Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Balticon 49

Balticon, for those not in the know, is a science fiction & fantasy literature convention held every year over Memorial day weekend in or around Baltimore. For the last... decade? its been held just north of the city in Hunt Valley. In addition to the literature topics (which range from panels to round tables to workshops for both readers, writers, and editors) there's a very full and impressive science programing track, costuming track, new media track (mostly podcasting), art, kids/teens, and a growing gaming presence.

This year started off a little rough with a new registration system that resulted in some significant confusion, long lines, waiting, and justified grumbling. It wasn't fun, but new rollouts never are.

If you've attended any of the Balticons at the Hunt Valley location, the carpet was... something to behold. In the last year they redecorated, and while it's much less seizure inducing, it lacks some of the charm (person) of the old rug. 

Once through Registration however things drastically improved! I arrived in time to attend opening ceremonies, and then heading over to the swing dance in the Garden Room.

After that I scoped out the art room, bit on a few items, and called it a night. 

Saturday started with a panel on Einstein's Dice and Schrodinger's Cat, a combination history and science lesson, then to the dealers room where I picked up Keith DeCandido's translation of the Klingon Art of War directly from the author. That's one of the really great things about going to a con like Balticon! He of course insulted my honor, and ruined my book by writing all over it. 

Then it was onto a discussion of multiple universes, a writing panel about creating suspense and keeping your reader's interest, and then onto Treading Lightly, Writing about problematic topics with another of my favorite Balticon authors Maria V Snyder.  

That's Maria on the far left.

After dinner I then attended a discussion on undead in film and literature, mostly focused on zombies. 

Being a literature convention, Balticon likes to support reading. Makes sense, right? In support of that they hold an auction every year to buy books for kids who don't have any. 

The idea that in 2015 there are kids in the world (let alone here the USA) that don't have any books is just a travesty. The books bought from the auction proceeds go to a local maryland middle school. I bid on a bunch of items, but only won 2. 

Sunday started with one of the panels I never miss, the annual Dinosaur Update with Dr. Thomas Holtz from the University of Maryland. It's so well attended that they had to move it into the main ballroom! 

Then it was back to back Doctor Who panels. The first one on the new Who, and the second on old Who for fans of the new Who.

Then it was 4 hours of Original D&D! More on this tomorrow...

Dinner with Jensen Toperzen followed, then onto Molding Small objects where I got to see up close how many of the marvelous bits and pieces that show up on the amazing costumes can be made. 

The last panel of the night was on Bars, Inns, and Taverns: Fiction and Reality where I learned that at some points in history a cat in a burlap sack being hit with a stick was considered a musical instrument that would be included in the live band playing in the tap room... 

This, of course, sent me to the bar where I spent several hours chatting with Barb Mabie and Jay McClain from the molding panel, Maria Snyder, and Jensen and her friend Lee. I really liked getting to talk to Maria about writing, even though she gave me homework... At least I've got a year to get it done! 

Monday of Balticon is always a little sad. So many people have either already left, or are packing up... 

But my morning started by going to the Messenger mission update, followed by a panel on Allergies on Alien Worlds (general conclusion is that allergies, viruses, and bacteria will probably be a little too alien to majorly impact us, but mold and fungus may be problem!). 

Then I attended a readers panel on sci-fi and fantasy mysteries. Heading the discussion was a baltimore city crime lab scientist & author, and a part time PI, author, and professor. Sadly, Ben Aaronovitch's Rivers of London series didn't get a mention.  

As I was getting ready to head home I ran into Jensen again, and then with Huzma from G+!

Can't wait till next year!! I've already got my registration paid for!

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