Convention Review

XXXIII Hispacon/GRXcon
Spain’s 2015 National Convention

Spain’s national convention was held on 30th October
- 1st November 2015 in Granada.
Sue Burke reports.


At the opening ceremony, Guest of Honour, Miquel Barceló, a leading editor, author, and translator, talked about the importance of Hispacons. He told how Harry Harrison and other authors at a Worldcon convinced him that an annual Hispacon would serve “as a reference point”. At that time Hispacons were being held sporadically, so he and some other fans and writers decided to take their advice and renew Spain’s national convention, which has been held annually since 1991.

The 2015 Hispacon, also called GRXcon, took place on 30th October to the 1st of November in Granada; The 2nd of November, All Saints Day, was a holiday in many parts of Spain. The convention was held in the Cajagranada Cultural Centre, a modern new building near the city centre. It offered pleasant meeting rooms free of charge, but it had the disadvantage of closing at 7 p.m., unusually early for a Hispacon.

Granada, at the foot of the snowy Sierra Nevada mountains in far southern Spain, attracts tourists and foreign students with its beauty and its historic buildings, above all the fabled Alhambra. But it lies a little off the beaten path, so attendance was relatively low. According to Francisco Fernández, who organized GRXcon, 60 people registered, but attendance was free as a condition of using the cultural centre, so he did not know the actual number attending. Registration included a welcome pack of three books and other gifts.

Spain is enjoying an explosion of new writers in addition to established authors, so most of the weekend’s 40 sessions presented new novels, anthologies, books, and magazines. Other sessions dealt with topics like science fiction as an ideology, real-life fantasy in Granada, superhero movies, 1980s videogames, short genre videos, and why politicians should read science fiction. Three or four sessions were held at the same time, with no special tracks.

In a hall outside the main meeting rooms, seven tables hosted nine vendors selling books and fan-related material.

American diplomat and writer Washington Irving, who lived in the Alhambra in 1829 and wrote Tales of the Alhambra, was GRXcon’s ghost of honor, so I organized a dramatic reading of a translation of his spooky short story 'Sleepy Hollow' on Saturday, which was also Halloween.

Fans of the classic Spanish science fiction novel series The Aznar Saga held their annual convention within the convention on Saturday, the Aznarcon. Their sessions examined the saga’s treatment of utopias and distopias, and its use of exoplanets.

On Sunday afternoon, after the convention ended, a guided tour explored the most mysterious locations of the historic city, with stops to satisfy hunger and thirst.

Hispacons are sponsored by the Spanish Association for Fantasy Science Fiction, and Horror (AEFCFT in its Spanish intials). It also organizes the annual Ignotus awards, which are presented at the Hispacons and are somewhat like the Hugos. And like the Hugos, the Ignotus awards have an ongoing controversy, but a quite different one: not enough people vote. For a popular award, “you should have the biggest, highest, and strongest representation possible” from all fans, says Antonio Navarro, president of AEFCFT.

To do that, AEFCFT has made a series of changes over the years to encourage more participation. In the past, only association members were allowed to vote, but now anyone can register to vote, including non-Spaniards, and the previous year’s voters are automatically carried over. Participation is free. The nomination phase is finished before the summer holidays to give voters time to read the works. This year, a webpage for voting was instituted. In coming years, AEFCFT hopes to organize a free or low-cost electronic-format voter’s packet of the nominated works.

A key element of expanding the award participation, Navarro said, has involved getting the word out to potential voters through official channels, media, and social networks, and “being insistent and repetitive, even annoying, with voters and potential voters” at every stage of the process. So far, participation has doubled.

The awards are presented at a gala dinner, this year at a rooftop hotel restaurant, and while there had been no cosplay during the convention, a couple came to the dinner dressed as Doña Ines (a nun) and Don Juan (the legendary seducer) from José Zorilla’s play Don Juan Tenorio, a romantic-era theatre traditionally presented on All Saint’s Day, 1st November.

On Sunday morning, AEFCFT held its annual meeting, and among other business, it approved the coming year’s editors for its two annual anthologies, Visiones and Fabricantes de Sue ños. This year Visiones includes an award-winning story from the Italian science fiction association RiLL. The two associations have agreed to exchange stories for their anthologies, and AEFCFT hopes to organize similar exchanges with other countries.

The sites for coming Hispacons were also set: 2016 in Barcelona, 2017 in Valladolid, and 2018 possibly in Murcia.

The 2016 Hispacon will coincide with the Eurocon on Nov. 4, 5, and 6, the first Eurocon in Spain. In a session during GRXcon, organizers reported that it will feature tracks in English, Spanish, and Catalan; films; and a variety of tours of the city focussed on George Orwell, Don Quixote, dragons, or the city’s legendary bookstores. Attendance will be capped at 800, and 400 people have already signed up.(See also Concatenation's news in its seasonal news page.

As Miquel Barceló said, an annual Hispacon is essential as a reference point, and this Hispacon fulfilled its duties, but it looked forward to 2016. Spanish fandom is excited about the 2016 Eurocon.

Sue Burke

Sue Burke is an American writer and translator living in Madrid, Spain. More information about her is at .


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