PROGRESS REPORT 2

The 2nd International Week of Science and Science Fiction

Preliminary Announcement - Progress Report 0

Progress Report 1

With SF writers: Danut Ungureanu (Ro), Ian

Watson (Eng), Istvan Nemere (Hu) and the

Ghost of Honour H.G. Wells (Eng)

Plus Fan Guest Vince Docherty (Scot)

All presented by the Week's toastmaster

Roberto Quaglia (Italian SF writer)

19 - 25th May 2003

Timisoara, Romania

Introduction

Welcome to PR2. For those of you who have either stumbled across a copy of this progress report, or hit across it on the web, then - if you have not already - you need to track down the Preliminary Announcement (PR0) that details the International Week's aims and guests as well as PR1 in which the guests explain the sort of science fiction they like. PR1 also includes an introduction to the principal organisers and Timisoara as well as travel details of how to get there. (Those reading a hard copy of this might check out the web sites listed later in this PR.)

In this Progress Report we update you on developments (which fortunately is all rather reassuring), and provide more details on accommodation (your own responsibility but we like to help), the programme and some web sources of information on Timisoara. We also ask those of you who have registered, or are about to, to let us know what you would like to see happen and indeed whether you can contribute to the event in some capacity or other. This appeal for information is now (Autumn 2002) quite urgent if we are to include your contribution in the Programme Book and give it any sort of profile.

The reason for this urgency is simple. We have to check details with committee members based across three cities in two countries (Romania and Hungary) and then duplicate everything in Romanian and English. All this takes time and so we are actively determining the programme in the late autumn. So now is the time to think ahead - which should not be difficult for SF folk - and let us know as soon as possible what you would like to see and/or how you would like to contribute no matter how small: as they say on Centauri Prime (or is it Scotland?) 'many a mickle makes a muckle'.

Well, with this one appeal over, on with Progress Report 2...

Support so far received

We are deeply indebted to a band of kind souls for their assistance in a myriad of ways. These include: our Guests - Danut Ungureanu (Ro), Ian Watson (Eng), Herbert George Wells (Eng), Istvan Nemere (Hu), Roberto Quaglia (It) and Vince Docherty (Scot) for giving of their time and bringing themselves to the 2nd International Week. We also acknowledge in appreciation: the Timisoara Branch of the Romanian Writers' Association for the use of their hall for the SF programme; over half a dozen web sites and four magazines and newsletters for promoting the event (see the list later in this PR); Brian Ameringen, Steve Green and Jim Walker for dishing out leaflets at a series of European conventions; the League of the Non-Aligned (LOTNA) London media SF group for programme material and for advice (and possibly more) on publication production; Porcupine books for keeping an eye out for Watson books; and Paul Howard - a friend of the Phoenicians North West Kent SF Society - who has kindly donated an audio item of historic importance for the programme. Without revealing this last surprise, suffice to say that this is something so famous you all will have heard of its existence, and some may have heard clips from this, but we doubt if more than a handful attending will have ever heard this item in its entirety.

Sponsorship of some munchies has also been received. Though we have said that all participants are responsible for their own meals, we have had a couple of people/SF groups enquiring about sponsoring and running some hospitality events (such as a light meal and/or drinks reception) during the International Week. ). Indeed a couple of other generous, but bashful, souls (who at the moment have asked to remain nameless) have offered to sponsor a mid-week pizza evening. But there will still be other days for which catering support would be welcome especially as this will ease the burden for our fellow Eastern European participants. Finally, we are please to announce that other local SF groups in Timisoara (in addition to the hosting H. G. Wells society) and members of Banat's Hungarian community are considering involvement. (Veteran's of the 1st International Week fondly remember their afternoon at a nearby Hungarian town, and a number made firm Romanian and Hungarian friends through staying with Timisoaran locals. (Who can forget that town's Mayor's super hero costume!)

