In Which I Learn Fascinating Some Things About German SF


Elstercon started last night, and was enjoyable from the start. This convention, which is small, limits attendance to 200 people.  That means the folks who come are very, very, very interested in sf.

The con is held in the Haus de Buches, a lovely building that’s a conference center.  On the wall behind reception is made of books literally spray-painted gold.  It’s quite an effect. After opening ceremonies last night, we started with a panel on the history of sf, conducted in German, with me, Bernard Craw, Achim Schnurrer, and moderated by Stefan Lampadius.  The convention has assigned me a translator, whose name I’ll add later when I can check the spelling. She’s very good, but I found I didn’t need her much of the time. When people are speaking about concepts I understand, I can get the gist.  I did have to ask vocabulary quite often, but once I knew the key word, I was okay.

Speaking in German, however, is impossible for me, so she translated my very long complex thoughts.  I tried to pause often enough so that she could include everything and not get lost. But, as I warned her from the start, when I get excited about a topic, I forget everything and speak very fast. We had a signal worked out so that she could stop me if she needed to.

So far, she hasn’t needed to. We’ll see how it goes this afternoon.

This morning, Greg Bear and I did a signing—and signed between us about twice as many books as the number of attendees.  The dealer’s room isn’t a dealer’s room in U.S. terms, but a bookshop with tons and tons and tons of books.  I’ll be looking through them in about ten minutes from now.

Greg and Astrid and I then went to lunch.  We wandered the old city a bit, then Greg and Astrid returned.  I had some errands to run—I had to get a few things for my flight on Monday, and it looked like I might not have time tomorrow.  Then I stopped briefly in the room, and as soon as I finish my chocolate pastry <VBG>, I’ll head back to the convention.

I realized as I walked I had learned a number of things I’ll probably never need again, like how many tram stops it is from the hotel to the train station, and which trams to take.  Even if I come to Leipzig again, it won’t be quite the same.

Now I head off to have two interviews and the special convention dinner.  I’ll probably sneak into Greg’s panel on the future of science fiction as well.

I do love a good convention—and this is one of the most charming I’ve been to in years.

8 thoughts on “In Which I Learn Fascinating Some Things About German SF

  1. Dear Kris,

    it was a great experience for me to meet you and to even be on a panel with you – especially as we agree on the most points of the discussion. Frankenstein rules!

    Best regards,


    1. Hello, Bernard,

      Good to hear from you. It was wonderful for me as well–as you can tell from my posts. I enjoyed myself very much. And Frankenstein does rule, indeed. 🙂


  2. Dear Kathryn,

    thanks for the nice words and I am very glad that Leipzig and our convention made a good experience to you. It was a pleasure to have you here and talk to you.
    The man who bowed and was so happy that it’s over now is only one part of us. There are also people like me who are not that happy how it went but this is another story and it depends what you want from life and how you understand the posibilities which were given and now are lost. (When Astrid had to translate and I was at this matter than she would have had trouble to get breaks ;).
    I learned a lot at the convention – especially : you have a new book that interests me, je!

    I have to say – the best is that I met some very interesting people and I now need a lot of time to read all the interesting books that were presented.

    I hope you had a save journey back and I can read more next time.
    Greatings from Leipzig

    1. Thanks, Sabine. I learned that as well. I talked to many people about the things they missed about life in the GDR. The problem is, I think, that not all is good and not all is bad, even when portrayed one way. The man who was the guard was in his sixties, so I suspect that had something to do with his reaction as well.

      I’m so glad you found some good books! I hope you enjoy your discoveries–and a pleasure to meet you.

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