Jonathan Cowie


The last two years has seen the fruition of the efforts of many building bridges between Western and former Soviet Europe. Three, who have given our team much encouragement, sadly are no longer with us.
John Brunner, whose last UK Eastercon GoH speech included a generous personal mention to some of our band, and whose support for the Eurocon over the years is amply documented, died at the 1995 Worldcon. We also miss Frank Barret, the Deputy Mayor of Bexleyheath who, in addition to being a work colleague of one of our team, also gave an official Mayoral start to the Anglo-Romanian Science Fact and Fiction Cultural Exchange; which as it happened was one of his last engagements.
Finally we lost Bob Shaw. Bob gently encouraged many within the UK SF community, and one of our last encounters with him was him shaking us warmly by the hand having autographed a carrier bag of books for Eastern Europe: a reversal of the usual reader-author flow of appreciation.

We miss you all.

That science and science fiction are distinct but closely related is obvious but surprisingly this relationship is more intimate than many realise. The methodologies of the two do overlap; science has the trinity of hypothesis, experimentation and conclusion together with verification, while SF has just the first three, though with the experimentation taking place loosely and solely in the mind. Yet in addition both science and SF have a profound effect on each other. Virtually by definition SF draws much of its raw material from science and technology, and many examples abound (rocketry, robotics, and relativity etc.). But what does science get from SF? UK university SF societies have long-known the answer but now there is quantitative evidence. A quarter of graduating UK physicists are turned on to their subject by SF (see 'SF encourages the study of science'). Then again there is the frontier nature of both science and SF in that both are exploring the unknown. It is this last, ground-breaking, dimension to the two that has lent the theme of crossing frontiers and building bridges to the Concatenation team's efforts.

Concatenation began in 1987 (yes, we are ten!) by being simultaneously distributed each Easter to the, then, two UK national SF conventions (one being more literary and cinematic and the other more TV SF related). A number of our other ventures have also built bridges. There was the bridge to artists with the 'Future Image' art competition and exhibition, projects generously sponsored by the Science Photo Library, and then again there were the UK press liaison operations that showed it was as possible to get SF conventions good coverage from radio and the national press, just as it was impossible to avoid stereo-typed reporting from some local hacks. More recently Concatenation has helped the science community build its own bridge with the public in supplying the UK Government's Wolfendale report, into the public understanding of science, with written evidence: Wolfendale accepted almost word for word the Concatenation terms of reference for the public understanding of science (including the 'appreciation' of science as distinct from its 'understanding').

Recent years have also seen Concatenation privileged to help where it could with the building of bridges between Eastern and Western European SF communities. We were very pleased to have contributed towards the 1994 EuRocon -- an event that owes much of its facilitation to Alexandru Mironov. That convention in Timisoara (the most eastern Eurocon ever held) was provided with a tri-lingual Concatenation (English, Romanian and German-with-a-Swiss-accent): and we were surprised when we were voted that year's European award for European fanzine. Even more surprisingly we took a break the following year from publishing to run an Anglo-Romanian science fact and fiction cultural exchange (see pages the Master menu).

And so to the present. In addition to the UK advertisers (of whom we are thankful to see so many regulars) we are delighted to have the support of the 1997 Irish Eurocon (not least as EuroOctocon is the most western Eurocon to be held to date), as well as for the second time the UK Festival of Fantastic Films. Diamond Distributors is yet again pushing out the boat in distributing Concatenation to the managers of some 60 specialist SF shops. Then there is the international support: the Romanians are providing the translations for a Romanian edition, while linking in with the Spanish to produce a small run of a Spanish edition for Spain and South America; the Italians are providing space for the zine on the Internet; and not to mention contributors from eight (yes, eight!) countries. Finally it is important to thank the advertisers and, not least, all the individuals who have helped: these people have given unstintingly of their time and deserve more than the few words I can give them here: so if you bump into them at a convention get them a drop of whatever tickles their fancy -- these are great folk.

Science and SF; dull it ain't. Time to tread boldly....

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