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From Modern Mythcraft to Magical Surrealism

Con Report: BaltiCon (May 22-25, 2009)

A few precious moments linger in one’s life, the still frames that define us, or perhaps, define a portion of us previously out of focus. These moments, sometimes, are experiences one might expect: birth of a child, diploma day, loss of virginity, a first fiction sale. Sometimes the experiences come later in life, unexpectedly sweet.

Yes, my friends, I have experienced my first con.

Granted, Balticon hasn’t the turnout of a Worldcon: yes, this much I concede, but when friends gather and such guests present — Charles Stross, Kurt Miller, Scott Sigler, and the ever elusive, Edgar Allan Poe — well, numbers in attendance don’t seem to matter so much.

With Stephen Segal as my guide to Conning 101, we set up a Weird Tales table then made our rounds. Sadly, my search for Poe proved useless, but I did have the opportunity to meet and hear a lovely reading by Hugo recipient, Catherine Asaro, the work, her newest release, Diamond Star. I made new friends, among them, Donna Lynch and Steve Archer from whom I bought two Lovecraftian oils and an Ego Likeness CD, The Order of the Reptile. I can only describe both mediums as hauntingly sultry with a kickass beat. Particularly delicious for me was the purchase of my first Steampunk hat, a tasty accessory I’ve been lusting over for quite some time now.

Walking the halls and dealer rooms, I enjoyed disembodied women with clockwork abdomens. I giggled at crocheted aliens, listened to Samurai Chewbacca playing bass to Dune: The Rock Opera. Truly, I was amongst the geek “eclectica,” and all I could think as I traversed the crowd was, Honey, I’m home.

After Chinese and sushi with Sean Wallace, Stephen and I finished the evening with the Masquerade Extravaganza, a mix of novice and master crafters strutting their wears, emceed by Marty Gear — a founding president of the International Costumers’ Guild and director/MC of Balticon since 1979.

Yes, I am indeed hooked and looking forward to Readercon in Burlington, Massachusetts this July. Happy conning, and see you at Readercon.

Rae Bryant is a short story author, poet, columnist, assistant editor for Fantasy Magazine, on staff with Weird Tales, and a reviewer for The Fix. She is a 2008 recipient of the Whidbey Writers’ Prize and editor nominated for storysouth‘s Million Writers Award. Her works have appeared or will soon be appearing in Fantasy Magazine, Weird Tales, Literary Traveler, and Southern Fried Weirdness among others. Rae is currently a graduate student at Johns Hopkins finishing a M.A. in Writing. She lives in a little valley just outside Washington D.C. Read more about Rae at or visit her at

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