Guests of Honor

Author Guest of Honor: Jane Yolen

Jane Yolen headshot

Jane Yolen is a novelist, poet, and prolific children’s book author. She sold her first children’s book Pirates in Petticoats when she was 23. Early in her career Jane worked as an editor for publishers in New York. As her fame as a children’s writer spread, she eventually handled her own imprint, “Jane Yolen Books”, at Harcourt Brace. 

Jane will be unable to attend Balticon in person.  She will appear in several recorded presentations and her son, Adam Stemple will attend in her stead.

Today Jane’s 400+ books, novellas and short stories have won many awards including two Nebulas, three Mythopoeic Awards, and the Caldecott Medal. In 2009 Jane was awarded Life Achievement Award at the World Fantasy Convention. In 2017 she received the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award. Jane is a past president of the Science Fiction Writers of America.

Jane has collaborated with her son Adam Stemple and her daughter Heidi E.Y. Stemple on many books for children, YA, and adults. She contributed lyrics to a song on one of Adam’s musical albums.

Special Guest: Adam Stemple

Adam Stemple and Jane Yolen

Adam Stemple, who will represent his mother Jane Yolen at Balticon, is himself an award-winning author, poet, and musician. Of his first novel, Singer of Souls, SFWA Grandmaster Anne McCaffrey said, “One of the best first novels I have ever read.” Of his later works, Hugo Award winning author Naomi Kritzer said, “No one writes bastard-son-of-a-bitch characters as brilliantly as Adam Stemple”. In addition to writing novels and short stories for adults, YA, and children, Adam’s most recent writing venture has been a series of guides on writing fantasy.

Adam has also been a poker coach, web designer, house rehabber, options trader, Target manager, petty criminal, and drunk. He loves to talk about his insane life and creative process, but is coming to Balticon in place of his mother, SFWA Grandmaster Jane Yolen. In that role, he is prepared to answer any and all questions regarding JY—especially the ones you wouldn’t dare ask her. Questions like:

How tall is she? (5 foot nothin’) Did Bob Dylan really hit on her? (Yes) Did she meet her first husband at a three-day party she threw in Greenwich Village? (Also yes.)

He promises to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. But he is also a writer of fiction, and has often said, “In the Stemple-Yolen family, we never let the truth get in the way of a good story.”

So, be entertained and learn things so secret about Jane that even she might not know them.

Music Guest of Honor: Technical Difficulties 2.0

Technical Difficulties 2.0 - Three happy musicians in red shirts with guitars

The filk trio Technical Difficulties was formed in the mid 1980s, when TJ Burnside and Sheila Willis encountered fellow Star Trek and music fan Linda Melnick at a convention, and immediately bonded over a shared love of three-part harmony.

The trio eventually released two album-length recordings: Please Stand By, in 1986, and Station Break in 1988, which contained songs by all three band members and several of their friends, including composer and arranger Jean Stevenson. Since Sheila’s untimely death in 2013, Jean has rejoined TJ and Linda to form Technical Difficulties 2.0. The three are delighted to appear as the Musical Guests of Honor to perform songs both classic and new for the attendees of Balticon 57.

Artist Guest of Honor: Ariel Burgess

Ariel Burgess headshot

Ariel Burgess, a D.C. area native and dyslexic, was an Official Wheel of Time artist for eight years and has been published internationally.

Her first publication was in Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics. Ariel has won a Geeky award for “best licensed toy/product for the Wheel of Time playing cards”, was published in The Wheel of Time Companion which was nominated for a World Fantasy award, and won a Gold Award for Digital Expression in 2019 from International Film Festival DC Web Fest. She is known for her fantasy art, having been a professional freelance artist for fourteen years and has been traveling to conventions for eleven years, winning numerous best in show and judges choice awards, most recently at Multiverse Con. Additionally she was part of the 2022 JordanCon Anthology book. Currently focused on her Patreon community, she is creating original works and is known for her hyper-realistic digital painting style, often including easter eggs for her fans.

Fan Guest of Honor: Bryan "Bellz" Jordan

Bryan Jordan head shot

Bellz has been going to Sci Fi/Fantasy Conventions since the Mid ‘80’s. In 1988 he moved to the DC area where he was a fixture at all of the Cons and Ren Faire.

Some years hitting up to eleven Cons a year Including a decade of Balticon. If you go wandering around the hotel looking for something fun to do, there was a good chance you would find Bellz in the middle of it. If there was an empty lobby you could guarantee it wouldn’t be for long once Bellz sat down. He always seems to be the center of all the most interesting people.

Ghost of Honor: Daphne Eftychia Arthur

Daphne Arthur headshot, wearing a sunhat

Daphne Eftychia Arthur, née D. Glenn Arthur, Jr., (1963-2023) grew up near Bowie, MD and was involved in science fiction fandom and historical re-creation, especially in the areas of filk and historical music. She was a regular at the Maryland Renaissance Festival and Pennsic as well as Arisia, Balticon, Disclave, and Darkover.