Guest News

The organisers have been in touch with all the Guests. They are all in great health and looking forward to meeting your good selves in May. As for specific news: Vince Docherty - who was the prime moving force behind the 2005 Worldcon bid - has successfully led the team to win the bid vote at the recent 2002 Worldcon. Congratulations Glasgow 2005. Now, if we find it a headache organising an event for 75 people from half a dozen countries, think of poor old Vince whose team has to put on an event for a few thousand from a score of countries! In addition to this success, Vince has recently moved to a new home in the Netherlands (he has worked there before). We wish Vince well as he settles into his new domicile and begins preparations for the 2005 Worldcon. (By the way, those Week participants who are well connected with their own country's SF community may find it useful to discuss Worldcon plans with Vince in Timisoara during the 2nd International Week. Consequently non-Romanian and non-UK participants may wish to liaise with your own countries' SF communities to ascertain their aspirations for the 2005 Worldcon.)

Publishing news: Our living English author Guest, Ian Watson, has a new collection of short stories just published entitled The Great Escape (from Golden Gryphon Press). The Black Library of Games Workshop have re-issued Warhammer 40,000-related Inquisition War trilogy. Meanwhile Orion/Gollancz has just republished his 1978 British SF Award winner, The Jonah Kit (ISBN 0-575-07389-6). This story is a softer treatment of the theme the Australian Greg Egan explored in Quarantine but Ian's was written decades beforehand. Our congratulations to Ian. And to the rest of you, do check out The Great Escape as Ian's shorts are something else (and we are not talking apparel here).

H.G.Wells (our other English author Guest) is reportedly still en route to Timisoara. We are assured that he will be physically with us but he - all together now - 'has a very slow time machine'! We understand that if asked he may offer his forthcoming speech to the 2nd International Week at the 2005 Worldcon and so Timisoara will be a practice run for him. However we have appealed to him to make his 2005 speech first as a dry run for Timisoara in 2002. After all, what is the point of having a time machine (even a very slow one) if you don't make use of it?

Meanwhile our contacts with Istvan Nemere and Danut Ungureanu assure us that all is well with them. As for Roberto Quaglia, he was spotted at this year's Eurocon in Poland and is now Vice President of the European SF Society. (Do not worry. We understand that saluting is not obligatory.) Our Roberto certainly gets about but we greatly look forward to him returning to Timisoara this May.

Programme

Plans for the programme are slowly beginning to gather momentum. So far we only have a very rough framework but are beginning to identify programme items with which to fill this. It is not for us to spoil the surprises to come, but the following will give you an inkling of their diversity. The Week will begin Monday evening with a welcoming ceremony for everyone and an introduction to the guests. No doubt this will conclude with an adjournment to a nearby hostelry (of which there are a number). The general plan Tuesday to Friday will see a gathering about 10.00 each day for coffee and the opportunity for participants to decide what to do during the day while the guests are interviewed by magazine and fanzine editors. Subsequently there will be the option of joining one of three tours running each day: the 'Revolution tour' (visiting the places where instrumental parts of the 1989 revolution took place (Romania's began in Timisoara)); the 'Myths and Legends' tour (Timisoara has many sites of historical interest as well as legendary supernatural forces); and a 'Cafe Crawl' whereby three or four cafes in disparate parts of the city are visited and short discourses on different sites can be recounted by the locals while you enjoy a drink. The weather in Timisoara in May is usually comfortably warm (the early afternoon temperature being about 27C (80F) with a night time low of 13C (55F)), hence ideal for outdoor activity. This mid-week period will be the best time for you to socialize with other participants and the guests.

One day mid-week sees a magazine and book launch, this will hopefully be outdoors and open to the general public. We already have one SF magazine being launched, that of an edition of Anticipatia (a past cover of which can be seen in Clute's SF: The Illustrated Encyclopaedia). We have also just heard that a local publisher may also be launching an SF book of short stories but at the moment this is just an expression if interest. However, we would welcome news of others who would like to avail themselves of this launch platform. Then at some stage mid-week we have the dreaded 'group photo'. We are also planning - so fingers crossed as this has yet to be confirmed - a short trip outside of Timisoara to a nearby town so as to give non-Romanian nationals a chance to see a bit of the country beyond the city. Then again each day Tuesday to Friday sees a couple of hours of formal science and SF programming early in the evening for which we already have material in hand. As for late nights, plans are still largely unresolved (so plenty of scope to receive offers of help).

