Impressions from Eurocon 2007 (5)

Sunday : Anne McCaffrey and Zoran Zivkovic readings :

Anne McCaffrey chose to read the short story “The Ship Who Sang” (is the title afaik) , a beautiful and very emotional story that I had not yet heard or read. The story, she told, was written in response to the too early death of a close relative, and she told the audience that this was the first time she could read through the story without breaking down.

For me the surprise of Sunday was the reading of Zoran Zivkovic from Serbia. A BBC recording of his story about a conversation with God (though strictly speaking not quite Science Fiction) was very humorous, and I will try to get some more of his work for reading.

Finally a talk by Lene Kåberbøl, a Danish author of childrens books and fantasy books. What she said about the role of translators of stories struck a cord with me, since I have attempted such a thing myself – and know some of the difficulties of making a good translation – not of the words – but of the essence of the story.

Impressions from Eurocon 2007 (4)

Saturday (2) : More Anne McCaffrey :

An hour long Q&A session and the speech as Guest of Honour with Anne McCaffrey again showing us a *very* lively “Dragon Lady”, telling her story as an author and as a person.
I took the opportunity to get a single book signed by this excellent author : “The White Dragon” , the 3rd book of the Dragonriders of Pern series, and in my view one of the very best of the extensive series.

Also the “” had an open coffee meeting . The rest of the day – until the banquet was spent chatting along with other fans – getting to know some new people.

Since I did not have a ticket for the banquet I was watching a quite amusing film about convention goers and their quirks. The title esacapes me, but it was a BBC production.

Impressions from Eurocon 2007 (3)

Saturday :

A good lecture on the mysterious “Dark Energy” , which is thought to take up ab0ut 70 % of the Universe . Most of the remaining part of the Universe is “Dark Matter” , so all we can see of the totality is about 5 % of it . A bit scary, isn’t it ?
In the presentation we heard that two teams had – at the same time – found some surprising results during surveys of supernovas in the furthest corners of our universe. This particular type of supernova was known (or assumed) to have a rather limited range of luminousity – and a lot of light coming from them – meaning that the distance to them could be estimated with a rather good certainty. Other sources of error (such as dust clouds) could be eliminated, and the result was that the expansion of the universe looks like accelerating in stead of slowing down – as we would expect due to gravity. So what we have is a sort of anti-gravity – but only on very large distances. Later other surveys in different fields gave similar results , so the scientists are rather certain that the effect exists. There is just no clue as to the cause of it. Rather exciting to listen to.

More on the Saturday later …

Jan from Denmark

Impressions from Eurocon 2007 (2)

This was only my second Scifi convention, the first one being a Star Trek convention in Fresno,California about 15 years ago.

Thursday night :

Already on Thursday evening at the pre-registration there was convention activity. The organisers were quite happy that I offered to make some photos at the con, so they are receiving a CD with photos for every day of the con.

A nice talk with frequent convention goer – and volunteer – Wilf from the UK was already a good start for me. A quite knowledgeable fellow with a solid scientific angle as well.

Friday :

Panel with Guests of Honour. Anne McCaffrey arrived a little late and, when asked, insisted on going up the stairs to the stage (in spite of the handicap) – hats off. A few words from the guests of honour. Harry Harrison is a veteran guest of con’s and has quite a few stories to tell.
Anne McCaffrey, too is very experienced in conventions and could tell of her first con’s where she had good advice from (then) experienced writers, and expressed her advice to new writers : in short , if you want to write , make youself sit down and write … every day.

Scientific lecture on Solar eruptions. This has had my interest for a long time, being a licensed radio amateur. For me the content was not new, but a condensed version of what I already knew. Only difference was – this came from a scientist’s point of view.

There were lots of other presentations during the day , but these stand out for me. A lot of time went with meeting other fans and discussing science fiction, science and fantasy .

A little fun thing is a photo I made : Anne McCaffrey is also involved in the “Writers of th Future”, a quarterly competition, where the winners get their stories published in collections. One moment a Star Wars Stormtrooper in full gear was “standing guard” right behind the famous author, link to the picture .

more to come …

Jan from Denmark

Impressions from Eurocon 2007 (1)

I have been attending the Eurocon 2007 in Copenhagen this year , and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

The con had just over 400 registrered members , and some people just came and registrered on the spot, so possibly about 700 – 1000 people in total attended.

For me the main reason was the visit by Anne McCaffrey, who appeared on a panel discussion, at an interview, for a book signing and finally a reading by the author herself.

I took quite some photos at the con and will post a few of them when they are ready.

Other Guests of Honour were Stephen Baxter and Zoran Zivkovic and the artist David A. Hardy. Harry Harrison was there as well.

Several lines of presentations, readings and also scientific lectures were in the program.

I enjoyed lots of talks with other fans en between , but after 3 days of 10-24 (or more) con activity I am rather tired and will continue my “Impressions” in the coming days.

“The Demolished Man” by Alfred Bester

Back online after a few days (travel and a visit to a friend)

On a long trip by car I listened to Alfred Bester’s novel “The Demolished Man”.

The story depicts a society where the police has telepathic detectives (“esper”s) solving crimes – or even act to prevent crimes.

The “Esper’s Guild” divides telepaths into firsts , seconds and thirds according to the strength of the telepaths.

Ben Reich, who is very critical of the Esper’s Guild, decides to eliminate a financial competitor and attempts to escape the telepathic detectives by hiring another telepath to block his thoughts.
After many twists and turns the prosecutor (a computer) dismisses tha case because of insufficient evidence.
In the end he is, after all punished by the Esper’s Guild (in spite of the aquittal) , and has his mind wiped and reprogrammed – a process called “Demolition”

The story has some nice twists and turns , and a surprising “inner journey” which I like.

The story was published in 1953 and exhibits some of the predudices opf the time, eg relating to women’s “place” in society , but if you can see through that´, the story works on its own premise , though seems a bit dated in our day and age. Also – Venus is depicted as a habitable world , something which is now known to be incorrect.

In any case I enjoyed the story, notwithstanding those weaknesses

Also – in the Series “Babylon 5” JMS (J.M. Straczynski) pays hommage to the story by naming his villain telepath (“Psi-Cop”) Alfred Bester.

I would rate the story 7/10.

Wikipedia entry for “The Demolished Man”

Second Hugo Award (2007) for Doctor Who

Last year the Doctor Who series received a Hugo Award for the double episode “The Empty Child”/”The Doctor Dances” . The award was for the best short dramatic presentation (less than 90 minutes).
The episodes were written by Steven Moffat, and are among my favorites from the new Doctor Who series.

They have done it again …

This year’s Hugo award for the best short dramatic presentation was awarded the Doctor Who episode “The Girl in the Fireplace” – also writen by Steven Moffat – and also one of my personal favorites.

The same TV series receiving Hugo awards for two years in a row is quite rare – the last time I know of was when the “Babylon 5” series did that in the 90’s.

It will be interesting to see if The Doctor can make it to a third consecutive award….

You can find the complete list of Hugo winners 2007 here