Balticon 2010

Posted on: June 2nd, 2010 by Nathan E. Lilly

I had a wonderful time this past weekend at Balticon, as always. I roomed with Lawrence M. Schoen, met Howard Tayler, and was on a panel with Paolo Bacigalupi (among others). Some photos coming soon.

I was able to give a reading—a sampling of fiction from Thaumatrope, Everyday Weirdness, and Space Westerns Magazine. It went rather well, I was given a pretty good time slot: Saturday at 11am. I’ll announce when the recording makes it to the Balticon podCast.

Sunday night I had dinner with Lawrence, Howard, Jane Jewell, and Peter Heck, and was invited to the SFWA party. After dinner I moderated Because It’s Cool. On the panel were Joshua Bilmes, Larry Hodges, and Paolo Bacigalupi.

Starting in the 1960s, SF began aspiring to literary greatness, over the next decades producing books which enthralled critics while market share imploded. Meanwhile, fantasy had fun with quests, dragons, evil wizards and epic increases in market share. Today, Space Opera is still defined as a guilty pleasure at best by critics who frown at interstellar battles and heroic characters. Has SF taken itself too seriously for too long?

After a bit of a false start, we tackled the subject. I was fairly well able to keep the conversation moving and evenly paced. Joshua and Larry felt that it was a well-moderated panel. Paolo was mobbed by fans.

At breakfast with Lawrence, he threw an idea at me—curse him!! The last time I had an idea like this thrown at me I created Thaumatrope (inspired by Mary Robinette Kowal), and the time before that it was Containment (a geek event finder inspired by John Joseph Adams).

I went to Howard Tayler’s coffee klatsch as a prelude to my final panel. I enjoyed getting a behind-the-scenes look at Schlock Mercenary. He was wearing some awesome boots.

Overturning Preconceptions: Doing New Things with Old Myths was Monday at 12pm. I’m afraid that, before the panel even started, I was off on a rant about space westerns. On the panel were, Bernie Mojzes, Leona Wisoker, Alexander B. Potter, and Vonnie Winslow Crist.

What are some of the old myths we’re seeing new treatment of in today’s speculative fiction?

As we were waiting for the final panelists to arrive I was discussing space westerns with the audience, and got carried away. Luckily Alexander reminded me that we were here for the panel, and that we should probably get started. It was a pretty lively discussion to a packed room. We touched on various cultures and sources of myth.

I was approached at the end of the panel, and one or the audience members let me know that they were enjoying my original space western rant. Another audience member approached me to let me know that they were pleased that I was familiar with Captain Video and his Video Rangers. Western-genre influence on Science Fiction definitely seems to be a weak spot in programming at current cons. I’ll have to do something about that.

Aside from the panels I was able to enjoy the room parties (it’s likely that I’ll be at the following upcoming cons: Philcon, LunaCon, RavenCon, Renovation). I did discover a new con that I’m excited about: Intervention (A Convention with Webcomics, Videos, Gaming, Vendors, Music, and You) scheduled for next September in Washington D.C.

I returned home from Balticon weary, yet rejuvenated.