I have no idea how I decided to go to Rikon for the first time. I do not even remember what year it was when I went for the first time. I dimly remember my friend Irena Rašeta and I being put up by a young man in student lodgings. I remember very well the enormous number of stairs one had to climb to get to the old Faculty of Philosophy where Rikon used to be held and I remember being driven around the steep, slick, serpentine, one-way Rijeka streets by another young man who did not look old enough to drive.
I also have no idea when Rikon became my favourite Croatian con, but it has – the perfect blend of all my SFnal friends, just the right amount of new faces to keep it interesting and enough time between program items I cannot miss (even when not on them) to get to know a bit more all the people whose face I have known for years, but never to got to know as I should. And then there’s my having zero responsibilities at Rikon and zero guilt over that.
Even though I arrived to Rijeka an hour before the con started, I managed to not get to Kampus where it held on time to hear the first lecture I wanted to hear – Psihologija bajki (The Psychology of Fairy Tales). That and and the one on Self-organisation I missed because it was a sunny day and my son fancied a walk in town. The Futuricon talk I missed because I keep forgetting how not easy it is to get a cab in Rijeka on a Friday evening. The con venue is up a hill and I like my accommodation near the sea.
Lucikly, the Guest of Honour Q&A session that is the traditional Friday night item with GoHs at Croatian cons, is never scheduled too early at Rikon, to give time to people coming in after work from other cities. So, Living spaceships, tea masters and galactic empires: exploring the universe of Xuya with Aliette de Bodard started at 21:00. I got there in plenty of time to meet the author and have a chat with her before her item.
Davorin Horak, her Croatian publisher, only made it to the second half of the panel, with Aliette’s Croatian anthology, specially prepared for Rikon. A unique edition of her work: the only collection of Aliette’s Huya Universe stories in existence at the moment, edited by Milena Benini, who picked “her own favorite ones and put them in chronological order”. Aliette wrote the foreword.
On Saturday, Aliette talked about Building Worlds, Building Characters and then about fan creator relationships and fans’ expectation at a panel with Milena Benini, Antonija Meznaric and Igor Rendic where gatekeeping, fandom and fan fiction all came up in a lively discussion. Along with a panel I was on, with Milena Benini and Maja Škvorc, who writes as Maya Starling in English – Feminism in Croatian SF – all of Aliette’s panel marked a stream of programming at Rikon that dealt with topics dear to me: feminism, diversity, family relations in SF fiction, space opera and women.
The other stream had to do with turning professional, of sorts. Croatian fandom is used to people wearing many hats – we are a small country and therefore, a small fandom as well. That makes the line between professionals and fans at SF cons in Croatia practically non-existent, unlike British and US cons. Yet, as many Croatian fandom members run small businesses, some of the professionalism has begun to leak into fandom and this was visible in this year’s program, much to my delight. The beforementioned Self-organization was one of these talks, and there was a panel on Friday Hobby +1: Business Fueled by Creativity while on Sunday Nela Dunato held Selfpromotion for Creatives, an excellent lecture that prompted me to go back to blogging after a very long time.
Games are ever present at cons, but this year’s panels and talks on games also took a professional turn, so there were talks about game design, micro-transactions in games, accessibility in videogames, and about conditioning and addiction to games. In more than 90 program items distributed over 6 streams of programming, there were many other interesting items, built around film, cosplay, reading and LARPing. I prefer literature oriented lectures, like Milena Benini’s Guo Jingming — the Most Famous Fantasy Writer You Have Never Heard Of, which I could not get to – and I cannot remember why – but I did manage to get it taped. Permissions pending, it might get posted here.
The Geek Book Auction is the heart of the Rikon Friday night, and in previous years the con was gracious enough to let GUFF Auction be part of it. (That will be FandomRover‘s duty for the next couple of years.) Cosplay and Cosplay Awards is the heart of Saturday night, along with the Artefakt Award ceremony, which I wrote about already. This year I did not manage to get to a single one of the Rikon quizzes, a staple of this con for me because it was here that I managed to win at one for the first time ever. Thanks to having SFera members around, who perfectly filled the (numerous!) holes in my knowledge.
Sunday at Rikon is usually focused at children, and the kids’ programming prevails. This year, as the next day was a bank holiday, (Croatian Independence Day) the con had programming throughout Sunday, finishing at 17:30. A 3 hour bus ride later I was home and another Rikon was over. Luckily, the next morning a host of photos arrived and the day was rainy. Perfect for tea and photo browsing. This year’s gallery is not up yet, but you can visit the previous years’ ones here.
And you can come to Rikon in 2019 and in 2020, when it will be a Eurcon as well, under the name Futuricon.