Loeschke, a Baltimore native and Howard County resident, has attended the annual convention since Balticon 14 but has been interested in science fiction since his childhood. He says that both hardcore veterans and convention neophytes will feel welcome at Balticon 32. "It's a great place to be indoctrinated into the world of science fiction and fantasy," he says. "Come one day to test the waters."
The convention's variety is its strong point, Loeschke says. "[Balticon is] not media-specific. It's the biggest and boldest convention of its type in the area. We try to be as diverse as possible."
Loeschke adds, "The masquerade is the biggest event of the convention . . . as far as attendance. It's usually the biggest in the region."
This contest is separate from Balticon's other costume competition, the aforementioned "hall costume contest," in which secret, roving judges will choose their favorite Turtledove character costumes throughout the convention and then announce the winner. Another popular event is Balticon's art show. This year, painter Jody A. Lee, whose award-winning work has graced numerous book covers, will be in attendance.
One of the standbys of any science fiction convention is the opportunity for gaming. Recently, there has been a shift from older "role-playing games" like Dungeons and Dragons to fantasy and science fiction-theme card games like Magic, which Loeschke says "exploded onto the scene."
The convention's offerings are not limited to science fiction. "Balticon was one of the first [conventions] to show science fact," Loeschke says. The science guest of honor this year is Dr. Yoji Kondo, who was an adviser to NASA Administrator Dan Goldin and now writes science fiction under the name Eric Kotani.
Still, Balticon's literary program is the heart of the weekend. In addition to Turtledove, Balticon will feature author Richard Garfinkle ("Celestial Matters"), winner of the 1997 Compton Crook Award.
This, says Loeschke, is a great chance to discuss novels with the people who created them.
"It's the only opportunity you're gonna have to meet the authors," he says.
What: Balticon 32
When: 3 p.m. Friday-2 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m. Saturday-2 a.mSunday; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday
Where: Baltimore Omni Inner Harbor Hotel, 101 W. Fayette St.
Tickets: Weekend, $45; one-day prices vary
More to come: This year, Baltimore will be host to Worldcon, aannual international science-fiction convention, Aug 5-9. For more information, call 410-534-8136.
Pub Date: 4/09/98