The 2013 Eurocon – Kiev, Ukraine
The 2013 Eurocon was held in one of Europe's most eastern
The 2013 Eurocon was held in Kiev, Ukraine, in the middle of April. Usually, the Eurocon runs alongside a much larger national convention, which gives it a critical mass for hotels, events, etc. The Kiev Eurocon was a stand-alone event, with only some 300 fans attending. The locations were also unusual, with the first and third days being held at the Kiev Expo Plaza, and the second day at the much more suitable library of the Technical University.
The Expo Plaza was a huge metal shed, which was simultaneously housing other exhibitions and performances, including singing groups. Bottled beer was available, but there was no bar as such. The overwhelming feeling was of camping in a corner of Olympia trying to hold a convention.
The University library on the other hand was much better. It had space for tables promoting other cons, gaming, etc. and had separate rooms for programme items. The acoustics were good, but there was no effective blackout for projecting onto screens. Nevertheless, it was a striking building, with cantilevered staircases and amazing murals. The lifts were switched off at five o'clock, but this was hardly the convention’s fault.
The con itself was a bit disappointing, with no real focus to meet old friends. The Hotel Prolisok, which was 14 km from the city centre, was identified as the 'Convention Hotel', and there were certainly special buses to the two con locations, however not many people stayed there, and only one con event was held there (a well attended party on the Saturday night). Other people were scattered around the city in different hotels.
The organisation seemed a bit ad hoc. At least one event just did not happen, the audience waited in an empty room, but no one came to say why there was no event, or where it actually was, if at all. On the other hand, there was always at least one item in English, and if there was a problem there was generally a real effort to solve it.
The main Guests of Honour were: Ukrainian author Andriy Valentynov, Belorussian writer Olga Gromyko, Ukrainian husband and wife writing partnership Marina and Sergey Dyachenko, 'Henry Lion Oldie' - the pen name of Ukrainians Dimitry Gromov and Oleg Ladyzhensky, Ukrainian Vadim Panov and Englishman Christopher Priest. It was noticeable that only one of these guests was from outside Ukraine and Belarus. The budget obviously had to reflect the fact that the con was not piggy backing on a much larger national con (natcon), and this probably explains why no other 'Western' guests were invited.
Most of the usual suspects were there, Roberto Quaglia (Italy), Frank Roger and Peter de Weerdt (Belgium), Pascal Ducommun (Switzerland), Attila Nemeth (Hungary), Boris Syduk and Alexandr Vasilkovsky (Ukraine), Carlos Suchowolski (Spain) and Dave Lally, James Shields and Gareth Cavanagh (Ireland) . Then there were the Brits, Martin Hoare and Doris Panda, Bridget Wilkinson, and myself, plus Steve and Alice Lawson pushing the now successful London Worldcon in 2014. There were also some Finns. (A Word to the Wise: do NOT go drinking with Finns!)
The main news concerned the ESFS, where there was a major changing of the guard. After ten years in office, the previous Chair, Dave Lally, did not stand. The new Chair is Carolina Gomez Lagerlof from Sweden. Saija Kyllonen, (Finland) replaces Roberto Quaglia as Vice Chair. The new Secretary is Gareth Kavanagh, (Ireland) formerly Bridget Wilkinson, the new Treasurer is Vanja Kranjcevic (Croatia), formerly Piotr Cholewa (Poland) and the new Awards Administrator is Bridget Wilkinson (UK).
I was at the 2006 Eurocon in Kiev and was impressed with the city then, it is still well worth a visit, especially the Stary Kvartal Café/Bar on Bogdana Khmelitskogo Street, off Khreshatik Avenue.
Next year the Eurocon – Shamrokon – is in Dublin (22nd – 24th August 2014 - one week after the London Worldcon) and in 2015 it will be in St Petersburg (23rd – 26th April). Frank Beckers and Peter de Weerdt are considering a bid for Antwerp in 2016.
In addition to the above, the convention saw the presentation of the 2013 Eurocon Awards.
Also here is our Spring (2013) news page report of the 2013 Eurocon.