Our friends at the Concatenation web site have recently posted Science Fiction in Romania since the 1990 revolution, a continuation of an earlier article, A brief history of Science Fiction in Romania up to 1990:
The fall of the Iron Wall (Curtain) across Europe in 1990, which included the Romania revolution, affected all of Romanian society including its SF community.
The main trends of the Romanian SF community in the last decade of the 20th and the first of the 21st centuries was that a number of the fans within the SF movement gradually gafiated (gafia: got-away-from-it-all), while the writers became editors in publishing houses, or worked in radio and TV stations and also on mainstream cultural periodicals where they started promoting SF, or turned professional and became members of the Romanian Writers Union. Meanwhile the fall of the Iron Wall also enabled Eastern and Western European writers and fans to travel.
Forging international links after 1990
And so, in 1993 a major, largely state-sponsored expedition of some 75 fans and writers made the long journey to Jersey (Channel Isles) for the 1993 Eurocon. This was the largest group of the Romanian community to travel to a foreign SF convention and is a Romanian record that remains unbroken to this day. This visit also served to promote the following year’s Eurocon that was to be held in Timisoara, Romania.
Romania first Eurocon in Timisoara, was held 26th-29th of May, 1994. It was a significant event, attended by several hundreds of people. Guests of Honour (GoHs) included John Brunner (UK), Herbert Franke (Austria), Joe Haldeman (US), Moebius (France), Norman Spinrad (US), Peter Cuczka (Hungary). Special guests were Jack Cohen (UK), Jonathan Cowie (UK), Gay Haldeman (US), Bridget Wilkinson (UK), Lee Wood (US) and Science Fact & Science Fiction Concatenation a Eurocon Award); two ((1995 and 2000) sponsored visits of Romanian fans to major SF events in Great Britain, two visits (1996 and 1997) of British fans to Romania; and two International Weeks of Science and Science Fiction held in Timisoara (1999 and 2003) complete with internationally renowned GoHs, nationally known writers and fan GoHs.
Both International Weeks of Science and Science Fiction were organised in cooperation with H. G. Wells Society (Timisoara) as well as by those (in both the UK and Romania) involved in the aforementioned Anglo-Romanian Exchange. The first (1999) International Week coincided with a solar eclipse. Robert Sheckley (US) was the Guest of Honour, Tony Chester (England) was Fan Guest. The second, in May 2003, was even more international with fans from Hungary as well as Spain and, as previously, the Great Britain. Writer Istvan Nemere (Hungary) was meant to be the Eastern European Guest of Honour but, sadly, ill health prevented his attending (he was represented instead by the Fortean academic Mandic Gyorgy). Danut Ungureanu (Romania) was the host nation Guest of Honour. Ian Watson (Great Britain) was the western Guest of Honour who also adopted the role of H. G. Wells as the event’s Ghost of Honour. Scot and Worldcon organiser Vince Docherty was the Fan GoH while writer Roberto Quaglia (Italy) reprised his 1999 role as Toastmaster. This 2003 event also attracted significant coverage in regional and national newspapers, radio and TV. Both International Weeks included a day and an open public event in the nearby town of Jimbolia and a reception by its mayor. – continue reading!
This article has a lot of emphasis on a certain part of the Romanian genre community. It omits quite a lot.
For example, Leda is one of the largest SF/F publishers.
And Michael Haulica is more than just a footnote in that scene–he is the energy and verve behind a lot of projects, in addition to his own unique writing. Ona Frantz’s novel, which begs for English translation, ought to also receive a significant mention.
Also not mentioned is Millennium, the only publishing company which publishes Romanian authors and short fiction (in anthologies and in Galileo, the magazine) on a regular basis, programatically. The publishing house Tritonic also did much to revive SF/F in Romania. They also had several Romanian debut authors–due in part to Michael Haulica’s influence–Roxana Brinceanu, Ciprian Mitoceanu, and Marian Coman (who is mentioned in the article).
Millennium is also publishing the only print magazine in Romania, Galileo, not to mention that Omnibooks, Millennium’s predecessor, published Fictiuni, the only magazine in printed from between 1997 and 2003. Horia Ursu, behind both Millenium and Omnibooks, has consistently dedicated himself to publishing Romanian writers of note.
Without mention of any of this, the article is terribly incomplete.
“This article has a lot of emphasis on a certain part of the Romanian genre community. It omits quite a lot.”
Oh dear… A Homer Simpson ‘Doh’ coming on.
The article Jeff is commenting on clearly states at the beginning that it only “summarises the highlights”
Also at the article’s end…
“It should also be noted by readers of this article that given the editorial constraints of providing a brief overview of two decades worth of a nation’s genre activity, that this is only a summary and can in no way be considered as a complete account of everything.”
So _of_course_ a lot is left out and, indeed as with any summary of a field of endeavour involving many, some of those left out may feel aggrieved.
