MileHiCon Strikes Back at the Denver Tech Center Hyatt Regency

It’s big. It’s bigger. It’s the biggest! It is the oldest and largest science fiction, fantasy and horror literary convention in the Rocky Mountain region and it just finished celebrating its fortieth year! Robots crashed and tore into one another. Game wizards dueled with their thumbs. And visionaries who imagine far-off realms in their heads held court and signed autographs.
That’s just a small sample of the other worldly activities that were unleashed at MileHiCon 40 this season. With over eighty authors and special guests, trade panel discussions, movie and anime viewing rooms, contests, vendor offerings, skits, readings and even a charity auction, it was a very busy convention; something was going on literally twenty-four hours a day. The dueling game wizards were going non-stop throughout the event too as gaming contests raged on and one could even visit the largest fantasy art exhibition in the region. And let’s not forget two of the most popular events each year, the costume contest and a little thing called Critter Crunch, which is considered the mother of all robot wars. It actually started years ago with something called the “Critter Crawl,” in which enthusiasts would build little gadgets that would crawl across the floor—before high-tech was more the norm. This year a youngling named Tammy (but who was affectionately labeled Cat Girl because of her costume) was the lucky winner of a drawing for the fun of competing on behalf of the event’s judge, who was ineligible to compete with the Critter he built. She was clearly an audience favorite.
Linda Nelson has served as the convention’s chairperson for twenty years. What keeps her coming back year after year? “I think just meeting all the different kinds of people. You get to meet people from all over the country, with all different kinds of backgrounds. And it does my little heart good to see a thousand people walking around with smiles on their faces,” she says.
Nelson also enjoys meeting the professional guests and filled us in on this year’s special guests of honor, many of whom are local to the Denver, Colorado area. “We (had) Jim Butcher, who’s the author of the Dresden series…and that’s a very, very popular book series. (Jim’s) very popular. He’s a bit of a renaissance kind of guy.”
“And then we (had) Tim Powers. He has a whole series of books that are oriented around real historical happenings where he has interjected other kinds of things that really went on underneath. He’s done a bunch of short fiction and he’s won a ton of awards for his books.
“And then [there was] Patricia Briggs. She’s got a couple of series out. She’s got a Mercy Thompson series, and her Raven Duology. They’re mostly fantasy oriented,” says Nelson.
“Our artist guest of honor (was) Michael Carroll. He’s a planetary and science fiction artist. He also does a series of children’s books. He’s got a whole series of artwork out right now called Alien Volcanoes.”
Of course, no Sci-Fi type convention would be complete without someone from the visual effects arena. “We (had) Ed Kramer as our media guest of honor,” comments Nelson. “He’s worked at ILM (and) he’s worked on Star Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean and just a whole series of different movies.”
Parody singer/songwriter Odd Austin also gave the debut performance of his first studio album, Wrong Side of the Bed, before the masquerade on the evening of October twenty-fifth.
Then there was this year’s Toast Master, Carrie Vaughn. “She’s kind of new,” Nelson points out. “She’s got about four or five books out on her werewolf, vampire & radio talk show (theme). It’s kind of neat because her first few books take place in Denver.”
Mile Hi Con’s main purpose is to further interest in reading and writing science fiction and related genres. However, it branched out some time back to include television, film, anime, and gaming (which has made it a closer cousin to another annual Denver convention known as Starfest). It’s also a non-profit organization, with the proceeds from its annual art auction going to a charitable cause. This year’s recipient was Hope Communities, which serves low-income individuals and families in Denver with literacy programs.
The event took place at the Hyatt Regency Tech Center in Denver, Colorado, located at 7800 E. Tufts Avenue. This was the third year in a row that the convention was held at the Hyatt. Things kicked off at 3 p.m. on Friday, October twenty-four and wrapped up on Sunday afternoon of the twenty-sixth.
For more information on MileHiCon, visit the convention website: http://www.milehicon.org/. Ms. Nelson also welcomes mailing list inquires and may be contacted at lindanel@ix.netcom.com.

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