by Rob Balder
May 27–30, 2011
Hunt Valley, Maryland
I’ve been a frequent program participant at Balticon for a number of years running, and there was a time I was starting to get a bit worried about it. A few years ago, it looked like the more established literary cons were running out of steam. Attendance was falling, room parties were fewer, and there was a sense of less energy to them.
If that had been true, then this year’s Balticon was a definite uptick. Attendance seemed to be up, the program and night life were lively, and everyone seemed newly recharged.
My time focused on the music/filk track—put together with the usual care and brilliance of Gary Ehrlich. Concert space and sound tech were fantastic, and the combination of regular and new musical acts (particularly Norm Sherman and Filk GoHs Bill & Brenda Sutton) made the whole thing just a blast.
Part of Balticon’s energy has to come from their embrace of podcasters and new media, a track run by Balticon podcast host Paul Fischer. Some substantial and forward-looking panels and hands-on work with the pros and semi-pros in new media rewarded fans and creators alike.
But the big treat for me was my panel with Author GoH Ben Bova, about A Duel in the Somme, the comic that he and I put together with Bill Holbrook. The room was packed with happy and admiring readers, Ben was jovial and entertaining, and I just mainly tripped over my own tongue. But it was a wonderful moment in space and time, and afterwards people lined up for a signed copy. Balticon remains a literary con at its core, and their fantastic choices of author guests will always be a prime reason to attend.