May 22, 2017

Avoid the rush: get yours now

Be prepared for the next SF & F Literati meeting, on Monday, June 26, 2017!

Order or reserve your copy of Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, by Paul Krueger now! 

A limited number of copies are available through the Johnson County Library or Mid-Continent Public Library. It's also available from meeting host Barnes & Noble Booksellers,  Amazon, or our local Kansas City bookseller, Rainy Day Books.

Krueger says his book is "about a secret society of bartenders who fight demons with alcohol-magic." According to Barnes & Noble, it's a "sharp and funny urban fantasy," in which "booze is magic, demons are real, and millennial Bailey Chen joins a band of monster-fighting Chicago bartenders instead of finding a 'real' post-college job."

IMAGE: Many thanks to Amazon, for the cover image.

May 20, 2017

Quick reminder: SF&F Literati Monday night!

Date: Monday, May 22, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.
Title: Quantum Night
Author: Robert J. Sawyer
Available from: Fine Booksellers, including Barnes & Noble
Meeting Location: Barnes & Noble #2352, 2nd Floor, 11323 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, KS 66214

NOTE: All are welcome to the meeting, whether you’ve read the book or not.

The May selection is a recent book written by this year's ConQuesT Writer Guest of Honor (the May meeting is held on the third Monday, so it won't conflict with the Memorial Day Weekend timing of ConQuesT, Kansas City's longest-running science fiction convention. This year's Writer GoH is Robert J. Sawyer, a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author with a reputation for writing provocative, cutting-edge science fiction. The May selection, Quantum Night, was published in 2016.

IMAGE: Many thanks to for the Quantum Night cover image.

May 16, 2017

Ideas needed! Craft future programming at May 20th meeting!

What: Monthly KaCSFFS Meeting
When: Saturday, May 20, 2017, from 6:00 till 9:30 p.m.
Where: The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO 64111
Food theme: Favorite meeting-fare samples

Time to get creative
Join new Director David Means and your KaCSFFS friends for an evening of creative development this Saturday! It's time to plan the meeting programs for the next twelve months.

Barry Haldiman starts with a puzzler's overview.
Recent Directors have encouraged the discovery of interesting, hitherto-unknown-by-KaCSFFS collections, skills and talents of our members.

For instance, we've gained fascinating insights from Barry Haldiman's crossword-puzzle-creation skills.

We've been amazed and delighted by William McCullough's collection of Armed Services Editions, the half-sized paperback books that turned a generation of American soldiers into a nation of readers.

We've enjoyed Corey Barber's extensive collection of wonderful fantasy and sf art, and been enlightened by David Means-and-Family's collections of tabletop games (still providing us with interesting blog posts a year and a half later), plus most recently YA books (last month's fascinating program).

William McCullough and (most of) his collection of Armed Services Editions, many of them sf.

We also have been beguiled by interesting speakers, such as YM Rivadineira and her amazing costumes--and who could forget the R2 Builders, whose presentation has been considered by some the "best program ever"?

Then-Director Margene observes the R2 Builders presentation
We also have brought together authors doing readings, artists exhibiting fantasy and sf artwork, as well as panel discussions, such as the one in March, when Earline "Cricket" Beebe and Ty Gephardt gave an inspiring presentation on how to throw a great room party, or the one presented several years ago about the Kansas City connections to authors in our genres.

Recent meetings also have been more multi-media, combining live presenters in the room with remote interviews via FaceTime with authors K. B. Shaw, Julia Mandala, and P. R. Adams, or movie previews and videos, such as those produced to promote MidAmericon II. If you like that trend, please tell us!

And don't forget the food! KaXFEN love to eat, and we include some amazing cooks among our number. Several of our meetings each year are organized around food (the Annual Picnic; Thanksgiving, the Chili Cook-off). Are there other food-centered events we should consider?

The possibilities are as wide-ranging as our genres and interests. Please take some time to think about presentations you'd like to see, or any other hidden talents or amazing collections we haven't yet explored.

