[Notes from Kevin Standlee, Marguerite Smith, Jannie Shea, and Vincent Docherty, and James Bacon.]
SMOFCon 37¼ went well.
This year’s event SMOFcon 38 in Montreal moved to 2022 and with next year’s 2021 event, SMOFcon Europe in Lisboa. Both SMOFcon’s agreed to host a small one-day virtual event, with two panels and three question and answer sessions for future conventions and bids.
The event was well attended with 288 memberships were taken through Grenadine and 312 unique individuals logged into Zoom.
It is important to us, to learn and develop, so we have messaged members and asked them to do a survey.
They will remain online until August 2021. The known contacts and URLs for the various conventions and bids have been added into the programme descriptions for the individual Question Time Session.
Members joined Zoom from 21 countries, with some uncertainty because the Zoom report does not indicate VPN usage. The list of countries participating, ranked in order of the number of individual logins from that country, is as follows:
United States of America
Hong Kong SAR
For those of you who enjoy it, here are some Grenadine/Zoom stats
Zoom practice – 35 interested – 34 attended
Con Suite – 141 interested – 143 attended
Question Time for Future Worldcon bids – 147 interested – 139 attended
Question Time for Seated Discon III and Chicon 8 – 126 interested – 119 attended
Question Time for Seated Smofcons and Future Smofcon bids -98 interested – 91 attended
Pivot to Virtual Conventions and Best Practices – 120 interested – 113 attended
(“Interested” = those who added the item to their personal schedule in Grenadine. “Attended” = those who used the Zoom link in Grenadine.)
The Con Suite host, Terry Fong, estimates that at peak, there were 80+ members in various break out rooms. Enthusiastic discussions were had about virtual art shows, new Grenadine features, planning for Westercon 74, the Tel Aviv in 2027 bid, and much, much more.
Much thanks to all those who joined, paricpants and back room staff who helped make the event successful. We hope that you consider supporting future SMOFcons and hope to see you there.
/s/ Kevin Standlee, Marguerite Smith, Jannie Shea, Vincent Docherty, James Bacon
Next year fans will choose the site of the 2023 Worldcon: Chengdu, China and Memphis, TN (USA) are currently in contention. Beyond that? An abundance of new Worldcon bids have responded to SMOFCon 37-1/4’s call for questionnaires — Israel, Los Angeles, and Orlando joining the others already in the field. You’ll find all their Q&As here.
(In addition, the seated Worldcons – DisCon III (2021) and Chicon 8 (2022) have submitted answers.)
SMOFCon 37¼ reports they are approaching 200 members. Fans are welcome to join up for this one-day virtual event about conrunning, and also encouraged to ask questions of the participating future Worldcon and SMOFcon bids.
SMOFCon 37¼ will be on Saturday, December 5, 2020 from 08:00 to 23:59 Eastern Standard Time (UTC – 5; you can convert to your local time using online tools such as Timeanddate.com).
Membership is free, but you must register in advance here. Most fans should select the regular registration option. The committee asks: Please do not select a Program Participant registration unless you are representing a Worldcon or SMOFCon bid or seated convention or have been invited to be a program participant.
The form for each item is the link next to the words “Submit questions here” in the description of the program item. The deadline for submitting questions is Thursday, December 3, 2020. You must be a member of SMOFCon 37¼ to submit questions. The moderators of each item will select which questions to ask the bids/conventions.
Question Time for Worldcon bids will be taken in reverse chronological order, with bids for 2027 first, then 2026, and so on. Bids for later years will have less allocated time for presentations and questions, with the time increasing per year, ending with bids for 2023. The detailed schedule for each year is in the listing for the item, and includes planned time for internal breaks during the scheduled three-hour item.
The two other scheduled items are a session with CoNZealand chairs Kelly Buehler and Norman Cates discussing aspects of the change to virtual and experience that they had, and a panel looking at the pivot fandom has successfully made to virtual events.
In addition, the Virtual Con Suite has breakout rooms. If you are interested in holding a special-interest group discussion or a meeting in one of the breakout rooms, request a slot using the form linked from the front page of the web site: ReqConSuite
Con Suite breakout sessions will not be listed as separate program items. They are listed in the program listing for the Con Suite.
