Sci-fi fans find inspiration in Hunt Valley An unconventional convention crowd

April 11, 1993|By Glenn Small | Glenn Small,Staff Writer

Standing in a hotel hallway just off the lobby of the Marriott Inn at Hunt Valley, Dan Luxenberg, the Cat Shaman from the planet Elven, was doing some serious talking with Jonah Cohen, his spiritual adviser.

"I need a good story," Mr. Luxenberg, 30, a college instructor who yesterday was dressed in a cat costume consisting of a sand-colored trench coat, a cat necktie and plastic cat ears, explained. "My character is a government agent from Elven, who is also a con man."

"He's a dirty cop," Mr. Cohen, 24, said.

In league with the criminal underworld of 100 years into the future, the Cat Shaman's principal informant was about to spill his guts to the police. But the Cat Shaman had him killed. Now the informant's bodyguard was pointing the finger at him, and Mr. Luxenberg needed a good story to tell the cops.

"It's his word against mine," Mr. Luxenberg explained.

Mr. Cohen and Mr. Luxenberg were among some 150 people participating in a science-fiction fantasy role-playing game yesterday at the Marriott Inn, the second day of the annual three-day Baltimore Science Fiction Society convention.

It was just one attraction among many for science fiction fans. From sci-fi books to jewelry to artwork to films, you can see or purchase just about anything at the sci-fi convention, officially called Balticon 93.

Guy Frechette, a science fiction illustrator from Canada, who specializes in airbrushing colorful pictures of mermaids and unicorns, was available yesterday to airbrush any design -- on anything.

"He does it on people's skin," said Vickie Wyman, a Gaithersburg artist who helped run the art show and auction. "He does it on their car. He does it on your clothes. He doesn't care."

Is there anything Mr. Frechette won't paint?

"Anything that doesn't move, I'll paint," he said.

For Jack L. Chalker, a Carroll County resident who has written 41 science fiction novels, yesterday was a day to sign autographs, to read some of his books and to discuss science fiction writing.

"I've been doing this for 30 years," said Mr. Chalker. "And I'll tell you, there's very little that's new. But it's new to a lot of these people. . . . For most of these people, I'd say 80 percent, this is the only [sci-fi convention] they go to each year."

"It's a weekend when we can all be a kid again," he explained.

In the book room, you could buy swords, daggers, earth and moon earrings, stones, and books and comic books of every description -- some dating to the early 1930s.

You could watch a Flash Gordon movie in another part of the convention, or play a science fiction video game.

At the art show, there is everything from painted portraits of vampires and unicorns to a airbrush rendering of a nude mermaid being approached by a deep-sea diver. That's called "Forgotten Treasures" and Mr. Frechette said he sold it for $4,000.

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