Aliette de Bodard : “Imaginales is pretty much the event of the weekend in May: you arrive at the train station and face the first of many billboards advertising the festival, listing all the authors. Unlike Anglophone cons, which are often put together and run by dedicated fans, Imaginales has the support of the town hall (and area council, …), and they put on quite an amazing show. They have strong ties to the restaurants, hotels and high schools of the area (teachers organise visits; authors drop by for chats, and every year artists paint a fresco which is later donated to a high school); and entrance to the event is free for everyone, which insures a very steady flow of local people curious to see the wares. There’s even a special Imaginales vintage (repackaged wine probably, but still cool). Pretty much the centrepiece is the book tent, which is a ginormous space with a looooong set of tables, where each author has a spot: you sit there behind your books and sign stuff for whoever feels like buying. It helps if you think of it as a cross between a book fair (a Salon du Livre, if you’ve ever been) and an Anglophone con: there are a few events on programming (2-3 tracks), a gaming tent, and a café area, but the heart of the show is the book tent…“
The Imaginales, the Festival of the Imaginary Worlds is an event held every year in May since 2002 in Épinal (a small town in northeastern France and the capital – prefecture – of the Vosges department, on the Moselle river, 312 km east from Paris). The festival is organized by the City of Épinal, have been created and directed by Bernard Visse, and the artistic direction is provided by Stephanie Nicot.
It is a “salon littéraire” devoted to imaginary stories (fantasy, fantastika, anticipation, magical realism, historical fiction, fairy tales and legends). The name “Imaginales” is a contraction of the words “Image”, “imaginary”, “magic” and “Épinal”.
The 2013 Guests of Honour are Alastair Reynolds, Lucius Shepard, Gail Carriger, Ken Scholes, Andreas Eschbach, Alexandra Ivy.
Imaginales take place in the Parc du Cours, and some initiatives in several parts of the city. Many activities are offered, including literary cafes and roundtables, conferences and debates, exhibitions, films, animations … Signings in the Book Bubble (Bulle du Livre) are, among many other possibilities, opportunities for the public to meet the guest authors. Among those writers present in previous editions, (approximately one hundred each year), there are in particular: Brian Aldiss, Juan Miguel Aguilera, Jean-Pierre Andrevon, Ayerdhal, Francis Berthelot, Pierre Bordage, Jacqueline Carey, François Cérésa, Georges-Olivier Châteaureynaud, Philippe Claudel, Yves Coppens, Jean-Claude Dunyach, Valerio Evangelisti, Jean-Louis Fetjaine, Christian Grenier, Alain Grousset, Johan Heliot, Robin Hobb, Robert Holdstock, Greg Keyes, Gérard Klein, Roland Lehoucq, Henri Loevenbruck, Michael Marshall Smith, Michel Pagel, Pierre Pelot, Gilles Servat, Robert Sheckley, Bernard Simonay, Jean-Michel Truong, Antoine Volodine, Bernard Werber, Tad Williams, Joëlle Wintrebert…
The Imaginales Awards were established in May 2002. Five awards’ categories are presented at the festival.
The oldest (established at the first festival in 2002) is the Imaginales Award that recognizes the best works of fantasy in various categories. Since 2004 the Claude Seignolle Award deals with folklore, and since 2007 the Another Earth (Une Autre Terre) Award is dedicated to “a book of anticipation putting a great emphasis on environmental concerns and on the concept of sustainable development”. The Imaginales High School’s Students Award and the Collegians Award are in turn judged by a panel of young readers from the schools and colleges in Lorraine.
The Imaginales Awards recognizes the best works of fantasy of the year in seven categories ( 1.000 euros for the first five categories, 500 euros for the last two):
• the Best French Novel
• the Best Foreign Novel translated into French
• the Best Work for Youth
• the Best Illustration
• the Best Comics
• The Best Short Story
• the Jury Special Prize
The permanent jury is composed of:
• Jacques Grasser – President, Deputy Mayor of Epinal
• Jacques Baudou, Le Monde daily – literary critic
• Anne Besson, professor at the University of Artois
• Annaïg Houesnard, translator
• Jérôme Vincent, site manager of ActuSF
• Jean-Claude Vantroyen, the Belgian daily Le Soir head of culture departement
• Bernard Visse, director of the Imaginales festival
Since 2006, the entrance to Imaginales is free of charge.
The Imaginales 2013 Award Winners to be given on Saturday, May 25th, at 19h, within the Magic Mirror Pavilion :
- the Best French Novel : Gabriel Katz – “The Well of Memory” (Le Puits des mémoires) (Scrinéo)
- the Best Foreign Novel translated into French : Brandon Sanderson – “The Alloy of Law” (L’Alliage de justice) (Orbit)
- the Best Work for Youth : Patrick Ness – “A few minutes after midnight” (Quelques minutes après minuit) (Gallimard)
- the Best Short Story : Sylvie Miller and Philippe Ward, “A private detective on the Nile” (Un privé sur le Nil) (Critic)
- the Best Illustration : Amandine Labarre for the cover of “Porcelain” by Estelle Faye (Les Moutons électriques)
- the Best Comics : Wilfried Lupano & Jean-Baptiste Andreae – “Raiders of Lost Time” (Les Aventuriers du temps perdu) (Vents d’Ouest)
the Jury Special Prize : “Aux forges de Vulcain” (Vulcan Forges) Publishing Press for the first French translation of the novels of William Morris, “The Well at the World’s End” (1896) and “The Water of the Wondrous Isles” (1897) , translators : Francis Guévremont and Maxime Shelledy.