Balticon 2011 Review


Balticon is the Maryland regional science fiction convention. It is most notably known for its focus on sci-fi/fantasy literature and podcasting. Balticon is always held on Memorial Day weekend every year and contains four days of exciting author and editor panel discussions, readings, science briefings, an art auction, concerts, a masquerade and a very memorable steampunk ball.

This year the guest of honor was acclaimed author Dr. Benjamin Bova. He is most notably known for writing science fiction about human expansion through our own solar system. The artist guest of honor was Vincent DiFate. The special guest of honor on Friday was Steve Geppi. At the opening ceremonies, James Knapp was awarded the Compton Crook Award for his novel State of Decay.

We haven’t been to many cons since having our two young boys, however this time we called in our babysitting back-up. This one is frequented by many of our friends, and is generally considered one of the best cons in the area, so we had to attend.

I wasn’t able to attend any of the guest of honor talks, I found a nice recap of those from another con attendee.

“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.” – The Tratisper Tower

I loved exploring the art gallery as always, there are so many talented artists in the area, that it was a treat to look at their art up close. I was a little disappointed that there was less then half of the art displayed as there had been just three years ago when I was last able to go.

There are many tracks of programming that you can follow throughout the con if you are interested; new media, skeptics, science, arts, podcasting, literary, costuming, fan, etc. I normally stick to the science tracks because I am a scientist and that is where my interests lie. I was treated to two wonderful science panels, one was a review of the LANDSAT mission by Laura Burns (which showed amazing views of the current Mississippi flooding) and the other was an incredible discussion of the science of video games by Jim Van Verth. Even though I normally stick to science talks, this time I decided to venture to a Doctor Who Gab Fest(since I’ve become such a fan), a talk about Making Music for Geeks(where I learned about nerdcore from DevoSpice), and a panel about Writing Stories Worth Listening To (which is actually surprisingly different from what you would like to read).

It was exciting to attend a concert by John Anealio and another by Ditched by Kate. John has written a few guitar lessons for our very own GeekDad, and I can honestly say that he is an incredibly talented (AND incredibly funny) musician. I don’t know how I’ve managed to miss Ditched by Kate in the past, but they literally ROCK!

One of my absolute favorite parts of this con are the people that I have met. When I asked other attendees what their favorite part of Balticon was, it was no surprise to hear the following response:

“Balticon is great because you can meet old and new friends who are just like you!” – Onezumi

While I wasn’t able to stay long, I think Balticon 45 was easily one of my favorite cons. Can’t wait to see you all next year!

Now for some pics!

Laura Burns presentation on LandSat at Balticon 45
Jim Van Verth presenting the Science of Games at Balticon 45
John Anealio in Concert at Balticon 45
Ditched By Kate in Concert at Balticon 45

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