruch, Akua Lezli Hope, Wendy Van Camp, Valerie Valdes

Join us for a speculative poetry reading. Our five poets will share one or two of their works, and also talk about the inspirations behind the poems and their writing processes.

 

4PM EST

The Bear Challenge: Lucky NumBear Seven

Presenters: Daniel Schwartz (moderator), Nate Chen, Jennifer Royce, Jacob Thompson, Russell Swanger

The cooperative storytelling event that captured the heart of a nation returns to the internet! Our panelists will discuss bears whose qualities (skills, weapons, social standing, etc.) have been randomly drawn from audience submissions, to determine which would win in a fight. The bears are set against each other, tournament-style, until only one bear is triumphant! The conference is virtual, but the thrills are real! Artist Russell Swanger (a.k.a. Russ the Big Guy) returns to draw the bear matchups live.

All Alone in the Night: The Enduring Legacy of ‘Babylon 5’

Presenters: Neil Ottenstein (moderator), Jan Fennick, Kathryn Sullivan, Kirstin Clinton, Carrie Ellen Williams

Space station Babylon 5 was the last, best hope for peace — and then so much more. Showrunner J. Michael Straczynski broke new ground in sci-fi television with a five-year arc full of complex characters and edge-of-your-seat plotlines. The show had a recent resurgence of popularity when it was available on Amazon Prime. We will discuss the show itself as well as more recent events of note, including JMS' autobiography Becoming Superman; the B5 Encyclopedia and other material from B5 Books; and the upcoming Babylon 5 Preservation Project from Jason Davis.

Cosplay Your Way Part 1: How to Get Started (or Level Up)

Presenters: Cate Broomhead, Jenn Rodriguez, Jana Kucera, Christine Evans

Interested in becoming a cosplayer? Already hooked and looking to raise your game? Join us to hear what tips and tricks we’ve learned about this amazing hobby and community. We’ll cover many things you need to get started, from research, your first shopping trip to gather materials or items (in person or online!), wigs, makeup and much more!

Together We'll Be Heroes: The Queernorm World of ‘She-Ra’

Presenters: Clarissa C.S. Ryan (moderator), Vylar Kaftan, Devin Singer, Maureen Zahn, Tyler Hayes

"Queernorm" worlds are settings where being LGBTQIA+ is unremarkable, and homophobia isn't part of the plot because it doesn't exist. In the world of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, we get to see several queer couples. Let's squee together about the joy this brought us, and also consider what we're are still looking to see. Warning: Spoilers WILL abound!

Writing Workshop

Sprint to the Finish: Completing a Novel in a Short Time Frame

Presenter: Valerie Valdes 

This presentation covers how to prep for and make it through a noveling marathon over a fixed time period, including time-management strategies; self-analysis tools to maximize productivity; typical emotional trajectories and how to handle them; setting rewards and incentives; and other tips and tricks to get from idea to finished draft as quickly and smoothly as possible.

 

 

SUNDAY

10AM EST

Writing for Middle Grade / YA Readers: They’re Not Just Tiny Adults

Presenters: Paul D. Smith (moderator), Kathy Sullivan, S.N. Arly 

The market for middle-grade and young adult fiction is growing, because young readers are always looking for something new and exciting. Finding the “voice” that appeals to this young audience can sometimes seem daunting, though. Join this panel of MG/YA authors to discuss how to write for this challenging audience.

 

11AM EST

Live Podcast Recording: The Legend of the Traveling TARDIS

Hosts: Christian Basel, Melanie Dean

The Traveling TARDIS has journeyed through time and space to convention floors and fan gatherings to celebrate pop culture and to be photographed with celebrities, cosplayers and fans around the globe. The podcast has featured interviews with actors and behind-the-scenes personnel from across the Doctor Who spectrum. Join our hosts for a highly interactive discussion about the best and worst Doctor Who companions, from Classic to New Who. Who is the best companion out there? Bring your reasons to us! (Learn more at thelegendofthetravelingtardis.com.)

