San Diego Comic Con 2014 Diary

SD Con Center WideAh, Comic Con San Diego. Overblown, packed like a sardine can, vaguely disorganized because there is simply too much going on, yet still so awesome. I attended for almost all four days last year and frankly the crowds beat me to a pulp. This year I attended for one day, not even a full day. I didn’t have much planned  except to show some friends around and do brunch with a fellow author. I didn’t schedule any panels to attend, figuring that I’d take a look at the Events Guide when I got there – the actual paper and ink Events Guide, not a program application loaded onto my iphone. I had the SDCC guide app loaded onto Comic Conmy phone last year but it kept trying to update inside the Convention Center where the reception sucks and hung up all of the time. Just give me a paper map and a paper schedule. I can deal with last minute adjustments posted on the kiosks. What follows is a brief description of my day, along with a set of fun photographs I took, especially highlighting the steampunk participants.

SyFyI got up at 5 am on Saturday and drove to San Diego from north of Los Angeles (about 3 hours to downtown), parking nearby and walking in at 8 am. I like to drive in early to avoid the traffic, then haunt a restaurant until the Con doors open. A coffee, iced tea and a blueberry muffin set me back $20 (including tip) at the wonderfully facade-d SyFy Cafe near the corner of K Street and 5th. There are many nice restaurants in the Gaslamp District and it houses a healthy number of off-site events, some associated with Comic Con and some not. I met up with Exhibit Hall Signmy friend and the three kids he had in tow and entered the Convention Center near the time it opened. One thing Comic Con does extremely well, in my opinion, is having plenty of stations to process incoming attendees. Even with huge lines involved, the registration process has been efficient and painless in my experience. We wandered the vendor floor for a while, before the crowd really got thick, and I went to see my pals Patti and Jason at their Fat Rabbit Farm booth. They are great people and their kid-oriented books and Jason and Patti Fat Rabbitmerchandise are great (I got two t-shirts for my kids). I also picked up two Coloring with Your Octopus books from Brian Kesinger’s booth, signed by the artist himself. It didn’t look like Lantern City had a booth this year or I would have dropped in on them again as well. I sure hope Bruce Boxleitner and his crew can get that awesome looking steampunk tv series going. I walked through a literal river of human beings to make my lunch with Star Wars author Preston & MillerJohn Jackson Miller at the Hyatt, where we chatted and indulged in a lovely breakfast buffet while a rancor-type creature watched us from outside the window. John has a tremendous amount of experience as an author and his latest book, A New Dawn: Star Wars is coming out in early September. He was kind enough to give me a signed advanced reader’s copy. Great guy. Another highlight for me was making it to the Mattel Toys booth where the cover artist for my Romulus Buckle book series, Eamon O’Donoghue, had a full size She-Ra Me and Eamon Standeestandee on display. Eamon couldn’t make it to San Diego this year so he asked for some photos of his work. Great job, Eamon! Also, Eamon has just completed the cover art for Romulus Buckle book 3, soon to be revealed, and he knocked the ball out of the park as far as I am concerned. Awesome.

So, the rest of the Con day was spent wandering, though I did find the Pro Lounge for the first time and I stood in line for an Indiana Jones Fan Goodnight San Diegopanel that I didn’t get into. I did make contact with the steampunks and the steampunk gathering and the following photographs are the best of the ones I took of the group and their wonderful costumes, plus some more Comic Con miscellaneous images. The steampunks sure have a lot of fun. I’ll be back at SDCC next year, hopefully with a lot more going on.

Steampunk Gathering SDCC 2014Air PiratesSteam PirateSteam CoupleOld British EmpireSteam Pirate Pair Steampunk Styling

Okay, and now some photos I liked of various odds and ends of Comic Con-ica.GladiatorStar Wars Trio Rainbow Dash Gladiator Dev Art Mascot Halo Girls

“The Star Wars & Star Trek in my Steampunk” at Faraway Press Blog

I ‘m not sure how I missed posting this, but Star Wars author and fellow 47North scribe John Jackson Miller was kind enough to host me aboard his Faraway Press blog this month, here at this link: I briefly discuss how my life and writing have been sledgehammered by the influence of Star Trek and Star Wars, with some vain efforts at humor tossed in. Thanks for the guest spot, John!

Also, John has a brand new Star Wars series book released, Star Wars: Kenobi, and it debuted at #12 on the New York Times bestseller list. Congratulations, John!

JJ Miller and Star Wars: Kenobi

JJ Miller and Star Wars: Kenobi

Author Guest Blog: John Jackson Miller on Steaming into Space

Today I am honored to welcome author John Jackson Miller as a guest on the blog.  He is a prolific writer who often inhabits the world of Star Wars and the realm of comic books, and his fantastic new novel Star Wars: Kenobi, just released on August 27.  Below, John talks about trains and the ever-present links between the future and the past.  Thanks, John!


The Golden Age is twelve, or so says a friend of mine. I don’t know whether I was born too early for steampunk to be a part of my adolescent reading diet or if I just missed it, but my consumption always ran to hard science fiction of the Arthur C. Clarke stripe. I was interested in how theoretical gadgets worked, I suppose — but I hadn’t yet made the connection with existing mechanical conveyances of the past.

Enter my son, years later, who is just a year past twelve — and he’s proven to be the exact opposite. The kid has been train-crazy since he was a hatchling. I think I’ve gone to more model railroad shows than science fiction conventions since he got interested. He absolutely knows his stuff — the tour guides at the train museums listen in wonderment as he explains the workings of their own equipment to them. And he’s let it fire up his imagination.



To wit: it is his mission in life, he says, to figure out a way to replace the world’s diesel engines with new steam trains—which he intends to make both greener and more efficient than the machines that superseded them. He’s also planning to reestablish the defunct railroad that once went by our house. (I’m not sure I’m ready for the noise!)

Given all of that, I fully expect that steampunk fiction will be up his alley as he’s growing up, just as I was myself obsessed with Clarke and my other love, Star Wars. I think that’s what’s great about speculative fiction: it doesn’t speculate only in a single direction. There are plenty of onramps for readers’ imaginations.

It was partially his interest in railroads that inspired me to develop a rail-like aspect for interstellar travel in my SF novel for 47North, Overdraft: The Orion Offensive. The tale — which follows the misadventures of a conniving 22nd century stock trader whose failed scheme lands him on the farthest frontiers, trading to dangerous aliens while under the grudging guard of a team of high-tech bodyguards — is set in a universe with some peculiar physics. Only units of matter a little larger than a railroad car can travel between stars — meaning that interstellar commerce easily integrates with the container-traffic system that railroads gave us in the 19th Century. Large starships have to be broken down and shipped piece by piece: it’s a Lego kind of galaxy!

Star Wars: Kenobi

Star Wars: Kenobi

And Overdraft borrows some commercial dynamics from an earlier time, still: since there’s no instantaneous communication in that world, it shares much in common with the age of sail. They never know whether an expedition made it until someone returns with news. It’s a fun story — and while it’s obviously quit a bit different from my major hardcover release, Star Wars: Kenobi, from Random House/Del Rey, that one, too, has some callbacks to the past. Set during the earliest days of Obi-Wan Kenobi’s desert exile, there’s very much a western flavor to the novel.

So it’s definitely fun to mix up past, present, and future on the page. I’m not sure what the real future holds, but if you see a clean, green steam train picking you up in a couple of decades, I’m hoping my son has a piece of the action!

My thanks to Richard for the guest shot! You can find more about my works at — or follow me on Twitter at @jjmfaraway.