ICON 44 Unpacking Non-Binary Reality (2019)

 ICON 44 Unpacking Non-Binary Reality (2019)

About the Event

icon 44 logo

  • Theme: Unpacking Non-Binary Reality
  • Dates: November 1 through 3, 2019
  • Location: the Marriott, Cedar Rapids, Iowa

About Our Theme

The world is not left or right, black or white, male or female, us or them, or Star Trek or Star Wars. It is a spectrum, a wide canvas of multiple hues and shades of grey. The foundation of the theme this year is inclusivity and debunking the myths and misinformation that seem rampant at times. We wanted to bridge gaps in knowledge and open dialogues. All we ask is that you listen and try to hear those of differing points of view. You may agree or you may disagree, but if you can’t buy an idea, opt to rent it for a time. Please be respectful and kind. Discussion is cool, but someone’s existence or validity is never up for debate. We are all people.

Membership Rates for ICON 44

 Online Registration Coming Soon! Adults (13 & up) Children (12 & Under)
Full Weekend Pass (Early Bird Rate) $55.00 Free with paid adult
Benefactor $110.00 N/A
Paradise ICON $100.00 N/A
At-the-Door Weekend Pass $70.00 Free with paid adult
At-the-Door Friday Pass $40.00 Free with paid adult
At-the-Door Saturday Pass $50.00 Free with paid adult
At-the-Door Sunday Pass $30.00 Free with paid adult

Guests of Honor

pat murphy icon 44 author guest of honorPat Murphy, Author Guest of Honor

I’m a writer, a scientist, and sometimes a toy maker.

All of my stories and novels have a hint of the strange. Some have been called science fiction, some fantasy, and some neither one. Most of my work falls between categories. I think that the most interesting events happen at the edges, in the borderlands where the lines are fuzzy.

My fiction writing has won a number of awards, including the Nebula Award for Science Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Philip K. Dick Award for best paperback original, the Christopher Award, and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award. I also co-founded the James Tiptree Memorial Award.

When I’m not writing fiction, I write books about science. For upwards of 20 years, I was a writer at the Exploratorium, San Francisco’s hands-on museum of science, art, and human perception. For several years,  I wrote science books for Klutz, a publisher of how-to books that come packaged with the tools of their trade — from juggling cubes to foldable paper dragons that fly.  (That’s where I got  my start in toy making and paper engineering. Working with at team at Klutz, I helped develop the stuff that went with my books — from origami starfighters to a snap-together skeletal hand.)

These days, I’m the Activity Guru/Evil Genius at Mystery Science, where I’m helping create a elementary science curriculum designed to inspire students (and their teachers) to love science. I create the hands-on activities that go with each lesson, drawing on all my experience as a science writer, an educator, and a toy maker. It’s a lot of fun.

Sometimes, I also teach writing. I’ve taught in Stanford University’s Creative Writing Program, at the University of California at Santa Cruz, and at the Clarion Speculative Fiction Workshops in Michigan and Seattle.

Mystie Hollaman, Fan Guest of Honor

Mystie HollamanMystie Hollaman sprang, Athena-like, from her own forehead on the stage of the Contra Vaudeville Show, and fandom has been much the better for it. She is a Kansas City-based fan, best know for hosting RoomCon, the con within a party within a con. While normally held at ConQuesT, RoomCon has occasionally materialized at other cons, most famously at MidAmeriCon II in 2016.

Mystie is a trans woman, and while she shares general meatspace coordinates and some interests (cheesy horror movies, Hallowe’en) with her counterpart James, she is a unique individual with her own take on the world, and is, in many ways, a true fannish icon.



Misty Palek, ICON 44 Artist Guest of HonorMisty Palek, artist guest of honor

Misty Palek is a self-taught watercolor artist, who enjoys releasing her bountiful imagination on paper.  She specializes in surrealism mainly of food, including her love of fruits and vegetables.

Spending time over the past five years and developing her technique in watercolor, she is quite proficient in creating one-of-a-kind paintings that appeal to all generations.

Misty lives in Des Moines, Iowa.  She has won many awards, in the watercolor category and she is part of several clubs, such as the Iowa Watercolor Society, Art-A-Holics Anonyms, and several others.

