This year’s Eurocon was due to be in Croatia. I was very much looking forward to it, not the least because I was planning to have two Croatian books available at the event. As it turned out, of course, most of us were not able to go, and I only had one book available. Pandemics suck.

Nevertheless, the Croatians decided to put on a virtual convention for us, and many of them turned up in person at the planned convention site to help run it. They have much better virus management in Croatia than we do in the UK. This made it something of a hybrid convention, though the in-person element was quite small.

It seemed to be that the con was a little bit run on a shoestring. The tech always seemed just on the edge of collapsing. I’m not going to complain about that. I’m hugely impressed that anyone manages to put on virtual conventions at the moment, given how little practice we’ve had. But I will note, for future reference, that if you are thinking of doing such a thing you should not plan on using Jitsi, even if it is cheap, because it seems way too unreliable.

I had two programme items. One was a chat with Aleksandar Žiljak and Mihaela Perković about Croatian fiction, and in particular Aleksandar’s new book. The other was my funny animals talk, aka “Worldbuilding with Sex and Gender”. The talk did get recorded, but as of yet there’s no sign of the recordings being made available. However, an essay based on the talk will be in a book forthcoming from Luna Press Publishing next year.

There were lots of other fun panels, and the chat in Discord was good because the numbers were relatively small. As usual Sylvia Spruck Wrigley was one of the stars. Her talk, “To Oldly Go”, about elderly people in Star Trek, was one of the highlights of the weekend for me.

The ESFS Awards were duly given out. Ireland swept up quite a lot of them (full list of winners here). I do love the Irish, but I can’t help feel that they have something of an advantage, because they write mostly in English, and that means that many people from other European countries can read their work.

Which brings me to the final point about Eurocon. By US/UK standards it is not a very diverse event. There was one person in the Discord who seemed determined to find an excuse to bring social media down on the convention’s head because of this. But Eurocon is diverse in other ways. Most of the attendees do not speak English as their first language. Nevertheless, and despite the fact that the UK is turning its back on Europe, and UK fandom has always mostly turned its back on Eurocon, English is the common tongue of the convention.

Alongside the language issue, Eurocon continues to struggle with the problem of vastly different cultures. Hungary and Poland are now very scary countries. Romania, Bulgaria and other small Eastern countries continue to be very poor in comparison to the West. Eurocon is very much part of the European Project, and thus an important institution in these times of escalating international tensions. As such it is an important institution that needs our backing.