Photography by Heather Haynes

Take a tour of our Building

1. What is filk? or filking?
"Filk" is Science Fiction and Fantasy themed folk music.

2. Do I need to wear a costume to come to BALTICON?
No. Most people dress comfortably in typical pedestrian clothing. Maybe 10% of people in the halls wear a costume and most of those are more fashion than theatrical in nature.

3. What is the Masquerade at BALTICON? Is it like a masquerade ball?
No. The masquerade is a costume competition with theatrical presentations lasting a minute or two. It is sort of like a fashion show where the models make the costume and create their own theatrical presentation.

4. Why don't you have media stars at BALTICON?
BALTICON is a literary convention that has grown to embrace all aspects of Science Fiction culture. As such we prefer ideas to showmanship and authors, artists, poets and song writers to media actors. Many theatrical elements of the con are added by amateur enthusiasts such as costumers and the occasional media person with family in Maryland.

5. How can I submit ideas for panels/events at BALTICON?
Please send e-mail to "ideas at balticon dot org" with your ideas. The earlier we get an idea the more likely we can use it. We constantly get good ideas two weeks before the con and by then it is just too late to arrange details. You can become a voting member of BSFS, Inc. as well by attending two business meetings and paying the yearly dues. Or just show up at the business meeting and tell us your ideas--we always need new ideas.

6. Why is BALTICON always on Memorial Day?
In order to provide 8 tracks of programming we need a hotel of adequate size willing to provide us function space for a cost we can afford. This forced us onto a "dead hotel weekend" where the hotel cuts their rates and Memorial Day Weekend is one of the deadest of the "dead hotel weekends" in the Baltimore area. In the past we were on the Easter Weekend, but Memorial Day Weekend was considered more desireable by a survey we conducted in 1999 so we moved our weekend. Memorial Day Weekend also alowed us to expand the convention by 24 hours so there is more time for all of the enhanced programming SF fans can dream up.

7. What goes on at a BSFS meeting?
We talk about BALTICON and Science Fiction literature, media, life, philosophy, the weather etc... We also sometimes stuff envelopes while we talk... We also have a short formal meeting on the second Saturday of the month that is quite entertaining in a warped parliamentary sort of way. The formal meetings before and after BALTICON tend to be a bit longer, but the rest are relatively short. Sometimes we have artists/authors/SF/cultural presentations at the meetings. Sometimes members who are artists or authors share bits of their work.

8. When are BSFS meetings?
There are meetings at the BSFS Building on the second and fourth Saturdays of the month, the third Sunday of the month, and a "gathering" every Wednesday evening.

The second Saturday of every month is the "formal" business meeting. A BALTICON planning meeting starts at 7:00 pm, the BSFS meeting starts at 8:30 pm. We might go on talking till midnight or so :-).

On the Fourth Saturday of each month there is a Book discussion held at 7:00 PM where people announce the books they have recently read and review and answer questions about them, then everyone focuses on an agreed upon book. The book discussion is followed by Informal meetings that are purely social in nature held 8:30 PM till midnight (or later, if people are playing cards.)

9. Are pets allowed at BALTICON or BSFS meetings?
The hotel does not allow pets at BALTICON. Pets can come to BSFS meetings if the owner controls them.

10. Why is the BSFS building in Highlandtown?
It was the best building we could afford at the time and has worked out well since.

11. How do I get to the BSFS building in Highlandtown?
Directions to the BSFS Building.

12. If I want to ship something to BSFS or BALTICON where should I send it?

E-mail:  "bsfs at bsfs dot org" 


        (that's (410) 563-2737 for the alphabetically challenged) 

For "normal" items where normal postal service will do:

    Postal: Baltimore Science Fiction Society    

            P.O. Box 686

            Baltimore, MD 21203-0686  

For large bulky items where normal postal service won't do:

   UPS/Shipping Company: BSFS, Inc.   

                         Baltimore Science Fiction Society
                         Attn:  PERSON OR DEPT NAME 
			 PMB 311
                         4725 Dorsey Hall Dr. Suite A
                         Ellicott City, MD 21042

For legal notices only use:

Baltimore Science Fiction Society
c/o Law Office Donald J. Arnold
403 Fulford Avenue
Bel Air, MD 21014

13. Are you guys the Baltimore Science Center?
No. We constantly get people looking for the Maryland Science Center who find us instead.

For the record, the Maryland Science Center can be reached at: and their phone number is: (410) 685-2370

14. What is a LARP?
The acronym "LARP" stands for Live Action Role Playing game. Sometimes LARPs are run at SF cons and consist of people acting a role and negotiating deals with other LARPers to gain points and win. If Balticon has an official LARP it will be announced and pre-registration arranged through the Balticon web page.

15. Can you prove BSFS is a 501c3 tax exempt organization?
Yes. Go to the IRS web page at: and then change the Search By pull down menu from EIN NUMBER to SEARCH BY NAME and enter Baltimore Science Fiction Society into the text box to the right and hit search button and we should come right up as the IRS has improved their search engine to the point it works well now. (except search by name should be default choice for a public search function, but not so...)

16. What are the IRS rules about charitable donations to an organization like BSFS? Please go to the IRS web site:

17. What kind of stuff do people donate to BSFS?
SF and other books, SF artwork and money are the major categories of items donated.

18. What does BSFS do with donations?
Some of the SF books and artwork are preserved for cultural research and our free lending library. Duplicate books are sold at low cost to support our other activities.

