Convention Review

XXXI Hispacon/Quartumcon
- Spain’s 2013 National Convention

Spain’s national convention was held on 14th - 15th October 2013. Sue Burke reports.


Once again, a small town proved to be the perfect place to organize Spain's national convention: Quart de Poblet, population 25,500, right outside of Valencia. In Roman times, the town was known as Quartum Miliarium (Fourth Milestone), so the 31st Hispacon was also called Quartumcon. The location combined the quiet and charm of a small town, with pleasant little bars and restaurants, and the advantages of a big city with its airport and high-speed train station just a few stops away via the underground.

However, the Hispacon main sponsor, the Spanish Association for Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (AEFCFyT) had searched until September for a place to hold the convention. Then the members of prozine Hiperespacio volunteered. One of them participated in the youth association in Quart de Poblet and contacted the town councillor for youth to make the arrangements.

The convention spanned several buildings, all located near each other in the heart of Quart de Poblet: the Cultural Centre, Quart Jove youth centre, Town Hall and Library. Paid full registration attendance was about 150, but because the events were in municipal buildings, they were open to the public and so an additional 155 also attended free of charge but did not get all the benefits of full, paid registration. The welcome pack for full registrants included a choice of six books from a wide variety of novels and anthologies donated by Spanish publishers, along with comics and some special-edition chapbooks.

Several vendors also occupied the ground floor of the youth centre, selling books, game material, tee-shirts, toys and jewellery.

The use of public facilities and allowing the public some free access also made the convention affordable for full, paying registrants: just €10 registration for members AEFCFyT and €15 for non-members. Only paid participants could receive the welcome pack or vote in the annual Ignotus Awards, so the registration fee was a bargain.

The convention enjoyed the presence of five guests of honour with long careers in writing and publishing: Juan Miguel Aguilera, Rafael Marin, Juanma Santiago, Jos&eactute; Carlos Samoza and Luis Vigil.

Rafael Marin opened the convention with a talk about the birth of fandom in Spain and the history of Hispacóns. They began in 1969 when isolated fans began discovering each other, and national conventions were held sporadically until 1991, when they became annual.

He was followed by a talk by Luis Vigil, one of the founders of the award-winning magazine Nueva Dimension. It was the first professional-minded publication in Spain, and from 1968 to 1983 it established the genre and provided an outlet for writers, critics and artists. He pointed out that this was during the Franco dictatorship, and 'censorship was very brutal,' Vigil said. The pages containing the story 'Gu ta Gutarrak' ['We and Our Own'] by Magdalena Moujan Otano had to be removed from Issue 14 in 1970 because censors thought it encouraged Basque nationalism, although it was eventually printed after Franco died. Still, Vigil said, serious topics could be breached because “it was possible to evade censorship talking about dictatorships – but in the future.” In addition, the magazine's copier could be used at night to print pamphlets for resistance groups.

Juanma Santiago spoke about young adult books and how they might serve as a gateway to adult readership in the genre. José Carlos Samoza discussed writers and electronic books.

Rafael Marín and Juan Miguel Aguilera read and commented on the anthology Mas Alla de Némesis, set in the same location as several novels and short stories by Aguilera and Javier Redal, Akasa-Puspa. This imaginary globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy was opened to other writers for the anthology. Finally Marin, Aguilera, Vigil and Carlos Frabetti, all of whom have been writing for decades, spoke about how 'Les Enfants Terribles Get Older'.

Up to four tracks of programming went on at once, almost all of them dedicated to authors and writing. On Saturday morning, the Skywalker Saga Club, in costumes from Star Wars, posed outside the entrance to Quart Jove and entertained fans and people in the street. On Saturday afternoon, fans of the 'Aznar Saga', a 59-novel series published from 1953 to 1958 and 1973 to 1978 about the deeds of the Aznar family in space, held their own mini-convention, the 15th Aznarcon.

In addition, author Sofía Rhei hosted two writing workshops, one for children on Friday evening and one for adults on Sunday morning.

A gala dinner was held on Saturday evening and featured the presentation of awards: the Ignotus, which is the Spanish equivalent of the British SF Awards; the Domingo Santos, a juried award for original short stories; and the Gabriel Award, presented by the officers of AEFCFyT for valuable contributions to the genre. This year the Gabriel went to Juan Miguel Aguilera and Javier Redal for opening Akasa-Puspa to other writers.

The gala, incidentally, was limited to 73 people because that was the most that the largest restaurant in Quart de Poblet could hold. But in keeping with the intent to hold an economical convention, the dinner cost only €15.

Sunday morning ended with a series of talks, including one by Andrés Aragoneses, a physicist, who explained how Einstein's theory of relativity and science fiction do not always coincide. In the closing presentation, Concepcion Cascajosa discussed the history of the genre in television and suggested that series like Star Trek, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and X-Files were more innovative than programs based on conventional realism.

Meanwhile on Sunday morning, AEFCFyT held its annual assembly and among other items approved bids for upcoming Hispacons. The 2014 convention will be organized by El Vuelo del Fénix and held in fall in Moncada y Reixach, a suburb of Barcelona – another small-town site where the event will be organised in collaboration with the municipality and possibly with programming tracks in Catalan, the local language. The 2015 convention will be held in Granada.

Sue Burke


Sue Burke is a US writer who has been living in Madrid, Spain, since 2000. Her professional website is



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