Balticon 45

The 45th annual Balticon science fiction convention was held from May 27 to 30 at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Guest of honor was Ben Bova. Artist guest of honor was Vincent Di Fate. Special guest of honor was Steve Geppi. At the opening ceremonies, James Knapp won the Compton Crook Award for his novel State of Decay.

The event included author and editor panel discussions, readings, science briefings, an art auction, and the return of the steampunk dance “Dancing in the Gears” (“Airships and time machines should be parked outside the ballroom”).

Some random highlights:

Vincent Di Fate gave an excellent talk with slides on the history of illustration in science fiction. Ben Bova, for his guest of honor presentation, shared stories about his career in science fiction, including anecdotes about John W. Campbell and Harlan Ellison. I wish both had gone for an additional hour. These were great presentations.

It was a treat to see the original works of Di Fate in the art room, including To Bring in the Steel, a poster of which hung on my wall for years once upon a time.

Best program description: “Join us in the fine sands of the remote Martian Canal Estates, where the well-dressed 19th-century tourist and all civilized alien entities may indulge in the genteel yet cutthroat Martian pastime of parlor croquet.”

Well-done panels included “Whose Program Is It, Anyway?”; “How to Make Your Hero More Heroic”; and “Name Droppers,” in which Scott Edelman, Michael Swanwick and Ian Randal Strock shared stories about their encounters with science fiction’s departed greats.

I witnessed Scott Edelman cutting open a durian, something illegal to do in hotels in Taiwan. The durian is supposedly a Taiwanese fruit, but you can’t convince me of that. It’s a dead ringer for the facehugger in Alien, and as such it is either a) an emissary from Rigel 7, or b) something that started as an animal but took a U-turn in evolution and disguised itself as a plant. A good time was had by all, though (except the durian), and everyone found it delicious. Video of the festivities can be found on Jamie Todd Rubin’s site.

Michael Swanwick gave away limited-edition, signed and numbered chapbooks of a Darger and Surplus story at his panels, a very cool thing to do.

I’m a bit limited in my photos this year (lighting conditions always make photographing a con difficult), but here are a few.


Mme. Syntheia Finklepott and Montague Jacques Fromage of SteampunkFunk Bizarre


Steampunk fare from SteampunkFunk Bizarre

Her Steampunkic Majesty Queen Victoria

Scott Edelman, Michael Swanwick and Ian Randal Strock on the “Name Droppers” panel (with impending durian on the table)

Guest of Honor Ben Bova

Scott Edelman autopsies cuts open a durian.

The durian can’t possibly originate within 50 light-years of Earth. (If you want to see a close-up of the insides of the durian, click here, but you’ve been warned: it’s the facehugger.)

Michael Swanwick’s limited-edition chapbook

Until next year …

Photos: ACF