Iowa’s longest-running science fiction and fantasy convention, ICON, returns Friday through Oct. 7 at the Cedar Rapids Marriott.
Celebrating its 43rd year, ICON’s schedule is packed with special events all weekend.
The convention unofficially kicks off with its annual free author signing event at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Cedar Rapids Barnes & Noble. The event will feature local writing talent as well as this year’s author guest of honor, Mike Mullin.
Mullin is a young-adult science fiction author from the Indianapolis area whose Ashfall series follows the journey of Alex and Darla through Illinois and Iowa after the eruption of the super volcano in Yellowstone National Park. The series features a number of locations in Eastern Iowa, including Cedar Falls, Iowa City and the Anamosa State Penitentiary. His latest release is “Surface Tension,” a young adult thriller about a teen who witnesses an act of domestic terrorist.
Readers also can meet Hugo-award-winning authors Jim C. Hines, author of the new Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse series, and Joe Haldeman, author of “The Forever War,” at the event.
On Friday afternoon, high school and college students are invited to attend The Torchlit Study, a free Teen Writing Workshop, sponsored by The Writer’s Room, a nonprofit organization from Iowa City. Featuring a number of sessions about the craft and business side of writing, students can learn from this year’s guests, Mullin and Hines, as well as other industry professionals. Registration for this workshop is free, but required as space is limited. Interested students may register at iowa-icon.com/teenwritingworkshop.
Friday evening officially kicks off the convention at 7 p.m. with the introduction of this year’s guests: Mullin and Hines; Daniel Mohr, artist; Wolfie B. Bad, actor; Mike Miller, ICON founder; Jim Haldeman, author and ICON founder; and Gay Haldeman, ICON founder. A concert will follow at 9 p.m. with local band Wylde Nept.
ICON also will present a showing of the film “Saving Brinton” (brintonfilm.com) at 9 a.m. Saturday. The documentary features Michael Zahs on his journey to preserve some of Hollywood’s earliest films. Zahs, a resident of Washington, Iowa, will speak throughout the weekend giving presentations about his discovery and film preservation efforts in addition to the showing of the documentary.
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ICON will help raise money for the Rusty Hevelin Collection at the University of Iowa. Purchases made at Barnes & Noble on Thursday and the Charity Auction on Saturday will benefit the UI collection, which contains more than 10,000 science fiction, fantasy and horror fanzines that now are being digitized.
Donations for the charity auction are being accepted. Interested donors may email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Programming continues through the afternoon of Oct. 7 covering a variety of fandom topics and hands-on workshops for children, teens and adults. ICON strives to provide panels, workshops and costuming (Cosplay) opportunities the whole family can enjoy. A complete weekend schedule can be found at Iowa-icon.com.
If you go
l What: ICON 43
l When: Friday through Oct. 7
l Where: Cedar Rapids Marriott, 1200 Collins Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids
l Cost: Weekend passes are $65; and one-day passes are $30 to $50 for adults and children older than 13 and will be available in the lobby of the Cedar Rapids Marriott starting at 3 p.m. Friday; Children younger than 13 may attend ICON for free with a paid adult admission. Starting Thursday, volunteers can earn discounted and free weekend passes by working at least 20 hours.
l Details: Iowa-icon.com