May is here, and that means Star Wars (as in "may the fourth be with you," because nerds love puns). Don't worry if George Lucas's vision left you cold, though — there are plenty of great geek events happening this month that have nothing to do with that particular galaxy far, far away. We've got film odes to the apocalypse, legendary sci-fi authors visiting and free comics, just to name a few. Here are ten of Denver's best geek events, presented in chronological order.
10) Free Comic Book Day
Start your nerdy month off right with free comics! Every year, the first Saturday in May is Free Comic Book Day, which is exactly what it sounds like — comic-book stores give you comics! Sure, there are some rules (no, you can't go in and just grab whatever), but hey — free comics. Whether you're a current comics devotee, a lapsed fan looking to get back on the comics horse, or a total noob who got hooked by that Netflix Daredevil series and now wants to get into actual comics, there's nothing but upside. Free comics! What's not to like?
Free Comic Book Day runs all day Saturday, May 2 at participating comic-book stores throughout the metro area. Visit the Free Comic Book Day website for more info, and to find a participating store near you, use the handy store locator.
9) Star Wars at the Hangar
The Force is strong at the Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum every May, when the museum turns into a Star Wars geekstravaganza. Costumed characters abound, and you can test your aim at Blast-a-Trooper or step into your favorite scene through the magic of green-screen technology. It's also a rare chance to sit in the cockpit of an X-Wing and check out a replica of Anakin's Skywalker's racing pod, on loan from a museum in Seattle. That's just a sampling of the Star Wars fun to be had, so if you're hyped up from the teasers for the next film, this is a can't-miss event.
Enjoy Star Wars at the Hangar from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, May 3 at Wings Over the Rockies Air & Space Museum. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for kids 4-12 and free for the 3 and under set. For tickets and more information, visit the Star Wars at the Hangar event page.
8) The People Vs. George Lucas
In all the hype that will build between now and the release of the next installment of the Star Wars franchise this Christmas, it's important to remember one thing — the last batch of Star Wars films were pretty much a fucking disaster. It takes a special kind of stupid to turn a rabid fanbase so thoroughly and completely against the thing they loved for so long, but George Lucas managed it with the prequel trilogy, and documentary filmmaker Alexandre Phillipe digs into those reactions to that kind of stupid in The People Vs. George Lucas. It's a charming look at the films, the fandom and why people got so pissed off at what happened when Lucas finally gave his fans more of what they wanted. Plus, Philippe himself will be on hand to discuss the film and answer any lingering questions you may have! (Disclosure: I appear briefly in the film — for no compensation — to say not very nice things about George Lucas.)
See The People Vs. George Lucas at 7:15 Monday, May 4 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, or $7 for Denver Film Society Members. For more information, visit The People Vs. George Lucas event page.
7) Apocalypse WOW!
Living through the end of the world would suck big time, but it sure makes for great film! In honor of the release of Mad Max: Fury Road, the Denver Film Society is saluting the cinematic apocalypse with a series of classic end-times films. It starts with a free sneak preview of Mad Max: Fury Road, then continues with the original Mad Max, the Charlton Heston guns-and-zombies extravaganza The Omega Man (the second film adaptation of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend) later in May. June has its own slate of apocalyptic cinema goodness, but let's wait until the calendar turns to talk about those, okay? I'm still trying to control my excitement at finally seeing the original Mad Max on the big screen right now.
Apocalypse WOW! kicks off Saturday, May 9 at the Sie FilmCenter with a free preview screening of Mad Max: Fury Road and continues over the following two Saturdays with Mad Max and The Omega Man. For details on how to get an invite to the free screening and tickets and times for the remaining screenings, visit the Denver Film Society Apocalypse WOW! event page.
Daenerys and the Targaryens
6) Nerd Music!
Geeks love music, too. Just ask Jonathan Coulton, or anyone involved in the nerdcore scene. Denver geeks have a monthly night to get their groove on, organized by the same people who brought you Rock Comic Con. Local geek musicians and comedians will be front and center for songs about Dothraki, human centipedes, Star Wars and, of course, Batman. Hosted by members of H2Awesome and Daenerys and the Targaryens, this monthly series is a perfect fusion of music and geekery, giving you a place to get down without ever needing to remove your pocket protector. If you have fun at the monthly, make plans to hit up Rock Comic Con on May 23, the perfect afterparty for Denver Comic Con.
