Sunday, December 23, 2007

Sf on the Radio

The science fiction radio play Pieni suuri koodinmurtaja (Little Big Code Breaker) produced by the Espoo sf club ESC will be broadcast by Radio Helsinki on Christmas Eve at 6 PM. It can be listened to over the air (in the Helsinki region), or over the internet (link is on the station’s site).

I wish you all happy holidays and a great new year 2008!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Susi Vaasjoki Wins Portti Competition

The results for the Portti short story competition 2007 (the biggest annual sf short story competition in Finland) are in. The winner is Susi Vaasjoki for Taruntekijä. Mari Saario was second for her short story Kenkänaula. The third place was a tie between Heikki Nevala for Vaiettu and Tiina Raevaara for Gliesen lapset. The full list along with honorable mentions is available on Netticolosseum.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

December Mafia Report

There was definite holiday cheer on the bus to the pub meeting today. It was full of young people carrying loads of booze and a real-honest ghetto blaster with them, so the bus trip was one big party. (I was later told that they probably were chemistry students from the Uni, back from a cruise.) What better way to start an evening? Even if they would have deserved some kind of a cruel (and hopefully unusual) punishment for their criminally poor taste in music. But I digress…

Despite the non-traditional date, a dozen or so people found their way to the mafia today. This was the second time we gathered at “the new place,” and I think it is definitely more comfortable and versatile for our purposes (and the others seemed to agree), so you’ll probably find us there from now on.

The day’s smoffing concerned mainly the Christmas party (that seems to have progressed on its own while we were at the pub)—it’s next Saturday. There was also speculation about a possible Finncon in Turku in 2011—a thought that doesn’t sound as completely impossible now as I would have said only a month ago. We’ll see. Ben and Pasi discussed their sekrit project, very sekritly, but it’s a sekrit, so no more about that for now.

Before the topics went into politics and religion (as they not uncommonly do), we discussed some sf stuff also. Really, we did! Although more about tv than books, but anyway. Torchwood began on Finnish tv yesterday. Based on the comments of those who had seen it, it didn’t gather any new fans (at least not yet), but on the other hand wasn’t as reviled as in the British discussions I saw when the series originally debuted. The ‘comment of the day’ honorable mention goes to Ben (wondering about the new Bionic Woman), “Why on Earth would anybody be interested in watching a new version of a crappy 80s sf show… oh, wait: Galactica… I’ll shut up now.”

Here’s a photo of today’s gathering (with most of the people present):

Lots of people sitting at tables, beers and zines on the tables

Let’s have a competition: I’ll buy a beer at the next mafia for the first person who correctly identifies all the zines on the table. (Those who were present are naturally not eligible to participate.) Any takers?

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Sf tv Channel in Finland

The Swedish television company TV4 will be launching a new channel called “TV4 Science Fiction” in the Nordic countries (including Finland) in Februari. In Finland, the channel will be carried by MTV3 as part of their pay channel package.

TV4 says the content will be sf movies, documentaries and tv series (Star Trek: Deep Space 9 and Voyager, plus Andromeda were mentioned).

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

First Thursday on Wednesday

Since the first Thursday of December is Independence day, the Turku pub meeting will be held a day earlier, on Wednesday the 5th. So, head to Pub Bremer tomorrow at six to talk some sf and have a couple of beers with other fen!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Meetings in Tampere

Tampere is one active sf city during the following week. Tomorrow the Kaleva subsection of the Finnish sf writers’ association will organize KingCon II: a minicon themed “imaginary kings and possible monarchies”. There will be a presentation, “The weird sovereigns of pervy fantasy,” followed by discussion about what makes the royalties in fantasy and science fiction interesting as rulers. STk Kaleva, c/o Henriksson & Soikkeli, Teiskontie 19 E 82, Saturday Nov 24 at 6 PM.

Next Thursday (Nov 29), as reported earlier, David Ferro from the University in Ogden will be giving a public lecture on how science fiction informs computer development.

Also on Thursday, a Cuban sf writer Bruno Henriquez Perez will be visiting Tampere and meeting local fen at the Pub Kahdet Kasvot starting around 6:30 PM.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Necrocomicon on Saturday

The second Necrocomicon comics minicon will happen tomorrow. This year the event will be held in Cosmic Comic Café right in the Turku center. The program promises comics creators interviews, presentations, competitions, and all-around comics-themed fun. There will also be a small press hucksters room. A comics anthology Åbotti Huraa! will be released, and there will be an art show displaying drawings from the anthology. Cosmic has promised comics-themed drinks.

The guests of the event are musician, comics translator, writer and enthusiast Moog Konttinen, Pertti Jarla, and Mika Lietzén.

The evening program consists of old short films by Konttinen plus an acoustic gig by Jyrki Nissinen’s band Seksihullut.

The program starts at 11, and there’s no admission fee. Necrocomicon is organized by Turun sarjakuvakerho.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Serhum Ezlöt Braahim

A dozen or so persons at the mafia today. Boldly ventured where no pub meeting had gone before—the other side of the pub, which I think was better suited for the meeting than the room we’ve previously occupied, and the gathering might well migrate there in the future. Varjomafia was officially disapproved of for having a competing meeting at the same time. Lots to talk about many things, including (already) some ideas for next year’s book fair. Some pathetic nerds talked about their Facebook antics. Everybody not impressed by its greatness (but it is quite handy a thing nevertheless). New members of the TSFS board present at mafia—that was great! Ben peddled the latest (and quite handsome) ish of Enhörningen. Boris Hurtta distributed an E.A. Poe pamphlet (a translation) and challenged people to recognize the language it was in. No free drinks needed to award those succesful in the challenge.

The new issue of Turu Mafia Zine (#23) has words about CMX’s wonderful new album Talvikuningas, plus the great US sf metal band Slough Feg. Also comments about a couple of new tv series (Bionic Woman, Moonlight, and Journeyman). And a little stuff about fanzines too. If you didn’t get one at the pub meeting, the issue is available from me for a SASE.

Bül ökmet rai, hai ükulai!

PS Due to the first Thursday of December being Independence day, we decided to have the December mafia on Wednesday the 5th.

PPS On the bus home I finished J. Pekka Mäkelä’s latest novel, Nedut. It is even better than Alshain (and that is saying quite a bit). I think it can be said J. Pekka is the top science fiction writer in Finland at the moment. More on Nedut later (probably in the next issue of the zine).

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

November Pub Meeting

November starts with a Thursday, so come meet people at Bar Bremer this week (and get a free fanzine, technology permitting)!

So, November 1st it is. We start around six, and everybody is welcome!

Monday, October 29, 2007

Natalia Laurila Wins Tähtivaeltaja Competition

The Tähtivaeltaja short story competition winner was announced yesterday at the Helsinki book fair. The winner is Natalia Laurila for her story Maitosoturit (“Milk Warriors”), “a tale about colonization and adaptation set on an original world” (said the jury). In second place was Hajun virta by Jenny Kangasvuo, and M.G. Soikkeli was third with Jos haluat rakastaa, varaudu sotaan.

