The Maryland Regional Science Fiction Convention, Balticon 45, was held over Memorial Day weekend, May 27-30, 2011, at Marriott’s Hunt Valley Inn. This was my first trip to Balticon, but it won’t be my last. The quality and variety of programs impressed me. The convention had so much to offer, even for people who don’t consider themselves fans of science fiction and fantasy. Programs are offered for those interested in science, art, music, costuming, gaming, and and more.
Author readings were scheduled throughout the four days. I went to author readings by Elizabeth Moon, Chuck Gannon, Gail Z. Martin, and Maria V. Snyder. I don’t imagine all writers read aloud as well as they write, but these four did an excellent job.
Valuable panels relating to the business of writing included Agents Demystified; the Pitch Workshop, which provided attendees feedback on their pitches; There’s No Such Thing as a Good Book, Only a Good Brand, which provided information to help authors create a brand and build online communities; and Proper Care and Feeding of Your Troll, which gave advice on handling internet trolls. Another panel for writers that I attended included Maria’s Nitpicks, which detailed things to look for when editing your work. I enjoyed every panel I attended, but I won’t list them all. You can check the Pocket Program on the Balticon site to see a complete list of what was available.
There were a number of special events, including the traditional Masquerade, book launch parties, concerts, the art auction (I’m in awe of the artists), and dancing. Aside from the scheduled programs, I like to check out the Dealer’s Room. And, while I enjoy visiting with people I already know, one of the pleasures of a con is meeting new people. The piano in the corridor provided a spontaneous opportunity for the talented to entertain the rest of us. When attendees got tired or hungry, they could get a snack and relax in the roomy con suite or buy snacks at a reasonable price and enjoy the comfy lounge in the hotel’s Hunt Cafe; full meals at a special rate were available in the hotel’s restaurant, The Cinnamon Tree. Dinner was also available at the Bar & Grille.