Fans Across the World

Newsletter 21

Honorary President John Brunner

B. Wilkinson, 17 Mimosa, 29 Avenue Road, Tottenham, N15 5JF, Great Britain

November 1992

Newsletter 21

Trusting books to the post...

Or don't..... I have been sending parcels of books to Eastern Europe for some years now, some go astray, but quite frankly I have found more problems with receiving mail from Eastern Europe than with sending, and mail can go astray from or to anywhere, but here goes.... Letters have as many, or more, problems as parcels. I use some general rules.

Always use printed paper rate. Wrap up parcels well. Keep within the regulations, but it's much better to use clips and string, and even rubber bands than for the parcel to fall apart. Bear in mind – the customs will probably open it, so give them plenty of materials to wrap it up again with.

Don't bother to register it. At best it seems to give no advantage to the parcel, at worst it's an invitation to thieves. Things sent to Poland will probably arrive anyway, things sent to the ex-Soviet Union may go missing, but registered mail is targetted by thieves in a way that ordinary mail isn't.

Use recycled packing materials. I use second hand jiffy bags from work. If you can get hold of used jiffy bags or Tyvec envelopes use them, otherwise use cheap looking, or used brown paper. If asked to declare the value of the goods make it precious little (not nothing, that's going too far in the other direction), I usually say two or three pounds.

Send a separate message. Ideally, send it on a postcard. Letters, especially substantial letters, may get opened by thieves looking for cash. They then get dumped. Postcards can't conceal money.

Yes, these are instructions for making the parcel look worthless. I've found it to be the best strategy. I do usually send things by air mail, the cost difference is negligible from Britain and the airport is usually closer to the final destination than the port, so there is less chance of things going missing.

For a first approach either try a letter (or postcard) only, or try a small, really worthless, parcel with a separate letter (or card). I use stripped publishers returns, good SF with no covers!

Specific countries

Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary seem to present no problems.

I have never lost a parcel going to Romania (I've sent quite a lot), but three letters have gone astray – there is a problem here, but it may well be inefficiency rather than theft!

My experience of Bulgaria is that it is a black hole that loves letters, but others have had more luck. My experiences may have had more to do with garbled addresses and people having moved or lost interest than with the post.

Everything I have sent to ex-Yugoslavia recently seems to have gone astray, but that's probably my fault for trying. Don't. (Slovenia's probably OK.). I haven't tried Albania.

Ex-USSR: Of the Baltic States only Lithuania and Estonia have active fandoms, but I only have contact with Lithuania. Send everything by air mail, surface mail goes via Russia and gets lost on the way. This being said, the mail seems to be fairly good.

Moldova has an active fandom, I have no addresses as yet. Political relations with Russia are not all that friendly, so I would recommend sending anything by air mail (see Lithuania).

Russia is in fairly poor shape at present. I have had few replies to letters in the last few months, but with spiralling inflation this may be connected to a stamp shortage or something equally odd, rather than to non-receipt.

Ukraine – mail appears to be arriving, and some gets back. I don't know how good the percentages are. Belarus has a fandom, but I've no contacts. I don't know about the rest.

The least efficient postal service in Western Europe seems to be that in Great Britain. The letter service is quite good, but the parcel service appears to be suffering from an over rapid attempt at privatisation. Bear this in mind before you start plotting to blow up some unfortunate Eastern European embassy if you don't get a reply.

Free Traders?

One of the questions I have been asked very frequently by people in the SF community when travelling in Eastern Europe is can I obtain the address of a writer or a writer's agent because a local publishing house would like to publish a book. I usually do what I can, but enquiries have a tendency to run into the sand.

One reason for this is that many of the new publishers in Eastern Europe are short-lived, they lack the expertise of those in the west, and anyway success often depends on high tunover low profit margin sales rather than the relatively low turnover, high margins here, so even those with access to western expertise can all too easily make mistakes as well.

This has tended to create a somewhat sceptical attitude in many western writers and agents, and bad experiences from one country can all too easily get transferred to another. (eg. many fans bought subscriptions to the Bulgarian magazine Orphia, which promptly folded, this has instilled a wariness in people who would otherwise be friendly).

