B. Wilkinson, Ground Floor Flat, 8 West Avenue Road, Walthamstow, E17 9SE, Great Britain
bjw[at]cix.co.uk fax: 0181-925-7126
If you rake through second-hand bookstalls at many Eastern European conventions you will find a slowly decreasing number of 'unofficial' publications produced during the 1980s, otherwise known as samizdat or sometimes pirate publications depending upon who is doing the talking. Roughly produced in a hundred or so copies at most, these were often the only way of obtaining a particular SF novel, and while some publishers neither knew nor cared about western copyright laws, others did ornate transactions with authors involving copies through the post, bottles of vodka, etc. Numbers of these publishers became the new private book publishers after 1989, having had a considerable amount of practical experience already under somewhat difficult conditions. They often used the same translation in the official edition, making the earlier version a sort of reader's copy. Their early publications are steadily gaining in value, so buy now.
"We published fifteen copies of this..." Hardy Kettlitz said with a smile, handing me a hardback SF novel with a glossy dustjacket. "Why?"
I looked at the book more closely. The plastic finishing on the dustjacket was a little uneven in places, there was a slight wrinkling in the flysheet where it had been cased, and the spine betrayed signs of having been hand stitched. Hardy then said that the dustjacket was a colour photocopy coated with plastic, while the text had been photocopied onto good quality paper, stitched, cased by hand, then trimmed. The cover price of DM 24.50 can scarcely have reflected a fraction of the work that had gone into that book. "Why??". I must have looked the picture of astonished disbelief.
Germany has quite a number of serious SF fanzines of considerable quality – Anglo/Americans would call them small press magazines, to distinguish them from the gossipy fanzine-about-fandom prevalent in the English speaking world. These fanzines are run by numbers of the most avid SF readers in the country, who can be counted upon to buy any new SF book, then review it in their zine. The idea was to put the book onto the market, see if it got good reviews, then to produce further copies more or less to order, putting it in front of a commercial publisher if it started to take off in a big way. The author Frank Bartling, who had had several short stories published in Hardy's Alien Contact, would get precious little payment for this edition, but would get the chance of a professional novel publication in the future. This wasn't simply your standard vanity publication – this was the equivalent of Interzone running off twenty copies of a book, then seeing that it got into the hands of Foundation, the BSFA, BBR, Albedo 1, Blankspace, and Ansible, and waiting for the reviews and orders to start pouring in. Then again, David Pringle never did have Hardy Kettlitz' anarchistic streak.
It couldn't work? Sure it could work. It had worked already.
Since 1990 the former DDR SF writer Michael Szameit had been trying to sell a book called Copyworld to German publishers without success. He had been a popular SF writer in the DDR, but in the new circumstances he was automatically deeply unfashionable. Whether any of the German publishers actually bothered to read the book before consigning it to the reject pile is unknown, but the fans who got to read the manuscript liked it. After several years of this the Berlin fans involved in Alien Contact decided to exhume an old custom for a new reason. Copyworld was published as a new form of 'unofficial' publication in an edition of a hundred copies. Obviously Szameit's permission was obtained, and nobody was actually forbidding the publication of Copyworld, it just wasn't getting done. The book was much more attractively produced than its ancestors, but it quite purposely lay in the grey area between a circulated manuscript and a small press publication, since the idea was to hook a commercial publisher.
Copyworld got reviewed. It then proceeded to get placed fourth in the 1997 Kurd Lasswitz prize (out of 18), and third in the Science Fiction Club Deutschland prize (out of 10). At this point Verlag Das Neue Berlin started to take interest in it, and published it this year without the letters SF on the front, but with a description of it as SF on the back. This is the first SF novel that Das Neue Berlin has published in many years. It appears to be selling well.
Whether Frank Bartling repeats Szameit's success remains to be seen. Edition AVALON (Alien Contact's book imprint) must exert careful quality control or it will cease being able to play this trick, since its new publications will become ignored. In the meantime, it's an interesting way of reusing an old method to bump publishers into taking note of a new book.
The following morning I was speaking to John Clute about Volker der Sonne at breakfast. I said I'd be interested in getting a copy for the SF Foundation Library in Liverpool, we both said we'd like copies of this phenomenon for our own collections – "John, do you realise that would be a fifth of the print run. We'd be completely distorting the market!".
