Every year the Frankfurt Book Fair rocks the city’s literary shit in enormous, but very mainstream, style. Gegen Buch Masse is an alternative event that the city’s radicals organize as a counter each year, and the Buchmesse Convent is the SFF community’s answer. 2015 was its 30th year running.
Around 500 people attend this one-day event annually, and fans of SFF and horror of all mediums are heartily welcome. There are readings, lectures, vendors, publishers, and, perhaps most exciting of all, the Deutscher Phantastik Preis (German Fantastic Prize) is awarded, as well as the Kurd Lasswitz Prize.
I had been at the Frankfurt Book Fair for three days running, and the wear was starting to show. So I didn’t spring out of bed and run directly to Dreieich for BuCon30 on Saturday. Instead I drank a second, a third, and a fourth cup of coffee before leisurely walking to the train, in a mist of cold rain, for the hour trip to the Frankfurt suburb I know thanks to the Hayner Burgfest, my favorite local medieval event.
Which is all a way of saying, oops, I was late, and I missed some shit, including the introductions and most of the first author’s reading at the Zombie Zone Germany group reading. (Sorry first author! I didn’t catch your name.) The two stories I did hear were funny, and for once I didn’t regret choosing a reading over a panel.
Oh wait, there were no panels. Not really. BuCon is more of a reading cluster, less of a panel discussion bonanza. Sometimes with a one- or two-person lecture thrown in. Unfortunately, I prefer panels. But I was talking about the day’s first reading…
Heike Schrapper read an amusing excerpt from “Die Rückkehr der faulen Schlampe,” a long short story about undead porn stars from the Zombie Zone Germany anthology. Then Simona Turini, between sips from what was obviously a flask of polyjuice potion, read from her novella Trümmer. Both tales are a part of the Zombie Zone German series, a shared world zombie apocalypse situation along the lines of Abaddon‘s Afterblight series or Apocalypse Weird. Always happy to read about the apocalyptic destruction of the place where I live, I grabbed a copy of Trümmer for further evaluation (review coming soon)—the only book I would purchase at the event thanks to being too exhausted to make decisions or carry shit.
Between events—and with mostly readings on the program, there were very few I was interested in—I roamed the large hall of independent publishers hawking their wares, taking photos of geeky t-shirts, catching up with old friends, and petting books.
Though I didn’t go to his reading, I was particularly excited to get a glimpse of Klaus-Jürgen Wrede, writer of the best board game of all time: Carcassonne. But seriously, fuck all these readings. Where are the discussions? Where are the hilarious panels? Where are the shouty panels? I longingly thought back to LonCon3’s 600,000 panels and felt a pang of nostalgia. That was some good shit, but that was also a 5000-person event. For a day-long whirl, BuCon30 was pretty sweet too, and didn’t involve flying to England and paying for shit in pounds, which, in case you didn’t know, are vastly stronger than the euro in which I am paid.
The second reading I attempted to attend was a flop. I walked in. A group of men walked in holding open beers. I listened to several sentences of mumbly reading, and I left. People had open beers! I would now go open my own beer! Fuck readings! Beer and science fiction conversation for everyone! So it was back to the large hall, where the tables and chairs set up for watching the awards at the end of the program were filled with groups of geeks chatting animatedly over the heap of flyers and advertisements we’d all been given at admission.
Time slipped away in another flurry of photographs and books, leaving just two events before the awards finale: “Reality Check: Self-Publishing” and a reading by Christian Humberg and Andrea Bottlinger, authors of Geek Pray Love. Reality Check was the first lecture-not-reading I had attended, and Anja Bagus and Alex Jahnke were excellent speakers, combining a hell of a lot of interesting information with a hell of a lot of laughs. More of this kind of event, pretty please BuCon organizers, pretty please with a spaceship on top.
Christian Humberg and Andrea Bottlinger were equally entertaining reading from their most recent release from Cross Cult Comics, In 80 Welten Durch den Tag (English: In 80 Worlds Around the Day).
Suddenly, the day was over; the vendors were packing up. Damn. Then I bought another beer and found a seat for the awards ceremony.
Remember when I said that “perhaps most exciting of all, the Deutscher Phantastik Preis” is awarded at BuCon? I take it back. The awards ceremony, like almost all awards ceremonies, was not in any way the “most exciting of all.” Like almost all awards ceremonies, the MCs went on for far too long. I quickly became frustrated by the fact that the winner’s names were not displayed after they were announced, nor the nominees listed in the program (HOW DO I TWEET THAT SHIT PEOPLE TELL ME?) left halfway through to catch a bus and left the reporting to someone else. (That link leads to the winner’s list.)