The weekend sees us move more or less completely indoors with a single stream programme from about 10.30 - 20.00 Saturday and to 17.00 Sunday. Finally, commencing around 19.00 Sunday, we have the end of week dinner with an apres dinner closing ceremony. No doubt dead dogging (farewell partying) will follow.

Well, that is the over all framework. So far we only have proposed material for about half the programme time. Naturally there will be talks given by each of Guests (and one ghost) as well as a group panel discussion led by our very own Roberto Quaglia. With SF writers from four countries and a 1995 retrospective cum 2005 forward-look Worldcon buzz in the air, this in itself should be enough; but there is more...

Items so far firmly offered include the afore mentioned video quiz between 'Timisoara & Scotland' versus 'the Rest of the World' courtesy of the League of the Non-Aligned (LOTNA), London Bridge SF media group. Now, be warned. Though with the advent of satellite TV many both in western and eastern Europe will be familiar with TV SF, a simple psychological ruse will be employed to complicate the quiz. It will appear deceptively easy. Then we have the possibility of two slide illustrated talks. One a slide show of space missions that never happened as imagined by NASA/ESA artists as well as SF and astronomical artists. The other an astronomical slide show. The topic for this last has yet to be decided. The 1st International Week saw a spectacularly stunning slide show given by Mandics Gyorgy of various Martian missions and especially 'Pathfinder'. The question is this time do you want a) a tour of the solar system, b) Man in space, or c) beyond the solar system? Anyone with a preference please let us know. Additional video material includes an interesting session of copyright-free and non-commercial material downloaded from the internet. Again this is courtesy of our fellow SF fans from the League of the Non-Aligned (LOTNA) and is bound to be of interest as few, even in the west, have the hardware to download such material. We have far more than this on the visual front but you have to wait. Turning from this, we also have our historic SF audio item from our friend of the Phoenicians folk of NW Kent SF mentioned in the 'Support so far received' section. Finally, a number of people have vaguely talked about other programme material. One is and item on chaos science. To all those who have been contemplating a programme item now is the time to firm up your thoughts and, please, to get in touch with either Antuza Genescu (Timisoara) or Traian Badulescu (Bucharest) through www.imagikon.go.ro (This site no longer seems to be active - January 2007.), or Mandics Gyorgy (Budapest) giving details of exactly who you are and what you would like to do no later than late November. We will choose the best on offer for the programme time available. Western anglophones can contact the Concatenation e-zine folk on info AT concatenation DOT org who will pass on messages to the H. G. Wells Society organisers in Timisoara. So don't be shy.

Well, if that little lot has not whetted your sense-of-wonder centres then, there will be nothing for it except for us to try harder when formulating the programme's other half!

Convention philosophy

Because the International Weeks are different from 'normal' SF conventions, we thought it worthwhile briefly outlining our philosophy. First of all these Weeks are not simply conventions but a chance for the most adventurous of those with a passion for SF internationally to meet fellow, but foreign, enthusiasts, personalities and professionals they would not normally encounter. For example, we have noted that none of the guests have met half of the professionals attending despite their all having national, if not international, reputations. Indeed neither have the organisers and so we suspect this to be true of all the registrants to date. Secondly, for purely historic political and current economic reasons western and eastern SF enthusiasts and fans very rarely get the chance to meet and compare and contrast interests. In short the Week will be a fairly unique experience.

Then there is the tourist dimension. This is partly an (optional) funding device so that western participants get translators and guides in return for purchasing an end-of-week dinner ticket that will also pay for an Eastern European counterpart. But importantly it also provides a framework for much personal interaction and informal socialising, and not least provides much added value for western visitors who have travelled from afar.

Finally, unlike normal western SF conventions there is no registration fee (other than the optional end-of-week dinner ticket (see PR1)). Yet unlike many Eastern conventions, the Week is firmly structured with a number of events for you to attend, or not, as you wish. Bear these differences in mind and it all may appear less confusing.

