mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)

I’ll be at MIRcon this weekend, Spain’s 31st national science fiction, fantasy, and horror convention, also called HispaCon. It’s being held this year in Montcada i Reixac, a suburb of Barcelona.

Activities will include panels, conferences, an awards dinner, children’s activities, a Catalan-language track, exhibits, sales stands, signings, meetings, a zombie walk, a Night’s Watch Oath, and videos. Guests of honor are Nina Allan, Aliette de Bodard, Christopher Priest, Karin Tidbeck, Carlos Sisi, and Félix J. Palma. A lot of other Spanish authors will be there, too.

I’ll be on a panel with Mariano Villareal at 10:30 a.m. Monday presenting Castles in Spain / Castillos en el aire. We’ll hold a Kickstarter campaign starting in January to get this “best of” Spanish anthology translated into English. (You’ll hear a lot more about this.)

If you happen to be in Barcelona, you’re welcome to drop in. Events are free and open to the public. We’ll have fun.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)
I’ll be at Loncon 3, the 72nd World Science Fiction Convention in London, and among other fun stuff, I’ll moderate two panels. I think I got to be a moderator because I fearlessly volunteered to moderate – perhaps not everyone does. And as moderator, I’m already in contact with the panelists so we can come ready to make the most of our time and yours.

Translating Genre
Friday, 11:00 to 12:00, Capital Suite 8

Translations of SF/F books from one language to another offer a snapshot of the global SF/F scene, and in recent years it seems there has been an uptick in translated material available in the English-language market. But how representative is the sample of books translated into English? What factors determine which books get translated, and which don't? Who initiates a translation: does the translator work on spec, or are they commissioned by overseas publishers? How are translated books marketed to their new audiences? And why are so many SF and fantasy works by English-language authors translated into other languages, year after year, while so few from the rest of the world make their way into English?
With a panel that brings experience and expertise: Gili Bar-Hillel, Tom Clegg, Elisabeth Vonarburg, Marian Womack.

The World at Worldcon: SF/F in Spain
Saturday 18:00 - 19:00, London Suite 3

“Fantastic fiction” has deep roots in Spain. After a setback during the Franco dictatorship, it recovered in the 1980s and had an authentic boom in the 1990s. Today, it hosts fifty specialized publishers and a healthy scene of blogs, conventions, festivals, online magazines, and podcasts – plus anthologies, some recently translated into English, and more still to come. This panel of Spanish writers and readers will discuss the scene. Who are the key science fiction, fantasy and horror authors working in Spain at the moment? Where is Spanish fiction being reviewed, and what debates are going on in Spanish fan circles?
With some of the most important people in Spanish fandom today: Susana Arroyo, Miquel Codony Bodas, Elías Combarro, Leticia Lara, Cristina Jurado.

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Weather vane)
Barry Malzberg said in Breakfast in the Ruins, a collection of essays about writing science fiction, that lasting, significant change “is uncontrollable and coming in uncontrollably: … we have lost control of our lives.” If aliens come or as new technologies gallop ahead, we’re all at their mercy. In contrast, he says, middle-class assumptions include the idea that “increased self-realization is increased control,” an idea that shapes non-genre novels and drama – and, he says, is behind the hostility to science fiction.

Do your characters truly control their fates? Here are some story ideas, in case you need some:

• In this memoir-like story, an octogenarian imagines how life could have been if a series of worldwide changes had gone differently.

• This first contact story begins with the realization that in its cultural exchange with Earth, Aldebaran B has sent its malcontents as a form of exile.

• This is a suspense story about a medical treatment that can rehabilitate stroke victims or create false memories, and a patient who had the therapy isn't sure why.

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Weather vane)

Spain’s 2014 national convention, the 32nd HispaCon, will take place December 6 to 8. Each year, it’s held at a different site and organized by a different group. This year, the Colectivo Urânik will host it in Montcada i Reixac, a city on the outskirts of Barcelona.

The name of the town gave rise to the initials MIR, and “Mir” or Мир was the name of a USSR/Russian space station: this begot “MIRcon” and artwork incorporating science-fictional ideas.

