My story “N0072-JK1: Study of Synaptic Response of the Organism to Spontaneous Stimulation of Vulnerability Zones. Photographic Analysis.,” first published in the anthology Borderlands 5, is tentatively scheduled to be released in an audio version from Pseudopod this September.
People ask how I know when to stop scribbling and decide a work is finished. I say you have to go too far and destroy it, because then you know when you should have stopped and can go back. If you don’t, you leave untold riches out there.
– Iain McCaig, Concept Artist, Star Wars: Episode I
I wasn’t even into pencils. I didn’t know a Blackwing Pearl from a Golden Bear, or an HB from R2D2.
But I received a free pencil with an order after finally succumbing to Field Notes. Same with the purchase of notebooks from Write Notepads & Co. And then I ordered the Write Notepads Jumbo pencils because they looked like fun. Then I bought a sample pack from Pencils.com, which included the infamous Blackwing 602. And then, of course, I had to have the Classroom Friendly sharpener. All along I had been listening to the Erasable podcast, with their infectious obsession. I was hooked.
The problem, however, was how to carry these new treasures with me. Something needs to protect that freshly sharpened tip and prevent graphite from smearing the inside of a bag. I didn’t want to go to the trouble of ordering special caps and I didn’t need something as large as a pencil case.
The 49th annual Balticon science fiction convention was held from May 22 to 25, 2015, at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Guest of honor was Jo Walton. Artist guest of honor was Ruth Sanderson. Science guest of honor was Edie Stern. Ghost of honor was CJ Henderson. The 2015 winner of the Compton Crook Award was Alexandra Duncan.
The event included author and editor panel discussions, readings, science briefings, and an art show.
I missed Saturday, but attended Sunday and Monday. Dr. Thomas R. Holtz presented his annual “Dinosaur Update” on Sunday, at which he announced that 44 new species of dinosaur were discovered in 2014 and 9 so far in 2015. He focused on additional discoveries concerning Spinosaurus, as well as the “Great Enfluffening,” the continued discoveries of feathers on dinosaurs. From a slide: “The capacity to generate plumulose structures (or [their] derivatives) is ancestral for all dinosaurs.” They all could have had them.
Also: “Astrodon is Maryland’s state (non-avian) dinosaur.” “Non-avian” since the Oriole, being a bird, is already a dinosaur! New favorite dinosaur name: Dreadnoughtus.
The science track is always good at Balticon. I caught Dr. Inge Hyer’s presentation on the results of collaborations between observatories, “Between Gamma Rays and Radio Waves,” and some of Holtz’s talk on the impact of science fiction on public consciousness, “Popular Science Fiction and the Genesis of Paranormal Claims.”
Scott Edelman and Stephen Granade gave terrific readings during the time slot they shared. I enjoyed Ruth Sanderson’s talk/question-and-answer session about commissioning art for self-publishing. Also good was “Handling the Unavoidable Info Dump,” paneled by Joshua Palmatier, Gail Z. Martin and Tim Dodge.
Favorite sighting: The elderly woman walking with stately grace using a cane. Her T-shirt read: “Keep Calm and Nuke ‘Em From Orbit.”
Lighting conditions aren’t ideal at cons for photos, but I did manage to snap a few.
How could I resist? One of the notebooks made by Write Notepads & Co. features an image of the U.S.S. Constellation. I purchased two of these and really like them. And then I bought some of their other designs.
The notebooks are made in Baltimore with all U.S.-sourced material. For every one sold, the company donates a notebook of a different type to a Baltimore school. There’s a code inside the notebook you buy that when entered on their website will show you which school benefited from your purchase. They sell a limited-edition Baltimore one, and have a series on the boroughs of New York.
These are fun, useful, sturdy notebooks. They are 8.5″ by 5.5″, with nicely letterpressed covers. They have 120 pages (60 leaves). There’s no nonsense here. They’re spiral notebooks the way they’re supposed to be made. They say simply, “Here, hon, have a notebook.” They’re charming.