Timisoara

It is worth re-emphasising from Progress Report 1 that Timisoara (tee-meesh-wah-rah) along with Romanians (two-thirds of the population) is also the home to Serbian, Hungarian, German, Slovakian and a Jewish community, and they all get along for the most part very well. For the SF-minded who relish the prospect of encountering new civilizations this makes Timisoara the ideal venue for an International Week.

In addition to the general description given in PR1, sites worth seeing include: Huniades Castle (built 1316) which today houses the Banat museum that traces the history of the region and has a small, but good, 'dead zoo' (natural history museum). If you have done the three tours being organised by the local SF community then the Castle is well worth a visit - principal exhibits can be seen in about an hour if you rush, or two at a more leisurely pace. Then there is the Bastion of the Citadel which was subsequently built in the 18th century which has an ethnographic museum (free) featuring peasant dress and art. Cathedrals and churches abound in Timisoara and these have an odd mix of western and eastern architecture which is quite striking. There are also a number of small squares in the town centre surrounded by 18th and 19th century buildings. Indeed the whole town centre is quite picturesque in contrast to the more typical Ceausescu urban architecture of similar blocks of flats surrounding it. Fortunately the town centre is separated by an almost complete circle of parks and beyond these to the south and east of the centre there is the Bega canal. Those wishing to see suburban Timisoara can do so en route to a visit to the Banat Village Museum which is located in a small wood just outside the city. The Village Museum consists of about thirty 19th century peasant houses, as well as water and windmills etc. Such tourist activity will contrast nicely with the science and SF programme activities.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timisoara.

Accommodation

(Note the price conversions below are approximate and we have used western currency as that is less subject to the vagaries of inflation as our Romanian Lei. Also 1$ ~ 1 Euro.)

As per the previous PR, you need to sort out your own accommodation, though for non-Romanian speaking registrants we will if you want make a provisional booking for you on your behalf. As regards the range of accommodation available, we are still working on further options and will be providing another bulletin in Progress Report 3 (Spring 2003). So far this is the range of accommodation we have checked out and their respective current prices (Autumn 2002).

The bad news is that the Youth Hostel (str, Atries nr.19) - which offers a basic bed in rooms of three beds for $3 US 33 (or Euro) a night per bed or $10 a room (no breakfast) - has had a number of rooms taken over by enterprising ladies of the night. Consequently we find it difficult to recommend this to all but the bravest and most open-minded. Even so we would advise you travel light and bring your belongings with you during the day (or leave them with a friend staying in a proper hotel).

The Nord Hotel (near the rail station) has a single room with shower (but toilets in the hall) has single rooms for about US $ 23 or Euro per night (GB 15) while doubles are about US$ 37 or Euro (GB 24) and have a bathroom en suite. Prices include breakfast. The Nord Hotel has a reasonable reputation, but the nearby Nord (North) Station does have an unfortunate reputation for pick-pockets (every city has their crime black spots, though Timisoara is better than most. Note this warning but be re-assured that no visiting SF fan has had a problem in Timisoara. (Of course visiting SF folk get good advice.)

The Vlad Guest House (7 minutes by tram from the town centre) has only double rooms for US$ 30 (or Euro) per person (approx GB 19) air conditioning, TV etc.

There is the Continental Hotel (Bdul Revolutiei 1989 nr.2, Timisoara 1900, Romania) mentioned in Progress Report 1. This is the Hotel the western visitors to the 1st International Week (1999) used (as well as the 1994 Eurocon) and was (then) quite affordable. We have visited this twice this year (2002) but a confused picture is emerging. Our April visit confirmed the single room prices we gave in Progress Report 1 of US $35 (or Euro) or GB 23 a night (inclusive of breakfast and bathroom en suite). However this hotel has been taken over and at a subsequent visit in July we were quoted US $ 60 a night (40)! We will approach the Continental Hotel management in January with a proposition for the 23/US $35 a night rate with breakfast (even though this is more expensive than we paid for the first International Week). If they say no then we go elsewhere.

