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Your guide to Starfest this weekend: Ten events not to miss

StarFest is kicking off this weekend, and packed into the three day event are five different festivals, hundreds of activities and enough dork-power to raise Firefly from the ashes. You can pick up a full schedule here, but if it's a bit overwhelming, we've broken it down to ten events you won't want to miss under any circumstance. One quick note: In the original article we printed that Jonathan Frakes (Commander William T. Riker, beard enthusiast) will be attending, but he had to cancel. Fortunately, the completely awesome LeVar Burton (Lieutenant Geordi La Forge, hero to Jef Otte) will be coming in his place, so Trek nerds need not worry.

10. RoboFest

(All weekend)

While it'll probably be difficult to miss, you should make sure you have time set aside to check out RoboFest this year. You'll be able to scope plenty of life-size robots from the movies, but there will also be a few robots from the R2 and B9 Robot clubs that you won't want to overlook.

9. Pirate Galaxy

(Weekend-long game)

When you walk into StarFest, you'll be given a map. Clues will be given throughout the weekend that will lead you to different panels and events where you'll be given a stamp on your map to show you solved the clue, at the end you'll have a chance to win some prizes -- if you're smart enough to solve the clues and finish the map.

8. Teaching Comics

(Friday, 4-7 p.m.)

This looks incredibly long, but the panels are broken up across age-range, so at 4 p.m. is the Teach Comics to Elementary/Middle School panel, at 5 p.m. is the High School portion and 6 p.m. marks the college section. Teaching comics isn't easy for a number of reasons, namely that it's hard to get approval from button-down administrators, but these panels should help with that, as well as in collecting together source texts (one of which is bound to be the unbelievably helpful comic bible Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud).

7. Comic Journalism Panel

(Saturday, 10 a.m.)

Speaking of comics, why not start your Saturday morning with the Comic Journalism panel? Comic journalism has been alive and well in some of the best works in the history of the medium, and as the industry progresses, it's expanding and becoming completely new things. Even the most literary among us should find something respectable and interesting in this panel.

6. Klingon Warrior's Tournament

(Saturday, 4:30 p.m.)

Uh, do we really need to say anything else here? IT'S A KLINGON TOURNAMENT.

5. Morena Baccarin

(Saturday, 4:45 p.m.)

We adored Morena Baccarin during her stint on Firefly, and although we've never actually watched V, we do know that she plays some type of lizard-alien-babe-thing. We don't particularly care, to be honest, because as all geeks know: cuteness outweighs all else.

4. Making of the The Day the Earth Stood Still, with Kevin Atkins, Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore

(Sunday, 9:30 a.m.)

The original The Day the Earth Stood Still is one of the few quintessential science-fiction films that manages to cross genres and get recommended by even the surliest of film aficionados. This presentation will look closely at the special effects, the art style and everything else that makes this film one of the greatest of all time.

3. How to Hoax a Paranormal Event

(Sunday, 10 a.m.)

We don't know exactly what to expect from this panel, but it sounds like it might be the most helpful one from the whole weekend. We've often tried to hoax paranormal events on our own time, but it usually consists of us putting a sheet over our heads and jumping out of closets yelling, "boo!" Hopefully we'll be able to step up our game a bit after this panel.

2. LeVar Burton

(Sunday, 1:15 p.m.)

It's LeVar Burton, aka, the greatest dude of, like, all time. He might be replacing the awesomely and eternally bearded Jonathan Frakes, but we can't really think of anyone better to step into those shoes. If you play your cards right he might even sign your stupid homemade visor.

1. Balcony Challenge

(All weekend)

The Balcony Challenge is essentially a fan-generated pile of awesome you won't want to miss. Everyone in Atrium rooms will have the chance to decorate their balconies in a Thor-related theme and attendees will be able to judge their efforts based on their appeal. It's great to see and one of the most visually stunning portions of the weekend. If you're interested in participating, full rules are here.

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