The competition (not to be confused with the Tähtivaeltaja novel award) was for science fiction short stories set outside Earth. On the jury were Tähtivaeltaja’s editor-in-chief Toni Jerrman, editor Jukka Halme, critic Vesa Sisättö and author J. Pekka Mäkelä.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Kuvastaja Award to Pasi Jääskeläinen

Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta coverThe Kuvastaja award for the best Finnish fantasy book published in 2006 went to Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen for his novel Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta. The jury describes the book as “a fantastic fantasy novel; such fireworks of ideas that many lesser authors would have milked it for several books; real fantasy that succesfully mixes small town milieu, ‘great artists’ that inhabit it, and local intrigue”.

The award is given annually by the Finnish Tolkien Society. Lumikko ja yhdeksän muuta is a worthy winner and an excellent novel that everybody should read! Partial Recall congratulates Pasi!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Don Rosa to Finland

Cover of ‘The Quest for Kalevala’, after the Gallen-Kallela painting ‘The Defense of the Sampo’Duckmaster Don Rosa will be visiting Finland at the end of next month. Kvaak.fi reports he will be touring the country for a couple of weeks meeting his fans.

Rosa is probably best-known in Finland for his Uncle Scrooge tale The Quest for Kalevala in which the ducks visit our country in search of mythical treasure.

Update Nov 26: Kvaak.fi has the tour schedule. Don Rosa won’t be coming to Turku, but he’ll be in Raisio tomorrow (Tuesday the 27th).

Thursday, October 25, 2007

David Ferro on SF & Computers

Associate professor David Ferro (University in Ogden) will give a public lecture at Tampere university on 29 November. The topic is “Some unique cases in the search for how science fiction informs computer development”.

Thursday November 29, from 2 PM to 4 PM, dept. of sociology (Linna), room 5014.
Dr. David Ferro is a Associate Professor of Computer Science at Weber State University in Ogden, Utah, USA. He has co-authored a book on the history of computing, an introduction to computer science, and articles on multi-modal user interface design. He is interested in software engineering culture and for the past year has been researching science fiction as an aspect of that culture. In 2007 he has been affiliated with the University of Tampere Computer Science TAUCHI unit in Tampere, Finland. He has taught a course on the history and social implications of computing there.

SMOFcon Scholarship to Eemeli

San Francisco Science Fiction Conventions, Inc. grants sholarships to “assist budding convention organizers to attend SMOFcon” (SMOFcon is an annual conrunners’ convention in the US). This year one of the two recipients of the $500 scholarship is our own Eemeli Aro. Congratulations, Eemeli!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Comics Finlandia

Sarjakuva Finlandia -logoSarjakuva Finlandia (“Comics Finlandia”) is a new prize awarded to a Finnish comics creator for a comics album, modeled after the Finlandia prize for literature. The award is given annually at the Tampere Kuplii event in Tampere, and the award sum is 5 000 euros.

Works published through a commercial publisher and self-published albums are both eligible for the award. The Tampere Kuplii society sets a selection board that nominates up to ten candidates for the award annually, and also names an outside person to choose the winner (this works the same as the Finlandia prize). Both Finnish and Swedish-language works are eligible, and the selection board can also accept works in other languages as nominees. The award is always given for a specific work.

The first Sarjakuva Finlandia award will be given on April 20, 2008.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Star Wars by Turku Philharmonic

Got an e-mail from the Chief Executive of the Turku Philharmonic Orchestra, and she tells me they will be giving a special live performance of “the best of the Star Wars soundtracks” next month (Tuesday November 11). Atso Almila conducts.

The tickets are 5 euros, and the audience is encouraged to dress up in Star Wars costumes. The concert starts at 7 pm.

You can get tickets from Lippupalvelu or directly from the concert hall ticket sales (Aninkaistenkatu 9, (02) 262 0800 Mon–Fri 11–17). (We’ve already got ours!)

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Pub Meetings & Book Fair

Tomorrow is First Thursday again, so the Turku pub meeting is in Bar Bremer at six. Reminiscing about Eurocon (the new issue of my fanzine contains a con report, in case you’re interested), planning things to see at the Book Fair this weekend, etc. Welcome!

And speaking about the Turku International Book Fair: it’s this weekend, starting on Friday. Books, books, and more books! Some program items at the fair that look interesting include:
  • a drabble competition by TSFS on Friday
  • interesting authors and comics artists on stage on Friday include Aino Havukainen & Sami Toivonen (11:00), and Sari Peltoniemi (13:00)
  • more authors on stage on Saturday talking about their books, including Miina Supinen (12:00), Milla “Kiroileva siili” Paloniemi (13:40), J. Pekka Mäkelä (14:40)
  • panel discussions on Saturday on small press (chaired by Jukkahoo, 13:10) and fanzines (chaired by Anne Leinonen, 17:10)
  • seminar on myths and folk tales in YA books (Saturday, 14:00)
  • presentation by the Turbator small press with Harri Erkki and Markku Soikkeli (Saturday, 14:20)
On Saturday evening there’ll be an open pub meeting for people interested in sf & comics in Koulu Brewery Restaurant starting at 7. Welcome everybody!

(And if two pub meetings aren’t enough for one weekend, I’d be willing to bet you can meet come comics & sf folks in Cosmic Comic Café on Friday evening.)

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Eurocon Photos

Some pictures I took at Eurocon last weekend:

Dave Lally holding the ESFS flag, and Olav Christiansen the Danish flag, with a Stormtrooper standing by
The opening ceremony with the ESFS and Danish flags. There were stormtroopers on the premises, but I guess they mistook us for supporters of the Empire.

Pricess Leia and Han Solo posing for a picture
There were a couple of hall costumes at the con. I didn’t see these guys after the opening ceremony—maybe the stormtroopers got them?

The ESFS officials sitting behind a large table
Official ESFS meeting business. The good old officers were re-elected for another three-year term at the business meeting.

Maija, Juha, and Anne standing behind a table offering salmiakki candy and vodka
The Finnish party on Friday evening. Maija, Juha, and Anne tutoring the foreigners in the delights of salmiakki, vodka, and salmiakki vodka.

Zoran Živković sitting behind a table at his GoH speech
GoH Zoran Živković talked wise words at his speech. Seemed like a nice fellow.

Finns sitting outside the con building having beers
The Finns outside the con building, enjoying great Czech beers kindly provided by Peter Pavelko (the second from the right—he blended in with the Finns marvelously).

Olav, Carolina, and Knud standing in a hallway, talking animatedly
Olav and Knud talking about important staff business with Carolina, who I think spent most of her convention gophering valiantly. At least that’s what she was doing every time I saw her.

Jukka, Georges, and Klaus pondering a quiz question
The sf quiz. Note the score on the board (Jukka’s is the one on the right).

The Italians standing in front of the con building
Those darn nice Italians that took Eurocon 2009 home to Fiuggi.

O’RLYEH? The ESFS award statue looking weird
The ESFS awards looked… interesting this year.

There are more Eurocon pictures on my Flickr set. Others have also taken pictures.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Finncon Fever

Finncon fever might be in the rise. The Finnish party at Eurocon got very positive feedback and I think many more international fen are now aware of Finncon than before. According to one Eurocon report the best thing at the con was the Finncon 2009 ad that said George R.R. Martin is one of the Guests of Honor. We might have a reason to expect many more international fen at the 2009 con than usual. (And I’m hoping Finncon 2008 will see a surge of international members as well.)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Eurocon, Day Three

The Eurocon is over (for us, anyway; I’m sure the Dead Dog Party is going at full speed right now) and we’re sitting on the plane home. Today was somewhat slower than the previous days programwise: towards the end of the con it always gets harder to concentrate on the program items, but I also felt today didn’t have as many interesting things to see as yesterday.

