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The Ten Best Geek Events in Denver in January

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The new year is upon us, and it's time to start making -- and breaking -- resolutions. If you've resolved to get out and do more fun geeky activities in 2015, then you're in luck -- January will help you start the year off right. From gaming tournaments to classic horror on the big screen, the month to come offers a bounty of geeky joy. Here, in chronological order, are ten of January's best geek events.

See also: 2014: My Year in Geek, From Jodorowsky's Dune to Bill the Galactic Hero

10) The Black Hole

As the '70s drew to a close and

Star Wars

mania continued to grip the nation, every studio did its best to cash in on the sci-fi craze. Disney's attempt,

The Black Hole

, was possibly the weirdest of the lot. More violent and darker than Disney's usual fare, it was basically Gothic horror set in space with its creepy atmosphere and weird robots made from dead people. Throw in some of the shittiest "science" in science fiction history and you have a unique film that hasn't aged well at all, but will remind you why it terrified you as a kid just the same.

See The Black Hole at 9:30 p.m. Friday, January 2 at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $10, or $7 for Denver Film Society Members. For tickets and more info, visit the Black Hole event page of the DFS website.

9) Grand Prix Denver

If you're ready to take your

Magic: The Gathering

game to the next level, the Grand Prix circuit is a great place to do it. These open entry tournaments attract some of the best players in the world, so you if you can make it past the early rounds against the scrubs, you can test your mettle against top level pro players and maybe start to make a name for yourself as well. If you scrub out yourself, that's cool too -- side events galore will keep you busy all weekend, in almost any format you care to play. There's also a bunch of the game's top artists on hand to sign and/or alter your cards, plus vendors who can sell you that special thing to complete your collection, or help you turn a pile of unwanted cards into much needed cash.

Side events and Last Chance trials start at noon, Friday, January 2, with the main event -- the format is Standard -- starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, all at the Crowne Plaza DIA. Registration for the main event starts at $50, but you can come wander around for free, at least until a side event tempts you to join in the fun. To register and for more info, visit the Grand Prix Denver website.

8) The Extreme Life of the Sea Go down deep enough in the ocean and you're going to find some weird shit, from alien-looking fish to giant squid. Until you can work out a way to own your own personal deep-sea submersible, you can get your fix of the freaks of the deep at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, when father and son duo Stephen and Anthony Palumbi take you on a trip to the deepest, darkest and most dangerous parts of the underwater world to show you how life adapts to the most extreme conditions on the planet. Sure, it's not as cool as riding shotgun with Captain Nemo, but it's also less likely to result in you being eaten by an enormous cephalopod.

Peer into the ocean's depths at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 8 in the Ricketson Auditorium at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Tickets are $10, or $8 for museum members. For more info, visit the Extreme Life of the Sea page on the Denver Museum of Nature and Science website.

Continue for more great geek events in January.

7) W.C. Bauers: Unbreakable Travel to a distant world caught between warring empires with Colorado author W.C. Bauers in Unbreakable, his debut novel. Military sci-fi with a female lead, Unbreakable takes readers to the backwater planet Montana, a place that no one much cares about until an interstellar war breaks out, placing it right in the middle. The first in a planned series, Bauers debut has already been favorably compared to both Starship Troopers and Firefly, which should make it a must-read for local sci-fi fans looking for a good fix of hard fighting in deep space.

Bauers will sign Unbreakable at 7 p.m. Thursday, January 15 at the Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch. Admission is free; the book is $25.99. For more info, or to preorder the book, visit the Tattered Cover website.

6) The Mark Putt Sci-Fi Explosion Computer programmer by day, entertainer by night, Mark Putt is Denver's answer to Jonathan Coulton. Performing his songs with the accompaniment of a laptop and goofy multimedia videos, the Mark Putt Sci-Fi Explosion promises a nerdtastic take on everything from time machines to which kaiju is the best of them all. Throw in a bevy of costumes, some special guests and a space cadet go-go dancer and you have a silly sci-fi musical extravaganza that promises to put the opera back in space opera.