Shawn Palek, artist guest of honor

Shawn Palek (°1970, Uniontown, OH, United States) mainly uses the airbrush to paint things he enjoys, whether it be pop-culture to hyper-realism. By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of middle class values, Palek touches various overlapping themes and strategies. Several reoccurring subject matters can be recognized, such as the relation with popular culture and media, working with repetition, provocation and the investigation of the process of expectations.

His paintings often refer to pop and mass culture. Using written and drawn symbols, a world where light-heartedness rules and where rules are undermined is created. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.

His works are characterized by the use of everyday objects in an atmosphere of middleclass mentality in which recognition plays an important role. Shawn Palek currently lives and works in Des Moines, IA.

Kat Pepmiller, costumer/cosplay artist guest of honor

Kat Pepmiller made her first costume, Princess Leia’s white dress from Star Wars Episode IV in October of 1977. Costuming quickly became her passion. She attended her first convention in 1983, and competed in her first masquerade five years later in 1988. She is a multiple award winner including Best in Show for her entries “The Bride” and “Last Dance.”

Not just a performer Kat has emceed and directed many masquerade/cosplay events over the past 25 years, including hosting the 1994 Winnipeg Worldcon Masquerade.

Kat has designed costumes for theaters around the twin cities including Theatre in the Round, Northwestern College and the Pillsbury House Theatre, where she designed the costumes for the 2005 Ivey Award winning Hot Comb. Her work has been featured in the Minnesota-made films Chimera Tribe: The Rakai (2009) and The Devil’s Hour (2016). Kat is also an accomplished alterations expert, with over twenty years of experience in bridal alterations.


Susan Leabhart, toastmaster

Susan (she/her) is a lifelong fan of all things science fiction. She’s the coordinator of DAGOBAH, the Davenport Area Gathering of Books and Humanoids, a science fiction discussion group. She’s a board member of the BrassGears Adventurers Society and plays ukulele with the BrassGears Ukulele Melodium.
In her spare time she’s a bellydancer, a master class costumer, and creator of steampunk jewelry and accessories. It’s a good thing she’s recently retired. She’s very vocal about reading and literacy, the environment,  and life long learning. Also, she’s crazy about her family and will show you photos of her grandson at every opportunity.



ICON 44 Staff

  • ConCom: Gregg Parmentier, John Frick, Shawn Johnson
  • Art Show: Pamela Webster, Sarah Herman
  • Barnes and Noble Liaison: Terri M. LeBlanc
  • Blood Mobile Liaison: Momma YaYa
  • Chocolate Ceremony:  Michelle Clark
  • Con Medic: Sheril Bogenrief
  • ConSuite/Hospitality Room: Jennifer Todd
  • Costume Central Organizer: Lynda Sherman
  • Dealers’ Room Coordinator: Gregg Parmentier
  • Fan Table Coordinador: Gregg Parmentier
  • The Torchlit Study: A Teen Writing Workshop: Erin Casey of The Writers’ Rooms, Will Billmeyer
  • Gaming: Michele Maakestad (Mindbridge Game Library), Adam Brower (video gaming)
  • Guest Liaison for Pat Murphy: Lisa Martincik
  • Guest Liaison for Mystie Hollaman: Gregg Parmentier
  • Hotel Liaison: Momma YaYa
  • Logistics Coordinator: Denise Gehling
  • Masquerade: Michelle Clark
  • Paradise ICON Coordinator: Catherine Schaff-Stump
  • Program Book Layout and Design: Beth Hudson-Wheeler
  • Programming Coordinator: Tony and Jessica Penticoff
  • Publicity:
  • Registration Coordinator: Tracie Michlin
  • Room Parties Coordinator: Susan Leabhart
  • Security Lead: Sheril Bogenrief
  • On-Site Signage Coordinator: Chelsea Eldeen
  • Tech and AV Coodinator: Fred Coverdill
  • Trans-Iowa Canal Company Director: Beth Hudson Wheeler
  • Treasurer: John Johnson
  • Volunteer Coordinators:
  • Web Services: Terri M. LeBlanc