Eurocon Barcelona Progress Report # 1, December 2014

Greetings, Members of BCON, the 2016 Eurocon; and a Happy Festive Season!

We’re already coming up with ideas for our programme—see below—but we would also very much appreciate suggestions from yourselves about items that you would specially like to see on the programme.

And if you wish to volunteer to be on a panel, or give a talk or presentation, do let us know, along with your experience and interests.  We can’t promise to fit everything in, but we’ll try. Just send us an email to info@eurocon2016.org.

Plans for Barcelona 2016 Programme (so far)

Author of Nineteen Eight-four, George Orwell, and his formative experiences in Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, with a guided walk to Las Ramblas close to the convention centre to see the locations described in Orwell’s Homage to Catalonia.

A panel on whether books of warning, set in the future, such as Nineteen Eighty-four, Nevil Shute’s On the Beach, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, et cetera, might have had a cautionary effect sufficient to prevent such futures from happening.

The work of Stanislaw Lem.  2016 is the 10th anniversary of the death of Lem, Polish author of world importance who wrote science fiction, philosophy, and satire.

2016 is the 50th anniversary of the film Fantastic Voyage based on a story by Isaac Asimov, whose novelisation of the film was published in the same year.  A panel on medical nanotechnology.

Also, a panel on the adaptation of SF stories and novels as films.

2016 is also the 50th anniversary of Daniel Keyes’ novel Flowers for Algernon, about the artificial enhancement of intelligence.  Subsequently dramatised for the stage, and filmed as Charley.   A panel about enhancing intelligence by genetic engineering and other methods—including discussion of Transhumanism, the international cultural and intellectual movement with an eventual goal of fundamentally transforming the human condition by developing and making widely available technologies to greatly enhance human intellectual, physical, and psychological capacities.

 

Where are the Aliens?  A panel on the Fermi Paradox—the subject of many SF stories and novels—which poses the question: If there is other intelligent life in our galaxy, why is there no evidence of this, when any technological civilisation should by now have had ample time to “colonise” our galaxy if only by using self-reproducing Von Neuman machines travelling at a tiny fraction of the speed of light?  Are we the first technological civilisation to arise?  Is complex life extremely rare?  Do technological civilisations inevitably annihilate themselves quite quickly?

In the wake of the great success of Rosetta in landing on a comet, we hope to have a representative from ESAC, the European Centre of Space Astronomy which the European Space Agency has in Villanueva de la Cañada near Madrid, to talk about European space co-operation and missions.

Guest of Honour interviews with authors Aliette de Bodard; Richard Morgan; and Andrzej Sapkowski.

GoH interview with artist Enrique Corominas.

GoH interview with Jun Miyazaki, Fan Guest of Honour from Hungary.

Featured Place to eat well cheaply

# 1:  Cien Montaditos  (“100 Buns”)

Rambla de Catalunya, 11.  Usually open from 8.00 am till midnight.  About 10 minutes walk from the Centre for Contemporary Culture (CCCB) just north-west of Plaça de Catalunya on the left side of the big street Rambla de Catalunya almost opposite a Starbucks.  Fast and fun (though you can stay as long as you like).  A busy beer hall (part of a popular Spanish chain, which has expanded to other countries) serving small tasty bread rolls with 100 different possible fillings.  First find a table.  Fill in a menu form (at the table), choosing several options each.  The menu is in Spanish; if confused by this, choose at random—you might have a lovely surprise!  Take your forms to the bar near the front door, order drinks too, pay, and tell the barman your name so it can be called out (once) by loudspeaker from the serving hatch when your montaditos are ready.   A simple name is best, such as Ivan or Carol or Kepler.  Take your drink back to the table and wait 5 or 10 minutes till you hear Kepler or Carol or Ivan.  If still hungry, order more montaditos.

 

Featured Places to visit

# 1:  Mercat de la Boqueria (La Boqueria market) is one of the best food markets in the world, a treat for the eyes.  Main entrance on the Rambla, a short walk from CCCB.

If you walk 300 metres further down the Rambla towards the sea, turn left along small narrow Carrer Colon to enter:

#2: Plaça Reial (Royal Square), a charming large square with tall palm trees, giving access to the large Gothic Old City, full of fascinating streets.

Plaza Real

# 3:  Palau de la Música Catalana (Palace of Catalan Music), Carrer de Sant Francesc de Paula, an icon of Modernist architecture in a narrow street.  Slightly expensive 55 minute guided tours happen every day from 10.00 to 15.30—but you don’t need to take a tour to admire the amazing exterior of the Palace.  Most tourists don’t go inside, just stand outside taking photos.  Tip: there’s quite a pleasant coffee bar just opposite the Palace that tourists don’t seem to use; often you can get a seat in the window and admire the Palace while relaxing.  If you’re making a pilgrimage from the CCCB & Boqueria area through the old Gothic City towards the Gigamesh SFF bookshop, biggest in Europe, on Calle de Bailèn, you can easily pass by the Palace—but do take a street map with you.

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