One item was perfect for the last day of the con, though: Cheryl Morgan held an sf quiz with questions ranging from very easy to if-you-know-this-one-you-seriously-need-to-get-a-life hard. There were three contestants, Georges Bormand form France, Klaus Æ. Mogensen from Denmark, and Jukka “Yokohama” Halme from Finland. Jukka pretty much ruled for the whole competition (and wrapped at least a couple of young Dutch fen around his amazing brain) with his knowledge and mastering of trivia.

The program in whole was a bit of a mixed bag. Many complemented the excellent science programming, and a large portion of the program items (most of them in fact) were in English. There were several “introductory” items of the genre, writing, reviewing, and so on. On the other hand there were very few literary discussions or topics that did more than scratch the surface. And it didn’t help that the program book didn’t list the participants of most items.

The turnout at the con was better than I expected (if not quite as good as the organizers had hoped for)—there were more than 700 members at the convention, and according to the first estimates today if might have been closer to 800. There were many international members from all over Europe, and at a con this size it was very easy to meet and spend time with them. This is what I think made the convention for most of us.

The arrangements suffered from quite a few rookie mistakes—for example the information chain wasn’t working very well, coordinating the gophers and showing them the ropes was lacking, especially at the beginning, and many things just weren’t there or being thought of in time. But everybody worked really hard and all problems got solved. All in all things run reasonably smoothly. Wilf James, who acted as Gopher Mum, told me he was especially impressed by Pasi “super gopher” Välkkynen who was always where he was needed and took initiative to make things run well.

* * *

That’s is for this time—we’ve arrived in Finland and it’s time to head home. A big hand for the organizers; we had a great time! See you at a con somewhere!

Next: some photos

Eurocon, Day Two (cont’d)

Spent a large part of the afternoon sitting at the tables outside the con building, largely because the air inside got progressively worse (some said the building has a mold problem which might explain why I’ve got flu symptoms all of a sudden). Had fun chatting with a lot of people. The Checks have the most insane and fascinating inventions. In addition to beer baths they’ve invented beer trucks that have taps coming out directly from the tank and the coolest restaurant: every table has their own beer tap, so when you want another beer, you just draw it yourself. In addition, they’ve got a scoreboard showing the real-time tally of which table has drunk the most beer. This would be deadly to try in Finland.

The masquerade was ok, but nothing to write home about. And then there were the Eurocon awards, plus a bunch of others. The problem with these award ceremonies is that there are way too many categories of awards nobody really cares about given to people most haven’t heard of. This means the ceremony itself should be made much more entertaining to generate interest. Also I think the whole awards would benefit from a complete rethinking. Take, for example, the “best author” category: what’s the point of having a dozen nominees for the award from different European countries—published only in their own language, so that it’s impossible for the voters to read any of their works? The result now is that most end up voting for their neighbors and buddies whose names they might at least recognize. Ben and I cornered Mr. “Five Cheeks Bally,” current chairman of ESFS, with our thoughts, and he agreed everything may not be running as well as it should, but I’m not sure he really got it how broken the system looks from a relative outsider’s (I’ve taken part in some of the ESFS proceedings in 2003, 2005, and now this year) standpoint.

There was a band playing this evening: Press Play on Tape. They specialize on music from and inspired by computer and video games. The Russians also informed that they were throwing a vodka party this evening. Naturally we went there. They had quite a selection of vodkas plus some light snacks, and soon the room was filled with people chatting away cheerfully, as roomfuls of people who have just sampled quite a selection of vodkas tend to do. A good party!

The party was still going strong when we (the remaining Finns + Tommy, an honorary Finn now) wandered back to our hotel. The Finnish room party is still on, but I think I’ve had enough for a day. Good night!

Next: Sunday

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eurocon, Day Two

The second day of the Eurocon in Copenhagen is progressing nicely. The Helsinki bid for Eurocon in 2009 wasn’t unfortunately succesful, but the Italians who won are nice people and promised to put up a really good convention in Fiuggi (I hear it is somewhere between Rome and Naples).

Right now the Russians are presenting their Eurocon that will be held next year in Moscow (or, to be more accurate, at a holiday resort some 20 km from it). The Czech “Pilsnercon” next August also sounds intriguing. (They have beer baths! I don’t know if I should be fascinated about the idea or appalled by the waste of beer, but it just might beat the chocolate massage from Åcon…)

I’ve actually managed to see a couple of program items today (although the air at least in the main program hall is pretty bad and makes me want to make a dash to get some fresh air after ten minutes). I was positively surprised by Anne McCaffrey who, it turns out, is an engaging speaker and teller of stories. Zoran Živković has a lot of interesting things to say and wise thoughts to share (note to future Finnish convention organizers).

The dealers room here is quite good for a convention this size, and it is filled with books. There are selections of the GoHs’ books available for sale at the con, which is good. I haven’t had time to check out the media program or all of the other stuff yet, but maybe there’ll be time for that too later.

Next: Saturday, part two

At Eurocon

Greetings from Copenhagen! Arrived safely on one of the SAS flights that wasn’t cancelled. Found the con site with no problems and met a few friends there. Tried to have lunch but the Chinese restaurant and the Italian one were closed. Found some quite good Turkish food (with excellent dip).

I spent most of the day at the registration desk—got stuck there due to the lack of volunteers that managed to show up, but on the other hand met a lot of people there.

The Finnish this-is-not-a-bid-party seems to have been a success—at least all the feedback I heard was positive. Headed back to the hotel, and to a fun room party. But time to get some sleep now, I think. Wish us look for tomorrow when the ESFS business meeting votes on if the 2009 Eurocon will be held in Finland or in Italy.

Next: Saturday

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Usva International 2007

Cover of Usva InternationalThe second Usva International, a special issue of the Usva zine, is out. It showcases contemporary Finnish fantastic fiction in English. The 2007 issue contains short stories by Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen, Juha-Pekka Koskinen, Anne Leinonen (the Atorox award–winning story The Otherling), Tiina Raevaara, Petri Salin, and M.G. Soikkeli. In addition the issue contains an excerpt of J. Pekka Mäkelä’s new novel Nedut.

The zine is a free PDF download, so go check it out!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Finncon 2008 Online

Tampere steampunk robot mascotNext year’s Finncon (in Tampere, July 26–28) opened its website today at <2008.finncon.org>. Mostly general announcements and basic info about the GoHs so far, but more to come, of course.

Note to Swedish fen: you have an official agent for Finncon 2008. Contact Michael Pargman if you have any questions about the upcoming Finncon.

Finncon 2009 GoHs

Finncon 2009 footprintFinncon 2009 in Helsinki is living up to their promise of being the biggest Finncon yet. They’ve announced their Guests of Honor will be George R.R. Martin and Alastair Reynolds. Both are already known in Finland and have fans here which should bring in some extra folk (what’s a couple of thousands more at a Finncon).