If you have questions about registering for SMOFCon 37¼, the convention program, or other aspects of the event, write to email@example.com
SMOFCon 37¼ is jointly organized by SMOFCon 38 (Montreal, Canada 2022) and SMOFCon 39 (Lisboa, Portugal 2021).
The committees of SMOFCon 38 (Montreal 2022) and SMOFCon 39 (Lisboa 2021) have announced the launch of “SMOFCon 37 ¼,” the online-only mini-SMOFCon event on Saturday, December 5, 2020.
This small virtual event replaces the postponed Smofcon 38.
Smofcon is an annual convention for organizers of science fiction and fantasy conventions, where there is a chance to share ideas, discuss solutions, talk, learn and develop skills on matters relating to their passion for running conventions.
THE PROGRAMME OF SMOFCON 37 ¼. There will be online Question Time sessions for currently seated Worldcons and SMOFcons and bids for future Worldcons and SMOFcons, plus two sessions focusing on the shift to virtual conventions.
Three Question Time sessions for Worldcon and SMOFcon committees to make presentations and answer questions:
A virtual panel on ‘Pivoting to a virtual convention and best practices’
As bids and seated cons complete the questionnaires, they will be placed on the site and linked to their relevant sessions. A simple question form for each Question Time session is linked in each programme description. The SMOFcon committee is offering bids and seated cons zoom practice sessions upon request.
CON SUITE. A Virtual Con Suite with breakout rooms for general discussions will also be available for the duration of SMOFCon 37 ¼. Groups may request time slots in breakout rooms. Request forms here.
OTHER INFORMATION. Full details of the event, including the schedule, free registration, participation information and contact details are now available online here.
They are using Grenadine and Zoom as their systems. Send queries to firstname.lastname@example.org
SMOFCon 37 ¼ committee Jannie Shea, Kevin Standlee, Vincent Docherty, Marguerite Smith and James Bacon say, “We hope that you join us,”
Due to the increasing impracticality of holding Smofcon 38 in Montreal as originally scheduled in 2020, SMOFCon 38 has been postponed until December 2-4, 2022. The only known bid for SMOFCon 39, SMOFCon Europe, will host SMOFCon in Lisboa, Portugal on December 3-5, 2021. The two committees are in discussions for jointly organizing a limited series of online-only events on the weekend of December 4-6, 2020.
Conditions with the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic are such that CanSMOF (the parent non-profit corporation of the Montreal SMOFCon 38 committee) concluded that holding an in-person SMOFCon in December 2020 was unsafe. CanSMOF felt (and still feels) that the in-person element of a SMOFCon is essential to the nature of the convention and the event would be non-viable without it. Accordingly, they began to explore options for postponing the convention.
The SMOFCon Europe committee was the only group to express interest in hosting the 2021 SMOFCon. They did say, however, that it would be impossible for them to postpone their convention any later than 2021, due to many committee members being involved in the Glasgow 2024 Worldcon bid. Under the circumstances, and after extensive discussions on the SMOFCon email list, all parties reached a consensus that if Montreal could renegotiate its hotel agreement to 2022, Lisboa could proceed with their plans for 2021.
The Montreal committee was able to reach an agreement with the Le Centre Sheraton Montreal to postpone the event until December 2-4, 2022 at no additional facilities cost and with the same hotel room rates previously agreed for the original 2020 dates. Membership rates for the Montreal SMOFCon will remain frozen at the current level (CAD$80 / USD$60) until after the Lisboa SMOFCon in 2021.
In July, the Montreal SMOFCon committee contacted the previously announced SMOFCon bidders for 2022. Those bidders mutually agreed that if Montreal was able to postpone their convention, that they would postpone their bids as well. After agreements were reached, Montreal’s committee contacted the SMOFCon bids for 2022 and 2023 in early September to advise them that “Operation Leapfrog” was a go. The Montreal committee thanks all future SMOFCon bidders for their cooperation and understanding under the current worldwide pandemic conditions.
