Synthetic ConFusion Home Page Synthetic ConFusion Guests of Honor

Pro Guest of Honor: Vernor Vinge

Artist Guest of Honor: Steve Stiles

Scientist Guest of Honor: Mitchell Burnside Clapp

Fan Guest of Honor: Chuck Firment

Toastmaster: Heather Alexander

Vernor Vinge
Pro Guest

Vernor Vinge is one of the most famous of the quiet guys in the world. Don't get me wrong, he speaks very well. But his writing also speaks for itself. The ideas set forth in Vinge's few but fabulous books (The Peace War (1984), Marooned in Realtime (1986), A Fire Upon the Deep (1992), and its prequel A Deepness in the Sky (1999) are the best known) have caused more than a stir in SF circles, and he also has four collections of short stories in print. Compound that by his 1993 essay "The Technological Singularity", in which he argues that exponential growth in technology will reach a point beyond which we cannot even speculate about the consequences. And don't forget that his novella "True Names" helped set the stage for cyberpunk with the concept of "cyberspace". We are pleased to welcome this writer, mathematician, and computer scientist to ConFusion.

Steve Stiles. Seriously.

Steve Stiles
Artist Guest

Steve Stiles first began cartooning for fanzines in 1957, the same year he entered our little microcosm. In over four decades he's continued to draw and write for fanzines of every kind and description, as well as editing and publishing some himself. In 1968 he won TAFF ( the TransAtlantic Fan Fund) and in 1998 he won the first Bill Rotsler Award in recognition of his achievements as a fan artist. He's also been nominated for a few Fan Art Hugos now and again.

As for his career as a professional cartoonist and comic book illustrator, Steve has worked on both alternate comics and the mainstream variety, as well doing strips for S.F. Eye, Stardate magazine, and Heavy Metal. Two of his favorite gigs are his stories for Mark Schultz's Eisner/Harvey winning title, XENOZOIC TALES, and the Fantagraphics graphic novel "The Adventures Of Professor Thintwhistle And His Incredible Aether Flyer," in collaboration with a longtime friend, writer Richard Lupoff. For a look at Steve's art and writing, check out his web site at

Mitchell Burnside Clapp and some scientific equipment.  :)

Mitchell Burnside Clapp
Scientist Guest

Mitchell Burnside Clapp is the founder of Pioneer Rocketplane, which begat Rocketplane Limited. He graduated from MIT in 1984 with two degrees in Aerospace Engineering, one in Physics, and another in Russian, establishing the trend of being constitutionally unable to limit himself to just one field of endeavor. During 1988 he attended the USAF Test Pilot School, from where he graduated in that year to work on the YA-7F program, serve as an instructor on the school's staff, and later as the Air Force's flight test person on the DC-X program. It was this experience that led to his initial involvement with the community, and indirectly to his development of aerial propellant transfer technology to enable horizontal takeoff, horizontal landing spaceplanes.

Mitchell Burnside Clapp left active duty military service in 1996 to found Pioneer Rocketplane, which won a series of contracts from NASA, the DoD, and the state of California as well as significant private investment and contracted efforts. He is also the CEO of another technology startup called Short Order Video. He has a wife, several patents, three children, two houses, a dog, a cat, many songwriting credits, a growing expertise in wine, and little skill at writing biographical information about himself. Although he does not consider himself a mad scientist (though he is occasionally peevish), he does have two beautiful daughters, and a son as well.

Chuck Firment, with Pachyderm

Chuck Firment
Fan Guest of Honor

Chuck has been attending ConFusion for years and has helped run the convention for many of those years. Even the years he has not been on the convention committee, he has contributed his charm and creative energy to ConFusion in many guises (including the now-famous Bubble Man costume!) Chuck is also a regular at the Michigan Rennaissance Festival and various Stilyagi social events. He's even been known to breathe fire!

Heather Alexander

Heather Alexander

Heather Alexander is a fiery, Celtic redhead who has often been known to sing the praises of the fae folk. She composes and performs original and traditional Celtic music on fiddle, guitar, bodhran and whatever other instruments with which the sidhe present her.

When not on tour, she makes her home in the countryside west of Portland, Oregon with her husband Phil and a menagerie of magical creatures. More often though, Heather is found performing up and down the West Coast, or in venues from Portland to Seattle, solo, or with Uffington Horse, her Celtic Folk and Mythic World Rock band. With guitar, fiddle and bodhran, she presents original and traditional Celtic music that is received with enthusiasm by audiences of all ages

Heather has published seven albums on her own label, Sea Fire Productions, including two live albums, four studio works and a "blooper" album, and a Mythic World Rock album, "Enchantment", with her band, Uffington Horse, all available in the dealers' area.

Her work on book/album tie-ins like "Insh'Allah: the music of Lion's Blood", "Songsmith" and "Shadow Stalker" have assured her popularity at SF cons, while her appearances at pubs, coffee houses, Folk Music Festivals and Highland Games have made her music available to the public at large.

She can be found on the Web at

Last updated December 18, 2005