Balticon 15

(Don - 15th)(Thomas - 3rd)

1981: April 17-19

Hunt Valley Inn, Timonium, MD

GOH: John Varley

Compton Crook ("Stephen Tall") died on January 15, 1981, so this Balticon was without its most successful resident pro.

Balticon 15 was also a showcase con for the Baltimore in '83 bid, and everything about the convention revealed the care that the committee had taken to make a good impression. The cover of the program book was in color, the entire Hunt Valley Inn was reserved for the con. (Alas, the Hunt Valley was booked and Don had to stay down the road in the Best Western. His sixth Balticon, and still commuting.)

Balticon 15 was the last Balticon in the Hunt Valley Inn . . . at least for a while.

This was also Don's first Balticon as a pro . . . his first published story was on sale in the Huckster's Room. This fact didn't make him any more a pro in the sight of the con members -- in fact, he doubted if any of them even noticed the story or the name. Don did, however, have his first meeting with an editor, arranged by Lucia Gauger -- Owen Lock of Ballantine promised to fish his latest novel submission out of the slush pile on Tuesday and have a decision for him by the end of the week. As Don recalls, it was to be over a year before he heard from Lock again.

("My watch isn't right. It won't be right until 10:15.")

Balticon 15 was, coincidentally, Don's fifteenth con; the only time that a con number matched his own personal "number of cons." And since the 47th Worldcon was his 62nd con, there is little chance that the numbers will ever match up again.

In the "Why You Shouldn't Be a Writer" panel, David Bischoff and Susan Shwartz (could it really have been Susan?) pointed out that one of the dangers of full-time writing was that one could become starved for real-life experience. The point struck Don, then, as incredibly profound.

This was Thomas' first Balticon. He wore his first self-made costume, a tan flight suit that he had put together with his mother's help. He went to the con with his friend Will Burnham, and the two entered the masquerade -- Thomas in his tan flight suit, and Will in a red one. Masquerades were a little less sophisticated then: Thomas remembers that contestants carried large placards with their numbers, and that everyone wore con badges on their costumes.

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