Rediscover why you started coming to Science Fiction conventions -- come to the panels. This year's programming promises to be the most innovative in years. In addition to literary and science programming, we will have tracks on Filk, Art, Costuming, Gaming, and Media-related subjects. As always, we welcome your suggestions. Send your ideas to the main address, Attn.: Main Programming, or send E-mail to

Balticon 31 Main Program Schedule - Chronological Order - as of 3/14/97

Friday 4-5 pm Jefferson
If Only You Believe: Religion in SF/F
Which has more appeal-orthodoxy or heresy or complete religious tolerance? Is there a reason that Faithful characters in written fiction seem zealous and narrow? Is this an American observation, or do most SF fans see religious faith as a straightjacket?
William Barton (m), Robert Chase, Adam Corbin Fusco, Daniel O. Graham, Jr., S. Andrew Swann

Friday 5-6 pm Jefferson
Balticon for Beginners
If this is your first Balticon, or if you just want to learn how to get the most out of Balticon, this panel is for you. Members of the convention committee will guide you through the highlights of the convention and answer your questions.
The Balticon Committee

Friday 6-7 pm Adams
Untangling the Web: Using the Internet for Research
Everything on the Internet is in a state of constant flux; how do you record your references so the research can be repeated later? What are the pitfalls of doing research using the Internet? Besides the World Wide Web, what other resources are available
Paul Shuch (m), Jessie Eaker, Charlie Ellis, John McDaid, Trish Wilson

Friday 6-7pm Jefferson
Philosophy in SF/F
Do Heinlein's and Haldeman's differing takes on the military in society come more from their times or personal philosophies? What is the difference between politics, preaching, and philosophy in fiction? Which writers' philosophies have made their books method? Is the essential element of SF not science, but the philosophy of science, since SF encourages us to think about science? How have various strains of philosophy-positivism, relativism, existentialism-fared in SF and fantasy?
Eric Kotani (m), Alexis Gilliland, Paul Levinson, Joe Mayhew, John C. Sparhawk

Friday 7-8 pm Adams
Show Me the Funny: Humor in SF/F
If you slip on a weightless banana peel, is it funny? Is humorous SF just a weak imitation of the real thing? Is Terry Pratchett a genius or what?
Esther Friesner (m), Marcos Donnelly, William T. Levay, Dan McGirt, John C. Sparhawk

Friday 8-9 pm Adams
The Business of Writing
What would we do differently if we were starting out again? What is the most common mistake writers make? Is business sense more important than aesthetic sense? Do agents know anything the rest of us don't? What is tax deductible? What is the NASE and ca g writers' groups like SFWA or HWA? What, if anything, does it mean to have a writing "career?" What does an agent do? Does a writer need one? What are some of the pitfalls that a beginning writer is likely to run into?
Michael Capobianco (m), William Barton, Marcos Donnelly, Dan McGirt, Ron Sarti

Friday 9-10 pm Adams
Sex in SF/F
What are you wearing under that? What is the appropriate level of sexual detail for an SF/F story? What features do you look for in an alien partner? How do you explain all those human/alien hybrids in media SF? Given different species, magic, philosophy, sexual encounters between characters become a turn off? Are there any successful SF/fantasy/porn works out there? Does porn benefit in any way from being set in an SF or fantasy milieu?
Catherine Asaro (m), Michael Capobianco, Esther Friesner, David Vierling

Friday 10 pm - midnight Adams
SF Trivia Contest
Brick Barientos

Saturday 9 am - noon Douglass
Writers' Workshop
William Barton, Ann Crispin, Warren Lapine, Trish Wilson

Saturday 10-10:30 am Peale
Adam Corbin Fusco

Saturday 10-11 am Carroll
Real Carbon Life, or "How Does This Soot You?"
Hal Clement

Saturday 10-11 am Jefferson
Mythopoeic Literature
How does mythopoeic literature differ from other fantasy? Is it "better?" Why or why not? Has any writer risen to the level of excellence of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings since it was published? If not, why not?
Robert Sacks (m), Robert Chase, Robert Frezza, Ron Sarti

Saturday 10:30-11 am Peale
Laura Ann Gilman

Saturday 11 am - noon Jefferson
Discussion Group: Star Wars
Why is Star Wars so popular again after 20 years? When is Lucas going to gear up for episodes 1-3? Tolkein deliberately created an English language epic, with great success; Lucas deliberately created an SF movie epic, with great success...
Brenda Clough