(From conversations with Hardy Kettlitz and others at Trinity, with further details gleaned from Alien Contact nr. 34)
Frank Bartling. 'Volker der Sonne' Publ. Alien-Contact. Edition AVALON, DM 24.50. Contact: Alien Contact, Graudenzer Strasse 1a, 10243 Berlin, Germany. email: ac[at]epilog.de; http://www.epilog.de/Go/AC
Michael Szameit. 'Copyworld'. Publ. Verlag Das Neue Berlin, DM 38, 512p. ISBN 3-360-00892-8. Contact: Verlag Das Neue Berlin, Rosa-Luxemburg Strasse 39, 10718 Berlin, Germany.
I am told by Ken Slater and David Stewart that in last month's bit on British and Irish SF Associations I got two things completely wrong. Ken Slater said that in the first flush of youth the BSFA did indeed try to take over the Eastercon, but after a couple of years and a lot of wrangling, the forces of Disorganisation won against the forces of Organisation and con and association went their separate ways.
By contrast, David Stewart told me that while there has never been any formal contact between the Irish Science Fiction Association and Octocon, they just had the same committee – hey, come again?!
I received this note from Thomas Recktenwald a few days back:
'I sadly must inform you that my wife Ilona died on Monday, June 14, because of complications after a gallstone surgery (peritoneum inflammation leading to a pulmonary oedema).
The funeral will be next month in Budapest as soon as the usual bi-national bureaucratic requests are fulfilled. Yours, Thomas.'
Illona was an accomplished SF artist who had lived with Thomas in Germany for several years, but always returned to Hungary for Hungarocon each year. I'll miss her.
(* = new or amended)
Dragon*Con: 1-4 July, Atlanta, GA, USA. Contact: Dragon*Con, PO Box 47696, Atlanta, Georgia 30362-0696, USA. (http://www.dragoncon.org/; email: dragoncon[at]dragoncon.org)
Boreal 20th anniversary: 16-18 July, Universite du Quebec, Chicoutimi, Canada. Contact: Elisabeth Vonarburg, evarburg[at]saglac.qc.ca.
BaroQuon: 16-18 July, Cambridge, UK. UK RPG con. GoH: Mary Gentle. Att: 24UKP. Contact: Baroquon, 8 Saddlers Close, Baldock, Herts., SG7 6EF, UK. (email: baroquon[at]philm.demon.co.uk; http://www.philm.demon.co.uk/Baroquon/Main.html
HungaroCon'99: 22-25 July, Salgotarjan, Hungary. Contact: http://www.scifi.hu/hungarocon/; email: avana[at]scifi.hu
Conversion 16: 23-25 July, Calgary, Canada. Att. $45. GoH: Ben Bova, Tanya Huff. Contact: Unit 4, 203 Lynnview Rd SE, Calgary, AB, T2C 2C6, Canada (email: garyf[at]nucleus.com; tel. +1 (403)279-4052)
Norcon 1999: 6-8 August, Oslo, Norway. Norwegian national con. GoH(s) TBA, Fan GoH: Johan Schimanski & Egil Stenseth. Att. NOK NOK 250. Non-Scandinavians, NOK 150 (approx. 12UKP) on door (or before). Contact: NORCON:1999, PO Box 121 Vinderen, 0319 OSLO, Norway. (email: norcon[at]fandom.no; www.fandom.no)
* Eclipse: 11 August, Timisoara, Romania. GoH Roberto Quaglia. Contact: Jon Cowie, 44 Brook Street, Erith, Kent, DA8 1JQ, UK.
* Eclipse: 10-16 August, Bucharest etc., Romania. CANCELLED. Contact: Nemira Publishing House (yeti[at]fx.ro)
Bachanalia: 12-15 August, Zielona Gora, Poland. SF & wine festival. Contact: Piotr Cholewa, U. Szapirowa 1/24, 40-762 Katowice, Poland. (email: pcholewa[at]usctoux1.cto.us.edu.pl)
Wincon V: 13-15 August, Winchester, UK. GoH Diana Wynne Jones, John Barnes, Warren Ellis, Kara Dalkey, Michael Sheard. Att. 28UKP 'til 1/7/99. Contact: Wincon V, 53 Havant Road, North End, Portsmouth, Hants, PO2 7HH, UK (email: wincon[at]pompey.demon.co.uk; http://www.pompey.demon.co.uk/wincon.htm)
* Relaxacon: 14 August, Cork, Ireland. Att. 6IP, 5IP for U-18, Students (with I.D.), people from outside Cork. Contact: Dave at ussdavid52[at]hotmail.com
Finncon: 14-15 August, Turku, Finland. GoH Connie Willis, Philip Pullman, Ahrvid Engholm. Contact: Contact: Finncon 1999 / TSFS ry, PL 538, 20101 TURKU, FINLAND. (email: conitea[at]utu.fi; http://finncon.utu.fi)
Conucopia (NASFic): 26-29 August, Anaheim, CA, USA. GoH: Jerry Pournelle, Nicki & Richard Lynch, Ellen Datlow. Att. $85. Contact: Conucopia, c/o SCIFI, PO Box 8442, Van Nuys, CA 91409, USA (eml: info[at]99.nasfic.org; www.99.nasfic.org). UK agent: Att. 52UKP. John Harold, 8 Warren Close, Langley, Slough SL3 7UA, UK.