The Lisboa SMOFCon in 2021 will conduct the site selection for the 2023 SMOFCon. The Montreal SMOFCon in 2022 will not conduct a site selection for a future SMOFCon. Site Selection will once again return to one year in advance rotation starting with the 2023 SMOFCon.
The committees of SMOFCon 38 (Montreal 2022) and SMOFCon 39 (Lisboa 2021) have mutually agreed to jointly organize a limited online-only “mini-SMOFCon” event on the weekend of December 4-6, 2020. Dubbed “SMOFCon 37 ¼,” the initial plan is to have online sessions to allow current Worldcons, bids for future Worldcons, and bids for future SMOFCons to make their presentations and answer questions. The joint SMOFCon 37 ¼ committee will announce further details of their plans shortly, including contact details and participation information.
SMOFCon Europe will launch their convention, making rates, hotel rooms, their online proposition and further information all available in time for SMOFCon 37 ¼.
If you have questions specifically about the Montreal or Lisboa SMOFCons, please direct them to the individual committees through their websites:
Videos from the “Fannish Inquisition” held at SMOFCon 37 in Albuquerque NM on December 7 have been posted. They capture the questions and answers posed to representatives of seated WSFS conventions (Worldcon and NASFiC), and bids for future Worldcons and NASFiCs.
The makers put them up with this caveat: “This is raw video
for the future SMOFCons and seated WSFS conventions taken from the camera
without editing. Because the camera records files of a maximum length, then
starts a new file, segments may begin or end in mid-word.”
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 1 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 2 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 3 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 4 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 5 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 6 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – SMOFCons/Seated WSFS Conventions – Part 7 of 7
SMOFCon 37 Fannish Inquisition – Worldcon Bids
The “Fannish Inquisition” held at SMOFCon 37 in
Albuquerque NM on the evening of Saturday, This is the final segment of the
Fannish Inquisition, consisting of presentations from and questions to bids for
future World Science Fiction Conventions.
Kevin Standlee also has posted videos of the Westercon Fannish Inquisitions.
Smofcon 37, the convention for conrunners, taking place December
6-8 in Albuquerque, NM, asked Worldcon, and Smofcon bidders, and seated
Worldcon and Westercon committees to answer a questionnaire. The responses have
been posted at Smofcon’s website under Fannish Inquisition.
will also be a Q&A
the con on December 7 – publishing these questionnaires in advance helps keep
that time from being taken up with basic information. If you want to submit a
question, see the information at the end of this post.
following FAQs have been received from Bids and seated conventions:
Seven Worldcon committees and bidders (all except Nice in 2023) cosigned a statement (which many inserted at the beginning of their questionnaires) criticizing the Smofcon 37 committee for the short response deadline, the dramatic increase in number of questions asked from last year’s form, and use of Google Docs to communicate, which cannot be accessed in China. Smofcon 37’s chair Ron Oakes responded with a lengthy justification of what happened, while the FAQ coordinator apologized.
Submitting Questions to the Fannish
Inquisition: Here are the
This event is our traditional time for bids for future SMOFCon, Worldcons and NASFiCs. Our usual highlight event, and will mostly be run as it has been in the recent past with written questions through our able moderators. Those wishing to submit questions in advance may do so by sending email to email@example.com, up to 6:30pm MST December 7, 2019 to ensure that we receive it prior to the convention.
[Update 12/07/2019: After this post was drafted last night, several more questionnaires were added to the website. The new links have been added here.]
I first met comic book artist and writer Larry Lieber when I worked in the Marvel Comics Bullpen of the mid-‘70s. Though perhaps that’s not really accurate — because that was only when I first met him in the flesh. I really first met him when I was seven, the year I picked up copies of Tales of Suspense #39, in which he co-created Iron Man, Journey into Mystery #83, in which he co-created Thor, and Tales to Astonish #35, in which he co-created Ant-Man.
…A week before Larry’s 88th birthday, we met for dinner at his favorite French restaurant, Bistro Le Steak, on the corner of Third Avenue and East 75th Street in Manhattan, where we chatted about the old days, as well as what he has planned for the days still to come.