In the meantime, don’t forget next year’s Finncon in Tampere either.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Pub Meeting Reminder

It’s the first Thursday of the month again, so let’s meet at Bar Bremer at six. See you there!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Andy Sawyer in Jyväskylä

Andy Sawyer, course director of the science fiction studies MA program at the University of Liverpool and reviews editor of Foundation: The International Review of Science Fiction, is speaking at the University of Jyväskylä this Thursday as part of the “Cult and Identity: Conference on the study of cults and audiences” event. His subject is “The Enchanted Duplicator and Other Fables: British Science Fiction Fandom in the 1950s”. Among other programming at the event is also a presentation by Irma Hirsjärvi on sex and gender in sf literature. Don’t miss this if you just have a chance to be there!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Åcon 2 Has Website

Åcon 2 (May 2008 in Mariehamn, Åland) has a web site at <acon2.wordpress.com>. Info is a bit scarce at the moment, but more will be added as the con approaches.

New Feedback Forum for Finnish Sf

A new forum has been opened on Netticolosseum (the Finnish Science Fiction Writers’ forum) for feedback and discussion on Finnish short sf. At the moment all open topics are about stories published in Usva, but as this forum was a result of discussion on the Usva blog, this is only natural. All readers (and publishers) of Finnish short sf are welcome to join the forum and open discussion topics of any stories they feel like discussing.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Tähtifantasia Award to Jeff VanderMeer

The Tähtifantasia (“Star fantasy”) award for the best fantasy translation published in Finnish in 2006 has been given to Pyhimysten ja mielipuolten kaupunki (City of Saints and Madmen) by Jeff VanderMeer. The jury describes the book as “a wild plunge into the dark side of the fantastic city of Ambergris, its forgotten secrets and strange destinies of its inhabitants,” and says, “Jeff VanderMeer has managed to create a rich alternate reality, an enchanting world rising to epic proportions thanks to the full history, interesting details, and well-rounded characters, adorned with playful humor. The book has literary merit and redefines fantasy as a genre.”

The Tähtifantasia award winner is chosen by the Helsinki Science Fiction Society, and this was the first time the award was presented. The jury consists of critics Toni Jerrman and Elli Leppä, author Anne Leinonen, and journalist Vesa Sisättö. The book is a selection of stories from the English-language editions; it was published by Loki-kirjat and translated by Johanna Vainikainen-Uusitalo.

Congratulations, Jeff, for a worthy win!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Finncon 2008 Announces GoHs

Next year’s Finncon (in Tampere) has announced their guests of honor.  The foreign guests of honor are author M. John Harrison, scholar and author Farah Mendlesohn, and illustrator Charles Vess. The Finnish GoH is comics creator and illustrator Petri Hiltunen.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

New Fandom

Congratulations to Frans for the new baby! Also to Tytti & Jani for their own newfan born a couple of weeks ago!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Ian McDonald GoH of Åcon 2

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The Guest of Honor at Åcon 2 is the British science fiction novelist Ian McDonald. McDonald is a PKD and BSFA award-winning author whose latest novels are the acclaimed River of Gods and Brasyl. His novella The Djinn’s Wife is currently nominated for the British Fantasy Award and the Hugo Award.

Åcon 2 will be held in Mariehamn on May 1–4, 2008.

(picture from McDonald’s Wikipedia page, licensed under GFDL)

Eurocon Signup Deadline is Here

If you’re thinking about going to Eurocon in Copenhagen next month, and haven’t registered yet, now is the time to act! The deadline for pre-registration is tomorrow, so sign up at the convention members page now!

At latest count, 15 Finns (+ 3 children) are going, but there is of course room for more. I’ve put up a Finnish-language info page at euroconiin.googlepages.com, and will be updating that about things that come up as the convention approaches.

Update Aug 8: The last-minute campaigning seems to have worked: I’m happy to report the total number of pre-registered Finns is now 18 + 3!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Old & New

An anniversary mafia today: congratulations to Harri on his 50th! We had wine in honor of the birthday boy and it was sweet. The book fair planning progressed promisingly; it looks like there will be some sf programming at this year’s Turku book fair.

Also, some new people! Welcome to Riina & Jukka who’ve just moved to Turku from Joensuu (and to Maarit who also recently came from there)! Their loss, our gain.

Biggest mafia zine ever: 18 pages! In my time, I’ve edited several issues of Spin that were smaller than that… Must restrain myself better in the future.

The Viikinsaari picnic is in two days. See you there!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pub Meeting on Thursday

Where did July go? And where was the scorching hot weather we’re supposed to have now that the global warming has taken effect (if you believe all the people ranting about that last summer)?

Come discuss the sfnality of the world as we know it (or any other interesting subjects that come to mind) on Thursday at Bar Bremer (six o’clock). This month’s mafia zine has stuff about books and tv (an introduction to Heroes + others) for example, plus con reports from this year’s Finncon.

(By the way, if you’d like to have a copy of my zine, and can’t come to Bremer but are coming to the Roadside picnic on Saturday, drop me a note and I’ll bring you a copy.)

Usva Camping

The Usva summer camp for sf writers was last week. Anne has collected notes from participants’ blogs (and has a few of her own too).

Friday, July 27, 2007

Finncon Products at Viikinsaari

 If you’re coming to the Viikinsaari picnic a week from now (and why wouldn’t you be), you will have an opportunity to purchase some official Finncon 2007 merchandise there (see pictures). The friendly Finncon organizers are bringing some over just for you.

Although this was the first Finncon shirt ever I didn’t purchase myself (because I think they are just fugly), you should of course judge for yourself. And if you like them, seize the opportunity and get some!

Risingshadow in English

The (probably) most active Finnish sf forum, Risingshadow, has just published a sister site  in English. Like its Finnish counterpart, the site is going to host sf news, discussion forums, and a sf book database. It’s not quite clear—at least to me—what the site is hoping to achieve (the book & writer database won’t concentrate on books published in Finnish; I’m not sure why the world needs yet another sf book listing, and I remain sceptical that the Risingshadow users would want to discuss things in English on another forum in addition to their usual hanging-out place), but hopefully that will become clear in the future. It remains to be seen also, if the discussion forum will focus more on sf than the Finnish one (where you have to wade through a bunch of general-interest-to-young-people topics to get to any discussion related to sf at all), but I’d say that this might be a promising place if you want to get in touch with Finns who read sf.

The English-language site can be found at en.risingshadow.net, and the Finnish one has moved to fi.risingshadow.net.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tamfan 2007

Tamfan is the sometimes-annual-and-sometimes-not fantasy minicon, held in Tampere and organized by the Smial Morel. This year’s con date is Saturday, September 29, and the place is Tampereen Yo-talo (Kauppakatu 10).

The guest of honor this year is the Kuvastaja-award-winning author Ilkka Auer.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Roadside Picnic 2007

The traditional findom picnic to Viikinsaari will take place on Saturday, August 4. The boat to the island leaves from Laukontori at noon (plus on the hour, if you want to arrive later), and you’ll find fandom barbequing at the gazebo on the far end of the island.

The picnic is a long-standing tradition in the Finnish fandom, and is an excellent opportunity to meet fen and get into touch with people from other cities, so I warmly recommend attending!

