European Book Tour Part 2: Parcon/Plzen, Road Trip to Romania, Romania

(A note in advance: I’m having to cover so much that I know I’m leaving things out, or people. So, please feel free to add info in the comments.)

Many thanks to the organizers of Parcon in Plzen/Pilsen for taking such good care of us, as well as other foreign guests Ian R. MacLeod, Hal Duncan, and Edward Miller. The convention ran from Friday afternoon through Sunday morning, and had a variety of programming in English and in Czech. There was also a Non-Stop Bar, which aided in keeping the party going, and frequent ventures into the Pilsen town center–which featured a rather remarkable pub called Pub (more on that under food/beer below). It was a very enjoyable experience, and we had great fun meeting and talking to everyone, including Ivan Adamovic, who first published me in the Czech Republic through short stories in Ikarie B. Special thanks to Martin Sust, our dear friend and editor, who also edits the New Weird imprint from Laser Books, and Tomáš Jirkovský, the publisher of Laser Books (and his daughter Helena, who helped show us around Pilsen). Plzen is the headquarters of Laser, and I’m sure they had as much to do with the “New Weird” theme as anyone. (See the covers below for the Romanian and Czech editions–we’re lagging behind, so suffice it to say that if you’re a contributor, expect an email.)

Note: I’ve added more Prague photos, which should’ve shown up the first time, but didn’t…


Unfortunately, we didn’t take many photos at Parcon because we kept forgetting our camera. Or I was doing my talk and I had the camera in my pocket, stupidly. But we did get a lot of photos of Pilsen and our adventures there. Pilsen is the HQ of Pilsner-Urquell, of course. More on that on a beer post later today or tomorrow.Click here for the complete set.


To get to Romania, we traveled with our editor Horia Ursu, his wife Luci, and his daughter Stefana, through Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. For two hours, we fought Budapest traffic and confusing directions to win through to Romania. Along the way, I took a lot of photos of stuff I saw outside of the car. I hope some of it is interesting. While Horia was of course horrified by the Budapest experience (he had to drive it), I enjoyed getting some sense of the city as we passed through. The photo below of this old married couple is one of my favorites from the whole trip. Also curious about the billboard below, an advertisement for some book. Click here for the whole set.


Here’s the full set of photos.

Horia Ursu, editor/publisher at Millenium Press, was our guide around Romania. We crossed over to Romania near midnight close to his home town of Satu Mare, and had a few nervous moments as the border guards held onto our passports rather longer than necessary. We hoped that they wouldn’t ask us to open our suitcase full of Czech New Weirds and then have to explain ourselves. When we got to his house, it was close to one in the morning, but his mom had laid out an amazing meal of chicken with mushrooms, a wonderful egg plant spread, some local wine, great cheese, and peppers stuffed with meat (one of my favorites). It was one of the most relaxing experiences of my life to sit there with such good food and companions after such a long drive (13 hours). And very nice of Horia’s mom (and sister). Here’s a great photo of Horia’s mom and Stefana waving goodbye to us:

In addition to two bookstore events launching the Romania NW, Horia took us to the Merry Cemetery in the hills beyond Satu Mare, of which you’ll see many photos, including this one of Stefana, who had basically decided I was her new personal stuffed animal author play thing, poking me with a stick. LOL!

Then he drove us to the city of Timisoara, which is also where the revolt against the dictator took place. In Timisoara we met members of a great SF club, including the publisher and entrepreneur Cornel Secu, who also makes wine. Cornel was a very gracious and fun host in Timisoara, and we had two great meals with him. Here he is below.

He also was kind enough to send us home with some of his excellent wine. In addition, as you can see below, Valentin, an architect and professor, sent us home with one of his meticulously designed spaceships. (This caused some confusion at various security checkpoints in airports, but was well worth it.)

The signing and discussion in Timisoara went very well, with a big crowd and TV coverage as well as newspaper coverage.

And we also got to meet again our good friend and editor Mike Haulica.

We were very much struck by the energy in Timisoara, and the seriousness with which they took SF/fantasy. This didn’t strike us as the typical SF club, in that the level of organization was more like what you’d expect from a business or a political entity.

Horia was also a great guide and we saw a lot of things we wouldn’t have seen if on our own. So thank, big bad bear!


  1. Zephid Bebex says

    What did Ann drink that made her grow so small? Something Alice forgot and left at the Non-stop Bar?

  2. says

    Looks like a great trip! Those NEW WEIRD covers are freaking fabulous, too. I’m fascinated to see how genre and genre trends turn out overseas. Don’t hesitate to blog about this a lot. Just saying.

  3. says

    Will–Will do! Actually, in both countries, but especially in the Czech Republic, the idea of “New Weird” has allowed them to safely publish authors who might not otherwise have gotten published there. In the Czech Republic that’s the brainchild of editor-genius Martin Sust and his publisher, Tomas.

    It was pretty great–just check out the next post I just uploaded. And tomorrow–all about the beer.

    (I’ll be in touch soon re your book and various things.)


  4. says

    Pah. I’m very sorry I couldn’t make it to either of the launches, but it’s 10 hours from Bucharest to Timisoara (and something insane like 13 to Satu Mare), so in the end I decided that 20h on a train for half a day in Timisoara was just too much… Next time come to Bucharest!

    I’m looking forward to my lovely copy of New Weird though, and I hope I got a kitty autograph like Horia did :D (Now Horia, mail the book already!)

  5. says

    Jen: You got a very special illustration, better than Horia’s cat. No worries there. And I totally understand about not being able to make it. Ten hours is a damn long time!