IMAGES: The photos of Barry and William were taken by Jan S. Gephardt. the photo of the R2 Builders' presentation is by Ty Gephardt, via Facebook. All are used with permission.

May 09, 2017

Laser Rangers 2017 May Meeting

Two Classics by C.S. Forrester
Date: Saturday, May 13, 2017
Time: 4:15pm
Location: David Sooby’s home theater with 51-inch Samsung HDTV, a 5.1 Surround Sound Dolby Digital sound system, a full set of audiophile-grade speakers, and upgraded seating for about 15 people without crowding.
Captain Laser: Ken Keller
Food: Navel Rations
Costume: 19th Century Navel Officer

To learn more, please visit our Facebook Group Page.

Short features will be shown before each feature. Don't miss them!

The Pride and the Passion

(1957, 132 minutes) Directed by: Stanley Kramer

Starring: Cary Grant, Frank Sinatra, Sophia Loren

It's based on Forrester's novel "The Gun."

A British naval captain and artillery officer is sent to Spain to retrieve a huge, long range siege cannon abandoned by the Spanish army before Napoleon's forces can acquire it. Spanish rebels now have control of the monster weapon and are planning to use its 100 pound solid shot against the high, cannon filled walls of the Spanish city Avila, now under the iron control of French occupation forces.-Ken Keller

Watch the trailer here!

After the first feature, please join us for a potluck dinner. Bring something to share. It can follow the theme, or be something you prefer.

Feature Presentation!
Captain Horatio Hornblower

(1951, 117 minutes) Directed by: Raoul Walsh

Starring: Gregory Peck, Virginia Mayo, Robert Beatty, Terence Morgan, James Robertson Justice

Lots of stirring sea battles and land action in this classic adventure film based on a trio of Forester's British Navy novels set during the Napoleonic Wars.-Ken Keller

Watch the trailer here!

The home of the Laser Rangers is located about four miles north of the Kansas Speedway, NW of the intersection of I-70 and I-435 on the Kansas side of the Greater Kansas City area.

IMAGE CREDITS: The information for all of these shows come from the invaluable IMDB. The movie posters come from Wikipedia or the movie's respected distributors. 

The movie screen frame image used for the Laser Rangers contact information is courtesy of Psychology Today Online. Many thanks to these websites!

May 07, 2017

Have you read Quantum Night? You have 2 WEEKS.

Whether you're a fan of Robert J. Sawyer's work, have heard of him but don't know much about him, or you're just now learning his name, here's a great excuse to read one of his books before he arrives in Kansas City to be this year's ConQuesT Author Guest of Honor.

Quantum Night, a Locus #1 bestseller, is this month's selection for the Kansas City SF & F Literati. This local book club group will meet to discuss it Monday evening, May 22, at 7 p.m., on the second floor of the Oak Park Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Overland Park, KS.

What's it about? Here's the overview from location host Barnes & Noble's website:

"The Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author of Red Planet Blues, FlashForward, and the novels of the WWW Trilogy explores the thin line between good and evil that every human being is capable of crossing…

"Experimental psychologist Jim Marchuk has developed a flawless technique for identifying the previously undetected psychopaths lurking everywhere in society. But while being cross-examined in court about his breakthrough, Jim is shocked to discover that he has lost his memories of six months of his life almost twenty years ago—a dark time during which he himself committed heinous acts.

"Jim is reunited with Kayla Huron, his forgotten girlfriend from his lost period and now a quantum physicist who has made a stunning discovery about the nature of human consciousness. As a rising tide of violence and hate sweeps across the globe, the psychologist and the physicist combine forces in a race against time to see if they can do the impossible—change human nature—before the entire world descends into darkness."

Note that everyone is welcome to attend the meeting, whether they've read the book or not.

IMAGE: Many thanks to for the Quantum Night cover image.

April 28, 2017

Don't miss the APRIL 30 DEADLINE! (that's this Sunday)!

ConQuesT 48 is coming sooner than you think--your chance to register online before the convention ends April 30, 2017!

