Having a Konniption — sci-fi lovers gather

Gamers and sci-fi fans mix at the annual Columbia convention.
Sunday, June 27, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:41 p.m. CDT, Thursday, July 10, 2008

A war was waged Saturday afternoon on the second floor of the Stoney Creek Inn. Across a table-top covered in green cloth, jagged terrain and wispy trees, Casey Clark and Jason Dubbert squared off to battle in a game of Warhammer 40,000.

With the roll of a handful of dice, Dubbert showed signs of distress.

“It’s over; there’s nothing I can do,” he said, as Clark slowly advanced his intricately painted miniatures — some with weapons as large as their bodies — toward their targets.

Such a scene was found at the Konniption Science, Sci-Fi and Fantasy Convention. The weekend convention began Friday and will run through 3 p.m. today. It showcases not only gaming but art, discussions, vendors, book signing and other activities.

After storming the Columbia Ramada Inn last year, Konniption has moved to the larger center this year and expanded its offerings.

An art room showcases the work of artists from Columbia and the surrounding areas including pieces depicting scenes of fiery dragons and fierce warriors to more humor-oriented work. Erin Farnsworth, the art show’s director, said she was especially pleased to have the work of St. Louis artist David Deen featured in the show.

Deen, a convention regular who works primarily in colored pencil, said some of his more popular pieces come from a series he is working to complete called Nine Lives of Cats.

“Everyone talks about how cats have nine lives,” Deen said. “So I thought I’d do a series based on that idea where I distill the nine main personality traits of cats and do a piece on each one of those.”

Yvonne Clark browsed through the art show. She stopped at several brightly colored pieces.

“There’s a lot of creativity here; with fantasy work you’ll see a lot of repetitive themes,” Clark said. “Everyone here seems to take that and add a little personalized twist to it.”

Two guest authors, David Drake and Jim Butcher, will be available today to sign autographs and interact with fans.

Drake is best known for his military science fiction titles, and Butcher is the author of “The Dresden Files,” a series about Chicago’s only wizard private investigator. “The Dresden Files” is being adapted into a SciFi TV miniseries.

“Because it is small convention, you can really see these people up close,” Konniption chairman Doug Wilson said. “You can actually sit down and have lunch with them if you wanted to.”

One of the new attractions to the convention is network gaming provided by Columbia Community LAN. Joshua Bullock, president and founder of Columbia Community LAN, said about 20 different games are offered through the network, and everyone attending the convention can play as long as they bring their own equipment.

“There’s a lot of shared interest in the sci-fi community and the gaming community,” Bullock said.

With the exception of about four years, Columbia has had a science fiction convention every year since 1982, Wilson said. In support, there has been a group of 20 to 30 people throughout the years who have helped out.

“People who are admitted fans of the genres gravitate to each other,” Wilson said. “So (the convention is) just like a reunion.”

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