immanentising the Eschacon at ABC

My local science fiction bookstore is holding its own convention:

Eschacon is a three-day festival from 5 to 7 November with panels, writing workshops and book signings. Featuring several of the most interesting and talented upcoming science-fiction & fantasy authors from around the world, Eschacon is all about World SF and the craft of writing speculative fiction.


Thursday 5 November

18:30-21:00 Tribute to Chip Book Presentation and World SF panel discussion

Author and editor Bill Campbell will talk about his latest project The Stories For Chip, a tribute to Science Fiction Writers of America Grandmaster Samuel R. “Chip” Delany. Following the presentation is a panel discussion about World SF and diversity in the speculative fiction genre with authors Zen Cho, Corinne Duyvis, Marieke Nijkamp, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Tade Thompson.

Friday 6 November

14:00-16:00 Speculative Fiction Writing Workshop
A workshop to kickstart your own writing under the guidance of professional author Rochita Roenen-Ruiz.

18:00-19:30 Q&A and booksigning with Zen Cho and Tade Thompson
Join us for an evening around the (imaginary) fireside with authors Zen Cho and Tade Thompson. Zen and Tade will discuss their new books, the art of writing and the business of getting published.

Saturday 7 November

10:00-11:00 Kaffeeklatsch
Getting up early has never been so fun. Enjoy a cup of coffee (or tea) while talking about books, stories and other geek-related subjects with authors Aliette de Bodard, Zen Cho, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Bill Campbell and Tade Thompson.

14:00-15:30 Q&A and booksigning Aliette de Bodard
Author Aliette de Bodard will talk about and read parts from her debut The House Of Shattered Wings.

ABC has been remarkably active in promoting science fiction and fantasy in the past year or so, with various author talks and other events, much of it due to its SFF buyer, Tiemen Zwaan. It has helped galvanise something of an sf scene in Amsterdam, of which is the culmination so far. What I like especially about it is that this going beyond just mere commercial considerations, but that ABC has done its bit to help make SFF more diverse, more plugged into developments outside its traditional heartlands. The line-up for the con reflects that, with people like Aliette de Bodard, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Zen Cho.

I hope this becomes a success, because it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper science fiction con in Amsterdam.

Comic shop Lambiek has to move

Lambiek is probably the world’s oldest continuing comics store, founded in 1968 in the Kerkstraat in the centre of Amsterdam and still located there fortysix years later. However, after the summer this will change as Dutch newspapers report Lambiek has to leave the Kerkstraat due to high rents. Worse, according to Micheal Minneboo Lambiek might close altogether.

That would be an incredible blow to Dutch comics; Lambiek has ben a driving force in alternative and art comics here, as a shop and gallery and since 1994 also through its comiclopedia, still the best source for information about more obscure cartoonists. For Amsterdam, the loss or move of Lambiek out of the centre would mean another loss of a prominent independent shop.

But Boris Kousemaker, the son of founder Kees Kousemaker, is still optimistic about Lambiek’s chances: the advantage of a long history is having a large group of customers and friends willing and able to think and work along for a solution.

Boeing employees sweeping the streets of Amsterdam?

volunteers for the street cleaning day

So I was bringing my garbage bags to the collection point (an underground storage bin, meaning I can bring out my garbage whenever I need to, instead of once a week) and I saw this group of people standing there. Nosey as I am, I immediately asked what was happened and it turned out to be a sponsored cleanup of the neigbourhood. Apparantly these happen regularly, but at times I’m in work so I’ve always missed them. Organised by the stadsdeel, usually these include volunteers from the neigbourhood, but not this time. This time there was a group of volunteers from Boeing (!) of all companies, sponsored by their company to spent an afternoon cleaning up one of the poorer districts in Amsterdam. This is something Amsterdam city council encourages in the current climate of budget cuts, a nice and easy way for companies like Boeing to show off their social conscience and a cheap way for Amsterdam to get some work done that normally should’ve been done by city employees.


It’s well intentioned on all sides of course and certainly not as bas as what happened in Den Haag, where at least one street cleaner lost his job, only to have to do the same work to keep his unemployment benefits, saving the council 400 euros a month… Yet it still feels wrong to have this corporate voluntarism, even if it’s the best the stadsdeel can do at the moment. I’d rather see people getting paid a living wage to do this work, work that needs to be done, than having to rely on volunteers to do the same work, especially volunteers from big multinational corporations hoping to get some good p.r. from it.