What's so great about ConQuesT? Well, we must be doing something right, to have put on 47 of them previously . . . but let's look at the offerings. We have four headliner guests (more about them below), lots of other professional artists, writers, and others, plus multiple programming track and special events run by experienced fans who know how to keep it fun and smooth for everyone.

Our Guests of Honor
Robert J. Sawyer and Hominids-inspired friend
Robert J. Sawyer - Author GoH
Toronto-based Robert J. Sawyer has won the best-novel Hugo Award (for Hominids), and has twelve other Hugo nominations to his credit. He’s also won the best-novel Nebula Award (for The Terminal Experiment), the John W. Campbell Memorial Award (for Mindscan), plus numerous other awards around the world.

In 2016 he was named to the Order of Canada, the highest civilian honor bestowed by the Canadian government. His 23 novels include  the #1 Locus bestsellers Calculating God, Triggers, and the May KC SF&F Literati selection, Quantum Night. The ABC TV series FlashForward was based on his novel of the same name, and he was one of the scriptwriters for that series.

Jonathan Maberry in his natural habitat
Jonathan Maberry - Toastmaster
Jonathan Maberry is a New York Times best-selling novelist, five-time Bram Stoker Award winner, and comic book writer. He writes the Joe Ledger thrillers, the Rot & Ruin series, the Nightsiders series, the Dead of Night series, as well as standalone novels in multiple genres. He's also edited many anthologies, including The X-Files, Scary Out There, Out Of Tune, and V-Wars.

He is the founder of the Writers Coffeehouse, and the co-founder of The Liars Club. He was a featured expert on the History Channel documentary,  Zombies:  A Living History, and a regular expert on the TV series True Monsters. He is one third of the very popular and mildly weird Three Guys With Beards pop-culture podcast. Jonathan lives in Del Mar, California, with his wife, Sara Jo.

Rachael Mayo - Artist GoH
Rachael Mayo is a fantasy and SF artist who prefers traditional art media. She specializes in mixed media (this can include watercolor, colored pencil, paint pens, ink, acrylic, and shiny objects). She likes to create creatures with eye-searingly bright color schemes.

Rachael mostly takes private commissions or works on personal projects. She occasionally creates book covers or interior illustrations, primarily with small press publishers. She also has published Dragon Adventurea coloring book of her art, and sells her work to the public at science-fiction/fantasy convention art shows around the country. She earned a bachelor’s degree in illustration from University of Central Missouri in 1999, but by day she works as a systems administrator who enjoys tormenting unsuspecting mainframes. She spends most hours outside of her day job producing art. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri.

A recent Rachael Mayo, the "Skittles Explosion" version of Turquoise Conjunction Digicolor 2

Zac Zacarola - Fan GoH
Zac Zacarola and a wall of Ziggy's West swords.
A familiar face in the convention dealer’s room at the Ziggy’s West table, Zac first took interest in science fiction when he discovered “all those B movies” as a kid. His favorite is still the original The Day the Earth Stood Still. “Then, Star Trek came along,” he said. While studying chemistry at West Virginia University, he associated with Monongamoot, WVU’s SciFi club, met Jo, who was involved with MonCon III, and “thanks to her, I’ve attended a number of SciFi conventions which I may not have otherwise attended, including four WorldCons.” 

For more than 35 years, Zac was an analytical chemist in the nuclear power industry. “Talk about SciFi comin' to life!” he says. Since 2008, he’s worked on the environmental side of things, including the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and groundwater protection. Zac specialized in corrosion control and metallurgy, which he now applies to the fine merchandise of Ziggy’s West, a business which has existed since 1987.

Other Highlights
ConQuesT Art Show 
One of the largest and best-quality science fiction convention art shows in the region, the ConQuesT Art Show maintains its high quality through its system of jurying artists in, then doing everything possible to make sure those artists sell as well as possible. Show attendees enjoy 2D and 3D artwork by top fantasy and science fiction artists from all over North America.

