Cheryl Morgan gives us the low down on Zagreb's biggest convention
In April I had the honour to be Fan Guest of Honour at the Eurocon in Zagreb. Croatia is a country that has given us spotty dogs, Marco Polo and Nikola Tesla. Recently the city of Dubrovnik has been immortalized as King’s Landing in A Game of Thrones . But what is it like for a science fiction fan to visit?
The locals love SF&F. Croatia is about the size of Wales, but has big annual conventions in several cities. SFeraKon, in Zagreb, is the biggest. This year, combined with Eurocon, it attracted 1300 fans, 300 of whom were from 24 other countries. We were on national TV.
You won’t see many big name writers at a Eurocon, though there is often an American guest. Zagreb had the fabulous Tim Powers. The other guests were Charlie Stross, top Russian author, Dmitry Glukhovsky, and local boy, Darko Macan, who is best known to us for his comics work for Dark Horse, Vertigo and Marvel.
The convention was a lot of fun. It had all the usual features: panels, dealers, art, costuming, gaming, etc.. I particularly enjoyed the Junkyard Wars style catapult building contest using paper cups, plastic spoons and elastic bands to fling model cows at a target.
To promote local writers, the Croatians produced an anthology of stories translated into English. Every member of the convention got one for free. There are some great stories in it.
Ian McDonald, the SF Encyclopedia and concatenation.org were all winners in the Eurocon awards. Brian Aldiss was named Grand Master.
Language isn’t a major problem. European fans learn English from Doctor Who , Star Trek and Hollywood movies. Most of the convention programming was in English. We all read the same books, watch the same shows, and play the same games, so a Eurocon is great way to make new friends from different countries. In Croatia we had the added interest of meeting people who have lived under Communism, and who fought a war of independence less than 10 years ago.
Croatia is a Mediterranean country and a lot of the food is Italian in style. Meals were about half what they would cost in England. Beer was even cheaper.
To learn more about the convention, and Croatia, see their website . Next year, Kiev!