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Mark Norwood plays the game Noodleboro with Makinley Norwood during Chattacon at the Read House hotel on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2019, in Chattanooga, Tenn. / Staff file photo

When the first Chattacon was held in 1976, just over 80 sci-fi fans attended. This weekend, Chattacon 45 will max out at 1,000 guests when the annual event is held in the DoubleTree Hotel.

Chattacon is a convention for fans of science fiction and fantasy that offers a variety of speakers, panelists, workshops, gaming, a masquerade costume contest, cosplay, live music, DJ dances, independent movie room, burlesque and bellydancing, anime and an art show over three days.

Whether visitors are looking for in-depth conversations on sci-fi fandom, writer's workshops on the nuts and bolts of being published, costuming classes, media podcasts or author meet-and-greets, they'll find it at Chattacon.

Additionally, there is a dealers' room where about a dozen vendors will show jewelry, art, collectibles, action figures, toys, steampunk and Renaissance clothing, leather pouches, belts and even fairy jars.

If you go

› What: Chattacon 45

› Where: DoubleTree Hotel, 407 Chestnut St.

› When: 5-11 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 25; 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26

› Admission: $60 adults, $50 ages 8-12

› For more information: https://chattacon.org/

"We're continuing to bring back the crowd favorites like the masquerade contest. That's a big one; it's a good opportunity for people to come out and show their creativity," says Thomas Kerns, Chattacon media director.

New for Chattacon 45, this weekend's costume contest winner will be "the face" of the Chattacon website's homepage for a year until Chattacon 46.

Kerns points out that Chattacon is an "all-ages convention," so events are planned ranging from Saturday morning cartoons for the kids to panels for their parents.

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Photo by Thomas Kerns / Glenn Beatty won the 2019 Masquerade Costume Contest at Chattacon 44 for his re-creation of Sean Connery's costume with peacock feather cape from "Highlander."

Special guests for Chattacon 45 will be author Robert McCammon, artist Melissa Gay and author Faith Hunter.

* Literary Guest of Honor: McCammon is the author of 23 novels and two short-story collections. Starting with his first novel, "Baal," in 1978, McCammon quickly became one of the bestselling horror authors of the 1980s with three consecutive novels hitting the New York Times Bestsellers List: "Swan Song," "Stinger" and "The Wolf's Hour."

His 1991 classic "Boy's Life" won the World Fantasy Award for Best Novel. After "Gone South" in 1992, McCammon decided to try historical fiction, which had always interested him.

After clashing with a new publisher over the direction of his new books, McCammon retired from publishing for 10 years. He returned in 2002 with "Speaks the Nightbird," the first book in his series about Matthew Corbett.

* Artist Guest of Honor: Melissa Gay is an award-winning illustrator of books and table-top role-playing games. She has done book covers and illustrations for Hugo, World Fantasy and Stoker Award-winning authors, and her client list includes Baen Books, Llewellyn Worldwide, Hay House and Apex Press.

One of her pieces for the SagaBorn RPG Core Rule Book won the 2018 Chesley Award for Gaming-Related Illustration.

Kerns points out that Chattacon 45's badge art, program cover and T-shirt art were created by Gay.

"They will become collector's pieces," he says of the original artwork.

* Special Guest of Honor: Author Faith Hunter will be the opening ceremony's guest speaker.

Hunter is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of two series: the Jane Yellowrock series and the Soulwood series. She has also written the three Rogue Mage novels.

She is the co-author or author of 16 thrillers under pen names Gary Hunter and Gwen Hunter. Altogether, she has more than 40 books in print.

Chattacon 45 badges will be sold at the door for walk-ups.

Contact Susan Pierce at spierce@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6284.

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