The return-ticket to the island costs 7 euros. Fandom will pretty certainly move to a bar somewhere around 5 PM at the latest—otherwise we would be in great danger of having to watch a tango performance by Eino Grön…

Fantastic Society at Åbo Akademi

For a little while now, there’s been a “society for the weird” at Åbo Akademi, founded by Vilgot Strömsholm. It covers science fiction, fantasy, anime, hacking, literature, etc. They have around 30 members, and new ones are welcome. Those interested can contact Vilgot via e-mail.

(via Enhörningen)

Friday, July 20, 2007

Åcon 2 in May

Åcon was so much fun that we’re going to do it again next year. The (tentative at this point) dates are May 1–4, 2008 (yes, it starts on May Day). More info will follow later, but mark the dates on your calendar now. The membership fee will be the same as last time, 20 €.

Finncon Links

Words and pictures about this year’s Finncon:

Photos:

Video clips:

Other stuff:

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Notes from Finncon

Finncon started on Saturday morning with opening words from captain Pirk; the warm-up act was Mike Pohjola with his appropriately lame puns (he continued much of the same during the day as a host/announcer for many of the program items). Pirk’s opening words were moderately funny (but then I’ve never found him more than that, so your mileage may vary), but only in Finnish despite all the foreign guests in the room, which was maybe not the best decision. Also, the opening ceremony didn’t note any of the guests of honor in any way, which I found a bit odd.

The main venue was the good old university building familiar from earlier Jyväskylä conventions. It wasn’t nearly as packed as Paasitorni last year, and the air conditioning was working better too (maybe because it wasn’t so damn hot outside this year). Even so, the place was quite crowded. I tried just hanging out for a while, but even though a lot of the anime program was happening in other buildings, the main lobby was still pretty packed, mostly with young people in anime costumes, so browsing the tables wasn’t that much fun and I quickly tired of it. In addition, the vendors’ tables were a big disappointment if you wanted to browse a lot of sf books and other such stuff—you can say the tables had a variety of stuff only if you count selling both manga and anime as variety. The fandom tables were packed away in a corner, with poor visibility and little room to browse and talk to people behind the tables.

The program clearly strived for diversity. There was a physics lecture (with dancing), Bollywood, mythical creatures of Finnish folk tradition, several items about queer & porn, writing, publishing and translating, fandom, and so on. And a lot of talk about manga and anime. On the other hand, a couple of sf fen with a more traditional taste said there were very few items that interested them, especially if one didn’t want to see very basic discussions such as “myths in science fiction” once again. Perhaps the thing that most bothered me in the programming was that there were no guest of honor speeches—usually my favorite con items—at all. Jukkahoo did a good job being very jamesliptonish (despite what he himself claims) on his GoH interviews, but come on—six guests of honor and not one speech!

Speaking of the GoHs: they were all wonderful people, and I’m glad I got to talk with them. Some I had met before (the Haldemans and of course Cheryl Morgan) and it was really nice to see them again. Liz Hand was great, and even though I didn’t talk to Ellen Datlow much, she too seemed to be a very interesting person with a lot of stories to tell. Nevertheless, I think this time there were too many guests of honor for an event this size. The reason to have a guest of honor is to bring a couple of individuals into the spotlight to celebrate their achievements. When there are just two days of con programming, there is no way you can bring in six guests of honor and not have them get lost in the crowd—at least to a degree—as just a few more people in the foreign-language panel discussions. I’m pretty sure the guests themselves didn’t feel unappreciated, though, which is of course the most important thing.

Another little snafu with the guests was the hassle with the other foreign “special guests” of the con. It didn’t seem it was clear to even the organizers themselves—not to mention to the audience—who was what, how they came to be, and what the heck were these special guests anyway. My suggestion to future con committees is to forget any extra categories such as “special guest”, “special foreign guest”, etc. Just have the guests of honor, and the rest are attendees. You can of course advertise some especially interesting members of the convention for example in the program book, if you like—and this would be a good opportunity to mention also for example people doing unusually many program items, in addition to prominent people traveling to the con from far away. But try to remember that the guests of honor should be special to avoid the PR mess this year seemed to have on their hands.

There were a couple of foreign fen visiting Finncon again this year. Not quite as many as last year (or at Åcon), but I met at least Tommy, Michael, and Ahrvid from Sweden, and Klaus and Tue from Denmark there. I think this is a good thing and hope the trend continues and grows—although very different from “normal” cons abroad (or maybe exactly because of that), I’m sure Finncon has a lot to offer to foreign visitors also. There’s plenty of programming in English available, and of course the guests of honor to meet. So if you’re reading this outside of Finland, mark the dates July 26–27, 2008 on your calendar for a trip to Finncon in Tampere.

This year’s con claims to be the biggest yet—around 7000 unique visitors—but didn’t feel nearly as crowded as last year’s. So in this sense the logistics were a lot better and distributing the program to several buildings a little distance apart seems to have worked. Still, I thought the “good old Finncon feeling” was largely missing from the con site (for reasons I mentioned earlier: being mostly crowded by anime fans and the lack of sf vendors and societies). Fortunately it could be found in the nearby restaurant, the legendary Sohwi, which the older fen seemed to gravitate towards on several occasions. Spending time in the bar has always been a big part of the fun of going to a Finncon, but sometimes it really seemed that’s where the real con and most of the science fiction discussion was this year. The evening party on Saturday was great fun, and the place was excellent (largely thanks to the big patio). I missed most of the masquerade because it was so hot inside I basically just grabbed my drink and dashed outside for air, but there were some gorgeous costumes, and the chaos costuming competition (where you made your costume on the spot with stuff provided by the organizers) was a terrific idea.

In spite of being plagued with illness, adversity, and plain bad luck, Jyväskylä managed to put up a con that ran smoothly and pretty well on time, with no major problems visible to the attendees, and they deserve credit for that. Thanks for the con, I’ll see you in Tampere in a year!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Anne Leinonen Wins Atorox

Anne Leinonen took the jackpot this year: she won the Atorox award for the best Finnish short story published in 2006, and in addition had three other stories in the top ten (including one co-written with Petri Laine). This is the second Atorox for Anne.

Atorox top 10 in 2007:

  1. Anne Leinonen: Toisinkainen (Portti 1/2006)
  2. Hannu Rajaniemi: Elegia nuorelle hirvelle (Portti 2/2006)
  3. Carita Forsgren: Fyto ja Ygg (Portti 2/2006)
  4. Jenny Kangasvuo: Yhtä kohtua puoliksi yksin (Portti 3/2006)
  5. Petri Laine ja Anne Leinonen: Kuvat eivät valehtele (Portti 2/2006)
  6. Anne Leinonen: Koska he olivat liian pyhiä (Valkeita lankoja, WSOY 2006)
  7. Miina Supinen: Alkumereen (Kosmoskynä 4/2005)
  8. Jenny Kangasvuo: Sudenkulku (Usva 2/2006)
  9. Anne Leinonen: Hiekkameren jumalat (Valkeita lankoja, WSOY 2006)
  10. Boris Hurtta: Puut kuin purjeet laivan (Portti 1/2006)

Nova 2007

The Nova short story competition winners were announced at Finncon a moment ago. This year the first place was a tie between two stories. The top five this year is:
  1. Anne Alasirniö: Merestä sinä olet tullut
    Niilo Sevänen: Talven portti
  2. Timo Saarto: Varrella virstan
  3. Timo Saarto: Poika ja tinasotamies
  4. Liisa Nurro: Luostarin ikkuna

Jyväskylä

Arrived in Jyväskylä just in time to miss all of today’s programming. Which had looked interesting, with all the science and writing and stuff, but nobody I talked to had seen any of it, so I can’t confirm there actually was any programming today. Also there were rumors of the organizers having lost Joe Haldeman somewhere in France for over a day, but everything is ok now.

