Con Review: Balticon 36

Balticon36by Catherine E. Twohill


Balticon 36
May 24-27, 2002
Baltimore, Maryland 

Presented by the Baltimore Science Fiction Society, Balticon celebrated its 36th year Memorial Day weekend in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. Balticon is truly an “elder statesman” of the East Coast Con scene. When Cons can claim to be older than their average guest, you can bet your last drachma that the list of rules for that Con is longer than the autograph line for Phil Foglio. The rule that seemed to most impact Balticon festivities was the enforcement of “no alcohol on site.” Not that the staff of Nth Degree requires a drink in every hand and a bottle on ice but, well, we enjoy hosting social events and inviting our readers to come by for a “sip or two.” Rather than alcohol, we decided to abuse another compound element—HE2. We held our first Heliympics and, quite honestly, we believe it will be our last. We’re still woozy. That said, Balticon has a loyal and significant following. Other, newer Cons have much to learn from the organizers of Balticon. Sometimes rules help keep a reputation intact. Balticon 37 will be held May 23-26, 2003.


Con Review: Heroes Convention 2002

Heroes2002by Michael D. Pederson


Heroes Convention 2002
June 14-16, 2002
Charlotte, North Carolina

Heroes Con claims to draw 10,000 people to the Charlotte Convention Center, and I believe it. With over one hundred professionals guests, more than one hundred and fifty dealer’s tables, and non-stop gaming tournaments Heroes Con is easily one of the largest comic book conventions on the East Coast. Not only was the dealer’s room enormous, but it was also wall-to-wall people. Definitely the place to go if you’re into comics, especially if you have a couple of extra bucks to spend in the dealer’s room (I could have dropped a couple of hundred dollars just within fifty feet of the entrance). Next year’s convention is scheduled for June 13-15, 2003.


Con Review: CastleCon 15

Castlecon15by Catherine E. Twohill


CastleCon 15
July 5-7, 2002
Reston, Virginia

Held the weekend of July 5-7 in Reston, VA, CastleCon 15 was true to its positioning as a “relaxacon.” The Con Suite offered free food, coloring books, board and boxed games, a tv/vcr set-up with lots of tapes and, above all, Lite-Brite boards with thousands of colorful pegs. Sessions took on the vacation theme as well. Painting, filking, and belly dancing with Miraj (the “Elvira” of bellydance!) were key, as was the organization of an impromptu sugar party. The open gaming area was consistently full of LARPers as was the hotel’s pool (unclear as to whether they were LARPers). Attendees were able to take advantage of the organizer’s great effort in creating a relaxing and fun atmosphere. CastleCon and EveCon share the same organization team, We’re very much looking forward to EveCon, December 27-29, 2002.


Con Review: Toronto Trek 16

TorontoTrek16by J. Andrew World


Toronto Trek 16
June 5-7, 2002
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto Trek is hailed as Canada’s largest annual science fiction event, and boy is it! There were a few things I was pleasantly surprised to see… They welcome room parties. The people were extremely nice and very friendly (including in the bathroom, which in most places is considered to be like the elevator, no talking!). And, no surprise really, there were an enormous amount of people dressed up as Klingons.


Con Review: Shore Leave 24

by Catherine E. Twohill


Shore Leave 24
July 12-14, 2002
Hunt Valley, Maryland

The premier east-coast convention for Star Trek fans (Trekkers, please, not Trekkies), Shore Leave celebrated its 24th year in Hunt Valley, MD the weekend of July 12-14. Organizers chose to limit ticket sales to 1,750 per day. Those arriving on Saturday afternoon were disappointed as the Con sold out for the day before 1:00 pm. While Star Trek is the general theme (Klingons hold their family reunion and Vulcan ear points are de rigueur), this planet held species from many different worlds: fairies, devils, long-robed Deaths, Storm Troopers, and Darth Vader as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans—the appearance of James Marsters brought out the swooning females of that particular species. Next year will mark Shore Leave’s quarter century. Shore Leave 25 will be held July 11-13, 2003.


