The 46th annual Balticon science fiction convention was held from May 25 to 28, 2012, at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Guest of honor was Jody Lynn Nye. Artist guest of honor was Jim Odbert. Science guest of honor was William D. Phillips. Ghost of honor was Robert L. Asprin. At the opening ceremonies, T.C. McCarthy won the Compton Crook Award for his novel Germline.
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”).
Dr. Thomas R. Holtz presented his annual “Dinosaur Update,” which is always an entertaining whirlwind of information. Slide text: “Dinosauria is the group comprised of the most recent common ancestor of Iguanodon and Megalosaurus and all of its descendants.” Yes, that would include birds. Other facts: 57 new species discovered in 2011; 17 so far in 2012. New discovery Yutyrannus is a 9-meter-long feathered tyrannosauroid. Longest feather: 20 cm.
Dr. Simone Caroti gave an excellent talk about his book The Generation Starship in Science Fiction: A Critical History, 1934-2001, in which he sees the subgenre revealing the evolution of science fiction in general. His passion for the subject was most engaging. His research made him draw comparisons to his own life, having been born in Italy and moving to the United States ten years ago; like on a generation starship, it’s a one-way trip. This was his first-ever science fiction convention. I hope he returns next year.
A presentation on the James Webb Space Telescope by Dr. Jason Kalirai revealed that 5.4 percent of stars host Earth-size planetary candidates, a conclusion from the Kepler mission. The Webb telescope will look for Earth-like planets through coronography, which uses occulting disks to block the light from a star to reveal planets orbiting that star. The telescope will specialize in detecting objects in infrared light.
Panels of note included “Readers Ask Why,” in which a writer was put in the hot seat to answer an audience question within two-and-a-half minutes … or else; and “The First Fast Food Joint on Epsilon V,” about what parts of our culture we will bring to the stars (KFC and McDonald’s battled it out). A well-done presentation on book contracts was conducted by Robin Sullivan.
I very much enjoyed Mur Lafferty‘s “I Should Be Writing” podcast episode that was recorded during the con. Guests were Myke Cole, Peter V. Brett and John Anealio. This was packed with advice and heartfelt anecdotes for writers, as well as a discussion on gaming. I hadn’t heard the podcast before. I’ll be seeking it out now. And these folks remember “The Keep on the Borderlands.”
Then there were Alamosaurus, Star Wars Burger King drinking glasses, lunch with new friends, Ichthyovenator, Steamduck — but that’s enough for now.