The fourth annual SciFi/Fantasy Fest returns to Hoover on July 27-29.
The free festival, to be held at the Hoover Public Library and Hoover Senior Center, includes sessions on gaming, comics, writing, cosplay, Star Wars and Star Trek and — of course — the popular costume contest on Saturday night.
People who love to play science fiction and fantasy games can get their fill in the auditorium at the Senior Center, which will be set up for open games and demonstrations throughout the festival.
But the bulk of the festival takes place at the library next door, including a prop building contest, two breakout rooms, vendor room, an Artemis Starship bridge simulator game and a leather carving workshop where people get to create their own leather bracer.
The leather carving workshop is the only activity that costs money at the festival, and it is $15, said Krysten Griffin, a fiction librarian who is chairwoman of the event.
One of the highlights of this year’s festival is the presence of several nationally known science fiction and fantasy authors, including Catherine Asaro, Keef Cross and Lara Elena Donnelly.
Asaro, who has a doctorate in chemical physics from Harvard University, is known for her deep scientific writing and includes sophisticated mathematical concepts in her fiction, but she also blends adventure and romance into her novels. She served two terms as president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
Cross is an artist and creator of the DayBlack comic book. It’s about a former slave who was bitten by a vampire in the cotton fields and now, 400 years later, works as a tattoo artist in the small town of DayBlack. Cross says on his website that he draws his voice and style from the sexual raunchiness, drugs and social commentary of underground comic books from the 1970s.
Donnelly is the author of vintage-glam spy thriller called “Amberlough” and its sequel “Armistice.” She is from Ohio but now lives in Manhattan. She graduated from the Alpha and Clarion writers’ workshops and has had her work featured in Strange Horizons literary magazine, Escape Pod podcast and Nightmare Magazine for horror and dark fantasy.
Other authors scheduled to come to the SciFi/Fantasy Fest include Tobias Buckell, Ruthanna Emrys, Les Johnson, Bobby Nash and Van Allen Plexico. Barnes & Noble Booksellers will have the authors’ books available for sale, and the authors are scheduled to participate in book signings.
The festival also includes a KidCon at 10 a.m. Saturday morning, which includes karaoke and science fiction and fantasy crafts.
Festival attendees also can watch a live Dungeons & Dragons campaign, in which library staff act out an unscripted adventure. “We did it last year, and it was wildly popular,” Griffin said.
More than 3,000 people attended last year’s festival, up from 2,100 two years ago, she said. “They keep coming every year and bringing more of their friends and family. It just keeps getting bigger and better.”
Partners in the event are Bud’s Games in Leeds, Excelsior Games & Comics in Hoover and Kingdom Comics in Vestavia Hills.