This is all too understandable, but an article in Shards of Babel 38 by Jaroslav Olsa suggests that more than this may be in play.

Olsa says that in the case of at least one Eastern European rights agency this scepticism seems to have verged over into complacency and corruption. The company concerned appears to choose to deal with two or three hand picked publishers in any one country, leaving the rest to whistle in the wind. Or pirate.

While the western agents show some degree of complicity with these sweetheart arrangements, the authors are apparently in complete ignorance of what is going on.

There is no way such an arrangement could be described as a free market, it's a cartel (or possibly a monopoly). It blocks books from being published as the agent takes up rights on books that might be published in the dim and distant future, rather than in the here and now.

The readers will get nothing out of such deals, the writers may well get precious little too. The only people set to profit greatly are the cartel managers.

In the short term this will result in many more pirate editions as requests for rights get ignored and the copyright laws come into disrepute. Both Olsa and Roelof Coudriaan intend monitoring this situation further.

Shards of Babel, UKP10 for 8 issues. SOB, c/o Roelof Goudriaan, Caan van Necklaan 63, 2281 BB, Rijswijk, Netherlands.


SF Bookshops – French language

Cosmos 2000, 17 rue de l'Arc de Triomphe, 75017 Paris, France

Ailleurs, 28 rue Pharon, 31000 Toulouse, France

Malpertuis, 18 rue des Eperonniers, 1000 Bruxelles, Belgium

These addresses came from Jean-Pierre Moumon.

I was also given addresses of bookshops in Czechoslovakia by Cyril Simsa and by Jaroslav Olsa, both however warned me that although there are by now two or three permanent bookshops on permanent sites many are on short-life sites or market stalls and come and go at tremendous speed. I intend publishing a Czech and Slovak list towards next summer, please tell me about any other SF bookshops, or international SF book dealers.

Future International Conventions


Novacon: 6-8 November, Birmingham, UK. Contact: Bernie Evans, 121 Cape Hill, Smethwick, Warley, W Midlands B66 4SH, UK. (+21) 5580997.

Q.I. (Zilele Quasar-Iasi): 20-22 November, Iasi, Romania. Con in memory of Dan Merisca by his club Quasar. Contact: Vlad-Romeo Franghiu, bd. 30 decembrie nr. 5, bl. L 17 et. 4 ap. 9, Iasi 6600, Romania.

Helion session '92: end November, Timisoara, Romania. International SF meeting run by the Helion SF club at the Timisoara University House. Contact: Prof. Cornel Secu, Casa Universitarilor Timisoara, Clubul de anticipatie Helion, str. Paris nr. 1, 1900 Timisoara, Romania.

Hillcon: 27-29 November, Amsterdam, Netherlands. f 52.50. Contact: Larry van der Putte, Kotter 5, 1186 WH Amstelveen, Netherlands.

Dracon: early December, Dum rekreace, nr Brno Lake Dam, Brno, Czechoslovakia. One of the major Czech cons, a yearly event. Contact: Dracon, P.O. Box 111, 612 00 Brno, Czechoslovakia. fax(05)755639

Nordcon: 3-6 December, Gdansk, Poland. Large Polish con, films, panels, live action role-playing, etc. Fully inclusive cost for westerners for the weekend US$ 84. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland.


Interpresscon'93: February, St Petersburg. Details t.b.a.

Helicon: Eurocon'93: 8-12 April, Hotel de France, St Helier, Jersey, UK. Cost UKP20. Contact: Helicon, 63 Drake Road, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1LQ, UK.

Smofcon: 16-18 April, St Helier, Jersey. Conrunner's con. Contact: see Helicon.

Italcon: 29 April-2 May, Italy. Contact: Adolfo Organti, Cooperativa Il Cerchil, Via Cairoli 85, I-47037 Rimini, Italy (0541)786382

Deepseacon: 21-23 May, Hamburg-Harwich-Hamburg on luxury cruiser "Hamburg". c. 150 DM attending, inc. journey & cabin. Contact: Ralf Lorenz, Kottwitzstrasse 38, 2000 Hamburg 20, Germany

Mexicon: 28-31 May, Scarborough, UK. Contact: Mexicon V, c/o Bernie Evans, 121 Cape Hill, Smethwick, Warley, Westmidlands, B66 4HS, UK.

