Balticon is sponsored and produced by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc. (aka BSFS) BSFS is a §501(c)(3), non-profit, charitable, literary and educational organization, dedicated to the promotion of, and an appreciation for, science fiction in all of its many forms.
The original BSFS was formed in 1963 and produced the first Balticon in 1967. Although BSFS itself was in flux from 1968 to 1974, several fans managed to establish Balticon as an annual tradition by holding Balticons numbered 2 through 8.
Up to the year 2000, Balticon was traditionally held on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of Easter weekend in a Baltimore area hotel. In 2001, Balticon moved to the Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday of Memorial Day weekend at a downtown Baltimore hotel. In 2006, we moved to a hotel in Baltimore County. We think it only appropriate that for our Golden Anniversary Balticon returns to its roots by returning to downtown Baltimore.
Balticon has presented a four hour Writers’ Workshop on Saturday of the convention for over a decade, along with a large number of one and two hour art, writing, costuming, dance and crafting workshops. Balticon pioneered the New Media, Filmmakers, Small Press Presents, Performing Arts and Teen program tracks (some of which are now appearing on the schedules of other conventions) and was the first SFF con to produce a podcast. We are dedicated to embracing new ideas and ways to reach out to both fandom and the SFF professional community.
At Balticon, members experience science fiction and fantasy topics presented through literature, film, art, and music presentations, discussion panels and workshops. Highlights include introduction of the Compton Crook, BSFS Heinlein, Balticon Poetry, BSFS Amateur Writers and Jack L. Chalker Young Writer’s Awards winners, one of the finest Masquerades in SF/F fandom, our Short Film Festival, and Balticon’s internationally famous science program. Programming features hundreds of writers, editors, agents, publishers, artists, scientists, musicians and professionals showcasing their talents, sharing their knowledge and skills, offering readings, and signing autographs.
Included in Balticon festivities are the largest regional SF&F art show and auction, extensive Literary Programming including poetry and publishing, workshops for writers, artists and costumers, professional seminars, a dealer’s room, many concerts and dances, a charity auction benefiting BSFS Books for Kids. Movies, videos, Anime, board, RPG and miniatures gaming and terrific children’s and teen programs round out the weekend’s events.
With the 2016 move to a new venue in the heart of Baltimore come opportunities for growth and change. We’ll be expanding our gaming space, spreading the Short Film Festival over a 3-day span in 2-hour increments, offering track-within-track topical focus and “mini cons”. We’ll have a dedicated dance floor from Saturday through Monday and offer activities for early arrivals on Thursday evening and Friday morning.
Enter the Annual Balticon Poetry Contest! Here’s your chance to win cash prizes, a convention membership, and have your work published in the BSFAN, the souvenir book of Balticon. Entries should address the themes of science fiction/fantasy/horror/science. Limit: 3 poems/person, maximum 50 lines each. Email/postmark deadline: March 1. No entry fee. Complete information is available on the Baltimore Science Fiction Society’s Poetry Contest page.
Balticon supports the BSFS Books for Kids charity with change collection jars, the Bobby Gear Memorial Auction auction (of donated books, artwork, or services), and other fundraising events at Balticon.
Anyone who is interested in any of the myriad forms of science fiction or fantasy (books, magazines, films, video, games, television, etc.) is invited to become a member of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc. (otherwise known as BSFS). Dues are only $40 per year (our fiscal year is Oct 1 to Sep 30); this includes membership in Balticon with the understanding that BSFS members attending Balticon are expected to volunteer a bit of their time either preparing for the convention or at the convention.
New members are eligible to join after attending two business meetings within a 12 month period. We want you to KNOW what you are getting into before we take your money. In the last few years, we have upped our game and have something going on at BSFS headquarters almost every weekend. We are in the process of updating our bylaws to allow those who attend other regularly scheduled events (i.e. Writers’s Circle, Ray Gun Book Discussions, Anime Socials, etc.) to join without attending business meetings.
How did this all start? Some people returning from a meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association (WSFA) first formed the Baltimore Science Fiction Society on January 5, 1963, in the back seat of a Trailways bus. It went into suspended animation after a disasterous election fight on October 12, 1968, on a (non-functioning) streetcar. Its only production of consequence was the first Balticon (1967) and it has in common with the present group only the name, spirit and continuity of several founders, most of whom have now passed away.
There were no formal club meetings during the intervening years, but several fans managed to keep the Balticon tradition alive by holding Balticons numbered 2 through 8.
The present Baltimore Science Fiction Society was re-started in 1974 when it was incorporated in the State of Maryland. It applied for and was granted IRS tax-exempt status. In 1996 a copy of the original 1963 BSFS by-laws was discovered and confirmed that the rules for calling a meeting had been followed in 1974, for calling a meeting if one had not been held in the past six months, resulting in further (if coincidental) continuity between the old BSFS and the new state chartered BSFS.
