From the 16th to the 19th of June the Eurocon set place – this time in the German city Dortmund. It was also the Dort.Con, a biannual event that sets place there and was also called by the special name U-Con. Why that? – Well, there is a tower with a big U on the top. It was not the con location, but in walking distance to it. In the past it belonged to a brewery, but meanwhile it is dedicated to art.
To be frank, I haven´t been too excited about the city itself. Even it were closer, in fact I don´t think I´d ever plan a holiday there. I could also notice that most of the visitors did not plan to stay much longer than the convention set place – many of them even shorter what was especially unfortionate as some of the fair stands were not claimed at the first day and already empty when the opening times of the last were not over yet.
The convention itself set place in the Henssler Haus. That is actually not a nice building either, but quite central in the city center and in walking distance to the main railway station. With several halls and also smaller rooms for program, a cafeteria and also the possibility to sit in front of the house, it simply served our needs best, so it was in fact a good location.
I have been a day before the convention, as the journey from my railway station in Linz, Austria was about nine hours. Fortunatly there was already a meeting in Hövelsbräu, a kind of bar with an own brewery. And certainly beer is one of the highlights Dortmund has to offer!
On Friday I missed the Opening Ceremony. After this long trip and a brewery visit the evening before and my inability to find any right way even with a map in the morning … But at least I made it to the speed-dating event an hour later. And yes, it was like speed-dating, random couples could talk to each other for five minutes each, tell the group what they got to know about their partner and then switch. Though it was more of a fannish babbeling than seriously about getting to know a partner, as the attendants were not even split up considering their genders. – Though I must admit that my first partner had been a young guy with whom I I did not fall in forever love right away, but the idea of having him as a boy-friend would have not been absurd in any way.
My own panel started at 2:00 p.m. I was holding a speech on my trip with the TransAtlantic Fan Fund. As some of the readers of Europa SF probably remember, I have won this fanfund in 2015 and travelled the U.S.A. and Canada for over a month to visit conventions, fanclubs or just private fans – the costs were covered by the fanfund. So I just told a bit about my trip and showed a lot of photos. I am just afraid that some of the auditorium got too attached to this, so I finally had to stop the discussion that was obviously not going to end before I´d be finished with telling about my journey, even I speeded up a lot. (There were 50 minutes for this panel, so it is not easy to discuss difficult matters of fandom just in between.) But still better than people leaving your panel.
Also the first business meeting of the European Science Fiction Society set place on Friday. The countries of Europe were called in groups in alphabetical order – Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan first. I already knew that, so I got up early and waited at the side. – Well, just me as official delegate (a lonely delegate as usual) of Austria answered the call. Someone cried out: “How many countries are you?” and had laughters on his side. The presentations of the ESFS-Awards followed. This year they were actually more countries keeping the timeframe as meanwhile it is fortunatly communicated in advance that there are just three minutes per country. And I was at my last slide of my power point presentation when I hit the “20 seconds left”-mark. Wow, we did not win anything, but nevertheless I am proud of myself.
In fact those business meetings follow a strict ceremony what I actually do like. Yes, I am a nerd, but I appreciate it when not everything is just informal.
There was the site selection for the Eurocon 2019 in this meeting. Wow, Belfast finally won – what a surprise without a contra-candidate!
There had been evening program, but well, may I confess that I forgot about it! I have won an XXL-bottle of craft beer at a beer tasting event in Austria a while ago and there never ever had been the occasion to open it, so I had to wait in vain for a long time … finally I packed it into my suitcase and when I have I have been out for dinner with some lovely fellow fans, I suggested to fetch it and then return. A part of the group was excited about the idea, a part of it most likely did not really realize why we are walking back in a slightly longer way, but finally we were back, there were benches, perfect warm weather, this beer, cups … As you can imagine, the group grew. Fortunatly we got more stuff, wine and whiskey and it was much fun chatting and drinking in front of the convention hall – though we had the high quality stuff (I really don´t want to know how much the whiskey had costed) and not too much of all, so the focus was in fact on socializing and the beer was more showing off than drinking. (A small cup with a lot of foam for everyone – but the bottle was awesome.)