The Colectivo Urânik discribes it as “the space station that orbits in the silence of space, waiting in each corner of the genre, in fantasy, in the dark corners of horror, for all readers who quiver with the love of stories. Our logo welcomes you to a meeting point: the multi-genre space station MIRcon.”

I have plans for December.

More information:

— Sue Burke

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Here’s my report on XXXI Hispacón/Quartumcón, Spain’s 2013 national SF convention, held in December. The report appears in the e-zine Concatenation, a British seasonal review of science fact and science fiction:

And here are the winners of the Ignotus Awards, which are the Spanish version of the Hugos:

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Salamanca)

I’d like to suggest a few stories for consideration for Hugo, Nebula, or other awards for 2013. These aren’t stories I wrote. Instead they’re stories from an anthology I helped translate from Spanish into English, Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction. It won Spain’s highest award, the Ignotus, for best anthology this year, and it faced some stiff competition. (Its cover art also won an Ignotus for best illustration.)


“The Texture of Words,” by Felicidad Martínez. Women seek leadership despite being blind and dependent, while men fight constant wars. This story is set in the universe of the Akasa-Puspa saga, a landmark in Spanish science fiction.

“Greetings from a Zombie Nation,” by Eric J. Mota. The stagnant society of Cuba deliberately turns its citizens into the walking dead. Mota lives in Havana. Although all the stories in this anthology are strong, this is my favorite.


“Deirdre,” by Lola Robles. Robotics creates made-to-order lovers, which may be what a shy woman needs.

“Bodies,” by Juanfran Jiménez. In a globalized and pseudo-democratic Europe, the rich practice sex tourism by means of mind exchange. Criminals can also use mind exchange as an escape route.

“Memory,” by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría. Personal relationships and sex roles evolve in radical ways on Mars, which has been terraformed in spite of the Martians.


“Light a Single Candle,” by Victor Conde. Social networks want too much and never let go, but they can be fought.

You can get Terra Nova here:

Smashwords, in a variety of electronic formats:

Amazon, in Kindle format:

Amazon, in paperback:

Sportula, the Spanish publisher:

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Picasso)

Cenital [At Zenith]

by Emilio Bueso
(Salto de Página; 2012; ISBN 978-84-15065-26-5; €18)
Cover photo by Christian Nadales

I bought this book after hearing it praised during the Celsius 232 festival for science fiction, fantasy, and horror in August in northern Spain. In fact, I bought one of the last remaining copies from a bookseller at the festival, and Emilio (we were all friends there, even if we had never met before) autographed it for me.

Cenital had already won the Celsius Award at the Semana Negra Festival. (The coincidence in the “celsius” names involves a long story that doesn’t matter here.) Bueso’s previous novel, Diástole [Diastole], a horror novel about a vampire with a different twist, also won the Celsius Award last year. Since then, Cenital has been nominated for a 2013 Ignotus Award, the Spanish equivalent to the Hugos, which will be awarded on December 14 at Hispacón 2013: Quartumcón in Quart de Poblet, near Valencia.

In a newspaper interview, Bueso said he wanted to write an unconventional dystopia, one that didn’t involve an autocratic, evil government. Instead, he was drawn to the consequences of energy use in modern society, particularly to the idea that petroleum won’t last forever. You could call the resulting novel science fiction, or you could call it an alternate history. You can’t call it pretty.

The novel opens in 2008 when a young man called Destral gets a job managing spy satellites for an espionage agency, which alerts him to the fact that petroleum production has reached its peak: oil companies, especially government-run ones, which are the lion’s share, have found it strategic to lie about how much reserves exist, while in fact the reserves are close to zero.

This inspires Destral to act. He starts to blog(!), ranting about the coming energy crisis and inviting people to join him in creating a self-sustaining hippy eco-village. In the next chapter, set in 2014, the little settlement is running successfully, almost idyllically. Or so it seems.

Short chapters interweave the past, the present, the blog, and citations from real life by Thomas Friedman, Mad Max, H.G. Wells, and Richard Heinberg, among others. In flashbacks, we’re introduced one by one to some of the members of the eco-village and learn how they came to be there.

