Saturday, June 03, 2006

Con Report: Balticon 40

The long-awaited con report is here! Rejoice and the fun of vicarious living will come to you. =)

Conventions are an interesting subject to blog about, largely because they're both personal and professional events. I could tell you all about every single minute of my time there, but then that would be revealing too much. Or I could just briefly list each item, but then that would be revealing too little. Neither would be ultimately satisfying, at least from my point of view. So I'm going to aim for a middle ground, and we'll see if that works.

I live in central NJ, as does my client, John Joseph Adams, and so I happily snagged a ride down with him, since I don't have my own car. We were accompanied by a trio of writers from Hoboken: Matthew Kressel, Devin J. Poore, and Mercurio D. Riveria (otherwise known as David), who all felt the need to inform me that Hoboken is a land that is rife with pugs and baby strollers. This, of course, led my brain to form unfortunate associations, and they are all now permanently associated with the working title of Marianne Mancusi's (one of Folio's clients; Paige Wheeler represents her) next chick-lit novel, A HOBOKEN HIPSTER IN SHERWOOD FOREST. It's a sequel of sorts, I believe, to her first novel, A CONNECTICUT FASHIONISTA IN KING ARTHUR'S COURT.

Anyway, getting back to the con... once the guys finally found my house, after getting lost in the opposite direction, we set off for Baltimore and the temporary land of Neil Gaiman. For almost five hours, we crawled down I-95 at an excruciatingly slow pace, until we finally arrived at the convention. John rushed off to participate in his first panel, which had to do with blogging, and the rest of us followed like the dutiful fan base we were. One of the points raised in the blogging panel was that bloggers should try to regularly update their blogs; now this would be all well and good, but as we've seen, I'm not the most rigorous of bloggers. This blog, as fun as it is to write, is a supplement to my actual job--a.k.a, the job earns me money, and therefore reading my slush pile has priority over writing many fun entries. It still made me feel vaguely guilty though, knowing that I wasn't regularly updating my blog enough.

After the blogging panel and its associated guilt, we adjourned for dinner and the opening ceremonies (which were horrific). Afterwards, we made our way over to the Capclave party, which was nice, but not spectacular. And that was Friday.

On Saturday, we went to a collaboration panel featuring Neil Gaiman, Gene Wolfe, and a bunch of other people who had collaborated with Neil Gaiman in the past. This could have been potentially interesting, but the moderator was horrible, and I must confess that I dozed off during it. Afterwards, our entire group made its way over to John's second panel, which involved rock and roll and science fiction. The panel was interesting in its own right, but the highlight of it for me was getting to meet Adam Stemple (who was on the panel also) afterwards. I was able to tell him how sorry I was that his father had passed away, and he, John, and I had a nice chat about samurai and Japanese history. He's a really nice guy, and I was very glad that I actually got to make his acquaintance in person. =)

Other panels that I went to on Saturday included the Analog Mafia one, which I dropped in on for the latter half, in hopes of seeing Carl Frederick, and one about building a realistic star system. Due to the fact that the air conditioning in the hotel was completely failing in the room that they held the star system panel in, I managed to fall completely asleep during it. I also got to check out the dealer's room, which while small, was a nice diversion. You may call me naive, but I hadn't realized that there would be lots and lots of used book dealers there... I am an absolute sucker for used books, especially ones in good condition and that I can't find elsewhere. I was very good, however, and only ended up spending about $15 for three books over the course of the entire weekend.

Saturday night was quite lovely, as our entire group made its way over to the Ravencon/Nth Dimension party, and had a great deal of fun. At first, I was somewhat hesitant about the whole thing because it was extremely hot in the hotel room and I was tired, plus I was sitting on a bed next to a girl dressed inexplicably in a giant carrot costume. It was all very surreal. But then I surrendered my spot on the bed, and ended up running into Lawrence Schoen, an online writing buddy of mine, and so I got to speak to him for a long time. We had attended his reading earlier in the day, and got the chance to hear one of his newer stories; I had never really read much of his writing before, but I enjoyed it a lot, and now I'm going to go seek out all his older stories. They're up on Fictionwise, I believe.

I eventually wandered outside, where I was promptly rendered useless by the darkness (I have no night vision to speak of), and only managed to recognize John because his bald head was vaguely reflecting light. John, it turned out, was speaking to Stephen Segal (not the actor), who is this really nice guy who's starting up a geekdom magazine, Earthling. I got the chance to speak to him for a very long time, and also the chance to see a sample mockup of the magazine. It's very professional and well done, and I would so totally get a copy of it. His target audience is teenage girls, and he's trying to integrate the geek populations of literary SF with those that are really targeted towards anime and manga today. I hope he succeeds because it's a worthy endeavor, and one that I think would help the state of the genre immensely. There's such a large potential fan base out there, but they just don't know what's available yet. Stephen, it turns out, is also from Pittsburgh, and so he and I got to have a nice long chat about everything related to it (for those that don't know, I went to college there at Carnegie Mellon University).

