Fans Across the World

Newsletter 124 September/October 2002

September/October 2002

Newsletter 124

B. Wilkinson, 2 Hobbs Close, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 3UX, Great Britain

faworld[at]bjw.cix.co.uk

INTERACTION

Or, at least that's what WORLDCON 2005 (the 63rd Worldcon) is going to call itself. Hmm., only two letters difference from the last one. Word-game fans might like to guess what the next one will be called.

As last time it will be at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), Moat House & City Inn Hotels, Glasgow, Scotland, but this time they promise us that it will have a ceiling. An open-air Worldcon last time? Well no, not quite... better ask someone who went. Oh yes, the Guests of Honour will be Greg Pickersgill, Christopher Priest, Robert Sheckley, Lars-Olov Strandberg, Jane Yolen.

Membership: GBP 75.00 full, GBP 30.00 supporting, GBP 32.00 children (7-15), infants (0-6) free. There are no other discounts. These rates held till at least end of Easter weekend 2003, ie. 21st April 2003. Discounts for bid Friends and pre-supporters also held until that date.

If you are from abroad and you are definitely intending to come, email the committee now, to tell them. Don't leave it until later. If you are going to have problems transferring money, either for legal reasons (i.e. exporting money is restricted or illegal), or because cash transfer costs are extortionate, tell the committee too. The sooner the better.

There will be a credit card account. That is usually (in my experience) the cheapest way to transfer funds across economic frontiers, especially since the death of the Eurocheque. If there's an agent in your country taking cash, better still.

There are now numbers of independent hostels in Glasgow, also taking credit cards. The only campsite is still small and I should think still pretty cold.

Transport to the convention centre has improved greatly and an Imax cinema has sprouted up like a mushroom across the river (which now has a bridge).

Tolkien fans might like to note the 2005 event the week after, 'tho they'll have to be even more well heeled!

Contact: Interaction, 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, South Yorkshire, S2 3HQ, UK.

Also: info[at]interaction.worldcon.org.uk

http://www.interaction.worldcon.org.uk

Cracon – Polcon 2002, Krakow

This was a much greater success than the Eurocon many years ago in the same city. The main events were in part of the university and in a nearby school. The main drawback was the lack of an on-site bar, and there was no obvious near alternative, so apart from the (rather good) on-site non-alcoholic café with food there was no real sitting an chatting place. And there's a limit to the amount of tea that even I can consume.

As GoH Ken MacLeod has noted in his lively con report, the Polish fans are young by our standards. The top floor of the school was given over to rooms for crash space, SF clubs having taken over particular rooms. There was enough space up there that they were well spread out. Most of the rest of us were in slightly scruffy, but bearable, student accommodation a few hundred yards up the road. Otherwise in the school were rooms full of RPG players, a few book and game stalls (not up to previous years, and lacking a good secondhand stock), a meeting-with-the-author room, and the quiz stream. Yes, you heard me, a quiz stream.

The growth of the 'quizzes' has been developing for some years, although I hadn't previously noticed them – not until they'd swallowed one stream of the con. They are vary between individual and team games, and usually involve RPG-style exercises as well as the more traditional (to us) question and answer sessions. They may involve all of the 'audience' as participants, or they may pit gladiatorial volunteers against each other. They are topic based – Harry Potter, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Zelazny's Amber series. And they are extraordinarily popular.

Another Polish speciality, which I had met before, was the Forum Fandomu – the Fannish Forum. Theoretically it is delegates from the regional SF clubs. In practice as far as I can see, it is those prepared to sit through a business meeting – and what a business meeting, it decides everything!