This is just one corner of a recent ConQuesT Art Show display.

ConQuesT Dealers' Room
Our Dealers' Room offers a wide variety of wares, from Ziggy's swords and other metallic wonders, through fiber arts and costumes, jewelry, 2D and 3D artwork, an array of books, videos, comics, games, gaming supplies, and related sundries. And don't forget the buttons, bumper stickers, and T-shirts

A view of the ConQuesT 46 Dealers' Room
The Story-in-A-Bag Contest is fun for all ages.
Story-In-A-Bag, Writers' Workshop, and Writing Programming Track
There's plenty of programming for, and involving, writers at all points in their career. Seasoned pros and famous writers conduct panels on many aspects of speculative literature, the writing craft, and the business of being a writer. A writers' workshop offers one-on-one critique services to writers seeking to improve their skills, and the ever-popular Story-In-A-Bag Contest offers a fun creative challenge for story-spinners of all ages and skill levels.

IMAGES: The ConQuesT 48 banner image was created by Jan S. Gephardt for convention-promotional purposes; it features a logo design by Keri O'Brien and a photo of the lobby of our convention hotel, the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center, which provided the photo. 

The photo of Robert J. Sawyer with the Neanderthal skull is by Carolyn Clink, and was provided by Sawyer's website. The photo of Jonathan Maberry in his office is from Jessica Lawlor's interview with him. The photo of Rachael Mayo is from the ConQuesT 48 website, and her Turquoise Conjunction Digicolor 2 is from her DeviantART Gallery. The photo of Zac Zacarola, by Chris Moose Mendolia, is also from the ConQuesT 48 website

The photo of part of the ConQuesT Art Show from the KaCSFFS Blog post “What Makes the ConQuesT Art Show So Great?” by David Sooby. The Dealers' Room photo is from the indispensable Midamerican Fan Photo Archive of Keith Stokes. The photo of the bags from a recent past Story-in-A-Bag Contest is from the ConQuesT 48 website.

April 26, 2017

SF&F Literati announce summer selections

The selection for May 22
The Kansas City SF&F Literati book club meets every fourth Monday of the month (except in December and May) at 7:00 p.m., at the Oak Park Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Overland Park, KS. Each month, they discuss a reading selection drawn from science fiction, fantasy, or related speculative genres.

The group maintains a Facebook Page as their primary means of communicating with members and the interested public. It includes a page of links to discussion notes about each of their previous selections since 2012.

The April 24th meeting was summer selections night, when those who attended chose the book selections for the next four meetings. The selections are:

The selection for June 28
May 22: Quantum Night, by Robert J. Sawyer
June 28: Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, by Paul Krueger
July 24: Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente
August 28: Just One Damned Thing After Another, by Jodi Taylor

As is the usual custom, their May selection is a recent book written by this year's ConQuesT Writer Guest of Honor (the May meeting is held on the third Monday, so it won't conflict with the Memorial Day Weekend timing of ConQuesT, Kansas City's longest-running science fiction convention.

The selection for July 24
This year's Writer GoH is Robert J. Sawyer, a Hugo and Nebula Award-winning author with a reputation for writing provocative, cutting-edge science fiction. The May selection, Quantum Night, was published in 2016.

Paul Krueger, author of the June selection, describes himself as "a man who thought it would be a good idea to make a career out of playing with his imaginary friends." Last Call at the Nightshade Lounge, "about a secret society of bartenders who fight demons with alcohol-magic," is his debut novel. It also was published in 2016.

The selection for August 28
New York Times bestselling author Catherynne M. Valente has won a whole shelf full of awards, including the Andre Norton, Tiptree, Prix Imaginales, Eugie Foster Memorial, Mythopoeic, Rhysling, Lambda, Locus, Romantic Times’ Critics Choice and Hugo awards. She also has been a finalist for the Nebula and World Fantasy Awards.

Radiance, the July selection, was published in 2015 and is described as "a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood-and solar system-very different from our own."

