I will assume my final form at Balticon

Please join me this coming weekend for Balticon, a large convention for fans of all things related to speculative fiction organized by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. Featuring over 300 hours of programming and guests of honor Elizabeth Bear, Scott Lynch, Charles Vess, Nicky Drayden, Gregory Benford, R.F. Kuang, and the Blibbering Humdingers, Balticon will be running 24 hours a day at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, 202 East Pratt Street, Baltimore, MD 21202 Friday May 24 through Monday May 27.

As some of you might remember I participated in the Balticon 52 programming last year. That was my first time returning to the event in 6 years, and things had changed a bit . Aside from the new location at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor (the same venue World Fantasy was held in last year if you attended that) the crowd and panel discussions were very fresh, progressive, and thought-provoking.

It turned out that one of the people running the programming was none other than a former intern of ours from Raw Dog Screaming Press! Their team mentioned needing volunteers, so I decided to get involved. Seeing all the work that goes into these conventions from behind the scenes is an eye opener, even when you already grasp that event logistics are a nightmare. The Balticon team works diligently to ensure a broad spectrum of new programming is ready for its audience every year. If you want to see the scene grow to be more inclusive, dynamic, and fun for all ages and interests, please support events like Balticon either by spreading the word or attending. I hope to see you there!

My schedule is as follows:


Muse On This: John Lawson (interview)
Located in Pride of Baltimore II, 9am – 10:30am
Muse On This is a podcast focusing on interviews with creative people, and their inspirations and thought processes. Sue Baiman asks the questions to find out what makes the creativity flow. Featuring author John Lawson.

Captain Marvel and the Retconning of the MCU
Located in Room 8006, 2pm – 2:55pm
The story of Captain Marvel is set a decade before other films in the main MCU sequence, adding to and sometimes changing backstory of characters, organizations, and setting elements we thought we already knew. Did they get it right or wrong? What might have been done differently? Is there a chance that future MCU movies will also be set in the past?

Afrofuturism 201
Located in Room 8029, 4pm – 4:55pm
You know the basics of Afrofuturism, time to move on to the current creators, sources, and trends. What is being developed from older materials and where are new creators taking readers? How do Afrodiasporic musicians, visual artists, and filmmakers continue to influence Afrofuturism? Emerging subgenres such as solarpunk will also be discussed.

Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction Meet and Greet
Located in Room 8029, 5pm – 6:55pm
Come out and meet the members of Diverse Writers And Artists of Speculative Fiction (DWASF). Food, fun, and giveaways! There will also be a free screening of the award-winning short film, Rumination. The writer/director will be on hand to answer questions.

Unmasking the Hero with a Thousand Faces
Located in Mount Washington, 6pm – 6:55pm
While Campbell’s work serves as an introduction to folklore study and narrative theory for many people, slavishly adhering to it can force obvious misinterpretations of many, particularly non-Western, works. This panel will examine storytelling expectations from around the world, how Campbell’s widely taught theory of the Hero’s Journey interacts with them, and what storytelling approaches writers can employ in place of Campbell’s.

Fantasy -isms: When Metaphors Go Bad
Located in Mount Washington, 8pm – 8:55pm
So you’ve accidentally written a book that justifies genocide. How do you recognize unintentional subtext as you’re writing? How much can be changed in editing, and what can an author do if the book is about to go into print? Panelists will also explore how to navigate plot and character decisions which create these results while making it clear that they do not endorse them.


Being a Fan of Color
Located in Room 7029, 12pm – 12:55pm
How does the fandom experience differ for people of color, and what can the fan community do to become more inclusive? What struggles do fans of color go through that aren’t obvious to those not experiencing them, from racist depictions in RPGs, to exclusion in “historically inspired” works, to cosplaying outside one’s ethnicity?

African Americans in Horror
Located in Room 7029, 2pm – 2:55pm
African Americans are increasingly taking center stage in the horror genre, with recent films such as “Get Out” and “Us” by Jordan Peele, the documentary “Horror Noire,” notable literary works such as “The Ballad of Black Tom” and “The Changeling” by Victor LaValle, and RPGs such as “Harlem Unbound” by Chris Spivey. How are their stories being told? Panelists will discuss the evolution of POC in horror, from being typically the first killed to becoming three-dimensional characters with agency.

