Balticon 49

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.

Balticon_49_DR1_1200_ACFDealers’ Room

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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:

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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.

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Mme. Syntheia Finklepott and Montague Jacques Fromage of SteampunkFunk Bizarre

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Steampunk fare from SteampunkFunk Bizarre

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Balticon 44

The 44th annual Balticon science fiction convention was held from May 28 to 31 at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn in Hunt Valley, Maryland. Guest of Honor was Tanya Huff. Artist Guest of Honor was Howard Taylor. Science Guest of Honor was Thomas R. Holtz, Jr. At the opening ceremonies, Paolo Bacigalupi won the Compton Crook Award for his novel The Windup Girl.

The event included author and editor panel discussions, readings, podcasting, 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 for me included Dr. Holtz’s annual “Dinosaur Update” presentation, in which he announced that 55 new species of dinosaur were discovered in 2009 and 26 so far in 2010; the clockwork-in-shadow-box art of K.M. Kotulak, with titles such as “Heart of the Ornithopter” and “The Ethereal Darling”; discovering science podcasting, of which Astronomy Cast is an example; the “Cthulhu Mythos Cagefight” panel (with illustrations drawn live!); and more.

Proprietor, Steampunkfunk Bizarre — an Emporium

Ectothermic Geophasic Disintegration Ray Gun
Steampunk fare from Steampunkfunk Bizarre

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