BSFS is an equal opportunity organization. Its members range in age from young children to septuagenarians, from ex-hippies to ex-religious, from unemployed to self-employed, from lawyers to truck drivers, but they all have one thing in common — science fiction. Come visit us, we won’t think you’re weird because you like that “sci-fi” stuff or have a passion for science and technical stuff.
BSFS is run entirely by volunteers. None of the Board of Directors, or officers, receive any pay for what they do. Likewise, all Balticon staff and workers are volunteers.
BSFS has an announcements-only administrative mailing list that sends out one or two emails per month. Contact BSFS to have your name added to our administrative mailing list. We also have a social forum mailing list (BSFS General) which allows members of the list to post to it. Contact the mail administrator to have your name added to the BSFSGeneral mail distribution.
BSFS publishes an annual fanzine (fan magazine) BSFAN in conjunction with Balticon. The BSFan generally contains bios of the current Guests of Honor at Balticon, (usually) a bibliography of our author Guest of Honor’s works, articles on science fiction, short stories, the winning entries in the Young Writer’s Contest, reviews, advertisements, and anything else the editors deem appropriate or related.
You can participate in Writers Workshops at Balticon and quarterly at BSFS headquarters. Watch the BSFS and Balticon websites for announcements.
For years, BSFS raised money for the charity Reading Is Fundamental. When that organization terminated operations in Maryland, the BSFS members decided that the work must continue with or without RIF. Out of the members dedication to supporting youth literacy, BSFS Books for Kids was created and the work has continued and expanded to include collecting gently used books for inner city school libraries.
BSFS produces a monthly newsletter (The Beast) addressing club business which is distributed free to all members and is exchanged with other Science Fiction Clubs throughout the world.
BSFS was the third Science Fiction Club in the country to own a building. LASFS (Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society) and NESFA (New England Science Fiction Association) are the other two. The former theater at 3310 East Baltimore Street, in the Highlandtown section of Baltimore, is being slowly renovated as time and money allow.
BSFS maintains a library of science fiction and fantasy and manga books with over 12,000 titles (mostly paperbacks) as well as periodicals, videotapes and DVD’s. BSFS members and the public may borrow most of these books and videos. BSFS also has an extensive collection of old pulp SF magazines on microfiche.
Balticon planning meetings are held at 7:30 PM on the second Saturday of the month. The regular monthly BSFS business meetings are held at 8:30 PM on the second Saturday of the month.
BSFS sponsors The Baltimore Raygun Club: Book Discussion Circle is an SF Book Discussion Group which meets at 6:30 pm on the fourth Saturday of the month, immediately before the 8:00 pm Social Meeting. Those two events may occasionally be supplanted by an event or Guest Presentation at 7:00 pm. Please check the BSFS Calendar web page for The Raygun Club’s book schedule and to verify the schedule.
The BSFS Speculative Fiction Critique Circle meets at BSFS HQ every second and fourth Thursday. This is a hard-working, high-functioning crtitique circle that is producing impressive results in terms of authors achieving publication of stories workshopped in the BSFS-SFCC.
Watch the BSFS calendar for the Dangerous Voices Variety Hour, our quarterly reading series.
The BSFS Anime and Manga Social is held every 4th Saturday from 2:00 to 6:00 pm.
BSFS hosts Alphabet Soup, a gaming afternoon every 2nd and 4th Sunday, when there is a BSFS member available to run it. Please call BSFS HQ on the evening before to verify whether gaming day is happening on Sunday.
Watch the BSFS Calendar for BSFS Night Out at the Movies events, usually occuring in the opening week of genre films, and on the third Saturday of the month watch for BSFS Movie Night, when we screen oddities, films newly released to DVD, old favorites and Film Festival candidates.
All meetings are open to any member of the general public. Unless otherwise announced, all meetings take place in the BSFS building. Occasionally, the business and social meetings are swapped to accommodate members attending a convention. Please call to verify any meeting you plan to attend. Meeting information is available on the answering machine or on the BSFS Calendar web page.
Food, fuel etc… near the BSFS building.
SubWay, Taco Bell’s, Vizinni’s, McDonalds, Popeye’s, Royal Farm Store and China Wok (a fine Chinese carryout) all near the corner of Highland and Fayette Streets (close to RT 40), just north of the corner of Highland and East Baltimore as noted above.
On Eastern Avenue on your way to BSFS, as described above, there is a fine Greek restaurant in Greek town known as Ikaros. Paid parking for Ikaros is across the street from Ikaros itself. Ikaros has a classic Greek cuisine and was often recommended by BSFS member Marty Gear, whose family used to own a Greek restaurant. Ikaros, 4805 Eastern Ave., Baltimore 21224, (410) 633-3750
Within one block east on Fayette (RT 40) there are several gas stations including 24 hour and diesel fuel.
See above for directions from BSFS to Fayette and RT 40.