See the Mark Putt Sci-Fi Explosion at 10 p.m. Friday, January 16 at the Sidewinder Tavern. Tickets are $7. For more information, visit the Mark Putt Explosion website.

5) Blade Runner: The Final Cut

Ridley Scott's science fiction masterpiece has seen more versions, edits and cuts than any three normal films and everyone has their favorite version (note: if you prefer the original theatrical edit with the voiceover, you are dead to me). The authoritative version is the so-called Final Cut, released in 2007, which put Scott himself in full control. Now you can see this last, possibly best version in the theater for the first time in years, in a brand-new restoration, launching once more all those arguments over whether or not Deckard was really a replicant or not, and giving you another chance to bask in the majesty of Rutger Hauer's finest performance ever.

See Blade Runner: The Final Cut at midnight Friday or Saturday January 16 and 17 at the Esquire. Tickets are $9. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit the Denver Landmark Theatres page.

4) Magic: The Gathering Fate Reforged prerelease The newest expansion for Magic: The Gathering, the world's most popular trading-card game, is hitting shelves this month, and that means it's pre-release time. The latest set, Fate Reforged continues the story of the incredibly popular Khans of Tarkir, an Asian-influenced world where dragons once ruled and only the fiercest warriors can survive. Magic's pre-release tournaments are among its most casual events (unlike the Grand Prix earlier in the month), meaning they're a great way to dip your toe into the water of competitive play, even if you're a total noob. Heck, especially if you're a total noob, since a new set is always a great place to jump in. If you've been playing the digital Duels of the Planeswalkers on your computer or console and wondering if it's time to make the jump to the actual card game, this is the way to do it.

January 17-18, various locations. Price may vary, but expect to spend about $30, which nets you six packs of cards plus a special promo card. For more information, check out the official Magic: The Gathering website, and find a location near you with Wizards of the Coast's store locator.

Continue for more great geek events in January.

3) Science Friction: Krull

Join local author and Hugo-award winner Jason Heller and co-host Frank Romero for a special 35 mm presentation of the cult classic


. Dismissed by many as a murky, incoherent cheesefest about a magical weapon that's part ninja throwing star, part robot spider, the film still has a following among those who remember its unique take on dark fantasy fondly. Whatever your memories of the film, this is a rare chance to see it on 35mm and see how that adolescent nostalgia stacks up to the cold, hard light of your adult sensibilities.

See Krull at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 21 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Tickets are $7. For tickets and more info, visit the Science Friction: Krull event page.

2) Scream Screen: Suspiria

Less a horror film in the conventional sense, and more an audio-visual experience utilizing horror imagery and tropes, Dario Argento's


is the kind of film that simply has to be seen in a theater to be properly appreciated. Lucky, then, that the Alamo is bringing in a 35mm print for their first Scream Screen -- the new name for the series formerly known as Channel Z -- showing of the new year. Revel in the primary colors, the insane score and sound design and the kaleidoscopic mindfuck of imagery even as you struggle with the weird, disjointed plot and unusual performances. You'll never figure out what the hell it's all supposed to mean, but you'll damn sure be glad to got to experience it all the same.

See Suspiria at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, January 28 at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema. Tickets are $7. For tickets and more info, visit the Scream Screen: Suspiria event page.

1) Clutch Con Gamers, start your computers -- it's time to LAN up and start shooting for big money. A $15k pro tournament for Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the centerpiece of Clutch Gaming Arena's massive three-day event, but even if you don't care to shoot terrorists in a meticulously detailed simulation, there's still plenty of fun to be had. The massive BYOC (bring your own computer/console) event will offer side tournaments, tabletop gaming and even DJs 24 hours a day for the duration of the event. Show your skills in everything from Super Smash Brothers to Hearthstone and play until you literally drop dead from exhaustion (note: don't actually do this) in the ultimate gamer's weekend party.

The party starts Friday, January 30 at the Crowne Plaza DIA. Tickets start at $39 for a general admission pass, with several tiers of admission available. For tickets and additional info, visit the Clutch Con page.

Find me on Twitter, where I tweet about geeky stuff and waste an inordinate amount of time: @casciato.

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