Beyond Dungeons & Dragons: An Exploration of Roleplaying Games

Presenters: Dan Harms (moderator), Kat D’Andrea, Brian Keller, Drew Meyer, Pedro Galicia

We’ve tried D&D, but what else is out there? Join our panel for a discussion of other games — from Pathfinder to Pendragon — as we examine what they bring to our tables, and what we can steal from them.

Everything is Fine: The Comedy and Philosophy of ‘The Good Place’

Presenters: Chris Kocher (moderator), Jacky Qin, Sarah Hower, Neil Ottenstein, Jim Mica

Holy forking shirtballs! Creator Michael Schur’s high-concept, Hugo Award-winning The Good Place was a potent blend of comedy, fantasy and philosophy that brought together six unlikely friends for adventures across the afterlife. We’ll talk about favorite characters and episodes, as well as (spoilers!) discussing the series finale.

This Is the Way: ‘Mandalorian’ Blazes New Path in ‘Star Wars’ Galaxy

Presenters: Matt Gaska (moderator), Jana Kucera, Tom Henderson, Anthony Borrelli

With The Mandalorian, the Star Wars franchise finally made its live-action streaming debut. Join us for a discussion on The Mandalorian’s place in the larger Star Wars canon, where the future of this new adventure will take us, and what else may be on the horizon for Star Wars in its new home on Disney+.

From the Mind to the Story: Making the Journey of Ideas Smoother

Presenters: Joshua Palmatier (moderator), Sam Butler, Patricia Bray, Tyler Hayes, Valerie Valdes

Ideas are easy. But turning it into a fully developed story? That’s a lot harder. How do you get from one to the other? How do you figure out if you’re writing a novel, novella or short story? And are there times when you shouldn’t try to flesh it out?  Bonus: Bring your ideas to our workshop on Sunday, when a team of editors from the small press Zombies Need Brains will help you workshop them!

 

12PM EST

Loving ‘Lexx’: Travels Across the Two Universes

Presenters: Paul Benkovitz (moderator), Steve Carson, David Nezelek

The Lexx is a giant bug ship that can destroy a planet in one shot. The crew consists of security guard Stanley Tweedle, love slave Zev/Xev Bellringer, dead assassin Kai and robot head 790. Enemies such as His Divine Shadow, Mantrid and Prince kept them busy for four seasons. Join us to discuss your favorite episode, character and arc from this weird and wonderful series.

Rise of the Empire: Saying Goodbye to ‘Star Wars: The Clone Wars’

Presenters: James Selby (moderator), Emily Potter, Alecia Chreptyk, Madison Kollig

Join this panel for a discussion about the animated Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which wrapped up its final season this year. What were your favorite episodes or characters? And what is the legacy of the show after seven seasons? There also will be a fun Mad Libs-style game about the characters Padme, Anakin and Ahsoka.

That Other Wizard Named Harry: 20 Years of ‘The Dresden Files’

Presenters: Brad Meaker (moderator), Paul D. Smith, Julian Hepworth, Justin Sharples, Chloe Easttey, Jaclyn Praskavich

In 2000, author Jim Butcher introduced the world of Harry Dresden, the world's only "consulting wizard," in his novel Storm Front. Sixteen books later, Dresden is still fighting various factions of vampires, demons, spirits, faeries, werewolves and other monsters. The latest volume, Peace Talks, was released in July after a six-year gap. This panel will discuss Peace Talks and past adventures, as well as favorite fan theories.

Engage!: Captain Picard Blazes New Trail in ‘Star Trek’ Universe

Presenters: Jason A. Miller (moderator), Drew Meyer, Jan Fennick, Ly Cao, Nathan Skreslet

Star Trek: Picard marked the return of Patrick Stewart to Star Trek for the first time in nearly 20 years. With a dynamic young ensemble cast, several returning guests, a Pulitzer Prize-winning showrunner in Michael Chabon, and a ripped-from-the-headlines storyline about Earth and the rest of the galaxy in the 24th century, just how well did Captain Picard fare in his return to Trek?  Join us for a debate about what worked, what didn't work, and what else the future may have in store for the galaxy's favorite flying Frenchman.

