So we went to Escape Velocity on fourth of July weeend and had an awesome time. For those of you who don’t know, Escape Velocity is a conference held by the Museum of Science Fiction with some help from the Baltimore Science Center and several sponsors, including NASA and IBM. 2016 was its inaugural year and it was great. As you might expect based on the organization responsible and the sponsors, while this is a science fiction convention on the surface it is decidedly geared towards education.
Indeed, the mission statement says that it is in fact a STEAM even focused on using science fiction to teach these fundamentals. In our book this is a highly worthy ideal. (heh, book). It was held at the Gaylord Convention Center in National Harbor, the same venue that hosts both Katsucon and Magfest. It was a little odd to be there in the summer instead of the middle of winter, I have to admit. Capital Teas is still amazing though.
NASA had some awesome exhibits, including information on a great deal of the research that they are doing. The VR piece that let you feel like you were standing in space was pretty awesome, even if VR does make some of us motion sick. 😉
We got to hear about science versus science fiction in The Martian and projected manned missions to mars from the Director of Planetary Science at NASA-super awesome. The educational bent to this particular conference, and the insistence of the part of the organizers that it was a conference and not a convention really lent a different feel to this particular event as opposed to a fan based convention. The amazing guests and intense level of programming certainly helped to elevate the entire affair. While the education panels were during the day, at night there were cosplay burlesque events and a Rocky Horror Picture Show viewing that appealed to the more adult and fun loving side of things. The sci-fi film festival was enjoyable and the writing workshops were just delightful. There were also a few panels that were about cosplay, conventions, and fan communities that were really worthwhile to attend.
We had the distinct please of being on two panels Saturday. The first one was on steampunk in a variety of media, with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences and Charles Dunbar. It was a great time and Tee and Pip are very fun to work with, because authors. The second panel was about science fiction in different cultures, including the U.S. the title of panel was a little misleading because it was called East vs West, which upon reflection is a very western title. It was really intended to be a discussion about science fiction globally.
Overall this was an amazing event and I hope that it happens again, although it would be nice if it doesn’t conflict with AX. I understand having conventions on holiday weekends, or the same weekend, but when they are all on holiday weekends, problems do tend to arise. Hope everyone can check it out in the future.
Love and peace.