Sci-Fi High

It's not just for Trekkers anymore: Archon returns to St. Louis with a tantalizing slate of events


Gateway Convention Center, Highway 157 just north of Interstate 55/70, in Collinsville, Illinois.

Friday-Sunday, October 4-6; admission ranges from $17-$40. Call 636-FAN-3026 or visit for more info.

The man known as Starbuck and Face will be in town this weekend as the guest of honor at Archon 26, the annual convention for fans of science-fiction and fantasy. Dirk Benedict, known chiefly for his roles in Battlestar Galactica and The A-Team, meets the people, along with acclaimed sci-fi novelist Connie Willis and fantasy artist Ruth Thompson.

Willis' 1996 sci-fi novel Remake concerns a young dancer who wants to dance in Fred Astaire-style movie musicals. She befriends a young film editor who, working in the politically conservative future, digitally removes all traces of alcohol and cigarettes from old films. When he starts to find her dancing in various 100-year-old films, the line between reality and the movies disappears -- if it was ever there to begin with. Willis is a sci-fi writer in the mold of Arthur C. Clarke, Philip K. Dick and Theodore Sturgeon -- subtly and skillfully, she tells a story that makes you ask big questions about being human. Consequently, she's won more Hugo and Nebula awards than anyone else.

Thompson draws comely damsels, dragons, warriors and fairies with butterfly wings. The heavy eyebrows and strong cheekbones of her humanoid characters may bring to mind the prints by Andrew Nagel so popular on beauty-salon walls 20 years ago.

The range of activities at the Con is really staggering, including a costume contest and masquerade, pool and alcohol-fueled hotel-room parties; 24-hour gaming and video rooms (featuring a filmmakers' showcase); an art show and miniature and models contests; a vendors' hall; charity auction; robot wars; panel discussions on such subjects as comics, digital art and sleeper TV shows; and live-action role-playing games, for which youth dressed as vampires roam the halls in search of the answer to a puzzle or fresh blood, whichever comes first.

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