Con†Stellation Guests

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Con†Stellation XXXV: Horologium (The Clock)

13–15 October 2017——Huntsville, Alabama

GoH: Mary Robinette Kowal      Artist GoH: David O. Miller      MC: Toni Weisskopf

Contents

Guest of Honor

Mary Robinette Kowal
©2012 Rod Searcey

Mary Robinette Kowal is an award-winning author, a professional puppeteer, and a voice actor. Her debut novel Shades of Milk and Honey was nominated for the 2010 Nebula Award for Best Novel. In 2008 she won the Campbell Award for Best New Writer, while two of her short fiction works have been nominated for the Hugo Award for Best Short Story—"Evil Robot Monkey” in 2009 and “For Want of a Nail” in 2011, which won the Hugo that year. Her stories have appeared in Strange Horizons, Asimov’s, and several Year’s Best anthologies, plus her collection Scenting the Dark and Other Stories. Her latest novel, Ghost Talkers, was released in hardback August 2016 and is also available as an e-book. It will be released in paperback August 2017.

Kowal is also an award-winning puppeteer. In high school, puppetry was a hobby, but she “never thought of it as something you could get paid for.” At East Carolina University she took an art degree, minoring in theater and speech. While performing as Audrey II in Little Shop of Horrors, she learned that a professional puppeteer was at the show. It was a turning point. With over twenty years of experience, she has performed for LazyTown, the Center for Puppetry Arts, Jim Henson Pictures, and founded Other Hand Productions. Her designs garnered two UNIMA-USA Citations of Excellence, the highest award for an American puppeteer.

Her puppetry career consumed much of Kowal’s creative energy for over ten years. Although she wrote in high school and college, it wasn’t until her brother moved his family to China that she began writing again. Like Lewis Carroll and J.M. Barrie, she started writing children’s fantasy as a way to stay connected to her young niece and nephew. Reminded of how much she enjoyed writing, she began submitting short stories and made her first sale in 2005—her first professional sale in 2006.

When she isn’t writing or puppeteering, Kowal brings her speech and theater background to her work as a voice actor. She is a member of SAG/AFTRA. As the voice behind several audio books and short stories, she has recorded fiction for authors such as Kage Baker, Cory Doctorow, and John Scalzi. She describes voice acting as “puppetry, without the pain.”

Kowal lives in Chicago with her husband Rob and over a dozen manual typewriters. Sometimes she even writes on them. You can find out more about her at her website, check her out on YouTube or follow her on Twitter at @MaryRobinette.

From the FAQ on Kowal's website: Q. How do you pronounce your last name?
A. Co-wall, with the emphasis on the first syllable. It’s like Kowalski, without the ski. As I understand it, my husband’s grandfather Americanized his name when he came over from the Ukraine to make it easier to pronounce.

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Artist Guest of Honor

David O. Miller

David O. Miller currently bills himself as a "freelance Art Director, Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Educator" but those categories—wide-ranging as they are—still don't tell the whole story. For instance, they don't mention his abiding interesting in gaming as a player, an artist, and a businessman (Dark City Games). After taking a BA in Graphic Design/Illustration at Eastern Kentucky University, David worked as a graphic designer for various companies in Kentucky, including a TV station and a major advertising agency—where he eventually became a supervisor over a large art department. In 1987 David moved further south and took a job as Art Director in Huntsville at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center/U.S. Space Camp. About that he says: "I was a child during the race to the moon and because of that my heroes were all astronauts. The job at the Space Center was an amazing time for me. I was very fortunate to meet and work with several of my heroes including Alan Shepard and Buzz Aldrin. It really was a dream job."

Still, David really wanted to be an illustraor. Not long after moving to Huntsville his efforts to find freelance illustration assignments started to pay off. Soon he was freelancing for many RPG game companies such as TSR, Game Designers Workshop, White Wolf Publishing, Steve Jackson Games, West End Games, and Wizards of the Coast—as well as Baen Books, DoubleDay Science Fiction and Military Book Clubs, Topps, and Inkworks.

David left the Space and Rocket Center in early 1991 to freelance full-time. It was at this time he met his future wife at a science fiction convention in Chattanooga TN. Julie and David were married in 1993 and he relocated to Long Island, NY. In addition to creating art, he teaches through both the Art League of Long Island and the Eastern Suffolk Board of Cooperative Educational Services, as well as in corporate and individual settings. His very popular Adobe Photoshop classes include Manga illustration and science fiction monster drawing for young adults. He teaches digital editing, digital painting, and acrylic painting for adults as well.

Though he was a great friend and asset to Con†Stellation while he lived in Huntsville, David's most enduring contribution to our convention has been about 3 decades of designs for Con†Stellation T-Shirts, which you can see at this retrospective. You can learn more about David and see many other examples of his are at his website.

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Mistress of Ceremonies

Toni Weisskopff

For us at Con†Stellation, Toni Weisskopf may be the epitome of a hometown gal woman person hero made good. OK, so Huntsville isn't actually her home town, but she moved here with her family at age 12 and credits our fair city as the place she discovered fandom. After graduating from Oberlin College with a degree in anthropology, she joined Baen Books (in 1987) where she rose through the ranks from editorial assistant to editor to executive editor. She took the reins as publisher after the death of founder Jim Baen in 2006.

