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Special Guests:

GoH | Golden GoH | Fan GoH | Toastmistress | Also Appearing

Guests of Honor

Photograph of S.M. and Jan StirlingS. M. and Jan Stirling

Stephen Michael Stirling is a French-born Canadian-American science fiction and fantasy author best known for his "Draka" series of alternate history novels and the more recent time travel/alternate history "Nantucket" and "Emberverse" series.

Stirling's novels are generally conflict-driven militaristic cultures with strong, prominent female characters. Stirling is fascinated with technological development. The Draka for instance, choose and face a different imperative in their conquest of Africa, and turn earlier to breech-loading firearms and steam power than the rest of the Western World. The stranded islanders of the "Nantucket" Series must try to rebuild their technological base once the island is stranded in 1250 BC, while the dazed survivors of the ’Change’ face a world where electricity, firearms, and internal combustion no longer work.

Steve is a New York Times best-selling author, and has frequently collaborated with other authors, including David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, Anne McCaffrey, and Raymond E. Feist. He's a martial arts practitioner with avid interests in history, anthropology and archaeology, the sciences. He's also a very personable, genial, laid back fellow of charming wit and good humor. Just Chambanacon's kind of person.

Find out more about Steve at SM Stirling.com

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Jan couldn't resist changing her name and moving to another country when she married Steve. She'd never written before she got married but there seems to be something about marrying authors that's contagious. Jan has had several short story sales, most notably to Esther Friesner’s "Chicks" series from Baen Books. Then in 2006 she had a severe illness requiring an operation "that seems to have removed my imagination along with some other icky stuff." (No, her imagination was not icky, but the stuff they removed was.) She thinks the urge to write is coming back though. At least her dreams are more fun.

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Golden Guest of Honor

Photo of Gene Wolfe; courtesy of Beth GwinnGene Wolfe

(Photo Credit: Beth Gwinn)

Ursula K. Leguin gave our Golden Guest of Honor, Gene Wolfe, the coolest jacket liner quote: "Wolfe is our Melville". He's inspired so many readers and writers, and even corresponded with J.R.R. Tolkien. The bibliography of his work goes on and on and on (you can read it here). He's won Nebula, Locus, Rhysling, BSFA, World Fantasy, August Derleth, and Campbell Awards, and his work has been nominated for eight Hugo Awards. He was the Guest of Honor at the 1985 Worldcon, won the World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement in 1996, inducted by the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2007, and named SFWA Grand Master in 2012. He received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award at the 2013 Nebula Awards. And he'll be ChamBanaCon's Golden Guest of Honor for as long as the man wants to come to the con. We love his stories and his wicked sense of humor. Juanita Coulson shares this story about Gene that truly illustrates Gene's personality:

SHADOW OF THE WOLFE
by Juanita Coulson

Photo Credit: Juanita Coulson

Photo of Gene Wolfe shooting a pistol, courtesy of Juanita CoulsonErudite, whimsical, and unpredictable, in a charming and entertaining way. That's ChamBanaCon's GoH, Gene Wolfe. For those of us lucky enough to correspond with him, read his novels and short fiction, and enjoy personal contact, Gene's been a delightful surprise package par excellence. Y'never know where his extremely fertile imagination is going to take you next.

Maybe into a lesson on how to write fascinating tales. Maybe voicing a strong opinion on which of many movies portraying the Gunfight at the OK Corral is worth watching. Maybe to an eerie and mind-boggling road leading into a nearly forgotten corner of ancient history - which then becomes a springboard for a whole new way of looking at science fiction and fantasy.

Erudition? I've added more words to my vocabulary by reading and listening to Gene than I ever did as a result of any language class. Dip into his books with an O.E.D. or some other really good dictionary to hand. The exercise is good for your brain; it'll enlarge your neurons.

Whimsical? He took us on a grand tour of beautiful downtown Barrington, IL, his home base, and showed us The Castle. Although NOT the Castle of the Otter. Ask him about that castle in Barrington, and about his book The Citadel of the Autarch, which somehow became transformed into a haven for furry clam eaters.

Unpredictable? Let me tell you a true story, children. Years ago, comes a phone call from Gene. After the opening pleasantries he inquired of his fellow gun crank if Buck owned a Luger. Always wanted to shoot one of those, he told us. Could he visit and shoot some holes in a target with that famous weapon? Why, sure, pardoner! Time and date were set, and in due course into our rural driveway rolled the Gunslinger from Barrington, ready and eager to test-fire the Luger. And providing his own target: a blue-light special K-Mart windbreaker. Puzzled but game, we tacked that garment to our backstop. The Luger fired just fine, but Gene wasn't happy with the size of the holes it made in the hapless coat. Did we have a bigger caliber available? You bet. The .357 made nice BIG holes, after which that windbreaker was most sincerely dead. Alas, eventually time came for the Barrington Marshal to saddle up and head home. I offered to detach the perforated corpse from the backstop, but he didn't want the thing. No need. He'd already taken a photo.

Whaaaa…? His explanation for a 400-mile round trip to massacre a cheap windbreaker? His editor wanted a jacket shot. Be careful what you ask for, when the request goes to Gene Wolfe.

So…get ready to be surprised, amused, and occasionally quite startled. This is NOT your ordinary kind of GoH. Have fun.

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Fan GoH's

B.J. and Beth Willinger

Photo of B.J. and Beth Willinger The Willingers are longtime friends of Chambanacon. BJ's golden voice filled the filk room singing his quirky, humorous songs like "You Picked a Fine Time To Leave Me, King Kong" and "To All the Boys I've Loved Before". Beth is a talented artist working in several media. Her anatomical renderings of dragons (and the recipes for same) are meticulous, and she creates amazing fantasy animal soft sculptures that will take your breath away. She's also a killer poker player, so watch out in the gaming room, folks. Now that Chambanacon is back in Urbana, the Willingers are close enough to return, and we're so very happy to bring them home.

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Toastmistress

Photograph of Crystal WolfCrystal Wolf

Midwestern filker Crystal Wolf will surprise you. Don't let her quiet demeanor fool you. This is one feisty woman. Crys describes herself as "a folk-rock musician and song-writer with a penchant for fantasy, science fiction, fandom, and humor. I’ll play just about anywhere provided I can get there, and I love to make new friends. I’m also a religious studies nerd (currently studying Buddhism and keeping one foot in the Neo-Pagan world, but deep down I’m just an Agnostic). I love to read, sing, play the guitar, learn new instruments, create rhythms on various world drums, and dance – like a crazy white girl. It;rsquo;s not always pretty, but it’s always a good time."

Her songs are dark and lusty, free and fanciful, no topics barred. She has wicked performance skills, too, capturing and holding audiences spellbound. Listen to her performance of "Baroo", sung from the point of view of a much put-upon bloodhound at reverbnation.

We're happy to add this "wolf" to the pack. (She was even willing to add an initial "E." to her name to help us tie in to this year's theme. And find out more about Crystal Wolf here.

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Also Appearing at ChamBanaCon

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