B. Wilkinson, 2 Hobbs Close, Abingdon, Oxon, OX14 3UX, Great Britain
In Murder One (the SF bookshop in a cellar on Charing Cross Road in London) a few days ago I noticed a new line of books. I must have seen them before, but not in mass, and it was seeing them in mass that struck me. Wildside. Small press books, presumably with a print run of a thousand or so books, most of them books that I had owned for many years in other editions as they were reprints. Their production values reminded me of nothing so much as the better Polish unofficial (samizdat) publications of the 1980s (http://wildsidepress.com/).
Big Engine in Britain are similar in format(http://www.bigengine.co.uk/), but have rather better production values and are publishing numbers of books by new authors as well as the reprint of Dave Langford's The Leaky Establishment which started the series (there are other reprints too). All are large format, on relatively good paper and more expensive than the current mass market paperbacks. The last time we had a small publisher flowering like this one was in the eighties, at the time of Kerosina. At that time the technology was in place (although not as easily as now), but the market was still very fragmented.
While print on demand has been much talked about, these new books aren't actually print on demand. Rather, they tend to use short (reprintable) runs which rely on the relative professionalism of small printers and the advantages of the quality of computer typesetting now available on the small PC. The internet has also made it just that little bit easier for a short run to get all over the world and get to potential buyers. These aren't the only reprints. After years of saying that only new books sell, the last year or so has seen a number of reprint lines – tho I'm not sure quite how well some of these are doing – numbers of them can be seen in heaps in remaindered bookshops.
This is in a time which sees great pressure on specialist SF book dealers, both new and second hand. The price of much-sought books rises. The larger potential pool of buyers using the internet has meant that readers who would never have bothered to use the book search services advertised at the back of journals are now using equivalent services on the internet. But there are only so many books, and book dealers with high street premises have suffered both in competition with dealers working from cheap office space in the middle of nowhere, and from the difficulty of finding stock when an increasing amount ends up in the hands of enthusiasts who will not let go of it in the near future. This demand for out-of-print books in turn leads to a market for reprint lines – but we don't yet know how thin or otherwise the margins are, and stacks of copies in remaindered bookshops don't bode well.
Something that apparently isn't selling is anything smaller than an encyclopedia in electronic format. Ebooks may eventually become popular, once small, cheap, easily readable readers are available, and when realistic prices are charged for the text, but readers don't want to pay for a text they can't transfer to a new reader or lend to a friend. Neither do they want ebook readers to become the next thieves fad, like mobile phones. If charges are treated as rent, like a video, attitudes may change, but people are now used to buying books, not to borrowing them, let alone renting them. Electronic texts like those at Project Gutenberg are used, but how much they are read, rather than analysed, I'm not sure. I have never read anything longer than a short story off a computer screen, and screens will have to improve a lot (and battery life) before I do.
Books are fashionable again. Count the copies of Lord of the Rings' (or Harry Potter) is an amusing game on the tube, and large numbers of battered 1960s and 1970s paperbacks are still being read by commuters, along with the modern books and copies of Metro. The number of electronic toys has fallen, at least for now. Who's getting the trade? Amazon, the supermarkets, and the increased number of middlebrow bookshops in the shopping centres. Who's lost? The specialist bookshops – squeezed on the one side by losing browsers to the new high street book-cum-coffee shops, and on the other by losing book hunters to Amazon and the web-based specialists or Ebay. Amazon still has to prove itself fully viable economically, moreover it has a world-wide monopoly of a particular narrow sector, and extraordinary power over the new small publishers.
Two dangers lie here, complete opposites. One, is the complete vacuum that the economic collapse of Amazon would cause. Some publishers reliant on the internet trade could fail before they found a new retailer. The other is that of a bookseller who could be leaned on by some private (or governmental) interest, as happend with New Worlds. This time the market could be leaned on world-wide. I leave the topic of the censored book to your imagination. SF fans are good at dreaming up things like that.
From Dirk Berger: "From September 20th (Friday) to 22nd (Sunday) this year takes place the sixth "Elstercon" in Leipzig, eastern Germany. After having George R. R. Martin, Michael Bishop and Michael Marshall Smith in 2000 (the con takes place every second year) this time Tim Powers and Mary Doria Russell will be guests plus some others. Further information at http://www.fksfl.de/ or from Dirk-Berger[at]gmx.de. Leipzig has a large airport and is easy to reach from the UK."