The regular monthly nerd music extravaganza happens at 9 p.m. May 14 at Deer Pile. Admission is free. For more information, visit the Nerd Music Night Facebook page. Catch Rock Comic Con at 8:30 p.m. May 23 at Lime Pavilions. Admission is also free, but you'll need to RSVP at the Rock Comic Con website to get in.
5) Science Friction: Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow
Depending on who you ask, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is either forgettable, featherweight eye-candy or a criminally underappreciated dieselpunk gem. The fact that Jason Heller and Frank Romero's Science Friction series has programmed the overlooked early '00s film should tell you which they think it is. Jude Law and Angelina Jolie battle a mad scientist bent on remaking a world in his image in exquisite computer-generated setpieces that have to be seen to be believed. Local author and steampunk guru Kronda Seibert will be on hand to introduce the film, talk about steampunk and dieselpunk, and give away a few badges to her next convention.
See Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 20 at the Alamo Drafthouse. Tickets are $7. For tickets and more info, visit the Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow event page.
An image of Neal Stephenson from his website.
4) Neal Stephenson: Seveneves
Neal Stephenson's eagerly anticipated new novel delivers an epic tale of humanity's destiny off planet, the trials and tribulations that almost end our species and the radically transformed versions of ourselves we become in the process. It's a 5,000-year spanning epic covering mankind's exodus from a dying Earth and eventual return millenia later, from one of science fiction's greats, and he'll be in town to read from and sign the book. What else do you need to know?
Stephenson will read from and sign Seveneves at 7 p.m. Friday, May 22 at the Tattered Cover Colfax. Free tickets for the signing line will be available starting at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 19 with purchase of the novel ($35). For more information, visit the Tattered Cover website.
3) Adventure Time Encyclopaedia at the Denver Public Library
By now it's no secret that Adventure Time is one of the best — and geekiest — things on TV. Now the first official guide to the world of the show is available, written by none other than the Lord of Evil himself — Hunson Abadeer, ruler of the Nightosphere. More accurately, it's by the voice actor and writer who plays Abadeer, Martin Olson, who will be on hand to talk about the show, the book and more. Joining him will be none other than his real-life daughter Olivia Olson, who voices his Adventure Time daughter Marceline the Vampire Queen. Because the only thing better than one member of Adventure Time royalty visiting is two.
The event begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Denver Central Library Level B2 Conference Center. Admission is free but this event will fill up fast, so you'll need to register. For more information, visit the DPL Fresh City Life page.
Yup, that's a lot of geeks.
2) Denver Comic Con
Forgive the cliche, but if you do only one geek event this month, it should absolutely be Denver Comic Con. In just a few short years, DCC has quickly established itself as one of Denver's biggest and best geek cultural events, and this year promises to be the best yet. Tens of thousands of enthusiasts from every walk of geek will fill the Colorado Convention Center for three days of pop-culture revelry. Don't let the name fool you, either — comics are just one of the many draws, and guests and activities will encompass the entire geekosystem, from film legends and authors like Christopher Lloyd and Max Brooks to hardcore panels on the minutiae of your favorite fictional world.
Denver Comic Con kicks off with a party at 7 p.m. Friday, May 22 at the Colorado Convention Center, with the con proper starting Saturday morning. Tickets start at $40 for an adult, single-day pass (3-day passes are sold out!). For tickets and additional info, visit the Denver Comic Con website.
1) Colorado Matters at the Tattered with Paolo Bacigalupi: The Water Knife
Colorado science fiction author and multiple award winner — including the Hugo, science fiction's most prestigious award — Paolo Bacigalupi will sit down with Colorado Public Radio's Ryan Warner to discuss his new book, The Water Knife. This gripping near-future thriller looks at what happens to the United States when water ceases to be plentiful, and it's not pretty. If his past work is any indication, though, it will be a fascinating read by one the genre's most exciting young writers.
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Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.