For example, Teo had been a priest who lost his parish to the disaster when cheap oil ran out in 2012, which meant the end to trade and even farming, since farms needed fuel to run tractors and petroleum-based fertilizers, which were brought by ships and trucks that needed fuel to move. Cities starved, violence broke out, Teo lost his parish and nearly his life, and “when the last dog in the municipal dog pound had been devoured and every can of food had been emptied,” he remembered something he had once read on the Internet. He stumbled out of the city and its piles of corpses, and arrived at the eco-village, where he was accepted, and while he had no luck converting its members to Jesus, he was able to organize a school.

Except for Teo, though, the inhabitants seem to be good for little more than smoking weed, having sex, and growing dreadlocks. But crises loom: by mistake, there’s no seed for the wheat fields, and worse yet, they’re running low on condoms.

Perhaps because I’ve spent too much time on the Internet, Destral’s rants seemed a little tedious, although they were more compelling than the average angry blog. Still, they’re flashbacks, and the chapters that introduce characters are also flashbacks, so the actual time moving the plot forward is limited. The novel resembles a mosaic more than a conventional story-driven narrative, although each little part is told well enough to keep the book interesting. And, slowly, something ugly starts to loom in the distance.

Destral notices that the roads, which had been clogged to uselessness by abandoned cars, have been cleared to the point of being passable in one lane. Someone wants to go somewhere and has the sustained manpower to push aside all those hulks. The flashbacks also grow increasingly brutal, a hint of what’s to come. It’s no secret that the anarchy following the collapse of civilization has left most people dead and too many of the survivors reduced to savagery and cannibalism.

I had suspected from the beginning that the eco-village’s inhabitants would be put to a test. And they are. Bueso’s earlier works have been horror, and this book returns to horror at the end.

The odd structure works well enough, giving it an air a bit more like a documentary than a novel. At times the dialog sounds false, especially in the final conflict. But that final conflict makes all the parts in the book fall suddenly and satisfactorily into place. Cenital faces tough competition for the Ignotus, but it’s a worthy contender.

— Sue Burke

Also posted at my professional website,
mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)
A review of Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction, edited by Mariano Villareal, has been posted at Strange Horizons.

As you know, I am one of the translators of this book.Review of Terra Nova anthologyReview of Terra Nova anthology

The reviewer, Alexandra Pierce, says (among other things):

“This is an eclectic anthology. It suggests that place can have a major influence on fiction — ‘Greetings from a Zombie Nation’ has aspects that sounds distinctly dystopian but actually reflect lived Cuban experience — but also that some science fictional ideas transcend place, as with the impact of technology on everyday lives. It's marvelous to see Spanish work being translated and made accessible to English speakers, and I hope that translators can be kept in work bringing more to our attention.”

I would be delighted to bring more Spanish work to English readers, and in fact I’m trying to do that.

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)
What do genre fans do in other countries?


Here’s my report on Celsius 232, a festival of horror, fantasy, and science fiction held in Avilés, Spain, this summer.

The report appears in The Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation.

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Salamanca)

Lágrimas de luz [Tears of Light] by Rafael Marín is often called the “before and after” novel in Spanish science fiction. Published in 1984, and written a few years earlier when Marín was only 22 years old, it proved that a Spanish author could write an ambitious literary work of science fiction.

This might sound odd. Of course Spanish authors could – but they had to believe that themselves, and they had reason to doubt it. For the previous two centuries, realism and naturalism had reigned supreme in Spanish literature. Despite “futurist” authors like Nilo María Fabra, Spanish science fiction (and fantasy and horror) didn’t exist and wasn’t possible.

In the English-speaking world, science fiction set down its roots in the early 20th century, first as pulp and then as more serious works. Spain had its pulp too, starting from the 1950s, although its authors usually wrote under Anglo-Saxon pseudonyms like Louis G. Milk or George H. White at the behest of publishers, who did not think openly Spanish authors, pulp or serious, would sell. Top English-language authors like Alfred Bester and Roger Zelazny were available in translation, though, and they made their mark.

From 1968 to 1982, a fanzine with a professional attitude, Nueva Dimension, edited by Domingo Santos, provided budding authors with a chance to grow, and some solid works began to appear. But nothing caught readers’ attention like Lágrimas de luz.

The novel’s plot

During the Third Middle Ages, a young man named Hamlet Evans, living in a small town that manufactures food, aspires to more in life than toiling in a factory, numbed by drugs and sex. He wants to be a poet, specifically one of the bards whose songs celebrate the Corporation that expands the human empire and protects it from its enemies. He is accepted, trains at the bards’ monastery, and is assigned his first military ship.

