Konflikt – Eurocon with An Astounding Venue

After visiting Swecon in 2016 I was hoping to go to a Swedish convention once more. Konflikt Eurocon in Uppsala this year was a great opportunity to do so. I like Eurocons and I appreciate how they tend to differ each year. In a way I was curious how a Swedish Eurocon would look like (as I missed the opportunity to visit it in 2011).

The Magnificent Venue

Venue should not be that important for a convention. I mean aside from meeting certain criteria it should not impact too strongly how I look at the con. Yet sometimes it is different and the Konflikt’s venue was very remarkable. Konflikt was held in the historical University Hall of Uppsala University. How to describe this XIX century piece of architecture? Amazing? Astounding? Magnificent? Well all three would work quite well!

A stage in a big room. There are many people on the stage one of them standing in the middle and clearly giving a speech. On top of stage there is a golden vault and golden chandelier.
The Konflikt’s openineg ceremony was held in the main auditorium.

My favourite style in architecture is Gothic so the Hall did not fully meet my taste but it was remarkable nevertheless. What made the biggest impression on me? Definitely it was the main auditorium. It was beautiful. When attending programme items there I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the vault. The golden and red interior with additions of blue was amazing. The chandeliers made a big impression and the room, as a whole, was quite breathtaking. Other programme rooms were not as impressive but the corridors were. I especially enjoyed the vaults but also how spacious the halls were. Oh and I must mention small sculpture gallery available for anyone to enjoy.

Apart from the amazing architecture the building seemed to be also well suited to the convention needs. There were enough programme rooms and it was easy to get to them. From the accessibility perspective there were lifts allowing to move between the floors. I also saw the hearing loop signs in programme rooms. I am not able to judge how well both were working for people with access needs but I hope they were ok.

Interior of big and tall hall. The ceiling is vaulted. There are some people in the hall.
Nothing to see here is is “just a corridor”.

The two downsides to this venue were the eating and drinking rules and toilets. As building has historical value the only beverage allowed inside was water (eating was forbidden). Only two rooms (cafeteria and gopher hall) were exempt from this rule. The issue with toilets is that they were located two floors below most of the programme rooms what was a bit uncomfortable. Yet those two downsides don’t overshadow how great the venue was!

And Even Better People

Yet even should the convention be held in a fantastic gothic cathedral it would be bad without the people. And in this regard Konflikt presented itself from the best angle. I was very happy for how the socializing worked. Everything started the day before with a precon party in Williams Pub. The pub also became the palce to visit on every subsequent evening. It was not very big but every day I managed to find a place to sit. In most occasions I was starting at a “Polish table” which later was turning into more international one. Thanks to that I not only enjoyed the company of well known friends but also met some new people.

I was also very glad for the interactions I had at the con itself. I talked with friends who helped me to run the Glasgow 2024 table and with those who were around. The con was also occasion to refresh some of the friendships with people I met before at Swecon in 2016 (and a few times later). Obviously I also had the chance to talk to complete strangers who are not strangers any more.

Interior of the pub. There are many people sitting and standing. The walls are wooden and there are big windows. Outside there are more tables and people sit around them.
William’s Pub – the place for evening socializing during Konflikt.

I was very happy to see that unlike last year we had a delegation from Ukraine. Well it was a small one – as only one fan managed to come but I was still very glad to meet Sergii again and chat a bit.

Busy Convention

Well the con was pretty busy for me. Firstly I was responsible for the Glasgow 2024 table. Thanks to wonderful team it did not consume too much of my time. I just had to prepare it and appear every now and then to see how it is going. Of course I also had some shifts but not more than I could handle.

Many months ago I volunteered to be a gopher and thus I also got some duties related to that. The lucky aspect was that I gophered in the programme rooms so I coupled work with enjoying the programme. The big mistake I made was to become both a gopher and a country delegate during the ESFS Business Meeting. It was manageable but a bit tiring.

Two people posing for a picture behind a table with convention merchandise on it. Both are wearing purple r-shirts with Glasgow 2024 logo. Next to them there are two more people.
Glasgow 2024 Fan Table

I was in the two programme items – both related to Fan Funds. The first was a panel which (I hope!) went pretty nice. At least I quite enjoyed what my fellow panellists were saying. I like to think that I also added some valuable contributions to the discussion. The second item was a Fan Funds auction prepared by Fia. I didn’t help a lot here – just a bit with setting it up and cleaning up afterwards. During the auction itself I did a bit of running and supporting the team but I am sure they would make it without me. Oh and I ended buying two items from the auction. I am especially happy about the publication on Swedish fandom in the 80s. In fact I bought it after the auction itself with a fierce bidding between me and another fan.

Picture taken in an auditorium style lecture hall. A few rows of seets are visible and some people are occupying chairs. On the middle of the picture there are few desks with people sitting and standing behind them. One person holds a microphone. behind them there are two screens with presentation showing some items on sale.
Fan Funds auction and mosther programme items were held in more usual rooms.

Last but not least distributing the special – English issue of my fanzine was another duty. It was not very hard but required me to step a bit out of my comfort zone. Thankfully some of my Polish friends helped in that! All in all around 200-250 copies of the fanzine were given away at the con.

The Programme

Convention programme is something I shouldn’t forget. What I enjoyed the most? I think that the panel on Climate Fiction. It was quite enjoyable and interesting – yet too short. There were so many points to address that in 45 minutes panellist only managed to scratch the surface of the topic. Yet it was an interesting scratch! I hope to be able to listen to some follow-up panel in the future.

I also enjoyed some items in the main auditorium – and not only because of its architecture! Both Opening and Closing ceremonies were pretty good. The way how the chair – Nahal ran them was enjoyable. The thing I can complain a bit was lack of time for the ESFS award winners to say a few words. In most cases it was someone else who had to accept in the name of the winner. Still it would be good to give them the time for a short speech.

A choir on a stage. One person stands in fron of the rest and speaks to the mike. Above the stage there is a golden vault and golden chandelier.
The choir during closing ceremony.

Some of the items I listened to were not as good as I hoped. Well this is something that happen sometimes. There were also some items I didn’t attend and I regret it. Especially I am sad about missing the The Word for World is Forest – Hugo winner 50 years ago. As a big fan of Ursula K. le Guin I suppose I would find this one very interesting.

I should also mention the trips. Konflikt organized a few – and I managed to attend one. It was a visit to the Mounds in the Gamla (Old) Uppsala. The views were amazing (and weather was very kind to us!). The guide (a Science Fiction fan) was also providing us with a lot of information. I regret I ddin’t manage to attend the tour of the rune stones guided by the same person.

Four Days That Passed so Fast

Looking back I cannot believe that the Konflikt lasted for four days! It all passed by so fast. When I was coming back home I was tired and happy to be able to sleep in my own bed. Yet I still feel a bit of a shortage after the con. Maybe the fifth day would be a good idea?

I didn’t mention all of the things I enjoyed at the Konflikt. The interview with one of the GoHs – Martha Wells went pretty good. The exhibition of the art of another GoH – Johan Egerkrans was very interesting. Placing it within the venue’s sculpture gallery created a nicely fitting contrast.

There are multiple people on the stafe. Two of them are holding a yellow flag with ESFS logo. The logo shows two hands holidng eahc other in front of a map of Europe.
Passing on the ESFS flag to Erasmuscon.

All in all I had a good time. There were moments when I felt badly. Yet those were short and overall Konflikt was a success. Should you ask me whether I would like to repeat it I would reply with a question on how I can do that!

You can find more pictures in my FB gallery.

The next post should appear in the second half of July.

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