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

What others are saying (in Finnish unless specified otherwise):

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Troika

The Tähtivaeltaja award for best science fiction book published in Finnish in 2006 was given out yesterday at Tähtivaeltaja Day. The award went to Stepan Chapman for his novel Troikka (The Troika). The jury described the book as a unique, mosaic journey to a whirlwind of wondrous visions; an artistic experience with intellectual insight and pure literary pleasure.

Troikka is published in Finnish by The Tree Club (the only edition in the world that has illustrations by the author), and is translated by Hannu Blommila. The jury consisted of critic Jukka Halme, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and journalist Vesa Sisättö.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

NOFF 2007

This year’s Finnish NOFF delegate is Pasi Karppanen. Pasi is an active fan from Turku, and also the editor of the Finnish Science Fiction Writers Association’s zine Kosmoskynä. Pasi will be going to either Swecon in Gothenburg, or to this year’s Eurocon in Copenhagen.

You can contribute to the NOFF fund at Finnish sf events. More info about NOFF at <www.enhorningen.net/noff>.

Friday, May 04, 2007

New Fandom

Congratulations to Saija & Eemeli who yesterday evening succesfully brought two new members to ! The little girl and the little boy were described by Ipa as “ridiculously cute and perfectly perfect”.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

May Is Here

All of a sudden, May is upon us, and the Tähtivaeltaja Day minicon is this Saturday. If you’re going and have room in your car, or if you’d like to go but need a lift, come to the Turku pub meeting tomorrow (Bar Bremer at six) to find others who are going there. Or just to have a couple of beers and talk sf!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Top Short Shorts Online

The results and the top three stories from the FSFWA & Risingshadow short short story competition from 2006 are available online at Risingshadow. The top entries were:

  1. Marika Riikonen: Liikuntatunti
  2. Markku Penttilä: Jäiset unelmat
  3. Heli Määttä: Mänty

Tähtivaeltaja Award to Lauren Beukes

The Helsinki Science Fiction Society has announced the winner of this year’s Tähtivaeltaja Award : the best science fiction book published i...