Soon he learns that the glorious triumphs of the empire are anything but: indigenous life forms are cruelly wiped out and the planets’ resources are stripped as the Corporation expands its iron grasp. Disillusioned, Hamlet can no longer compose acceptable epic poems. He resigns and is set down on the first available planet, which turns out to be under punishment for a rebellion against the Corporation. He barely survives, eventually escaping to join a small theater group and then a circus. The Corporation, meanwhile, decides that no entertainment that fails to extol its greatness can continue to exist, and sends troops to wipe them out.

Hamlet escapes again, and he decides to continue an outlaw artistic existence to defy the Corporation.

Ambitious and Spanish

Marín himself has called the novel an “ambitious space opera,” which it is, offering careful characterization and thematic development. Hamlet matures as a man and an artist in a fully-imagined universe. Like most first novels, it’s not perfect, especially some of the wooden and long-winded dialogue, but the action scenes are riveting and the prose is polished, at times even soaring.

As critic Mariela González pointed out in her analysis, Lágrimas de Luz: Postmodernidad y estilo en la ciencia ficción española, the novel makes a clean break from pulp. It features protagonist who is hardly a hero, and its themes include the search for beauty, and the crisis and alienation of youth. Rather than save the universe, Hamlet can barely save himself, and the universe might not even merit saving: no lightweight escapism here.

The story also draws on Spain’s own medieval past and brings it into the future. The bards’ songs echo works like El Cid that had once been popularly sung throughout the land – a past oral culture updated for the novel’s present. The novel also responds in its own way to Robert Heinlein’s Space Troopers and openly draws on themes from Moby Dick and other classics.

The next steps

The surprise of Lágrimas de luz didn’t usher in a sudden boom in Spanish science fiction. That waited until the 1990s with works by authors like Juan Miguel Aguilera, Elia Barceló, Javier Negrete, and Rodolfo Martínez, among many others, but the door had been opened. The genre continues to struggle, especially in the current economic crisis, and I have witnessed that too many Spanish science fiction fans do not yet believe that Spanish authors can write as well as English-language authors. (I try to convince them otherwise.) The road still heads uphill, but the problems are economic now, not artistic.

Rafael Marín, by the way, has continued to write and now has a long list of outstanding works to his name. Lágrimas de Luz is still in print after all these years and is available at Sportula, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Casa del Libro, Ender, and Smashwords.

— Sue Burke

Also posted at my professional website,
mount_oregano: Let me see (Postage stamp)
What is Spain’s science fiction like: its themes, its scope, its authors? That’s a big question, and for a fast answer, we can look at the novels that have won the Ignotus Award over the last decade.

The Ignotus Awards are presented by the Spanish Association of Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror at the annual national convention, Hispacon. In many ways, they resemble the Hugo Awards presented at Worldcon; the Ignotus recogizes works in many categories, including novels, short stories, magazines, poems, artwork, and websites.


The Ignotus Award is a black marble monolith. It shares the Hugo’s strengths and weaknesses: relatively few people vote (starting this year, the voting base has been dramatically expanded), but those voters are intensely engaged, so while the choice of winners might generate controversy, no one can argue that they don’t rank among the year’s best.

2012: Fieramente humano [Fiercely Human] by Rodolfo Martínez. This complex urban fantasy returns to a city that has appeared in other novels, and it is a character in itself. An assassin arrives in the city to settle a thirty-year-old debt with Doctor Zanzaborna, a sorcerer, and police officer Gabriel Márquez learns that he was involved in supernatural events in his past without his knowledge.

2011: Crónicas del Multiverso [Chronicles of the Multiverse] by Victor Conde. Part of the Multiverse saga. The Variety is a small universe surrounded by a cosmic void and filled with a different life forms and civilizations. A space pirate steals an object from the Urtianos that is so valuable that they will go to war against all other intelligent species to recover it. The Urtianos also know that their universe is about to die.

2010: Última noche de Hipatia [The Last Night of Hypatia] by Eduardo Vaquerizo. A tragic love story framed by the city of Alexandria. A new disciple arrives from a far-off land, and Hypatia suspects he has a secret. In fact, he is from the future and knows that she will soon face a losing battle with fanaticism.