Saturday 11 am - noon Carroll
Military SF
What are some of the archetypes in military fiction? Are readers interested in military intelligence operations as part of military SF? Which do you prefer reading or writing-military SF that recreates past conflicts and battles or that breaks new ground of style? How much detail should you use when writing combat scenes? What is it about war that makes people love it so much? How realistic is the military SF being published? Do people still read Starship Troopers, and can we blame military SF on Heinlein
Robert Frezza (m), Chris Claypoole, Linda Grant DePauw, Daniel O. Graham, Jr., Ron Sarti

Saturday 11 am - noon Peale
Josepha Sherman, Susan Shwartz

Saturday 11 am - noon Promenade
Hal Clement, Gordon Linzner, F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

Saturday noon - 1 pm Carroll
Whatdunnit? SF/F Mysteries
What SF/F mysteries have worked for you? What's so hard about doing a good SF/F mystery? What do SF/F and mysteries have in common? How is mystery writing different when it's SF/F? Is it possible to be "fair" when anything can happen? In SF and fantasy yr a police force?
Glen Cook (m), Gordon Linzner, S. Andrew Swann, Louise Tichner, Mark L. Van Name

Saturday noon - 1 pm Jefferson
The Fannish Inquisition
The 1998 World Science Fiction Convention, BucCONeer, will be held here in Baltimore. Here's your chance to ask the BucCONeer committee, and the committees vying for the right to hold future Worldcons, questions about their plans.
Dan Cook, Samanda b Jeude, BucCONeer, Boston in 2001, Philadelphia in 2001, San Francisco in 2002

Saturday noon - 1 pm Peale
Charles Sheffield

Saturday noon - 1 pm Promenade
Linda Grant DePauw, Doranna Durgin, Richard Garfinkle, Daniel O. Graham, Jr.

Saturday 1-1:30 pm Peale
Darrell Schweitzer
Saturday 1-2 pm Carroll
Grokking Lestat in the Land of Mordor: Novels That Attract Cult Followings
Can a cult novel be created deliberately? What contributes to their attraction? In the case of cult series, what contributes to the series' lure? What differentiates the elements that appeal to the cult audience from those that appeal to the mainstream?
Lissanne Lake (m), Daniel O. Graham, Jr., Shariann Lewitt, Dan Persons, Susan Shwartz

Saturday 1-2 pm Jefferson
Everything Old Is New Again? Changing Trends and Styles in SF/F
Are writing pastiches of 1940s SF a good idea? Are there any themes in SF that continue to flourish after 100 or more years? Wells' SF was written at the turn of the last century; can we expect something similar at the turn of this century?
Martin Morse Wooster (m), D. Douglas Fratz, Richard Garfinkle, Warren Lapine, Paul Levinson, Trish Wilson

Saturday 1-2 pm Promenade
Glen Cook, Ric Frane, Charles Sheffield

Saturday 1:30-2 pm Peale
Gary Bowen

Saturday 2-2:30 pm Peale
Mark L. Van Name

Saturday 2-3 pm Carroll
Magic, The Technology of Fantasy Fiction
Does magic act in fantasy as science does in SF? Or is magic not a technology but an expression of spirituality? Is magic really indistinguishable from a sufficiently advanced technology? How do we explain limitations? Is magic like technology in being gin a solid, believable system of magic? How do you develop magic in your worlds? What do you see in books that drives you crazy, or ruins your suspension of disbelief?
Doranna Durgin (m), Nancy Varian Berberick, Chris Claypoole, Dan McGirt, Robert Sacks

Saturday 2-3 pm Jefferson
Anything You Can Do I Can Do Better: Fan Fiction
Is fan fiction a worthwhile "school" for writing? What makes good fiction (fan or otherwise)? Why write fan fiction? What is it about a world or character that inspires fans to want to write about it? What is it that differentiates fan fiction from original.
James Zimmerman (m), Frances Freedman, Charles Gilliland, Roberta Rogow, Trish Wilson

Saturday 2-3 pm Promenade
Frank Kelly Freas, Laura Brodian Freas, Wendy Mitchell, Darrell Schweitzer

Saturday 2:30-3 pm Peale
Esther Friesner

Saturday 3-3:30 pm Peale
Brenda Clough

Saturday 3-4 pm Carroll
Otherwhen: Time Travel
Do all time paradoxes have to make your head hurt? What makes for a successful (or not so successful) time travel story? Which mechanisms for traveling through time seem most believable?
Michael Burstein (m), D. Douglas Fratz, Richard Garfinkle, Muriel Hykes, Eric Kotani, F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre

Saturday 3-4 pm Jefferson
The Telltale Art: Edgar Allen Poe and Modern Horror Fiction
To what degree has Poe's prose style been influential? How did Poe extend the past Gothic tradition? How did he break from it? To what degree has Poe's subject matter influenced modern writers? Who was the most influential writer on the modern tradition;
Diane Weinstein (m), Dan Bailey, Frances Freedman, Wendy Mitchell, Darrell Schweitzer