Items included: a presentation and verbal progress report from the organisers of Polcon 2003; a report on the 2002 Eurocon in the Czech Republic by Piotr Cholewa; a presentation for the unopposed Warsaw bid for the 2004 Polcon, followed by a show of hands vote which was near enough unanimous; the selection of the tellers for the Zajdel Awards (these are the equivalent of the British BSFA awards); a proposal for a new 'Monolit' award, an award for foreign SF. This caused controversy and was deferred for discussion; a proposal for a plastic arts Zajdel award. This led to a discussion of media, admissibility, etc.; a presentation on Polish SF news websites (try nagroda.fanzinow.prv.pl); a discussion of travel possibilities to Finncon-the-Eurocon next year. Group travel would be cheaper that individual travel, and Gdansk is well placed to find out about good deals on Baltic ferries; a presentation on the 2005 Worldcon – this mainly consisted of repeated comments that the vote was on that day, and the news wouldn't be through soon enough to do anything about it; other conventions; then a session on scrappy pieces of news. It only took two hours. Perhaps WSFS should send observers...

There had been a row over the Zajdel Award with the biggest Polish SF magazine Fantastyka (the prizes are named after the 1980s Polish SF author Janusz Zajdel). Fantastyka apparently felt that the stories it published had not won enough prizes and that this must be because of rigging of the voting, not because of the cussedness of SF fans. There are several other SF magazines, some of which publish a much greater proportion of Polish SF stores. One, Science Fiction, is rather rough in presentation – I caused great hilarity among my friends when I spotted typos in it (my Polish is just about non-existent) – but it is supporting Polish authors, and it is more adventurous in the type of story it takes than Fantastyka is. So it gets awards.

So. The ballot box was guarded day and night, all fans were encouraged to vote, photocopies of the nominated short stories were available to read, and the prize-winning masquerade entry represented the two awards (one for short story, one for novel).

Yes, the masquerade. This was part of the last night party, and was the only remote event (unlike the Eurocon in Krakow many years back). A crocodile of fans crawled what felt like halfway across Krakow. The destination was a student's club, the original venue had cancelled. The site had many outdoor tables and a beer cart. Both were welcome in the baking hot weather. Many fans sat for most of the evening at these outdoor tables.

First some drink, then the masquerade (won by the two fans as the Zajdel Awards), then a very short, but very good, film (you can see it at stars-in-black.pl) shown in a horrendously crowded cellar, then the Zajdel Awards – complete with the masquerade winners in the background, finding their way into all of the photos. The fans who played the awards had been among the most active participants at the Forum Fandomu. I can't imagine Fantastyka will have been best pleased.

The party lasted until late, and the convention fizzled out early on Sunday afternoon – journeys home are often very long.

Next year is in Elblag.

Bertie Ahern Snubs Octocon but Crazy Dog Comes to Rescue

Or so I gather. Brown envelopes also come into this somewhere – or so the Octocon press release said.

Octocon is in Dun Laoghaire, 19-20 October. Rates: Adult €35 (€20 day). Website http://www.octocon.com/. They don't want to give out their email address, so as to avoid spammers – and being deluged by the stuff myself I can sympathise.

I can't make the con this year (family matters) and I'm sorry, it's a fun weekend.

This year Octocon will not be hosting Crazy Dog Audio Theatre, but to make up for their absence (or something) they did a plug for the convention on Irish radio (RTE radio 1) with one of the characters in the play bearing a suspicious similarity to bits of various Octocon committee members.

You can download and listen to this piece of lunacy at http://www.radio1.ie/weekend/crazydog/ or get a copy from an Octocon committee member... Crazy Dog sell CDs of their previous series, parts of two of which were recorded at earlier Octocons and include the voices of numbers of Irish and British fans as extras/audience.

Oh yes, the Octocon GoH this year is China Miéville.

(This was put together from info in a press release, from a piece in Pádraig Ó Méalóid's Irish SF News (irishsfnews[at]yahoo.co.uk). More scandal at http://www.lostcarpark.com (Allegedly).)

There will be a post-con wind-down on the Monday afternoon in The Porterhouse Bar in Temple Bar, host Dave Lally, the convention's long standing UK agent .

College con: UCC are supposed to be doing a con on the weekend of 28th February to 2nd of March, to be called Confusion. See: http://confusion.ucc.ie/

Lumi Virtuale

This is the name of a Romanian webzine that publishes stories by Romanian authors translated in English. The current issue (27-29) of the Lumi Virtuale webzine can be found at http://www.geocities.com/lumivirtuale. Past issues are also available for download.

