Life on Mars. Nikola Tesla. Clean Energy. Frankenstein. And Poetry!

By now you’ve probably heard about the upcoming Fort Collins Book Festival, a free two-day literary festival that happening October 19 and 20 throughout downtown Fort Collins.

Whether this is your third year in a row attending the event, or it’s your first time venturing out to the festival, we’re certain that you’ll enjoy the more than 40 writers, scientists, and storytellers who are taking part.

This year’s theme, The Big Think, is inspired by curiosity! The authors and the topics discussed help us imagine “What if” and dare us to ask ‘What else?” Book presentations, panel discussions, writing workshops, and readings will all give a nod to science, writing, technology, and poetry.

Not sure where to begin planning your festival? Start by visiting the book festival website: This will help you familiarize yourself with the entire author lineup, the schedule of activities, venues, and other fun stuff going on.

“An Evening with Andy Weir” is Saturday, Oct. 20 at CSU Lory Student Center. Doors open at 4:30PM. His presentation begins at 5:30 and will be followed by book sales and signing. Weir is the bestselling author of The Martian and Artemis.

Then, take a look at some of these unique activities and festival highlights!

Explore the Universe

Looking for a stellar panel discussion or book presentation? Don’t miss Dr. Sheila Rowan’s talk on gravitational waves and her work with the Advanced LIGO observatories. Astrophysicist and author Dr. Adam Becker will present his book What is Real? The Unfinished Quest for the Meaning of Quantum Physics and the debate around what quantum physics is really telling us about the universe.

Boulder-based planetary scientist Dr. Amanda Hendrix shares Beyond Earth: Our Path to a New Home in the Planets, and she joins Andy Weir to discuss the science and science fiction around living on Mars and other planets. Plus, Colorado-based science writer Carolyn Collins Petersen offers two sessions detailing the work behind her books Space Exploration: Past, Present, Future and Astronomy 101.

Satisfy Your Sci-Fi

What would a science-focused book fest be without science fiction? In addition to Andy Weir (The Martian and Artemis), science fiction fans will enjoy the variety of sessions featuring sci-fi readings (“Brave New Words”), the panel discussions “World Building: One Fact at a Time” and “Where are Our Flying Cars?”, as well as the sci-fi/fantasy writing workshop taught by Todd Mitchell. Plus, author Michael Benson shares the stories behind the making of 2001: A Space Odyssey and Professor Ellen Brinks gives us a glimpse into Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.

Enjoy the Eureka! Moments

The Big Think’s main festival day kicks off at 9AM (Sat. 10/20) with Bill Ritter, Jr. discussing the energy transition in America toward decarbonization. He will also join other writers and scientists to share interesting stories of important inventors and innovators like Nikola Tesla and the role of human ingenuity in our social and economic advancements. Multimedia artist and author Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky gives a talk about how mobile apps have influenced society and driven creativity. Author Sam Kean offers an interesting look at air we breathe with his book Caesar’s Last Breath: Decoding the Secrets of the Air Around Us. And mycologist and science writer Nik Money shares “The Meaning of Life in Ten Mushrooms” and an examination of the history and importance of yeast in driving civilization.

Experience Nature

Get outside during the Fort Collins Book Festival by joining Andy Caldwell for a fun sun spotting experience using a solar telescope. He’ll be set up on Saturday afternoon at New Belgium Brewery, weather permitting. Another amazing outdoor activity is the walking and writing field trip led by Eric Magrane and Michael McLane. It leaves from Block One Events and travels along the Poudre River to the CSU Energy Campus and Powerhouse.

More interested in experiencing nature from inside? Take a look at the panel discussion “A Good Earth is Hard to Find” which combines authors and scientists’ views on Earth’s sustainability. Or, try out SueEllen Campbell’s book presentation, The Face of the Earth: Natural Landscapes, Science, and Culture or plan to attend the multi-genre reading “Natural Landscapes.”

Attend a Writing Workshop

Due to the growing popularity of the book fest, we’ve expanded to two days in order to accommodate the writing workshops and main festival activities. Six writing workshops will be held Friday, October 19 at Old Town Library. As always, the workshops are free, but they do require registration. Call the Answer Center at 970-221-6740 or visit the Library’s online events calendar to reserve your spot.

We’re excited to have Jenny Browne, John Calderazzo, Todd Mitchell, April Moore, and Teresa Funke sharing insights for poets, science fiction and fantasy writers, fiction and nonfiction authors, science writers, and more. There will also be the opportunity for people to learn about self-publishing.

Immerse Yourself in Language

As always, the book festival has an amazing lineup of poets and authors reading their work including Kimiko Hahn and Fort Collins Poet Laureate Natalie Giarratano. Make time to listen to a reading or hear a presentation from these amazing folks.

Friday night features the “All-Star Poets” Reading at Downtown Artery (upstairs room) beginning at 8PM. Award-winning poets Kimiko Hahn and David Axelrod share their latest work.

Small group poetry readings also include “A Paradise of Poets” and “Poetics of Extremity.”

Support Local Writers

In addition to the many acclaimed authors and poets at The Big Think, we’re also making sure to showcase the homegrown and emerging talent that is right here in Fort Collins and Northern Colorado. The “FoCo Writers Read” series at the Art Lab Fort Collins is an opportunity for people to hear new voices and, hopefully, walk away with some new favorite authors to follow. The readings get underway on Saturday at 11AM and continue until 4PM. A full list of local writers reading their work is available at


We’ve only scratched the surface of what is going on at the Fort Collins Book Festival, so be sure to check out the festival website for full information, author lineup, and schedule.

The annual Fort Collins Book Festival is produced by Poudre River Public Library District in partnership with CSU Morgan Library. It is offered free thanks to the generous support from businesses, organizations, and book lovers.