Baycon is always lovely—it’s my home convention, and it was wonderful having so many people call me by name and ask about my books. (I have several new ones this year). It’s a friendly, all-inclusive con, happy to encourage new authors and welcome discussions on the most re-hashed of topics. On the other hand, it felt a bit more scattered than usual.
This year’s panels had some serious organizational problems—some people complained that they were on eleven panels, while others complained they were only on two (I had the latter problem). One fairytale talk, overloaded with about eight panelists, clearly should have been split in half (Hey, fairytales are popular this year—they would have gotten attendance!). I didn’t make it to the Birds of a Feather Talk but I heard the Whedon one wasn’t well attended. I had to explain that my heroine’s journey panel opposite had slurped up half the Buffy fans, in one of many awkward scheduling conflicts. Speaking of that heroine’s journey panel, it oddly went forward with my book’s title and description on it, despite the fact that no one else on it had read anything on my version of the heroine’s journey. One panelist kept telling me she had nothing to contribute, and another quite literally discussed nothing beyond her own novel. The third panelist (other than myself) had a strong background in myth and girl-power fantasy, and in the end, we mostly opened the talk to the audience and had a lively panel. My other panel on fairytales had many knowledgeable panelists, all of whom had plenty to say.
There were some new and different things—Cliff Winnig played sitar and there was an impressive armor and weapons demo. There was a “remembering Anne McCaffrey” track, hosted by her son and a few others who had known her. As usual, the evenings offered Rocky Horror, boffers, Regency dancing, a ball, concerts, gaming, and many parties. Chris Garcia’s Hugo Award made the rounds—I heard it was being used to power a steampunk gun, among other fascinating uses. The Consuite seemed to be the only example of the cruise theme, with lovely decorations and a staff daring people to put odd syrups in the free sodas (there was one ribbon for mixing in three, and another for anyone brave enough to try the “bacon flavor.”) Though Unwoman went to Clockwork Alchemy this year, she returned the last day for an impromptu concert. Toastmaster brothers Dani Kollin and Eytan Kollin were quite funny, from their Karaoke-basedintroductions at Meet the Guests through the “A Shot Rang Out” impromptu storytelling at con end. I also went to a number of Brandon Sanderson’s talks—he’s fun, and was quite good natured at a Monday talk at which none of the other panelists showed up.
The hotel itself featured crowded elevators, a broken escalator, and a fire alarm that went off during Avalon Rising’s rendition of Disco Inferno…ah, timing. People went light on costumes though there was a small Masquerade contest and as always, a few special offerings. A baby in a mistcloak (from Sanderson’s Mistborn) was particularly precious. As always, my dad and I dressed very elaborately each day and never managed to meet the hall-costume awards…maybe if the awarders got around more, more people would dress up. I got an all-time high of 47 badge ribbons, all from making friendly chitchat at parties and in the hallways. Saturday night’s parties were literally too crowded to get into most of the rooms, though Sunday night’s were much saner. I loved Westercon 66’s drink-making robot, which was generating a substantial line. My own book sales were low, though I found some pretty Victorian accessories in the dealer’s room. The Greater Los Angeles Writer’s Society was there, aggressively scooping up members and selling many new writer’s books.
Baycon was in trouble this year, with a new Steampunk con funneling away many of their fans—already often leaving for Fanime and Wiscon. Programming jumbles and panelists not bothering to put in the effort only made things worse. So where is Baycon heading? I’m not certain. To be fair, next year’s chair seems determined to fix the flaws, and is actively seeking fannish suggestions to make that happen.