Eastern European Cultural Exchange

Science Fiction Fandom in Bulgaria

Despite continuing economic adversity in eastern Europe, the science fiction continues to struggle on. Radi Radev reports on the most active SF fan groups in Bulgaria

There are a lot of people who read write or are just interested in the science fiction as a genre in Bulgaria. Unfortunately the poor socio-economic situation greatly restricts the number and circulation of magazines, connected with science fiction. The general impoverishment has also thinned the numbers of fans, their clubs and activities. This short article summarizes the current SF societies active in Bulgaria.

Before the changes of 1989 the science fiction community in Bulgaria was extremely well developed: there were more SF magazines and newspapers published, most sponsored by the state and each of them with circulations in excess of 10,000. One could also find many SF books by Bulgarian and Soviet (Russian) authors in bookstores. SF literature by English-speaking authors was also available and authors included the likes of Robert Sheckley, Clifford Simak and E. F. Russell. However some were not published such as Joe Haldeman and Fred Saberhagen. After 1990 all kinds of Anglophone literature became available and is most popular at the moment.

At present they are five main SF groups in Bulgaria, but this small number does not prevent them from supporting an overall level of activity that is fairly good. To help maintain communication with each other, and to organize the annual Bulgarian sci fi festival - "Bulgacon", the society for science fiction, future studies and heuristics, called "Ivan Efremov" was founded. It was formed in April 1974 in the country's capital Sofia. You can find it in "Sredets" House of Culture. The society organises SF conventions, meetings and fantastic film fests. It has published fanzines and members of "Ivan Efremov" have participated in European and World SF forums. Taking part in the society's activities are writers, translators (of SF works), artists, and fans. "Ivan Efremov" is the oldest of the existing Bulgarian SF societies. Its current chairman is Yuri Ilkov who is also the editor-in-chief and publisher of Terra Fantastica - the magazine of Bulgarian SF fandom. Yuri Ilkov was also announced Fan Number 1 of Bulgaria at the European SF - festival "Eurocon" 2002 (not to be confused with the European SF Society's 'Eurocon 2002' in Chotebor, in the Czech Republic that year).

The club for ecoculture and SF art "Wibrobia" was founded in 1999 in the town of Stara Zagora some 250 km from the capital Sofia. The club is the organizer of annual meetings, called "Goblinia", oriented toward Bulgarian folklore and mythology. "Wibrobia" also publishes a page on science fiction in a local newspaper.

The club "A. and B. Strugatski" was founded in 1975 named after the famous Russian authors (but not because it might engender favor with the communist regime) in the central Bulgarian town of Pazardjik. The club has hosted many science fiction conventions, and is a record holder of the number of published fanzines published and is very much a pioneer in this area. It is also an organizer of science fiction film fests, exhibitions and fans meetings. Its founder is again Yuri Ilkov. Currently (2003) its chairman is Peter Kopanov.

The SF club in the city Varna (a famous seaside resort) is named "Earthsea". One of its founders is the famous Bulgarian SF writer - Ivailo Ivanov. Recently the club "Earthsea" has been joined by another Varna's fantasy society - "Tolkien". "Earthsea" does not have a fixed programme of activities such as "Ivan Efremov" in Sofia for example. Its members (like many UK) SF societies simply have desire to meet to socialise and talk about SF, to comment authors and literary works, to exchange books, to give SF parties along the sea and take part in meetings, organized since other SF societies. "Earthsea" has been holding regular meetings since February 2002. Its "headquarters" is "Alba" alehouse in Varna. The members meet every Monday at 18.30 p.m. Sometimes "Earthsea" is attended by members of the Writer's Association in Varna and once even vice-versa.

The society "Fantastica" was founded in 1997 in the town of Kardjali in the south of Bulgaia. Its creator is one of the greatest Bulgarian SF writers of all times - Nikola Kesarovski whose most famous book is The Fifth Law of Robotics. At present its chairman is Kiril Dobrev. The society is officially registered by the authorities as a "society with ideal activity". Its main purpose is: " To promote the development of science fiction, to propagate and popularize it". The club has a page in "Nov Jivot" (New Life) - the official newspaper of Kardjali and currently (spring 2003) has published over 60 issues. The SF page is edited by Nikola Kesarovski. Mr. Kesarovski was also organizer and kind host of the annual Bulgarian SF festival - "Bulgacon". The 2002 Bulgacon, which took place in Kardjali last year. The festival was attended by over 90 participants. For the previous two years the festival was carried in a town called Sandanski, whereas in 2003 its host will be Pazardjik.

Radi Radev is an active science fiction fan in Bulgaria and hopes, that the future will see more SF activity in the country . Thanks to Yuri Ilkov - "The General", Nikola Kesarovski, Ivailo Ivanov and Kiril Dobrev who provided additional information for this article. Radi's website is www.swordandmagic.com. Article refinement and development was assisted by Jonathan Cowie. A version of this article is being published in Locus magazine.

[Up: Index| Top: Concatenation]

[Updated: 30.6.03 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]