Eurocon 2002 will be in Prague and Chotebor in the Czech Republic. they now have a registration form on their website, http://www.avalcon.cz/
The form and website is in English, although some of it is a little difficult to understand. One of the local traditions is to have a hall with a floor for fans to sleep on free of charge – bring your own sleeping bag. This one apparently demands overshoes – I think these must the the monstrous grey floppy felt things that get handed out to stop nasty outdoor shoes scratching nice polished floors.
There is other accommodation as well – infinitely more expensive than the hall, but still inexpensive by western standards. Prague is likely to cost more. To get the cheaper rate (before the end of April) you need to pay earlier. Prices are in Euros, but if anything it has now become more difficult to send money abroad, and can cost quite a bit over 10 UKP per transaction. If you are interested in paying early (from the UK), contact me and I'll look into bundling it all into one transaction.
It is usual to buy meals in advance for the convention. Other places to eat may be some distance away, and can be slow. Breakfast is paid for separately, it is not part of your hotel charge.
If you haven't seen Prague, that part of the trip will be well worth doing. I'll be getting there a little late as the Science Fiction Research Association conference overlaps with the first day. Contact me for more info.
From Ben Roimola: "The Finnish national SF-con for the year 2003 will be held in the town of Turku in southwestern Finland on 1st-3rd of August 2003.
We are determined to make this the most international Finncon yet. To achieve our goal we are now looking for agents all across Europe and the rest of the globe. The con will have no entrance fee, so the agents will not need to collect fees or keep lists of paid memberships. Spreading the word (and the occasional poster or leaflet) is enough.
As the Finncons are free, there usually are a couple of thousand participants at the con. Most of these are just ordinary people who walk in from the street, pick up the free con-booklet, sit through a programme item or two and then leave. But there are, of course, also a lot of full fledged fans who come to every Finncon. The main programme items usually draw a crowd of several hundred people.
As Finncon X is bidding for Eurocon 2003 you can be sure that we will have a lot of programme in English. The plan is to have something going on in English all the time during con hours.
There will be several guests of honour. The following are confirmed as of now: sf-author Michael Swanwick, author and Star Wars fan Steve Sansweet and Finnish sf-author Boris Hurtta. More GoHs are to be announced.
Contact Ben.Roimola[at]sci.fi for more information on becoming an agent for Finncon X."
...and that has to be the coolest SF based email address there is – even if Angloamerican purists prefer 'SF' to sci-fi!
As Ben says, Finncon has been going for years, and it's a large con with a good chunk of the program in English. They've been adventurous with their guests – last year apart from Britain's Dave Langford of Ansible fame, they invited Richard Stallman of the GNU GPL unit (that's open source software for those who haven't the foggiest what I'm talking about). For sure, as any reader of Cryptonomicon might have picked up, LInux has some sort of connection with Finland, nonethless this was either adventurous, or completely mad.
The vote for the 2003 Eurocon is by secret ballot of all attendees at the ESFS meeting at the Eurocon in the Czech Republic this summer.
Contact Ben for information on becoming agent, or simply about the con itself.
Carlos Gardini won the 2001 UPC Science Fiction Award (given by the Universidad Politecnica de Catalunya) with his novella "El libro de las voces." Carlos won 250,000 PTA. Runners-up were Javier Negrete Medina (Spain), with "El Mito de er," Jaume Valor (Spain) with "El avatar del mono enamorado," and Manuel González (Spain) with "Planeta X." Writers from Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Ecuador, Great Britain, Italy, Panama, Paraguay, and Spain sent stories for the contest.
The UPC award evaluates SF novellas (25 to 40 thousand words) submitted in Catalan, Spanish, English, and French. Details: "UPC SF Award 2002", Consell Social de la UPC, Edifici NEXUS, Gran Capità 2-4, 08034 Barcelona, Spain.
One of the specialist SF bookshops in the UK having difficulties is Andromeda Books, in Birmingham. Among their problems was rocketing rents. If you've got a spare 5,000 UKP they are looking for investors to establish them on a new footing. See: http://www.andromedabook.co.uk/acatalog/index.html
Ben Jeapes, publisher of Big Engine books (and author of several of his own SF books) is guest at Contexxt this summer. Contexxt is the 2002 Unicon. 9-11 August, Cheltenham, UK. GoH Keith Brooke, Ben Jeapes. Att. 25 UKP 'til 2/04/02. Contact: Contexxt, 17 Cow Lane, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 7SZ. (Email: contexxt[at]unicon.org.uk; http://www.unicon.org.uk).
* = New or Amended entry
Barnacon: Spanish National SF con. No date yet. Contact: http://www.cienciaficcion.org/~barnacon/ or organizacion[at]barnacon.com.