The rest of the party was lovely, and we all eventually went back to our hotel rooms and slept. So ends Saturday. =)

On Sunday, we got the chance to see Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman interview each other on stage, which was worth the entire admission price of the con itself. They're both charming gentleman, who are very funny, and they've been friends for so many years that they have a great repartee with each other. We all went to John's final panel, which had to do with asking the editors; questions and such that you wanted answered about what they were looking for, etc. John, for those that don't know, is the Assistant Editor of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction.

Then, after lunch, we all went home. The car was acting funny on I-95, so it was necessary to pull over, and then all four guys needed to stare at it and confer on what they thought was wrong with it. It was very funny, since they were all so seriously intent on it, and it was such a guy-like thing to do. One of them wouldn't suffice... no, all four of them needed to get out of the car. =)

Other things of interest to note...

Most Terrifying Con Moment: Turning around and realizing that I knew who the woman sitting behind me was because I could read her name badge, and I had rejected her query.

Best Con Moment: Hearing Neil Gaiman recite from his son's favorite childhood book, which he had to read to him ad infinitum. His son is now twenty-two years old, by the way, but Neil Gaiman still remembered it all.

Various Cool Things About My Traveling Companions: David has a story that just came out in Interzone, which you should all read. John is adorable when waving at small babies sitting across from us in restaurants. Devin builds custom models of the Swingline stapler from "Office Space", and sells them on eBay. And finally, Matt is the publisher of the 'zine Sybil's Garage, which can be found here.

And there's your con report, folks. =)


G. Jules Reynolds said...

Yay! Con report. :-)

As a blog reader, I don't think I agree with the update-often crowd, or rather I do, but not entirely. If someone has the time and available material for it, great; but to be honest, I'd rather read a really well-written, interesting blog entry once a week than short entries every day that were written just for the sake of updating every day. (Some people update every day because they're update-every-day people, of course, which is awesome, but not everyone is an update-every-day person. I'm certainly not.)

Plus, I can usually get a syndicated feed on LJ, so I always know when people have updated. Which is awesome.

Harry Connolly said...

I enjoyed Adam Stemple's novel very much. He did a terrific job with it. When is his new one coming out?

The convention sounds like fun. I should go to one someday.

And you don't have to worry about daily updates to your blog. That's true of people who are competing for attention with lots of other bloggers, but you're an expert writing about your field of expertise, and there's limited competition.

So don't worry about writing something every day. Just try to avoid being boring. :-)

Matt Kressel said...

Great blog report Jenny. I'm so used to blogging about the con reports for my group that it's nice and refreshing to see the same experience from another point of view. I totally forgot about the car issue on the way home until you mentioned it. We did all get out of the car and "confirm" nothing was wrong with the tire. Us men, such silly creatures.

MercurioDRivera said...

I very much enjoyed your write-up, Jenny. Funny comment on the car incident. (And the ironic thing is, except for maybe Devin, I don't think any of us knows a thing about cars.)

See you at ReaderCon!

Jodi Meadows said...

Ooo, I have big opinions on everything! make them bite-size:

1) I think it depends on what (generic) you're using your blog for as to how often you should update. Frex, a bunch of friends and I make progress reports to keep ourselves accountable. Other people only update when they have something to say. And that's cool. But it's probably good to update enough so that people don't forget about (generic) you.

2)Guys *must!* get out of the car and stare at it. It's like girls all going to the bathroom at the same time. (And have you ever been the only girl left while the others get up to go? *shudders* I'm not doing *that!* again, let me tell you.)

3) Eee, that would be terrifying. Did she recognize you? I bet you're safe as long as she didn't make puppy eyes...

Sounds like a lot of fun! Did you take any pictures?

Jenny Rappaport said...

harry, I'm not sure when Adam Stemple's next novel is coming out, actually. I still have to read the first one, since my boyfriend appropriated it when we were on vacation in March, and I haven't gotten around to it since.

jodi, I *have* been that girl who's sitting there when everyone else goes to the bathroom... it's so awkward! =) It's also similar to the phenomonen that happens when large groups of girls go clubbing, I'd say. For example, my first cousin got married at the end of April, and I was one of his fiancee's bridesmaids. For her bachelorette party, we all went into Manhattan to this great retro-80's club, Culture Club. And then once we got there, we then proceeded to all dance in a giant clump (there were eleven of us), exactly like we were at a middle school dance, except that most of us were in our twenties and several of the girls were already married.

Alas, I have no pictures of Balticon, since my father insisted on borrowing my digital camera so that he could take the pictures from my cousin's wedding off of it, and send them to all our relatives finally. No camera, no pictures. =)

Jenny Rappaport said...

Oh, and no, the person sitting behind me did not recognize me, thankfully. =) I wouldn't have known quite what to say in that situation, since I remembered her name, but had not a clue what her novel had been about.