BeoKon 2017!

It’s November, and the last weekend was BeoKon time. Well, not just the weekend, the convention started on Friday, with a panel on Stranger Things, and went on until late Sunday evening.

Err, what’s BeoKon?

A local convention, held in Belgrade, Serbia. Calling it a local version of Comic-Con wouldn’t be 100% accurate, but it will give you a pretty good idea what’s it like.

And what was it like?

For me, great. Well, I would’ve preferred more panels on books (hey, you know me!), but other than that, I went from one panel to another (Stranger Things, Supernatural, Killing Stalking, The Handmaid’s Tale, Rick and Morty, Saga, Lovecraft & Ligotti, Game of Thrones), and the highlight was (as it should be!) the guest of honor, Norman Spinrad.

I’ve first encountered Spinrad’s writing when I got to translate two of his essays, Science Fiction in the Real World and The Transmogrification of Philip K. Dick. For some reason, the idea that I might see him in person has never occurred to me. I don’t know why. I mean, he’s still alive (obviously), he’s still writing (the book he’s working on now sounds really interesting, and scary as well), and yet, somehow, I never thought that I’d see him in person. And then the announcement came, and I was sort of fangirling (no screaming or fainting, though), sharing the announcement all over Facebook, thinking about what to tell him (in the end I didn’t say anything, and talked a bit to his partner Dona instead, she’s awesome!)… You get the idea. And, of course, it was great to hear him talk about his work and experiences; he’s someone who’s been there, done that, and has a lot to say about it.

And then I was too tired for the third day, and missed some stuff like Alien, new Doctor Who, American Gods, Marvel vs DC, Star Trek: Discovery vs The Orville, The Expanse, cosplay catwalk, and a bunch of other things. Yes, it was all during just one day at BeoKon.

And now we’re all recovering, and waiting for the next BeoKon.

Here are some pictures, and you can see the rest here.


Down left is the book of Spinrad’s essays, so far the only book of his translated to Serbian
A room full of visitors, a lot of them very young, listening about Killing Stalking
Two stories by Spinrad were translated in the latest edition of the fanzine Emitor
There were a lot of things to spend your money on
Even Deadpool was shopping at BeoKon!
There were cosplayers…
There was Ursula the Sea Witch, plotting with Cersei…
…and, of course, there was Norman Spinrad! Yay!


Over a month ago (I know, I know, it takes me forever to post, and I really should post more often), it was Japanizam time.

Japanizam is a pop culture convention in Belgrade that was held, for the first time, 10 years ago (has it been 10 years already?), and, while it started as a Japanese pop culture convention, it has grown quite a bit, and now it encompasses pretty much everything and anything that’s related to numerous fandoms and popular culture phenomenons. A lot of it is still related to manga, anime, and Japan in general, but cosplayers wore whatever they wanted (think Cersei, Littlefinger, Joker, Harley Quinn, Negan…), and there were panels related to interesting non-Japanese things, too.

And there was a surprise, as well: since most of the visitors are young, the organizers thought that only a small number of them would be interested in an academic lecture of sorts (about anime and psychoanalysis). As it turned out, there wasn’t enough room for everyone: after everyone grabbed a chair, people were standing wherever they could, sitting on the floor, sitting behind and around the lecturer… And everyone had a great time. Like here:


Or here:


And was the convention fun? Sure it was: panels, awesome cosplayers talking about their work, history, mythology, games, performers… The pictures and the video (the performance was inspired by Ghost in the Shell) show only a part of it, but hopefully enough to get an idea of the fun everyone had.




Silly Instagram Bots Are Silly

Actually, it’s the people using the bots who are silly.

I’ve been spending some time on Instagram, exploring it, enjoying it (if you wish to follow me, here I am, and you can mostly see the stuff I’m doing, and the books I’m reading, lots of books!), and noticing silly stuff.

For example, follow-for-follow accounts. Err, why? If you don’t like what I post, why would you follow me? And if I’m not interested in the stuff someone posts, like countless motivational pictures, why would I follow them? Just for the numbers game? Numbers mean nothing if there’s no genuine desire to support them.

Or, the accounts that are not openly follow-for-follow, but treat that dreadful growth hack marketing advice as if it was the Word of the God Almighty. You know the advice: follow people on social media, and if they don’t follow you back, unfollow them, because why would you follow people who don’t follow you? How about: because you like what they’re posting?

And then, there are bots. I follow Gary Vaynerchuk because I like what he says about marketing and storytelling, and because I feel that I can learn a lot from him and then adapt it to my needs (hey, we all need to know how to market our stuff!). Whenever I like his pictures/videos, I gain a few new followers, all entrepreneurs with a ton of motivational quotes on their profiles, many of them leaving vague comments on my pictures.

Comments that make it obvious that they haven’t even looked at the picture, so it’s clear that they’re using bots for it.

“Great shot”, “Awesome”, “Cute!” and such are supposed to be vague enough to fit most posts, but if I post a picture of the book I’m reading at the time, and make it clear in the hashtags that it’s The Exorcist, and some people comment “Sweet”, “Aw nice”, “Spreading good vibes”, or “Very cute”, it’s painfully obvious that they’re bots, and that the account owners couldn’t care less.

Or, if I post a picture with a Snapchat filter, state that I’m not feeling well, but at least my hair color is awesome, and get comments like “Super nice!”, is that really a human who saw the picture, or is it a bot?

The thing is, Gary Vaynerchuk is as successful as he is because (among other things) he takes the time to answer in person. His comments are his own, and so are his replies. Well, either that, or he is using bots that are so good that they can pass for actual caring human beings, the world as we know it has ended, and we can all go home now, thank you for the attention. And he talks about it, and his followers admire him… And then they use bots.

Don’t get me wrong: this isn’t a rant, and the bots don’t bother me. None of them are rude in any way, and they’re easy to ignore. The accounts will stop following me on their own as soon as they see that I’m not following them back, and it’s not like I’m going to miss the people who have zero interest in me or in what I’m doing.

I just see it as silly, and I don’t see the point. It’s like spam comments on blogs, except that people do manage to get followers that way (mostly those who are in the numbers game too, I guess).

How about you? If you use Instagram, how do you feel about that kind of comments?