Balticon 2014: Getting Back My Groove


I might argue that this moment in time, is indeed the best moment to be a fan of SF. There is so much to do, and participate in. It really is Amazing. However, I wasn’t feeling so good on my way up to Balticon this Memorial day.

Rain Clouds over . . . well me. 

I feel that most days I sit down to breakfast and surf the web, most of what I can find is related to the general state of the publishing industry, and how there is disruption all across the board. I enjoy SF and as such, a good amount of articles I come across are focused on how this effects the genre in some way. It’s easier for people to get in to the industry and so quality has gone down, that sort of thing.

Not exactly rainbows and butterflies, but not the worst thing in the world either. I’m not an author so perhaps it doesn’t even involve me all that much.

Of course, there is also a lot of contention in regards to racism and sexism and sometimes this can be a little draining on the general camaraderie I’ve felt has always been a hallmark of SF Fandom. Please don’t misunderstand me, this is important discourse which I believe needs to be expressed, but as of late it’s left me feeling rather unsure of my own skin.

Finally, as fans are wont to do, there is a considerable amount of discourse going on about other elements of SF: the culture, particular works, what’s good, what’s bad etc. In general, it is enjoyable discussion, but the frequency with which it becomes un-enjoyable has made me weary as well.

I suppose what I’m getting at is, it has been taking me a considerable amount of energy to participate in ‘Fannish’ things lately, mostly due to what I a feel is a lack of stamina, and possibly inspiration.

However . . .

When the Con bell rang, I still came in for supper if not as eagerly as years past. (It’s metaphors like these which are why I’m not an author!)

But then BALTICON!!!

Well, after all of the doom and gloom I’ve told you I was feeling, when I finally walked in the door, a complete and utter transformation completely took hold of me. After all it was BALTICON!!! And I was hopefully about to get three books signed by BRANDON SANDERSON!!! Somewhere in this post, there is a picture of the two of us and it’s absolutely ridiculous how happy I look. More on that later. Anyway, I was feeling doomy and gloomy but also kind of cocky. You remember how the sophomores acted when you were still a freshman in high school? After all, I’d been to two other conventions before this (check out my exp. of last year’s Balticon and Capclave 2013) and knew what these things were about. I perused the program and saw a few panels I should probably go to, either to learn something useful about SF, or to satisfy some need to jockey for position amongst the heirarchy of social circles within Fandom. I was feeling pretty confident in my ability to advance through the SF intelligentia. Basically, I was feeling pretty smug.

You know, casual.
You know, casual.

But I soon remembered my lessons from Capclave and Balticon the year before. I wasn’t here to do any of those things. I was here because I love SF and this was yet one more place I could celebrate that love (also Brandon Sanderson). I promptly started geeking out.

I got my three books signed. Got my picture taken. Attended Brandon’s address to the fans. Was persuaded to purchase another Sanderson title . . . and get that signed as well. Attended two live sessions of Disasterpiece Theatre (those guys still got it! haven’t laughed so hard since last year). Finally made it to the Bar. Met an author named Mark Jeffery who I’m very excited to begin reading and even shared a drink with Sanderson’s publicist.

I’d say convention well attended.

Sanderson’s Address

During Sanderson’s address to Balticon, he talked about something which I feel is very important to the life of SF Fandom. His message was, essentially, you don’t need an excuse to love SF. It doesn’t mean you have to like all of SF either. Some fans enjoy one thing while others have different tastes. Some fans resort to lengthy discourses and have a strict logic to how they’ve come up with their opinions. Others simply know that this work, or this thing, makes them feel Awesome. Whichever camp you’re in, you have every right to share those opinions. However, be respectful of those you share with. They may come around to your side, and they may not. In the end, you’re both Fans, and that’s a wonderful thing in and of itself.

Also, when you’re at a Con, hit Chipotle at some point. You need to eat!

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