B. Wilkinson, Ground Floor Flat, 8 West Avenue Road, Walthamstow, E17 9SE, Great Britain
bjw[at]cix.co.uk fax: 0181-925-7126
I spent most of September in Poland and Romania. Things have changed in both places...
A few years back I was being told in Poland that things were getting worse and worse, and that in many ways the 1980s had been a 'golden age' for Polish SF and fandom. Young people took no interest in SF, being glued to the TV. Older fans had just gone off to make money, as money was now everything. After a flood of SF books in 1990 things had gone into the doldrums, the main publisher was on the slide, and the national SF magazine was being 'restructured'.
What happened? Well, the youngsters started playing Warhammer and D&D, then realised that it was cheaper to read books and write your own material than to pay for endless supplements. Some of the older fans started drifting back as making money lost its novelty. The up-and-coming Amber slid down a hole, but its place was taken by the even more powerful Proszynski i S-KA which is doing almost too well. The national SF magazine actually survived its restructuring!
Sure, there are problems. Print runs of SF novels are small, as they are prohibitively expensive for many readers. This however enables the survival of Nowa Fantastyka, still with a print run of 40,000. This also encourages the existence of the SF clubs, as borrowing a copy of a new book from a library or a friend becomes the only way of affording to read it. SF conventions (and now professional conferences) are flourishing, and Polcon in September managed to pay for two foreign guests (Orson Scott Card and Kiril Bulychov). Polcon next year is thinking in terms of a British guest. The club structure survives, and will continue to do so, as in a country with Roman law informal semi-existence simply isn't an option (unlike under Anglo-American common law where anything that isn't explicitly banned is allowed). The clubs are growing again, and new ones are being formed, although the big three in Gdansk, Katowice and Bialystok continue to dominate. Warsaw keeps up the great fannish tradition of the capital city "circle of lassitude'.
Romania is undergoing an SF slump. In the early 1990s some SF fans and professionals had considerable political influence, this influence has now faded for various reasons, and the results are being felt and magnified by other changes.
Within the last year the two national SF magazines have folded. First Jurnalul SF folded in January as the press it was being published on went bankrupt. I am told it was run by an extreme right wing group (of what sort I don't know) for their newspaper, with Jurnalul SF run off as a commercial deal. When the political group went out of fashion, Jurnalul SF folded along with their newspaper. More recently Anticipatia was closed down by Stiinta si Tehnica, its parent magazine. Stiinta si tehnica is a popular science magazine, and this sort of journal is not doing as well now as it did in the past. It is certainly not able to subsidise its daughter SF magazine in current circumstances. Anticipatia had distribution difficulties (as did Jurnalul SF), and had not brought in sufficient advertising. It was also published in digest format, which to modern European eyes looks archaic (Ikarie and Nowa Fantastyka are A4).
Book publishing has also suffered a slump, after a glut in 1996 (the results of that glut can be seen slowly fading on outdoor bookstalls all over Timisoara and Bucharest). Conventions have now become prohibitively expensive. Hotel prices have become impossibly high for locals, and express train fares have also jumped. It'll take a while for pride to be swallowed enough to travel by slow train (fares have increased here too, but not as much) and stay in student flats or tents. Arranging the national convention is in disarray. As everywhere, the new government has found that while it's easy to ruin a country's economy, improving it is much more difficult. People are deeply disappointed, and think this is the end. Me, I doubt it – I saw much of this in Poland a few years back.
* = New or amended
Cyber-Fiction Cannes 97: 10-12 October, Cannes, France. SF conference/convention/film festival. Various guests from the film, academic and literary worlds. Contact: Comite Cyber-Fiction, c/o David Sice, 49 Av. Michel Jourdan, 06150 Cannes-La Bocca. France. (tel. +33 04 93.48.05.64, fax +33 04 188.8.131.52)
* Coachcon: 23&27 October, Cancelled.
Euro-Octocon: (Eurocon) 25-27 October, Dublin, Ireland. Att. 30 IP, Supp. 10 IP. Can pay by credit card. GoH: Robert Jordan, Chris Reed, many other guests. Contact: Eurocon'97, PO Box 5130, Dublin 4, Ireland (email: karenb[at]eicon.com, http://www.iol.ie/~carrollm/eurocon)
World Fantasy Con: 31 October-2 November, London, UK. Contact: World Fantasy Con, PO Box 31, Whitby, North Yorkshire, YO22 4YL, UK.
