Guests of Honor

Catherine Asaro

Catherine Asaro is the author of the Lost Continent series, the Major Bhaajan mysteries and the Saga of the Skolian Empire series, which includes the Nebula-award-winning The Quantum Rose, as well as a number of stand-alone novels and short fiction. But being an award-winning author is just one of the hats that she wears. She has a PhD from Harvard in chemical physics, and is a serious advocate for bringing girls and women into the STEM fields. Her scientific papers inform some of the science in her fiction.

Oh, and did we mention that she also was president of SFWA for two years? And she used to be a professional ballet dancer. And she also sings at clubs and conventions (and online).

Steve Leininger

Steve Leininger was the engineer that created the TRS-80 in 1977, one of the first personal computers available. Steve is retired, but he has not run out of things to do. Growing up with undiagnosed A.D.D. and dyslexia, Steve would often be easily distracted (SQUIRREL!!) but did well in school because he had so many interests and a mom that fed those interests.

His current list of “things to do” include developing STEM presentations for elementary school students, being a mentor, maker, and board member for a makerspace in Colorado Springs, hiking the many trails in the Pikes Peak region, splitting wood for a firewood ministry in the mountain community up the pass from Colorado Springs, and orchestrating monthly training and resource meetings for leaders in the local Boys Scouts of America council.

A partial list of other interests include embedded computers, crafts, mechanisms, toys, woodworking, carving, cooking, musical instruments, science, and magic.

Jim Humble

Jim is known for both the cute and the fierce and scary. His fuzzy kittens are adorable and his Lovecraftian horrors…aren’t. Some of his pieces manage to merge the cute and the scary. Jim seems equally at home creating 2D and 3D pieces, and he has won numerous awards for both sculpture and paintings, nationally and internationally.

Connie Willis

Connie has been an integral part of COSine for most of its history. Connie was our guest of honor in 2007 and has been our special guest, along with husband Courtney, every COSine since 2012.

Connie is seen everywhere around science fiction conventions – speaking on a discussion panel, dining with a table full of other authors, doing a reading, or winning an award. Sure, she’s one of the most awarded science fiction writers working today; with eleven Hugos, seven Nebulas, an induction into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame, and named as a Grand Master by the Science Fiction Writers of America, but Connie is not one to rest on her laurels. She’s out there, encouraging, teaching, sharing her stories, and being an invaluable part of the science fiction community.

Here is what Connie has to say about writing science fiction:

I first fell in love with science fiction at age thirteen, when I read Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit, Will Travel. That’s not unusual. Science fiction and adolescence have a lot in common: love of adventure, love of ideas, boundless enthusiasm for the universe. For many readers, it’s only an infatuation, but for me it has turned into a lifelong love affair, I think because the medium of science fiction is ideal for the stories I want to tell and the themes I want to write about.

I find that looking at things obliquely, through the disguise of other places, other times, cuts through not only the reader’s prejudices and defenses but my own and makes it possible to look clearly at our own world, our own faces. And the conventions of science fiction—Martians, time travel, robots—carry within them the themes that matter most to me. Time travel, especially, with its built-in resonances of grief and loss and regret, I could write about forever. After all these years, I still come to science fiction with that same shock of joy and recognition that I did at thirteen.

Courtney Willis

Dr. Courtney Willis, fondly known as Doctor Science, has made an art of demonstrating scientific principles in a fun and engaging way. He presents to avid audiences at science fiction conventions throughout Colorado. As one of our special guests over the years, Courtney has taught COSine members how to measure the circumference of the earth, about science apps for your phone, magic tricks with science, when science got it wrong, and even gave us a scientific literacy quiz. (Yes, there actually WAS a quiz!)

Convention-goers are far from the only people to benefit from his teaching. Over the last fifty years, he has coached and guided thousands of young minds at both the high school and college levels. He taught everything from introductory physics to acoustics and Teaching Methods of Science. Recently granted emeritus status by the University of Northern Colorado, where he taught for twenty-six years, Courtney enjoyed most the calculus-based physics classes. It was fun, he says, “to see a student light up in class.”

Isaac Asimov’s The Universe is the book he most often gifts to others, including his students. Its themes of scientific progression and man’s understanding of the universe resonate with many kinds of readers. Over the years, he says, he talked about the book so much that “Connie finally found a hardback of the book and had Asimov sign it to me. I treasure the book not only because Asimov signed it shortly before he passed, but also for its content. Asimov kind of connects Connie and me as he is both a science fiction writer and a scientist.”

His advice to students of any kind, science, education, or authors, is to ask questions and do research. “Really do your homework. There is a lot of science on the Internet (its original purpose), but when you get to certain specifics, go to books, to sites.” And to himself? He would keep journals of his everyday life. I’d say that would be a great read.