19. Why is the floor in the main room of the BSFS building sloped?
The BSFS building used to be the Aldine Theater before 1956. The slight slope of the floor was to accommodate theater seats. The slope is so slight that after walking on it a few minutes you forget it is there, and it would cost a fortune to change, so we are leaving it alone.

20. How can I get into the dealers room at BALTICON?
Send us a request for dealers room information including your postal address to "dealers at balticon dot org" . This will forward your request to the dealers room manager who will send you an information package. Follow the simple instructions in the information package and you will have a shot at space in the dealers room. The most common mistake is sending in a table request after the deadline, sending the table request to the wrong address and just generally not following directions. A mass mailing of information packages goes out to everyone who had been in the dealers room last year, and those people who have requested information, in December. Selection is made on a first come first served basis modified by the dealer included description of merchandise to be sold. Those dealers who do not make the first cut go onto a waiting list just in case someone cancels.

21. Can I sell stuff at a BSFS meeting?
Some members bring books and other collectibles to the meeting and announce these are for sale (during Announcements). As long as this remains within reasonable bounds we will continue to let people do this and show off their wares after the meetings.

22. How much are BSFS dues?
Annual BSFS dues (Oct 1 to Sep 30) are $45.00. (as of 3/2022) Life membership dues are 10 times the annual dues. Remember you must attend two business meetings in person or four of the business meetings online before you are eligible to pay dues and become a voting member.

23. How do I get my question onto this FAQ?
Send a good question to "bsfs at bsfs dot org" and we will post it if we believe people would be interested.

24. Why can't I get a BALTICON Schedule months in advance?
BALTICON is arranged by volunteers and we do the best that we can given the size of this event. Look for detailed schedule information to be posted to our web site two weeks or so before the con at best. General information about major events will be posted as it is confirmed.

25. I heard that BSFS hates _____________ (fill in this blank) and that's why they won't _____________ (fill in this blank). Is this true?
Usually a BSFS member, or someone who people think might be a BSFS member, says something they think is constructive criticism in public and then the rumor mill cranks up. Individual BSFS members may love/hate just about anything, but the organization seldom (never outside the focus of SF and fandom) takes a stand on any issue and does not hate any group in or out of fandom. For practical reasons we need to balance the interests of all SF fans, so a particular group may get less some years and get more other years -- but we do our best to include everyone we can.

26. How can I be informed about what is going on with BSFS and Balticon?
Well, you could:
come to the meetings and hear first-hand. ;-)
join the "Info" mailing list and get periodic updates about what is going on. (to find out about the list, go to and follow the directions about how to join the list.

27. Why are there no pictures of BSFS and Balticon on the Web?
This used to be true, but then we added a page we call the BSFS Photo Album! and then pictures exploded onto the web. Lots of pictures of Balticon and BSFS stuff on the web now.

If you have a picture of something relevant to BSFS or Balticon and you would like us to include it in our album, send it to: "webmeister at bsfs dot org" with the caption that would be appropriate - you know, who is in the picture what they are doing, etc....(and who took the photo).

28. Why do we list email addresses as "something at bsfs dot org"?
Sp*mming is done by lazy people that do what is known as "data-mining" - they view web pages with a "spider" or a "bot" that gleans every email address that they can see and add them to the tons of unwanted emails that we all receive daily. BSFS is attempting to cut down on this traffic by not providing machine readable email addresses on its sites. Humans can still read what the email addresses are, and translate something at bsfs dot org into something their email programs can use by substituting "@" for " at " and "." for " dot ". Eventually, "spiders" and "bots" will get smarter, but for now, this is one way we can fight SP*M!!

29. Why does it cost so much for a Balticon membership when I can throw a SF party at home for almost nothing?
Balticon started small and cost little to run in the early days. When you throw an event for under 50-100 people you can use your house and gather some old video tapes of SF TV programs, some chips and the party is on. Once you start renting hotel space for hundreds and then thousands of people to attend, flying guests of honor in, setting up full theatrical stages, buying insurance and paying copyright fees, producing program books that are collectors items, buying food for the con members at hotel prices to meet their contract terms, mailing thousands of flyers and everything else--it costs a lot of money.

Professional conventions nearly matching the Balticon size charge hundreds of dollars for an attendee and don't deliver the 24 hour a day 12 program tracks at Balticon. Even at the cost of attending Balticon(or any other major SF con) the hotels find us low profit events; this is why all SF cons are on poor hotel business weekends. People often ask why Balticon and Baycon and Conquest and Wiscon and several others are all on the same weekend and the answer is it is the only one we can afford--because by hotel standards we are doing an event on the cheep. Consider in comparison we run the equivalent of 24 free events the size of a house party each year at the BSFS building for members pocket change. So, Balticon costs what it costs because we can not make it any less expensive without eliminating the quality fandom expects from a major regional SF con. Besides there "is" some cost to 300 hours of educational program at the con; I believe your neighbors would find an event of simmilar size held in your house a little distracting.

30. What do I need to know about running an open room party at Balticon?
Running an open room party at Balticon has its own FAQ which can be found at Balticon Party FAQ.

You should check out the party registration process on the Balticon web page to ensure your party is sited in a place that avoids conflict and is protected under the conventions contract with the hotel.

"Balticon" is a service mark of the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc.
Copyright 2013. BSFS is a 501(c)3
non-profit organization.
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Since January 26, 1999 the BSFS Website
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Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Inc.
PO Box 686
Baltimore, MD 21203-0686
Phone: (410) JOE-BSFS (563-2737)
webmeister at bsfs dot org