During the last weekend of July Baltimore was host to about thirty-two thousand very interesting people (in addition to the devoted sports fans at Camden Yard and M&T Bank Stadium). Nerds, geeks, fans and enthusiasts alike gathered at the Baltimore Convention Center for Otakon 2012, the nineteenth-annual Baltimore convention devoted to the appreciation and epxerience of anime (Japanese animation), video games, comics, and artists. Thousands of attendees spent the months before the convention hard at work on their cosplay, costumes fashioned in the likenesses of their favorite characters from beloved series. Among the thousands of characters represented, Captain Jean Luc Picard, Sailor Moon, Static, the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, and Batman were all in attendance. But whether they were the Onceler, the Thundercats or the Avengers, royalty or giant robots, all of these fans have in common the love for elements of science-fiction and fantasy incorporated into compelling stories and creative works as tools for storytelling, worldbuilding and imagination. Being a self-identified geek myself, someone who not only appreciates the inclusion of a degree of science in my science-fiction stories of choice but is interested in hearing how my fellow enthusiasts relate to science, and how science-fiction can function as a bridge to the sciences, while I was at Otakon I interviewed a selection of the attendees to get their thoughts. We talked about science in their sci-fi, their experiences with science, things they noticed about the portrayal of scientists in pop culture, cool things in space, and some of the exciting stuff that NASA is up to right now.
Congoers crowd one of the open areas at Otakon for photoshoots and event programming, many of whom are in cosplay (including the series Team Fortress 2, Portal, Tiger and Bunny, Phoenix Wright, Sailor Moon, Homestuck, Mass Effect, Okami, The Avengers, and more)
Credit: Jillian Brown