VILNIUS - Vilnius fantasy lovers' club "Dorado," the oldest fantasy club in Lithuania, is celebrating its 30-year birthday this autumn. The club co-organizes the annual fantasy event "Lituanicon," hosts creative camps in summer, and boasts a fantasy library of over 7,000 books 's most of them in English.
However, for almost a year the club activities have been shifting toward virtual reality (the Internet) and have been sporadic in real life because of the loss of the club premises.
After 19 years, the club has had to move out of its home in the Zirmunai region of Vilnius because of insufficient funding. There are about 20 members active right now 's they were not able to pay Vilnius' monthly rent prices to keep the library premises.
"Unfortunately, the club and the library had to move out from [the usual] premises. The books are [in storage] for now, pending new solutions" Justinas Zilinskas, head of the Dorado club, told TBT.
For many this is heartbreaking news considering that such specialized and large fantasy libraries are rare, and the books are meant to be read, not stored. Famous science fiction and fantasy writer Ray Bradbury has said "Without libraries what have we? We have no past and no future." Bradbury has also claimed that there is a bigger crime than burning a book 's not reading it.
Dorado has had many moments of glory since its establishment by astrophysicist Gediminas Beresnevicius on Oct. 2, 1979. Beresnevicius contributed to the creation of strong fantasy fandom in Lithuania through the establishment of fantasy clubs in Kaunas, Klaipeda, Kedainiai, Utena, Telsiai, Pakruojis, Alytus, and more.
The first decade of the club was tough 's in 1984, the activities of the club were examined by the Central Committee of the Lithuanian Communist Party. Information from the West, including that contained in fantasy books, was strictly monitored, censored and as a general rule not allowed in the Soviet Union. Beresnevicius had to report on club activities, provide a list of its members, club statutes, plans and letters. The KGB then had private meetings with some club members and the library was monitored closely by the Soviet Ministry of Culture.
"Fantasy has helped many [people] to survive the difficult Soviet period," Beresnevicius remembered afterwards. Beresnevicius had identified the goal of creating a fantasy library back in his university years, but only with the restoration of Lithuania's independence was it possible to collect a truly well-rounded library. Most of the books in English have been donated by a Latvian American Dainis Bisenieks. At the moment, there are over 4,000 fantasy books in English in the library catalogue. The other half (over 3,500 books) are in Lithuanian and Russian.
Bisenieks established the connection when the club launched publication of "The Contact" 's a fanzine in English in the early independence years. Only eight issues of the fanzine were published. Currently the club also releases a fanzine named "Dorado Raganos" ("Dorado Witches"), published in Sweden.
Club President Justinas Zilinskas is a fantasy writer as well as a famous international law specialist. Zilinskas' second book "Gugis - giriu kaukas ir zmoniu draugas" ("Gugis - forest sprite and human friend") received the "Debut of the Year" award from the International Board on Books for Young People in 2006.
The club co-organizes "Lituanicon," an event for fantasy promotion involving lectures, discussions, various workshops, different games (intellectual, board, RPG), film reviews and competitions, organized in May.
Fantasy lovers' events on a larger scale are appropriately called Baltcon, Eurocon and Worldcon. In 1996, Dorado co-organized Eurocon in Lithuania and it regularly participates in other regional events. There are also fantasy lovers' events that are more oriented to "gaming", e.g. "RPG gamta" (RPG nature), which will take place on June 26-28, and "Summerland 3," which will take place on July 3-6. All of these events deserve the attention of any devoted international fantasy