Concatenation: an Introduction
In the 1959 Reith lecture the polymath Lord C. P Snow divided the World into the two cultures of science and arts. What is less well known is that that lecture also looked at developed and less-developed nations and how we all have much to learn from each other: the north from the south, the east from the west, etc. Back in the late 1980s a small group of us -- have straddled the science-arts divide as well as (with the crumbling of the Iron Curtain) that between Eastern and Western Europe.
Our reasons for doing this (in no particular order) were:
- because the boundary between both the arts-science divide, and the formerly (pre-1990) repressed and 'democratic' European nations is a fertile one.
- Of the arts, science fiction is the genre most closely related to science.
- Members of the Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation team have their own individual combination of interests within science fiction, be it literature, drama, cinema, TV, painting or photography.
- because the gulf between the art and science camps is as real as it was in C. P. Snow's time, although accessibility has greatly changed. For example, more artists use technology such as word processing in their craft, and Eastern Europeans are free to leave Eastern Europe to visit the west should they wish.
- because the arts can turn people on to science, which is the most powerful perceptual tool our species has ever used. Science-related art is therefore a valuable vehicle to promote the public understanding and appreciation of science.
- because exploring the dimension between science and art, and between social cultures is great fun!
What is the Concatenation project?
The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation is best known amongst the European science fiction community (those writers, editors, film directors, book dealers, buffs and enthusiasts who attend the premiere European science fiction literary and cinematic conventions).
Within the European science fiction community Concatenation itself was in the late 1980s and throughout the 1990s better known as an annual review magazine of science and science fiction. Its first (a print) edition was published Easter 1987 as part of the 50th anniversary UK Science Fiction Convention BECCON 87.
The Concatenation team provide their services on a purely voluntary basis with the magazine's costs (a few thousand pounds a year) being met by advertising; donations from surpluses from voluntary run literary and cinematic SF conventions; and substantial consultancy contracts (as opposed to small consultations which are the Concatenation team give free of charge) to authors, publishers, the media and that part of the scientific community concerned with public understanding of science.
The Concatenation print edition was distributed free at major UK conventions who have a profit share arrangement with the team. Unfortunately the postal demand for the magazine grew and we could no longer meet it: fortunately the Internet is helping us overcome this problem.
But Concatenation is more than a magazine (now an online e-zine). In addition to producing the fanzine the Concatenation team have:
- provided consultations to authors, publishers, SF conventions, TV & radio researchers, and even governmental reports (such as the Wolfendale report on the Public Understanding of Science which accepted the Concatenation 'public appreciation of science' as part of the over all definition of public understanding of science exercises).
- published a European SF award-winning 1994 edition of Concatenationin English, German and Romanian.
- published four separate editions in 1997 in English, Romanian, Spanish, and this electronic edition on the Internet.
- sent members of the Concatenation team to Eastern Europe to conventions, workshops and social functions and sponsored Eastern Europeans to visit the UK on a formal Science and Science Fiction Cultural Exchange.
- assisted with the researching of, as well as participating on, TV and radio programmes both UK regional, UK national, and international (BBC World Service) as well as some Eastern European regional and national programmes.
- mounted press and media liaison operations for those major SF conventions whose organisers embrace the outward looking, frontier crossing nature inherent in SF as a genre.
- provided western SF books to selected Eastern European SF activists, including, for instance, Yuri Mironets, an English language university professor in Russia.
- enjoyed the hospitality and friendship of many active within the SF and scientific community both in the UK and overseas.
- run SF events (of note were the 7-day international weeks of science and SF in 1999 and 2003).
- published books.
There have been a number of results from all this activity. In addition to a growing following (internet unique visitors and pages accessed has grown by 20% a year from 1999 up to now (2009) which means we are currently doubling every three or four years) and the support from a small band of individuals and groups, Concatenation or its team has won three European SF Awards (voted on at the annual Eurocon).
See also our history and an introductory editorial as to how the site works and if you wish to contribute an article, submit news, exchange links (and if you like us we would love you to link to us), or have a book reviewed then please read our contributors guidance carefully.
Enjoy the Concatenation website!
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