Writing Workshop

From the Mind to the Story: Workshopping With Writers and Editors

Presenters: Joshua Palmatier, Crystal Sarakas, Sam Butler, Patricia Bray 

Looking for feedback on whether you’ve got a solid idea for a story? Or do you want to brainstorm with other writers and editors? Join us for this workshop, with feedback from several professional editors. Bring one or two of your ideas and let’s see where we can take them! Limited to 10 people.

 

12:30PM EST

Special Guest Q&A: Miriam Margolyes

Moderator: MuggleNet’s Amy Hogan

If you’re a Brit or an Anglophile, Miriam Margolyes is a face you recognize from her remarkable 200-plus roles on television, in films and onstage over the past 50-plus years. She’s won a BAFTA Award and numerous other accolades, as well as being honoured by Queen Elizabeth II as an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to Drama. Most recently, American audiences know her best for her roles as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films and Mother Mildred in Call the Midwife. In this interview, Miriam will discuss her iconoclastic career in comedy and drama as well as how playing Professor Sprout brought a new audience of fans.

 

1PM EST

‘Into the Abyss’: Dive Into Horror Fiction, Cinema and Spookiness

Presenters: Kevin Lucia, CW Briar, Tom McDonough

Roughly a year ago, the Youtube show Into the Abyss slouched into hideous, gibbering birth. Hosted by writers Kevin Lucia and CW Briar, and horror fan Thomas McDonough, Into the Abyss features reviews of horror films, books, comic books and video games, and it offers off-the-cuff commentary about horror, science fiction, writing, publishing and whatever else comes up. In this panel, the Into the Abyss crew will talk about some of the perils and pitfalls of  producing their own YouTube show, and their reasons for deciding to venture on this wacky journey: not necessarily for fame, or fortune, or 4,000 views of their videos, but because of their love of horror and the importance of celebrating the friendship of the Weird.

Playing #forthekids: How Extra Life Aids Children Through Gaming

Presenters: Timothy Bumpus (moderator), Jenny Dickinson

Join local Extra Life players in a conversation that explores their experiences and best practices in charity fundraising, and how you can play, too. Extra Life enables gamers of all kinds to connect with others and help kids at their local children's hospitals. Leading the discussion will be Timothy Bumpus from the Extra Life Syracuse Guild; and Jenny Dickinson, the coordinator of Pediatric Programs and Events at Upstate Golisano Children's Hospital.

Under the Spell of ‘The Magicians’: Can Fillory Go Even Further?

Presenters: Peter Hower (moderator), Sarah Hower, Andrew Haggerty

The Magicians seems to appeal to fans who want a darker version of real-world magic than the Harry Potter kind. More than a decade after Lev Grossman’s original novel, the book trilogy is complete, the SyFy series has concluded, and an additional short story appeared in the anthology Unfettered. Now The Magicians gets a new start in comic form. Is this enough to keep Fillory alive? Let’s relive the series, talk about who hasn’t finished the books and spoil that with comparisons between the two.

Writing Workshop

Speculative Poetry: Writing, Self-Editing and Getting Feedback

Presenter: Jennifer Crow

This workshop will go deeper into an exploration of speculative poetry. Learn to both write and self-edit your poems, and how to approach the current market landscape for speculative poetry. Bring a couple of pages of your work and get feedback. Limited to 10 people.

 

1:30PM EST

Exploring the Constellations of ‘Harry Potter’

Scan the night sky for the immortal celestial bodies who have influenced the Harry Potter universe. In this planetarium show created exclusively for RoberCon attendees, we will explore the constellations of the Wizarding World!