We discussed the old-time radio shows which most influenced him, what he learned about humanity from reading Margaret Mead back in the ’50s, how the only reason he became a writer was because he was too slow to make a living an artist, who told him back at the start of his career that comics was a “dying industry,” the tips Stan Lee gave to make him a better writer, why his attempts to work for DC Comics never worked out, the warning artist Syd Shores offered he wishes he hadn’t heeded, how a quote he heard in a movie about Irish playwright Sean O’Casey helped him understand the arc of his own life, the three best-selling books he read before writing his own novel, his mixed feelings on winning the Bill Finger Award, how Jim Shooter helped him relearn how to be an artist, which comics assignment he enjoyed the most, what Stan Lee told him about the Rawhide Kid that made him decide to take it over from Jack Kirby, why he feels like Don Quixote, the surprising thing he thinks is the best thing he’s ever written, and much more.
Harlan Ellison, a highly prolific writer, wrote many novels, short stories and screenplays. What most people do not know is that Harlan Ellison was a very litigious writer. He claimed that many TV shows and movies stole his ideas.
In an episode of “The Outer Limits” (called “Soldier”) about a robot from the future, Ellison claimed that the movie “The Terminator” was based on this story as well as another episode he wrote called “Demon With a Glass Hand”.
Nearly 200 participants, including a distinguished roster of children’s book authors, gathered on November 16 at All Angels Church on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, where author Madeleine L’Engle was a member for many years, to discuss how faith and art inform each other at Walking on Water: The Madeleine L’Engle Conference. Taking its title from L’Engle’s 1972 book, Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art, the event was organized by Brian Allain of Writing for Your Life, a resource center for spiritual writers; Charlotte Jones Voiklis, L’Engle’s granddaughter, literary executor and co-author, with her sister Léna Roy, of the middle-grade biography Becoming Madeleine; and Sarah Arthur, author of A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’Engle.
I met Virgil Finlay’s daughter Lail and her daughter Brien at the World Fantasy Convention in 2014. We’ve become friends since then. For the last few years, she has been battling metatastic cancer while holding down a job, since her husband, musician Julio Hernandez, has been ill as well. They celebrated their 50th anniversary not so long ago.
A week or so ago I received this e-mail:
“Just a note to let you know that Sat. Nov 9th my house burned down with my husband inside. He died in the fire, my daughter and I are physically okay. So I don’t yet know if any of the artwork survived, and my daughter and I are now homeless and staying with a kind friend.”
Lail needs all the help she can get. Especially with things that the insurance company just won’t cover. Besides the normal expenses, for example, she needs $1,100 just to remove her father’s art from the house, and more to get it cleaned and restored. And there are her father’s correspondences, which she has not been able to get into the building to see if they survived. Lail estimates she needs $5000 to get through this time.
And she needs to get these things paid for quickly, before it becomes too late to recover things from what’s left of her house.
C. S. Lewis’ defence of Tolkien’s work gives insight into the types of criticism it elicited. Chief among those criticisms were its supposed lack of realism, and lack of character development or moral complexity. Lewis robustly argues against both allegations, and with characteristic succinctness states “we know at once that it has done things to us.” Notably this review came only 2 days after Tolkien’s final instalment was published, in response to criticism that was clearly already in full flow since the earlier volumes. It demonstrates the extent to which even a great piece of work will encounter rejection and snobbery, but also demonstrates the value of even one strong ally who supports your work. Below is Lewis’ essay in full….
She also slapped Elvis in ‘Roustabout,’ sang to Audie Murphy in ‘Gunpoint’ and played Shame sidekick Okie Annie on ‘Batman.’
(9) TODAY IN HISTORY.
November 29, 1959 — The Atomic Submarine premiered. It stars Arthur Franz, Dick Foran, Brett Halsey, and Joi Lansing, with John Hilliard as the voice of the alien. It rates 27% at Rotten Tomatoes. It’s in the public domain, so you can see it here.
November 29, 1972 — Pong, the coin-operated video game version, debuted.
