Convention Review

XXXII Hispacon/MIRcon
- Spain’s 2014 National Convention

Spain’s national convention was held on 6th - 8th December 2014
in the town of Montcada i Reixac, just outside Barcelona.
Sue Burke reports.


Yet again a small town provided the right venue for a successful Hispacon. A group of fans called Colectivo Urânik and the Montcada i Reixac (municipal government) teamed up to organize an ambitious long weekend. At times, up to seven events were simultaneously taking place in a hotel conference centre, the municipal library-theatre, or other spots around town.

The Colectivo Urânik structured the convention around the pattern supplied by the Celsius 232 festival held in northern Spain each summer, particularly the idea of parallel activities and using the theatre for the Guest of Honour presentations, since they would draw bigger crowds.

Municipal sponsorship also meant that all events had to be open to the public, although those who paid to register got a welcome pack of five books, a souvenir button, and other small items. Organizers say 155 people signed up and another 70 attended the main activities of MIRcon. This included a mini-convention on the Aznar Saga, a space opera series from the 1950s and 1970s.

Another 80 attended MIRcon Jr. held at the youth centre, featuring talks by young adult authors. MIRcat, conducted in the Catalan language, drew 50 people and featured a daily 'literary vermouth', A Saturday evening Zombie Walk with plenty of scary makeup had 20 participants including children and was led by Guest of Honour Carlos Sisí. On Sunday evening, 90 people joined a Game of Thrones Night’s Watch swearing-in at the Main Square before a venerable olive tree. Another 15 took part in Sunday’s writing workshop.

One woman who had never attended a science fiction convention was thrilled by the atmosphere. She could talk and laugh with her favourite authors, make new friends, pose with Stargate fans who had come in costume, and in general have a lot of fun – and she learned that this was the typical experience at a Hispacon. She promised to be back.

Most events centred on books and writing, but on Saturday evening, Vision Factory presented several videos. A Thousand Lives expanded on the George R.R. Martin quote that 'a reader lives a thousand lives' by showing a devoted reader visiting one emblematic moment after another from fantasy and science fiction classics. But the best pieces were some short fan-fiction videos of Doctor Who. The amateur actors looked astoundingly like the real actors, although The Doctor and his companions spoke Spanish. The stories overcame small budgets with creative dramatics and fit seamlessly into the canon.

Later in the evening, Plan 9 From Outer Space and Night of the Living Dead were shown at the municipal theatre.

Earlier on Saturday, in the Guest of Honour talks at the theatre, Aliette de Bodard discussed the background to her Xuya series using a translator, and later she had the courage to give a spontaneous talk at the hotel in Spanish. Carlos Sisí presented the latest in his 'Los Caminantes' ('The Walkers') zombie series, Aeternum. Christopher Priest said books are metaphors, and “we like them the most when they're the most invented.” Nina Allan discussed new weird. Karin Tidbeck showed successive drafts of a story to illustrate the creative process. Félix J. Palma disappointed some editors when he said he planned to concentrate on novels and would write no more short stories.

One of the organizers had also attended Loncon 3, and he stole the idea of including round tables on topics such as the 'limits of steampunk', 'naughty science fiction', 'translation', or 'the place of B-series in the genre'. A humorous talk about 'why politicians should not read science fiction' recalled how the election of a prime minister named José María Aznar sparked some misplaced interest in the Aznar Saga. However, presentations of newly published books formed the backbone of MIRcon. Here, amusingly, the editor of an anthology of dystopia stories remarked that because the book said 'dystopia. on the cover, it was shelved by at least one bookseller in Young Adult.

The Ignotus Awards were presented at a dinner Sunday night. The awards are organized by the Associación Española de Fantasía, Ciencia Ficción y Terror, which also coordinates the annual Hispacons. This year a change in the rules expanded voting beyond members of AEFCFT and associated groups. Anyone attending the convention could register to vote, so there was a record participation. The award is a black monolith on a white base, modeled after 2001: A Space Odyssey. This year at the dinner each place setting got a miniature of the award, promptly dubbed 'miniliths', and people had fun posing with them.

Monday held more presentations and round tables, and AEFCFT met to handle business and award upcoming conventions. The 2015 Hispacon will be held in Granada on October 31 to November 2. The 2016 Hispacon will be held jointly with Bcon, the 2016 Eurocon, in Barcelona.

Sue Burke


Sue Burke is a US writer and Spanish-to-English translator who has been living in Madrid, Spain, since 2000. Her translation of Prodigies by Angélica Gorodischer will be published by Small Beer Press in August, and she is helping organize a Kickstarter campaign to pay for the translation of Castles in Spain, an anthology of key stories in the history of Spanish science fiction, fantasy and horror and its publication in 2016.



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