Saturday 3-4 pm Promenade
Dan McGirt, Josepha Sherman, Susan Shwartz

Saturday 3:30-4 pm Peale
Shariann Lewitt

Saturday 4-4:30 pm Peale
Michael Capobianco

Saturday 10-11 am Jefferson
Mythopoeic Literature
How does mythopoeic literature differ from other fantasy? Is it "better?" Why or why not? Has any writer risen to the level of excellence of Tolkein's Lord of the Rings since it was published? If not, why not?
Robert Sacks (m), Robert Chase, Robert Frezza, Ron Sarti

Saturday 4-5 pm Jefferson
Crossing Genres I: SF Disguised As Mainstream Literature
Other than marketing strategy, what are we talking about? Which SF/F writers could be Magical Realists if Tor decided to put that on their spines? Just whom is Vonnegut kidding? Crichton, Clancy, and who else? What do we mean by this: magic realism, bio- Safe, not considered speculative fiction?
Nancy Kress (m), A. J. Austin, Alexis Gilliland, Joe Mayhew, Diane Weinstein

Saturday 4-5 pm Promenade
Gary Bowen, Ann Crispin, Esther Friesner

Saturday 4:30-5 pm Peale
Dan McGirt

Saturday 5-5:30 pm Peale
Hal Clement

Saturday 5-6 pm Adams
SF/F and Fandom Online
Why the parallel evolution? Why does SF/F and fandom on the net look so much like the original when the characteristics of the net would permit a very different architecture and function? Where are all the fans and pros online?
Robert Chase (m), Muriel Hykes, Vol Ranger, Lawrence Watt-Evans

Saturday 5-6 pm Carroll
Aesop Revisited: SF/F Fiction with a Moral
Is a moral different from a "theme?" Does any fiction really have a "moral" or do we just try to find one to convince ourselves that fiction is serious and worthwhile? Doesn't every story have a moral? Can you write a good SF story with an obvious moral?
Darrell Schweitzer (m), Brenda Clough, Marcos Donnelly, Robert Frezza, S. Andrew Swann

Saturday 5-6 pm Promenade
Nancy Kress

Saturday 5:30-6 pm Peale
Catherine Asaro

Saturday 6-7 pm Adams
Hal 9000, Windows 95: Computers in SF
Has the representation of computers in SF become more accurate in recent years? How has the portrayal of computers in SF changed from the early years? Have computers lost favor as villains in SF?
Jessie Eaker (m), Hal Clement, John McDaid, Dan Persons, Sandy Stewart

Saturday 6-7 pm Carroll
Last Impressions: Satisfying Endings
Which endings are most effective-happy, bittersweet, or tragic? Are the best endings conclusive or ambiguous? Should endings convey lessons that go beyond the story at hand? Can a given story have more than one good ending? Why does a story need an ending even though you hate the endings? Are there books or stories you loved until the ending? When writing a book or story, how do you know you've reached the end?
F. Gwynplaine MacIntyre (m), Eric T. Baker, William Barton, Adam Corbin Fusco, Louise Tichner

Saturday 6-7 pm Peale
Chapter One of The Paradise Snare: Book One of the Han Solo Trilogy
Ann Crispin

Saturday 7-7:30 pm Peale
Gordon Linzner

Saturday 7-8 pm Adams
Crossing Genres II: Historical Fiction
Why does a good dose of history lend depth to genre fiction? Does the historical mindset of the times (religion, chivalry, etc.) constrain character motivation, plot, etc. in historical fiction? Why is historical fiction one of the hardest forms of fiction?" Can you write historical fiction without writing alternate history? Why use an historical background instead of inventing a background of your own? If you don't get every historical detail right, are you a hack or an artist?
Vol Ranger (m), Eric T. Baker, Linda Grant de Pauw, Charles Gilliland, William T. Levay

Saturday 7-8 pm Carroll
Heroes and Villains
How important is motivation in creating viable heroes and villains? What about backstory? What kind of actions make the villain a real villain, or the hero a real hero? Do we need them? What makes a larger than life hero/heroine believable? What makes the...
Doranna Durgin, Shariann Lewitt, James Zimmerman

Saturday 7-7:30 pm Peale
Dan Persons

Saturday 8-8:30 pm Peale
Nancy Varian Berberick

Saturday 8-9 pm Adams
Folklore Storytelling (rated PG-13)
Tales of tricksters and hero-mages.
Josepha Sherman

