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Science Fiction Convention
Name: Balticon
Dates: Friday through Monday of U.S.A. Memorial Day weekend
Frequency: Annual
Location: Baltimore
Type: Science Fiction Convention
Focus: Science Fiction Fandom
Organization: Baltimore Science Fiction Society
Founder: Baltimore Science Fiction Society
Founding Date: 1967
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Balticon is a major event for the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, a literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms.


1978: Con Report

... I'd like to tell you about "How I Met Anne McCaffrey and What It Did for Me." *SlGH*

Or maybe this should be an abstract paper on the psychological implications of hero worship among sf writer's? Heroine worship? As you all know by now, I have a terrible case of hero-worship for Marion Zimmer Bradley, At times it is so bad that she gets mad at me because it embarasses her how I gush on and on with my effusive statements of pure wonderment.

Well, folks, the disease is taking over the rest of my life, too. I've always adored the Dragon Series--not to mention ol' Helva&Co, Inc. and the various means that McC has found to project the practical applications of telepathy and psychism into the not-too-distant future Earth culture. I have always known the woman was a genius. I just didn't know she was also of the same breed as my other heroines. Shame on me.

The next day I spent in my room holding a 'Trinrose reading contest' when Barbara and Carolyn and my three roommates, Anne Golar,. Chris Bunt, and Ambrov Zeor's newest staff member, Pat Gribben, all decided to read the mss. of First Channel and Mahogany Trinrose I had brought along. While they read, I did too, but we had a lot of yakking in-between.

Then, Saturday night, we went to pick up C.J. after her panel and take her out to dinner.. We ended up going out to dinner with Katherine MacLean, C.J,, and Anne McCaffrey, too! For three hours, we went to dinner. Katherine turned out to be one of the most vivacious heroines I've ever had the honor to worship. When I met her, I said something blurtingly inane like, "I've always enjoyed your stories"--yikes. But over the table, she began bit by bit to reveal the breadth and depth of her interests and areas of expertise and her thinking patterns, and I discovered a kindred soul--ended up giving her a copy of House of Zeor because she didn't have anything to read that night.

Meanwhile, we were all taking turns yakking at each other on topics as diverse as TV writing theory, Tailored Effects, mutual sf writer friends, hobbies, husbands, children, career direction, writing technique, Darkover and the Darkover councils, English ST cons, horses and great danes... equine venereal didease, and the topic of the panel they all had been on just before dinner, how language evolves, and the limits of communication. Oh, there were several more topics, but you get the idea.

I was particularly glad to be able to talk to McC because I was in the process of deriving one of my off-the-wall theories about sf writers and their series. I noted that both Darkover and the Simes are the result of adolescent fantasies carefully restructured and are recreated by the more mature, adult personality of the author. I asked Anne McCaffrey if that were the case with Dragons, and she said no, she'd first started on Dragons when she'd decided to write one little story sometime in the mid-sixties, about 10 years ago, which put her in her early 40's at the time. Well, there is a similarity between the 40's and the teens--a life-crisis decade in which primary creativity can be tapped directly. The Dragons certainly catapulted McC to extreme fam...


Back-at the con, I sat down in the hallway outside the dealer's room to read Tarot cards for our new astrology student and McC totes her chair over and sits down to watch. Two blinks and I go back into concentration, analysing the reading and having not the slight est idea if I'm making any sense at all. Meanwhile, the con people are setting up a film projector to show something on the underside of the stairs, and a crowd is gathering. Politely, I asked McC if she wanted me to read her cards--and to my surprise, she said yes and crawled down on the floor beside me. I proceeded, still having no idea if I'd made any sense whatever, (you never do reading Tarot, and besides, the Seeker's private business, is none of yours anyway) and as soon as I stopped, people started asking McC for autographs, and the movie was blaring away gathering a crowd.

So we adjourned to McC's room in the hotel and-finished the reading, where upon her driver appeared ready to take her to NYC.[1]


1988: Con Report

And so we come to BaltiCon, which is supposed to be the Ne Plus Ultra of East Coast Filk, only this time around there was an even stronger hand in charge than mine: Susa n Wheeler, who ran the "Bardic Circle" with a battery of Irish and Scottish song-books spread out in front of her. Friday night filking didn't begin until after the Masquerade, and that ended somewhere around 1 AM. . . I didn't get to bed until 3:30, when my daughter Louise decided she needed her parapheirnaila [sic], which she had dumped there, since we got the first room off the lobby.

This was good, because it was easier to get to...and bad, because it was right in the line of traffic. BaltiCon is a PARTY Con...and most of them were right down the hall! I did not get much sleep at BaltiCon.

I didn't have a table to run, so I didn't have to BE anywhere...but sleep is one of those things that a middle-aged fan occasionally needs.

I did get to a lot of panel discussions at BaltiCon. ... on Animal intelligence (cats have it, chickens don't); on crossing genres... on costuming. I also got to the shortest art auction on record...only 43 items! It took 5 bids for an item to go to auction, which pleased me no end, since I got a nice pastel of Vincent the Beast for a mere $13, but infuriated the artists, who NEED auctions to generate loot!