The Central Hotel is a modernised three star hotel, bathrooms en suite etc. and breakfast included. The single nightly rate is 35 US$/ Euro (GB 23). (A possibility if the Continental says no to our offer for this being our main base for foreign visitors.)

The Roma Hotel is in the university quarter and has single rooms for US $37 (or Euro) (GB 24) and double rooms for US $43 (GB 28) with breakfast included.

The Solaris Hotel (in the student quarter whose rooms have full air-conditioning (which will not be needed in May), mini-bar, and TV charges US $43 (or Euro) (GB 28) or US $52 (GB 34). Breakfast included.

Travel

See PR1. Problems or queries, contact either info AT concatenation DOT orgf travelling from the west. The Concatenation people are not organising this event but at least a couple will be attending and they have agreed to share their travel information as well as pass on messages to us. If travelling from Eastern Europe then contact sgenescu AT mail.dnttm DOT ro. Aim to arrive (land) before15.00 Monday 19th May and depart Monday 26th May, 2003. Once we know exactly who is coming, and from which country, we will give suggested flight details so as to get visitors arriving at the airport for collection in batches. We will also arrange cars to the airport for groups leaving by plane on Monday 26th.

Registration

See PR1. We are beginning to firm up the list of attendees, so time to make your minds up. So far we have nearly half the places allocated and expect to be fully booked early in the new year. After that time if there is still demand then we will hold a reserve list in case anyone drops out. Consequently PR 3 will only be mailed to those fully registered. (So if you are not registered and 90% certain that you will attend then do register now. You can always drop out in January or February and we can let someone on the reserve list take your place. Do not leave it too late to avoid disappointment or, if local, expect to just turn up on the day unannounced: if, as we expect to be, we are fully booked you will not get in to the programme hall. Besides which the act of registration is not too much to ask of you.)

(Timisoaran locals may care to note: The mid-week book/magazine launch will be open to the public who do not need to register. Also friends of the Romanian SF community will join us from time to time outside of the SF programme and outside of the Romanian Writer's Hall. Those, not attending the Hall functions, need not register. Advance registration gets you a named badge to allow you into the SF hall (and facilitates identification between participants), PR3, the Programme Book, Read Me (the time sheet) and the post convention PR4. (Eastern European participants' named badges will also get you into the farewell Sunday dinner.) Subsequent Progress Reports and programme book will not be posted on the internet and will only available to those registered. Advance registration also gets you into sponsored activities and here some of the sponsors are being very firm about wanting names and numbers in advance for pragmatic, catering and security reasons. So the message is clear, if you do not want to be left out then register soon, as registration on the day will not be possible. Can we make this any plainer? No. Can the giant super computer 'Deep Thought'? No: we did ask but only got a two digit response (of possible derision, and it was not '42'!).)

InterNet sites and publicity for Progress Reports 0 and 1

We are most grateful to the web masters of the following sites for keeping previous Progress Reports posted in Romanian on:www.geocities.com/lumivirtual www.sfera.go.ro www.imagikon.go.ro and www.proscris.port5.com

And in English on www.concatenation.org.

We also have to thank for listings/announcements:

SFX magazine (July, UK), homepage.ntlworld.com/wilf.james/i_conlist courtesy of Wilf James, Anticipatia (October, Ro), and Locus (June, US) magazines, as well as The Contactand Fans Across the World newsletters. Nice one folks. Your help is most welcome.

Warning

We respectfully ask all participants to refrain from time travelling during the Week. Not only are the organisers confused enough as it is, and so wish to maintain a linear continuum, but H.G. Wells will be arriving and needs an undisrupted temporal field in which to land. Bear in mind his machine is a rather old model (...and very slow).

The Next PR

PR3 will be out in Spring 2003 and only available to registrants being sent by normal post. As with PR0 - PR2, there will be two editions: Romanian and in English. It will contain the latest programme and accommodation news as well as a map of central Timisoara with the key centres of the Week's activity marked and arrival details for foreign visitors.


[ Top: Concatenation]

[Updated: 02.12.22 | Contact | Copyright | Privacy]