Balticon 46

Fantasia steampunk clothing booth

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”).

Highlights:

Continue reading “Balticon 46”

Capclave 2011

Capclave 2011 was held from Oct. 14 to 16 at the Hilton Washington, D.C., in Gaithersburg, Md. Guests of honor were Carrie Vaughn and Catherynne Valente.

A highlight of the event was a surprise visit by Sir Terry Pratchett, who was able to stay for an hour. Panels were abandoned by attendees and panelists alike to see him. Other highlights for me included meeting editor Scott H. Andrews for the first time and attending an informative workshop led by Michael Capobianco and A.C. Crispin. I also enjoyed meeting the kind folks from the National Capital Panthans, a chapter of the Burroughs Bibliophiles. Their display of Edgar Rice Burroughs old editions was a feast for the eyes. (Why didn’t I take a picture?) Other attendees and panelists included Scott Edelman, Michael Swanwick and Jamie Todd Rubin.

I was under the weather on Saturday, so left early, unfortunately, and didn’t make it to Sunday. I did, however, manage to snap this photo of Sir Terry as he left the event.

Photo: ACF

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.

Balticon_45_1a_800_ACF

Mme. Syntheia Finklepott and Montague Jacques Fromage of SteampunkFunk Bizarre

BC_45_3b_800x527_ACF

Steampunk fare from SteampunkFunk Bizarre

Continue reading “Balticon 45”

The Fall of the House of Poe

The turn of phrase of this post’s title has been used elsewhere, but it is more than a play on words. It could very well become true.

Baltimore’s Edgar Allan Poe House and Museum, located at 203 Amity Street, might be forced to close. City officials have ordered the Committee for Historic and Architectural Preservation to come up with a plan to operate the facility without public funds by July 2012. Funding was already cut last summer.

Although Poe was born in Boston while his parents were traveling there, his roots were set in Baltimore when his great-grandfather established the Poe family in that city in 1755. Poe lived at the house on Amity Street from 1832 or 1833 until 1835, moving there at the age of 23. It was most likely in Baltimore that Poe began to move from poetry to short stories.

He died in Baltimore in 1849. He was buried in an unmarked grave in the family lot at Westminster Burying Ground at Fayette and Greene streets. A movement began in 1865 to provide for a monument to Poe at the grounds. In 1875, Poe’s remains were moved to the location of the monument, which was dedicated on Nov. 17 of that year in a ceremony attended by Walt Whitman and several others.

Read the Baltimore Sun article here. Read the Edgar Allan Poe Society’s statement of the case here.

These things usually work out … with a little hope. Patrons come forth. Minds are changed. Senses are come to. There is a petition. The monument was partially paid for with pennies collected by students, after all. We can hope.

It’s just sad. And very Baltimorean. How we love our “almosts.”

Continue reading “The Fall of the House of Poe”