Saturday 8-9 pm Carroll
Tired Blood? Vampire Fiction in the 1990s
Is there anything new to learn about vampires from scientific or historical sources? Can a Star of David hurt a vampire?
Ric Frane (m), Gary Bowen, William T. Levay, Wendy Mitchell, Bennett Pomerantz

Saturday 8:30-9 pm Peale
Marcos Donnelly

Saturday 9-10 pm Adams
Has the cyberpunk metaphor become a required feature of technodazzle? Is the technology changing the subgenre? Is it all hype, or is there a point to it all? What is cyberpunk now as it completes its second decade? What is your favorite ridiculous type of...
Eric T. Baker (m), William Barton, S. Andrew Swann

Saturday 9-10 pm Jefferson
The Analog Mafia
The writers for Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact discuss the magazine, their own stories, and answer questions from the audience. Is the theme or content of a story more important than its style? Does Analog have a specific style-or "anti-style"-that
John C. Sparhawk (m), Catherine Asaro, A. J. Austin, Paul Levinson, Charles Sheffield, Bud Webster

Saturday 10-11 pm Jefferson
Discussion Group: The Best of 1996
What do you think were the best genre books, stories, films, television shows, etc. of 1996? What should win the Hugos/Nebulas, etc.? Well, this is what I like; what do you like?
Martin Morse Wooster (m)

Saturday 10-11 pm Carroll
Intellectual Property, the Internet, and the Individual
You thought the Communications Decency Act would kill the 'net! Trademark and copyright present a far greater threat to individuals and small entrepreneurs than any act of censorship. Find out the current case law, who the players are, who advocates for the little guy, and just what is the Domain Names Rights Coalition?
Harold Feld

Saturday 10-11 pm Adams
Discussion Group: Babylon 5
Dan Delaney

Saturday 10 pm - midnight Douglass
Discussion Group: UFOs: Credible or Crapola?
Bud Webster

Sunday 10-11 am Carroll
The Way It Wasn't: Alternate History
Does the popularity of alternate history spring from the attitude that "I can do better than that?" At what point does "alternate history" become "historical fantasy" and vice versa? How much leeway is "okay?" What is acceptable to change (technology, so ready to work? What alternate histories that you've read annoy you the most? What alternate history proposed by someone else would you like to steal and improve? Is there such a thing as alternate history, or are facts so uncertain that any attempt to te...
Susan Shwartz (m), Eric T. Baker, Chris Claypoole, Esther Friesner, Richard Garfinkle, David Vierling

Sunday 10-11 am Jefferson
Meet the Editors
How much time does a book editor spend on each book? What doesn't an editor do? What's new at your magazine/publishing house?
Scott Edelman (m), Laura Ann Gilman, Warren Lapine, Darrell Schweitzer, Diane Weinstein

Sunday 11 am - noon Carroll
If God Did Not Exist: Creating Religions and Mythologies
When building new belief systems in fantasy and/or SF, do we always have to work with "real world" systems as a guide? Is it possible to invent something utterly new? Why do we need a god, anyhow? Why is God harder to believe in than hyperdrive? What if ...
Nancy Varian Berberick (m), Catherine Asaro, Gary Bowen, Richard Garfinkle, Josepha Sherman

Sunday 11 am - noon Jefferson
Don't Use A Crayon: Manuscript Submission Tips
When (if ever) is it okay to bribe an editor? Why won't anyone accept electronic submissions? Are PCs now mandatory? At what point do you stop being nice about lack of SASEs? Do cover letters have any value? Can they do more harm than good?
Laura Ann Gilman (m), Scott Edelman, Gordon Linzner, Dan Persons, Heather Wood

Sunday noon - 1 pm Carroll
Influential Writers
Which writers have influenced your own writing? Which have influenced the SF/F genre?
Hal Clement (m), Grant Carrington, Eric Kotani, Charles Sheffield

Sunday 1-2 pm Adams
My Favorite Books
Many of our favorite books are not SF/F. Why is reading outside one's genre important to the development of a genre writer?
Robert R. Chase (m), Nancy Varian Berberick, Lissanne Lake, Charles Sheffield

Sunday 1-2 pm Carroll
The First 'Graph Is Free: Writing Openings That Grab the Reader
Do we really have to shoot the readers to make them pay attention? Do you need to grab the reader with your first line? What makes a good first line? Why is "Call me Ishmael" so good? Why is "It was a dark and stormy night" so awful?
Dan Persons (m), Gary Bowen, Nancy Kress, Warren Lapine, Ron Sarti

Sunday 2-3 pm Carroll
Gripe Session
The Balticon Committee

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Last modified - 1997 by Jeff Poretsky