Next day – next business meeting of the ESFS. The same procedure as every year. Talks and votings.
I also heard a very interesting panel dealing with fanzines, and interesting discussion partners.
And: The award ceremony of the ESFS. I really appreciated that it is no longer a part of the closing ceremony, as there was more time, but still there could be improvements. Like telling the auditorium in advance that usually the delegates (official representatives of the country of the winner) are taking the awards in behalf of the winners. If it were my first Eurocon, I would be quite irritated if there was a woman´s name called out and a man walks on the stage or the other way round. And well, everyone should in fact enter the stage, no handing it to someone down at the side as it unfortunately happened for some categories. They are in fact well-deserved awards, not free candy! Winners or their representatives should stay long enough on the stage for photos. A group photo of all of them in the end would also be nice – and far away from anything unusual, in fact this is quite normal for every kind of awarding ceremony (not only for literature awards – it also happens to e.g. the best restauranteur that way.)
On Sunday I have been to the panel on exoplanets. I thought I could use some inspiration for my stories. The speech itself was also quite interesting, but very scientific and serious and also featuring a lot of pictures obviously taken out of books with German explanations next to it, so I was glad to be a native speaker of this language. In the evening there was “Perry Rhodan in Concert”. Well, peeked inside, there was a guy on the stage with a laptop and pictures of starships projected. I finally decided to socialize and listen to the music from the cafeteria.
I am not too stressed to see everything at a convention. I love some program, especially as it brings the really creative and interesting people to the event. But meeting all those fellow fans who share the same interests and talk with them was certainly my personal highlight at this convention!
Sunday was the last day, I went to the meeting of the SFCD. And yes, the abbreviation means “Science Fiction Club Germany” (the German word for Germany is Deutschland, what explains the D), but I am a member. I was even asked to clear up a thing about the ESFS-Awards, did so, everyone looking at me. “Oh, some may wonder why I am talking. I am Austria´s delegate, but I am also a member of the SFCD!” – The meeting had been scheduled for four hours (seriously?), so I finally left early. Though it had most likely being a kind of rude, but being so far away from home, I at least wanted to see one single touristic highlight of the city. I persuaded at least a Belgian fan to visit the local brewery museum. It was very interesting – and somehow steampunky. We were shown an over one-hundred year old model of a maschine for washing out barrels in action. It still proved to work!
We were back early enough for the Closing Ceremony what was actually really nice, with all GoH´s, organizers and gophers on stage. My favourite one was the GoH Autun Purser who is a great artist. I did not see him in a panel, but I looked at his art exhibition of places inspired both by real places and such of speculative fiction and had a chat with him in the hall. Afterwards I got myself settled for the Dead Dog Party in Hövelsbräu. The last chance to meet all those gorgeous people, chat a lot – and well – I am afraid that I have been more than little drunk in the end. German beer sure is bribing, nice talks, hot weather – so when you are leaving the next day and not too early, why not have it flow?
But I came home easily – well, those few meters to my hotel, slept in my room, got up and was planning to have a long, but easy trip home, probably read a book or toy around with my laptop. But life doesn´t care about your plans. Someone has sabotaged a vast part of the German railway tracks (to protest against the G-20 meeting, so finally except of travelling in a relaxed way from the morning until the early evening, I had a lot of stress. Many things were uncertain until the end, where to go, if I could get on the next train, waiting at railway stations where there was no proper place to wait like at the railway station in Munich, where the police had a fight with some men – I don´t want to go further on, just believe me that it was a harsh trip and even more stressful as I have been a woman travelling all alone. I arrived at my railway station, but after 5:00 a.m.
But in the end: The Eurocon this year had been very well organized, nice programming, much fun, moderate prices as at the cafeteria in the same building!. For me it was especially great as I could have the best of two worlds: First of all German fandom, what is, as I am living in a small country and German is my mother tongue, is somehow also my fandom. And of course the usual Eurocon people! I felt so much among my fandom family at this convention!