Polcon: (Polish national con), 26-29 Aug, Warsaw, Poland. GoH: Tomasz Kolodziejczak, Leslaw Olczak. Contact: Konfederacja Fantastyki RASSUN, ul. Koszykowa 69/4, 00-667 Warszawa, Poland. (email: klub[at]rassun.art.pl; http://rassun.art.pl/polcon)
* 26th French SF convention: 26-28 August, Lodeve, France. Att. 300FF, 350FF on door. Contact: Claude Ecken, 3 rue Pentecote, 34500 Beziers, France. (http://users.skynet.be/jlf/sf/)
* Istrocon: 3-5 September, Bratislava, Slovakia. Contact: martinaart[at]hotmail.com
* Aussiecon III: 2-6 September, Melbourne, Australia. Worldcon. GoH: George Turner, Greg Benford, Bruce Gillespie, J.M Straczynski. Att. 250$Aus. Contact: Aussiecon 3, GPO Box 1212K, Melbourne, 3001. Australia. (email: info[at]aussiecon3.worldcon.org; http://www.aussiecon3.worldcon.org)
SPAWNCON TWO: 38th Australian National SF Con. 2-6 September, Melbourne, Australia. Contact: P.O. Box 215 Forest Hill Vic 3131, Australia. (http://www.vicnet.net.au/~sfoz/spawncon.htm)
* THYLACON THREE: September, after Aussiecon. Travelling relaxcon round Tasmania in bus. Contact: www.southcom.com.au/~robinjohnson/thylacon3
Masque 7: 10-12 September, Dudley, UK. Costume con. Att. 30UKP 'til 1/8/99, then 35UKP. Contact: A.L.Cash, 130 Hamstead Hall Road, Handsworth Wood, Birmingham B20 1JB, UK. (email: Felicity[at]flisandben.force9.co.uk; http://www.ireadh.demon.co.uk)
Organizational theory: Science Fiction and Organization – a conference: 14-15 September, Leicester, UK. Academic conference. Att. 165UKP inc. 1 night accomm. & food. Contact: Matthew Higgins, Management Centre, University of Leicester, Leicester, LE1 7RH, England. (email: mh64[at]le.ac.uk; fax: +44(0)116-2523949; tel: +44(0)116-2525644)
* 6th Braunschweiger Aktionstagen SF: 17-19 September, Brauschweig, Germany. Att. 30DM 'til 1/9/99, 35DM on door. Contact: Foerderverein Phantastika, Raum and Zeit e.V., c/o Holger Voges, Walkuerenring 17, 38106 Braunschweig, Germany. (email: basf6[at]ScienceFiction.de; http://www.ScienceFiction.de)
Hypotheticon: 25-26 September, Glasgow, Scotland. Att. 15 UKP. Contact: Hypotheticon: 1999, Flat O/2, 11 Cleghorn Street, Glasgow. G22 5RN, UK. (Email: Hypotheticon1999[at]Hotmail.com; http://members.tripod.com/Hypotheticon1999)
* Concept 99: 1-3 October, Montreal, Canada. GoH: Jane Dorsey. Contact: Concept, P.O. Box 405, Station H, Montreal, Qc H3G 2L1, Canada. (email: afm[at]infinit.net)
Octocon 10: 8-10 October, Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. GoH: Robert Rankin. Att. 18IP 'til 09/99, 22 IP on the door. Contact: Octocon, c/o 43 Eglinton Road, Donnybrook, Dublin 4, Ireland. (email: dstewart[at]iol.ie; http://www.iol.ie/~jshields/octocon)
Swecon: Swedish National con. 15-17 October, Uppsala, Sweden. GoH: Michael Swanwick, Lars-Olov Strandberg. Att. 200 SEK, 250 SEK on door, Postal Giro 629 49 57-4, Kruse. Contact: (Email: johan.anglemark[at]bahnhof.se; swecon[at]dang.se; sfweb.dang.se/1999e.html)
Canvention/inCONsequential: October 15-17, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada. Contact: 45 Charm Ct, Fredricton , NB, E3B 7J6, Canada. (email: badavis[at]nbnet.nb.ca (Brian A. Davis))
BuchmesseCon: 16 Oct, Frankfurt, Germany. Contact: Roger Murmann, #wilhelm-Leuschner-Strasse 17, 64859 Eppertshausen, Germany (tel. 0607-38718)
