It was my pleasure this year to once again attend Shore Leave, a science fiction and media convention held in Hunt Valley, Maryland. This was number 39 for this con and it ran from July 7th to 9th, 2017. As usual, they had a great line up of guests, panels and events.
While this convention started with a focus on Star Trek, it has expanded its offerings without forgetting its roots. Marina Sirtis and Michael Dorn were guests and are well known for their contribution to the Star Trek franchise. Other guests included Marc Bendavid, Jodelle Ferland and Mike Dopud from Dark Matter, though they all have many more series’ to their credits. Michael Hogan and Luciana Carro from the new Battlestar Galactica were present as well (though calling it new when it’s been over for 10 years seems odd) and the final guest was Kevin Sussman, who has many credits but is currently very well known as Stuart on The Big Bang Theory.
On of the great things about this convention, for those who like autographs, is the free autographs that the convention arranged with some of the guests. You could bring any items, during certain hours, and get them autographed by Marina Sirtis, Michael Dorn and Kevin Sussman. One of the vendors had photos at $5 each, so for $15 I was able to get all three autographs. Usually that would cost over $100, but the autographs are included with your membership to the con.
There were plenty of author guests as well. Peter David (who we found out is a big fan of Galaxy Quest… ask him about it), Robert Greenberger, Mary Fan, Howard Weinstein (who was the author of the very first Star Trek novel I ever read) and many more were present. There were also scientists and artist guests, so no matter your interest, they had you covered.
In addition to the great panels with the guests and other knowledgeable folks, there were plenty of vendors with all kinds of merchandise. I even purchased a miniature Jayne Cobb hat for my cat, though when I try to put it on him he does aim to misbehave. Various organizations were they are well, promoting charities and other great conventions in the area.
There is always something to do, whether it’s the Friday night karaoke, hanging out in the board game room, having drinks at the hotel bar or the Saturday night 10 Forward Dance party. Plus there is the Masquerade, where costumers and cosplayers display their talents for the crowd. After the Masquerade a short memorial service was held in front of the hotel to honor Richard Hatch, the actor who played Apollo in the classic Battlestar Galactica series and had a role in the new version as well. He passed away earlier this year. Many attendees had fond memories of him from his appearances at this convention in years past. I had the pleasure of meeting him several times and he was always a gracious gentleman.
While this con is not on the scale of some of the larger comic and media cons, it’s a much more intimate environment. Many of the guests appreciate the smaller venue and the opportunity to spend time with fans. I would highly recommend this convention (it’s one I make sure not to miss each year) for the atmosphere, the interesting panels and the friendliness of everyone, from the guests and vendors to all the attendees. And for cosplayers, it’s a welcoming atmosphere with some amazing costumes. I’ll be attending next year. Hope to see you there.
Check out the gallery below for more pictures (click to switch pictures or just wait… it will cycle through) and check out the interviews with some of the guests as well. (Interviews with Jodelle Ferland, Marc Bendavid, Kevin Sussman, Mike Dopud and Michael Hogan/Luciana Carro.)