Nebula Award-winner Catherine Asaro (“The Quantum Rose” and “The Spacetime Pool”) is the guest of honor at this year’s annual gathering of area sci-fi fans, offering a chance to catch up on the latest trends, enjoy a dealers’ room with all the books, costumes, models and other paraphernalia you could want, and otherwise geek-out until the dimensions shift. Includes gaming, an art show, short films and Saturday night’s Masquerade, where you never know whom (or what) you’ll encounter. Runs May 25-28 at the Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel, 202 E. Pratt St. $10-$49 daily, $37-$75 for the weekend; free for kids under 6 with paying adult. balticon.org.
Maryland Deathfest XVI
They bill themselves as “America's biggest annual metal party,” and we’re certainly not going to argue. Four days (May 24-27), two venues (Baltimore Soundstage, 124 Market Place, and Rams Head Live, 20 Market Place in Power Plant Live) and more than 70 bands — everyone from Abhomine to Wormrot. Our heads throb just writing about it. Tickets start at $33 per day, $93-$260 for multi-day passes. deathfests.com.
Drink beer and hang out with a bunch of animals — what could be more fun? Includes unlimited beer and wine samplings from more than 80 local and national breweries, plus live music, food vendors and all-day zoo access. 1 p.m.-7 p.m. May 26-27 at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore, 1 Safari Place. $50-$55. marylandzoo.org.
The reigning Academy of Country Music Entertainer of the Year plays Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia. Also on the bill: Luke Combs, Lauren Alaina and Dee Jay Silver. 7 p.m. May 24. $55-$125. merriweathermusic.com.
‘Life or Theatre?’
The life and work of 20th-century expressionist painter Charlotte Salomon is explored in this piece by Carly J. Bales, using a mix of classical music, cinema and theater onstage to tell Salomon’s story and invoke her spirit. Opens May 24, with performances at 8 p.m. Thursdays-Sundays through June 17 at Annex Theater, 219 Park Ave. $7-$25. baltimoreannextheater.org.
‘The Road to Dawn: Josiah Henson and the Story That Sparked the Civil War’
Author and filmmaker Jared Brock’s book tells the story of Josiah Henson, an ex-slave who escaped to Canada, from where he helped rescue scores of men and women from bondage, and whose 1849 autobiography was said to have been the inspiration for Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” Brock will present the short film “Josiah,” then discuss and sign copies of his book. 6:30 p.m. May 23 at the Lewis Museum of Maryland African American History & Culture, 830 E. Pratt St. $6-$8 museum admission. lewismuseum.org.
Writer-director Derek Jarman’s landmark in queer cinema, a modern take on Christopher Marlowe’s Elizabethan drama of loyalty, murder and palace intrigue, stars Steven Waddington as Edward, Andrew Tiernan as his lover, Gaveston, and Tilda Swinton as a spurned and dangerous Queen Isabella. 7:30 p.m. May 24 at the Niarchos Foundation Parkway, 5 W. North Ave. Free. mdfilmfest.com.
Baltimore’s maritime industry willl be on full display, with tugs, fireboats, Coast Guard vessels, police boats and more, plus LEGO model ships, radio-controlled models, informational exhibits and “maritime surprises for the young at heart.” With a special commemoration set for 11:30 a.m. aboard the NS Savannah. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. May 20 at Canton Pier 13, 4601 Newgate Ave. Free. “National Maritime Day” on facebook.com.
‘Fools and Madmen’
This traveling hip-hop adaptation of Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” “a lyrical and rhythmic mash-up of classical and modern language, of poetry and music,” is being performed at 8 p.m. May 22 at The Motor House, 120 W. North Ave., 8 p.m. May 23 at Cohesion Theatre Company, 923 S. East Ave., and 8 p.m. May 24 at Mount Vernon Place Church, 10 E. Mount Vernon Place. $10. cohesiontheatre.org.
The Charm City Bronze Handbell Ensemble welcomes spring oh-so-chimingly with a performance featuring works from Vivaldi, J.S. Bach and Mussorgsky. 7:30 p.m. May 21 at the Corner Community Center, 5802 Roland Ave. $10-$20 suggested donation. thehandbellschool.org.