Racism in Anime
Located in Room 8029, 4pm – 4:55pm
All anime fans are probably familiar with the feeling of enjoying something and then, as they continue watching, it dawns on them a character’s portrayal is based on damaging stereotypes. How do we deal with this as fans? How does this impact who you share the show with?

The BSFS logo

You’ll be able to find me Friday and on the Monday Memorial Day holiday, and at other times throughout the weekend, helping to run programming ops, at a table in the dealers room, or checking in on panels to ensure everything is running smoothly.

For more information about Balticon including their Code of Conduct, Baltimore’s Show Your Badge program (discounts at local restaurants), and most importantly registering either for a day or the full weekend, visit https://www.balticon.org/wp53/.

For the schedule of Dog Star Books author J.L. Gribble visit https://jlgribble.com/2019/05/20/balticon-53-schedule/. To find presentations, readings, and more the searchable Balticon 53 schedule is available at https://schedule.balticon.org/.


Recent Podcasts About Fiction and Representation of Marginalized Groups

At the recent CapClave science fiction and fantasy convention I was part numerous programing items, including the Future of Afrofuturism discussion. You might be familiar with some of the other panelists: K. Ceres Wright, Kenesha Williams, L.H Moore, Shirin Nicole, B. Sharise Moore. It turned out Sherin is part of the Geek Girl Riot team and recorded the panel for their podcast, which just aired last week. Please give our exploration of trends in Afrofuturism a listen at https://idobi.com/podcast/136-chilling-adventures-of-sabrina-afrofurism-panel-pamu-scroll-review/.

Have thoughts about Afrofuturism? I, and the other panelists, would love to hear about it in the comments section. And while I love Afrofuturism I’m happy to say Geek Girl Riot is not the only podcast I appear on here.

Headshot_2DjangoConOver the summer I was privileged to meet some people shaking things up in tech. One of them happens to be and I am on her latest #CauseAScene podcast talking about white supremacy, patriarchy, and how their adherents cheat to control all public narratives.

The set up for my discussion with Kim is this two-part examination of extremists perfecting their manipulation of voting and polls in fandom leading up to the 2016 election, featuring Shireen Mitchel and


White supremacists and male supremacists have been organizing for years to shape society by controlling what we see and hear. There’s been a struggle in literature surrounding this. See how it played out in TV first:


I advocate for representing people as they exist in the world throughout all forms of art. It is a boots-on-the-ground struggle. The Nazis and MRAs are trying to pack literary conventions and awards with their people, and I’m working to counter that.

There are editors and authors working behind the scenes to shut down marginalized groups in publishing too. Because authors have day jobs writing all the online and offline advertising, speeches, articles, textbooks, corporate policies, etc. They shape what we view of the world, and how that view is interpreted.

Bearing all that in mind we only just began our conversation in this episode, but you can catch it at https://hashtagcauseascene.com/john-edward-lawson/ and hopefully engage Kim and I with your thoughts on continuing the discussion, and the necessary work stemming from it.

The episode I’m on includes links to resources mentioned in the show. If you want to help us face down these problems, and more, please explore the links. Also please do check out the deep backlist of podcasts archived at https://hashtagcauseascene.com/thanks!


dwasflogoYou’ll find that on the #CauseAScene podcast we discuss the unfolding Chuck Wendig debacle, where bots where weaponized over a short number of days to convince Disney to fire him as writer of their Star Wars novelizations and comic books.

One person we don’t talk about much is the grandfather of weird fiction, H.P. Lovecraft, and his racism/racist supporters. Jump into the way-back machine with me to revisit my most popular blog post ever, republished this week over at Diverse Writers and Artists of Speculative Fiction, Racism Wasn’t Lovecraft’s Problem.

It includes details about one of the times white supremacists vowed to kill me when I was a child, so it’s really fun reading. More importantly it touches on the struggle several years ago between white supremacy apologists and all other humans regarding the World Fantasy Award, which figures in setting the stage for battles currently being waged in the fiction scene. Including, but not limited to, the Star Wars fandom.