Daphne seemed always to have at least one guitar with her wherever she went (and often other instruments, too) and she was known around fandom for her fabulous skirts and dresses.

Around the late 1990s, Daphne turned her attention to music full time. She had already been deeply involved in music ensembles such as Thrir Venstri Foetr (Three Left Feet), Wild Oats, and the Homespun Ceilidh Band. She composed her own music and enjoyed playing solos and duets. Daphne enjoyed traveling to cons and house parties up and down the East Coast throughout the late 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s. Sometimes she even brought her menagerie – at a couple of the Northeast Filk Conventions she set up a Wall of Instruments and was delighted to see them used!

In recent years her health kept her closer to home but still attended Balticon and Chessiecon when she could. During the pandemic, Daphne continued to play music in the open air and on video. Her friend Karen Osborne remembers sitting on Daphne’s front porch and playing music for themselves and passers-by as they talked for hours. Some of the videos from those sessions are posted on YouTube.

2023 Heinlein Award: John Scalzi

John Scalzi selfie

John Scalzi debuted in 2005 with Old Man’s War, a novel that Publishers Weekly, in a starred review, compared directly to Robert Heinlein’s work (“Scalzi’s astonishingly proficient first novel reads like an original work by the late grand master.”). In the time since, Scalzi has published sixteen other novels, including five others in the Old Man’s War series and three novels in the Interdependency series, all of which take place in a universe where humans have reached into the stars.

He won the Hugo Award for Best Novel in 2013 for Redshirts, and has won several other notable awards including the Locus Award, the Dragon Award, and the Campbell/ Astounding Award. In 2016 he was presented with the Governor’s Award for the Arts in Ohio.

Outside of writing, Scalzi has contributed to the field of science fiction in other ways. From 2010 to 2013, he was president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), the pre-eminent writer’s association in the field. In 2012 he was Toastmaster of Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention and emceed the Hugo Awards. On his own site, which has been online since 1998, making it one of the long-running personal sites on the internet, Scalzi hosts the “Big Idea” feature, which over the years has given hundreds of writers in the SFF genre a platform to talk to readers about their latest work.

In addition to fiction, Scalzi has written numerous non-fiction books on the subjects of astronomy, science fiction film, writing and humor. He has written several episodes of the Emmy-winning Netflix animated series Love Death + Robots, and was the Creative Consultant for the Stargate: Universe television series. His Old Man’s War novel is currently in development for a feature film. Scalzi lives in Ohio with his family.

2023 Compton Crook Award Winner: Alex Jennings

Alex Jennings headshot

Alex Jennings’ writing has appeared in Current Affairs Magazine, podcastle, Strange Horizons, and New Suns, volumes 1 and 2. He is the Director of DreamFoundry’s Con or Bust Program and an instructor of Popular Fiction at the Stonecoast MFA program. His debut novel, The Ballad of Perilous Graves, was released by Orbit/Redhook last summer. Born in Germany, he trotted the globe until settling in New Orleans. Before the pandemic, he MCed a literary readings series called Dogfish.

Alex plans to attend Balticon in person.

Photo credit: Nkechi Chibueze.

The Compton Crook Award is presented to the best of each year’s English language first novel by an author in the field of science fiction, fantasy, or horror. See the BSFS web site for more information about the Compton Crook Award.

2022 Compton Crook Award Winner: P. Djèlí Clark

P. Djèlí Clark signing autograph

Phenderson Djèlí Clark is the author of the novel A Master of Djinn, and the award-winning and Hugo, Nebula, and Sturgeon nominated author of the novellas Ring ShoutThe Black God’s Drums and The Haunting of Tram Car 015. His short stories have appeared in online venues such as, Heroic Fantasy Quarterly, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, and in print anthologies including, Griots and Hidden Youth.

You can find him on Twitter at @pdjeliclark and his blog The Disgruntled Haradrim.

Born in New York and raised mostly in Houston, Texas, he spent the early formative years of his life in the homeland of his parents, Trinidad and Tobago. When not writing speculative fiction, P. Djèlí Clark works as an academic historian whose research spans comparative slavery and emancipation in the Atlantic World. He melds this interest in history and the social world with speculative fiction, and has written articles on issues ranging from racism and H.P. Lovecraft to critiques of George Schuyler’s Black Empire, and has been a panelist and lecturer at conventions, workshops and other genre events.

2021 Compton Crook Award Winner: Micaiah Johnson​

Micaiah Johnson headshot

Micaiah Johnson was raised in California’s Mojave Desert surrounded by trees named Joshua and women who told stories.

She received her bachelor of arts in creative writing from the University of California, Riverside, and her master of fine arts in fiction from Rutgers University–Camden. She now studies American literature at Vanderbilt University, where she focuses on critical race theory and automatons.

Her debut novel, The Space Between Worlds, from Hodder in the UK and Crown in the US, is a science-fiction novel that uses the concept of the multiverse to examine privilege.