4th ENCOUNTERS OF SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASTIC – ON THE EDGE OF THE EMPIRE, 22 Oct-1 Nov, Cascais, Portugal. Theme: THE 7 CAPITAL SINS. The literary part will begin the 28th. Contact: Simetria – associacao portuguesa de ficcao cientifica e fantastico, Av. da Republica, Pavilhao do Dramatico de Cascais, 2750-475 Cascais, Portugal, tel: (01)482 11 22 fax: (01)482 11 20 e-mail: simetria[at]esoterica.pt http://simetria.esoterica.pt
HanseCon 15: 28 Oct-2 Nov, Luebeck, Germany. Contact: Eckhard D Marwitz, Evinger Strasse 281, 44339 Dortmund, Germany. (tel: 0172-9876703; e-mail: edm[at]lynet.de
AustriaCon 2: 30-31 Oct, Vienna, Austria. Contact: Michael Thurner (e-mail: westernstar[at]magnet.at)
* Novacon 29: 5-7 Nov, Birmingham, UK. GoH: Ian Stewart. Att. 32 UKP 'til 30/10/99, 35UKP on door. Contact: Carol Morton, 14 Park Street, Lye, Stourbridge, West Midlands, DY9 8SS, UK. (Email: empties[at]breathemail.net; http://www.cooky.demon.co.uk/n29/n29.html)
Cozy-Con: 19-21 November, Scheveningen, Netherlands. Att. 50 NLG. Annemarie van Ewyck, Obrechtstraat 4, 2517 VT Den Haag, Netherlands (email: cozycon[at]cena.demon.nl)
* Nordcon 13: 2-5 December, Gdansk, Poland. Att: 30DM 'til 31/10/99, then 40DM. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland (tel. +48-58-531073; http://www.gkf.3miasto.pl; Email: papier[at]gkf.3miasto.pl)
* Dracon 15: 3-5 December, Brno Dam, Czech Republic. Contact: Pavel Mikulstik, Brain System s.r.o., Rybkova 1, 602 00 Brno, Czech Republic. (email: pavelm[at]brainsys.cz; pmikulastik[at]usa.net; http://www.dracon.cz/dracon99_eng.html)
11 Festival de la Science-Fiction et de l'Imaginaire de Roanne, 15-21 December, Roanne, France. Contact: Jo Taboulet, Festival de la SF, Rhone-Alpes SF, 12 avenue de Paris – 42334 ROANNE cedex, France. (email: tabouletj[at]ardep.fr; tel:+ 04 77 72 09 25
Millenium: 27 Dec-2 Jan 2000. CANCELLED. Enquiries – email: vdputte[at]simplex.nl
Ad Astra: 18-20 February, Toronto, Canada. GoH: Nancy Kress, Fred Saberhagen, Charles Sheffield, Bob Eggleton, Scott Edelman, Lloyd & Yvonne Penney. Contact: PO Box 7276, Station A, Toronto, ON, M5W 1X9, Canada (http://Terra.phys.Yorku.ca/~white/Adastra
ReConnaissance: 31 March-2 April, Bergen, Norway. Att. 200NKr. Contact: ReConnaissance, PO Box 1195, N-5811 Bergen, Norway. (email: reconnaissance[at]fandom.no). UK Agt: F Anderson, 129 Colegrave Rd., Stratford, London E15 1EA, UK. fiona[at]intersec.demon.co.uk
* SWANCON 25: Aussie Nat. Con. 20-24 April, Belmont, WA, Australia. GoH: Connie Willis, Ian Nichols. swancon25[at]megabyte.murdoch.edu.au
2Kon: 21-24 April, Glasgow, UK. Eastercon. Att. 25UKP. Contact: 2Kon, 30 Woodburn Terrace, St Andrews, KY16 8BA, UK. (e-mail: 2kon[at]dcs.st-and.ac.uk, http://www-theory.cs.st-and.ac.uk/2Kon)
12th SF Days NRW/AREA49-Y-Con: 9-12 June, Dortmund, Germany. Theme: Transport. Contact: Beluga Post (Info-line: +49-2301-5785 (voice) +49-2301-5743 (fax); http://www.epilog.de/sftagenrw; http://www.area49.de; email: sftagenrw[at]epilog.de)
ESE: 28-30 July, Darmstadt, Germany. Contact: F. Anderson, 129 Colegrave Road, Stratford, London E15 1EA, UK (email: fiona[at]intersec.demon.co.uk)
