by Chris Tobias
I can’t believe Wizard World Philadelphia Comic Con is just over three days away. For some of you, attendance at a con like this might be an annual event, or perhaps attending multiple cons is even a rite of summer, but I myself have never been to a con larger than the Pittsburgh Comicon and Steel City Con here in Western PA, and you could probably fit both of those cons inside one half of the main hall at Wizard World Philly!
Of course, my wonder and anticipation are magnified by the fact that when I finally attend my first major con later this week, I’ll be attending as a presenter. It still boggles my mind a bit when I think about the fact that I’ll be there as part of the package, that I’ll be responsible for a little piece of the entertainment for the thousands of attendees that walk through the doors at the convention center. In fact, if the programming guide is to be believed (and why shouldn’t it be?), Jeff and I will actually be kicking-off the con with our panel One Small Step for Fans: Browncoats in Space. That’s right. When you look at the program guide, we’re the first thing you see, and if you walk into Room 109 at 4PM on Thursday, May 30, just one hour after the con opens its doors, we can be the first panel you see too.
Our panel will take a look at the role of science-fiction in the history of space exploration and the long-standing connection between the space industry and geek culture, and we’ll discuss how fans of a show like Firefly have the potential to influence the future of space flight. Naturally, our hope is that it will lead more people to contact SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and ask him to name the first manned Dragon spacecraft Serenity, but we also want to make folk aware of just how interconnected science-fiction has been with the hard science of space exploration throughout our nation’s history.
One of the perks of being first is that once our panel is over, we’ll be able to spend the remainder of the con (nearly all of it, in fact) meeting the other attendees, talking to them about Firefly and the space industry, and just taking it all in. And of course we all want to spend some time enjoying the various activities, exhibits and panels the con has to offer. (I’m personally very excited to see the Firefly panel featuring Adam Baldwin, Summer Glau, Jewel Staite and Gina Torres on Saturday and to meet Summer Glau for a photo-op at her booth, but I’m also a huge fan of comics who owns a few thousand in his collection, and I’m hoping to be able to experience some of that side of the con as well.)
Most of the time, though, we’ll be at our table working to further the cause of seeing a US spacecraft named Serenity launch into the black in a few short years. We hope that, if you’re attending the con, you’ll stop by and say hello. If you do, here’s what you can expect:
- You’ll have a chance to write your own letter to Elon Musk. Now we know folk don’t come to cons to write letters, and we don’t expect you to spend all day writing one at our table, so we’ll have form letters available that you can personalize in just a few seconds, stuff in an envelope and put in our box. When the con is over, we’ll mail your letter to SpaceX for you.
- You can sign on with our online petition. We won’t have an internet connection a our table, but you can still sign your name, e-mail address and zip code on a list that will be uploaded to our online petition at the end of each of the con’s four days.
- If you’re old-school, you can sign an old-fashioned, pen and paper petition. Yeah, we’ll have one of those too, for those folk who, like Sarah Connor and Bones McCoy, don’t really trust the machines. All you need to do to help the cause is sign your name and address.
- We’ll have one of the black thermal tiles from the underside of a space shuttle on display. It’s precisely this type of thermal tile that helped keep the shuttle’s landings from getting “interesting” when it re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere. (That’s “interesting” as in “Oh, God, oh, God. We’re all going to die!”)
- You can see a model of the Falcon 9 and Dragon on display. If you don’t know what the ship called Serenity will look like, you can check her out in miniature at our table.
- You can learn about both the Falcon 9 and the Dragon. If you’re one of those who’s interested in the technical side of the spacecraft, we’ll have some literature on hand that will allow you to familiarize yourself with them.
And of course, we’ll be there to meet you and talk to you about why this is such a worthwhile endeavor. You can ask us questions about science, space, life, the universe and everything. We’ll do our best to give you answers that make sense, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll at least try to be entertaining! So please stop by and say hello. Making new friends is shiny, and the community of fans is integral to making any con a truly memorable experience. I can’t wait to meet you all.
See you in Philly!