 

2PM EST

From the ‘Outside In’: Exploring the Eerie Worlds of ‘The X-Files’ and ‘Kolchak’

Presenters: Robert Smith? (moderator), Rigel Ailur, Lou Tambone, Anthony Wilson, Emma Caywood, Amy Banks, Kyle Borcz, Nicole Carlson, Mick Schubert, Rich Handley, Eric Pelot, Pamela Bridgeo, Dimitri Del Castillo, Melissa Beattie, Irene Richard, Ric Crossman, Jason A. Miller, Paul Benjamin, Keir Hansen, Sage Young, Derek Tyler Attico, Tony Contento, Colleen Hillerup, Nancy Hutchins, Andrew McCaffrey, David Black, Sebastian Garzón, James Bojaciuk, Jan Fennick, Kathryn Sullivan, Greg Long, Alina Marsfelder, Chris Kocher, Gina Rosich

The Outside In series from ATB Publishing, edited by Robert Smith?, looks at groundbreaking television series through essays by different writers for each episode. The mandate for contributors is to go beyond the usual commentary and create something unique so that readers will never view the episodes in the same way again. In two upcoming volumes, Outside In will tackle the worlds of The X-Files and Kolchak: The Night Stalker. In this panel, Smith? and just some of the writers involved will discuss how they approached the adventures of FBI Special Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully as well as intrepid journalist Carl Kolchak from a whole new angle.

Excellent!: ‘Bill & Ted’ Return for One More Encore

Presenters: Mary Donnelly (moderator), David Broyles, Adrienne Wise, Paul D. Smith

Bill S. Preston, Esq., and Ted "Theodore" Logan traveled through time and space, and also to hell and back. In their latest adventure, Bill & Ted Face the Music, they face the greatest challenge of them all: A midlife crisis. Let’s talk about our favorite moments from the Bill & Ted films and discuss whether two metalheads remain relevant in our 2020 world. As a special treat, David Broyles — a.k.a. nerd-rock musician Dr. Pants — will share a live performance of his new ode to Bill & Ted’s excellence.

Live Podcast Recording: SpeakBeastly

Hosts: Amy Hogan, Lizzie Sudlow, Marjolaine Martin, Ann Lysy, Rex Hadden, Julianna Coughlin

Join the hosts of SpeakBeasty, a Fantastic Beasts podcast, as they record a live episode during RoberCon 2020! During the live recording, con attendees will be able to interact in real-time with the hosts via the chat function. The SpeakBeasty podcast discusses, analyzes and theorizes about the Fantastic Beasts film series. The show marked its 100th episode in December 2019 and it has welcomed many special guests over the years, including Dan Fogler (Jacob Kowalski), Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley), Poppy Corby Tuesch (Rosier) and Mike Schubert from the Potterless Podcast.

Ray Bradbury at 100: The Greatest Sci-Fi Author of All Time?

Presenters: John Riebow (moderator), Kevin Lucia, Kathy Starks, John Koloski

Ray Bradbury was one of science fiction's first original voices, spanning back to the genre's Golden Age. Often labeled as "the greatest science fiction author of all time," his short stories and novels have been adapted for radio, television, stage and screen. As 2020 marks the 100th anniversary of Bradbury's birth, what is his legacy? How has he affected the genre? Will his work be remembered or forgotten? And what are your favorite Bradbury tales?

We Are All Made of Stars: Galaxy-Building in Science Fiction

Presenters: Clarissa Ryan (moderator) Karen Osborne, Jo Miles, Tyler Hayes, Ted Weber, J.R.H. Lawless 

One of the fun things about writing science fiction is that you have entire galaxies and universes to play in! But it’s also one of the things that can be a little overwhelming. What are some of the tricks of the trade in building your worlds? How do writers come up with these “cast of thousands” stories? How do you make your aliens really alien? And how do you reflect diversity in a universe of your own making?

 

3PM EST

Ladies First: A Lovefest for the Women of Classic ‘Doctor Who’

Presenters: Irene Richard (moderator), Jan Fennick, R. Alan Siler, Clarissa C.S. Ryan, Nathan Skreslet

Join us for a deep dive into our favorite classic Doctor Who women companions as well as the numerous strong and usually independent women characters — from Old Mother in An Unearthly Child to Karra in Survival — who are essential to the narrative drive of the episodes they’re in. We will discuss how these characters reflected the growing cohort of women in the 1960s, ’70s and ‘80s who sought equal rights and opportunities as well as greater personal freedom for themselves in their professional and personal lives.