* Tricity: Eurocon 2000: (also Polcon & Baltcon) 2-6 August, Gdynia, Poland. Att. 17UKP 'til 31/12/99, 20UKP 'til 31/1/00, 23UKP on door. +5 groups, reduced rate. Panels, films, LARP, medieval battle, etc. Contact: Gdanski Klub Fantastyki, PO Box 76, 80-325 Gdansk 37, Poland (tel. +48-58-531073; email: gkf[at]gkf.3miasto.pl; http://pweb.netcom.com/~slawcio/index.html). British Agt.: B Wilkinson (ie. me, see above)
Chicon 2000 (Worldcon): 31 August-4 September, Chicago IL, USA. GoH: Ben Bova, Bob Eggleton, Jim Bean, Bob & Anne Passovoy. Att. $135 'til 1/5/99. Contact: Chicon 2000, PO Box 642057, Chicago IL 60664, USA. (fax: +1-312-946-3779; http://www.chicon.org; email – chi2000[at]chicon.org)
ConTreaty: ?? November, Maastricht, Netherlands. Contact: NCSF Penningmeester, Mozartlaan 38, 2253 HX Voorschoten, Netherlands
Hogmanaycon: 29 December 2000 – 1 January 2001, Glasgow, Scotland. Att. 35 UKP. GoH: Spider & Jeanne Robinson, Sydney Jordan, Archie Roy, Vince Docherty, Oscar Schwigelhofer. Contact: Hogmanaycon, c/o 26 Avonbank Road, Rutherglen, Glasgow G73 2PA, Scotland. (tel. +141-569-1934; email: andy.nimmo[at]net.ntl.com; http://www.ndirect.co.uk/~cb/conpage.htm)
13th SF Days NRW: 2-4 June, Dortmund, Germany. Contact: Beluga Post (Info-line: +49-2301-5785 (voice); +49-2301-5743 (fax); http://www.epilog.de/sftagenrw; http://www.area49.de; email: sftagenrw[at]epilog.de)
ConStruction: 28-29 July, UK. Con running. Contact: ConStruction, 32 Theobald Road, Cardiff, CF5 1LP, UK. (email: Con_Struction[at]hotmail.com; http://members.xoom.com/con_struct/)
Odyssee: Aug/Sept, Berlin, Germany. Contact: Info-line: +49-2301-5785 (voice); +49-2301-5743 (fax); http://www.epilog.de/sftagenrw; http://www.area49.de; email: sftagenrw[at]epilog.de
The Millenium Philcon (Worldcon): 30 August-1 September, Philadelphia, PA, USA. GoH: Greg Bear, Stephen Youll, Gardner Dozois, George Scithers. Contact: Suite 2001, 402 Huntingdon Pike Rockledge, PA 19046 USA. (email: phil2001[at]unix3.netaxs.com; www.netaxs.com/~phil2001/)
UK Eastercon bid: Paragon, Blackpool, UK. Contact: S. Lawson, 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ, UK (email: members.paragon[at]keepsake-web.co.uk; http://www.keepsake-web.co.uk/paragon)
Worldcon bids: (Seattle – withdrawn;) * San Jose – info[at]sf2002.sfsfc.org, http://www.sfsfc.org/worldcon/
After problems San Francisco withdrawn as bid – hotel problems. Contact Kevin Standlee for details: standlee[at]sfsfc.org
Canada Torcon III – Contact: PO Box 3, Station A, Toronto, ON, M5W 1A2, Canada, email: info[at]torcon3.on.ca; http://www.torcon3.on.ca is currently bidding for the 2003 Worldcon. There is also a bid in Mexico: Concancun – email: artemis[at]cyberramp.net; http://world.std.com/~sbarsky/concancun.html
Fans Across the World Thanks for help, info, etc. to various flyers, Hardy Kettlitz, Dave Langford, Marc Ortlieb, Kevin Standlee, Ken Slater, David Stewart, Andy Sawyer, Elliot Atkins, Colin Greenland, Andy Butler, Laszlo Pocsai, Eric Brown, Dave Lally, Martina Pilcerova, Thomas Recktenwald, and others. The kitchen having recovered, upstairs' loo overflow pipe decided to give the bedroom wall, the hall floor, and the cellar a bath. And this in the wettest June in years. Hall floor still gently drying out. Archive: www.dcs.gla.ac.uk/SF-Archives/Fatw/