(10) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
Born November 29, 1898 — C.S. Lewis. There are no doubt folks here who are far more literate about him than I. I’ve read The Screwtape Letters for a college course decades ago and thoroughly enjoyed The Chronicles of Narnia also many years back but that’s it for my personal acquaintance with him. I know individuals that have loved The Space Trilogy and I’ve known ones who loathed it. So what do you like or dislike about him? (Died 1963.)
Born November 29, 1918 — Madeleine L’Engle. Writer whose genre work included the splendid YA sequence starting off with A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels: A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Many Waters, and An Acceptable Time. One of her none-genre works that I recommend strongly is Katherine Forrester Vigneras series. (Died 2007.)
Born November 29, 1950 — Peter Hooten, 69. He played the title character in the late Seventies Dr. Strange film. His other genre appearances are all in definitely low-grade horror films such as Orca, House of Blood and Souleater. And one Italian film that had so many name changes that I’m accused it of name laundering, 2020 Texas Gladiators.
Born November 29, 1954 — Howie Mandel, 64. He was the voice of Gizmo in Gremlins and Gremlins 2: The New Batch. His longest voice acting gig was on the Muppet Babies where he did a lot of different voices, and he voiced Sam-I-Am in In Search of Dr. Seuss which is not nearly as serious as it sounds.
Born November 29, 1966 — Andrée Bernard, 53. She appeared as Folly in “The Shakespeare Code”, a Tenth Doctor story. She was Yana Haverty in Snakes and Ladders, a What If Future UK series. and she provided voice work to Star Wars: The Old Republic – Rise of the Hutt Cartel.
Born November 29, 1969 — Greg Rucka, 50. Comic book writer and novelist, known for his work on Action Comics, Batwoman and Detective Comics. If you’ve not read it, I recommend reading Gotham Central which he co-created with Ed Brubaker, and over at Marvel, the four issue Ultimate Daredevil and Elektra which he wrote is quite excellent as well. I’ve read none of his novels, so will leave y’all to comment on those. He’s a character in the CSI comic book Dying in the Gutters miniseriesas someone who accidentally killed a comics gossip columnist while attempting to kill Joe Quesada over his perceived role in the cancellation of Gotham Central.
Born November 29, 1970 — Larry Joe Campbell, 49. He had the recurring role of Chief Engineer Newton on The Orville series. His character was written out at the end of season one. He’s also Officer Murphy in R.I.P.D. which is a really bad film, and was in Pacific Rim as one of this background perplexed you don’t really see, a construction worker.
Born November 29, 1971 — Naoko Mori, 48. Torchwood was really her only genre appearance though I see that she popped up first in Doctor Who playing her character of Doctor Sato in the “Aliens of London” episode. She also voiced Nagisa Kisaragi in Gerry Anderson’s Firestorm.
Born November 29, 1976 — Anna Faris, 43. She broke into genre acting with the lead part of Cindy Campbell in the Scary Movie film franchise. She also had roles in May, My Super Ex-Girlfriend, Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travel and the Alvin and the Chipmunks. film franchise.
Born November 29, 1976 — Chadwick Boseman, 43. The Black Panther alias Challa in Marvel’s film metaverse. The same year that he first was this being, he was Thoth in Gods of Egypt.(If you’ve not heard, no one else did as it bombed at the box office.) He was Sergeant McNair on Persons Unknown which is at least genre adjacent I would say. And he appeared on Fringe!
(11) COMICS SECTION.
Baby Blues references a superhero film in its joke about a more widespread family TV viewing issue.
Lots of people love anthropomorphic characters. Perhaps you are one such fan. Perhaps you are a writer who plans to feature them in your fiction. Many authors don’t feel a particular need to justify anthropomorphic characters’ presence in their stories. There are plenty of examples available, but attempting to list all the relevant folktale figures, manga characters, and inhabitants of Duckburg would take up an entire essay, at least. But there are other people—people like me—who become anxious if important elements aren’t given a backstory or explanation. For those people, here are some semi-plausible ways anthropomorphic characters could have appeared in your setting…
The arrival of human ancestors in Europe some 40,000 years ago coincided with the downfall of the cave bear, scientists have revealed.