However not only does the article include what the compilers’ consider highlights, but effort was made to ensure that those Romanian authors and publishers voted Eurocon Awards (the counterpart to the Worldcon Hugos for Europe) — hence recognised by the European SF community — were included.
If Jeff VanderMeer wants to write his own summary of Romanian SF then please accept the apology given at the end of the article…
“So apologies if anyone feels that something important has been inadvertently omitted: take solace in that there are plenty of opportunities on the internet for you to provide longer and more detailed reviews and that this is but one offering.”
And so we positively look forward to Jeff’s own summary analysis of Romanian SF that does not leave out any of what he (and perhaps his Romanian publishing colleagues) consider to be the highlights.
I beg your pardon in advance for my audacity to comment on Jeff VanderMeer sayings. But I cannot resist it.
As a Romanian native, I like the article and I think is mostly fair. It has general coverage of the matter, and gives a fair impression of Romanian development. Of course it focuses on main Romanian cities, besides Bucharest, which coincidentally enough is the largest and is the Romania Capital city. Also is the location were our much regretted author and promoter Ion Hobana lived and worked until this last year. It is the location of “Nemira Publishing House” which is the largest Romanian science fiction publishing house. I would not dare to comment on editorial plans, however Romanian authors were included beginning with this year also at “Nemira”.
I dare to mention that Ion Hobana, whom is still very well remembered across Europe, during his active life, joined SRSFF as honorable member, and we are still holding his respected memory. If you are wandering: SRSFF – Society for Romanian Science Fiction and Fantasy (www.srsff.ro )
We acknowledge of various people and writers developing independent projects, as they are free to do so, and so do we, and we gladly help them when they request it. As proof, we made efforts to bring life to a common project between SRSFF, Romanian Writers Union and Romanian Government – Ministry of Culture and National Patrimony, the new “Ion Hobana” annual science fiction awards. The awards list is public and not restricted to SRSFF members.
It is a false statement to say that SRSFF is a handful of people just from one obscure city with sole interest to promote their own writings. SRSFF promotes artists and arts even if authors are not members, this is true; membership is open to new adherents; we have members across the country from Timisoara to Suceava to Bucuresti; we are not at war with any other organization or group of people, even if others prefer to think so. Free speech and free thinking are granted by constitution rights. We cannot and will not restrain anybody just for speaking his mind. We are free citizens and gladly laughing at jokes.
Of course, many wrong statements are made, on SRSFF, just like anybody, and we cannot help it other than doing our best to accomplish art and literary projects, doing our job by all means.
Millenium Press or Books was mentioned by the esteemed writer. I will not comment on personal ambitions or feelings, but I would mention that not only once Millenium invited SRSFF members to forward their writings in order to be published, and they were forwarded and published, without any restraint or blame from SRSFF and we hold no grudge for doing their job. It is only natural. I would like to comment on the fact that Millenium would be the only or even the oldest publishing house, because Romanian authors were published before the ’89 Revolution (some say it is ’90) and after, continuously, long time before Millenium was even planed. I would comment somehow on number of copies at Millenium, because 50 or 100 copies per edition is just for gifts.
It is only fair to give honor to “Helion”, Timisoara SF Writers Club, which is the oldest continuous science fiction presence with 30 uninterrupted years of existence and activity, bringing us a printed magazine, first issue in 1981, an annual nation-wide convention from 1985 and a publishing house from 2007. It is quite an applauded accomplishment.
And as a final argument I will give reason to Jeff VanderMeer – wich I must admit I like to read from – in the small matter that this article is incomplete (http://www.concatenation.org/europe/sf_romania_2.html): of course and the main reason is that the future is not yet written or maybe it is, and is not ours to know it in extent.
Comment from SF2 Concatenation’ http:/www.concatenation.org, posted on their behalf as technical problems prevented their posting direct – Ed.
“It is a false statement to say that SRSFF is a handful of people just from one obscure city with sole interest to promote their own writings.”
I think I understand your meaning Eugene.
However you might understand what we mean if you put yourselves in our western SF position.
Terms like ‘few’ are relative (and not absolute). For example, in Britain the national SF convention on a bad year has around 500 attend and on a good year a few hundred over 1,000 attend. How does Romania and SRSFF compare? (The SRSFF website suggests that it has a few dozen members.)
However we do not understand your saying “handful of people just from one obscure city with sole interest to promote their own writings as the article DID NOT say this, and neither did it imply it… In fact the article said SRSFF “wishes to become an important arbiter in the Romanian science fiction, above any partisan or group interests. The society acts exclusively on criteria of quality.”
Indeed SF2 Concatenation is well aware of SRSFF and indeed wSF2 Concatenation was responsible for nominating SRSFF for an ESFS (European SF Society) Eurocon Award in 2010 which it won.
“I dare to mention that Ion Hobana, whom is still very well remembered across Europe, during his active life, joined SRSFF as honorable member, and we are still holding his respected memory.”
Yes, a number of us were delighted to have met Ion on a couple of occasions. We were sad to hear of his passing.