by KT Pinto
May 27–30, 2011
Hunt Valley, Maryland
A few months ago I received word from my publisher that my new book Beer with a Mutant Chaser was being premiered at Balticon, so I was asked to change my plans of going to Ohio. My editor got in touch with the head of literary programming to see if I could be given panels. She was told that I could be on panels, but that it was “too late” for me to get a guest pass. Already I started to feel bad vibes about going…
I sent an e-mail to the programming chair thanking her for letting me participate, and asked her if I could have a list of available panels.
A week before the con, my publisher sent me the list of panels that had space on them; I still hadn’t heard anything from the programming chair. I chose some panels and sent it to our contact.
So, I get to the con. I was not mentioned anywhere, I was not given any panels save the panel my publishing company hosted… I didn’t even have my name on my badge! It said something like “Darkon 2”; I was a non-entity.
Never one to blend into the woodwork, I went in search of panels that I could crash; I was rather disappointed as I went through the program. My author compatriots had little to no panels, and my favorite topics—sex, vampires, villains, and flirting—were non-existent… on the literary track.
That’s when I noticed that almost the entire con was overrun with “new media” panels. Anything relating to sex, taboos, or vampires was all put aside for “new media”. When I went to my first Balticon in 2007, I was on panels like “Romance, Love, Sex, and Erotica,” “How to Get Laid at a Con,” “Sexy Vampires?” and “Creating the Perfect Villain.” None of those panels existed in 2011. Now such topics had been reduced to things like “Erotica… Iron Chef” and “Alien Sex: What Could Go Wrong?”.
Author Michael A. Ventrella commented, “…many participants were willing to do more panels but the convention had no place to put them, and as such some panelists had decided it was not worth the trip and expense to show up only to be on one or two panels.”
On top of all that, there were no late-night social events. The couple of events that were planned were more dance classes than socials. There were no other parties, no gatherings… only a late-night hula-hooping event. This is why I spent most of my Memorial Day weekend in my publisher’s hotel room, reducing their alcohol supply.
Summing up the situation, author Stephanie Burke said, “As always, Balticon is a lovely four-day endurance trial… But it is the people, open, friendly, and beautiful, that makes this a con to remember.”