Spain’s 2017 National Convention
Spain’s national convention was held
on 17 – 19th November in Navacerrada.
Cristina Jurado reports.
The annual convention of the Spanish Association of Fantasy, Science Fiction & Horror (AEFCFT), Hispacon 2017, took place in Navacerrada, a small city in the mountains outside Madrid. During three days Spanish publishers, readers, fans, artists and authors interacted in the 35th edition of this gathering, that saw some 67 different programme items. According to organizers, more than 150 panelists participated in different events in 4 locations including the town’s Culture Arts Hall, the Public Library and the Matadero, a multi-purpose hall.
Hispacons have been taking place since 1969, and annual since 1991. Organised, now every year and in a different Spanish city, they try to serve as a point of contact mainly for Spanish science fiction, fantasy and horror literature, but also covering other areas like cinema, music, radio and the rest of the arts. The convention is structured around streams of panels, talks, round tables, exhibitions, film screenings, workshops, etc.
This year the main guests included: Cuban SFF writer Daína Chaviano; the 2017 Spanish National Arts winner writer and journalist Rosa Montero; Spanish author and 2016 Minotauro Award winner José Antonio Fideu; and the Spanish author UPC 2016 and Domingo Santos 2016 award winner David Luna. The Band Alien Rockin Explosion was in charge of the musical vibe performing a live concert on the second day of the convention.
One of the most celebrated initiatives was the exhibitors’ area, just at the entrance of the Culture Arts Hall, in which 17 specialized publishers and bookshops showcased their catalogues in order for attendees to purchase the latest books, and also in which artist displayed their work. The publishers present in the convention were Editorial Tres Inviernos, Apache Libros, Plataforma de Adictos a la Escritura (PAE), Biblioteca del Laberinto, Cazador de Ratas Editorial, Libros Mablaz, Editorial Cerbero, Cápside Ediciones y Silente Ediciones.The bookshops were Librería Ícaro, Librería Ozymandias y Guardián de los Dragones, and the featured artists were: Ana del Valle, Juapi Cofee Art y Muriel Da Bo and additionally a special area was set aside for fanzine publishers.
The convention started on the Friday at midday with an inaugural speech by the AEFCFT’s president, José del Río Fortich, welcoming the public, and introducing the guests and main events. Registration was scheduled after lunch, which also included the starting of the in-person voting for the Ignotus, the awards granted by the association’s affiliates, adherents (non-affiliates with the right to vote), and those who attend the Hispacon.
The inaugural event per se was a conversation with Daína Chaviano, who went briefly over her literary carrier to focus later on her recent published books in Spain. Following, there were two simultaneous streams of talks, in which different literary works and trends in the industry were discussed. On one hand there was a conference about the re-edition of the earliest Spanish SF novel, El Anacropete [The Anacropete], followed by the presentation the non-profit anthology Doñana es arte [Doñana is Art] in support of the most devastated natural catastrophe in the country’s modern times. On the other, there was a series of talks about the relationships between role games and fantasy. The last events included a discussion among specialised editors as well as a presentation of an SF show.
The second day was the one of the convention with a programme divided in three streams. The current state of national and international climate change fiction was examined, as well as the national fanzine landscape, the present trends in children and YA (young adult) SF/F literature, the connection between social sciences and speculative fiction, hybrid genres, literary awards, the figure of Satan in literature, and the first Spanish SF essays. Author Noelia Alegre imparted a master class on creative writing, and there were round tables on Stephen King, the relationship between horror and comedy, the recent evolution of villain's, the universe of H. G. Wells, the libertarian approach of Robert A. Heinlein, and the connection between horror and dystopias. The afternoon sessions went through an array of topics from: plausible worlds in worlbuilding; the future of fantasy and SF transmedia; and ectogenesis; to mapping international names and trends; and exploring the relation between SF and sciences. Broadcasting live, the radio show Sangre Fucsia dissected feminine dystopias in front of the audience, and there was a conversation with comic author and illustrator Nicolás Martínez Cerezo. There was ample room for: the audiovisual with the screening of Cinebasura [Cinetrash], and with round tables discussing fantasy book adaptations to film and the representation of women in SF cinema.
That evening, the AEFCFT gala dinner preceded the ceremony of the Ignotus Awards. This year's wins are reported over on the Spring 2017 seasonal news page.
The convention's last day began with the presentation of FrikiMAD -the Day of the Nerds Pride- and the screening of short films such as Best of FrikiMAD, Fe [Faith], the documentary Patronus, and the web-series La Cafetera [The Coffee Pot]. The audiovisual stream also included a talk about recent futuristic films. The rest of the two streams included: round tables about LGTBI characters and authors in SFF literature; the works of Tim Burton; gamebooks; horror in Spanish literature; Arthur Conan Doyle and spiritualism; feline characters in fantasy; Bowie and SF; academia and popular culture through cinema; science and speculative fiction; heavy metal and science fiction; steampunk or space travel; and AI. There was also room for: a workshop on monster masks; the presentation of Visiones 2017 [Visions 2017] (the bi-annual AEFSFT anthology of previously unpublished short stories; a round table on how to publish your first book; and a conversation with band Alien Rockin Explosion.&bsp; The annual assembly of the AEFCFT was also held to vote, among other things, on the next city that will host the Hispacon in 2018, which was granted to Murcia.
Even though the scale of this event was much smaller than the BCon 2016 due to the fact the aforementioned was also a Eurocon, this year’s convention was able to attract a total of 1,600 visitor days (300 the first day, 800 the second, and 500 the third), which is a record for this type of gathering. The organisation continued the trend set by previous conventions and brought international figures, emphasizing on female panellists and related feminist topics in the programme. One of the most celebrated outcomes was the massive attendance of young visitors, showing that the SFF world is appealing more than ever to new generations. The majority of Ignotus awards were granted to female authors, which further demonstrates the current leaning of the Spanish genre recognition.
Even if Navacerrada was a stunning venue town, transportation proved to be a challenge: the traffic to exit Madrid was a problem even though public transportation was available just outside of the Culture Arts Hall. Also, 90 people attended the gala dinner, but places run out quickly and many that wished to go could not join in the celebration.
Yet, all in all, despite the small team of volunteers, only 10, the convention ran smoothly and all talks and round tables were filled.
Cristina Jurado is a Spanish SFF writer and editor of SuperSonic, winner of the 2017 Ignotus award (Spain’s national SF award) for 'Best Magazine' as well as 'Best Short Story' for 'The Second Death of the Father ' ['La segunda muerte del padre ']. Her works include the novelette CloroFilia (Cerbero), and the English collection of stories Alphaland (Nevsky Books).
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