Con Reviews: SheVaCon 10

by Michael D. Pederson


SheVaCon 10
February 22-24, 2002
Roanoke, Virginia

Attendance for this year’s SheVaCon was approximately 500. Guests of Honor this year included David Drake and Daniel Horne. SheVaCon 11 is scheduled for February 21-23, 2003; the location is still being determined.


Con Review: Stellarcon 26

StellarCon26by Michael D. Pederson


Stellarcon 26
March 15-17, 2002
Greensboro, North Carolina

Stellarcon is another mid-size winter convention, one of the last before we start gearing up for the larger spring and summer cons. Though not a big con, Stellarcon is definitely a fun ride—throwing a con on St. Patrick’s Day weekend never hurts. Membership for this year’s Stellarcon was approximately 500, with a slightly younger average age this year than in recent years. This year’s Guests of Honor were Allen Wold and Charles Keegan, with Timothy Zahn, William R. Fortschen, and Simon Hawke also serving as guests. Stellarcon’s first real Con Suite was a major hit. They served sandwiches, chili, spaghetti, hotdogs, and their signature Cheerwine. On Saturday night, the Con Suite also hosted a party for the upcoming Dragon*Con that was very well attended. The dealers did well this year; some of the dealers commented that they did more business on Friday than they did all of Stellarcon 25. This bodes well for the economic situation at cons. Stellarcon’s Charity Auction raised approximately $1,950 for Hospice and Palliative Care of Greensboro. StellarCon 27 is scheduled for March 14-16, 2003 in High Point, NC.


Con Review: JerseyDevilCon 2

JerseyDevil2by Michael D. Pederson


JerseyDevilCon 2
April 5-7, 2002
Edison, New Jersey

Another fun mid-size con. Incredible programming for a con of it’s size though—Terry Pratchett, Jerry Pournelle, Charles Grant, Michael Kaluta, Jeff Menges, and nearly one hundred scheduled events. Plus, a very full Dealer’s Room; so full, in fact, that several dealers had to be set up in a separate Dealer’s Row by the Con Suite. Even more impressive when you consider that this was only JDC #2. JerseyDevilCon 3 will be held April 25-27, 2003.


Con Review: MarsCon 2002

colormartshipby Michael D. Pederson


MarsCon 2002
January 11-13, 2002

Williamsburg, Virginia

MarsCon promotes themselves as Southeastern Virginia’s premier Science Fiction/Fantasy/Gaming Relax-a-Con. That’s a pretty narrow field of competition, but it’s still a fun con.

This year’s con had approximately five-hundred members; counting staff, guests, and dealers.

For a quiet little Relax-a-Con, MarsCon had a pretty solid schedule of events. Sci-Fi Win, Lose or Draw; four LARPs, ranging from Machiavellian Madness to Vampire and Werewolf themes; filking by White Plectrum; a skit and improv show by Luna-C, a local comedy troupe; a charity auction (more on that later); and their main event, a performance by the Women of Whimsey ( WoW have been performing at MarsCon for six years now and they’re a constant favorite with con-goers.

Like all good cons, MarsCon had a well-stocked Dealer’s Room. The usual run of vendors were there selling jewelry, music, comics, books, gaming supplies, and the various oddities that go over well with con crowds.

This year’s charity was the Heritage Humane Society of Williamsburg, a non-profit organization dedicated to finding homes for dozens of dogs and cats each year. The animals are not put to sleep, but are kept until they all find homes. The auction proceeds ($1800) went toward purchasing food, kitty litter, chew toys, and upkeep of the facility. As an added bonus, the HHS brought in four cats and three puppies on Saturday afternoon to show con-goers what the HHS was all about. The animals were a smashing hit with everyone present, and the animals that were brought to the con found homes in the days afterward.

Next year’s MarsCon is already scheduled for January 24-26, 2003. For more info, visit