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The World’s Biggest SF event: UTOPIALES (November 7th – 11th, 2012), Nantes, France

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With 46,000 attendees in 2011, Utopiales is not only the biggest European SF Festival, it’s the largest SF event on Earth.

As a comparison, the “World” Anglophone conventions have between 5 to 6,000 participants at maximum.

The Utopiales model, to open the gates of science fiction to the general public, to gather writers, scholars, scientists, artists plus fans and readers and gamers, it’s functioning and is generating audience and awareness.

The 13th edition of Utopiales, Nantes’ International Festival of Science Fiction, it’s an unmissable event           for all the SF&F fans and readers! It starts on Wednesday the 7th of October  2012, at 18h30  (UTC+01).

For five days, from Wednesday, November the 7th until Sunday, November the 11th at Nantes (France) in La Cité des Congrès /Nantes Events Center  will be held the 2012 edition (the thirteenth) of the International Festival of Science Fiction, Utopiales.
Nantes is the largest city in Brittany, France, with 800,000 inhabitants in the metropolitan area and is located 342 kilometers southwest of Paris, at the confluence of the Loire, Edre and Sèvre rivers, 50 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean.
Since 2000, the Utopiales venue is the Congress Palace in Nantes, always fall in late October or early November. The Utopiales Festival is an event of great magnitude  and the most important SF international event dedicated to the  European SF and it’a managed to gather together  thousands of genre fans and professionals  (38,000 participants in 2006, 40,000 in 2008, 41,000 in 2010, 46,000 in 2012).
The Utopiales name was suggested by Christian Grenier, a SF writer in 1997 and the Utopiales Festival was created in 1998 by Bruno della Chiesa (an Italian-born French, linguist, diplomat, researcher, SF editor) in Futuroscope (Poitiers), a huge theme park dedicated to the future.

Bruno della Chiesa coordinated the Utopiales between 1998 and 2000, and was succeeded between 2001-2005 by the historian Patrick Gyger (Maison d’Ailleurs/House of the Elsewhere’s manager ; La Maison d’Ailleurs is the only public world museum of science fiction, utopia and extraordinary journeys, in Yverdon-les-Bains, Switzerland) and this year the Festival’s president  is the writer and astrophysicist Roland Lehoucq.

Utopiales is a manifestation of the general public, the fans and the professionals. The Utopiales Festival is celebrating and exploring all means of expression of science fiction, literature, film (international competition and European contest of short films), theater, comics (best album contest, exhibitions), art exhibitions, concerts, games videos, a role playing site, plus panels, discussions and debates on scientific topics.

Since its creation, in the year 2000, The Utopiales, The Nantes International Science Fiction Festival, has tried, as its objective, to offer works of quality to the greatest number of people possible, and to enable them to discover the world of futurology, of new technologies and of the fantastic. This year the festival will take place from the 7th to the 12th of November, 2012. As it does each year, it will develop a theme, while at the same time treating the yearly developments in the world of science fiction.” The theme of this edition is “Origins”.

In 2012, in a world in crisis, faced with its certitudes being called into question, and the obligation to invent new pathways, it was logical for the Utopiales, the Nantes International Science Fiction Festival to evoke the notion of Origins, and to decline it resolutely as a plural. The Origins, first of all, of science fiction itself, which already, 150 years ago, was becoming the ideal place to call into question the social repercussions of technical progress, when exposed to the enormous gifts of authors such as Jules Verne, Herbert George Wells, J.H. Rosny Aïné, as well as Rudyard Kipling. The founders and the giants of international science fiction will be celebrated. The Origins too, of new ways of seeing, of new themes, which are born, like stars, every time authors and publishers, scientists and artists meet in order to prepare the new generations to embrace the future : post-humanity, artificial intelligence, technological utopias and new scientific challenges will meet at these Utopiales. And, finally, origins in order to offer you a panorama more vertiginous than ever of the possibilities of science fiction, encompassing the space of the Lieu Unique, in partnership with the Nantes convention center.”

Many prominent guests will be present at this year’s edition including Neil Gaiman (United Kingdom) which will be the Guest of Honor at this 13th edition. Internationally renowned, this author and comic strip scriptwriter has become famous thanks to Sandman Comics, one of the rare comic books to be classed in the bestseller list of the New York Times.

This year, the Utopiales poster has been created by Nicolas Fructus, the scriptwriter and illustrator of the comic strip Thorinth. He also belonged to the team who made the film Arthur and the Minimoys, along with Luc Besson, thus creating the imaginary world of the Minimoys.