Edited by Mike Haulica, last year it received the RomCon (Romanian national convention) award for best web-based publication. To promote written SF in Romanian they have set up the Lumi Virtuale awards. So far they have gone to Jean-Lorin Sterian (author of 'The writer's out hunting' and 'Balthatzar and the Providence'), Dan Silviu Boerescu for Best Promoter of SF and fantasy, and Horia Nicola Ursu BestEditor for books published at Omnibooks and for FICTIUNI magazine.

They are a good sample of 'new generation' Romanian SF. Jean-Lorin Sterian's day job is as senior editor of the Romanian edition of Playboy Magazine (it currently appears to be completely run by Romanian SF fans and writers!).

Dan Silviu Boerescu is a mainstream critic and essayist who noted that young Romanian SF and fantasy writers were among the liveliest new writers in the country and has both written about them and published their work. He edited the ROMANIA SF 2001 anthology, which featured good (and particularly new) Romanian SF&F authors. He is currently extremely important in the Romanian SF scene.

Apart from the books and magazines above, Horia Nicola Ursu does a website at www.fictiuni.p5net.ro. He plans to do an English and French version, but last time I looked he had not had time yet.

The myth of ageing fandom

One of the favourite subjects of British (and I gather American) SF (and RPG) fans is how fandom is getting older and there are no new fans. This sweeping statement is completely wrong, I know huge numbers of young SF fans – but they don't live in Britain, Canada or the USA.

Leaving aside Australia and New Zealand (where I haven't got a good enough sample) it isn't even true of all English speaking countries – go to Octocon in Ireland (http://www.octocon.com/) if you want to see a young fandom in action, and it's one of the reasons for its lively (if occasionally a little over-exuberant) atmosphere. Further east in Poland (as both Ken's Slater and MacLeod have noted) the majority of fans are young, and practically any British fan would be the same age as those regarded as being in the equivalent of First Fandom. Ken Slater is revered as a fannish (but still very mobile) ancient monument.

The same goes for the Czech Republic and Slovakia, Romania – all over actually.

I also get the impression that the Anglo-American SF fandom on the net is a bit younger than that at cons, and I rather suspect that the Tolkien Society may be suffering from a glut of new fans, not a lack of them. Some of these are likely to be young, going by the age of those reading The Lord of the Rings on the Tube.

Our cons are pricey (and that's leaving aside the Worldcon), even the Unicons are not cheap – Universities charge highly for conference accommodation, but students are broke.

How about renting a youth hostel? Perhaps the one in Epping Forest to be close to London. I'm not completely joking...

Feeble excuses

Sorry, no conlist. After I got back from Poland the first job was to get my tax return completed, and unfortunately that could not be a work of science fiction.

The family problems that have led to my sacrificing my annual trip to Octocon also took up time (illness, not quarrels, but nonetheless wearing and time-consuming for that).

The spam deluge has made reading my email an ordeal, despite using the spam filters provided by my ISP Cix. It's not so much the viruses, seeing what's going the rounds is mildly amusing (only do this with a plain text emailer), it's the sheer quantity of Nigerian letters; Viagra spams; offers of girls, boys, animals from all parts of the globe; and other dross.

I was determined not to change my email address – but I'm beginning to wonder, I could disguise my email address – but I don't see why I should have to do this. Having the stable email address has meant that very old friends haven't lost touch. I don't want to give no address, or send all replies to the dump – some unsolicited ones have been very welcome, but this is far from a victimless crime – and that's leaving aside what it must be doing to the finances of the ISPs. Sure, the spam trappers are making money, but then so is the company I work for (Sophos), and I'm sure we could all of us find work if the virus writers packed it in. Any ideas?

Fans Across the World Many thanks to Piotr Cholewa, the Krakow SF club, Pádraig Ó Méalóid, Goshka, Jolanta Pers, Ken Slater, Ken McLeod, Vince Docherty, Agnieszka Sylwanowicz, Spanish fandom, and many others. Absolutely no thanks to the author of W32/Bugbear-A, who almost prevented this coming out. Aussie events: annual calendar at http://www.vicnet.net.au/~sfoz/2002cal.htm