Children's Fantasy Fiction: debates for the 21st century: 7-9 January, Reading, UK. Academic conference. Contact: Helen Briscoe, Conference Administrator, MCCA, Liverpool John Moores University, Dean Walters Building, St. James Road, Liverpool, L1 7BR, UK. (h.briscoe[at]livjm.ac.uk)
Krakon 2002: 24-27 January, Krakow, Poland. Contact: http://krakon.vrpg.net
Contabile-Fortean: (filk), 1-3 February, Basingstoke, UK. 25UKP 'til, 31/12/02. Contact: Contabile-Fortean, 34 Star Rd, Isleworth, Middlesex, TW7 4HB. (contabile-14[at]filk.org.uk)
Picocon 19: 9 February, London, UK. GoH: Anne Gay, China Miéville, Stan Nicholls. Att: 8 UKP (5 UKP students). Email: john[at]golgotha.org.uk; http://www.su.ic.ac.uk/icsf/social/events/picocon.html
Reminiscon 50: 9 February, Cardiff, Wales. 50 years of Lionel Fanthorpe. Contact: The Fanthorpe Mnagement Consultancy, 48 Claude Road, Roath, Cardiff CF24 3QA, UK.
Ad-Astra: 8-10 February, Toronto, Canada. GoH: Guy Gavriel Kay, Alan Lee. Contact: http://www.ad-astra.org/; email:info[at]ad-astra.org.
Corflu 19 (Corflu Valentine): 14-17 February, Annapolis, MD, USA. A convention for fanzine fans. Contact: Corflu, PO Box 178, St. Leonard, MD 20685, USA or 48 The Crescent, Walthamstow, LONDON E17 8AB, UK. (Corflu19[at]popfire.net; http://come.to/corflu
Roscon: 14-17 February, Moscow, Russia. Contact: (Email: http://www.convent.ru/; roscon[at]rambler.ru)
Microcon: 2-3 March, Exeter University, UK. Contact: 79 Alphington Rd, Exeter EX2 8JE. Phone 07740423320. (J.B.Foster[at]exeter.ac.uk)
MeCoN V 8-10 March: Belfast, Northern Ireland. GoH: David Wingrove, Ian McDonald, Ken McLeod, Michael Cobley. (email: meconv[at]hotmail.com; http://www.mecon.org )
Pyrkon: 15-17 March, Poznan, Poland. Contact: http://www.zaibatsu.pl/drugaera; gender[at]kki.net.pl
Swancon 28 March-1 April, Perth, WA, Australia. GoH: Kim Wilkins, John McDouall. Att. $110. Contact: Swancon, P.O. Box G429 Perth WA 6841, Australia. (2002[at]sf.org.au; http://www.swancon.com)
Helicon 2 (Eastercon): 29 March-1 April, Jersey, UK. Att. 35UKP 'til 1/1/02. Contact: Helicon 2, 33 Meyrick Drive, Wash Common, Berkshire RG14 6SY, UK (email: helicon2[at]smof.demon.co.uk;; http://www.helicon.org.uk/)
Filkontario 12: 5-7 April, Mississauga, ON, Canada. Filk convention. GoH:Joey Shoji. Contact: Filkontario, 145 Rice Ave, Unit 98, Hamilton, ON, L9C 6R3, Canada. (hayman[at]bserv.com)
Dort.Con 2002: 13-14 April, Dortmund, Germany. GoH: Norman Spinrad, Andreas Eschbach. Att. 35 DM ('til 31/12/2001). Contact: Michael Ehrt, Eichenwald 6, D-58579 Schalksmühle, Germany. (tel.: 0049 (0)2351/95 24 22, Dort.Con[at]erco.com)
Damn Fine.. Convention: (Twin Peaks) 3-6 May, Shepperton, UK. Att. Norwegians 0UKP, others 20UKP. Contact: Damn Fine Convention, 37 Keens Road, Croydon, CR0 1AH, ENGLAND. email: info[at]damnfineconvention.org.uk ; http://www.damnfineconvention.org.uk
Con With the Wind: 31 May-3 June, Wellington, New Zealand. New Zealand NatCon. GoH Joe & Gay Haldeman, Dan Hennah, Lucy Sussex, Yvonne Harrison, Alan Robson. Att. $80 Supp. $30. Contact: CON With The Wind, PO Box 11-559, Manners St, Wellington, NewZealand. (enquiries[at]con-with-the-wind.sf.org.nz; http://con-with-the-wind.sf.org.nz/)
Downunder con festival: 1-30 June. SF con every weekend. (Combined with a bid for Corflu) Contact: Eric Lindsay, PO Box 640, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802, Australia. (email: eric[at]wrevenge.com.au)
Convergence: 41st Australian NatCon: 7-10 June, Melbourne, Australia. GoH Joe Haldeman, Sean Williams, Gay Haldeman, Lucy Sussex, Jack Dann, Race Mathews. Att. $130 'til 30/10/01. Contact: Convergence, GPO Box 1212k Melbourne Vic 3001, Australia http://www.vicnet.net.au/~converge/; contact-convergence[at]egroups.c om
AustriaCon: 8-9 June, Graz, Austria. Contact: Bernd Hubich, postlagernd, Postamt Peter Tunnergasse 49, A-8029 Graz, Austria. (prsg[at]gms.at; http://www.prsg.at)
Relaxa.con: 14-17 June, Airlie Beach, Qld, Australia.Contact: Eric Lindsay, PO Box 640, Airlie Beach, Qld 4802, Australia. email: eric[at]wrevenge.com.au; http://www.ericlindsay.com/relaxa.con/
ColoniaCon 15: SFCD Con., 22-23 June, Köln, Germany. Contact: Helmuth Freisinger, Schirmerstrasse 36, 50823 Koln, Germany. (http://www.coloniacon.de).