Toni has kept Baen Books one of the leading publishers of sf and fantasy since then and shows no signs of slowing down. You can talk to her at Con†Stellation about most anything to do with sf/f publishing—including the stellar list of authors she's worked with (David Weber, David Drake, Mercedes Lackey, Lois McMaster Bujold, Eric Flint, Wen Spencer, and Larry Correia just to name a few)—but her fannish bona fides are just as strong as her professional ones. For instance, she was one of the driving forces bringing DeepSouthCon back to Huntsville for its 50th incarnation in 2012. Back on the pro side, Toni compiled and annotated (with Josepha Sherman) the definitive volume of subversive children’s folklore, Greasy Grimy Gopher Guts. For Baen she’s edited three original hard sf anthologies: Cosmic Stories: Adventures in Sol System, Cosmic Stories: Adventures in Far Futures, and Transhuman, with sf author Mark L. Van Name.

In addition to being nominated 4 times for the Best Editor (Long Form) Hugo, Toni has won the Phoenix Award (for the pro who has done the most for Southern Fandom), the Rebel Award (for the fan who has done the most for Southern Fandom), and the Rubble Award (for the person who has done the most to Southern Fandom). Winning the Phoenix, Rebel, and Rubble (administered by her “friend” Gary Robe) made Toni the first winner of the Triple Crown of Southern Fandom awards. Most recently, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America has selected Toni for the 2017 Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award (for "distinguished contributions to the science fiction and fantasy community").

The widow of Southern fan and swordmaster Hank Reinhardt, she is the mother of a delightful daughter, and lives in a hundred-year-old house full up with three cats, two dogs, and many spears. Taking care of them, house included, consumes most of her spare time, but she is also interested in space science and takes part in the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. You can read more about Toni Weisskopf in a 2007 Locus Magazine interview or a a 2014 Q&A by David Rapp on Kirkus Reviews; or you can do what Toni would prefer and visit the Baen Books website.

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In addition to our Guests of Honor and Master of Ceremonies, we are working on a great lineup of other guests that keeps expanding. The website will be updated as guests are confirmed.

Returning Prior Guests of Honor

Theresa Mather

Artist GoH, Con†Stellation XXV: Cygnus, 2006

Theresa Mather has been a professional artist since 1989—creating fantasy works featuring a variety of unusual creatures. Best known for her pieces painted on feathers and stone, integrating her paintings with the natural colors and textures of the surface, Theresa draws much of her inspiration from the world around her. “When I need inspiration, I go hiking somewhere,” is what Theresa tells those who inquire. Theresa and her husband Barry Short reside in Cedar City UT, where the many nearby national parks give her plenty of opportunity to find inspiration.

Theresa chooses to work outside of gaming and publication, preferring to exhibit and sell her work at convention art shows across the country. She enjoys the freedom this gives her to paint whatever she desires, allowing her paintings to be truly her creations.

While she does have some formal art training, Theresa suggests that those curious about this aspect of her background simply rent and watch the movie Art School Confidential, which parallels her experience quite well. She's learned that when it comes to creating art, classrooms are no substitute for simply doing the work. Theresa exhibits at over 70 shows each year and is the recipient of numerous awards, including Popular Choice Best of Show at the 2002 Worldcon. You can find out more about Theresa and see examples of her art on her website.

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David O. Miller

Artist GoH, Con†Stellation XII: Orion, 1993
Fan GoH, Con†Stellation XVII: Hydra, 1998

See David O. Miller's info as this year's Artist Guest of Honor, above.

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Stephanie Osborn

Stephanie Osborn
photo by Johnny Miller, 2012

MC, Con†Stellation XXX: Corona Borealis, 2011
MC, Con†Stellation XXXI: Perseus, 2012
MC, Con†Stellation XXXII: Columba, 2013
Science Guest, Con†Stellation XXXIV: Mensa, 2016

Stephanie Osborn, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery, is a veteran of more than 20 years in the civilian space program as well as various military space defense programs, with graduate and undergraduate degrees in four sciences: astronomy, physics, chemistry, and mathematics. She is also "fluent" in several more, including geology and anatomy.

Stephanie now concentrates on her writing and has authored, co-authored, or contributed to at least 30 books, including the celebrated science-fiction mystery, Burnout: The mystery of Space Shuttle STS-281. She is the co-author of the Cresperian Saga book series, and currently writes the critically acclaimed Displaced Detective series, described as "Sherlock Holmes meets The X-Files," and its pulp-bestselling prequel series, Gentleman Aegis, the first book of which won a Silver Falchion Award. She released the paranormal/horror novella El Vengador, based on a true story, in 2013 as an ebook. Currently she's launching into the unknown with the Division One series, her take on the urban legend of the people who show up at UFO sightings, alien abductions, etc. to make things…disappear.

In addition to her writing, the Interstellar Woman of Mystery now happily "pays it forward," teaching math and science through numerous media including radio, podcasting, and public speaking, as well as working with SIGMA, the science-fiction think tank. She also possesses a license of ministry, has been a duly sworn, certified police officer, and is a National Weather Service certified storm spotter. Stephanie can be contacted from her website. Her Facebook fan page is www.facebook.com/SFAuthorStephanieOsborn, and you can follow her on Twitter at @WriterSteph.

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Toni Weisskopf

MC, Con†Stellation X: Draco, 1991
Fan GoH, Con†Stellation XXXI: Perseus, 2012)

See Toni Weisskopf's info as this year's Mistress of Ceremonies, above.

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