Review by Gayle Surrette/Paul Haggerty
BSFS ISBN/ITEM#: Balticon40
Date: May 26-29, 2006 / Show Official Info /
Balticon 40. What was not to like -- Neil Gaiman, Lisa Snellings-Clark, Gene Wolfe, and Tamara Siler Jones. And that's just some of the Guests of Honor. There was also panels, an anime track, video gaming, video program, dealers room, art show, masquerade, and science track. There was something for everyone if you took the time to look for it.
The only sour notes to the hotel choice was the air conditioning and dining problem. First, the hotel uses chilled water system and they didn't start cooling the water since the temperatures had been so moderate. However, hot weather struck and panel rooms were in the high 80's and low 90's, causing many to dream of ice and snow with fondness. But most fen just took the heat in stride, drinking lots of water to avoid dehydration. The food issue was a bit trickier. The hotel had a deli in-house along with a restaurant but with hotel prices. The con suite was wonderful for snacking between panels and to catch up with friends but for a meal you had to cross the highway, the 6 lane highway, to get to the mall. There were no sidewalks and the hotel staff advised crossing with a car only. While not ideal it was not a big show stopper either.
The Art Show had some wonderful pieces. I love the work of Lisa Snellings-Clark and have since I first saw a piece of her work listed for a Chesley Award (and maybe even before that -- I'm not good on relative time placements). She had some interesting paintings and sculptures. It looked to me that many of the artists had multiple bids on their work so I think it was probably a success for them as well for those of us who could only view the lovely work displayed.
The Con Suite was in a Retro Diner area with lots of chrome, cushioned seating in booths and made me feel like I'd slipped into an episode of Happy Days. There was lots of snack food and it seemed to be a busy place but big enough for a person to sit and read for a while with a cup of coffee.
We managed to miss half of opening ceremonies but still had a good time. Then it was off to the Meet the Scientist party sponsored by NSS and Moon Society. We got there only about 15 minutes late but still managed to miss the scientists (since we didn't see any of the presenters we listened to throughout the con) but had a great time discussing various scientific theories with other attendees.
We managed to take a lot of pictures this year and have put them up on Flickr. We managed to get lots of hall costumes, most of the Guests of Honor, some friends, writers, panels, and some crowd shots.
This year we actually made it to some 'readings' and fun panels. Maria V. Snyder had a panel on Poison Tasting. She used various chocolate samples to have us learn to smell, taste, and test as if we were poison tasters. It was fun and she has a great sense of humor barely breaking stride when water started pouring out of the ceiling during the panel. Later we attended a "Tea and Tarot" session where anyone who wished could get a reading of the Tarot cards and/or the crystal gazed. Fun was had by all.
All in all it was a great weekend. And I look forward to next year already.