2009: Día de Perros [Dog Day] by David Jasso. Two teenagers spot a stray dog and decide to take it to its master and ask for a reward. In this novel about friendship and psychological suffering, their simple plan soon spirals down into suspense and horror.

2008: Alejandro Magno y las Águilas de Roma [Alexander the Great and the Eagles of Rome] by Javier Negrete. Alexander, the best military strategist in history, survives an attempted poisoning and decides to turn west and conquer Europe. To do that, he must defeat the incipient Roman Empire. Multiple points of view enrich this alternate history.

2007: Juglar [Jongleur] by Rafael Marín. In medieval Spain, the orphan Esteban survives in the rough world of the Spanish Reconquest by his wits, poetry, knavery, and magic. Torn between good and evil, he uses his skills to fill the post of troubadour for Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, “El Cid.” When El Cid dies, Esteban’s black arts might help win a crucial battle.

2006: Danza de tinieblas [Dance in the Shadows] by Eduardo Vaquerizo. In this alternate history, the Spanish empire forged in the 16th and 17th centuries lasts until 1927, the year in which the book takes place. Schemers, dissolute nobles, and inquisitive monks populate Madrid, while a series of murders in Salamanca threaten to reveal a mystery that could bring down the empire. There is nothing Victorian about the novel’s steampunk setting.

2005: El sueño del rey rojo [The Red King’s Dream] by Rodolfo Martínez. Andrea finds a computer disk next to a dead man that contains the code to create an artificial intelligence. Alex recognizes the code as the one used to recreate his associate Lurquer as an artificial intelligence shortly before his suicide. Amid their personal rivalries, they discover that the dead man does not seem to have existed, but a worldwide conspiracy does.

2004: La espada de fuego [The Sword of Fire] by Javier Negrete. This epic fantasy, part of a trilogy, centers on Zemal, a legendary sword of fire and symbol of power that every warrior aspires to possess. Seven aspirants fight for it in a battle that eventually threatens to break the peace between gods and men. Warriors and sorcerers must unite to defeat chaos and destruction.

2003: Cinco días antes [Five Days Earlier] by Carlos F. Castrosín. In the near future, a police officer recovering from injuries in a bomb blast is assigned to investigate the murder of an alderman in Supra Beni, a megalopolis suffering from rampant corruption. Supra Beni is a single giant building that developed from today’s Benidorm, a tourist city filled with skyscrapers on the Mediterranean coast near Valencia.

— Sue Burke

Also posted at the AEFCFT website,
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A story I translated into English for Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction, has been nominated for an Ignotus Award in its original Spanish-language version. This is the equivalent of a Hugo in Spain.

The story is “La textura de las palabras” [“The Texture of Words”] by Felicidad Martínez. It tells of a woman’s fight for leadership on a planet where women are blind and dependent, and men fight constant wars.

Terra Nova: Antología de ciencia ficción contemporánea has also received seven other Ignotus nominations: best anthology, best novella, best short story (two nominations), best cover art, and best foreign short story (two nominations).

Winners will be announced at HispaCon, the Spanish national science fiction convention, in fall.

— Sue Burke

P.S. Buy your English-language copy now.

Smashwords, in a variety of electronic formats:

Amazon, in Kindle format:

Amazon, in paperback:

Sportula, the Spanish publisher:

mount_oregano: Let me see (Salamanca)

An article about science fiction from Spain, which also appears (in a longer version) in Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Science Fiction, has been published in Europa SF. The article was written by Mariano Villareal, the anthology’s editor, and translated to English by me:

To buy the anthology, which came out last month:

Smashwords, in a variety of electronic formats:

Amazon, in Kindle format:

Amazon, in paperback:

Sportula, the Spanish publisher:

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Picasso)

Short stories by six top Spanish-language writers have been translated into English and are now available in Terra Nova: An Anthology of Contemporary Spanish Science Fiction. I’m one of the translators. You can buy it at:

Smashwords, in a variety of electronic formats:

Amazon, in Kindle format:

Amazon, in paperback:

Sportula, the Spanish publisher:

The variety of stories is impressive.