Science Fiction Research Association conference: 28 June-1 July, New Lanark, Scotland. Academic conference. Theme: Utopia. GoH: Pat Cadigan, Paul McAuley, Ken MacLeod, Andy Sawyer. Contact: farah[at]fjm3.demon.co.uk
Eurocon 2002: 1-7 July, Chotebor (and Prague), Czech Republic. Prague visit 1-3. GoH: G.R.R.Martin, K.Bulycov, R.Holdstock, A.Sapkowski. Att: $20/$25. Contact SFC Avalon, c/o vaclav.pravda[at]seznam.cz; http://www.avalcon.cz/
Shore Leave 24: 12 – 14 July, Hunt Valley, MD, USA. Pre-reg deadline 31 May 02. Media. Contact: Shore Leave, PO Box 6809, Towson, MD 21285-6809, USA (tel: +1 410-496-4456; information[at]shore-leave.com; http://www.shore-leave.com)
U-CON: 41st Japan National SF Con., 13-14 July, Shimane, Japan. Contact: http://homepage2.nifty.com/u-con/; email: u-con[at]mbf.nifty.com
* Contexxt: Unicon 2002 9-11 August, Cheltenham, UK. GoH Keith Brooke, Ben Jeapes. Att. 25 UKP 'til 2/04/02. Contact: Contexxt, 17 Cow Lane, Didcot, Oxon, OX11 7SZ. (Email: contexxt[at]unicon.org.uk; http://www.unicon.org.uk)
Conversions 19: 9-11 August, Calgary, AB, Canada. GoH:Charles DeLint, Robert Sawyer, Jeff A.Lendis (Marslander). Att.$40.00 Contact: Conversions, PO Box 20098, Calgary Place RPO, Calgary, AB, T2P 4J2, Canada. (Fax +1 (403) 277-4251; http://www.con-version.org
Discworld Convention 2002: 16-19 August, Hinckley, UK. GoH: Terry Pratchett. Contact: send an SAE to Discworld Convention 2002, 23 Medora Road, Romford, RM7 7EP, UK. http://www.dwcon.org/; email: info[at]dwcon.org; mailing list http://www.dwcon.org/mai lman/listinfo/2002/
29th French National SF Con: 29 August-1 September, Liège, Belgium. Att. Euro 45 'til 30/04/02, Euro 55 on door. Contact: Alain le Bussy, rue du Cimetière, 21, 4130 Esneux, Belgium. (http://users.skynet.be/jlf/sf/convsf.html
Polcon 2002: 29 August-1 September, Krakow, Poland. Polish National SF Con. Contact: Galicyjska Gildia Fanow Fantastyki, 31-469 Krakow, Ul. Mlynska 2/77, Poland.
Con Jose (Worldcon): 29 August-2 September, 2002, San Jose, USA. GoH Vernor Vinge, David Cherry, Bjo & John Trimble, Ferdinand Feghoot, Tad Williams. Att. $160 'til 31/12/01, $ 180 'til 31/07/02. Contact: Con Jose, PO Box 61363, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-1363, USA. (Email: info[at]conjose.org; http://www.conjose.org/)
Filkcontinental: 4-7 October, Freusburg, Germany. Contact: http://www.filkcontinental.de/2002/index.html.
