Aliette de Bodard has just returned from French convention Imaginale, and reports on her blog:
Imaginales is a French con dedicated to fantasy (its “sister” con, Utopiales in Nantes, is more focused on SF). I’d never been before, but Stéphanie Nicot very kindly invited me, and so gave me the opportunity to discover Epinal.
Imaginales is pretty much the event of the weekend in May: you arrive at the train station and face the first of many billboards advertising the festival, listing all the authors. Unlike Anglophone cons, which are often put together and run by dedicated fans, Imaginales has the support of the town hall (and area council, …), and they put on quite an amazing show. They have strong ties to the restaurants, hotels and high schools of the area (teachers organise visits; authors drop by for chats, and every year artists paint a fresco which is later donated to a high school); and entrance to the event is free for everyone, which insures a very steady flow of local people curious to see the wares. There’s even a special Imaginales vintage (repackaged wine probably, but still cool).
Pretty much the centrepiece is the book tent, which is a ginormous space with a looooong set of tables, where each author has a spot: you sit there behind your books and sign stuff for whoever feels like buying. It helps if you think of it as a cross between a book fair (a Salon du Livre, if you’ve ever been) and an Anglophone con: there are a few events on programming (2-3 tracks), a gaming tent, and a café area, but the heart of the show is the book tent. – read the full report.