Saturday, June 09, 2007

Balticon Diary: Wrap-Up

After Day 2 at Balticon, I had only gotten a couple of hours of sleep, but still had one more morning of events to go.


Balticon 129:00 Getting woken up every two hours while keeping track of my son did not make for a good night's sleep and my goal of another morning in the gym are ruined. I wake up just in time to shower, eat and get to the Pournelle Kaffeeklatsch.

10:00 The full story of a cranky Pournelle was previously blogged.

11:00 We load all the luggage into the car and check out. Since hotel check out is at noon there is a big exodus of other convention goers stuffing junk into their cars. We had a small suitcase and a couple of backpacks. Other people had boxes and boxes of crap including leftovers from the late night parties.

11:30 My wife goes out for one more round of shopping.

11:45 I make one last lap through the dealer room and admire the swords my son wants. I don’t even check the price. I don't want to know, but the craftsmanship is excellent. I suspect some go for well over a hundred dollars. Earlier in the weekend I had inwardly chuckled at some costumed Klingons admiring a batleth. When the Klingons gawk in admiration, you're good.

12:15 I get suspicious that the sign-up sheet for the Niven Kaffeeklatsch had the time wrong, so I go to the celebrity suite and bluff my way into the standing room only crowd. I have to sit on the spiral staircase which gives me a great view of the whole room. At one point the group wanders off into a side conversation amongst themselves while Larry just listens. I interrupt to ask him a question just to get things back on track. I don't want to listen to a bunch of fans yammer at each other when LARRY NIVEN is in the room.

1:00 I find my son in the hotel lobby reading and we call my wife to come pick us up. I get home and take a long nap.


Balticon 38Over the past eight or so years, I have been to Balticon four times. This was the first time we had stayed on site at Balticon, but we had been to other out of town conventions. Several years ago we went to Philcon in Philadelphia (duh) and that is where my son first got into the gaming. He really enjoys the late nights and can easily pick up friends to play the games.

I just can't get into the social aspect of the events. I spend a lot of time standing in line and chat with the people in line, but I never follow up. Since this is my second year in a row, I recognized several people that had been there the previous year as well, but I can't say that I know them. Unlike last year, I don't even run into someone I know from "real" life except for the three kids that are friends of my son.

I do enjoy science fiction conventions, especially ones with guests I am familar with. I like the seminars, panels, and talks. I just can't get into the social aspect and it's not snobbishness. Fandom is very inclusive and is a great safe harbor for people who might otherwise get shunned. It's easy to get all worked up over the stereotypes of the unkempt social misfit (and stereotypes emerge for a reason) but I would say that on average the attendees at a SF con are smarter and more successful than the mean.

I have been to seven science fiction conventions including a WorldCon, but I can't really say I am a serious fan. I go to the ones that have good guests or fit into my travel plans. To the outsider that seems pretty hardcore, but there are people so much more into the scene than I am.

One lady I was eavesdropping on was listing the Worldcons she had missed. It was only a few in over twenty years. I enjoy science fiction and it is my favorite genre, but I have a lot of broader interests. I am lucky to have a spouse that indulges my hobby even though she has no real connection. She threatens to take me to a romance novel convention. I say throw me in that briar patch. I would find my way to stay amused. It could be fun.

Next year's guest at Balticon will be Connie Willis. She is an award winning author, but I don't think she is well known outside the SF community. I went to one of her readings when we were at Philcon and she is very funny. I'm just not sure she is as big a draw as Niven/Pournelle and definitely not the rock star level of Neil Gaiman.

This time next year, my son will be graduating from high school with all the attendant hoopla that entails. I suspect my calendar will be too busy to take several days out of Memorial Day weekend to make a membership at next year's con worth it for me. I'm sure Balticon will get along just find without me.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: So just how big of a geek am I? And do you know bigger ones?


Elizabeth said...

I don't think it's geeky. I went to my first author reading last night and got so excited when I saw the author in person! I felt like such a groupie, but it was just so cool!!
I can see how fun it would be to go to an event where you can really spend some time and ask questions and listen to their ideas!

Psychodiva said...

I am so jealous- I haven't been to a con for years- first one i ever went to was waaay back in the 80s - A B5 Con in Blackpool- those were the days when you could sit in the bar and get P88888 with the actors and crew- too much security and people with big heads around now :(
anyway- came across you when browsing a TT blog - in the comments :) cool to find another sci-fi nerd- although I'm not so much into it now as I used to be