The restaurant Sohwi served good food, but stopped doing so regrettably early. The tabletop hockey tournament Finnconkampen was won (once again) by Pasinen (a new collective term we made up for all the persons called Pasi Something-nen, because there are too many of them in fandom). Next year’s Swecon has a special buy-Tommy-more-beer discount for the duration of this Finncon only. The con proper starts tomorrow with a short Pirkinning.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Off to Finncon

Heading for Jyväskylä. Or was it St. Petersburg? I forget…

(I see there’s some online reporting of the event already.)

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Atorox Thoughts

The Atorox award for the best Finnish sf short story of 2006 will be given at Finncon on Saturday. The award is decided by the Finnish fandom (it’s “our Hugo”), and this year there were a couple of changes in the process (for the better). First, artificial limitations on how many voters a sf society can have no more exist (this change is more psychological than real, as individuals were able to vote separately also before, but I think it’s easier to participate as a member of an “official association jury” than a single individual). This is clearly a good thing and revitalizes the award, which I think shows in new groups having the largest jurys: Risingshadow 13 voters, Deathwriters 7, and Spektre also 7. It will be interesting to see if this has an effect on what kinds of stories will be succesful—especially when this year some of the older societies (HSFS, HySFK, and the Tolkien society, I’m looking at you) didn’t manage to send in a single vote between them. Shame on you!

Another new thing this year is the completely revamped vote counting system. Instead of giving points to stories, the voters just rank the best of them in order (using single transferable vote, pretty much as in the Hugo voting). I’m sure this is a good thing because it both simplifies the voting process and makes it pretty hard for an individual voter to game the system. Explaining to the audience how the results were calculated might be a lot more complicated than before, but on the other hand I’m pretty sure that only a very small minority will care about the technical details anyway.

One last thing: my Atorox predictions this year. Or guesses, more like it, because I’m usually pretty lousy in these things. But anyway, here goes: based on my general feeling about the stories, both how “Atorox-winner-y” they feel to me, and the comments I’ve heard from a few other people, I’m picking three stories I think will be in the top five.

The first story is Fyto ja Ygg by Carita Forsgren. A bit unusual view on the “aliens conquer the Earth” theme, and might appeal to people who like the more traditional sf. Another pick is Toisinkainen by Anne Leinonen. Also science fiction, aliens, and other planets. A solidly written story, even if it didn’t appeal to me personally at all. But I wouldn’t be surprised to see this as number one. My third pick is my absolute favorite this year, Elegia nuorelle hirvelle by Hannu Rajaniemi. A splendid mix of post-singularity feel and traditional Finnish elements, this story would make an excellent representative of Finnish sf also abroad. I fear this is a bit too far-out for many readers, and therefore won’t win (even though it deserves to), but I’m hoping that enough voters see its greatness to at least make top five. Well, we’ll see the day after tomorrow.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

R.I.P. Leena Peltonen

Sad news from Juhani Hinkkanen: Leena Peltonen, one of Finnish fandom’s most prominent members since pretty much the beginning, died on July 5 in Tampere after a long illness. Leena was there during the early days of the Turku Science Fiction Society, the Tampere Science Fiction Society & its zine Portti, and Aikakone which she edited for a decade. Beside her knowledge and passion about science fiction and fantasy, she was also known for her culinary skills as well as translating, among others, such sf notables as Roger Zelazny, Robert E. Howard, Peter S. Beagle, M. John Harrison, and Colin Greenland into Finnish.

I can’t say I was ever very close with Leena (even before the falling out she had with some parts of fandom, me included, in the early 90s), but she definitely had an impact on my coming to contact with fandom. The first time I remember hearing about other people who were into science fiction was sometime in the late 1980s reading issues of Aikakone in the local library, and a couple of articles on Aikakone also lead to finding out about the world of comics outside what was available in the local general store. Just today, I was cleaning up some of my papers and came across what probably was my first “official” contact with fandom: a response letter about a short story I’d submitted to Aikakone in the late 80s. The story was far from publishable, but Leena’s comments were sharp, insightful and encouraging. That the story never got finished had to do with other things completely—a better critique a fledgling writer couldn’t have hoped for. A big personality is gone and will be missed.

Leena Peltonen sitting beside Juhani Hinkkanen
Leena at the roadside picnic in Tampere a couple of years ago

Update: there will be a memorial event at Finncon on Saturday (6 PM to 8 PM, Lyhty at the university campus), and a memorial book will be at the info in the main building for the duration of the convention.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tähtifantasia Award Nominees

There’s going to be a new sf award in Finland—Tähtifantasia (“Star Fantasy”)—for translated fantasy literature. The award is given by the Helsinki sf society (publisher of Tähtivaeltaja) that also administers the Tähtivaeltaja award for best science fiction book published in Finnish.

The nominees for the first Tähtifantasia award are:
  • Valkoiset omenat (White Apples), by Jonathan Carroll (published by Loki-Kirjat)
  • Uuskummaa? Modernin fantasian antologia, by Jukka Halme (ed., Kirjava)
  • Miekkamyrsky 2 (A Storm of Swords, 2nd half), by George R. R. Martin (Kirjava)
  • Unohdettu Ombria (Ombria in Shadow), by Patricia A. McKillip (Otava)
  • Pyhimysten ja mielipuolten kaupunki (City of Saints and Madmen), by Jeff VanderMeer (Loki-Kirjat)
This is a very impressive collection of nominees for the first award. Although, from looking at them, I think it’s pretty obvious one aim of the new award is to focus on non-traditional fantasy that breaks traditional genre boundaries (and the award committee pretty much says so themselves), and therefore it feels a bit silly to me to add a new award specifically for the fantasy “genre” instead of widening the scope of the Tähtivaeltaja award to cover all fantastic literature. There’s some discussion on this on Babek nabel (from the other side of the fence too).

The award jury consists of critic Toni Jerrman, writer Anne Leinonen, critic Elli Leppä, and journalist Vesa Sisättö. The winner will be announced in August.

Pub. Meet.

Today. Bar Bremer. Six. See you!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Deadlines and Reminders

Finncon still wants you. So if you are going to the convention and think you might enjoy spending a couple of hours helping out (and possibly get a free lunch or t-shirt), go to the con site and let the organizers hear from you.

The bus trip to Finncon from Turku and Tampere doesn’t seem to be happening in the originally planned form, but if you still need transportation for visiting the con on Saturday, contact the organizers now, and something may be arranged.

