Author Guest of Honor: Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson was born in December of 1975 in Lincoln, Nebraska. As a child Brandon enjoyed reading, but he lost interest in the types of titles often suggested for him, and by junior high he never cracked a book if he could help it. This all changed in 8th grade when an astute teacher, Mrs. Reader, gave Brandon Dragonsbane by Barbara Hambly. Brandon thoroughly enjoyed this book, and went in search of anything similar. He discovered such authors as David Eddings, Melanie Rawn, Robert Jordan, Anne McCaffrey, and Orson Scott Card. Brandon continued to be an avid reader through junior high and high school. He liked epic fantasy so much that he even tried his hand at writing some. His first attempts, he says, were dreadful.
In 1994 Brandon enrolled at Brigham Young University as a Biochemistry major. From 1995-1997 he took time away from his studies to serve as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Brandon often says that it was during this time in Seoul, Korea that he realized that he didn't miss chemistry one bit, but he did miss writing. Upon his return to BYU Brandon became an English major, much to the dismay of his mother, who had always hoped he would become a doctor.
Brandon began writing in earnest, taking a job as the night desk clerk at a hotel because they allowed him to write while at work. During this era he went to school full time during the day, worked nights to pay for his schooling, and wrote as much as he could. He says it made for a rather dismal social life, but he finished seven novels during his undergraduate years. Brandon submitted many manuscripts for publication . . . and accumulated quite a pile of rejection letters. In spite of this he continued to be a dedicated writer.
Volunteering for The Leading Edge, BYU's Sci Fi/Fantasy magazine, was a wonderful experience for Brandon. He read lots of submissions, formed some lifelong friendships, and even served as Editor in Chief during his senior year.
Brandon learned much about the business side of being a writer by taking a class from David Farland, author of the popular Runelords series. One piece of advice Dave gave Brandon was to attend conventions, such as WorldCon and World Fantasy, in order to connect with industry professionals. Brandon and a small group of friends who were also aspiring writers began to do so. He eventually met both his current agent and one of his editors at conventions.
It was in 2003, while Brandon was in the middle of a graduate program at BYU, that he got a call from an editor at Tor who wanted to buy one of Brandon's books. Brandon had submitted the manuscript a year and a half earlier, and had almost given up on hearing anything, so he was surprised and delighted to receive the offer. In May of 2005 Brandon held his first published novel, Elantris, in his hands. Tor also published Brandon’s Mistborn trilogy, and has plans to release other Sanderson titles in the future.
In 2004 after graduating with his Master's degree in creative writing from Brigham Young University, Brandon was asked to teach the class he had taken as an undergraduate student from Dave Farland. In spite of his busy schedule, Brandon continues to teach this one section of creative writing focused on science fiction and fantasy because he enjoys helping aspiring writers. It also gets him out of the house, he says.
In July of 2006 Brandon married Emily Bushman. Emily and Brandon ran in many of the same circles at BYU during their student days, since Emily majored in English as well. They never met, however, until a mutual friend set them up on a date in 2005. Emily had spent seven years as a teacher, but chose to quit with the birth of their son Joel in October of 2007. Emily now works from home part time as Brandon’s business manager.
Brandon's repertoire expanded into the children's market when Scholastic published Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, a middle-grade novel, in October of 2007. Nancy Pearl gave this book a very favorable review on National Public Radio, which pleased Sanderson fans. Since the release of Alcatraz Brandon has enjoyed visiting schools and interacting with younger readers.
In December of 2007 Brandon was chosen by Harriet Rigney to complete A Memory of Light, book twelve in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series. Brandon is now hard at work on this epic project.
Artist Guest of Honor: Frank Wu
There are very few people in this world who should be given the keys to the universe. Frank Wu is one of those people.
And why not? He's most certainly a ghenius; a visionary looking so far forward that the superlative evolved an extra h.
That's Frank Wu.
Frank's a four-time, four-time, four-time, four-time Hugo winner for Best Fan Artist, not to mention coming within two nominations of knocking perennial winner Dave Langford off the ballot for Best Fan Writer in 2008. Frank has also won the Illustrators of the Future award and has had illustrations in magazine around the world. His style is fresh and funky and fun and flashy, and he can tug at the heartstrings if the illustration calls for it. I once spent an afternoon fighting off depression brought about by his piece Losing Memories.
If you've ever tried to herd cats through a single opening in a wall a mile away while a million shiny things stand between you and the hole, then you might understand what it's like in Frank’s brain. There are thousands of ideas for paintings, for stories, for plays, for screenplays, for strange meals, for new national anthems, you name it, I'm fairly certain that Frank has thought about it seriously at some point in the last twenty four hours. While others may operate on a gigaflop scale, Frank's mind bolts through a sea of ideas at petaflop rates, processing input and putting out masterfully inventive output seemingly at will.
