While all my friends were at Balticon living it up
By: Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll

While all my friends were at Balticon living it up, making new connections and reestablishing old, I stayed here in the Golden State. I was raised here. So, even though we’re in a real estate slump that has decimated people’s retirements, cost millions of jobs and emptied the state’s tax coffers, I still think of it as paradise.
Just as Americans are blindly unaware of what the rest of the world really thinks of us, so are Californians unaware of the rest of the nation’s attitude. I have a brother in Alabama. He says that most Alabamans think of California like a good granola; “What’s not fruits is nuts.”
As a follower of Podcasts, and Chooch and Viv’s, “City of Heroes” podcast being my first, I have heard about Balticon for several years. Last year as our team at Flying Island Press was building steam toward our first issue, there was a lot of excitement about taking ‘our thing’ to Balticon.
If I ever become wealthy, I may consider paying the price to fly across the country to participate. Until then, I have found my own corner of the ‘Conning’ world south of the City by The Bay.
Baycon began 29 years ago in San Francisco on Memorial Day weekend, as the Bay Area Science Fiction and Fantasy writers convention. It has since moved south to Santa Clara and taken up residence in the Hyatt Regency, next to Paramount’s Great America theme park.
This year I could only attend on Friday and Saturday, but felt so at home amongst the accommodating and engaging participants that I will definitely attend the full week next year and take a more active role. (I hope to man the stick at the craps table for the Casino Night charity event.)
I got an introduction to the Steam Punk Genre and learned the proper use of goggles and pith helmets. I also learned that my all-time favorite author, James P. Blaylock, is considered a steam punk author. I listened in on discussions of; when an author ruins you conception of who she or he is; the basics of podcasting, (during which I found it difficult to not be “that guy who makes too many comments.”); creating your own alternate history: and a fascinatingly disturbing discussion of modern human trafficking and slavery.
My favorite was a discussion between Marty Halpern, editor from Golden Gryphon Press, and the cover artist, John Picacio, and their work together. John is an artist that reads the story before he creates the cover, so that he gets a feel for what will bring out the story the best. They showed examples of initial ideas through the completed cover.
I missed several panels on Sunday and Monday that had more application to what we are doing here.
I had so much fun handing out pass-along cards and talking to people about what we’re doing at Flying Island Press…
(I will digress here, so that those of you who actually read my tripe can get a better picture about who I am….I actually made a friend at Baycon. That means I spoke to her on more than one occasion and look forward to seeing her and her husband at next years Baycon. When I have told people I know about this they say, “No. You actually spoke to someone?” That’s right. I am both shy and antisocial. But I felt so at home there, I couldn’t help but join in.)
…that I signed up to go to Worldcon at www.renovationsf.org in Reno, NV. My wife said I couldn’t go without her, so we’ll be celebrating her birthday from August 17th to the 21st in Reno Nevada. It should be interesting. The Hugo award presentation will be in the Peppermill Hotel and Casino, where we got our room.
BTW. The friend I made is Emerian of www.Emzbox.com She does a podcast and has four of her books at www.Podiobooks.com Most importantly she has a story in for our Autism Benefit Issue that should be coming out BEFORE I go to Renovation.


  • YOU MEET EMZ! Oh my gosh, she is a great friend of mine! She has really encouraged me and I hope to get to a Baycon sometime to meet her in person. Maybe I will get to meet you there, too.
    I, too, LOVE where I live. I am fighting termites, along with all my neighbors right now, watch out for wildfires every year and am wating for THE earthquake, but how can I not love it? The ocean h=is here for looking at every day.

  • Philip (Norval Joe) Carroll says:

    Baycon was fun, though I was only there for a short time. I was excited to see Emz’ name on the panel for podcasting and searched her out.
    Modesto is pretty far from the big faults, but close enough to the Sierras, the ocean and Sacramento, (the home of my birth) to make me feel like this is still paradise.
    Come to Baycon next year. I’ll be there all week end next year. One day wasn’t enough.