New evidence suggests humans hunted the bear and drove it from caves, putting it on the road to extinction.
The fate of the species was sealed by other pressures, such as the onset of the last Ice Age, and shrinking food resources.
The bear eventually died out 24,000 years ago.
“We see this dramatic drop in the population of the cave bear starting from 40,000 years ago, which coincides with the arrival of anatomically modern humans in Europe,” said Prof Verena Schuenemann of the University of Zurich, who led the study.
“It is the clearest evidence we have so far that humans might have played a big role in the extinction of the cave bear.”
A comic book writer’s claim that the proliferation of piracy is “a real problem” has encouraged others in the industry to share their concerns.
Jim Zub, who writes for Marvel and IDW, tweeted that 20 times as many people read comics illegally shared online, than pay for digital or physical works.
Many other comic creators replied with their own experiences of pirated work.
For some, piracy brought personal and professional costs, while others suggested radical distribution changes.
(16) STAR WARS FEATURETTE. A nostalgic mix of behind-the-scenes footage from the original Star Wars movie and the latest, soon-to-end trilogy.
[Thanks to John King Tarpinian, JJ, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Doug
Ellis, Martin Morse Wooster, Mike Kennedy, and Andrew Porter for some of these
stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Andrew.]
An international team of fans are looking at Lisboa (Lisbon), Portugal as a venue for Smofcon 2021. This weekend saw Vincent Docherty and James Bacon enjoying a tremendous amount of local fannish Portuguese hospitality.
By James Bacon: Pedro Alves Martins and Margarida Simões of comic shop Legendary Books were hosting two events. Legendary Books is in the Alvalade neighbourhood, which was busy with shoppers and diners on the nicely warm November evening. The shop had a wide selection of comics and collections, but interestingly also had a varied amount of local art, and some very nice signed US comics. All very affordable.
The first event was the launch of an art show of illustration and
comic art by Ana
Varela. Ana, a professional illustrator, turned her attention to
comics in 2018, when she was invited to appear in the third issue of Apocryphus.
Apocryphus is an independent comic anthology published by Mighell
Publishing, now in its fourth volume. (https://www.facebook.com/pg/apocryphusproject/)
That same year, Ana was promptly awarded an Honorable Mention for
the comic “The Mountain” by the Amadora BD comics competition. This delightful
eight-page colour comic was on sale at the event, and is also online translated
The art on display was stunning. Ana has a lightly-hatched, busy –
yet clean and beautiful – ink style that captures actions and feelings in a
very stylish way and is pleasing to the eye. Ana’s coloured work was very clean
and vibrant, adjusted I felt skillfully to the media in use, presenting a
vibrant and pleasing way of storytelling that is gentle on the eye. I picked up
a number of her comics, including “Door”, which has no words, proving that I
could read Portuguese comics. This is a comic artist who is developing
technique and style and on a journey, which was really nice to observe in the
pleasant surroundings of Legendary.
Next up was a presentation by Carlos Silva of The Tales of the King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, translated
to Portuguese for the first time, with artist João Pinto on hand to discuss the
illustrations in this edition. João’s artwork from the book was also on
display, and he spoke eloquently to the crowd, as they all applauded!
I opted not to rely on my Google translate to capture the elegant
words, given previous interesting experiences with machine translations!
I was grateful for the ease in which English is used in Lisboa
generally, but especially here. It is truly a second language, and although I
did offer to compromise and speak in Irish, this was not as universally welcome
as I had hoped. “Obrigado” got me very far, and “obrigada” got the laughs, so
it was friendly and fun.
