To Boldly Go: Beaming Into Balticon
With the long Memorial Day weekend upon us, would you like to spend some time at a convention put on by science-fiction fans for fellow sci-fi enthusiasts?
If so, you might want to check out this year's Balticon, the 46th annual event hosted by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc., which will be held at the Hunt Valley Marriott from 4 p.m. on Friday through 4 p.m. on Monday.
This four-day event is different from such local fan-run cons as Farpoint and Shore Leave in that its emphasis isn't on such television shows and feature films as Star Trek or Star Wars.
Instead, the four-day event will feature hundreds of authors, publishers, artists, scientists, musicians and more than 1,000 fans in the area's largest and longest running science-fiction/fantasy convention.
Guests of Honor at this year's Balticon will include sci-fi and fantasy novelist Jody Lynn Nye, artist James Robin Odbert, musicians Heather Dale and Ben Deschamps, scientist William Phillips (who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997), and award-winning author James Knapp.
One of the most interesting parts of the program is its “Ghost of Honor” event, which will be dedicated to Robert Aspirin and feature readings of the late novelist's most popular works.
While it's impossible to list every program in the extensive Balticon schedule, here's a sampling of what you can expect this weekend.
The convention will get underway on Friday, when opening ceremonies will be held in the hotel's ballroom. In addition, a workshop entitled “Laughter Is the Best Medicine” will give writers tips on using humor to reach readers.
In addition, one program will serve as an “Introduction to Role-Playing Games,” and another will focus on the topic of “Digital Comics” and how much of an impact this new venue will have on printed comic books.
One of the most interesting event titles over the weekend is “The Worst Panel Ever!” during which participants will trade stories about their worst convention experiences.
The night will conclude with an opportunity for those in attendance to “meet and greet” many of the convention's guests.
Saturday's line-up will feature an art show and a video room where such Hugo Award nominees as the Doctor Who episode “A Good Man Goes to War” and the Captain America: The First Avenger film will be shown.
An interesting discussion will be entitled “Social Media Promotion” and will help writers, podcasters and artists learn to take advantage of free or low-cost Internet resources.
During that evening, there will be a Masquerade and an auction to benefit the Baltimore Science Fiction Society's Books for Kids program.
Sunday will begin with a discussion of “The Art of the Celebrity Interview for Podcasting” and a “Liars Panel,” during which each panelist, including the moderator, must answer all questions truthfully—except three.
Then at 1 p.m., a group of scientist-musicians known as the Chromatics will put on a special concert, which will be followed by a magic show by Flabbergast the Wizard.
The convention's third day will also include “Another Robert Heinlein 'Pay It Forward' Blood Drive” and the annual Sunday Night Short Film Festival, where the focus is on science fact, science fiction, fantasy and horror live-action and animated projects that run less than 52 minutes.
Monday, the final day of the convention, will get started with an “open mic” poetry reading, followed by a panel entitled “Old Fandoms and Favorite Cancelled Shows.” That discussion will deal with the dedicated fans of such television shows as Farscape, Lexx and Firefly and the efforts that have been made to try and bring back those or other favorite series.
One of the most important events of the day will be a Teacher's Workshop providing tips and resources for instructors in science, mathematics, language arts or other fields.
At 4:00 that afternoon, the closing ceremonies will bring the convention to an end and at the same time give people the opportunity to say what went right during the weekend, as well as what went wrong.
For more information on this year's Balticon, check out the organization's Website, http://balticon.org/.
If you're at the convention and see me wandering the hallways, just stop me and say “Hi.” (Although "Live long and prosper" is an acceptable substitute.)
Until then, ahead Warp Factor 9!