Istrakon is the second largest SF convention in Croatia. It is held in the very heart of Istria, usually in March and this year it was the very last weekend of March. Like every Croatian convention, its program is a mix of lectures, workshops, gaming demonstrations and sessions. Their Guest of Honour this year was Lauren Beukes, the South African winner of the Arthur C. Clarke Award who was promoting the Croatian translation of her novel The Shining Girls.
As I work for Lauren’s Croatian publisher, I was her host. Due to her tight Croatian schedule, we unfortunately had to miss the first evening of the convention (Lauren had a public Q&A in Zagreb that evening) which meant missing out on one of the most famous items at the Istrian con – the Korado Korlevic lecture.
Korado is a famous Croatian astronomer, a prolific discoverer of asteroids (1197 as of January 2007, ranging from 7364 Otonku?era to (137971) 2000 CQ39) as well as comets 183P/Korlevi?-Juri? and 203P/Korlevi?.
In Croatian fandom he has a cult following and a well deserved one: his lectures are awesome. When Juliet E. McKenna was Istrakon GoH she cut her writing workshop to be able to attend one. There was no general outrage at the last minute programming change – the entire workshop moved to go listen to Korado. He lectures at Croatian cons whenever he can, but never misses an Istrakon. This year he lectured on the collapse of complex systems.
Saturday at Istrakon was great: the weather was sunny, the mood great and the program varied. Lauren’s Q & A session was fun and interesting, and unlike at other venues, con attendees were not too shy to pose a whole bunch of questions. When time ran out, the questions did not, so a number of fans took her to a nearby coffee shop for a drink. And some more conversation.
In the meantime, I, with the gracious help of Mirko Karas, the SFera president and my very own local GUFF auctioneer, held the GUFF auction. Items donated for this auction included a copy of The Shining Girls, some very interesting page holders, some Japanese space food and, of course, some books.
The Saturday night party was loud and crowded, as they usually are at Istrakon, which is famous in Croatian fandom as being the most fun convention, once upon a time serious rival to the Zagreb based SFeraKon. (Today both these are upstaged in the party department by the even younger Liburnicon.) The party went on until the wee morning hours, as programming rarely begins before noon. (This is a bit of a local custom). Alas, we had to rush to Zagreb for a TV interview, but we did manage to take part in the traditional non-official Sunday morning coffee in the sun, right outside the con.