You see, like all great artists, Frank has the trouble of focus. Once, while he was drawing in the fanzine lounge at CorFlu, I said his name three times and received the answer of deep silence. I took a seat next to him and repeated the process. Crickets chirped. I placed a finger over the edge of the drawing and Frank practically jumped.
"I didn't see you there." He said.
Such is Frank Wu the artist.
I also happen to hate Frank, as he's turned into a writer with imagination that goes far beyond anything that's ever blipped across my screen. He's had stories in Abyss & Apex and the Visual Journeys anthology. His first story sale was for an anthology called Daikaiju, an Australian thingee that was All Giant Monsters, All the Time. Frank's story would be considered a work of fever-dream ghenius if one was unaware of Frank's mind operating on a plane where only quantum computers and obsessive-compulsive Jazzbos dare to tread. "The Tragical Historie of Guidolon, the Giant Space Chicken", is not only a story of a Giant Space Chicken…I'm sorry, a Cosmic Avian Avenger, who comes to Earth, but it's the story of a Giant Space Chicken who directs a movie about a Cosmic Avian Avenger who comes to Earth.
Yep, it's meta alright.
The story is silly, with backlot golf cart chases, brawls between a giant octopus and a giant jellyfish, and a lead character who is something like Orson Welles if he had been bathing off of Three Mile Island at exactly the right moment. Frank debuted it with a reading at LosCon 2005 which left the audience gasping for breath.
Perhaps it was hearing those words read aloud that brought Frank to his next obsession: Guidolon: The Motion Picture! The Tragical Historie of Guidolon: The Giant Space Chicken came to life as a short film, with many of those who participated at the original reading reprising their roles. The result was a slapstick animated short that wouldn't die, so Frank did the only logical thing: he turned it into a feature. While it’s not yet completed, the material is brilliant and it'll set the world afire once it hits the streets!
Frank's written other pieces for fanzines like the Nova-winning Zoo Nation and Hugo-winning Emerald City, and the steaming pile of fanzine that I edit called The Drink Tank. His work has ranged from political to artsy, often at the same time. My personal favorite of his pieces dealt with the things we are finding due to today's culture of recording. This was a work worthy of a historian, published in a zine edited by a historian who could never in his wildest dreams put together a piece that smart and wide-ranging.
Frank once played a homeless man in a silly little film I produced. It was a part with a single line, but Frank took that character and made it his own, building around a theme of the seven deadly sins and delivering the line, which was only half-caught by the camera, with a force of will that actually made him one of the stars.
I've never been fishing with Frank Wu. I've always regretted that.
Frank is probably one of the great talkers in fandom, and that is saying something. Frank can turn a thing of hot wings and chicken tenders at a sports bar into a surrealist mélange of high scientific ideas, TV theme songs, strange diagrams and general whackiness. When dining with Frank, it would be wise to bring a stenographer because the ideas will be flying, sometimes literally, and you'll want to make sure you have a record of it so when you steal…I mean reference them.
There are truths about Frank Wu, his passion for Cold War knick-knacks and Aramaic cooking notwithstanding, that the world just doesn't know. He collects things, a lot of things, and is the guy who maintains the Frank R. Paul website. He also served as the inspiration for The Karate Kid. Frank's collaborated with Jay Lake on a story collection called Greetings from Lake Wu. Frank has a PhD. Frank also knows the lyrics to most of the songs of the last century. Frank doesn't drink, though a number of people I've spoken with have claimed that he’s drunk 24/7. I personally think they just can't deal with the reality he's dropping.
More people might know The Wu than anyone else I know. I've gone to cons with Frank and he greets and is greeted by more people than I knew were in fandom. He's also a hugger. I've been to gatherings where the last five minutes are devoted entirely to Frank giving goodbye hugs. What's amazing about Frank is that he can know everyone and they all know him and through him there is a gathering of souls. He is the guiding force behind the concept of the Food Amoeba, a nebulous group that goes for food at cons. You'll even see people who didn't know each other the day before, but after one meal in the Frank-guided amoeba and they’re fast friends. Frank has a field of "getting-to-know-you" around him.
There is a dark side to Frank Wu, there must be. I mean, you don't know that many people and do such great work without being evil. Frank may seem innocent, but could he actually be the devil himself.
So, that's Frank Wu. When you’re walking down the hall of the con, go ahead, touch him. Offer him a seat at your table and start a conversation of 1970s animation or biological catastrophism and the impact on the science fiction stories of Theodore Sturgeon. Knit him a hat, it's cold out there. Most of all, enjoy Frank, it's incredibly easy to do.