DC on TV: From ‘Crisis’ to Chaos in the Arrowverse

Presenters: Adrienne Wise (moderator), Kathryn Sullivan, Neil Ottenstein, Brian Daniel

The huge “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event touched the lives of characters across the DC multiverse. We’ll discuss “Crisis” and the impact on the epic end of Arrow, as well as the ripple effects on The Flash, Black Lightning, Supergirl, Batwoman and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Also, we’ll talk about the Batwoman casting shakeup; the newest member of the DC on TV family, Stargirl; the upcoming Superman & Lois spinoff; and what we hope for next season for our favorite characters and villains.

As ‘The Wheel of Time’ Turns: Epic Book Series Prepares for TV

Presenters: Steve Carson (moderator), Brian Gilmore, Madison Goodyear

The Wheel weaves as the Wheel wills. Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time series is set to go live in 2021 on Amazon Prime. This panel will discuss what news the showrunners have released or hinted at. What material will the first season revolve around, and what changes do we expect or want? We also will explore what the effect of Game of Thrones fandom may have on the Wheel of Time series, both for fans of the books and potential fans of the new TV show.

From the Spellbook to the Novel: Using ‘Real Magic’ in Fiction

Presenters: Crystal Sarakas (moderator), April Steenburgh, Deborah Blake

Many books draw from real-life “magical” religions — Wicca, Asatru, Hellenic worship and more. And as more and more people across the world explore these non-mainstream religious paths, is it more important to get the details right? Where’s the line between pure fantasy and respecting someone else’s beliefs?

 

4PM EST

‘Doctor Who’ on Big Finish: Audio Adventures in Space and Time

Presenters: Neil Ottenstein (moderator), Jan Fennick, Adrienne Wise, Chris Kocher

For over 20 years, Big Finish Productions has produced audio adventures in the Doctor Who universe. Some stories spin off from episodes of the classic and new television series, while others explore what happened between stories or even between scenes. Paul McGann’s Eighth Doctor — who got just two appearances onscreen — has traversed space and time in numerous audios since 2001. Recently, Ninth Doctor Christopher Eccleston — who many thought would never return to the role — agreed to a series of stories.  Let's discuss what Big Finish has done since 1999 and what may lie in the future.

‘Elfquest’ Tales: Wolfrider Adventures on the World with Two Moons

Presenters: Kathryn Sullivan (moderator), Jenne Micale, Nate Solloway, Angela Pritchett

For 42 years, Wendy and Richard Pini's Elfquest has been following the adventures of a band of wolf-riding elves. There have been many quests as the group dealt with humans as well as other elf clans. Now a new adventure has begun focusing on Stargazer. We will discuss what made this comic so different from others as well as favorite storylines and characters.

Cosplay Your Way Part 2: Completing Your Costume and Final Touches

Presenters: Cate Broomhead, Jenn Rodriguez, Jana Kucera, Christine Evans

Now that you have all the information to get started from our panel on Saturday, where do you go from here? Join us for part two of our panel, where we’ll discuss (and even show you) assembling techniques, how to finish your costume, and what extra touches you can add to take your cosplay even further, even if it came from your own closet.

Hooked to Our Screens: Video Games in the Time of COVID-19

Presenters: Jo Tokarcik (moderator), Clarissa C.S. Ryan, Sam Smith, Tyler Hayes, Mary Rakas, Valerie Valdes

During the coronavirus pandemic, many developed new hobbies while in quarantine at home, including video games. We will discuss how the quarantine affected Xbox, Nintendo and PlayStation as well as our own personal gaming habits. What did we play while we stayed at home? Also, what are effects on future release of games as the pandemic continues?

The Elements of Editing: What to Do After Writing That First Draft

Presenters: April Broughton (moderator), Karen Osbourne, Vylar Kaftan, Ted Weber, Jo Miles, J.R.H. Lawless 

Writing a perfect first draft is not something most of us are ever going to do. What are some tips for editing your own work? How do you know when it’s time to stop editing and just send the story out? Should you hire an editor before you submit your novel or story? And is an editor essential if you’re going to go the indie publishing route?