Carlos is a machine, and indeed, it was quickly becoming apparent
that those active in the community are driven and determined, and working to a
very high standard. Carlos, as well as being an editor and publisher, has
written novels and short stories. His novel Angels
won the 2015 Divergência Award. He set up the imprint Imaginauta, dedicated to
promoting and publishing speculative fiction books that fit science fiction,
fantasy, terror, weird, magical realism and more. Since 2017, through
Imaginauta, he organizes the Contact Literary Festival each Easter, which is
held in a library and has a varied programme including a room for Harry Potter
As we enjoyed the art on display, looked at comics, and contemplated Blacksad and Corto Malteses, Rita from Dois Dedos de Conserva, a boutique wine and food shop across the road, brought wine for all those present to enjoy. Fans, professionals and friends alike moved casually between both venues. There was late night comic shop browsing with fine drinks in hand and lovely plates of charcuterie available as nibbles. Margarida was busy showing art from a small press collection they produced, entitled Legendary Horror Stories, edited by Pedro and Margarida from the Legendary Books store — local Jorge Coelho illustrated the cover of the said book — but we were all quite taken by the stunning artwork of Rita Alfaiate in the story “NÓS” written by Nuno Duarte.
The discussion turned to convention running with Rogério Ribeiro
and Miguel Jorge, who run Fórum Fantástico, which has now been a successful
event for fifteen years. Miguel is also editor, artist and publisher of Apocryphus,
the aforementioned comic anthology, which is stunning. I have to admit, I am
often wary that a comic anthology with a brilliant cover disintegrates for me
with art that is not to the same level, but Apocryphus
was another matter altogether. Issue 3, “Femme Power”, and Issue 4, “Sci-Fi”,
are generously sized graphic collections and were impressive.
Rogério speaks with a sparkle of future conventions, the idea of a
Eurocon in Lisboa, and with such enthusiasm and warmth for a Smofcon in Lisboa.
Technology, including Skype, Google Documents and the like, while brilliant at
linking up fans, does not seem to be as enjoyable as a group around a table,
glasses holding down maps, guides and government venue publications to hand,
reviewing and discussing potential venues for a Smofcon, reflecting on site
visits, and facilities and locations, and how easy and cheap a taxi can be.
All are fully on board with the Smofcon bid of course, their
encouragement, advice and enthusiasm a vital part to any success that a
travelling convention would need, and excited by the opportunities and
prospects that it offers. Also exciting was the lifting of the cloak of
ignorance which in-person discussions can illustrate so well, and did so and we
all shared and learned about the busy local scene.
Lisboa is a fabulous city, but it presents unique challenges that
the government recognise and want to go out of their way to help with. Of note
is that for the traveller, Portugal is very cheap and affordable, the airport
is a city airport, taxis are quick and plentiful. However, earnings for locals
are not the same as Northern Europe, and tailoring matters to all communities
generated ideas and thoughtfulness. What scope there is at a convention for
conrunners to be introduced to local Science Fiction activities needs
exploring, and there are many ideas that would complement an extensive Smofcon
programme. Could the Smofcon be a launching point for larger endeavours? We all
hoped it could be.
Missing the evening’s events was Cristina Alves, who manages the
Portuguese Portal. The Portal has proven a gift, allowing international fans to
connect and engage with fans and activities that are happening in Portugal, and
is purposely designed and maintained to share activities in Portugal with the
English-speaking world. The Portal is one of those fan endeavours that opens up
the community in a welcoming way. https://theportugueseportal.com/
Some fascinating things came up that I was totally ignorant of.
For instance, Festival Vapor is a Steampunk festival every September in the
National Train Museum, in Entroncamento, about an hour north from Lisboa. While
I readily admit the clamouring for Red Jackets and Imperialistic Britishness in
denial of history has steadfastly eroded my interest in the subgenre, this
excited me and when I saw images of talks in train sheds, next to Royal
Carriages and fans on model railways, I admit I was intrigued.
As the talk continued and ranged across a host of subjects, and
people departed with farewells, we ended up at around 10pm, in what was
described as a ‘Local Joint’ where beers were €1.70 and a huge platter of food,
with monstrous steaks, and what I would describe as very Irish Chipper chips or
varieties of rice, was less than ten euro. Rammed with locals, there was
incredible friendliness and a very relaxed atmosphere. The venue closed, and we
continued to drink, and be welcomed until Saturday passed into Sunday.
A fabulous evening, great fun.
Further details on the bid will be announced in December at the
Smofcon in America, and shared online at www.smofconeurope.com. Information can be
sought from firstname.lastname@example.org