Today is not only Mother´s Day in a bunch of countries, it is also the birthday of an outstanding figure of European science-fiction: H.W. Franke. And it is not just a birthday, it is his 90th!
H.W. Franke is an Austrian author. He studied and later worked at the University in Vienna and soon became an academic jack of all trades. Teaching, writing, being an editor for a publishing house, virtual art, even cave exploring – he used his life wisly for a lot of challenging tasks.
He later moved to Southern Germany due to a job offer, where he still lives.
In 2016 he had been awarded as “Grand Master of European Science Fiction” at the Eurocon in Barcelona. I have been very honoured to take the award in behalf of my landsman from the big stage at the closing ceremony.
But what to do now? – I decided to contact his current publisher, Michael Haitel with his publishing house p.machinery. He publishes H.W. Franke´s complete works, so I was sure to ask the right man! Later a whole team of fans from that region got in action and finally it was decided that passing on the award should be a public celebration.
There was a puppet theatre play on “Der Kristallplanet” (“The Crystal Planet”) written by him in the city of Bad Tölz. I have been hosted in Munich before and we also met for a dinner before the play, a traditional restaurant where you could have things like bratwurst with sauerkraut. And of course beer. (The slotting machines were a bit out of place though.)
Afterwards we arrived at the puppet theatre and there was a warm welcome by everyone. All too soon the event set place. It started with a laudatio written by Udo Klotz and read by Ralf Bodemann. Then I entered the stage and I said a few words – afterwards the main person, H.W. Franke, had been called to receive his award off my hands. He seemed to love it, as he got nostalgic with a speech starting with years as a young student.
After a short reading and a break, the actual play started. It was a quite weird combination, hand-craved wooden puppets and a background projected with the most modern technology. We later talked to the puppeteers and they told us that it takes years to handle a puppet in a way like that. The puppets of the main characters did not wear clothes, they just had austronaut´s suits craved in the wood what made it even more difficult to handle them in comparison of a puppet wearing a coat.
In fact it was a great event and all that is left to say: Happy Birthday, Grandmaster!