Jodi Taylor's bestselling British "Chronicles of St. Mary's" series is now up to eight novels plus a prequel and six short stories, according to Library Thing's listing. Beloved for its "madcap humor" and skewed history, it has a Goodreads fan group and admirers worldwide. Just One Damned Thing After Another, the August selection, is the first book in the popular series, which only recently (July 2016) has been published in the US. The first British edition was published in 2013.

Book selections for September, October, November, and possibly January of 2018, will be made at the August 28 meeting.

IMAGES: Many thanks to for the cover images for May, June, and July. Thanks are due to Goodreads for the August selection's cover.

April 20, 2017

Learning a secret that could mean everything she knows is wrong

Date: Monday, April 24, 2017, at 7:00 p.m.

Title: Updraft
Author: Fran Wilde
Available from: Fine Booksellers, including Barnes & Noble
Meeting Location: Barnes & Noble #2352, 2nd Floor, 11323 W. 95th Street, Overland Park, KS 66214
NOTE: All are welcome to the meeting, whether you’ve read the book or not.

Plot Overview from Barnes & Noble:
In Fran Wilde's Updraft, a young woman must expose a dangerous secret to save everyone she loves.

Welcome to a world of wind and bone, songs and silence, betrayal and courage.

Kirit Densira cannot wait to pass her wingtest and begin flying as a trader by her mother's side, being in service to her beloved home tower and exploring the skies beyond. When Kirit inadvertently breaks Tower Law, the city's secretive governing body, the Singers, demand that she become one of them instead. In an attempt to save her family from greater censure, Kirit must give up her dreams to throw herself into the dangerous training at the Spire, the tallest, most forbidding tower, deep at the heart of the City.

As she grows in knowledge and power, she starts to uncover the depths of Spire secrets. Kirit begins to doubt her world and its unassailable Laws, setting in motion a chain of events that will lead to a haunting choice, and may well change the city forever—if it isn't destroyed outright.

Bone Universe
1) Updraft
2) Cloudbound
3) Horizon (September 2017)

Come with ideas for future selections! April 24 is the night when the group decides what to read for the next three months' meetings!

IMAGES: Many thanks to Tor Books, for the image of the cover featuring Tommy Arnold's artwork.

April 15, 2017

Spring 2017 Creative Corner

What have the Creative Friends of KaCSFFS been up to, lately? Quite a lot, as usual.

Mark your Calendars!
ConQuesT 48
Regional science fiction conventions are nearing--and not only KaCSFFS' own ConQuesT 48, although we think that one is particularly notable! Set for Memorial Day Weekend, May 26-28, 2017, technically every guest, programming participant, and exhibiting artist is a Creative Friend of KaCSFFS! So don't miss it!

Spectrum Fantastic Art Live April 21-23

KaCSFFS' Creative Friend John Picacio invites us all to come to Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, as it returns to the Kansas City Convention Center for a weekend of the best speculative art in the world. We are incredibly lucky to have such an event in our city. The show has shifted from its previous third-weekend-in-May time recently, but it is important for as many attendees to follow it as possible. We want to keep it in town! See John in Booth #418. He's bringing new originals and longtime favorites to display and sell.
John Picacio will offer four of his new Loteria pieces, as well as others, at Spectrum Fantastic Art Live, April 21-23, 2017. Be there!
Our Creative Friends will be at 
other events in April and May, too! 
Here are some of them:
StarFest Denver, Denver, CO (April 21-23, 2017): Bryan Thomas Schmidt
Festival of the Arts, Oklahoma City, OK (April 25-30, 2017): David Lee Anderson
Planet Comicon, Kansas City, MO (April 28-30, 2017): Rob HowellAaron Hollingsworth (selling his books and also swords, in association with Ziggy's West).
Art in the Square, Southlake, TX (April 28-30, 2017): Randal Spangler