And so to parties, because the filking wasn’t supposed to start until after the auction, only the auction ended two hours early! And some filking that wound up around 3AM...and no sleep! (everyone [2]


It features continuous multi-track programming throughout the four-day weekend plus an art show, dealer's room and computer gaming room.

Hundreds of authors, publishers, artists, scientists, musicians and close to two thousand fans at the area’s largest & longest running Science Fiction/Fantasy convention! Author panel discussions, readings, podcasting/new media, live SF theater, childrens’ programming, Charity auction, science briefings, concerts, dances, Masquerade, writers’ workshop, poetry contest and workshop, and our Sunday Night Film Festival! Art show, dealers room, anime, RPG and board gaming, skill demonstrations and other special events.

A sample of the programming: LITERARY Features an author, editor or publisher Guest of Honor and authors, editors, and reviewers, exploring varied themes in Sci Fi and Fantasy literature through panel debates, author readings and personal autograph session interaction. Everything from philosophical debates, story crafting tips, publishing advice, science speculation and historical perspectives will flow. This is the core of Balticon programming and includes a Writer's Workshop and a Poetry Workshop.

Readers The Readers’ Program Track includes panels, lectures and discussions about books, movies, TV shows, magazines and other issues of interest to readers of science fiction, fantasy and fantastic horror. Participants will be writers, artists, movie and TV people, publishers and fans who have knowledge and experience in the subjects of these presentations.

Writers Writers track includes a how-to track for the aspiring and newly published writer. Events will have limited seating. Over-limit items will be repeated on Monday.

SCIENCE Features over 30 hours of Science programming with our Science Guest of Honor and other nationally and internationally known scientists in the fields of astronomy, astrophysics, climatology, evolutionary biology, geology, medicine, paleontology, and many more.

ART Our Art Show sponsors an Art program track which features demos, classes, and discussion panels with popular artists. Bring your sketchbook! The Art programming track includes an Artist's Workshop which requires pre-registration.

COSTUME An entire track of costume programming with items of interest to beginners and experienced alike, from toddler to septuagenarian. Learn how to create an exterior casing that reflects your soul or at least your sense of humor. Balticon has a highly regarded Masquerade competition, consistently known as one of the best on the east coast.

HALL COSTUMES Look for the most colorful, unusual and imaginative costumes wandering the halls at Balticon. Whether novice or expert, Balticon wants you to dress up. Entries are photographed and posted in a gallery in the hall, allowing the membership to vote for best costume.

YOUNG FANS Games, projects and stories for children ages 4–12 to inspire your kids to appreciate the convention experience. This is not daycare; parents retain full responsibility for children during this program. Kids will put on a skit play, have their own filk, learn to draw from an artist, hunt for treasure, design and make a costume, hear Silly Interactive Stories, build with legos and have great fun!

FILK An exciting program of filk concerts and panels, plus open filk all three nights. There is a formal concert program as well as plenty of opportunities for "jam" sessions. For more filk announcements/info, watch the Balticon LiveJournal Community. Balticon is home to one of the East Coast’s strongest tracks of filk and other fannish music. Our musical performances have run the gamut from filk and traditional folk to folk-rock to dementia and everywhere in between. Performers wishing to inquire about concert sets and other music-related programming should contact <filk AT balticon DOT org>.

NEW MEDIA There's a whole wonderful world of non-traditional media available and, like last year, we're bringing you more than just podcasting. Come and meet local artists and writers from the world of web comics and many other fascinating people leading the new media explosion. Learn more about what's available in independent new media and how to turn it to your advantage. Balticon was the first con to run new media programming and have its own dedicated podcast, which makes ours the longest running new media track.

FILM MAKING In conjunction with its annual Sunday Night Short Film Festival, Balticon is opening a film making track for Balticon 44 in 2010. There will be several hours of programming where independent film makers, students of film making, and others interested in the film making process can put their heads together for targeted topical discussions.

ANIME The Anime program track offers discussion panels as well as a constant stream of Anime films running 24 x7 in the Anime Room from the opening of the convention through the close.

FAN The Fan program track includes panels about how to get more involved in fandom and provides an opportunity to meet some of the "movers and shakers" in fandom. You will also find the Fan programming thread weaving in and out of the other programming tracks.

GAMING Our game room is open round the clock and provides tables, board games and card games, plus space for you to bring your own games and play with others. There are contests and demonstrations by game companies. In addition, we offer several hours of gaming panels and discussion groups and a LARP opportunity.

OPENING CEREMONIES At 8:30 PM on the first night of the convention (Friday), Balticon officially kicks off with introductions of the Guests of Honor and program participants.

COMPTON CROOK AWARD At Friday’s Opening Ceremonies, Baltimore Science Fiction Society presents the current year's Compton Crook Award for the best first SF/fantasy/horror novel of 2009. It is traditional for the prior year’s winner to return to Balticon to present the annual award.

