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avatar for Chuck Turnitsa

Chuck Turnitsa

MarsCon Progenitor
Stafford, VA
In the waning days of summer, of the year 1965, the third of three massive scout ships – hailing from an obscure little stellar empire past the Crab nebula – reached her destination. The first two ships were lost. One fell victim to curious new radiation unique to our part of the Orion Arm. The second made it to our solar system, but visited the wrong world (“Mars? What is on Mars?”). The third ship, however, made it all the way to New Jersey, where it was to witness the birth of a galactic hero. In fact, the scout ship had visited the wrong hospital, so instead they witnessed the birth of Chuck Turnitsa.

Growing fast and strong, with a thickening of the limbs and a quickening of the mind, Chuck endured a sequence of events that made him the geek he is today. While in the third grade, he was given a gift of classic science fiction novels of the Jules Verne and H.G. Wells variety. He was hopelessly hooked. This was followed up by a quick run through of many of the Tom Swift, Jr novels. A year later, at the Elizabeth Public Library (still in New Jersey, although the alien scout ship had left, disappointed), he was allowed to stay for a Saturday film festival, featuring the 1953 masterpiece, War of the Worlds. He was completely hooked, setting off a life-long love affair with science fiction.

In middle school, Chuck had two friends in Boy Scouts that would forever change his life, in two different directions. One introduced him to wargaming. The other introduced him to computer programming. Computer programming would become his career, and also the focus of his academic studies (specifically, computer modeling and simulation), leading to a PhD. Wargaming would engender a love of history, as well as a lifelong hobby of gaming. So together, science fiction, computer science, history and gaming have been his passions, and the main touch points of his relationship with fandom.

Wargaming gave way to role playing, board gaming, miniatures gaming and so forth. He became active in local conventions in Hampton Roads, and also extremely active in local gaming circles. During college, he worked for a number of years at one of the best game stores to ever exist in Hampton Roads – the (sadly) out of business Campaign Headquarters. Also, while in college, however, Chuck was to make a number of friends through his gaming and fandom circles, not the least of which was John Desmarais, whom he would eventually start the convention MarsCon, after both of them served as staff and officers on a multitude of levels in other area conventions (including Sci-Con, Beach Trek, WAMCon and others). That history is best told in other places, and in a shuttered room with the lights turned low.