“The Texture of Words,” by Felicidad Martínez: women seek to lead despite being blind and dependent, while men fight constant wars.

“Deirdre,” by Lola Robles: in the future, robotics can create made-to-order lovers.

“Greetings from a Zombie Nation,” by Eric J. Mota: a stagnant society, Cuba, turns its citizens into the living dead.

“Light a Lone Candle,” by Victor Conde: social networks want too much and never let go.

“Bodies,” by Juanfran Jiménez: in a globalized and pseudodemocratic Europe, the rich practice sex tourism by means of mind exchange.

“Memory,” by Teresa P. Mira de Echeverría: personal relationships and sex roles evolve in radical ways on a terraformed Mars.

And an article by the editor:

“Science Fiction from Spain,” by Mariano Villarreal: a close look at the past and present in Spanish science fiction.

It’s been a pleasure to translate these outstanding stories and bring them to the English-speaking public. Get your copy today!

— Sue Burke
mount_oregano: Let me see (Picasso)

My review of HispaCon XXX/Imaginacon II has just been published in Concatenation, a European SF magazine. It was a big weekend in a small town with lots of fun. Read more here:

You can also see the winners of the awards presented at the convention here:

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Leafy Oregano)

Applications are being accepted for the 2013 Clarion Writers’ Workshop at UC San Diego:
The workshop will be held June 23 to August 3.

I attended back in 1996 when it was still at Michigan State University in East Lansing. We spent six intense, brain-melting weeks honing our skills for writing science fiction, fantasy, and horror. What did I learn? Too much for one sentence, and each of my classmates learned different things. In my case, I learned how to get from idea to story in sure steps along several possible paths, and how to make that story tighter.

It’s not cheap, but you can get scholarships. I donated to the Write-a-Thon Scholarship, so put my money to good use.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (OpenMic)

A long time ago, the realms of science fiction, fantasy, and horror endured a debate over whether women could write as well as men. For example, could a woman really write as well as James Tiptree Jr.?

It turned out that Tiptree was really Alice B. Sheldon. That almost ended debate then and there, except for occasional nonsense like this:

Of course women can write, and here’s a chance to see what they can do. Broad Universe, an organization that promotes women in gender fiction, has published an anthology of twenty-nine short stories and fiction excerpts. Broad Spectrum, The 2012 Broad Universe Fiction Sampler even includes a story by me.

The anthology is free. Get the ebook here:
Available in multiple formats: online in HTML and JavaScript, or in Kindle, Epub, PDF, RTF, LRF, and Palm Doc PDB.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (I_heart_Spain)

I’ve attended science fiction conventions in the US and in Spain, including this year’s Worldcon in Chicago at the end of summer and Hispacon in Urnieta in mid-October. In some ways, conventions in both countries are alike, which isn’t surprising. Although Spain has its own literary trajectory, many of the traditions and habits of American and British fandom have been imported into Spanish fandom, such as genre categories, awards, and the whole idea of conventions themselves.

In fact, Spanish fans (and fans in most of the rest of the world) will know all about Isaac Asimov or China Miéville, although US fans are unlikely to know about Domingo Santos or Javier Negrete — translations flow mostly one way, sadly.

At a Spanish convention, much like a US or British convention, you will find an active interest in books, magazines, television, movies, and Internet publications, activities, and entertainment. Costumes, including steampunk garb, are becoming more popular. Role playing games caught on a while ago. More and more often, convention attendees wear tee-shirts with genre slogans and art, but Hawaiian shirts have yet to make a splash.

Spanish authors and fans mix with the same equality as in the US or Britain, and for the same reason: authors are fans. You’ll find panels and workshops of authors and fans expounding on topics more or less related to the genre and happy to interact with the audience to the enrichment of all.

But you’ll find a few cultural differences that are very Spanish.


Actually, this is a general Spanish thing. Friends greet and say goodbye with air kisses on both cheeks: men and women, women and women. Since Spaniards are in general good-looking, this is fun in itself. But imagine the squee of kissing your favorite author!

Book presentations

New books are presented to fans and likely readers in sessions at conventions (and at bookstores and events at other times of the year), although not quite the same way. In the US, the author might make a few remarks and then read from the new book. In Spain, a panel of people possibly including the author will expound on the book, and the book will be shown off with all its glorious cover art, but it won’t be read aloud. I don’t know why. It’s just not done — not frowned upon when done in other countries, but not done in Spain.