Following Opening Ceremonies and the presentation of the Compton Crook Award is scheduled a "Meet the Guests of Honor and Program Participants" event in Frankie and Vinnie's (the Con Suite), the Art Show and Salon A.

GUESTS OF HONOR (GoH) APPEARANCES During the course of the weekend, attendees will have the opportunity to spend some quality time with our Guests of Honor. These sessions will include events for each GoH in the Valley Ballroom, program panels, signings, and Kaffeklatsches.

ART SHOW AND SILENT AUCTION The Balticon Art Show showcases the work of the Artist Guest of Honor, some of which will be available for purchase. Also on display will be the work of a number of genre artists from all over the country. The Art Show includes a print shop where those interested may purchase prints, sometimes numbered and signed, of the artists work.

TEACHING SF WORKSHOP AboutSF’s Teaching Science Fiction Workshop is a workshop to prepare teachers to develop a class on science fiction for primary or secondary students. It is an all day workshop on Friday at Balticon which covers available science fiction resources and ways to bring science fiction into the classroom. No advance registration form is required—only a short email to either: <pete AT bsfs DOT org> or <AndrewELoveJr AT msn DOT com> so we can know who is coming and provide updates with more complete information.

WRITERS’ WORKSHOP Willing participants should send in a short story or section of a longer work (maximum: 6 pages). We’re arranging for a web site where workshop leaders and participants can read all submissions. Send your submissions via email to <writers AT balticon DOT org>. DO NOT SEND WRITTEN SUBMISSIONS VIA U.S. POSTAL SERVICE—THEY WILL NOT BE ENTERED.

POETRY WORKSHOP/CONTEST The poetry workshop and reading features winners of the Balticon SF&F Poetry contest and open mic. Calling all poets who want a chance at fame, glory, publication in the BSFAN and a cash prize (deadline: April 1, 2010). Contest rules are available on the BSFS web site.

CHARITY AUCTION For 14 years in a row a charity auction to benefit the students at Buck Lodge Middle School will be held during the halftime break of the Masquerade on Saturday night. There will be SF&F collectibles, memorabilia and other exotic items put on the block. If you have something to donate, bring it to the con.

SUNDAY NIGHT SHORT FILM FESTIVAL (SNSFF) You Be the Judge! Aspiring independent filmmakers from as far away as Norway, Italy and France and as near as Hagerstown, Maryland have submitted their work hoping you will vote for them "Best Live Action" or "Best Animated" Film. Entries have been whittled down to a group of finalists. Think of it like the masquerade only with films rather than costumes and you vote for the winner! All this on a 12-foot by 12-foot screen! Filmmakers should contact <filmfestival AT balticon DOT org>. The SNSFF is open to all Balticon and BSFS members at no additional charge. There is no entry fee for submission of films to the festival.

Sunday Midnight Movie After the film festival, stick around to watch a full-length feature by a Maryland filmmaker.

Friday Night Movie Premiere On Friday night of Balticon, the SNSFF sponsors a full-length feature movie premiere. Some years it's a Maryland premiere, some year's it's a world premiere. Check the BSFS film festival for current information.

VIDEO ROOM The Balticon Video Room presents current and past, familiar and obscure science fiction, fantasy and horror videos for your entertainment and enjoyment.

LIVE THEATRE No Balticon would be complete without live theatre and musical performances in the Valley Ballroom. Mark Van Name, a former Compton Crook award winner delivers great comedy routines. Other performances in recent years have been parody plays by "The Usual Suspects" and concerts by musical groups such as the ever-popular Boogie Knights. Check the web site for updates.

DANCES Balticon has had Regency Dances, Medeival Dances and SteamPunk dances, complete with instruction by experts. We are always looking for DJ's who are willing to swap their services for a complimentary membership - just tell us where to come watch you perform.

DEALERS ROOM A wide range of merchandise is offered by vendors in the Dealer's Room. Books, new and used, anime movies, costume supplies, jewelry, novelty T-shirts, polished stones, original art, carved wood and leather accessories, and much much more!

VOLUNTEERS Balticon is an all-volunteer managed and staffed convention and we can always use more help. Show your SF community spirit by volunteering a few hours at the con. Volunteers who work more than 10 hours receive our exclusive volunteer T-shirt. Work more than 20 hours and next year’s Balticon membership is comped. Volunteers are needed in the following areas: Truck Loading and Unloading, Setup/breakdown (double time!!), Registration, Con Suite, Art Show, Operations, Green Room, Programming, Children’s Programming, Info Booth/Sales Table, Volunteer Desk, Special Needs desk. Sign up at the con, check "volunteering" on the registration form, or email the Volunteer Coordinator at <volunteers AT balticon DOT org>. Detailed job descriptions are available on the web site.

HOTEL The Balticon hotel is Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn, 245 Shawan Road, Hunt Valley, MD 21031 (north of Baltimore off of I-83). See the Balticon website for more information.


  1. ^ from Crystal Singer #2 ("One Weekend With Ur Child") and A Companion in Zeor #2 ("one weekend, with orchid")
  2. ^ by Roberta Rogow from APA-Filk, see May 1988