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Balticon 39 by Steven Barnes,  Tananarive Due (GOHs)
Review by Ernest Lilley / Paul Haggerty
Baltimore Science Fiction Society Con  ISBN/ITEM#: 0505BALTIC
Date: May 27-30, 2005 / Show Official Info /

Ern's Con Comments: Though I was only able to spend Sunday at the con, which was held over the Memorial Day weekend, I had a pretty good time, even managing to get myself onto an interesting panel about the transition from paper to web for fanzines. More importantly I managed to catch GOH Steven Barnes in a presentation about how he relates Joesph Campbell's stages of the heroic myth to writing, Yoga and Maslov's Heirarchy of Needs. All good stuff, and worth visiting his site for.

I also managed to find the artist GOH, Bob Eggleton, surrounded by con kids and drawing dinosaur after dinosaur for them, while keeping up a running commentary about how dinosaurs (including, naturally, Godzilla) have affected his life. Lots of free pictures were grabbed up by young and old alike, and everyone had fun. Listening to the savvy comments made by a number of the younger attendees, it occurred to me that giving them a panel to discuss dinosaurs might be surprisingly informative, and a good opportunity to get them involved as more than spectators. When I was at the golden age of science fiction (about 12) I knew a lot about dinosaurs and was happy to explain it to anyone. I seem to have forgotten a bit, and would be happy to have the next generation refresh my memory with their enthusiasm.

The con suite was well stocked, and you could see carb-consciousness creeping into fandom as evidenced by crunchy pork rinds alongside the more traditional potato chips. Three cheers for the staff who kept things running smoothly there, as I saw them replenishing bowls of conchow regularly and everyone seemed happy with the room.

The computer gaming room had a lively bunch of players cheerfully wreaking havoc on each other in networked first person shooter action. It's not exactly the future we'd hoped for, full of tolerance and starfaring, but they seemed to be having a good time with the carnage. On down the hall the con had evidently rented an arcade type video game which offered free play. Oddly, it was a golf game, and though I did see a pre-teen winging balls down the fairway for a while, I'm not sure it was quite the right game for an SF Con. A collection of classic games with space themes might be fun to consider though. I used to have a pretty good score at asteroids, and there was a Star Wars Game I could reliably get to the top tier on. Something to think about.

The dealer's room had a fair turnout by vendors, though they were a bit bummed by a light con attendance. As Keith R.A. DeCandido points out in his livejournal: "This has been a very low-key Balticon, which continues the trend of a lot of the east coast cons that seem to be bleeding attendance. There are a lot fewer people than were here either of the last two years."

Yeah. It's true. On the other hand, if anything can raise the dead, it's next year's GOH...Neil Gaiman.

Gayle's comments: We arrived on Friday and attended opening ceremonies. There was a fairly large crowd. Things didn't run very smoothly two GoH showed up very late, others didn't show up at all. But, it was obvious that a lot of energy had been put into the show and it was appreciated by the audience.

Masquerade: I always love the masquerade. There were hall costume awards given out throughout the weekend so there were a lot of very well done hall costumes. The costumes during the masquerade (21 total) as usual ran from novice to masters and the detail and workmanship of the costumes as usual blurred the categories. In some cases the presentation went on longer than was necessary for the audience to view the full costume and for others it was not long enough. The only problem was the stage was too low for most of us to see more than from the waist up of the performer. But an event worth attending.

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