-Chris Garcia, Hugo-nominated fan writer and editor of the Hugo-nominated fanzine "The Drink Tank"
Fan Guest of Honor: Patrick Kennedy
Patrick Kennedy was born in Gardena, CA, located in the South Bay area of suburban Los Angeles in 1950. Two events occurred which firmly set his path on the road to Science Fiction. The first was when his father, who worked for North American Aviation, took him to the high desert of Southern California to Edwards Air Force Base to watch a test flight of the X-15. The second was when his mother enrolled him in the Science Fiction Book Club. The first book he received was H.G. Wells "War of the Worlds", and he was hooked. Later, the books of Jules Verne, and "The Adventures of John Carter" by Edgar Rice Burroughs captured his imagination.
Television fare of the period was sparse with the likes of Space Patrol, Superman and Buck Rodgers and Flash Gordon serials. One short-lived series had particular impact on young Pat. Truman Bradley hosted a weekly show called "Science Fiction Theater". Each week, a different tale was spun about space, aliens, science's use of the atom, robotics and a host of other interesting topics. He would watch these fantastic shows either sitting on his father's lap or on the living room floor, trying to draw the wonderful images that came out of the old Zenith oval.
Movies were also a strong influence on young Pat. "The Day the Earth Stood Still", "Forbidden Planet", "War of the Worlds", and "This Island Earth" were staples. There were some clunkers also, like "Atomic Submarine" and "Invasion of the Saucer Men", but what the heck, it was still sci-fi.
The late 50's and early 60's brought "Twilight Zone", "The Outer Limits" and "Star Trek", and of course, "Star Wars" in the 70's. "Dune" has also been a big influence in Pat's artistic endeavors. Life was good and well with the world of Science Fiction.
His love of Science Fiction has led him to his art career. He is a self-taught artist whose art career began as a mural painter in Los Angeles in the 1970's. He moved to Kearney, NE, in 1976 where his mother and brother lived. Patrick began painting canvases and taking his paintings to Sci-Fi conventions across the mid-west where his love of Sci-Fi and Fantasy developed even more. He has sold paintings to the likes of Orson Scott Card and C.J. Cherryh. He's even sat and shot the bull with Steven King at a convention once. Patrick is now a published artist. He has had two paintings used for cover art, one for a science fiction book "Shelter of Daylight", one for a sci-fi youth magazine "Beyond Centauri", with a third one, a sci-fi poetry magazine "Illumen" to be released at the end of this month. All are published by Sam's Dot Publishing. Pat was the chairman of the first three ElectraCon's in Kearney, NE in the early 80's. ElectraCon was the first 3 day con held in Nebraska. Although he got away from fandom for a while, he and his wife attended Archon 25 in 2001 in St. Louis and he is excited to see fandom growing in Nebraska so he can attend with his family closer to home. Throughout the years, Pat has made many great friends while attending cons, including Daniel C. Neilson.
Patrick loves to use lots of color in his paintings because "why did God give us so many colors if we're not going to use them?" He works primarily in acrylics but sometimes uses oils for his fantastic skies. He is married to Cathy and they have 2 children, Cassidy, 8 ½ yr., and Keegan, 6 ½ mo. He has another daughter, Stacy, and she has 2 sons, his grandsons Trevon, 11 yr. and Kesean, 5 yr. So the next generation of fans are on the way.
Special Guest of Honor: Brianna Spacekat Wu
BANISHED INTO AN ALTERNATE DIMENSION, BRIANNA SPENT MOST OF HER CHILDHOOD IN THE GREAT, GREAT PROGRESSIVE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI. SHE COULD SOMETIMES HEAR HER MOTHER QUIETLY SOBBING, READING BOOKS LIKE "DEALING WITH THE STRONG-WILLED CHILD." SHE DREW GIRLY-GIRL ART OBSESSIVELY TO THE POINT THAT HER PARENTS SENT HER TO A PSYCHOLOGIST.
BRIANNA ATTENDED THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI AND MAJORED IN JOURNALISM, WITH A MINOR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE. SHE'S NEVER TAKEN AN ART CLASS OF ANY KIND, YET FOUND IT WAS HER SKILLS WITH ADOBE THAT REPEATEDLY KEPT HER EMPLOYED.
"I'M SOMETIMES TOLD I DRAW UNREALISTIC BODY TYPES. TOO TALL AND TOO THIN," SAYS BRIANNA. "BUT, I'M 6 FEET TALL AND 3 POUNDS FROM BEING CLINICALLY UNDERWEIGHT. THEY SEEM PRETTY REALISTIC TO ME."