I had the privilege of attending Balticon 44, a science fiction/fantasy writer’s convention in Baltimore, MD, on Memorial Day weekend. This was my second outing and I’ll continue to attend annually as scheduling and finances allow. Why’s that?
Well it seems to be the place to go for writers who also podcast. The first year I went I got to meet very nearly all of the podcasting authors whose works I appreciate. There are a number of excellent panels every year on everything from sound production to writing and the sheer number of live readings and live shows scheduled is staggering. There just isn’t enough time over the weekend to do everything.
That’s not the main reason I go though. It has become something of a family reunion for me. Now don’t mistake me, I don’t know a tenth of the people I see as well as I’d like and I don’t want to cheapen the notion of friendship or family, but really that’s the way it feels to me. Whether meeting someone in person for the first time or reconnecting with someone I saw last year, there was an instant bond. Part of that is assisted by mutual passions and of course most of us keep in touch through the magic of Twitter. So it’s “instant” only in the same sense that folks like Scott Sigler are an “overnight” success.
In any event, sociology aside, the people are the major reason I go. Sadly I have yet to spend any real time talking to Chris Lester either year. I also missed some excellent panels and readings. Rather than focusing on missed opportunities though, I’d rather touch on the highlights.
I got to meet and share drinks with some awesome producers and fans (in some case the same folks). Sharing mojitos with Paul Cooley, Laura Frechette, Dave Sobkowiak, and Kate Sherrod was EPIC!
I had taken a wingman with me in the form and shape of co-producer Shawn Murphy aka SidFaiwu, but when he was off doing his own thing I had the good fortune of meeting Mike Plested in person and spending a lot of time talking to him. Mike’s a great guy. He put up with my digs at Canada and took a number of the pics you’ll see on Flickr of the event. He also interviewed Zach Ricks and I about Flying Island Press and our launch of Flagship.
I took some of my homebrew and shared it with Thomas Gideon and John Williams. They’re PASSIONATE home brewers in their own rights and we hope to have a home brew panel at next year’s Balticon.
I also met, hugged, and exchanged a word or two with Dan Sawyer. He and I have traded plenty of emails and blog comments. I’m also a big fan of his writing style and appreciate the wealth of knowledge he has on audio and a number of other topics. If you’re a new media person then you should REALLY check out the ANMAP Foundation that he’s set up with some other creatives.
There were plenty of larger form geek social gatherings (not an oxymoron) like the Geek Prom (with awesome food thanks to Viv!), room parties galore, and a concert or three. I got to see Book launches by Patrick McLean, PG Holyfield, and Nathan Lowell. I got to buy Tumbler, a most excellent YA sci-fi novel by Brand Gamblin. Jared Axelrod launched Fables of the Flying City (unaffiliated with the Flying Island).
There was just too much going on to get it all in or even to mention it all in one blog post. At least not without boring you to tears. I wasn’t on any panels this year (though if you listen to Mur Lafferty’s live I Should Be Writing, I think you’ll hear me towards the end). Perhaps next year I’ll be on one or two. In any case I hope that if you haven’t been to one and any of this sounds cool to you that you’ll go next year and good Lord willing I’ll be there!