Rikon 2012 Report

Rikon is a two-day Croatian con that has been around for 15 years. This year it was held on October 12-13 at the Rijeka Faculty of Humanities and visited by some 400 people. It is the venue for a Croatian genre award Artefakt, established by some Croatian SF fans and authors displeased with the work of the SFERA Award Jury.

Book fairThe program started on Friday at 5 pm,  as is the Croatian tradition at almost all cons. The Rikon program features lectures – the thing Croatians do instead of panels – workshops, games, quizzes, presentations and a fair where one can buy books, buttons, jewelry and old magazines. There is no dealer’s room as such, we call it a fair because it is treated as one: the stands are always in a hallway, somewhere where one will surely not missed then enroute to this or that programming item.

Robot making Workshop  Photo by Nela Dunato
Robot making Workshop
Photo by Nela Dunato

First thing on Friday – to the disappointment of many who had to travel to get to Rijeka and could not get there as early as five – was a robot making workshop where robots were made out of old computer parts. Then there was a magic wand workshop for school kids and a chain-mail workshop held by one of a number revived history societies that has ties to Croatian fandom,”Ordo Sancti Viti” from Rijeka.

Lectures are a staple of Croatian cons, some running well over the 90 minutes, which is the usual time allotment. Topics vary – from pop culture, like Jelena Kopajtic’s lecture on the phenomenon of vampire movies and TV series to genre literature such as Marko Fancovic’s lecture on the connections and similarities in the works of Ray Bradbury and Harry Harrison.

University professor and politicians join in

Sarah Czerny
Sarah Czerny Photo by Nela Dunato

University professors, politicians and minor celebrities in Croatia do not shy away from participation in fandom activities. So, at this year’s Rikon former Croatian Minister of Ecology, Mirela Holy, held a lecture on ecofeminism, while a number of uni professors made the program very appealing. Sarah Czerny, Assistant at the Cultural studies department of University of Rijeka, talked about the role of trees in various mythic worlds, and works of fiction, and the symbolism of trees while her colleague, Benedikt Perak, lectured about the role of computers in sculpting the human reality, touching on issues such as the cognitive function of technology in forming the identity of the individual, as well as culture and society.

Predrag Dominis Prester
Predrag Dominis Prester Photo by Nela Dunato

Scientific lectures tend to be especially well received at Croatian cons – SFeraKon, for example, does a Scientific Sunday program track -and all other cons feature lectures by scientists. Rikon this year had quite a few. Dijana Dominis Prester teaches Astronomy and is currently working on detecting extrasolar planets. She spoke about the different methods scientists use to detect planets, focusing on the one used to detect potentially habitable Earthlike planets. Predrag Dominis Prester works in the area of particle physics and is involved with CERN so he focused his lecture on the peculiarity of black holes. Sven Maricic, from the Faculty of Engineering, explained explained his method of work with prosthethic implants in which patients are throughly scanned, implants are modelled on the computer to fit the patient as close as possible after which the implant is printed on a 3D printer. His lecture also discussed the issue of cyborgs and their effect on culture.

Evening fun

There are no Croatian cons where programming starts before noon and this is due the fact that members tend to party late into the night and the program is geared that way. Anywhen between 10 and 11 pm the last of the program will be rapped up, and then the fun starts. Geek fun, so this means trivia quizzes, ranging from literature, games, movies, music to popular TV series all kinds of goofy contests, all with prizes such as books, T-shirts, movie posters, bookmarks and free drinks & muffins.

Rikon bar
Rikon bar

This year Rikon had the best food in all of Croatian fandom and we sincerely hope this is a start of a beautiful new tradition. Food was prepared right there, prices were very affordable and vegetarians and vegans were not forgotten, which is quite something in a country where that tired old joke where saying you are vegetarian gets you some chicken, lamb and fish still very much holds true.

Some Croatian cons have concerts on Saturday evenings, and Rikon 2o12 was no exception. But they flipped that concept, announcing a “surprise concert” for after the award ceremony, making us all wonder where they got the funds for a band when there is no Guest of Honour. They produced a delightful eight-year-old gitarist Frano Živkovic who quickly charmed all who came to hear him play.

Vesna Kurilic (organizer), Andrina Pusic, Igor Rendic
Vesna Kurilic (organizer), Andrina Pusic, Igor Rendic

The Artefact Award ceremony was short and sweet. Artefact has three categories only: best novel, best novella and best short story. This year’s winners are Enver Krivac, for the novel Ulica Helen Keller (Helen Keller Street), Igor Rendic for “Jednom, negdje” (“Once, somewhere”) and Andrina Pušic for “Otok ispunjenih želja”. (“Island of wishes that came true”)You can see a short clip of it here. Cosplay awards are also announced at the award ceremnoy.

Gaming goes on during the entire con, and I know there are RPGs, LARPs and even simple old games from my childhood, but I do not attend and therefore do not know much about this part of the con. Conversations, informal coffees and talks all happen in the hall, around book stands and seller of trinkets or in front of the venue as Croatians tend no to take lunch or dinner breaks while the con provides the bar with plenty of refreshments. Which, I will write it again, was just awesome this year. You can take a look at the photos from the con here.



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