First of all, an announcement: BLADES OF THE OLD EMPIRE is tomorrow’s Kindle Daily Deal and will be discounted to $1.99 in US and Canada. Don’t miss it!
And now, on to Baltimore Book Fest, which took place this weekend at the beautiful Baltimore Inner Harbor. It was a blast.
I’d like to start with a toast to the amazing Sarah Pinsker, who made it work so seamlessly and made the SFWA tent such a well-attended place, so welcoming for both authors and fans.
It would be impossible to recap all the panels, so I will only mention the most memorable ones to me (with the caveat that I have not been able to attend all of them, due to my schedule).
The one I would never forget, even if I tried, was the “Food in Science Fiction and Fantasy” panel, moderated by Fran Wilde, the author of the recently released “Updraft” as well as the “cooking the books” blog where authors talk about their favorite recipes. The panel was scheduled right before the Saturday night social, under the assumption that talking about food in speculative fiction could be a great prelude to the actual eating.
Well, that didn’t quite work as expected.
Trust a bunch of science fiction and fantasy authors to turn such a seemingly innocent topic into an experience out of this world.
Fran did her best to keep the panelists under control when she announced at the start that she would not allow any talk about cannibalism until the 15 minute mark. The panelists, Bud Sparhawk, K. Ceres Wright, and Lawrence M. Schoen took it in stride, starting off the discussion about their favorite foods with the famous Klingon’s Gagh (Yes, it’s worms. Live ones. According to Lawrence M. Schoen, they also have to be dying of poison as you eat them, a detail my mind refused to hold in after watching Star Trek.). Bud Sparhawk followed up seamlessly, talking about food recycling in space, which essentially means that you end up eating whatever comes out of you, re-purified and re-processed, every few days. Ceres Wright tried to save the day by talking about music and how it can change the food’s taste, but–you get the picture. I will not talk about Lawrence’s favorite skin rolls, which became a recurring theme during the panel, even before the cannibalism ban was released.
Let’s just say no one was exactly hungry when the panel was over. But the party afterwards was still a lot of fun–and yes, the food was great.
A close second to me was my own panel on Worldbuilding, held the next morning, together with authors Carolyn Ives Gilman, Don Sakers, Alan Smale, and the guest of honor, the amazing Tobias Buckell.
Well, somehow we ended up talking about swear words. It is, actually, an important part of world building, since choosing the right swear words for your world does wonders to the authenticity and flavor. It is also a fun topic to discuss. Especially when you are on stage, in front of a captivated audience. And then I felt even better when I started seeing tweets like this:
No better way to make the panel memorable, is it? 🙂
We did talk about other things too, all the more fun because of the range of panelists, from traditional fantasy, to alternate history, to near-future sci-fi and outer space. None of these topics ended up on Twitter, though. At least not so explicitly.
Before I left on Saturday afternoon, I had a very nice book signing session at the side of the tent.
I shared the table with Alan Smale, author of the recently released “Clash of Eagles”, and we had a wonderful discussion about alternate history, Native Americans, the Roman empire, and the use of British English. And yes, fantasy recipes from my Majat Code series, which really should have been a part of the food panel, but ended up as part of the worldbuilding, along with the ever-powerful swear words.
I had a wonderful time and met so many nice people I look forward to seeing again at future conventions.