HispaCon 97: 31 October-2 November, Mataro (Nr. Barcelona), Spain. GoH: Orson Scott Card, Alfonso Font & Carlos Gimenez (artists). Contact: Mataro 97, HispaCon, Patronat Municipal de Cultura, Sant Josep 9, 08302 Mataro, Spain. (tel. +34-3-758.23.61, Fax +34-3-758.23.62, http://www.filnet.es/bemmag/mataro)
Cozycon: 14-16 November, Scheveningen, Netherlands. Att. NLG 50. Contact: Annemarie van Ewyck, Obrechstraat 4, 2517 VT Den Haag, Netherlands.
Novacon 27: 14-16 November, Great Malvern, UK. Contact: Carol Morton, 14 Park Street, Lye, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY9 8SS, UK (tel. +44 1384-825386)
STARCON97 (Star Wars Con): 30 November, Towngate Theatre, Basildon, UK. GoH inc.: Dave Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew. Att. 10 UKP, or 13 UKP on door, cheques payable to R MILEY. Contact: STARCON97(W), Nelson House, 341 Lea Bridge Road, London, E10 7LA, UK. (tel. +44-181 523 1074, fax +44-181 527 4860, email: starcon97[at]timescape.demon.co.uk, http://www.timescape.demon.co.uk)
* Nordcon: 4-7 December, Gdansk, Poland. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland (tel. +48-58-531073).
* Dracon: early December, Brno, Czech Republic. Contact: Dracon, PO Box 36, 612 00 Brno, Czech Republic (http://WWW.FI.MUNI.CZ/~ZRUSTEK/DRACON.HTML)
Babylon 5 academic conference: 13-14 December, York, UK. Att. 75 UKP (inc. accommodation & food) Contact: Farah Mendelsohn, Faculty of Humanities, University College of Ripon and St John, Lord Mayor's Walk, York YO3 7EX, UK. (email: fm7[at]york.ac.uk)
Decadence: 6-8 February, Eastbourne, UK. Filk. Att. 24UKP. Contact: Decadence, Top Flat, 11 Evesham Road, Cheltenham, GL52 2AA, UK. (email: decadence[at]z9m9z.demon.co.uk; http://www.z9m9z.demon.co.uk)
* 10th SF-Days North Rhine-Westphalia: 21-22 March, Dortmund, Germany. GoH: Alan Dean Foster, Mark Brandis. Att. 40DM 'til 31/12/97, then 45DM 'til 15/3/98, 55DM at con. Contact: Torsten M. Frantz, Ruthstrasse 8/28, D-44149 Dortmund, Germany. (Ulrich Krause: tel. 0049/231/40 06 64, email: UlrichKrause[at]T-online.de;
Fax: +49-2301-5743, http://www.cbg.de/sf-tage-nrw)
Intuition: Easter, Manchester, UK. Contact: 1 Waverley Way, Carshalton Beeches, Surrey, SM5 3LQ, UK. (email: intuition[at]elsevier.co.uk)
* Galaxiales'98 French national con: 16-19 April, Nancy, France. Att. 250FF. Contact: Galaxiales'98, BP 3687, 54 097 NANCY Cedex, France. (tel. +33-03 83 40 64 40, Fax +33-03 83 28 80 51)
Intercontact'98: 3-5 July, Oslo, Norway. International convention. GoH Gwyneth Jones, Pat Cadigan, Johannes Berg. Att. 15 UKP (Scandinavians NOK 200) 'til 31 May 1998. Contact: InterContact 98, PO Box 121 Blindern, 0313 Oslo, Norway. (email: elf[at]origo.no)
INFINITY: 10-12 July, Cardiff, UK. SF/Media Con. Contact: (SSAE) Swn y Nant, 12 Stuart Street, Treherbert, Treorchy, Wales, UK, CF42 5PR. (email InfinitySciFiCon[at]hotmail.com, WWW – http://www.cf.ac.uk/ccin/main/ents/sffc/infinity.html)
Bucconeer: 5-9 August, Baltimore, MD, USA. Worldcon. Contact: PO Box 314, Annapolis Junction, MD, 20701, USA. Att. $110 'til 30/9/97. (email: bucconeer[at]bucconeer.worldcon.org)
* Polcon: September, Bialystok, Poland. Contact: Polcon'98, Podlaskie Towartzystwo Milosnikow Fantastyki, ul. Piastowska 11a, 15-207, Bialystok, Poland.
