Balticon 50 Report (May 27-30, 2016)

Balticon 50 Guests of Honor
Balticon 50 Guests of Honor

Over Memorial Day weekend, my wife Denise and I attended Balticon 50 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel. The Guest of Honor was George R.R. Martin and, since it was the fiftieth anniversary of Balticon, the committee invited Guests of Honor from the last 49 years as well.  Attending the Con was an incredible list of science fiction and fantasy writers, the giants of the genre.

The photo above shows most of them, and rather than list them all, I thought I’d let you figure out who each one is. Click on the photo to get a larger image. I’ll start you off with the first three on the left: George RR Martin, Jo Walton, and Joe Haldeman. Also, Kim Stanley Robinson, the 2016 Robert Heinlein Award Winner, was on stage, but not in this photo. (Hint: If you need help check the Balticon 50 website.)

Kim Stanley Robinson talking about Antarctica
Kim Stanley Robinson talking about Antarctica

Beyond meeting and listening to this exceptional array of talent, the highlight for me was Kim Stanley Robinson’s photographic recounting of his experiences in Antarctica during an extended visit sponsored by the National Science Foundation in 1995.

His portrayal of that remote landscape was both unearthly beautiful and often harrowing. His time there formed the basis for his 1997 novel “Antarctica”.

The program tracks were remarkably diverse, everything from anime to skeptical thinking. My focus was mostly science and space.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, also this year, I did a talk based on my Amazing Stories blogs that compared the technology on the International Space Station with the “future” technology used in the Star Trek series.

I was also on a panel called Mad Scientist Slam, which was sort of a “Shark Tank” for World Domination. We invited audience members to propose ways to take over the world, and then scored them on key metrics such as plausibility, budget, ethics, quality of evil laugh, and the amount of our cut of the profits. The winner was a young lad who proposed what was effectively a tidal wave of slime. He was the lowest bidder!

Denise used her background in foods and food history to conduct a couple of really cool sessions. She ran a workshop for writers on how to feed their imaginary worlds, which was well received.  She also did a related talk on the foods of Star Trek, i.e. do the foods the alien races eat match up with the ecosystems of their home worlds.

Denise Clemons / Jack Clemons, Ethan Siegel and Dr. Seti (H. Paul Shuch).
Denise Clemons / Jack Clemons, Ethan Siegel and Dr. Seti (H. Paul Shuch).

It was a fun, if very exhausting weekend, and a chance to reconnect with friends we’ve met at these events in the past. Balticon is one of the oldest and most well attended of the regional Cons, and certainly worth attending if you get the chance.

Because of the line-up of special guests this year, the halls and meeting rooms were very crowded, and some events were difficult to get in to.  But if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic Region and you love SF, fantasy, science, gaming, speculative poetry, filmmaking, fiction writing or publishing, you might want to attend next year.

Copyright 2016 Dandelion Beach LLC

Editor’s Note:  A handy-dandy photo key for those readers wanting to guess who the authors are:


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