Elstercon: 20-22 September, Leipzig, Germany. GoH: Tim Powers, Mary Doria Russell. Contact: Manfred Orlowski, Ernestistrasse 6, 04277 Leipzig, Germany. (http://www.fksfl.de/; Dirk-Berger[at]gmx.de)
Octocon: 19-20 October, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. GoH: China Miéville, Morgan Llywelyn, Michael Scott. Att. 20 Euros 'til Easter, then 30 Euros 'til 01/10/02. (15; 22.5 UKP). Contact: http://www.octocon.com, octocon2001[at]yahoo.co.uk) UK agent, Dave Lally, 64 Richborne Tce, London, SW8 1AX.
Novacon 32: 1-3 November, Walsall, UK. GoH: Ian McDonald. Att: 32UKP 'til Easter, 35UKP 'til 20/10/02, 40UKP on door. Contact: Novacon, 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ. (Email: xl5[at]zoom.co.uk)
World Fantasy Con: 1-4 November, Montreal, PQ, Canada. GoH:Fred Saberhagen. Contact: Bruce Farr, 7002 N.6th Ave,Phoenix, AZ, 85021, USA; 2001wfc[at]yahoo.com
Nordcon 15: 5 – 9 December, 2002 Jastrzebia Góra, Poland. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland; papier[at]gkf.3miasto.pl; tel. +48 58 5531073
Seacon 03 (Eastercon): 18-23 April, Hinckley, UK. GoH: Chris Baker, Chris Evans, Mary Gentle. Att: 35UKP. Contact: 8 The Orchard, Tonwell, Herts, SG12 0HR, UK. (http://www.seacon03.org.uk/info[at]seacon03.org.uk)
Emoticon: Easter, Auckland, New Zealand. New Zealand NatCon. Contact: enquiries[at]emoticon.sf.org.nz
ConStruction: 11-13 July, Cardiff, Wales. Contact: Dragon Events Ltd. Construction, 63 Providence Way, Wterbeach, Cambridgeshire, CB5 9QH, UK. Conrunning. Postponed from 2001. (email: Construction[at]dragonevents.ltd.uk www.DragonEvents.ltd.uk/construction)
* Finncon X: Finnish National SF Con (Bid for Eurocon 2003), 1-3 August, Turku, Finland. GoH: Michael Swanwick, Steve Sansweet, Boris Hurtta. Contact: Ben.Roimola[at]sci.fi
Torcon III (Worldcon): 28 August-1 September, Toronto, Canada. Att: $170. GoH: George R.R. Martin Frank Kelly Freas Mike Glyer, Spider Robinson, Robert Bloch. Contact: PO Box 3, Station A, Toronto, ON, M5W 1A2, Canada, email: info[at]torcon3.on.ca http://www.torcon3.on.ca
CONTOUR 2004: 31 May-3 June. Proposed as New Zealand's 25th National SF Con. Rotorua. enquiries[at]contour.sf.org.nz
T-con 2003: or T3. 42nd Japan National SF Con: 19-21 July, Shiobara-cho, Tochigi, Japan. Contact: http://www.t-con2003.gr.jp/ contact[at]t-con2003.gr.jp.
Noreascon Four: Worldcon, 2-6 September, USA. Contact: P.O. Box 1010 Frammingham MA 01701, USA, (info[at]mcfi.org; http://www.mcfi.org; or Tim or Marcia Illingworth)
Concourse: A Bid for the 2004 Eastercon, 9th – 12th April 2004. Contact: http://www.eastercon.com/concourse; Concourse[at]ntlworld.com
Great Britain Worldcon Bid 25/8/2005-29/8/2005. Location: Glasgow. Pre-support: UKP5, Eur8, $8, A$12, NZ$15, Yen950. Contact: UK in 2005, 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S.Yorks, S2 3HQ, UK. (email: uk2005[at]hotmail.com; http://www.uk2005.org.uk)
There are rumours of an Australian bid for Worldcon in Melbourne: get the gossip at http://www.egroups.com/invite/aussiecon4 Japan have officially announced for 2007 details at: http://www.nippon2007.org
There are rumours that Australia may move to 2009...
Thanks for help, info, etc. to Finncon, John Mansfield, the SKF, Octocon, and others. The con list is short this time as you'll get two of these at once if you're at the pub. Hope this gets there. The tube strike is off, but I've still got to get this photocopied, and then get it and me to London. And my ankle is still very clumsy. We'll see. See some of you at Easter? All the best. (Most of) Fans Across the World is archived at: http://www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Fatw
Aussie events: annual calendar at http://www.vicnet.net.au/~sfoz/2002cal.htm