ColoniaCon: 30-31 May, Cologne, Germany. Contact: Achim Mehnert, Mauritiussteinweg 1, 5000 Koeln 1, FRG.

Confuse: 11-13 June, Linkoeping, Sweden. Contact: ConFuse, c/o Bjoerklind, Fanjunkaregatan 9, S-58246 Linkoeping, Sweden. (13)274463

Parcon: Czechoslovak national con: 25-27 June 1993, Sumperk, Czechoslovakia. Contact: SFK Makropulos, Petr Konupcik, Na Vyhlidce 1, 787 01 Sumperk, Czechoslovakia.

Lituanicon: last weekend June, Kaunas, Lithuania. Contact: Rolandas Maskoliunas, Siaures pr 29-13, Kaunas 42, Lithuania.

6th SF days NRW: 3-4 July, Duesseldorf, Germany. Contact: Heinrich Sporck, Am Sonnenberg 38, W-4630 Bochum 5, FRG.

Tulum: 5-9 July, Zagreb, Croatia. Enquire before going to: Krsto Mazuranic, D Zokalja 1, 41430 Samobor, Croatia.

Intercon'93: 6-8 August, Oslo, Norway. Contact: Intercon'93, Postboks 121 vinderen, N-0319 OSLO 3, Norway.

French national convention: 27-29 August, Orleans, France. Theme "Women and SF". Contact: Danielle Martinigol, 1 rue Gabrielle-Jaillard, F91070 bondoufle, France.

Confrancisco: 3-6 September, San Francisco. (Worldcon) Contact: Confrancisco, PO Box 22097, San Francisco, CA 94122, USA.

Hillcon: November, Netherlands. Contact: Larry van der Putte, Kotter 5, 1186 WH Amstelveen, Netherlands.

Dracon: early December, Dum rekreace, nr Brno Lake Dam, Brno, Czechoslovakia. One of the major Czech cons, a yearly event. Contact: Dracon, P.O. Box 111, 612 00 Brno, Czechoslovakia. fax(05)755639

Nordcon: early December, Gdansk, Poland. Large Polish con, films, panels, live action role-playing, etc. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland.


Hamburg Phantastic: 3-5 June, Hamburg, Germany. 55 DM 'til 15/11/92. Contact: Achim Sturm, Woltersburger Muhlenweg 10, DW-3110 Uelzen 5, FRG.

Mutation: 1st weekend in July, Teplice, Czechoslovakia. (Parcon'94: Czechoslovak National Con) Candidate for the 1994 Eurocon. Contact: Frantisek Hlous, SFK Duna, Leninova 233, 417 31, Teplice-Novosedlice, Czechoslovakia.

Conadian: Winnipeg, Canada. (Worldcon) Contact: H. McCarthy, 147 Francis Rd., London, E10 6NT, UK.


Intersection: Glasgow, UK. (Worldcon) Contact: Intersection, 63 Drake Road, Chessington, Surrey, KT9 1LQ, UK. (This mayn't be the correct address, but the mail'll get through)

Fans Across the World the current people involved are: Bridget Wilkinson (coordinator), Fiona Anderson (Treasurer), Cyril Simsa (Czechoslovak contact), Maureen Speller, Roger Robinson, Rob Meades, James Steel (artist) and Piotr Cholewa. Volunteers urgently sought, also offers of money, books, addresses, overseas conventions, and other news. Thanks to: Roelof Goudriaan, Iain Dickinson, Jean-Pierre Moumon, Caroline Mullan, Brian Ameringen, Cyril Simsa, Pierre Jean Brouillaud, Mihai Badescu, Nicolae Ariton, Mike & Alison Scott, Mark Plummer, Chris Cooper, Gintaras Aleksonis, Aurel Carasel, Alexandru Mironov, and others.