The Tähtivaeltaja short story competition deadline is fast approaching, so if you were planning to send in an entry, remember to act by July 2 at the latest.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Jeff VanderMeer on Europe

Jeff VanderMeer wrote an article for Locus about his travels in Europe last summer—including his stint as the guest of honor at Finncon 2006 in Helsinki. He has now posted that article (which originally appeared in Locus #552) on his recently moved and dashingly upgraded blog Ecstatic Days. Go read it, he says nice things about Finland (like for example, “I was impressed with how knowledgeable Finnish fantasy fans were; I have rarely if ever been confronted by readers who knew so much about what they loved, or about my books specifically”), and the rest of the travelogue is really good reading, too!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Fantastic Publishing

Vaskikirjat (“Copper Books”) is a new small publishing house that aims to publish high-quality fantastic literature in Finnish. The company is founded by Tampere fan Erkka Leppänen.

Vaskikirjat starts by publishing translations—their first titles will be The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, and Swords and Deviltry by Fritz Leiber—but they are thinking about expanding to also publishing Finnish original works. In addition, they will be offering a critique service for novice writers.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Finncon Registered

A long-time project of Findom is finally finished: the National board of patents and registration accepted Finncon as a registered association (on June 13). The official name is Finncon-yhdistys (“the Finncon association”)—a bit redundant, but that’s the form the board (of registration; not the association) wanted.

This will make arranging Finncons as a continuum a bit easier, because the association will be able to handle the finances from one year to the next (and individual organizing societies won’t have to include Finncon in their normal operation budget, which is usually a fraction of the event’s budget).

The founding organizations are the Helsinki Science Fiction Society, the Jyväskylä Science Fiction Society 42, the Finnish Science Fiction Writers Association, and the Turku Science Fiction Society.

Finncon ry signing
Kirsi & Vesa signing the final round of official papers last winter in Tampere

Saturday, June 16, 2007

NoFFer Calling

Denmark’s NoFF delegate has been chosen. Tue Sørensen will visit Finncon in July. Tue writes the following greeting to Finns:

Hello! This is Tue Sørensen, duly designated NoFF representative from Denmark! I am 35 years old, and currently the president of the Danish sci-fi/fantasy/horror society “Fantastik”. Our society is pretty new; it was founded in 2003. I was vice-president for three years, and have been president since April 2006. We are a very social organization with café meetings, writing groups, movie nights, summer excursions, and lots of email discussion <http://news.fantastik.dk/>. We publish a quarterly magazine called “Himmelskibet” (The Sky Ship).

Personally I have been a complete science fiction and comics maniac since I was very little. I passionately collect comics and movies and of course science fiction novels. A few years ago I was an editor of the Danish online Comics Journal, and back in the late ’80s and ’90s I used to write a lot of letters of comment to the letter columns of Danish and American comics.

I am a bit of a classicist as far as SF goes; I still consider Asimov, Clarke & Heinlein to be the three greatest SF authors ever, and most of the really good and groundbreaking stuff was written in the 1940s–1960s. Of more contemporary names, my favorite SF authors are people like Joe Haldeman, David Brin, Iain M. Banks and Bruce Sterling. My favorite SF genre is space opera (galactic scale world-building, inter-stellar empires, etc.) and utopian SF, but unfortunately not many current writers are really doing proper space opera, nor utopian SF. I'm very open to recommendations, though. Always looking for interesting new stuff. Like the next Asimov! :-)

Other background details: I have previously studied Biology, English and History at university without finishing, but I plan to resume and finish my History education very soon. I currently work part-time as a postal worker at an International Post Center (night shift). I am an aspiring writer, very slowly working on both sci-fi stories and non-fiction (literary analysis).

My favorite movie of all time is Highlander. There Can Be Only One!! :-)

Fantastic regards!

– Tue

Friday, June 15, 2007

Suomenlinna Picnic 7.7.

Suokki-karttaSaturday, July 7 is the date of findom’s traditional picnic to the Suomenlinna island in Helsinki this year. You’ll find fen there from around noon.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Bus to Finncon

If you’re thinking about going to Finncon in July but don’t have a place to stay or otherwise can’t spend the whole weekend, TSFS is arranging a bus trip to the con on Saturday. The bus will leave from Turku early in the morning, and return the same evening. The bus stops in Tampere, so you can also join the trip there.

The trip needs around 20 people to happen, so if you’re interested, contact the organizers now, or before Midsummer at the latest. See the TSFS announcement for details and contact info.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

NoFF Guest from Denmark

The Danish fandom is having a vote to send a NoFF (The Nordic Fan Fund) delegate to Finncon at Jyväskylä in July. The candidates are Tue Sørensen, Knud Larn, and Klaus Æ. Mogensen. More about the candidates on the Fantastik site

(via Fanspan)

Friday, June 08, 2007

Summer Mafiathingy

Very warm weather today (when driving from work, the meter read 29°), so naturally we gathered inside a pub to talk sf. Quite a bit of talking about this year’s Atorox nominees. Quite a lot of different opinions too, but two short stories that seemed to be generally liked were Hannu Rajaniemi’s Elegia nuorelle hirvelle, and Kuvat eivät valehtele by Petri Laine and Anne Leinonen (curiously, both were published in the same issue of Portti, along with another favorite of many, Fyto ja Ygg by Carita Forsgren—so if you want to buy just one issue of one zine to read Finnish sf, I think Portti 2/06 would be a pretty safe bet).

The collective discussed also old covers of Spin (for the 30th anniversary exhibition at the International book fair next autumn) and travel plans to Finncon in July (among many other things, of course). Later a few of us went to visit the comics people at their pub meeting at Cosmic Comic Café. Some of them seemed a bit surprised about a bunch of loud sf fen that suddenly came to sit by them and started a vocal debate on philosophy…

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Tomorrow Is Pub Night

Welcome everybody to Bar Bremer tomorrow at six for the traditional Turku sf pub meeting! Since the Atorox voting deadline is today, I suspect there might be some talking about last year’s Finnish sf short stories. But that won’t be the only topic of discussion, so if you haven’t read those, that doesn’t mean you should not come!

There will be a new issue of my zine tomorrow with an Åcon report plus the continuing travels of Juliette & Damien in Europe.

Friday, June 01, 2007

Giant Ape Hunt in Espoo

The Espoo sf club ESC arranges a summer picnic with a GIANT APE HUNT theme on Sunday June 10. The apes have been determined to most likely dwell on the Iso Vasikkasaari island off the Espoo coast. M/S Aurora will depart from Otasatama in Otaniemi at 20 minutes past noon; the ferry trip costs 4 €.

Recommended gear includes among others: a pith helmet, personal valet, binoculars, khaki outfit, anthropological and esoteric literature, a portrait of Her Majesty, gin, and giant ape bait. Survivors will gather at Café Merenneito after the trip.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Finncon Update

The programming in English is now available on the con web site.

Also, if you’re in need of a place to stay, most of the accommodation mentioned on the web site is full, but according to the housing page (as of yesterday; in Finnish only), at least the Hotel Vuolake still has rooms available.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Åcon, Day 2 (and Night)

Friday had the morning (and early afternoon) off from the official con programming, so Harri and I took a stroll in Mariehamn. Generally rather pretty a town, with some... Interesting architecture. Shopped for souvenirs, and then stopped for a pint downtown. Quite a few Finnish and Swedish fen were about, and soon we had a good group sitting there, enjoying the warm spring sun and bheer.

Friday was pretty much a GoH day programwise, starting with an interview where he shared his thoughts on different literary movements, his novels and other writings, and why on Earth he’s called Hal anyway. He was also one of the panel members on my only scheduled program item (or so I thought at the time), the pixel-stained technopeasant wretching. I think it went pretty well, thanks to the active panelists and good comments from the audience.