The literary and the scientific domains, fundamental to the festival, will welcome numerous international guests, such as Neil Gaiman (UK), Robert Charles Wilson (Canada), Nancy Kress (USA), Michael Moorcock (UK) , Norman Spinrad (USA),  Javier Negrete (Spain), Tommaso Pincio (Italy), and also french writers as Gérard Klein, Laurent Genefort, Ayerdahl, Pierre Bordage, Ugo Bellagamba, Alain Damasio, Jeanne-A Debats, Sylvie Denis, Joelle Wintrebert, David Calvo, Thomas Day, Lionel Davoust, Thomas Geha, Gilles Francescano, Laurent Whale, Etienne Barillier or scholars as Gilles Ménégaldo, Estelle Blanquet and Simon Brean, Etienne Klein (France), Cédric Villani (France), etc. The art of the Comic Strip will stand out thanks to the presence of numerous cartoonists and scriptwriters, in particular Nicolas Fructus, Marc-Antoine Mathieu, etc. All of these personalities will come together for lectures, debates or the autograph sessions which punctuate the festival.”

In the aisles of the festival, the Mervyn Peake exhibition will display the various works of this British illustrator, poet and writer. The public will discover the Nao Robots in an astonishing choreography which pays homage to the robots of Isaac Asimov. The Amazing Science exhibition will be organised by the INSERM [Institut national de santé et de recherches médicales : the National Institute for Health and Medical Research] and the CEA (Commissariat à l’Energie Atomique : The Atomic Energy Commission), a new festival partner.” : http://www.utopiales.org/festival-presentation

More than 150 guests, writers, scientists, researchers, designers, writers, illustrators, filmmakers from eight different countries, 96 panels, meetings bringing together writers, scientists, scholars, artists, illustrators, film directors, three literary awards and one comics award, one SF anthology, 11 exhibitions, [Mervyn Peake (UK), Dave Mc Kean (UK), Robot Nao (France), Memory Worlds Troubles of France  by Nicolas Fructu, Manchu (France), Last Planet before Legoland (France), Odyssey Etienne Rey (France), Amazing Science (France), Libs (France), Fragile Territories – Robert Henke (Germany), Modern Monsters by Hell’O Ghosts (Belgium)], one Game Jam held at the Canteen in partnership with Atlantic 2.0, one cosplay, cinema with the screening of 36 films and 18 short films in 48 sessions. The Utopiales Festival is also a must for fans of Japanese culture, with Cosplay parades and fashion shows, manga drawing and calligraphy workshops, and anime film screenings. Designers of the Japan Animation and Manga College will also be present. All the Japanese activities and events taking place at the festival are supported by Nantes Métropole and the City of Niigata, Nantes’ sister city.

An annual anthology (Utopiae), edited by Bruno della Chiesa, was published from 2000 to 2006 by L’Atalante Publishing Press (Nantes). 70 short stories from 40 countries, published in seven Utopiae anthologies, are the work of 70 authors speaking 20 different languages. Since 2009, the official anthology of Utopiales is edited by ActuSF publishers.

In 2007 the Festival had launched the European Utopiales Award and the last year the Utopiales European Youth Award was introduced. The Julia Verlanger Award is also given at the Utopiales.

Again this year, the Nantes International Science Fiction Festival, The Utopiales, is organizing The European Utopiales Award, in order to reward European authors in the genre known as the “Literature of the Fantastic”.

This prize rewards a novel, or a collection, published in French, during the literary season preceding the festival, whose author is a citizen of a country belonging to the European Community. The prize has a cash value of 2000 euros.

The Prize will be awarded in public on Saturday, November 10th. For the sixth time, the Utopiales will award The European Utopiales Prize. This year, five works are in competition:

–           “Bite the Shield” by Justine Niogret

–           “Elliot of Naught” by David Calvo

–           “Merchant-Princes”, Vol.4 (from The War of the Families : The Merchants’War) by Charles Stross

–           “Salt in your Eyes” by Thomas Day

–           “Farlander” (Vol.1) by Col Buchanan

The jury will include:

Pierrick Sorin (videographer)

Nicolas Fructus (illustrator)

Bernard Kervarec (bookseller)

Lucie Evain (a Nantes reader)

 

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8 COMMENTS

  1. This looks really interesting. I have just discovered Utopiales on the Scifiportal website, unfortunately too late for this year, but a serious option for next year.
    I can speak quite a lot of French but I notice there is nothing in this piece about the language(s) used at Utopiales. Presumably, it is mostly in French but I see many guests are Anglophone. Are there streams in English?

  2. Dragoncon with 52 000 members might be the bigget event in the world, since it, like Utopiales, is a professionally run event with guests of honour receiving renumeration for appearances, if I understand correctly. Among the volunteer run conventions, Europe can boast to have the biggest con in the world – Finncon.

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