Unlike than in the US or Britain, awards are often presented for unpublished works. This is an old tradition especially common outside the genre, and, really, the award acts as publicity for the soon-to-be-published work. At a Hispacon, the big awards, like the Ignotus (which is the Spanish equivalent of the Hugo) are for published works, but you might encounter an award or two for something not yet in print. This is why.

Alcohol I

Somehow, every convention manages to have a bar on premises or at least nearby. A Spanish bar serves everything from liquor to coffee along with snacks, so you can be in the bar at any time from morning to night. You’ll probably be there sooner or later, even if you’re a tea-totaler.

Alcohol II

Spain has a wine-based cuisine. No dinner is complete without wine. So at a gala awards dinner, expect to get all the wine you can drink. In addition, or as a consequence, expect the dinner to be loud and jovial.

Alcohol III

Don’t expect room parties at the hotel. This just isn’t the custom. Spaniards rarely invite non-family members to their homes for entertainment, so to the extent that a hotel room is a home away from home, it’s not the place for entertaining people. Instead, friends meet in bars for a night out, both in daily life and at conventions. Since Spanish bars are so plentiful and varied, the lack of room parties creates no problem at conventions. You can go to bed early at a Worldcon or a Hispacon, but you don’t have to. Why would you even want to?

So a Hispacon will be different from a Worldcon, but just as at a Worldcon, you can have all the fun you can handle, learn about new books, discuss shows and films, make friends, and meet (and maybe kiss) your favorite authors. Best and most important of all, you can spend a weekend engaged in fierce public love of literature. Fans are like that the world over.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (OpenMic)

Where to find me in Chicago:

Thursday, August 30, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Daily Science Fiction book launch
Wrigley Room
Not Just Rockets and Robots, Daily Science Fiction Year One, official launch with author reading panel, discussion and signing. I have a story in that anthology

Friday, August 31, 3:00 to 4:30 p.m.
Broad Universe Rapid-Fire Reading
Grand Suite 3
Members of the Broad Universe organization read short excepts from current works. Reading: Brenda Cooper, Carol Berg, Cat Rambo, Catherine Asaro, Catherine Lundoff, Conni Covington, Deirdre, Gwynne Garfinkle, J. Kathleen Cheney, Kathryn Sullivan, Laurel Anne Hill, Lyda Morehouse, Mary Robinette Kowal, Roberta Gregory, Roberta Rogow, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, Sue Burke. I’ll be reading from the end of Chapter 35 of Amadis of Gaul, the part where the knight Amadis and Princess Oriana finally consummate their forbidden love.

Sunday, September 2, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon
Writers Workshop P
Grand Suite 4
Joan Slonczewski and Sue Burke, with three other participants. Previous sign-up was required and is now closed.

Sunday September 2, 6:00 to 7:30 p.m.
Face to Face Critique Writing Groups
Columbus CD
Discussion of the pro and cons of face to face writing groups and how working with your peers will help your writing. With David Boop, Gene Wolfe, J. Kathleen Cheney (moderator), Martha Wells, and Sue Burke.

I’ll also help staff the Broad Universe sales table — but you can go anytime to the table in the Dealer's Room, chat with fine female authors who would love to meet you, and buy their books.

— Sue Burke

mount_oregano: Let me see (Salamanca)

Does a story have to be chronological? Of course not. And you knew that. It’s usually easier to tell a tale by the clock, but your story may vary. For example, your story may be not about what the journey through time but the emotional journey, which is never a straight line. Time is relative, too, even at non-light speeds. My friend Pat Bowne discussed that in her blog post here: Meanwhile, if you want to tell a story that has its own time, here are a few ideas:

• This military SF story begins with the trial of an officer who had adopted alien tactics to win a war on an alien world, but was condemned as a lawless warlord at home.

• This is a story about a Lunar pioneer who finds archaeological evidence of previous inhabitants and starts to piece together the events that killed them.

• This is a subterficial story (look it up) in which a graphic novelist considers several possible story lines for an upcoming publication.

— Sue Burke

September 2017

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