Bombastic Balticon

David and Klingon DominatrixIn my continued crusade to prove it is impossible not to have fun at a con, I will attempt to briefly describe the adventure several of us had this weekend at Balticon 2006 in Hunt Valley, Maryland. John Adams drove Jenny Rappaport, Devin J. Poore, Mercurio D. Rivera, and myself down I-95 through much traffic to the hotel. John managed to check in, drop our bags off, and make his 6pm panel literally at 6:02pm.

What can you say to a t-shirt that translates Dune’s litany against fear into a litany against decaf? “I’ll take it!” The panels went by in a blur mostly due to lack of sleep and the failing AC in the hotel, but I will try to remember which ones I saw.

Blogging, Why Where and How? – John Adams was on this panel and, with a free first chapter of Podcasting for Dummies I learned about a cool and free audio editor called Audacity.

Opening Ceremonies – A sci-fi rendition of the Monty Python cheese shop sketch converted into a book store. This one made me cringe. I know it’s hard getting in front of a large audience, but please, next time pick someone who has a smidgen of stage presence!

After that we went to the bar and then entered a Scotch (that is, fermented beverages) party where Mercurio and I got heavily inebriated on some excellent scotch that tasted much stronger than its labeled 86 proof.

Robin Hood?Collaboration PanelSaturday began with a panel of Neil Gaiman and everyone he’s ever collaborated with. My hands are too tired to type all the names, but Gene Wolfe was there. Too low audio made this one a bit mediocre, and the questions were not all that good. But Neil always steals the show with his wit and eloquence.

Rock in SF – John Adams was on this panel which talked about rock themes in SF, or maybe SF themes in rock. We were never sure. I mentioned Man or Astro Man which no one seemed to know and attempted, as I tend to do, to bring Blade Runner into the conversation via a Billy Idol video (L.A. Woman)

Creating a Realistic Star System – This panel attempted to show us how to use science and the internet to, well, craft a realistic star system. We think they may have been too successful because the room warmed to well over 90 degrees. I think I lost a few pounds.

How Does the new Dr. Who Stack Up? – This panel was so crowded and so full of people willing to talk over the panelists because they were so excited that I left halfway through. I do, however, agree with the very talkative girl who raved endlessly about season two’s “The Girl in the Fireplace.”

Getting Started in Small Press Publishing This was relevant to me, of course, and the general message was: you will not get rich, you may fail, you must love it. Things I already knew. Still, it was good, and I spoke with some of the panelists after, even selling some copies of Sybil’s Garage.

We ended Saturday at a party thrown by Mike Pederson of Nth Degree which was just fabulous. The hotel room had a back door which led out onto a backyard and a small hill. There we watched a man with a glowstick spell out words while a photographer left his camera’s shutter open for minutes at a time. They were moderately successful. We also met Paula, a physicist, who I am proud to say (in her own words), was “outgeeked” regarding my knowledge of Blade Runner. She also was a fan of Poe, loved Lovecraft, and BR was perhaps her favorite film. If she wasn’t married…

Neil Gaiman and Gene WolfeNeil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe – By far the most enjoyable panel of the weekend. Neil and Gene are two affable and very charming people who just light up on stage. Neil’s words were like stories in themselves and really captivated me, especially his descriptions of how he came up with ideas and also the strange sentence that appeared in the text the two men had collaborated on. No one could claim who had written it.

Intro to CosPlay – Cosplay: people who dress up as their favorite characters. Crossplay: people who dress up as their favorite character of the opposite gender. This panel proved to me that there is an interest group for everyone.

Ask The Editors – Another John Adams panel which started out very well, but diverged somewhere in the middle when people were asking dozens of questions, and with my lack of sleep I kind of zoned out and started daydreaming of a new short story.

It wouldn’t be a true con if I didn’t come home with some books. I bought a copy of Lovecraft’s Dream Quest of Unknown Kadath, 1970 edition for $10. I almost, but did not buy a printing of William Hope Hodgson’s The Night Land for $20. I bought the Arkham Edition of Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos Vol I  and Ramsey Campbell’s Demons by Daylight.

For six bucks I bought an unabridged copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s works, including his poetry. It literally was a steal. I also picked up a copy of Subterranean #2, and Nth Degree #14.

And the f’n Dune/decaf shirt! I can’t wait to wear it again! All in all it was a great time!

John Adams has some pictures from the con over at flickr.

12 Replies to “Bombastic Balticon”

  1. Sigh. There goes my credibility as an attorney…:)

    Great write-up of the festivities.

  2. I’m just glad no photos of me made it into the entry!

    I’ve been thinking about the small press panel. There were two or three people on the panel and in the room that are self-publishing. They cited “more control over their work” and the usual things you expect to hear. Would they still stick to these “benefits” if Random House called tomorrow and offered to take it all over?

    And I’m also wondering how much of this is just now the beginning of self-publishing being viable? Who ever thought people would make money off of websites when the internet first started? Self production of music and short films on the internet is now yielding results for the artists. I wonder how long it will be before the same is true for authors on a viable scale?

    And I just have to say that the entire concept of CosPlay is still just too weird for me.


  3. Devin, Cosplay didn’t seem so “weird” to you when you wore that kick-ass Xena outfit. Matt, where are those photos?

  4. Devin, I think a lot of small press publishers would say no to Random House because part of the joy of starting your own magazine is the creative process, and I think if they relinquished that control for $$, well it wouldn’t be as fun.

    As for a viable model, I think it would be great to make money doing what I love, publishing a magazine. But as a business, I feel it is no different than any other. You get out of it what you put into it. My personal feeling is that if I put my heart into the work, it will show, and people will respond to that eventually. It just takes time for enough people to see it and appreciate it.

    And speaking of Xena:

  5. Aw man, you took the joke too far…

    (At least you get to make out with Gabrielle, Devin.)

  6. Hey I look pretty sexy as a chick. I bet you didn’t know that the reason I am smiling is because I hold an ancient secret. Mary Magdalene was really Jesus’s Publicist, and she got 65% of all profits he made for selling first drafts of the New Testament. But it wasn’t until the 2nd century that he got a real publisher (before that it was all vanity press). Plus, a lot of people plagiarized him. (Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gospel of Judas are two prime examples. Copyright just didn’t work the same in those days.)

  7. That’s the Matty Lisa, not Matty Magdalene.

    Nice photoshopping job, Kris. That *that’s* creepy.

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