Festival der Fantastik

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Festival der Fantastik or (informally?) MönchCon '82 was held on 20–22 August 1982 in Mönchengladbach, (North Rhine-Westphalia, West) Germany. Apparently it counts as Science Fiction Club Deutschland's "Jahrescon"[1] (hence the city-based [nick?]name) with the Kurd Laßwitz Preis ceremony, i. e. (in effect) natcon, but there were other (co-)organizing bodies,[2] especially one Interessengemeinschaft Medienarbeit[3] ("Interest Society Media Work"), which would explain the mundane title, the record-breaking attendance over 1000 people (with 258 pre-registered) and reportedly rather sercon atmosphere unusual in Germany at the time. The GoH was John Brunner – per early 1982 publicity,[4] together with Josef Nesvadba, Polish translator/editor Wiktor Bukato (who wasn't allowed to travel after the army coup in December), Dutch fan Kees van Toorn and writer Wolfgang Jeschke (surviving accounts are ambiguous whether he actually attended).

Festival der Fantastik served as a last-moment replacement for 1982's ill-fated Eurocon, known as Eurocon 7 (or VII as was the habit back then), even though only sixth such a bi-yearly event since their founding in 1972: after the Eurocon 5 in 1980, it was decided to include retroactively in the count and naming the First European SF Convention in Zurich, Switzerland in August 1959. This skip caused some confusion in the rest of the decade, but there was never such a thing called "Eurocon 6".

Eurocon (hi)story[edit]

The prehistory as recounted in File 770 25 (April 1981,[5] partially on the basis of the Munich Round Up 151 – despite the title in German-language and unavailable online) can be summarised thus:

During the uneasy détente of the 1970es, there was much effort to hold some Eurocons within the Eastern Bloc, to keep the communist authorities' goodwill for such unreglemented trans-border mingling, even though conrunning behind the Iron Curtain was inevitably more complicated, almost as much as securing travel permits and hard currency for the local fans to go to the West, so only Eurocon 3 in 1976 took place in Poland as a rather officious event. When the international tension rose again and it came to deciding on 1982, Hungary was interested but withdrew after the Soviet Union announced their own bid, "disliked by all but accepted after some debate, as it was realised" it was the 200-pound gorilla in the room. The Soviets cancelled soon, claiming impossibility to secure sufficient accommodation in Moscow from the Writers' Union allotment mere two years in advance (which, in the failing bureaucratic "planned" economy, might even have been true and not a face-saving mask for some deeper political disapproval or planning failure). Hungary had been retained as a backup option and would have taken over, but Péter Kuczka, their representative (a pro publisher active in World SF as well) had health problems, he cancelled unilaterally, without even consulting the local fandom that would have been involved or the authorities[6] (this split was still sore when Eurocon 1988 came to Budapest).

The third option, also bid in 1980 and kept in reserve, was August 10–15 at La Chaux-De-Fronds, Switzerland, with Ian Watson to be GoH, "also invited are Lem and the Strugatskys".[7] (Further news also listed French comics artist Pierre Christin as the prospective GoH, and Darko Suvin and Doris Lessing.) After a year of quiet and optimism it turned out that the Swiss bid was the work of Pascal Ducommun, a single well-meaning fan, without wider community support, he "burned out" or "had a nervous breakdown" and everything collapsed in June 1982.[8] Little time was wasted by the ESFS board and the same news items anounced the Mönchengadbach Festival will take over the Eurocon role.

ESFS Awards are available in various usual listings. Roelof Goudriaan refused the Best Fanzine award for his pan-European newszine Shards of Babel, noting that it was just two issues old. (Yet it is usually included in the retrospective lists.)

Links and notes[edit]

  1. https://www.charlys-phantastik-cafe.de/fandom/SFCD-history/SFCD-cons.htm or the PDF of leaflet form https://www.yumpu.com/de/document/view/4553103/science-fiction-club-deutschland-ev-vereins-geschichte
  2. "Den Höhepunkt der Zerstreuung und Begegnung 1982 bildete im August das FESTIVAL DER FANTASTIK in Mönchengladbach. Mit einem sehr breitgefächerten Programm (über 1000 Besucher) konnten die vier Veranstalter beweisen, daß auch bei uns ein SF-Con mit einigem Niveau stattfinden kann." Marcel Bieger & Kurt E. Seelmann: "Die deutsche SF-Szene 1982/83", Science Fiction Jahrbuch 1984, ISBN 3-8118-3624-2
  3. https://www.science-fiction-times.de/downloads/1982/sft_7_82.pdf
  4. https://www.fanac.org/fanzines/Shards_of_Babel/Shards_of_Babel01-01.html , May 1982
  5. File 770 25, p. 11
  6. Ansible 15, February 1981
  7. https://news.ansible.uk/a25.html#23
  8. https://news.ansible.uk/a27.html#17

Eurocon 5 Eurocon Eurocon 7
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