After a dinner break it was time for the Guest of Honor speech. Hal Duncan read from Vellum (he’s very enjoyable a reader; I'd really like an audio book version of Vellum read by the author) and talked about growing up in Glasgow, becoming who he is today, and a good deal about the “new literary movement”, Infernokrusher!

The other program items—not surprisingly—dealt with books, first with the different genre awards we have, and then about collecting books. The latter item was less than serious, though— they said the s-word more than once during the conversation.

The program concluded with the “sf liars’ club” that I was shanghaied to participate in. The idea was to pick a member from the audience and ask them a difficult sf-related question. Us panel members then each told them our version of what the correct answer was, and they had to guess who was telling the truth. And when they got it wrong we mocked them. We got to mock many.

The night continued at the bar, and after it closed at the lobby bar; after that too closed people went to have room parties. If you hear people talking about the party where to get in you had to have your underwear photographed, or the musical between 4 AM and 9 AM, just don’t believe a word of it. The last to stay up and the first to get up got to share breakfast. And so the 24-hours-a-day convention continues.

Some other things that were going on in Mariehamn on Friday:

  • It was the international museum day, so entrance to many museums was free. Including the one with the authentic pirate flag and other stuff.
  • There apparently is a biker convention of some kind going on.
  • Irma and Anne (or Blom and Mila, as they want to be called from now on) told tall tales about the spa they visited. I’m almost prepared to accept the 1.5-hour chocolate massage, but I think the complimentary football team was laying it on a bit thick.
  • There was a zombie punk band night with live (if you can call them that) bands performing.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Åcon, Day 1

After Ölcon (not that it was just drinking beer—the bar also ran out of champagne) we arrived safely in Mariehamn. The boat from Sweden was also just unloading passengers, so we met most of the rest of the Åcon crowd and headed for the hotel Adlon.

The registration went smoothly, and everybody pretty much seemed to park themselves at the terrace bar (the only place where you can smoke; luckily the weather was sunny if not too warm). So we had the “extremely formal” opening ceremony there, mc’d by Jukkahoo. Greetings to Eemeli (the chairman in absentia) from everyone!

The first day was very informal, with general chatting on the terrace, and spelling bee/linguistics discussion “program” going on inside. The one “real” program item was a game of Hangman, judged by the organizers. The audience seemed to appreciate the capriciousness of the judges and take the abuse in stride.

The bar was nice—and empty since people were sitting outside—but closed unfortunately early today (it being a weekday, and a public holiday to boot), but the lobby bar is still open. The pizzas were reported to be excellent.

Meeting friends, talking, drinking and generally smoffing around—a pretty good opening day, I’d say.

Ölcon

It's official—we're heading for Åcon. At the moment, Ölcon is progressing well in the ship’s bar. There might be updates during the weekend, but no promises.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Finncon Publishes Program

Finncon 2007 has published their program schedule (only in Finnish at the moment). I hope they intend to add listings by date, in addition to the current listings by venue only. Separate listings for anime and non-anime programming would be nice too.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Åcon Announces Book GoH & Program

Åcon has announced a book guest of honor, Dan Simmon’s Hyperion. The book will be featured in the program book and discussed during the con.

There’s also some program information on the web site. Programming will be relaxed, and strives to leave plenty of time for seeing the town and socializing in the bar also.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Troikka Sale

To celebrate winning the Tähtivaeltaja award, The Tree Club is selling the winning novel Troikka at a very good price at their webstore: 15 € is not much for a good hardcover, so go get yours while they last!

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Tähtivaeltaja Day 2007

The gathered at the fourth Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon yesterday to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Tähtivaeltaja, and it was a lot of fun!

Tähtivaeltaja award jury

For a small and rather informal happening, the program was pretty well thought out. There were a few panel discussions about current sf in literature, tv, and movies, a GoH speech and of course talk about the birthday hero, the Tähtivaeltaja zine.

Publisher & translator receive the award from Toni Jerrman

The Tähtivaeltaja award was given to Stepan Chapman’s novel The Troika. The following discussion about this unique book was quite interesting. Who knows, if I were to re-read the novel after listening to them talking about it, I might this time actually understand some of it.

Christopher Priest being interviewed, laughing

The Guest of Honor was interviewed by Pekka Manninen. I meant to listen to the conversation at the bar, but the PA technology didn’t quite come through. From what I gathered, the discussion about his works went along nicely and everyone was enjoying it—not the least the guest himself.

Suomalainen fiktio -paneeli

A couple of discussions handled the state of sf today, both in Finland, and in general. An interesting topic, but not an easy one, because it’s obviously been discussed before, and there’s only so much you can say in your allotted hour, so it’s extremely difficult to get to any new, profound truths. But I still think it’s important to keep having the discussion and try to look at things from a new perspective every now and then. The same goes for the tv and movie discussions—although it might be a good idea when you’re having a panel about current tv series to get together a bunch of panelists that have actually all watched the same series. Nobody seemed to like Doctor Who, by the way—all spoiled by the American standards of tv, I say.

The definitive Tähtivaeltaja panel talk—with huge breasts in the background

The “definitive Tähtivaeltaja discussion” made—if it wasn’t already clear to everyone—evident how huge the impact of Tähtivaeltaja has been on fandom here. Several prominent fen confessed that they might never have come into fandom, or be what they are today, without Toni and Tähtivaeltaja. The punk attitude, the fearless exploration of new and different subcultures, old boozing reports, and the versatility of content were all subjects of discussion. The images projected in the background tended to concentrate on “the two main reasons for reading Tähtivaeltaja in the first place” and the shocking imagery used by the zine during the years, bringing a nice contrast to the discussion that got quite serious at times. I felt that the actual sf content and its quality in Tähtivaeltaja was neglected a bit, but on the other hand those should be obvious to anybody who opens the zine itself.

Vesa Saarinen reads a book—with Jukkahoo as a prop

As the evening progressed, the programming got a more humorous streak. The “around the world” quiz had questions such as, “The second winner of the Tähtivaeltaja award was Joanna Russ’s The Female Man. How many pages did I read before giving up?” The “sell a book” contest is already a tradition at these events, and the winner was once again Ilja Rautsi, with his personal (to say the least) style of reading an excerpt of a book backwards.

A lot of people in the bar, drinking, talking, and having fun

The whole day had a very warm and friendly feel to it, and moving around in the bar and the lobby to meet people was very easy. I met many old and not-so-old friends—talked a lot with Miska, Sari and Kenneth, for example. And had a good conversation with J. Pekka and Jukka (one of my oldest friends in fandom, whom I hadn’t seen in ages due to his staying abroad for the last couple of years) about serious and not-so-serious aspects of writing, blogging, etc. And talked to some comics fans from Turku (who I never seem to get to meet except in Helsinki)—extra thanks to Petteri for the ride to Helsinki, by the way! Gave out a few copies of my fanzine. Exchanged too few words with a lot of other friends. And didn’t even say hi to everyone I had planned to.

I declare this Tähtivaeltaja day a success, again. If you didn’t go, you should have, and you’re poorer for missing it! Rock on!

Toni Jerrman

Photos

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