* Dragoncon: 3-6 September, Atlanta, USA. Contact: Dragon*Con, PO Box 47696, Atlanta, GA 30362-0696, USA. (http://www.dragoncon.org)
* Fantasycon: 11-13 September, Birmingham, UK. Contact: Fantasycon, 46 Oxford Road, Acocks Green, Birmingham B27 6DT, UK.
HispaCon 98: 9-11 October, Burjassot, Spain. Contact: HispaCon, c/o BEM, ciencia ficcion y fantasia, P.O.Box 6092, 47080, Valladolid, Spain. (e-mail: bemjmo[at]filnet.es)
* Nordcon: Nov/Dec, Gdansk, Poland. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland (tel. +48-58-531073).
* Dracon: Nov/Dec, Brno, Czech Republic. Contact: Dracon, PO Box 36, 612 00 Brno, Czech Republic (http://WWW.FI.MUNI.CZ/~ZRUSTEK/DRACON.HTML)
* There will be no Eurocon in 1998.
Aussiecon III: 2-6 September, Melbourne, Australia. Worldcon. Contact: Aussiecon 3, GPO Box 1212K, Melbourne, 3001. Australia. (email: julian[at]aussiecon3.worldcon.org)
Millenium: 27 December-2 January 2000, N Europe. Contact: Malcolm Reid, 186 Casewick Road, W.Norwood, London, SE27 0SZ, UK. (email: vdputte[at]simplex.nl)
* Eurocon 1999: Spring/Summer, Dortmund, Germany. Contact: Science Fiction Tage e.V., Am Kattenbrauck 28, D-44287 Dortmund, Germany. (Fax: +49-2301-5743, http://www.cbg.de/sf-tage-nrw)
Bid for 2000 UK Eastercon, 2Kon, Glasgow, UK: Contact: A^3 (Andrew A Adams), Chair, 2Kon, 15 Kersland Street, Glasgow G12 8BW, UK. (e-mail: 2kon[at]dcs.st-and.ac.uk, http://www-theory.cs.st-and.ac.uk/2Kon)
* Eurocon 2000: Gdynia, Poland. Att. 10 UKP. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland (tel. +48-58-531073).
Both *Canada (Torcon III – email: info[at]torcon3.on.ca http://www.worldhouse.com/worldcon-2003) and Germany (Berlin – http://ourworld.compuserve.com/EDMarwitz/internat.htm) are currently bidding for the 2003 Worldcon.
If you write off for details of one of these conventions please send a stamped addressd envelope if it is within your own country, or two International Reply Coupons if it is abroad.
Please keep details of events coming into me, and send me any corrections if I've got something wrong, either a typo or something by now out of date. If I'm not sent new details I can't correct the entry.
If sent details by email I will acknowledge them. If I don't acknowledge them, it means I didn't get them yet – please send them again. The Internet has large numbers of black holes, itching to eat stray emails. Don't let it win. :-)
Fans Across the World Many thanks for information and help etc. to: Paulina Braiter & Pavel Ziemkiewicz, Agnieszka Sylwanowicz, Piotr Cholewa, Ela Gepfert, Mihal Cholewa, Marek Michkowski, GKF, SKF, Al Bert, Malgorzata Wilk, Antusa Genescu, Silviu Genescu, Raoul Genescu, Cornel Secu, Tudor Besuan, Darius Hupov, Cristian Lazarescu, Nicu Gecse and many others. Please send any new information, bribes, corrections, etc., to the address over. Well, I got there and I got back. Most intense experiences of the trip include: the Gross Rosen translation, the thunder storm by the Russian war memorial in Warsaw, Kiril Bulychov's speech at Polcon, wandering like a zombie around Auschwitz with a streaming cold/flu on the most beautiful day in September, Rafal Ziemkiewicz greeting us with a goblet of wine and grapes at Zielona Gora station, the moons of Jupiter, corned beef and ham, Baile Herculane in the autumn sun, the view towards barbarisim from civilised Orsova, and thanksing the ticket inspector on the tram in Bucharest. Thanks to all who helped me. When I got back the wheelie bin had actually been emptied!