A while back, I had the delight to visit Bcon, in sunny Barcelona.
Predictably, the day after we left for Spain, where it was still t-shirt weather despite all the locals wearing parkas and shivering, the Stark words came true and two inches of snow got dumped on Helsinki. Coming back was a bit of a shock.
The convention was three days long, and the roster of guests of honour was most respectable: Johanna Sinisalo, Richard Morgan, Andrzej Sapkowski, Aliette de Bodard, Rhianna Pratchett, as well as the unknown-to-me Péter Michaleczky, Enrique Corominas, and Rosa Montero.
My Spanish is just about sufficient for basic survival and my Catalan is nonexistent, but fortunately a lot of the program was English and everyone I needed to have an actual conversation with spoke good English, both within the convention and outside it in the city.
The convention’s “main area” was the dealer’s room, which featured a bar as well as the local vendor Gigamesh peddling off stuff that was apparently taking up inconvenient storage space at prices which could only be lower if they had been paying me to take the books away.
My convention experience, as is usual, was rather coloured by occupying the Worldcon 75 table. I did have time to catch a few program items, such as “The Failures of Futurology”, a discussion of what we failed to predict. There’s apparently a largish passenger airplane in existence whose in-flight entertainment system is hooked up to the internet through a satellite link, and shares hardware with the computers that actually keep the plane in the air, which is so remarkably short-sighted I’m not sure it works even as a technothriller plot point. There was also reminiscing about the late Stanislaw Lem, a worldbuilding panel where Andrzej Sapkowski made a splash at the start by declaring the whole endeavour pointless, and other interesting things.
But don’t take my word for it. Impressively, they streamed the whole convention program and it is now available on YouTube.
Apart from the above, I recommend Political SF, as well as anything with Adam Roberts, Richard Morgan, Johanna Sinisalo, Charles Stross, or Aliette de Bodard.
Another cool thing was an English-language edition of the Polish fanzine Smokopolis, with short fiction and a history of the Polish role-playing scene. It was later made available as a free download.
Barcelona itself is a beautiful city, and I recommend it as a travel destination. For the geek, there’s the science fiction and gaming store Gigamesh and its sister shops in the same city block. It is also an old city, and a sense of history and oldness oozes from the cobblestones in the older quarters of the city, a warren of streets and alleys it’s easy to get lost in and inspired by. On the newer side of things, there are the truly outlandish Gaudí buildings, such as the cathedral Sagrada Família, a work in progress since 1882, and Casa Batlló, or “the House of Bones” as it’s also known. Gaudí’s dreamlike architecture unlike anything I have seen in that scale. It feels like something from Sigil or Tanelorn or Amber instead of the real world.
I have traveled much this year. While Bcon may not have been my favourite trip of many, many rewarding wanderings, Barcelona has become one of my favourite cities.
I mean, look at this thing. Casa Batlló, photo by Wikipedia user Amadalvarez, CC BY-SA 3.0