The oldest of them all – the TransAntlantic Fan Fund – is what we all dream of: being able to get to an American Worldcon without actually winning the lottery. Sending well-known SF fans between Europe and the US mostly consists of the Americans and the British exchanging people. While I love the British, there is certainly more to Europe than its northern isle, however mighty! This year the TAFF race has moved to the continent – both candidates are continental Europeans! And one of them is a young Austrian genre writer and fan who also happens to be female – Nina Horvath.
Nina has many qualities that would make her a great European delegate and I will let you read all about them in the interview below. If you’ve been waiting for me to play the gender/age card, as in “Vote for her because she is young and female!” here it is, although it might not be what you expected.
Vote for Nina Horvath if you would like to see a TAFF delegate representative of the entire European SF fandom at Sasquan! And by entire, I mean the one that includes the non-Anglophone European fandoms which are run by women! (Finland and Croatia come to mind as the most famous examples but are by no means the only ones!)
So, there it is. Read the interview and cast your vote!
Nina, what do you plan to do on your TAFF trip?
Actually, I am a person who worries a lot about this and that and who seeks most answers in life in books and on the internet. I very often think everything through so much, so that everything seems complicated. Going to cons made me break this circle, I usually decide late what to do and I am open for suggestions from others. If I win, I am hoping American fans will show me how great and varied their fandom is, because all we get here is a distant sense of the Worldcon and that can be everything! Probably anyone can also recommend me a local con I can reach with a few hours going by train or bus the next weekend or the weekend before. Local cons may be small, but I love them, especially as you get to know a little charming part of fandom. I try to have a “come what may”-attitude, as it brings more joy to my life The TAFF in my point of view stands for supporting open-minded people, who are ready for a whole new experience!
How did you discover SF?
At kindergarten age! My only brother is almost five years older than me he loved watching the original Star Trek series. I simply joined him. It was a bit scary at time but I was fascinated. Later, I have got into the books as well, as I never liked the typical books suggested for girls between 10-14 years of age with horses, boarding schools and such. I never got why anyone wanted to read a story about a girl who goes to a boarding school, if you could have an adventure in space instead
And how did you end up in fandom?
As Austria does not have much of an organized fandom, it’s really difficult to say. At school I met boys (about two third of pupils at my school where in fact male) who were interested the TV-shows like Star Trek, X-Files and Babylon 5, if nothing else. Getting into fandom was a slow process. Getting on discussion boards, writing book reviews for an online-zine, publishing my own stories. I really do not know when fans started to consider me as a part of fandom, but it must have happened as there is no doubt that I am a part of fandom now…
What’s the best thing about SF fandom?
I love to talk to people who are into SF, especially books and zines, editors, fanzine makers, authors and cover artists. So, the conversation is the best part for me.
What was your first convention like?
My first convention … Well, Austria doesn’t have a national SF con. There are events called conventions, but they tend to stay small and do not really provide what even I would expect from a con nowadays… You know, like at least one hundred of attendants, not having to ring a doorbell to be let inside, not just having a single evening for that, not changing the location every two hours and such…
So, I guess my first con, if we can call it that, was Aninite in Vienna. Today it is a big convention with a lot of visitors and panels, but then it was some fans watching fan-snubbed animes together for a whole night.
My first real con was BuchmesseCon. I had been nominated for an award on speculative fiction for an SF story of mine that got published in an anthology. The awarding ceremony took place at BuchmesseCon so I that is how I ended up going. I thought this would be an event where I would be totally lost, but I could probably say hello to my publisher at his stand. I arrived and had been recognized by others, just from photos on the internet. In fact, I had already been part of the fandom as an author, without even knowing it.
What was your first Eurocon like?
Perfect! Attending Kontakt, the 2012 Eurocon in Zagreb was a really good decision for me! My fellow fans never seemed to talk about Eurocon and I had read something about it a year earlier on a discussion board. Bu then Dave Lally visited our local club to promote Eurocon and suddenly there was a group of people interested in going. Only two ended up attending and I was one of them! I loved that Zagreb had a bit of everything: regional fandom, european fandom and mainstream, an academic program and party – and almost everything between that: gaming, panels, workshops, book stands. I would call this a perfect mix. This was a whole new experience for me and I got to know a lot of fans from different countries. With some of them, I have been in contact ever since.
You have visited many cons in Europe since your first Eurocon. Tell us about it.
I love attending cons and every one is a good experience. Being Austrian means my mother tongue is German, so lack of local cons has not stopped me from attending German conventions where people know me from my writing as well.
After Zagreb, where I met so many new friends, I had been cordially invited by so many fans to attend their events, but the Slovaks had the best reason why I should go there: Bratislava is just one hour from Vienna! I love their big con Istrocon a lot and I have been returning to ever since my first visit. I totally fell in love with their spring event, SlavCon which is a bit smaller. Fans are so friendly and you get perfect food and really good beer – yes, it sounds trivial, but when I am enjoying an event, I also do not want to get food that is not good which can happen.
Fénixcon, a small Czech con, was great – the first time I attended they even invited me to their pre-meeting that had been for organizers and gophers only. I could write a whole novel even just about the Eurocon in the Ukraine. It was chaotic and exotic and ever so completely different from anything I had ever experienced before. And then Dublin last summer.
6. You write for Europa SF – who did that come about?
I read about the concept on the German discussion board sf-netzwerk.de. I immediately loved the idea, visited Europa SF and contacted the editors. I have been quite insecure to write myself as English is not my mother tongue, but I was encouraged to write for the page nevertheless. You see, fans from non-English-speaking countries writing for Europa SF are very often the only source for these news for fans abroad. It is important to share. I experienced that fans like to read and share and do not mind so much if everything is neat and perfect – in fact we are all just fans and it is the information that counts.
How did you hear about fan funds?
At the Zagreb Eurocon, there was a young woman. Someone told me: “She is Australian.” And it was something like: “An Australian? How did she come to Croatia?” – and then I learned all about Kylie Ding and the fan funds. You see, I really doubted it. Among the fans I have known before, fanfunds have never been a topic. Even now I have been mostly dealing with fellow fans who have never heard about fanfunds before. I guess the percentage of fans who have heard of this certainly depends on the country there are from. I guess with fanfunds opening to continental Europe – both GUFF and TAFF seem to be following this trend – the situation will change in future and we will get a lot of new people into this.
Why did you decide to run for TAFF?
Well, I have been amazed by the idea of fan funds in general and then I met a few more GUFF winners personally. There was not race for GUFF this year, but there was one for TAFF, the mother of fan funds and the timing was good for me! I was immediately burning for it, especially as I have been to the USA before, but with university, so I saw many gorgeous things like some amazing national parks and always wanted to return one day – but to see how the fandom there works. It must be amazing and huge, imagining a con there is even a bit scary as I am used to cons with a few hundred attendants. But it is more fascinating that scary, so I really want to take the challenge!