Saturday Miss L and I journeyed to lovely Hunt Valley, Maryland for the 40th annual Balticon Conference, an annual conference hosted by the Balticon Science Fiction Society. for whatever reason I always seemed to miss it. So when it came around this year on weekend I actually didn't have to work I didn't let the head cold threatening me to stop my going.
Overall it was a great time. The focus was on SF and Fantasy publishing moreso than film or television. So in many ways I felt right at home. Yes, a lot of people came dressed as Klingons, Faerie Folk, or Doc Brown from Back to the Future. Yes, I witnessed an embarrassingly heated arguement between two people over the color of the planet vucan's sun. But the panel discussions and general going-on were interesting, fun and well worth the time.
The first panel discussion we attended was on artistic collaboration. The panel featured Neil Gaiman (author) , Gene Wolfe (author), Lisa Snellings-Clark (artist), Lorraine Garland (musician), Malena Teves (musican), Adam Stemple (musican and author), and Marc Hempel. Interestingly, all of the panelists had worked with Gaiman in once capacity or another over the years. Much of the discussion revolved around striking a balance between collaborators so each makes signifigant contributions to the work. The end goal should be a piece that's truly a joint work separate from the work normally done by the inidividuals. Never having done one myself, I found the give-and-take ideas of a collaboration very interesting. With the right person it could be a lot of fun and very successful; with the wrong person it could certainly be extremely painful. Gaiman also took part in another panel discussion with Peter S. Beagle. Probably most widely known for the novel The Last Unicorn, Beagle has written dozens of fantasy novels as well as scripts for Hollywood. Much of their discussion revolved around the differences between writing a novel and writing a script and what it's like to see your work adapted to the big screen.
Miss L and I then went our own directions; she hit a few of the seminars on fantasy art while I flowed in and out of readings given by various authors. Even just wandering the hallways I overheard people discussing things like character development, tackling social issues, and what exactly makes a good story. I even saw local horror host Count Gore involved in some discussions of his own, although he was incognito in a simple black t-shirt and without a cape or make-up.
The only real letdown for me was the dealer room. I went hoping to find a variety of books by small preses and possibly even some magazine that I've never heard of. But the spaces were taken up mostly by shops selling merchandise, not individual publishers trying to promote their new material. An large amount of first printings of older books, while most of the newer books . Several other dealers focuses solely on gaming, which I shouldn't have been surprised by. It's such a huge industry now.
Although Balticon continued through Monday, health, money and other obligations only permitted me to go on Saturday. It really was the SF event of the region, though. I hope to go again next year.
A number of the readings and panel discussions will be available online in a few days in a podcast form here for anyone interested.