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.

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...