Quartumcon, the 2013 Hispacón, Spain’s National SF Convention – Sue Burke (American Writer and Certified Translator living in Madrid, Spain)

    Hispacon 2013_QuartPoblet

    More than 100 people attended Hispacón XXXI, Spain’s 2013 national convention, also called Quartumcon in honor of its location at Quart de Poblet, a town just outside of Valencia. Held on December 14 and 15, the convention focused on books and writers, and was a chance to renew friendships and reflect on the history of science fiction in Spain.
    Each year, the convention is held in a different city and organized by a different group, and this year the members of the prozine Hiperespacio used their connections with Quart de Poblet to host the Hispacón.

    Small towns are becoming the preferred place for conventions in Spain because the towns will open their facilities for cultural events, which keeps costs down, but they are close enough to big cities to take advantage of transportation connections. Quart is just a few subway stops from downtown Valencia.
    The convention used Quart’s Cultural Center, Youth Center, Town Hall, and Library, which were all located near each other in the heart of town, surrounded by pleasant restaurants and bars. Vendors set up shop in the ground floor of the Youth Center, offering books, game supplies, toys and jewelry. As part of the welcome pack, everyone could choose six books from a wide selection donated by publishers.
    The convention had five guests of honor, some of the stars of Spanish writing and publishing: Rafael Marín, Juan Miguel Aguilera, Juanma Santiago, Luis Vigil, and José Carlos Samoza.
    In the opening talk of the convention, Rafael Marín told how isolated fans began to discover each other, which led to the first Hispacón in 1969.
    The next talk, by Luis Vigil, expanded on the history of science fiction in Spain, in particular the magazine Nueva Dimension. Published from 1968 to 1983, it gave writers, critics, and artists a chance to reach the reading public. Vigil, one of its founders, said that the nature of science fiction allowed writers to fool censors during the Franco dictatorship by critically examining dictatorships that were far away in the future, although occasionally a story had to be changed for censors, and one story, “Gu ta gutarrak” (“We and Our Own”) by Magdalena Mouján Otaño, could only be published after Franco died because censors thought it encouraged Basque nationalism.
    As many as four activities were going on at once, including a visit Saturday morning by the Skywalker Saga Club, whose members came in costumes from Star Wars. They posed with fans and people passing on the street. On Saturday afternoon, fans of the Aznar Saga, a series of novels from the 1950s and 1970s, held their own mini-convention, the 15th annual Aznarcon. In addition, author Sophie Rhei hosted two writing workshops, one on Friday evening for children and one on Sunday morning for adults.

    A gala dinner on Saturday evening included the presentation of awards.

    The Ignotus Awards, named after an early 20th-century Spanish writer, are given out by the Spanish Association for Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror (AEFCFyT in Spanish) and are nominated and voted on by its members and those attending the convention.

    The award is a black monolith, a small version of the one that appears in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey:

    Best Novel: El mapa del tiempo [The Map of Time] by Felix J. Palma (Plaza & Janés)
    Best Novella: “Osfront” by Eduardo Vaquerizo, José Ramón Vázquez y Santiago Eximeno (Ediciones del cruciforme)
    Best Short Story: “Neo Tokio Blues” by José Ramón Vázquez (Prospectivas) (Salto de Página)
    Best Anthology: Terra Nova. Antología de ciencia ficción contemporánea [Terra Nova: Anthology of Contemporary Science Fiction] edited by Mariano Villarreal and Luis Pestarini (Sportula)
    Best Non-Fiction Book: La ciencia ficción de Isaac Asimov [The Science Fiction of Isaac Asimov] by Rodolfo Martínez (Sportula)
    Best Article: “Ciencia-Ficción en español” [“Science Fiction in Spanish”] by Fernando Angel Moreno (Prospectivas) (Salto de Página)
    Best Illustration: Cover art for Terra Nova created by Ángel Benito Gastañaga (Sportula)
    Best Audiovisual Production: Los Verdhugos, a podcast by Miquel Codony, Elías Combarro, Josep María Oriol y Pedro Román
    Best Comic: Espinas [Thorns] by Santiago Eximeno y Angel Manuel Sánchez Crespo (The End 2012)
    Best Poem: “Quiero comerme tu máscara de gas” [“I Want to Gobble Up Your Gas Mask”] by Santiago Eximeno (Groenlandia 14)
    Best Magazine: Delirio [Delirium] (Biblioteca del Laberinto)
    Best Website: La Tercera Fundación [The Third Foundation] by Los Conseguidores at
    Best Foreign Short Story: “El zoo de papel” [“The Paper Menagerie”] by Ken Liu (Terra Nova)
    Best Foreign Novel: La ciudad y la ciudad [The City & The City] by China Miéville (La Factoría de Ideas)

    The Domingo Santos Award for best unpublished short story, selected by a jury, was presented to “Remolinos de viento coloreado” [“Colored Whirlwinds”] by José David Espasandín García and to “Artículo 45.1″ by Aitor Solar Azcona.
    Finally, the Gabriel Award was presented by officers of AEFCFyT for valuable contributions to the genre. It went to authors Juan Miguel Aguilera and Javier Redal for opening the location of their novels and short stories, Akusa-Puspa, to other writers. It is an imaginary globular cluster orbiting the Milky Way Galaxy.

    © Sue Burke

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