Ad Astra, Richmond Hill, Ontario (May 5-7, 2017): Rob Howell 
Downtown Edmond Arts Festival, Edmond, OK (May 5-7, 2017): Randal Spangler
DemiCon, Des Moines, IA (May 5-7, 2017): Ty and Jan Gephardt, Dora Furlong
Comicpalooza, Houston, TX (May 12-14, 2017): Bryan Thomas Schmidt 
Tulsa International Mayfest, Tulsa, OK (May 18-21, 2017): David Lee Anderson, Randal Spangler
ConQuesT 48, Kansas City, MO (May 26-28, 2017): EVERYONE. Be there!!
Art Market of Estes Park, Estes Park, CO (May 27-29, 2017): Randal Spangler
Paseo Arts Festival, Oklahoma City, OK (May 27-29, 2017): David Lee Anderson

Aaron Hollingsworth on Kickstarter

Folded Steel: More Tales of the Weird and Woeful is a collection short stories by local KC author Aaron Hollingsworth. The collection features tales inspired by H.P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard, and Clark Ashton Smith, with a loose theme of cruel irony. To cover the cost of printing and audiobook production for Folded Steel, Aaron is launching his first-ever Kickstarter Campaign. The campaign ends April 30, so if you want to back it, don't put it off!

Writer trio mounts regional book-signing tour
Little Green Men--Attack! co-editors Bryan Thomas Schmidt and Robin Wayne Bailey, both of whom also have stories in the collection, as well as James E. Gunn, who wrote another of the collection's stories, have been making the rounds of local book-signings in March and April.  

The anthology was released March 7, and in addition to work by Schmidt, Bailey, and Gunn, it includes stories by Robert Silverberg, Mike Resnick, Allen M. Steele, Esther Friesner, Elizabeth Moon, Seanan McGuire, Jody Lynn Nye, Kristine Kathryn Rusch and many more.

What's it about? "From the far reaches of outer space they come--inscrutable aliens, malicious invaders, wacky tourists from another planet--to conquer, study, and tickle us. From the battlefields of the Ozarks to the marble halls of the Boston Library, from Central Park to the skies above Washington, on the moon and in the seediest bars of Kansas City--they're here. But do they really know who they're up against? Not hardly!"

James K. Burk, A.K.A. Rob Jackson
Another March release, this one from WolfSinger Publications, is The Long Way Home, by James K. Burk, writing under the pen name of Rob Jackson. It's a science fictional break from Burk's previous fantasy genre novels and short fiction.

In this story, "a handful of men escape a Russian POW camp and make their way to Poland to alert whatever governments are left that the Russians are planning a strike simply called Operation A. They discover a world that has changed, devastated by plague and war, but where some groups are struggling to rebuild civilization, others continue to serve dead ideologies. The group becomes 'Recon Nine,' and sets out to track down the higher command from the prison camp who are instrumental in Operation A."

David Lee Anderson, Actor
David Lee Anderson
Longtime fantasy and sf artist David Lee Anderson has in recent years turned to additional creative areas. As noted above in the April-May calendars he has recently been showing his work in juried art shows and art fairs, alongside more traditional artists.

He also has been attending classes at The Actor Factory and landing parts in movies shot in Oklahoma. His most recent movie project was a lead role in a short film titled Assisted Living. He has already started on a "lead role in another project." We'll keep you posted about release dates, etc. when we learn about them. This is by no means his only role; as we announced in February, he also recently wrapped up a role, "Homeless Man," in a feature-length Harvey Lowry film called Southern Christmas.

IMAGES: The ConQuesT graphic is by Jan S. Gephardt and was created for use with KaCSFFS social media. The Spectrum Fantastic Art Live header is from the SFAL Facebook page. The John Picacio Loteria images are courtesy of John's Facebook page. The Folded Steel image is courtesy of Aaron Hollingsworth's Kickstarter page; it is the opening image in a short video about the project. Many thanks to Amazon for the cover of Little Green Men--Attack! The full, back and front cover image for The Long Way Home was provided by the author. The photo of David Lee Anderson is courtesy of his bio page