In 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.
Collaboration Panel – Saturday 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 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 IÂ 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.