SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY FESTIVAL (SEPTEMBER 14-16) IN BRATISLAVA

Top Pick: Istrocon 2001


Starting next Friday, Bratislava's Istrocon festival 2001 will beam sci-fi enthusiasts into a world of galactic diversions.
American sci-fi writer Harry Harrison and Babylon 5 actor Stephen Austin will be on hand as the world of JRR Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings is discussed, sci-fi movies are screened, new video games are sampled and sci-fi and fantasy paintings admired against a backdrop of seminars, workshops, discussions and video-projections.
The three-day meeting of writers, actors, artists and fans dates back to 1986-87 when Bratislava sci-fi fans first gathered in local university dormitories. In the following years the festival grew into a concert hall, only to disappear mysteriously in 1994.


"Secrets" and other paintings by Martina Pilcerová.
photo: Courtesy Istrocom

Starting next Friday, Bratislava's Istrocon festival 2001 will beam sci-fi enthusiasts into a world of galactic diversions.

American sci-fi writer Harry Harrison and Babylon 5 actor Stephen Austin will be on hand as the world of JRR Tolkien and his Lord of the Rings is discussed, sci-fi movies are screened, new video games are sampled and sci-fi and fantasy paintings admired against a backdrop of seminars, workshops, discussions and video-projections.

The three-day meeting of writers, actors, artists and fans dates back to 1986-87 when Bratislava sci-fi fans first gathered in local university dormitories. In the following years the festival grew into a concert hall, only to disappear mysteriously in 1994. But rumours of Istrocon's death were greatly exaggerated: with the help of Slovak magazine Fantázia, founded in 1997, the festival is humming along again at warp speed, fast becoming one of the biggest meetings of its kind in central Europe.

Organisers say the chief aims of Istrocon are to promote Slovak sci-fi in general and spur growth in Slovakia's fledgling sci-fi publishing industry in particular.

"All the Slovak sci-fi community has is our magazine, the Istrocon festival and one publishing house," said Ivan A3akša, Fantázia's editor in chief. "The publishing house prints a maximum of five books a year. In the Czech Republic that number is 300."

A3akša added, however, that a legion of young Slovak sci-fi writers and artists was emerging. Star Wars fanatic Martina Pilcerová was listed among the world's best 100 fantasy artists by the global sci-fi almanac Spectrum in 2000, which had praised the work of Slovak Juraj Maxon the year before. Both painters will exhibit at the festival. Author Jozef Žarnay, a Slovak sci-fi legend, will lecture on the development of the genre here, and emerging young writer Michal Hvorecký will present a new book.

Istrocon is also suitable for English-speakers: most movies will be shown in their original (English) versions, while Brloh books will be on hand selling English and German sci-fi books. All art and computer games are, of course, accessible to earthlings of all origins.

The festival runs Friday afternoon through Sunday, September 12 to 14, at the spacious Súza conference centre on Drotárska 46 (above the amphitheatre on Búdkova cesta, near Horský Park). Tickets cost 300 Sk for the entire festival, 150 Sk for one day. Detailed festival programmes will be passed out at the door. For more information see www.istrocon.sk

by Zuzana Habšudová

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